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Letter to Reading Chronic...
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  Mental Health Week
Posted by: Stone de Croze - 05-20-2020, 12:44 PM - Forum: General Discussion - News and Views - No Replies

Very good document on the link below from the Mental Health Foundation. If a kinder and fairer society is to be built, we have to take mental health seriously and work towards building a society which removes much of the stress related causes of mental health, as well as ensuring support is there for the individual and their partners and families. 

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  Economy - Distributism could deliver
Posted by: Stone de Croze - 04-29-2020, 11:00 AM - Forum: General Discussion - News and Views - Replies (1)

The Liberal Party exists to build a Liberal Society in which every citizen shall possess liberty, property and security, and none shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. Its chief care is for the rights and opportunities of the individual and in all spheres it sets freedom first.
The Preamble of the Liberal Party which many members may very well be familiar with. However, are we also confident the type of society we wish to build, as described in the Preamble, can be created through any programme of unrestrained capitalism? Should Liberals as part of a long term vision look and think outside the box, be bold and radical and embrace distributism, an economic ideology championed by former Liberal MP Hillaire Belloc?
So why would distributism provide the solution to delivering the Preamble where other economic doctrines have clearly failed?
Perhaps the easiest way of explaining this is to quote the old saying, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”.
In my opinion, this saying sums up the whole concept of distributism and the foundation for delivering a society where no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.
Distributism is the science of providing ordinary people with the means to support themselves, their families and their communities (teaching them to fish), and slowly replacing much of society’s current dependency on big business.
This potential, of spreading the means of production as widely as possible, has seen distributism squeezed from both left and right wing thinking economists. Capitalists are critical and fearful of distributism because the money they presently control will eventually be spread more evenly throughout the population, therefore the reliance on big business will be reduced. Socialists are also critical of distributism, as the state capitalist economic model they champion, so often seen as being liberating by sections of the working class, is seriously challenged by an economic doctrine which widens ownership. Whilst distributists do not directly advocate the redistribution of wealth, this will nevertheless be the outcome through the redistribution of the means of production to as many people as possible.
For distributism to thrive and provide opportunity for all, it means giving small businesses an equal chance and levelling the extremely uneven playing field which currently that favours larger players. Ask yourself the question, how many shops have closed in towns when a large supermarket opens nearby? At present what political party is standing up for the local baker trying to compete with a large supermarket chain prepared to sell bread at a loss to capture the small operator’s slice of the market?  Admittedly the consumer may now choose to shop at large, often out of town superstores, to purchase their weekly shop in one hit, but why does this have to rule out creating a fairer economic playing field for the smaller operator?

To expand out of the box thinking and further develop the distributist concept in enabling real opportunity for all, a large supermarket chain, as an alternative to employing a baker, could offer the chance for someone to set up a small bakery business within their store. In the present economic age this might seem a far-fetched and an almost impossible concept, but if it was introduced the reality would be everyone would be a winner. The large store would still have customers, the small operator would have an income and consumers would have what they need. An economic direction from national government, maybe through forms of incentives and local authorities through planning, could make this possible. It would be an example of redistributing the means of production.  There are already thousands of small businesses, very often sole traders or partnerships, or in larger instances co-operatives. A liberal distributist economic policy would provide the means to expand the numbers of such businesses offering increased opportunities for all.
Distributism can also work in a larger economic sense, allowing companies to thrive in the global marketplace. If we look across to Europe and the Basque Region of Spain, the Mondragon Corporation is a federation of worker co-operatives. Whilst in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, co-operatives provide around 35% of regional GDP.  The well respected American Professor of economics, Richard D. Wolff, praised the Mondragon co-operatives, the decent wages they provide and the empowerment of ordinary workers in the decision making process, and cited it as a working model that’s an alternative to the capitalist system.  For those that are looking for an alternative to state or privatised run railways or mail delivery, the Mondragon Corporation provides an ideal example. Likewise it’s an ideal model for larger industry and the new, largely untapped green economy.
A question often asked is where ordinary people will get the capital to fund new business ventures and take advantage of the openings a distributist economic programme would deliver. Just as in present day business, a number of people will provide their own capital or source their own financial means. But economies also require investment, and another angle could be the creation of county or regional investment banks. Such institutions would not be owned by shareholders, but by the county or region itself. Far from being some untouchable, remote entity that could take risks and make money for the so called ‘fat cats’ of this world, these banks would be established as accountable local institutions, to lend money to local businesses, with all profits reinvested within that county or region.
It can be argued that both capitalism and socialism stifle the prospect of the Preamble ever being delivered, by offering a less than favourable climate for thriving small businesses and economies as well as a lack of opportunity. Personally, I feel see the need for an economic programme which discourages mergers, takeovers and monopolies, and one instead which allows the break-up of monopolies and larger companies into smaller businesses and producers co-operatives. Such a programme would offer an alternative to state ownership/state capitalism, yet offers fairness and opportunity. In addition to this a liberal distributist programme would support local, regional and national economies. Where capitalism and socialism fail, I believe distributism can as a long-term economic strategy deliver.  I am under no illusions that such a strategy is radical and would require fundamental economic changes. Nevertheless, the present economic path Britain has followed for generations,  where often the strings of economic planning are at the whim of large multi-national organisations, only stifles opportunity and in such are counterproductive in offering real opportunity.  

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  Liberal Party President Statement - Be a Part of the Solution
Posted by: ReadingLib - 04-20-2020, 06:43 PM - Forum: NEC Press Releases - No Replies

Liberal Party president Cllr Steve Radford sums up Liberal Party thoughts on political behaviour during the Covid-19 crisis.
“Some of the criticism of the government about not clarifying an exit strategy is little more than obscene point scoring.
Why on earth would any government have a policy and make it public when all the conditions needed are not yet in place?
The level of infection has not shown a sustained drop, regional analysis still needs to be undertaken.
The production levels of Personal Protective Equipment and Testing are not yet in place.
Even more to the point, talking about an exit policy now is irresponsible as it would undermine public commitment to keep to the current lockdown procedures. 
Some of the point scoring lacks integrity or any sense that we are dealing with circumstances not seen for many generations.
Liverpool Tuebrook Hope Group is planning to continue support for vulnerable neighbours by age or medical condition for at least nine weeks, so that they are reduced to exposure even when isolation is lifted until it is clear that a secondary waive of infection is no longer a real danger.
We encourage Liberals active in other areas to do what they can to be a part of the solution”.

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  Liberal Party NEC Statement - COVID Pandemic Care Home Crisis
Posted by: ReadingLib - 04-18-2020, 10:48 AM - Forum: NEC Press Releases - No Replies

The Liberal Party notes the unprecedented crisis now unfolding in the nations care homes as they struggle with an ever-increasing number of COVID-19 cases.

The nations care homes as well as domiciliary care have become the health sectors Cinderella services, managing a population of 410000 residential and half a million home-based patients, an increased number suffering from Dementia.

The party calls for immediate action by the Government to remedy reported shortages of PPE and to properly account for the number of care homes infected, and the number of residents who have succumb.

In the long term the care for the elderly needs to be given a higher profile in a sector already facing staff shortages in the region of 120000 vacancies exacerbated by a high staff turnover and financial uncertainty over long-term funding and the viability of businesses.

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  Liberal Party NEC Statement - NHS Equipment Procurement post-Pandemic
Posted by: ReadingLib - 04-15-2020, 06:50 PM - Forum: NEC Press Releases - No Replies

The Liberal Party notes with pride the tremendous efforts being made by UK companies to supply the NHS with vital equipment such as PPE and ventilators during the current pandemic.

The party believes that the NHS should take advantage of this opportunity to utilise domestic production to secure future equipment procurement.

Such actions will prompt increased business activity during the countries post-pandemic recovery providing valuable investment and employment.

The current economic disruption has already highlighted the inherent dangers in relying on global supply chains and production concentrated in a single region or country of the world.

The UK has a long history of innovation and this should be harnessed to the long-term benefit of the economy.

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  Liberal Party NEC Statement - Post Pandemic Economic Recovery
Posted by: ReadingLib - 04-11-2020, 05:41 PM - Forum: NEC Press Releases - No Replies

"The Liberal Party acknowledges the widely anticipated extension of the current national lockdown to contain the current COVID pandemic.
This necessary regime is however already causing serious long-term damage to business and livelihoods which are likely to intensify over the coming weeks and months.
Once the pandemic has subsided, an innovative and far-reaching fiscal stimulus package will be needed to help rebuild the nation’s economy and recreate jobs and prosperity.
Such an initiative needs to be funded out of a modest redistribution of wealth to support workers and families who have been left without jobs or reduced income and to help recovery in the hard-hit small business and SME sectors, whilst restricting the ability of large firms to establish dominating or monopoly positions."

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  2019 Election Manifesto
Posted by: JEBaker1892 - 04-09-2020, 08:36 PM - Forum: Party Policy Discussion - Replies (1)

Just got a few points I would like to raise from the manifesto and things which I feel need to be considered moving forwards.

Firstly, one key point is the funding of the armed services through the scrapping of the nuclear weapons scheme. This personally is a high risk move. We need the deterrent of nuclear weapons in order to help maintain peace and the loss of nuclear weapon abilities completely would be a big loss for our global political standing. In this case I would propose that a reduction in investment into the Trident Nuclear scheme occurs with a small amount of investment occurring only to keep up to date on tech (we don't have to produce more nuclear weapons). We can then use our current nuclear industry as a means to hold nuclear power without actually developing weapons. This has been done successfully by Japan who are seen as a nuclear state without actually owning a nuclear weapon. 

In regards to Grammar schools I personally went to a Grammar school and would argue that without that provision I wouldn't have gone University and most probably would have reduced grades at both GCSE and A-Level. Under the current education system Grammar schools are being hit unfairly financially and are struggling to cope especially in my area and I feel this is the wrong approach. Those Grammar schools which still exist should be allowed to continue running and with fair support as they do generally help those who are from less wealthy backgrounds to move upwards (in my experience at least) as shown by the fact I was able to go to University, something my parents didn't even get close to. 

In terms of scrapping tuition fees I am ok with that as a policy but it is "gravy" in my opinion. Tuition fees don't really impact anyone as you don't even have to pay them back and they seem like a fuss over nothing. If anyone knows more about them please could you explain why they are seen as important?

In terms of taxation how much money were we planning to give as part of the lump sum given at 25 and would this be realistically economically viable? Also I feel it is dangerous to push too much of the tax burden onto those who are richer in society. So how much of an extra burden would the richest have bearing in mind the top rate at the moment is 40% and there are a good number of people who have moved wealth abroad already showing that the tax rate is perceivably high. If we planned on raising it too much surely we would see an overall reduction in tax due to avoidance from those who can afford to move their money around?

With our affordable housing policy I think it is important we add in the development of greater green spaces/parks/play areas for kids as generally it will be families moving in to these estates. At the moment the only focus is the money that can be made and not on the provisions that need to be in place. This may also help with other aims such as health as kids may be more enticed to play outside if there is actually somewhere they can play without getting in trouble. 

Finally, in regards to smaller hospitals I just want to re-state a point I have made before in that one way we could help the NHS as a whole is through greater homogenisation of products/procedures/equipment etc and this policy may be a good way to implement this as we can equip the new hospitals through wholesale purchases which in turn will free up funding for recruitment or other needs the healthcare system has.

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  Social Media
Posted by: JEBaker1892 - 04-09-2020, 03:57 PM - Forum: General Discussion - News and Views - Replies (2)

I have seen different threads before about Social Media and the development within the party and use of social media as well as ideas on how to promote the party further so I thought I would offer a few ideas on what I think could help us move forward. 

Firstly, I know that there exists both a Liberal Party and Youth Liberal Party pages on facebook however I have noticed especially from more left leaning Party's that an independent page/blog is used to promote their policies and ideas. Labour has Another Angry Voice which I see quite often. This allows content to be shared without necessarily pushing people away through the association of a political party. Alternatively I think a more active facebook page would be beneficial.

Another proposal is more a personal thing but despite being a member for nearly a year I still know very little about the Party itself, I don't even know if there is anyone in Devon who is a member, let alone looking to be elected to local councils or in a General election therefore I would like to propose we use social media to network amongst our membership as I still feel a bit on the outside. 

Finally, a slight tangent but for Party promotion I could if wanted look at trying to establish a society at University (I am at Swansea University). Currently there is a socialist and conservative society so I feel it could be possible to attract new members or at least gain interest. Also with younger people developing a greater political voice I feel it may be worth trying to tap into this to promote the Party further. I study War and Society also so I know a lot of the Lecturers and Students studying politics and related subjects so hopefully would be able to find a decent crowd to make it worthwhile.

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  HEALTH & WELLBEING POLICY - Present at Special Assembly 7th February 2015
Posted by: ReadingLib - 04-06-2020, 05:35 PM - Forum: Party Policy Discussion - No Replies

The document is now available again on the Liberal Party website:

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  Liberal Party NEC Statement - Assistance for family finances during the viral pandemi
Posted by: ReadingLib - 03-22-2020, 02:34 PM - Forum: NEC Press Releases - No Replies

The Liberal Party notes the continued media attention on the issue of financial support for families affected by the current viral pandemic and its economic fallout.

The vulnerability of the low paid, those on zero hours contracts or universal credit to any protracted crisis has been in the public arene for some time as has the perilous state on many family’s finances more than a decade after the financial crisis.

The need for many workers and their families is prompt intervention and although we welcome the governments announcements on aid these need to be translated into action in a very short timeframe.

The party therefore believes more immediate results would be achieved by a council tax holiday, or a one-off tax rebate, coupled with a pensions or benefits bonus and would provide a targeted boost to depleted family finances.

In the aftermath of the current crisis the Liberal Party calls for better protection for workers’ rights, access to statutory sick pay, unemployment benefit and reasonable time off for domestic and health issues.

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