Friday, 27 May 2016

Marco Pannella, the 'lion of liberty' Radical Party leader has died

Marco Pannella, politician, was born on May 2, 1930. He died on May 19, 2016, aged 86

I met Pannella sometime in the mid 70's at an EFLRY seminar.(for younger readers this was some time before LYMEC was formed). He talked about Gueseppe Mazzini and the unification of Italy, his successful campaign for divorce law reform and the upcoming campaign for abortion .
He had joined the Italian Liberal Party in his youth and was a student leader. In 1956 the broke with the party -then led by Giovanni  Malagodi a man prominent in Liberal International and often quoted by Jeremy Thorpe. Pannella along with others on the left helped to form the Radical Party. 



Renzi pays homage to the “Lion of Liberty”
Tributes for the leader came pouring in from his political colleagues, led by the prime minister, Matteo Renzi, who said: “He was a great political leader, a radical who left his mark on the history of this country, fighting battles that were sometimes controversial but always bravely and without any hidden agendas. I pay tribute on behalf of myself and the government to this warrior and lion of liberty.”

A fully obituary has appeared in The Guardian, New York Times, The Times (£) and many other papers
As he Guardian says, he was 'good at annoying people' but had real achievements to his name, their obituary begins
For the past 40 years, the Italian radical politician and civil rights activist Marco Pannella, who has died aged 86, was at the forefront of Italian politics on issues such as divorce, abortion, prison conditions, world hunger, world peace, Europeanism, the decriminalisation of drugs (he was briefly arrested for smoking a joint in public) and sexual reform.



Monday, 23 May 2016

Mental Health new Mayor's priority


Wednesday, 18 May 2016


The beginning of my Mayoral year

Daughter Katie and grandchildren Sarah and Lily join me in the Mayor's parlour after the ceremony
Last night I was installed as Mayor of Sefton at a meeting of the council held in Southport town hall.

I am going to use a blog to record all my comings and goings as mayor which can be found at : http://themayoralblog.blogspot.co.uk/ and so the Birkdale FOCUS will not have any more postings from me for a while.

At a reception held afterwards in The Atkinson I had the chance to thank my predecessor Stephen Kermode (who passed on a very good joke), divest myself of the Ruritanian outfit  and to outline some of my plans for the year.

For 36 years I have worked alongside people with mental health issues on their journey to living a full and independent life. I hope to use the opportunity that the mayoralty gives me to continue to challenge the stigma and ignorance that so often blights their lives inhibiting them from playing their full part in our communities.  I intend to work alongside the 800 group of charities-so called because together they have given 800 years of service to our communities-to include those who are often excluded from the life of the borough.
later, without the Ruratanian robes....


Looking at the diary for the coming year it is dominated by the remembrance of war. We mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme at events throughout the borough. I shall be at Southport where the war memorial has a special chapel dedicated to those young men who died there. I shall lay a paving stone dedicated to a Bootle man who received the Victoria Cross for his bravery on the centenary of his death. In June shall  the Royal Hotel to commemorate the battle of Waterloo in the district named after the battle. It is a blessing that Europe has found a peaceful way of resolving its disputes.

During the year I hope to have the opportunity, on behalf of the borough, to thank individuals, voluntary groups, faith communities and  businesses who make our borough such a diverse and successful place.

I have no doubt that along the way I shall encounter many challenges, not least of all from those who will regard me as an imposter as every self respecting Sandgrounder knows that there is only one Mayor of Southport and that is Maureen Fearn!

Friday, 6 May 2016

The brilliant results from Southport in detail, a clean sweep

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

Below are the brilliant results from Southport. Never before throughout the whole history of the borough have we won every seat. That goes back to the granting of the borough's charter in 1858!

some of the victorious Lib Dem team after the count


Most magnificent was the stonking majority in Dukes ward never before achieved- very closely followed by the extra ordinary gain from the Tories in Ainsdale. In addition we held Cambridge - a seat we failed to take last year. Look too at the size of the majorities..........

These seven seats make up the Southport constituency


Ainsdale - results
Election CandidatePartyVotes%
Lynne ThompsonLiberal Democrats171342%Elected
Jamie HalsallConservative Party114928%Not elected
Mhairi McLeod Johnstone DoyleThe Labour Party72918%Not elected
Duncan BrowneUnited Kingdom Independence Party39410%Not elected
Barbara Ann DuttonThe Green Party1333%
Not elected


Birkdale - results
Election CandidatePartyVotes%
Richard Ronald HandsLiberal Democrats144346%Elected
Ged WrightThe Labour Party71723%Not elected
Linda Julia Ann Gunn-RussoUnited Kingdom Independence Party43914%Not elected
John Charles Lyon-TaylorConservative Party42814%Not elected
Bernhard FrankThe Green Party1073%Not elected

Cambridge - results
Election CandidatePartyVotes%
Pat KeithLiberal Democrats157547%Elected
Jordan Thomas ShandleyConservative Party72922%Not elected
Michael SkarrattsUnited Kingdom Independence Party50115%Not elected
Stephen James JowettThe Labour Party46514%Not elected
David William CollinsThe Green Party722%Not elected

Dukes - results
Election CandidatePartyVotes%
Tony DawsonLiberal Democrats149645%Elected
Jacky BlissConservative Party92728%Not elected
Frank HanleyThe Labour Party43813%Not elected
Matthew James HubbardUnited Kingdom Independence Party34911%Not elected
Bernie DraperThe Green Party1073%Not elected

Kew - results
Election CandidatePartyVotes%
David Gwyn PullinLiberal Democrats108539%Elected
Janet Catherine HarrisonThe Labour Party68025%Not elected
Terry John DurranceUnited Kingdom Independence Party55120%Not elected
Tina BlissConservative Party32912%Not elected
Richard James FurnessThe Green Party1024%Not elected

Meols - results
Election CandidatePartyVotes%
John DoddLiberal Democrats163551%Elected
Luke Anthony ThompsonConservative Party53517%Not elected
Debbie BannonThe Labour Party51016%Not elected
Katy BonneyUnited Kingdom Independence Party45814%Not elected
Sarah-Jayne McIntoshThe Green Party863%Not elected

Norwood - results
Election CandidatePartyVotes%
Bill WelshLiberal Democrats121043%Elected
Lesley DelvesThe Labour Party69825%Not elected
Peter Neol GregsonUnited Kingdom Independence Party41715%Not elected
Poppy Elise JonesConservative Party32612%Not elected
David McIntoshThe Green Party1465%Not elected

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Birkdale potholes

As a cyclist I am more aware of potholes than most folk but a couple that have appeared in Birkdale are so big nobody can missed them. We have reported several in recent days but the one in Burlington Rd and the one in Lyndhurst Rd take the joint 1st prize for the biggest. And before anyone tells me I have already reported the state of the road by The Fisherman's Rest

Full review of Lib Party and the Economy , Peter Sloman

Liberal Party and the Economy 1929-1964 by Peter Sloman

Like many academic books it is ridiculously expensive, it is advertised on Amazon for £58 .  
I recall a meeting of the Liberal Party Standing Committee in 1979 which was drawing up the Election Manifesto. We reached the item on the agenda marked economic policy. There was a silence until Richard Moore spoke: ‘I joined the Liberal Party in spite of not because of its economic policy ‘he told us.
Many people hold the opinion that our party gives economic policy a lower priority than say the environment, reform of government, foreign policy, Europe, individual rights or the state of the pavements. Such indifference, it is argued, allows a few well motivated and wealthy mavericks to high jack the party’s policy position. William Wallace has written about one such event.

‘The group of free-trade Liberals that included S.W.Alexander and Oliver Smedley had drive, financial resources, and a clear sense of Liberalism in a libertarian, minimum-state interpretation. The almost anarchic structure of party assemblies allowed for such groups to exert real influence.

The Radical Reform Group (RRG), as I recall, provided the most coherent alternative definition of Liberalism – much closer to the radical Liberal tradition, and to the nonconformist beliefs which a high proportion of its members held. It helped enormously that Jo Grimond as leader was naturally sympathetic to the RRG perspective; but the existence and activities of RRG, and the arguments of its members on the Party Executive, made Grimond’s task in reorienting the party much easier.
My future father-in-law, Edward Rushworth, had for many years been both a member of Radical reform Group (RRG) and of the party executive.

He made little distinction between being a Liberal and being a teetotal nonconformist; his instincts were anti authoritarian and socially egalitarian.’

Some Liberator readers may well join Richard Grayson in seeing the policy coup in 2008 over tax cuts and promoting a vision of small state in a similar vein to the antics of Smedley and Alexander.

Peter Sloman’s book The Liberal Party and the Economy 1929-1964 (OUP 2015) challenges the assumption that the history of economic policy making in the Liberal party is the history of a struggle between classical free market liberalism and interventionist social liberalism. Sloman has gone where no other historian has gone before examining the twists and tortured turns of policy making. It is an excellent account of the party’s history giving some new insights into issues –not all of them related to economic policy.

Sloman identifies four strands of Liberalism and examines the interplay between them. Classical liberalism, Georgism, New (left) Liberalism and constructive Liberalism. The first two are seen as essentially non-interventionist while the latter two see a positive role for the state. The New Liberal tradition stemming from Hobhouse and Green focusses on ethics whilst the constructive liberalism is influenced by professional economists and focused on practical policies.

If you don’t know your Distributists from your Georgists or your Keynesians and are unaware that the Liberal Party under Clem Davies endorsed central state planning then this is the book for you. Here you can also read how the idea of membership of the European Common Market was used to rout the extreme free marketeers at the 1960 Liberal Assembly and of the most successful economic campaign to come out of NLYL: ‘Ownership for All ‘
Some aspects of classical liberalism had a strong hold on the popular imagination. The belief that free trade enhanced worldwide prosperity and peace tapped into the party’s internationalism. The assertion that free trade kept the price of bread low was a key aspect of the Liberal appeal. In the 1906 election here in Southport that was the main message of the successful candidate
Astbury

The Liberal Party never supported pure laissez fair economics. All Liberator readers know Gladstone favoured nationalising the railways. By the time of the 1906 Liberal government, many of whose members were influenced by T H Green, the party had moved decisively away from the small state view beloved by the ideologically pure classical liberals. In the 1920’s Keynes announced to the Liberal Summer School that ‘laissez faire was dead’. Nevertheless the neo liberal corpse has had an after life and each new manifestation has been more grotesque that the previous one. We have already glimpsed the destructive impact that neo liberal activists had on the small struggling Liberal Party of the 1950’s. Many of them decamped to the Institute of Economic Affairs where they acted as midwife at the birth of Thatcherism and which today is an apologist for corporatist capitalism.


With the publication of the Orange Book* a new generation of neo liberals have come and wreaked havoc on the party helping to reduce the parliamentary base from 56 to 8 MP’s. The work of a generation, whose activism rebuilt the party in the years after Grimond, has been wiped out. Sloman has argued that the Orange Book led to the rightward move of the party’s leadership facilitating the formation of the coalition with the Tories. It certainly provided the intellectualunderpinning for Nick Clegg’s disastrous  2010 speech, which worried only about social mobility and dismissed tackling the inequality of experienced by citizens today. David Howarth has identified that speech asone of the triggers for the catastrophic fall in support for the Lib Dems from which it has not yet recovered.

Many things from the classical liberal tradition have been absorbed into the Radical Liberal agenda: individual liberties, suspicion of monopolies and the opposition to the excesses of state power promoted by the likes of Blunkett, Reid and Straw. Sloman points out that ‘Gladstone was as concerned about the integrity and autonomy of the state as about its size. It is difficult to find the same concern among today’s ‘economic liberals ’. Radicals need to be robust in rejecting neo-liberalism- a C 20th heresy of the New Right.

Another strand of Liberal economic thinking identified by Sloman is Georgism. Its anthem‘The Land’ has had pride of place in the Liberator Song Book since before Lord Bonkers was born, as it did in ‘Songs for Paper Tigers’ in the time of his father. It is based on the writings of Henry George who argued that land was a finite resource and that no one had an exclusive right to its ownership and that owners should be taxed to compensate the community for their monopoly use of it. Essential they were classical liberals who believed that once the issue of the land was addressed by imposing a tax on the unimproved value of plots the market would operate effectively and a just society would result. Lloyd George include a modest land tax in the People’ Budget of 1909. 


Left Liberalism inspired by the New Liberals was associated with thinkers like T H Green and L THobhouse. They saw a legitimate role for the state in promoting social justice and did not regard free markets and free enterprise as immutable principles

The final categorisation that Sloman identified he calls Constructive Liberalism and it was the dominant position in the C20th. Essentially this is a conflation of classical and New Liberalism. The Summer School movement and the 1929 manifesto are part of that tradition. It is a very elastic term stretching from a fairly minimalist position for the state up to the peak of intervention in 1943 when Clem Davies and  Tom Horobin’s ‘Radical Economic Policy for Progressive Liberalism’ advocated wide scale nationalisation, export and import controls and a high degree of central planning.

By using his more nuanced classification of Liberal policy and moving away from viewing it as a struggle between classical and new liberalism Sloman has given us a much better understanding. Radicals need to take up the challenge of the RRG and produce a new synthesis for C21st which is anti-authoritarian and socially egalitarian. Drawing on the left/New Liberal tradition of passionate social concern with its starting point of distributive justice we can fashion an approach which offers new hope, answering the challenges that Picketty and others have identified. We must reject the neo-liberal consensus that has led to an unacceptable concentrations of wealth in the hands of a small number of owners of capital and a reduction in the share paid to employees. This global trend is accelerating and will soon impact on all employee as automation and cheap labour undercuts their wage rates and destroys their jobs. 

Throughout most of the C20th employee ownership and industrial democracy have been an enduring feature Liberal policy. They were the signature policy of the Grimond years. By offering a radical interpretation of the distributive ideas promoted by the Ownership for All campaign Radicals have advocated using state power to compel companies to introduce profit sharing and meaningful employee representation at Board level. Economists like Nobel Prize winner James Meade (who once advised our party) came up with many ideas to re distribute capital including legalisation to require companies to issue new shares to employee trusts. David Steel in his 1985 book Partners in One Nation argued that these radical ideas were part of a ‘fundamental economic philosophy distinct from that of socialism and free-market capitalism’ and as the RRG said Radicals aim to distribute instead of concentrating political as well as economic power’. Workers would become citizens of industry, not merely hirelings of private employers or of the state.

In his book Sloman suggests that Georgism, the Ownership for All policy and the Distributive ideas of Belloc are part of the classical tradition. What Radicals identify is that they all challenge the existing rights of owners and argue that the state action should be used to redistribute ownership. In his time Paddy Ashdown foresaw a time when ‘workers would be employing capital’. In that assertion he was echoing the greatly respected Liberal Richard Wainwright for whom employee ownership was the ‘holy grail of liberalism’. It is time to take up the quest 

All the links work in the early version here and here
----------------------------------------------------

This is my review of Sloman's book that I wrote for Liberator. Regrettably it took me so long to get round to complete it that someone else had submitted one before I had finished. As the thrifty Liberals of yesteryear would have said 'waste not want not', so I am posting it here in three instalments

*I am well aware that The Orange Book is a 'mixed bag' containing some interesting and useful contributions . Nevertheless the motivation of some of its key protagonists has been to shift the centre of gravity of economic thinking away from the social liberal consensus within the party towards a more neo liberal position. In light of that I think it is perfectly reasonable to use 'Orange book' as a short hand for that group. Their liberalism was replaced in the early 20th century with a commitment to the welfare state because of the work of T.H. GreenL.T. Hobhouse and the economist J.A. Hobson; the Orange Book writers were seeking to overturn nearly a century of Liberal party history. It is to be greatly welcomed that the recent conference at York passed an excellent economic policy motion promoted by the Social Liberal Forum

Hans Dietrich Genscher RIP

The Free Democrat leader and German Foreign Minister died 10 days ago. A number of obituaries have appeared including in the Guardian  

It is odd how random facts about people stick in your mind. The 'Gencher' fact for me was his penchant for wearing the FDP 's colours. His yellow sweater became his trademark a fact mentioned in the The Scotsman's obituary.

He was a dedicated European who clearly saw that German's role in the world should be acted out in concert with his neighbours.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Liberal Party and the Economy 1929-1964 by Peter Sloman concluding section

The first part of this review can be found here





Many things from the classical liberal tradition have been absorbed into the Radical Liberal agenda: individual liberties, suspicion of monopolies and the opposition to the excesses of state power promoted by the likes of Blunkett, Reid and Straw. Sloman points out that ‘Gladstone was as concerned about the integrity and autonomy of the state as about its size. It is difficult to find the same concern among today’s ‘economic liberals Radicals need to be robust in rejecting neo-liberalism- a C 20th heresy of the New Right.



Another strand of Liberal economic thinking identified by Sloman is Georgism. Its anthem ‘The Land’ has had pride of place in the Liberator Song Book since before Lord Bonkers was born, as it did in ‘Songs for Paper Tigers’ in the time of his father. It is based on the writings of Henry George who argued that land was a finite resource and that no one had an exclusive right to its ownership and that owners should be taxed to compensate the community for their monopoly use of it. Essential they were classical liberals who believed that once the issue of the land was addressed by imposing a tax on the unimproved value of plots the market would operate effectively and a just society would result. Lloyd George include a modest land tax in the People’ Budget of 1909.

Left Liberalism inspired by the New Liberals was associated with thinkers like T H Green and L THobhouse. They saw a legitimate role for the state in promoting social justice and did not regard free markets and free enterprise as immutable principles

The final categorisation that Sloman identified he calls Constructive Liberalism and it was the dominant position in the C20th. Essentially this is a conflation of classical and New Liberalism. The Summer School movement and the 1929 manifesto are part of that tradition. It is a very elastic term stretching from a fairly minimalist position for the state up to the peak of intervention in 1943 when Clem Davies and  Tom Horobin’s ‘Radical Economic Policy for Progressive Liberalism’ advocated wide scale nationalisation, export and import controls and a high degree of central planning.

By using his more nuanced classification of Liberal policy and moving away from viewing it as a struggle between classical and new liberalism Sloman has given us a much better understanding. Radicals need to take up the challenge of the RRG and produce a new synthesis for C21st which is anti-authoritarian and socially egalitarian. Drawing on the left/New Liberal tradition of passionate social concern with its starting point of distributive justice we can fashion an approach which offers new hope, answering the challenges that Picketty and others have identified. We must reject the neo-liberal consensus that has led to an unacceptable concentrations of wealth in the hands of a small number of owners of capital and a reduction in the share paid to employees. This global trend is accelerating and will soon impact on all employee as automation and cheap labour undercuts their wage rates and destroys their jobs. 

Throughout most of the C20th employee ownership and industrial democracy have been an enduring feature Liberal policy. They were the signature policy of the Grimond years. By offering a radical interpretation of the distributive ideas promoted by the Ownership for All campaign Radicals have advocated using state power to compel companies to introduce profit sharing and meaningful employee representation at Board level. Economists like Nobel Prize winner James Meade (who once advised our party) came up with many ideas to re distribute capital including legalisation to require companies to issue new shares to employee trusts. David Steel in his 1985 book Partners in One Nation argued that these radical ideas were part of a ‘fundamental economic philosophy distinct from that of socialism and free-market capitalism’ and as the RRG said Radicals aim to distribute instead of concentrating political as well as economic power’. Workers would become citizens of industry, not merely hirelings of private employers or of the state.

In his book Sloman suggests that Georgism, the Ownership for All policy and the Distributive ideas of Belloc are part of the classical tradition. What Radicals identify is that they all challenge the existing rights of owners and argue that the state action should be used to redistribute ownership. In his time Paddy Ashdown foresaw a time when ‘workers would be employing capital’. In that assertion he was echoing the greatly respected Liberal Richard Wainwright for whom employee ownership was the ‘holy grail of liberalism’. It is time to take up the quest.

This is second part of a review of Sloman's book that I wrote for Liberator. Regrettably it took me so long to get round to complete it that someone else had submitted one before I had finished. As the thrifty Liberals of yesteryear would have said 'waste not want not', so I am posting it here in three instalments


*I am well aware that The Orange Book is a 'mixed bag' containing some interesting and useful contributions . Nevertheless the motivation of some of its key protagonists has been to shift the centre of gravity of economic thinking away from the social liberal consensus within the party towards a more neo liberal position. In light of that I think it is perfectly reasonable to use 'Orange book' as a short hand for that group. Their liberalism was replaced in the early 20th century with a commitment to the welfare state because of the work of T.H. GreenL.T. Hobhouse and the economist J.A. Hobson; the Orange Book writers were seeking to overturn nearly a century of Liberal party history. It is to be greatly welcomed that the recent conference at York passed an excellent economic policy motion promoted by the Social Liberal Forum

KGV the ongoing crisis -time to look for a local solution

Councillor Tony Dawson and I have supported dozens of parents and students during the past four years of KGV College's troubles. This is the statement Tony released yesterday:
"When I saw this in the paper, I thought it was an April Fool item. After all, we were assured by the Funding Council at the end of last year that things were getting better. One does wonder if the Funding Council is really fit for purpose, also.
"KGV College is in a managerial mess and has been for a number of years. There is a continuing culture of secrecy which means that important reports and important papers are not publicly available as they are in colleges up and down the country.

"The principal problem right now is funding. There are nowhere near enough students enrolled. So, the numbers just do not add up. 

"KGV had a proud history both as a school and as a sixth form college: two of my brothers attended there. But it is unfortunately now totally unanswerable to the people who matter - the parents of the children attending our town's primary and secondary schools. Due to government meddling, the College has no kind of accountability to these parents' elected representatives either.
"Merger with Hugh Baird might well be an option but it is surely not the only option or the obvious option. Southport parents and teachers, particularly head teachers, need to be involved in consultations and discussions about the best way forward. We have the highly-successful Southport College just a mile up the road and we have highly-successful secondary schools including one right next door to KGV. We also have Runshaw College which appears to be the present destination of choice for hundreds of Southport sixth formers. 

There is no obvious logic to merging with a college in a town many miles from Southport. It must be recognised that the positioning of KGV makes it a natural option for hundreds of students from West Lancashire as well as Southport and Formby."

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Liberal Party and the Economy 1929-1964 by Peter Sloman

Like many academic books it is ridiculously expensive, it is advertised on Amazon for £58 .  
I recall a meeting of the Liberal Party Standing Committee in 1979 which was drawing up the Election Manifesto. We reached the item on the agenda marked economic policy. There was a silence until Richard Moore spoke: ‘I joined the Liberal Party in spite of not because of its economic policy ‘he told us.
Many people hold the opinion that our party gives economic policy a lower priority than say the environment, reform of government, foreign policy, Europe, individual rights or the state of the pavements. Such indifference, it is argued, allows a few well motivated and wealthy mavericks to high jack the party’s policy position. William Wallace has written about one such event.

‘The group of free-trade Liberals that included S.W.Alexander and Oliver Smedley had drive, financial resources, and a clear sense of Liberalism in a libertarian, minimum-state interpretation. The almost anarchic structure of party assemblies allowed for such groups to exert real influence.

The Radical Reform Group (RRG), as I recall, provided the most coherent alternative definition of Liberalism – much closer to the radical Liberal tradition, and to the nonconformist beliefs which a high proportion of its members held. It helped enormously that Jo Grimond as leader was naturally sympathetic to the RRG perspective; but the existence and activities of RRG, and the arguments of its members on the Party Executive, made Grimond’s task in reorienting the party much easier.
My future father-in-law, Edward Rushworth, had for many years been both a member of Radical reform Group (RRG) and of the party executive.

He made little distinction between being a Liberal and being a teetotal nonconformist; his instincts were anti authoritarian and socially egalitarian.’

Some Liberator readers may well join Richard Grayson in seeing the policy coup in 2008 over tax cuts and promoting a vision of small state in a similar vein to the antics of Smedley and Alexander.

Peter Sloman’s book The Liberal Party and the Economy 1929-1964 (OUP 2015) challenges the assumption that the history of economic policy making in the Liberal party is the history of a struggle between classical free market liberalism and interventionist social liberalism. Sloman has gone where no other historian has gone before examining the twists and tortured turns of policy making. It is an excellent account of the party’s history giving some new insights into issues –not all of them related to economic policy.

Sloman identifies four strands of Liberalism and examines the interplay between them. Classical liberalism, Georgism, New (left) Liberalism and constructive Liberalism. The first two are seen as essentially non-interventionist while the latter two see a positive role for the state. The New Liberal tradition stemming from Hobhouse and Green focusses on ethics whilst the constructive liberalism is influenced by professional economists and focused on practical policies.

If you don’t know your Distributists from your Georgists or your Keynesians and are unaware that the Liberal Party under Clem Davies endorsed central state planning then this is the book for you. Here you can also read how the idea of membership of the European Common Market was used to rout the extreme free marketeers at the 1960 Liberal Assembly and of the most successful economic campaign to come out of NLYL: ‘Ownership for All ‘
Some aspects of classical liberalism had a strong hold on the popular imagination. The belief that free trade enhanced worldwide prosperity and peace tapped into the party’s internationalism. The assertion that free trade kept the price of bread low was a key aspect of the Liberal appeal. In the 1906 election here in Southport that was the main message of the successful candidate
Astbury


The Liberal Party never supported pure laissez fair economics. All Liberator readers know Gladstone favoured nationalising the railways. By the time of the 1906 Liberal government, many of whose members were influenced by T H Green, the party had moved decisively away from the small state view beloved by the ideologically pure classical liberals. In the 1920’s Keynes announced to the Liberal Summer School that ‘laissez faire was dead’. Nevertheless the neo liberal corpse has had an after life and each new manifestation has been more grotesque that the previous one. We have already glimpsed the destructive impact that neo liberal activists had on the small struggling Liberal Party of the 1950’s. Many of them decamped to the Institute of Economic Affairs where they acted as midwife at the birth of Thatcherism and which today is an apologist for corporatist capitalism.


With the publication of the Orange Book* a new generation of neo liberals have come and wreaked havoc on the party helping to reduce the parliamentary base from 56 to 8 MP’s. The work of a generation, whose activism rebuilt the party in the years after Grimond, has been wiped out. Sloman has argued that the Orange Book led to the rightward move of the party’s leadership facilitating the formation of the coalition with the Tories. It certainly provided the intellectual underpinning for Nick Clegg’s disastrous  2010 speech, which worried only about social mobility and dismissed tackling the inequality of experienced by citizens today. David Howarth has identified that speech asone of the triggers for the catastrophic fall in support for the Lib Dems from which it has not yet recovered.

Many things from the classical liberal tradition have been absorbed into the Radical Liberal agenda: individual liberties, suspicion of monopolies and the opposition to the excesses of state power promoted by the likes of Blunkett, Reid and Straw. Sloman points out that ‘Gladstone was as concerned about the integrity and autonomy of the state as about its size. It is difficult to find the same concern among today’s ‘economic liberals ’. Radicals need to be robust in rejecting neo-liberalism- a C 20th heresy of the New Right.

Another strand of Liberal economic thinking identified by Sloman is Georgism. Its anthem‘The Land’ has had pride of place in the Liberator Song Book since before Lord Bonkers was born, as it did in ‘Songs for Paper Tigers’ in the time of his father. It is based on the writings of Henry George who argued that land was a finite resource and that no one had an exclusive right to its ownership and that owners should be taxed to compensate the community for their monopoly use of it. Essential they were classical liberals who believed that once the issue of the land was addressed by imposing a tax on the unimproved value of plots the market would operate effectively and a just society would result. Lloyd George include a modest land tax in the People’ Budget of 1909. 
----------------------------------------------------

This is first part of a review of Sloman's book that I wrote for Liberator. Regrettably it took me so long to get round to complete it that someone else had submitted one before I had finished. As the thrifty Liberals of yesteryear would have said 'waste not want not', so I am posting it here in three instalments


*I am well aware that The Orange Book is a 'mixed bag' containing some interesting and useful contributions . Nevertheless the motivation of some of its key protagonists has been to shift the centre of gravity of economic thinking away from the social liberal consensus within the party towards a more neo liberal position. In light of that I think it is perfectly reasonable to use 'Orange book' as a short hand for that group. Their liberalism was replaced in the early 20th century with a commitment to the welfare state because of the work of T.H. GreenL.T. Hobhouse and the economist J.A. Hobson; the Orange Book writers were seeking to overturn nearly a century of Liberal party history. It is to be greatly welcomed that the recent conference at York passed an excellent economic policy motion promoted by the Social Liberal Forum

Mental health -Government fails to deliver on mental health waiting list promise

Norman Lamb has been out championing mental health care again. He has an article in today's Independent which begins:
Thousands of people suffering from mental health conditions will continue to miss out on timely help, a former minister has said, warning that promised reforms to NHS mental healthcare would be impossible without extra spending. 
Norman Lamb, who served as the minister responsible for mental health in the Coalition government, said that vital new waiting-times targets for a range of mental health conditions including bipolar disorder and OCD "won’t happen" because the plans were not funded. 

You can donate to our local mental health charity Imagine Independence by following this link 
Donate with JustGiving