Re-banking the UK: How to create a diverse lending infrastructure

While some progress has been made, a significant missed opportunity under the coalition government has been the failure to carry out a more radical reform of the banking system. This remains a key area for action if we are to see the much needed rebalancing of Britain’s economy. This report from the New Weather Institute written by David Boyle (with help from Susan Kramer prior to her becoming a minister) sets out in clear terms some measures that can be taken to achieve that action.

What I find striking in this report is how it sees the creation of local banking structures across the UK as central to achieving greater diversity in the banking system:

it matters that just 3 per cent of banks are local in the UK, compared to 34 per cent in the USA, 33 per cent in Germany and 44 per cent in Japan.

As far as the Liberal Democrats are concerned there is still time to push for further reform from within Government, but I also hope that banking reform will be a prominent measure in the manifesto for the next election.

It seems that the Labour MP for Luton North, Kelvin Hopkins, was asked to officially open the newly modernised post office in Hockwell Ring this week. See the report here. This is a good news story and Kelvin is right to welcome this improved community facility. But I wonder if he also thanked the coalition government…

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The media were reporting (BBC News) on Monday that Chris Rennard was intending to take legal action against the Liberal Democrats over the suspension of his membership. Having previously written about the role of the different bodies of the English Party in the process of this suspension I was concerned to note that the proposed…

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Last year BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour programme created a Power List of who they thought were “the 100 most powerful women in the UK”. While and interesting exercise I thought the list itself was somewhat flawed — but these videos that they produced to go along with it are excellent. A really useful starting point for thinking about how to exercise power in modern Britain.

A politician is a great dirty ear attached to a mu…

A politician is a great dirty ear attached to a muscular and responsive tongue and controlling a big pointing finger. You say this so I say this and so then this goes there, okay?

Toby Litt

Campaiging on responsible stewardship: Haringey Council Tax

I’ve often argued that a campaign theme Liberal Democrats should prioritise is that of “responsible stewardship”. Not least of public money. If you can get people to feel confident that you will properly take care of the money they are more likely to trust you with other decisions. This is an example of an effective campaign along those lines from Haringey Liberal Democrats. A simple message strongly presented.

Two Wheels Good: Roger Symonds’ cycling blog

At the end of the summer last year I gave my good friend Roger Symonds a hand setting up his new blog about cycling. I helped him with the technical stuff and made sure it was up and running properly. I was particularly pleased with the banner graphic I created for it. But I’d neglected to promote it here — so I am remedying that today.

Roger seems to have had a bit of a break from blogging over Christmas and the New Year but — given that he has made such a really good job of it so far — I hope he doesn’t lose momentum.  He’s generated coverage in the local press from it and seems to have established something of a regular readership. Obviously it is mostly of interest if you are a cyclist who lives in the City of Bath — but if you are into cycling or alternative transport it is worth checking out.

I am reluctant to comment publicly on the rapidly spiralling Chris Rennard affair. It is not that I don’t have a view — quite the contrary — but I don’t think that lots of people expressing their opinion is helping the situation. Particularly those who have been especially crass or hyperbolic. However, slightly bizarrely, I…

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A progressive is someone who wants to see society …

A progressive is someone who wants to see society reorganised part by part and step by step so that ordinary men and women have a better chance to live a larger life.

Roberto Unger

Barnfield by-election announced

This week my good friend Martin Pantling has resigned as a councillor on Luton Borough Council which means that there will be a by-election in the Barnfield ward. Martin is resigning so he can take up a new career opportunity which is incompatible with his role on the Council. As he himself says (in a…

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