Monday, 31 January 2011
Below is the text of a blog post that I have written for Liberal Vision:
Over at Lib Dem Voice, Mark Pack poses the question: Was Beveridge right to oppose the Welfare State?
This may seem an odd debating point as everyone credits William Beveridge with laying the foundation of the welfare system we currently have.
In fact, Beveridge laid out a liberal blueprint to tackle want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness.
The Labour Government under Clement Attlee took the report and responded by creating a centralised structure that became known as the Welfare State. The NHS, education system and social security system that many now see as representing all that is good about Britain was inspired by liberalism but built by Fabian social democracy.
It is impossible to know what would have happened if a Liberal Government had come to power in 1945 but it is likely that a support system would have been established that emphasised voluntary engagement and the decentralisation of decision-making.
Wednesday, 19 January 2011
I've just caught up with Robert Peston's 'Too Big to Save' that can be viewed, for now, on BBC iPlayer.
It is a fascinating account of the banking crisis that examines how regulation and banking practice led to the near collapse of our banking system.
It doesn't look at every element such as the mortgage market or the way interest rates influenced decision-making.
The programme does how policy intentions can be distorted by perverse incentives that are at the heart of the policy. For instance, when Basel 1 came into being the aim was to ensure the banks had sufficient capital. What happened was that the banks looked around for other ways to use their capital and make it appear as though they were meeting the Basel requirements.
Toby Baxendale of the Cobden Centre features.
Steve Baker MP, another member of the Cobden Centre, explains their view of UK banking on the Halsbury's Law Exchange blog.
A declaration of interest is called for as my employer supports and runs the Halsbury's Law Exchange.
Wednesday, 12 January 2011
Tuesday, 11 January 2011
Today, Nick Clegg made a pitch for those voters that every politician is after: Middle England, the squeezed middle or hard-working families. Clegg has added a new term 'the alarm clock Britain'.
Putting to one side the merits of the policy proposals, the question for those interested in the development of political ideas, is how does this fit with the modern liberalism that Clegg has been weaving of late?
Clegg has said that the coalition's ambition to redefine the relationship between the citizen and the State. Am ambition he appears to share.
Will his alarm clock awake liberalism, ensuring that people have more control over their lives or is it purely an electoral tactic? It needs to combine Clegg's modern liberalism with electoral sensibilities. If not, it will run into many difficulties.
Saturday, 8 January 2011
A while back I wondered that the results might be if voters were polled on whether they would vote for the coalition, irrespective of the two parties in it.
The polling agency Angus Reid has done just that and you can read the results care of ConservativeHome.
It doesn't make encouraging reading for those in favour of an Oyster Card election but it is early days.
Friday, 7 January 2011
While we still do not know exactly what form the revised control orders will take, Nick Clegg has made it clear that civil liberties will be restored, protected and strengthened by the coalition.
For civil libertarians, how well this is done is what the coalition should be judged on.
The problem with control orders isn't so much the restrictions as the lack of hearing what you are accused of and being able to defend yourself. When you are charged you do not always get bail and are thus deprived of your liberty.
If the coalition can restore Habeas Corpus while maintaining security then they will satisfy both civil liberty campaigners and those concerned with national security.