Yes, Scotland should have more independence. Wales too. But don’t forget the English

by Stephen Tall on September 8, 2014

I’m a federalist which, I guess, places me somewhere between the unionists and the separatists. Which means that, as I ‘fessed up last February, I’m much more ambivalent about the case for Scottish independence than most Lib Dems:

I believe in power being as close to the people as possible. Is ‘devo-max’ or full independence the best way to achieve that? That’s the key question Scots need to be able to answer by September. Ironically, it’s the one not on the ballot paper.

So I’m not as fazed as many down south are by the apparent tightening of the polls suggesting Yes Scotland have drawn level with Better Together. It now seems likely the result will be close. If Yes loses, but narrowly, it won’t settle the issue: it will merely postpone it. After all, the UK voted in 1975 to stay in Europe by a convincing 2:1 margin but that debate hasn’t gone away. The Nationalists will be back – and as the older generations are the most indy-sceptical it’s quite possible demography will be on their side. Even if the Union is saved this time, it may not be next time (and there would be a next time).

I’ve been surprised by quite how central Better Together has made the currency to its campaign. That’s not to say I think Alex Salmond has given satisfactory answers to the questions raised: he hasn’t. But (and I realise this risks sounding glib) I can’t be alone in thinking that, if the Scots do vote to become an independent country, the issue will be resolved. I’m not sure how, and I’m not sure Scots will like the results of how it’s resolved. But resolved it will be.

By focusing so intently on the currency, and giving Salmond time to work out some rebuttals, Better Together has forfeited the opportunity to take the wider fight to Yes Scotland. If you’re going to run an overtly negative campaign — and when you’re asking people to vote No that’s not an unreasonable campaign pitch: it didn’t, after all, do No2AV any harm — at least do it properly. Spray every issue with a mist of uncertainty: the possible threat independence poses to jobs, the health service, the welfare state, schools, transport, the environment, etc.

And then don’t forget the positive. Belatedly, perhaps too belatedly, the talk is of further devolution, of empowering the Scots. But this isn’t a Scots-only issue, or even a Scots- and Welsh-only issue. The rise of Ukip in part reflects the upsurge in English nationalism, allied to the view that government is too remote, too centralised in a Westminster elite which doesn’t understand life beyond SW1. The key difference is that the SNP vote is concentrated in one nation of five million where the electoral system accurately reflects how the public votes. Yes, we should repatriate more powers to local communities. Not only in Scotland, though: across the UK.

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

Lib Dem pre-manifesto launched: includes policies to reform drugs laws and bus pass discount for under-21s

by Stephen Tall on September 8, 2014

pre manifesto documentLast week’s pre-manifesto launch by the Lib Dems was postponed owing to the international situation. Thankfully no important news has broken over the past couple of days which might over-shadow today’s launch. Unless, that is, you think the potential break-up of the UK or a new Royal Baby are headline-grabbing events.

You can read the Pre-Manifesto in full below.

The party trailed its publication today with a couple of announcements intended to highlight key policies:

  • ‘Exclusive: Liberal Democrats to announce decriminalisation of all drugs’ headlined Politics.co.uk:
  • Personal possession of all drugs should be decriminalised, the Liberal Democrats will announce today. The policy will feature in the party’s ‘pre-manifesto’, which is being unveiling this morning as it lays out its priorities in the next parliament. While the document will not use the word ‘decriminalisation’, Liberal Democrat sources have told Politics.co.uk it will formally adopt a policy document proposal which called on the UK to adopt the approach used in Portugal. … Under the system, police would decide whether someone caught with possession of a drug is a dealer or user. For those only using the drug, the onus would be on medical responses rather than criminal sanctions. The move goes a step further than Nick Clegg’s previous pledge to stop sending people to jail for drug use. It is the latest in a line of increasingly liberal positions on drugs from the party, as it becomes more confident in demanding wholesale reform of Britain’s drugs laws.

  • Lib Dems pledge cheap bus travel for young said BBC Online
  • Young people aged 16-21 would get a 66% discount on bus travel in England under Lib Dem plans outlined by Nick Clegg. The scheme would be paid for by cutting the winter fuel allowance and free TV licences for better-off pensioners, the party’s “pre-manifesto” proposes. Mr Clegg told reporters: “We are telling you today that we are choosing to put the next generation front and centre of our plans.” The proposals are part of the Lib Dem pitch for next year’s general election.

    These can be added to the 21 policy announcements the party has already issued based on the pre-manifesto.

    As I wrote last week:

    When the pre-manifesto is launched, there will be three key questions unanswered:

    First, how do we pay for it all? The party has committed to balance the budget but has also committed to some major new spending initiatives, albeit some are openly billed as aspirational. Take, for instance, the party’s pledge to continue raising the personal allowance until it reaches £12.5k (the current minimum wage level), and then, as an aspiration, to start raising the national insurance threshold to £12.5k too. Each is hugely expensive. Combined with other spending commitments and the need for continuing severe austerity to reduce the deficit and something will have to give.

    Secondly, what are our top-lines? In 2010, the party listed four top priorities: tax-cuts for low-earners, the Pupil Premium, the Green Investment Bank, and political reform. Four years later, we can put ticks against the first three, and a cross against the fourth (though that’s mostly the result of Labservative opposition). What will be our equivalents in 2015? That’s still to be decided.

    Thirdly, what are our red-lines? In 2010, the party vetoed a number of Tory manifesto ideas, such as prioritising inheritance tax-cuts for the wealthy. However, we infamously didn’t draw a red-line around our tuition fees commitment (the Coalition Agreement enabled Lib Dem MPs to abstain, though when it came to the vote the parliamentary party split three ways). It’s safe to say the leadership has learned its lesson: there will be no open-ended commitment to vote for/against individual policies no matter what the circumstances. That does, however, run the risk of looking slippery.

    On the first of those – balancing the budget – the position is no clearer. The pre-manifesto notes the Lib Dems would introduce a Mansion Tax “help[ing] enable us to continue to protect NHS spending, extend the protection of schools’ budgets to include early years and 16-19 education, and ensure 0.7% of GNI is spent on international development aid.” It’s amazing how far c.£2 billion will stretch. Other decisions about spending are parked in favour of a full Spending Review “after the General Election”. Breezily, the document then notes, “Once we have balanced the books…” Of course, the Lib Dems are no different any of the other parties in this regard: none are saying what cuts will be needed and where to meet their aims of continuing to reduce the deficit.

    As for top-lines and red lines, it looks like we’ll have to wait a while for those. The pre-manifesto is divided into eight sections: Responsible Finances / Balancing the budget / Green Britain Guarantee / Family Finances / An Opportunity Society / A Better Place to Live / Secure Communities / Power to the People / Britain in the World. I imagine the final, streamlined version will focus on emphasising policies where the party has already achieved success in government, such as tax-cuts for low-earners, extending the Pupil Premium to early years, family-friendly policies, pro-green economy initiatives, and (perhaps) something on political reform.

    Anyway, here’s the full document for you to read…

    Liberal Democrat Pre-Manifesto 2014

    * Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

    ‘Yes Scotland’ takes first poll lead of campaign. Peaked too soon or Big Mo timed just right?

    by Stephen Tall on September 7, 2014

    st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TTwo polls in the Scottish independence referendum debate were published last night. The one that’s (understandably) getting all the attention is YouGov’s showing a wafer-thin Yes lead, 51% to 49%. It’s only the second poll to have found a pro-independence majority (the previous one was over a year ago). The other poll, commissioned by the SNP, continues to show No in the lead, 48% to 44%.

    Peter Kellner in the Sunday Times has a good summary of the factors that will likely decide the outcome in the final 10 days’ campaigning:

    Factors that could favour a Yes vote

  • Momentum. The change in mood of the past four weeks may prove infectious, with more voters being swayed by the excitement and optimism of a surge in Yes support and wanting to go with the flow.
  • Superior campaigning. Yes Scotland is not only seen as more positive, it is also winning the ground war. Our poll finds that it has delivered more leaflets, put up more posters, set up more local stalls and sent more emails than Better Together.
  • Women continuing to lose their fears of independence. The gender gap has narrowed, but not disappeared. If men don’t start swing back to No, any further shift to Yes by Scotland’s women will guarantee victory for Salmond.
  • Factors that could favour a No vote

  • Turnout. Our poll points to a high turnout among voters of all ages. But experience tells us that the over 60s usually vote in larger numbers than any other group, and they still divide 62%-38% in favour of No.
  • Return of the fear factor. Until last week, a Yes victory looked unlikely. Now it is on the cards, the warnings from those opposed to independence will gain a fresh urgency and may make a bigger impact.
  • The Quebec precedent. In 1995 Quebec voted on whether to secede from Canada. With a month to go, No held a steady lead. Then the mood changed. The final polls pointed to a 53-47% victory for Yes. But on the day, some voters pulled back from the brink, and Quebec voted to remain part of Canada by 50.6% to 49.4%.
  • Kellner also looks at the implications for next May’s general election if the voters of Scotland do vote Yes. Here’s his best-guess forecast of what the result would be according to current polls:

      Labour 316 seats
      Conservative 280
      Lib Dem 27
      Others 27

    As he notes, “That would leave Labour just ten seats short of an overall majority, and with the option of going into coalition with the Lib Dems, or running a minority government on its own.”

    And what happens if Scotland were to secede? Something like this, he estimates:

      Conservative 278
      Labour 274
      Lib Dem 18
      Others 21

    Bit of a turnaround. It’s enough to make you wonder whether Andy Burnham and the Labour party are regretting scaremongering (inaccurately) about NHS privatisation quite so much.

    * Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

    David Rendel selected as Lib Dem PPC for Somerton and Frome

    by Stephen Tall on September 7, 2014

    David Rendel - Some rights reserved by Martin TodCongratulations to former Lib Dem MP for Newbury, David, Rendel, who was last night selected by Lib Dem members in Somerton and Frome as the party’s parliamentary candidate for the May 2015 general election. David will be attempting to retain David Heath’s seat, won in 2010 with a majority of 1,817 over the Tories.

    The party has previously selected a PPC for the seat. Sarah Yong was selected in February this year, but stood down five months later. There had even been speculation that the party was gently arm-twisting David Heath to throw his hat back into the ring.

    David Rendel needs no introduction to most Lib Dems. He was the victor of the famous 1993 Newbury by-election, who held the seat in 1997 and 2001. He stood for the party leadership when Paddy Ashdown retired in 1999 (I was one of those who voted for him, but it did him no good: he finished fifth). He attempted a comeback in Newbury in 2010, but to no avail. Famously, he was the only member on the Lib Dems’ Federal Executive to vote against the Coalition.

    He knows it’ll be a tough fight in Somerton and Frome. Until 2010 David Heath had held the seat at three consecutive elections with majorities below 1,000. But at 65 there are few more tireless campaigners.

    * Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

    LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League: how it stands after Week 3

    by Stephen Tall on September 6, 2014

    Congratulations to Jon Featonby, who leads the LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League after the third week, with 198 points. It’s an impressive tally which means he’s in 2,550th position in the global league of 3.2 million players (ie, the top 0.08%). And he’s done that even with Wayne Rooney as his team captain.

    But George Murray (189 points), William Jones (187) and Lucy Keating (186) aren’t far behind: in fact, just six points separate the next six places. You can see the full top 10 below.

    There are 144 players in total in our league and you can still join it by clicking here.

    LDV FANTASY FOOTBALL_3

    * Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

    Liberal Hero of the Week #74: The Independent front page

    by Stephen Tall on September 5, 2014

    Liberal Hero of the Week (and occasional Villains) is chosen by Stephen Tall, Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and Research Associate at CentreForum

    cf hero - indy front page

    The Independent front page

    UK newspaper
    Reason: for reporting a terrorist murder without sensationalising it

    You’re a newspaper editor and a big international story breaks: a US journalist is seemingly murdered by a British member of the terrorist organisation, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), and the gruesome video of the crime released.

    You know it’s a front page story. Do you (a) splash a still photo of the murder on your front page for impact even though you know it gives his killers the victory they were looking for, or (b) report it without resorting to advertising the terrorists’ crimes for them?

    If you answered (a) you’re qualified to run most of the UK’s national newspapers. Only The Independent (along with the Financial Times) had the courage to go with (b). Zach Green put it best:

    Kudos, then, to The Independent and its editor Amol Rajan for showing it’s possible to publish a punchy, newsy front page that gives readers the facts without giving the terrorist what they want.

    * The ‘Liberal Heroes of the Week’ (and occasional ‘Liberal Villains’) series showcases those who promote any of the four liberal tenets identified in The Orange Book — economic, personal, political and social liberalism — regardless of party affiliation and from beyond Westminster. If they stick up for liberalism in some way then they’re in contention. If they confound liberalism they may be named Villains. You can view our complete list of heroes and villains here. Nominations are welcome via email or Twitter.

    My must-reads this week September 5, 2014

    by Stephen Tall on September 5, 2014

    Here’s some of the articles that have caught my attention this week…

    Clacton and the Lib Dems’ post-2015 wastelands problem

    by Stephen Tall on September 4, 2014

    Clacton Pier.The Clacton by-election triggered by Douglas Carswell’s defection from the Tories to Ukip will take place on 9th October – David Cameron’s birthday, but also the day after the Lib Dems’ autumn conference concludes.

    That’s not great news for the Lib Dems on two counts. First, it means the media will likely be obsessing more about Clacton than what’s happening in Glasgow (unless, that is, Yes Scotland has won the referendum).

    And secondly, the party’s not expecting a great result. There have been two constituency polls conducted to date (Survation and Lord Ashcroft): both have pointed to a sizeable win for Carswell, who will will become Ukip’s first elected MP, and both have shown the Lib Dems likely to lose their deposit, with just 2% of the vote. That would be down from the respectable 15% we scored in May 2010.

    If that happens, it would be the 10th deposit the party has lost this parliament. The singing of “Who’ll come a-losing deposits with me…” at Glee Club, the traditional end-of-conference knees-up, may have a certain anticipated poignancy.

    Of course, it’s not seats like Clacton that will determine how the Lib Dems do next May: it will be the 75 battleground seats which the party is looking to defend or where it could advance. On one level, then, it can join the ranks of by-elections like Newark and Wythenshawe and Sale East. The party needs to focus its resources, financial and human, where it can win.

    But that means that in vast swathes of the country the Lib Dems will, if we’re not careful, disappear from view. At the last election, there were some 300 seats where the Lib Dems finished either first or second. I’d be surprised if we make three-figures this time around. That leaves a lot of barren areas where a handful of Lib Dems will do their best to fight the good fight but without the means to make anything of it.

    A big priority for the party, post-2015, will be to re-build in those areas. The alternative would be to accept a retreat into our heartlands and ceding our claim to be a national party.

    * Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

    photo by:


    Tories announce new education policy: schools free to do exactly what the Government tells them to

    by Stephen Tall on September 3, 2014

    The Guardian reports that new Tory education secretary Nicky Morgan is about to make her first major policy announcement – and it’s, erm, interesting:

    Compulsory setting according to ability in England’s secondary schools is to be proposed by the education secretary, Nicky Morgan, in her first big initiative since she took over as education secretary. She is due to make the announcement as early as today.

    Here’s why it’s a bad idea:

    In principle – for years the Conservatives have been banging the drum for setting schools free. The whole purpose of Michael Gove’s academies programme and new free schools was to increase autonomy: to put school leaders (and parents) in charge. Whatever you think of the policy – my view is it’s a noble enough aim, but one which has needlessly sacrificed local expertise and democratic accountability along the way – it was at least coherent. In a stroke, Nicky Morgan has wiped out any claim the Tories could make that they trust schools to know best how to achieve success for their kids.

    In practice – the evidence is pretty clear that setting (grouping pupils according to their prior attainment) is not effective at improving pupils’ attainment. Actually, that’s not quite true. It probably helps the top-performing kids a little bit (though other approaches are far more effective). But it actively hinders the other kids: middle- and lower-attaining pupils. As those groups by definition include most pupils, the overall effect is negative. And, unsurprisingly, kids from poorer backgrounds are most likely to be the ones that suffer academically as a result. (This is the same argument which applies to those who want to bring back grammar schools.)

    So, there you have it: Nicky Morgan’s first policy announcement is doubly wrong: in principle and in practice. I wonder what Michael Gove would make of it?

    Update: the announcement, if one was planned, has been called off. Or is that postponed? The well-informed edu-tweeter Sam Freedman says the Tories say there’s “no intention to mandate setting”. Which invites the question where the story came from: though I’m not the Guardian’s greatest fan, I find it hard to believe Patrick Wintour wrote his story without having a good source somewhere high up in the Tory party.

    Postponed: Lib Dem pre-manifesto launch delayed owing to international situation

    by Stephen Tall on September 3, 2014

    Liberal Democrat manifesto front coverThe news of a further murder of a US hostage by ‘Islamic State’ broke last night. The Lib Dems have, therefore, decided to postpone today’s scheduled launch of the party’s pre-manifesto.

    The pre-manifesto is the document agreed by the Lib Dems’ elected federal policy committee (FPC) to be submitted to this autumn’s conference for approval. Its contents have been heavily trailed throughout the summer. By my count, 19 policies (mostly policies already agreed by conference, and listed at the foot of this post) have been unveiled, as the party gears up the publicity machine to try and get its key messages heard by the voters ahead of May’s general election.

    Party process purists won’t much like the publicity preceding the official conference vote, but the reality is unless the Lib Dems take every opportunity to hammer our policy messages home then what we have to say won’t ever be heard. A bit like leaflet delivery in an election campaign, it’s only when we’re sick and tired of hearing the message that there’s a slim chance the electorate might have noticed it even once.

    There are further examples in today’s media, with both the BBC and Guardian leading on the Lib Dem pledge for 15 hours of free childcare for all two-year-olds in England. On a different note, the Financial Times reports the party’s aim of abolishing first-past-the-post in local elections in England, replacing it with the single transferable vote system used in Scotland. (This is what we should have argued for in the May 2010 Coalition negotiations, rather than a referendum on the Alternative Vote – ah, hindsight!)

    It’s clear the party will use the pre-manifesto for two purposes. First, to emphasise how much the Lib Dems have achieved of the 2010 manifesto in government – from tax-cuts for low-earners to the Pupil Premium to the Green Investment Bank and so on. And secondly, to show how the party would build on those achievements if given a second chance in government – more tax-cuts for low-earners, extending the Pupil Premium to early years, setting up a Housing Investment Bank and so on.

    This is the traditional “A record of action, a promise of more” style of electioneering. However, it’s also intended to counteract two of the most common criticisms made against the party. First, that this is a Tory-led coalition in which the Lib Dems have been squashed; secondly, that the party’s breaking of its tuition fees pledge means it can’t be trusted on anything else.

    There’s another purpose, too. The party’s internal research shows that one of the biggest reasons our 2010 voters will no longer vote for us is not anger at the party’s supposed “betrayal” by going into coalition (there are some to whom that applies but they’re a minority). Rather it’s the belief that the party hasn’t actually achieved anything in power. When voters hear about the policies for which the Lib Dems are responsible they’re much more pen to voting for the party. The real question, then, is this: are we able to get our message across to enough voters in the time remaining?

    When the pre-manifesto is launched, there will be three key questions unanswered:

    First, how do we pay for it all? The party has committed to balance the budget but has also committed to some major new spending initiatives, albeit some are openly billed as aspirational. Take, for instance, the party’s pledge to continue raising the personal allowance until it reaches £12.5k (the current minimum wage level), and then, as an aspiration, to start raising the national insurance threshold to £12.5k too. Each is hugely expensive. Combined with other spending commitments and the need for continuing severe austerity to reduce the deficit and something will have to give.

    Secondly, what are our top-lines? In 2010, the party listed four top priorities: tax-cuts for low-earners, the Pupil Premium, the Green Investment Bank, and political reform. Four years later, we can put ticks against the first three, and a cross against the fourth (though that’s mostly the result of Labservative opposition). What will be our equivalents in 2015? That’s still to be decided.

    Thirdly, what are our red-lines? In 2010, the party vetoed a number of Tory manifesto ideas, such as prioritising inheritance tax-cuts for the wealthy. However, we infamously didn’t draw a red-line around our tuition fees commitment (the Coalition Agreement enabled Lib Dem MPs to abstain, though when it came to the vote the parliamentary party split three ways). It’s safe to say the leadership has learned its lesson: there will be no open-ended commitment to vote for/against individual policies no matter what the circumstances. That does, however, run the risk of looking slippery.

    **

    The 19 manifesto policies announced over the summer:

    Protecting education spending: Extend the protection to all education funding from early years through school to college
    Parental Guarantee: A core curriculum taught by qualified teachers
    Curriculum for Life: Children in state-funded schools, including academies and free schools, will be guaranteed age appropriate sex and relationship education, as well as financial literacy and citizenship lessons
    Early Years Pupil Premium: We will more than triple investment in the early years pupil premium from £300 to £1000 per child under manifesto plans
    ‘Daddy Month’: We will expand shared parental leave with an additional four week ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ paternity leave period
    Balance the budget: Aim to balance the structural current budget by 2017/18 and set a course to reduce debt as a share of national income. Make deficit reduction fair by ensuring high earners and the wealthiest pay their share. Set new fiscal rules to balance the budget while allowing borrowing for productive investment. Increase public spending again in line with growth in the economy once the budget is balanced.
    Cutting taxes for working people: Raise the income tax threshold to £12,500 before beginning to raise the National Insurance threshold
    Making our tax system fairer: We will increase taxes on the wealthiest, including raising Capital Gains Taxes and introducing a High Value Property Tax. Our manifesto plans include: Introducing a banded High Value Property Levy on residential properties worth over £2m; limit tax relief on pensions to a pot of £1m; maximising revenue from Capital Gains Tax by aligning rates more closely to Income Tax
    300,000 homes: Set an ambitious target of increasing the rate of house building to 300,000 a year
    Ring fence NHS budget: NHS spending will rise by at least the rate of inflation over the next Parliament. We also announced they will pool health and social care budgets. This would help make care more tailored towards individual patients and reduce inefficiencies
    Help for Carers: We will support carers with a package of measures designed to make their lives easier. The package includes an annual Carer’s Bonus of up to £250 and raising the amount carers can earn before losing their allowance. It also contains measures for more flexible working hours, support in returning to the jobs market and a scheme informing carers of their rights and giving them access to facilities
    Mental health: We will establish a mental health research fund worth £50m per year to help bridge the gap between physical health and mental health treatment
    Drugs: We will end imprisonment for drug users whose only crime is possession for personal use. They will instead receive non-custodial sentences and appropriate medical treatment
    Safe Standing: Clubs in the Premier League and Championship will be allowed to work with their supporters to introduce standing areas, which provide better atmospheres and allow clubs to offer cheaper safe standing season tickets
    Stop and Search: We want to help transform community relations and the public’s trust in the police through tightening the laws on stop and search, and requiring some police officers to wear body cameras when they stop someone. We will introduce rules making the wearing of body cameras by officers mandatory for: Section 60 stop and search areas; officers armed with firearms; members of Territorial Support Groups
    Tree planting: Within the first year of entering government we will develop the national tree planting programme in order to plant one tree for every child born in England. We estimate this will be approximately 700,000 to 750,000 trees per year
    Benefits yellow card: Under manifesto proposals people claiming unemployment benefit would be given a final warning for failing to stick to claimant conditions. Claimants would be given a reminder of their obligations and clear information about the sanction process which would only be triggered in the event of a further misdemeanour
    High Pay: Companies will be forced to publish their highest earners pay. Our outline plans to encourage fair pay deals by requiring companies with over 250 employees to publish the pay levels of their highest paid employee and median pay across the Company. And we will require these larger companies to consult employees on executive pay proposals to help put downward pressure on excessive awards

    Update: make that 21 – here’s another 2 policies also pre-announced:
    Scrapping the Severn Bridge tolls once the bridges are returned to public ownership and any outstanding debts are paid off (see here).
    Reforming funding to the Welsh Government to make up the shortfall (see here).

    * Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.



    You might also likeclose
    Plugin from the creators of Brindes :: More at Plulz Wordpress Plugins