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Liberty League Freedom Forum 2011

By Simon Rigelsford
April 4th, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Comments Off on Liberty League Freedom Forum 2011 | Posted in Uncategorized

This weekend I was one of over eighty classical liberal university students to attend the UK Liberty League’s first ever Freedom Forum conference in Birmingham. Speakers included Mark Littlewood and Steve Davies (both of the Institute of Economic Affairs), Alex Deane (formerly of Big Brother Watch), Guy Herbert (NO2ID), Simon Clarke (Forest), Mark Wallace, Simon Richards (Freedom Association), Graham Aitkin (Students for a Sensible Drug Policy), Tim Evans (Cobden Centre), Conservative MP Sajid Javid and Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming. Liberal Vision’s Tim Cox was a panellist for a discussion on how the current crisis can help us make the case for a smaller state, alongside Tom Clougherty (Adam Smith Institute) and Josie Appleton (Manifesto Club), while I was a panellist debating so-called libertarian paternalism with Claire Fox (Institute of Ideas), Oliver Cooper (Progressive Conservatives) and Joe Finlayson (Liberty society at Leeds University). In addition to the speeches and panel debates, there were also useful workshops on fundraising and campaigning, using social media, public speaking and public relations.

There were quite a lot of hyperlinks in that paragraph above, but if you are unfamiliar with any of the individuals or organisations mentioned, I strongly recommend that you take a look at their websites, as they include some of the most articulate and effective defenders of a free and liberal society we have in the UK today.

It was fantastic to meet so many young like-minded people, and it was also encouraging to see that pro-liberty campus activism is clearly on the rise, something which is likely to be reinforced by the skills developed, ideas exchanged and links between societies strengthened as a result of the Freedom Forum.

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The moral case for liberalism

By Simon Goldie
April 4th, 2011 at 2:41 pm | 5 Comments | Posted in Debt, Economics, Liberal Philosophy

When liberals make the case for liberalism they tend to focus on the importance of individuals running their own lives.  They also tend to get bogged down in explaining why markets work.

Their opponents focus on what will happen to the poor if markets were unregulated or introduced into public services.

In that debate it is easy to fall back on technical arguments and miss the bigger picture.

While some liberals will make a moral case for liberalism it is not done in a consistent manner.

Perhaps it is time to start talking far more about how a more liberal world would mean less poverty, how inflation and debt create more poverty by trapping those who are already poor and dragging others into poverty.

The Observer fails to fact check its front page pro-Balls set piece

By admin
April 4th, 2011 at 1:04 pm | 4 Comments | Posted in Economics

Ed Balls’ spin doctor, Alex Belardinelli, sent out an excited press release on Saturday revealing that the Observer was to “splash” on a predicted rise in household debts.

“These figures underline Ed Miliband’s warning about the cost of living crisis facing families in the squeezed middle,” it said.

Of course, this wasn’t the Observer’s splash, but Balls’ man was right that his story would appear on the Observer’s front page the next day.

Unfortunately, the second paragraph of this story got its facts wrong.

“The Office for Budget Responsibility has raised its prediction of total household debt in 2015 by a staggering £303bn since late last year,” it says.

Not true. In the OBR’s forecasts “late last year” (ie. November), debts were forecast at a revised £2,113bn. The latest forecasts are for £2,126bn.

This is an increase of £13bn, or 0.6%.

It is not an increase of £303bn, which would be a 14.3% jump.

A big hat-tip to David Smith [@dsmitheconomics], economics editor at the Sunday Times, for pointing out the error.

What the Observer meant to say, Smith calculates, was that the figure has increased by £303bn since last summer.

At that time, last summer, inflation was at 3.1% (CPI), while now it’s at 4.4%. Spiralling inflation might just have something to do with the rise in the figure.

The Observer article is packed with quotations from and citations of Ed Balls (funny, that), Labour MP Chuka Umunna, the Labour-leaning IPPR, and the socialist-Keynesian’s favourite economist, Paul Krugman.

It is bylined, incidentally, by the Observer’s political editor and policy editor – not the economics team.

The OBR’s March report, which the story is based on, also revealed that government sector debt net will break through 70 per cent of British GDP by 2013-14.

The UK’s net debt (note to Balls – this is different to the “deficit”) hit £875.8bn in February, while government spending has increased since Osborne arrived at Number 11.

Central government spending alone is up over £30bn compared to the same time in Labour’s last fiscal year.

And yet it’s “cuts” that are responsible for our economic plight? The Observer and its pals needs to get its facts right.

Vote Yes on May 5th

By Andy Mayer
April 3rd, 2011 at 3:36 pm | 3 Comments | Posted in AV referendum



The Yes to fairer votes campaign launched yesterday with over a hundred events around the country.

Many of the arguments for and against electoral reform are well understood by our readers.

The current first past the post system tends towards majority for the largest minority. AV tends towards more representative results.

FPTP is fair where there are only two parties. AV and other preference systems reflect pluralism.

It is easier to elect extremists and re-elect the corrupt under FPTP. AV cannot elect people detested by over 50% of the electorate.

And so on.

The change is small, but important.

The current coalition is the only UK Government with majority support delivered by FPTP since the end of WWII.

The opportunity for change has come after decades of unrepresentative results like 1983 where a difference of 2.2% of the vote meant Labour got 209 seats and the Alliance 23.

The last Labour government had 55% of the seats with 35% of the vote.

The No2AV coalition is an establishment campaign allying William Hague and John Prescott in self interest for the status quo.

Many of their arguments are plain silly such as a claim that AV gives more votes to supporter of smaller parties (it doesn’t), and a list of AV myths that describe problems all worse with FPTP.

The Yes to fairer votes campaign’s best arguments are ending the jobs for life culture and having a meaningful vote.

The referendum when it comes on May 5th will be on paper about a technical change. Much of the noise around it will be unedifying hysteria.

When people walk into the polling station what will sway many is their instinctive reaction to whether our system is basically good, or needs to change.

That gives me really hope for a Yes.

Liberal Vision to advise on party unity

By Andy Mayer
April 1st, 2011 at 9:36 am | 4 Comments | Posted in Liberal Democrats

As a part of Liberal Democrat rebranding programme announced in the Telegraph on Sunday, several consultative forums have been set up to seek input from party stakeholders.

We are pleased to announce our involvement in this programme, particularly in forums on

  • Popularising Spending Reduction
  • Visual Identity &
  • Party Unity

We will of course be seeking input to each of these streams from our readers and welcome your thoughts.