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Fringe Event: “Why aren’t the Liberal Democrats more liberal?”

By Editor
September 15th, 2013 at 8:00 am | 1 Comment | Posted in conference

Looking for a good Conference fringe event for Sunday evening? Look no further. Topical debate, lively speakers.

“Why aren’t the Liberal Democrats more liberal?

Date/Time: Sunday 15th Sept 1815-1930

Place: Alsh 2 Room, SECC Conference Centre.

Chairman: Mark Littlewood, Director General, IEA


Jeremy Browne MP

Emma Carr, Deputy Director, Big Brother Watch

Julian Huppert MP

Chris Snowdon, Head of Lifestyle Economics, IEA

Stephen Tall, Co-Editor of LibDem Voice

Hosted by Liberal Vision and the Institute of Economic Affairs.

See you there we hope!


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Minimum Pricing: Battle lines are drawn

By Editor
December 2nd, 2012 at 3:37 pm | 6 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

There is an article in the Mail Online today that will warm the hearts of every good liberal.

Whilst Home Office Minister Jeremy Browne MP has been gagged (as has Farming Minister David Heath MP,) on the topic of minimum pricing of alcohol, word has leaked out that Jeremy is clearly on the side of the angels:

“…friends of Mr Browne have told The Mail on Sunday that he disputes claims that the policy is certain to cut binge drinking – or reduce the number of pub fights.”

A source close to Mr Browne said: ‘Jeremy’s view is that the thug who has downed nine cans of lager is hardly going to think, “Oh dear, I can’t afford a tenth because of minimum pricing. I think I’ll go home to bed instead of starting a brawl.”

Needless to say his stance has meant that Tory Police Minister Damian Green has been given the task of speaking publicly in support of the policy. Jeremy is right of course. As is the assertion made on his behalf :

“Jeremy maintains that the middle-class woman in Oxfordshire who drinks a £10 bottle of Chablis every other night will not be affected because it won’t go up in price and she can afford it anyway,’ said the source.

‘But the working-class woman in Oldham who drinks a cheap bottle of Lambrini will be hit because it will cost more”

Well said that man. Is his, and other MP’s, opposition enough though? It would appear sadly that there is no ‘organised’ campaign against minimum pricing to date. It is not clear if this is because the supermarkets & drinks companies are following the strategy of appeasement, looking at the likely boost to their incomes such a policy will deliver regardless of the hurt it will cause their customers, or were genuinely taken by surprise. Perhaps they feel the policy is too absurd to worry about?

But history tells us that you need more than having right on your side and reasoned arguments to win against the relentless, rich and powerful lobbying health “charities”. With privileged access to policy makers, often funded by those they lobby, these fake charities rarely fail their paymasters in delivering the desired outcome in such “public” consultations.

There are signs of a resistance building. An e-petition against minimum pricing was created a while ago but has trebled signatures in the past 24 hours and an informative facebook page here (and an event to sign up to here) has appeared in the past couple of days (that from which we harvested much info – thanks!) .We have also seen the excellent Chris Snowdon step up to the plate with a must read report (co-authored by statistician John C. Duffy) “Minimum evidence for minimum pricing” and enjoyed his many and brilliant turns on the media. And of course we have the efforts of Pub Curmudgeon, Dick Puddlecote, Frank DaviesSpiked! ASI, IEA and TPA, (and many others) to count on. (We also hear tell of a newspaper campaign though can’t pin that one down right now).

Whether their efforts, combined with the fact that minimum pricing is illegal , fails the evidence test, is based on a flawed model, punishes the poor, the sensible and the moderate, and of course that public opinion is against it, is enough to win out against the might and money of the government’s own pet groups, on a mission to deliver Mr Cameron’s desired outcome, however remains to be seen. For now our thanks and appreciation to Jeremy (and many other MPs) for standing firm.

Ps if you want to get the minimum pricing widget (above) for your web site, click here (courtesy of the marvelous Pub Curmudgeon).

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Battle of Ideas: a day well spent

By Angela Harbutt
October 22nd, 2012 at 2:08 pm | 2 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized


H/T  I was at the excellent “Battle of Ideas 2012” event at the Barbican on Sunday. I was going to write up my thoughts on the sessions I attended, but then read this excellent summary of events over on The Last Ditch.

I came away from the day realising that there is a very clear split between those working in, or at least receiving funds from, the state, who unapologetically kneel before the god that is regulation, and those that live in the real world, dismayed at the stifling effect over-regulation can have on every aspect of our lives – our spirit of adventure, individuality, personal responsibility and enterprise.

One academic (and former special advisor to Gordon Brown) stated with a totally straight face that “all the regulation over the last 50 years were necessary and had been effective” (what planet has he been living on I wonder) .

Meanwhile a certain Dr Michael Nelson, director of research and nutrition at the Children’s Food Trust, announced in a later session that parents simply could not be trusted to make the right choices on food for their children ” …we know from experience (parents) do not themselves have the the power of executive decision when it comes to their own diet…” I suppose that, by now, I should be getting used to the high and mighty in academia looking down their noses at the rest of us and tut tutting at our dreadful parenting skills, appalling nutritional choices, refusal to keep to the “safe” number of units of alcohol etc . But there is something extremely chilling, hearing them say such things out loud, and knowing that it is almost always they, rather the the electorate, that the politicians actually listen to.

On the upside we were thoroughly entertained by Mark Littlewood’s wit and innovative solutions to the problems of over regulation; humbled by Josie Appleton’s knowledge of, and fight against, the regulation that is eating away at the heart of civil society; uplifted by Chris Snowdon’s probing questions on where the assault on smoking, drinking and eating would actually end; and found ourselves cheering on Christine Thompson from SABMiller who asked in a simple heartfelt way that we don’t always focus on the negatives of alcohol, but remember the many more times alcohol forms part of a happy family event, gathering of friends, or celebration.  Her commonsense, down to earth, balanced view of life was a timely reminder that if left to our own devices we don’t always turn into a pack of savage animals destined for a late night visit to A&E.

On that note a large group of us headed to the pub to engage in what can only be described as a session of binge drinking -or in old language – had a few pints and a jolly good natter with some old, and several new, friends.

Speaking of which, if you can spare the time, do head over to The Last Ditch to read his superb and much fuller review of the day.

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