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Conservative Government: liberal scorecard

By Alex Chatham
June 1st, 2015 at 2:30 pm | Comments Off on Conservative Government: liberal scorecard | Posted in Conservatives

From time to time, it is worth judging the Governemnt on a liberal scorecard. So, how are they doing so far?

They score well on their commitment to significantly reduce red tape but poorly on their plans to monitor the public as part of the campaign on terrorism.

Here re are some suggestions on how they might up their liberal score:

  • Abolish some Government departments. Vince Cable wanted to abolish BIS before he got to run it, so that would be a good start. Other departments suitable for  the chop are Sport, Media and Culture, DECC and if you wanted to be very radical Education. After all John Stuart Mill argued that Government should fund education but not provide it.
  • Reform the Licence fee. Why are we paying a poll tax to consume entertainment?
  • Draw up a constitutional settlement that allows people to run their own affairs.
  • Stop telling people how to live their lives.

The Uber free market

By Alex Chatham
May 28th, 2015 at 2:30 pm | Comments Off on The Uber free market | Posted in Conservatives, Economics, freedom, Nannying

For some in the Conservative party, Boris Johnson is the libertarian saviour waiting in the wings to take power and reshape Britain. After all, the London Mayor recently told licenced Black Cab drivers that they had to accept the success of Uber because that is how a free market works. Liberals should applaud this championing of the market. For those who don’t much like markets, remember people collectively send price signals that tells suppliers what is and isn’t wanted.

Odd then that the same Boris Johnson has decided to put a cap on how many mini cabs operate in London. He has decided, no doubt based on expert advice, that we have too many. It might be worth reminding Boris that this is a free market and it is the people who should decide how many cabs offer their services to Londoners.


The Littlewood Plan: An interesting piece of kite flying?

By Angela Harbutt
October 23rd, 2012 at 2:30 pm | 4 Comments | Posted in Conservatives, Election, Liberal Democrats


Conservative home has got hold the November issue of Standpoint magazine, (released on Thursday), which, they say, carries an article by Mark Littlewood, (formerly of this Parish) advocating a pact between free market Lib Dems and Conservatives after the next election.

The Littlewood Plan would see Conservatives stand down in a Lib Dem seat where the Lib Dem MP agrees to pursue deficit reduction and free market policies, and signs up for a new coalition. He says (presumably addressing Mr Cameron) :

“The arrangement he should seek with free market-leaning (“Orange Book”) Lib Dem MPs should be unilateral but not universal. It would essentially amount to an offer to withdraw the Conservative candidate from those seats in which an incumbent Liberal was willing publicly to take a pledge to continue the work of the coalition beyond 2015, specifically in regard to swiftly completing the process of fiscal consolidation, preferably at a rather more rapid pace than at present.”

Con Home reports that Mark Littlewood argues this arrangement would particularly suit those Lib Dems in ministerial office since they will find it harder to distinguish themselves politically from their Coalition partners, and also have less time to spend campaigning out and about in the constituency. He also suggests that such a scheme would benefit the Conservatives – allowing them to focus their firepower on target Labour seats.

This idea has clearly caught Con Home on the hop. Unsurprisingly they dismiss the suggestion (as do those commenting on the blog) in quick order. Yet they can’t quite articulate a reason why they are against the idea, beyond the fact that any Lib Dem seat in electoral peril should be seized by the Conservatives at all costs. That’s it so far. Hardly a compelling reason to dismiss out of hand. Maybe they will have a bit of a think about it and come up with a somewhat more robust set of reasons to say no.

For our  part we like this out-of-the-box thinking. This far out from an election, it is little more than a  fascinating piece of kite-flying. But there is plenty of time for variations on the Littlewood Plan to be kicked about and mulled over.

Of course what we really want to see is Ministers on both sides knuckling down to the job of getting growth going with some thoughtful ideas that will actually work. But if Vince can engage in cross bench flirting with Ed Miliband, via text or behind closed doors, we should expect, nay demand, a little flirting within the coalition too, surely?

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The cat is well and truly out of the bag

By Angela Harbutt
October 7th, 2011 at 3:36 pm | 3 Comments | Posted in Civil Liberties, Conservatives

On the whole, as I reported previously, I thought we had a pretty good conference up in Birmingham. Having now seen Ed Miliband’s joke of a speech and the Conservatives fall out big time over a cat of all things, I take it all back. We had a brilliant conference!

How on earth the Conservatives have let the “cat” story (unimaginatively dubbed “cat-gate”) run for three or four days goodness only knows..but it has. The latest shock revelation today, in the Telegraph, is that the man at the centre of the Clarke-May row, Ranzo Avila, who admitted shoplifting from a high street store in London, in 2007,  received a police caution but was never convicted for shoplifting! Under Home Office rules, that doesn’t pass the threshold for deportation (which is when a foreign national has been sentenced to at least a year in prison). So no cat story at all then!

Of course dear old Ken did not exactly smooth ruffled feathers (or fur in this case) when he described May’s use of the cat case as “laughable and childlike”. (Though you’ve got to admit he has a point!).

You have to ask what on earth is going on at NO10. Not only did one of Cameron’s most important set-piece speeches have to be rewritten hours before delivery, after the briefed speech had to be binned, but now we are seeing a silly childish spat between the Home Secretary and the Justice Secretary being played out across the media. You would really think Cameron might have more important things to deal with – like the economy.

I am afraid that all this points to the fact  that Andy Coulson’s replacement – Craig Oliver- is just not up to the job. He may have been  safe pair of hands – but is he politically astute enough? – with enough clout to do the job? My bet that Oliver would not last the year is looking good.


Select Committee recommends Whitehall reform

By Simon Goldie
September 24th, 2011 at 10:31 am | Comments Off on Select Committee recommends Whitehall reform | Posted in Conservatives, Liberal Democrats

The Commons Public Administration Select Committee has produced a report arguing for major changes to the way Whitehall is structured. It says that if the coalition wishes to ensure the success of the ‘Big Society’, reform of the civil service is vital.

While the ‘Big Society’ originates from the Conservative side of the coalition, there is no reason why the Liberal Democrats can’t seize this policy opportunity. Decentralisation has been part and parcel of the liberal world view for many years. For a time, the party was committed to abolishing the DTI. When the department became BERR, then BIS, and the financial crisis hit, this policy was quietly dropped.

A liberal policy to reform Whitehall, moving power away from the centre and potentially reducing the cost of running government has various advantages. Not only would this fit with Lib Dem policies but it would also be acceptable to the Conservative party. That would defuse some of the tensions between the two parties and build political capital for the Lib Dems in order to win other arguments with the Conservatives. It could also help move Britain towards a more liberal society.