Desmond Banks, Lord Banks of Kenton sometime speech writer to Jo Grimond , Director of Policy Promotions for the Liberal Party etc, etc introduced a very long paper to the Policy Committee (it may still have been called the Standing Committee in those days) during the preparation of the 1979 election manifesto. The topic was 'tax credits' and contained such concepts as 'negative income tax', it was a fully function system which integrated benefits and tax into a single payment/invoice. Nobel prize winner and Keynesian economist James Meade had written a paper on the topic the same year. At Desmond's side was Mr Philip Vince who had a large pile a of paper with lots of worked through examples of his sysytem. Mr Vince went on to write a pamphlet called- something like- From each According which was published by the Women's Liberal Federation. Why should I bring this up today-why because it is remarkably similar to Mr Iain Duncan Smith's proposal for a single universal benefit. In fact it is the same. Back in 1978/9 it was all very fine in theory but there were doubts that it was workable.Let us hope Desmond and his colleagues who argued for this idea get a bit of the credit.
I failed to find a photo of Desmond on the internet save this early example of a televised hustings meeting. Desmond is seated closest to the presenter. In my search I also discovered that Wikipedia does not have an entry for Elliot Dodds. Shame.
Among the debts we own Lord Banks was his role as founder of the Radical Reform Group. This was the pressure group within the party that took on the 'economic liberals' led by Arthur Selsden and Oliver Smedley. With Grimond's backing they were seen off into the Institute of Economic Ideas. They had failed to capture the Liberal Party for their wild free market ideas but it was not long before they had taken over Mrs Thatchers Tory party. Judging by this years conference there may be a few batty folk considering a bit of reverse enteryism. We shall have to be on our guard to see them off as effectively as the Radical Reform Group did.