October 27, 2007

Lib-Dems to become Liberals?

Nick Clegg has given a long interview to the Telegraph, obviously hoping to start attracting support amongst the right-liberals that Cameron has also been wooing. That is people like me.

The solution, he believes, is for the Lib Dems to position themselves as the antidote to an overweening state.

OK, I'm interested.

"The starting point is that Liberal Democrats are in politics to give more power to families, communities and individuals," he says.

Politicians cannot give power to 'families, communities and individuals' because it is their power in the first place that has only been loaned to the politicians. If he is talking about politicians taking less power onto themselves and leaving it with the people that is a good thing. Not that this fits very well with the rampant EUphilia in the Lib-Dems, with the EU sucking power into itself (never to be returned under the principle of engrénage) from parliament, from local government, and from 'families, communities and individuals'.

We need to devolve power from central to local government, including, crucially the devolution of tax-raising powers,

Good, if local government is reliant on the people it serves for it's money it will be more responsive to their needs. Local government will jump when the people tell it to, rather than when central government tells it to as happens now.

in his view, the NHS would work better if it were broken up, with locally-elected commissioning boards which would make it more responsive to patients' needs.

Yes! Yes! Yes! And locally-elected commissioning boards are as good a way to do it as any. Kind of like what happens in Sweden.

The relationship between individuals and state has, he says, got out of balance. "There was a huge row in my constituency about a new parking scheme because people thought it was just a money-grabbing exercise - which it possibly was. That's indicative of a profound sense of alienation from the state in all its forms."

Nice that at least some politicians are starting to notice it.

The voters have, he thinks, reached their limit on tax.

Too bloody right.

The Lib Dems should talk about time breaks as well as tax breaks." Businesses, he says, need to do much more to help working parents. "You should have a right to demand flexible working, not just a right to request it.

"When people have a terrible crisis in their life, like a bereavement, they should be able to ask for time off, and if someone wants to take a career break, why can't they do that for a year then agree with their employer that they retire a year later?"

That is rather less good. No employer would agree to let an employee take a year off now and pay it back by retiring a year later (even if they would be a much more valuable employee by then) because they probably won't be with the same firm. There are no jobs where you can say for sure that you will be with the same firm until you retire anymore, at least outside the state sector. Even there they are getting scarce. In fact the only career like that is that of a politician and then only because nobody else will employ them. This sounds like a plan for reducing employment by increasing the risks and burdens associated with employing people.

Fathers should also get more time off when their children are born.

"When our first child was born my wife, Miriam, went back to work much more quickly than I did.

It's completely out of step with modern parenting to give women nine months paid paternity leave and fathers two weeks, I'd prefer a longer parental allocation which you can divide up as you like."

Again this could have problems by making employers less likely to employ people that are likely to become parents. It will to reduce the gender pay imbalance that polly is always harping on about, but by leveling down. Saying that the good of making everybody equal with no discrimination due to gender might outweigh this.

Drugs, though, he says must be much better controlled.

Meh, just legalise the lot of them.

In all some really good stuff, it looks like where he to gain leadership of the Lib-Dems Nick Clegg would steer it away from socialism and towards liberalism. The Conservatives are also making encouraging noises about liberalism at the moment, but it would be nice to have a truly liberal party around to keep them honest and help oppose Labour's authoritarianism.


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