Category Archives: Short Announcement

Andy Burnham’s unhealthy flag wrapping claptrap

I’ve written a response to Andy Burnham’s astounding Guardian article on the NHS on the SLF website:

Given the choice between “national”, “health” and “service” the word that Burnham considers most key to the Labour approach is the former. Ignore “health”, never mind “service” – who needs a bandage when you can wrap yourself in a flag?

Read the full article here, but frankly, Richard Grayson’s article from Reinventing the State on the NHS is more interesting.

While we’re at it, here’s an article from Chris Huhne from 2004 about why the party rejected the social insurance model for healthcare (pdf), courtesy of the Beveridge Group.

Opening out the mayoral selection process

I forgot to link to my Lib Dem Voice article about how the party might want to reconsider how it selects its candidates for London Mayor, the London Assembly and possibly the European Parliament. This follows on from the article I wrote last week:

Both Conservative and Labour politicians have been talking recently about primaries and indeed the Tories ran a primary election for London Mayor in 2007. I believe it is time the Lib Dems similarly looked at opening out our procedures for selecting our Mayoral and Assembly candidates for 2012, and possibly the European Elections in the longer term.

One thing I should be clear about: primaries are not a particularly good tool for increasing political participation. If you are serious about democratic renewal, then you have to support electoral reform. What they are good for is reviving political parties, something we could do with a bit of. Indeed, that is the crucial lesson we can learn from the US. In the US, candidates use primaries to build up their supporter base and use those supporters to drive their subsequent election campaigns. The UK has nothing comparable. Moribund areas remain moribund and we do nothing about them.

I don’t believe the Lib Dems can afford to run an open primary across the whole of London along the lines of what the Tories have recently done in Totnes. That would cost somewhere between £2.5 million and £3 million. Instead, I would like to see us run a series of caucuses.

Read the rest here.

Comment is Free: We need a harder line on voting reform

I’ve written a new piece on Comment is Free about the prospects of electoral reform. The gist:

The one thing Labour can’t afford is to have the Lib Dems on the other side of a referendum on electoral reform. With that in mind, Clegg should be hardening the Lib Dem line on electoral reform. Incremental change is simply not good enough at this time of political crisis; if Clegg doesn’t wish to become Brown’s patsy, he needs to get used to saying so. The “pragmatic” line of going along with AV or AV+ on the basis that it would be a step in the right direction, which has been received frontbench wisdom for the best part of the decade, needs to go out of the window.

Full article here.

While I’m here, can I also recommend to you Matthew Sowemimo’s latest article on Lib Dem Voice about the Lib Dem manifesto?

More on faith schools

Following my piece on Sunday, I’ve written another article on faith schools over on Comment is Free:

It is a shame that the supporters of faith schools lack the faith that their ethos could survive a few children of atheists running around the playground. Ultimately, society as a whole is the weaker for indulging their insecurity.

Comment is Free: Has Nick Clegg finally cracked it?

If you haven’t seen it yet, my latest article on Comment is Free is now up:

There is still more work to be done. I still think we need to do more about social justice and child poverty; improving education and tax cuts on people with low incomes is certainly necessary but not sufficient. But if Nick Clegg can maintain this new sense of purpose, then the party has every reason to be optimistic about the future.