Reports...
Economics
Balanced budgets, employment & growth
Balanced budgets, full employment and
economic growth. The conferences this
year fire the first shots in what ought to be
a landmark election in May 2010. Another go at the
problems never resolved in the ideological
dispute of Keynesianism and Monetarism.

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Bigger Better Faster More - the housing market
When it comes to houses, the rich are getting richer while their children are getting poorer. We, in England, live in some of the smallest, oldest and costliest homes in the developed world. In his report "Bigger Better Faster More" Dr Hartwich shows how other equally populace countries build bigger houses in green and pleasant cities while avoiding house price inflation.
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Land Values
Who knows, perhaps Conservative and Labour, in their efforts to outdo each other in how deeply they will take the knife to government departments, might do well to turn their attention away from Health and the DTI and onto the Inland Revenue? The radical but logical policy might be to switch all taxation toward the simplest to administer. They might solve the housing crisis in the same stroke.
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Money as Debt
As notes and coin dwindle to 3% of money in circulation, so dwindles the portion of money issued free of interest. Most money now is issued (created) by banks in forms of loans, mortgages, overdrafts etc. All this money enters the economy with interest. So what? we may ask, we expect to pay for products and services, including financial ones. It seems normal. But we perhaps do not think of money itself as carrying this debt burden: the medium of exchange, the unit of account, the lifeblood of the economy, the oil in the machine ...

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Public Revenue & Taxation
Taxation is a subject not universally greeted with enthusiasm. But while it commands 43% of economic activity it cannot be ignored by anyone seriously concerned with either social justice or environmental stewardship. Gladstone Club members tend to be, and that concern manifests in an appetite for economic principle at least as keen as their interest in party politics.
Julia Goldsworthy launches the LibDem's excellent 2006 tax policy Fairer, Simpler, Greener.

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Renegade Economics
“People are angry but not angry enough” Ross Ashcroft and Megan Campbell set themselves to get a new understanding of economics to a young audience. They are convinced that internet and the moving image are the ways to do it and their latest film Four Horsemen dramatically joins edited 'talking head' interviews like 'Inside Job' with narrated explanatory animated sequences like 'Money is Debt'. A powerful combination.

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The Battle of the Economists
A 6% fall in production is the biggest blow to enterprise since 1921. The question is, says Will Hutton, how much is lost forever and won’t be coming back? He measures an average growth rate between 1991 and 2009 troughs at 2.1%. That is well below the 2.6% forecast informing the Government’s plan to halve the deficit by 2013-14. At Hutton’s pessimistic growth rate he doubts this can be achieved. He sees little hope of returning to 2007 output levels before 2015 and predicts unemployment will reach 10 or even 15% of the workforce.

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Vince Cable & the Economic Crisis
We have ‘Punch and Judy’ politics, Cameron blaming Brown’s domestic policy, Brown claiming global crisis. Vince Cable casts both sides as foolish then artfully concedes both have a point. What the government has done has been right. Dr Cable confessed he initially advocated a strictly classical approach, to let Northern Rock fail. But once intervention was planned he advocated “going all the way” and taking it into public ownership. Letting a small bank fail sends a message to the others but Lehman Bros was not big and its fall had repercussions on every bank in the world. HBOS is one of the biggest. You couldn’t let that go without rattling the whole system. Dr Cable said the UK came within 24 hours of complete collapse of the banking system.

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Politics
A Peelite Coalition?
The first hung parliament in 36 yrs is the first ever to be resolved by coalition: historic and in more ways than one. Events moved fast in a fortnight from Mon 26th April when veteran observer Geoffrey Smith at the Gladstone Club shrewdly predicted the hung outcome on 6th May and that the aftermath would be more telling than the vote. Labour lost 91 seats to 258 but not to the Libdems who fell from 62 to 57 and the Tories gained 97 to 306, 20 seats short of a majority.
The making of the 2010 coalition government ...
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Electoral reform. AV Referendum
The most cherished part of our electoral system is the direct relationship with our MP whose selection is by and for the local constituency. With AV that is not at stake but it aims to ensure the MP so elected can claim a majority of the vote. In 1992 the MP for Inverness was elected on 26%.

PODCAST: Liberal Democrat Voice. AV referendum debate at Gladstone Club.


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Left/Right Politics
The sign over British Politics reads: “Over-crowding on middle ground. Please move to left or right”. But nobody wants to. It’s reminiscent of the scene from Robin Hood. The last guy’s arrow is dead centre of the bulls-eye of public sentiment and there are no prizes for shooting to left or right, no matter how close. The day is only won by splitting the incumbent’s arrow right down the middle. Is that then the gauntlet for the challenger party?

Mark Oaten in October 2005 launching Orange Book Liberalism and the first hint of moves to replace Charlie Kennedy. He resigned 3 months later.
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Lords Reform
“The House of Lords has for a long period been the habitual and vigilant enemy of every Liberal Government” So said Gladstone in 1884 as their Lordships threatened to block his franchise bill. Liberals have wanted reform every since.
Deputy leader Simon Hughes has landed the poison chalice. The Coalition Agreement leaves more wriggle room than he would have liked and now the other 100-year LibDem aspiration – Proportional Representation for the Commons – was rejected by voters ...
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Political Correctness
Political Correctness is deplored almost as universally as it is practiced. Who is free from that inner censorship in private, let alone on public forum? And so it is of enormous value that someone should take the trouble to penetrate what exactly PC is and how it operates. Anthony Browne has done just that. In his career as a journalist he has had first hand and often ‘inside’ exposure to the treatment of hot potato issues in public debate and the media.

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The 2010’s a mid-term review: Sir Anthony Seldon
Did Labour elect a decade in opposition? Who will succeed Cameron? And can the LibDems recover? Anthony Seldon reviews the second decade of the 21st century in British politics and reads the runes for the next parliament in 2020.

Jeremy Corbyn, he says, will last 3 years...
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Words Words Words
You may with Plato deplore the art of oratory making right wrong and wrong seem right. In Gorgias, he calls it a branch of the art of flattery like a cookery that makes unwholesome dishes taste good. But if you ever thought you saw a truth and wanted to carry others with you, you might also conclude that truth to be heard needs the assistance of art. The sound-bite is sometimes blamed for overshadowing the context in which it was said but how else can even a good cause communicate? Don’t die of ignorance. A dog is for life not just for Christmas ...

This is the latest field of literary enquiry to which Mark Forsyth turns his attention.

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Law
Freedom Under the Common Law
Those bent on revoking political freedoms always start by tinkering with the law. Thus Apartheid became official policy in South Africa in 1950 with the Population Registration Act's definitions of White, Black and Coloured. Barrister Peter
Linstead points also to Germany in 1933 allegedly combating terrorism the Fire Decree suspended personal freedom, free speech and association and privacy.
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Too many laws
We created three times more new crimes in 20 years than all those of the preceding six centuries. The proof, says Jeremy Horder, is in the number of pages in Halsbury’s statutes of England and Wales. 3000 new crimes since 1997. Professor Horder headed the team for the recent Law Commission report ‘Criminal Liability in Regulatory Contexts’

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International
Barack Obama
Six short weeks from the fateful November 4th vote, it is hard to imagine anyone other than Barack Obama would shortly be sworn in as America’s 44th President. Wiser heads of course would not forget so quickly the challenges on the road….only a few months ago it was far from clear that Obama would secure the Democratic nomination let alone the Presidency.


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International Aid and the 2004 Tsunami
In Clare Short’s analysis, the problems of the world are simple - Justice must be done. On the Palestinian question the majority on both sides support a two-state solution, Jerusalem would be divided, an equitable policy must be implemented on right of return and all settlements must be withdrawn. On ethnic cleansing – if early UN reports were heeded and a sufficiently resourced UN force interposed, such events are preventable. On poverty and disease, the knowledge of causes and solutions has long existed it just needs to be implemented. That the 20th century sustained unprecedented world population growth in fact attests to our ability to meet such challenges.

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People Power Across the Arab World
A young fruit vendor in a provincial town set himself alight outside the governor's office. Within 28 days the Tunisian regime had fallen and the president fled ending his 23-year rule. This was the event that launched the Arab Spring in December 2010.
Tyranny cannot be imposed upon a free people and its dynasties are short-lived measured in decades rather than centuries. But when they fall the question is what will follow?
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Talking to Terrorists
When is it time to talk to Terrorists? Terrorism has nowhere been defeated by military action alone.
The principle is sound, Lord Alderdice says, not to talk to those currently engaged in violence, but if a ceasefire is in place we should pursue talks.
John Alderdice headed the moderate Alliance Party at the height of the troubles in 1980s and 1990s and was a lead player in opening talks with the IRA. Few can claim more hands-on experience or inside understanding of the motives of armed insurgency – religious, cultural, political or otherwise. He now turns that experience to the questions posed in the Middle East.
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Culture
Breakdown of the Family
The number one pathway to poverty is family breakdown and the resulting single parent families are inevitably under-resourced – trying to get by with one pair of hands instead of two. Most need support. 71% are on housing benefit compared with 25% of couples. Of course it is right to provide support but at £46bn per year it is not an insignificant cost. It also costs the child. Those growing up without two parents are 75% more likely to fail at school, 70% more likely to be drug addicted, 40% more likely to get into bad debt and 35% more likely to be unemployed. Nearly half of British children see their parents separate before their 16th birthday.
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Drugs, the Underclass
Theodore Dalrymple’s commentaries, compassionate and witty, provide the most penetrating account of poverty in England since Orwell’s ‘Road to Wigan Pier’ and surely place him in the top echelon of social commentators. Behind the nom de plume is psychiatrist Anthony Daniels, a doctor who in his professional life travelled and worked in some of the world’s most challenging places before most famously working a 14 year stint at hospital and prison in a slum area of Birmingham.
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France & Britain: Our Culture
Fat, ugly and vulgar. Compared with our continental neighbour Britain has much more obesity, penchant for brutal shaven heads and slum chic, and increasingly crude behaviour. Anthony Daniels does not so much apologise as forewarn that his observations will be sweeping and laced with judgement. What is life after all he says if not a series of judgements?
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