Our litmus test of the state of UK politics today

The leading blogs of left, right and centre, Left Foot Forward, ConservativeHome and Liberal Democrat Voice have teamed up to publish a special, limited edition newspaper - Litmus - looking at the key issues facing Britain today, which will be distributed at the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat Party conferences.

This is a joint posting by Left Foot Forward, ConservativeHome and Liberal Democrat Voice

The leading blogs of left, right and centre, Left Foot Forward, ConservativeHome and Liberal Democrat Voice have teamed up to publish a special, limited edition newspaper – Litmus – looking at the key issues facing Britain today, which will be distributed at the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat Party conferences.

It may not have been the Internet election that many had predicted but websites and social networks played a greater role than in any previous election. The blogosphere, in particular, grew up. A medium which had sometimes been criticised for its trivialisation of politics became the place for incisive commentary, rapid fact checking, and serious debates on the future direction of Britain.

In Litmus, we look at some of those big issues; the economy, immigration, climate change, social justice, electoral reform and technology:

• With deficit reduction essential but myriad concerns about a ‘double dip’ recession, Labour MP Chuka Umunna, Lib Dem blogger David Boyle, and Policy Exchange’s Chief Economist Andrew Lilico ask what role can the tax system can play in getting us out of this mess;

• Public concern over immigration was a key issue during the election but business concern about shutting the door is currently making the headlines. Immigration Minister Damian Green MP, Lib Dem blogger Dinti Batstone, and ippr’s Senior Research Fellow Sarah Mulley examine whether Britain is full;

• The Copenhagen conference last year ended in failure but 2010 is likely to be the hottest on record. Climate Secretary Chris Huhne, Green party leader Caroline Lucas MP, and Conservative Home editor Tim Montgomerie ask whether Britain should lead the world in tackling climate change;

• With a national debate raging over the fairness of the Coalition’s Budget, Conservative MP Therese Coffey, Equality Minister Lynne Featherstone, and Labour MP Kate Green ask whether the Big Society can defeat poverty;

• A referendum on the Alternative Vote is due in September amid widespread Conservative opposition and concern from Labour over boundary reforms. Lib Dem Voice editor Mark Pack, Left Foot Forward’s Will Straw, and blogging peer Lord Norton examine whether electoral and Lords reform change anything; and finally

• Labour MP and former minister focusing on tech issues Tom Watson, Liberal Democrat peer Richard Allan, and internet entrepreneur Stephan Shakespeare each answer the question: Will technology kill bureaucracy?

We want you to join the debate, here at Left Foot Forward, and on ConservativeHome and Liberal Deomcrat Voice. Please send us your personal views on any of the questions, or post comments below. We’ll include the best in the paper itself. The deadline for reader comments to be included is close of play tomorrow.

Litmus will be available free to download from next week; more details to come.

16 Responses to “Our litmus test of the state of UK politics today”

  1. Claire French

    RT @leftfootfwd: Our litmus test of the state of UK politics today: //bit.ly/aF0MrU – by @leftfootfwd, @ConHome & @libdemvoice

  2. Shamik Das

    RT @leftfootfwd: Our litmus test of the state of UK politics today: //bit.ly/aF0MrU – by @leftfootfwd, @ConHome & @libdemvoice

  3. Beatrice Bray

    Won’t there be a danger that this will be a bunch of hacks gassing away together? Will it have any relevance to concerns of regular people?

  4. Andrew Stirk

    @Beatrice

    Great point! That’s why we want to engage a broader discussion around each of the issues. I’m part of the team pulling the initiative together and we would very much like informed opinions of readers around each of the questions so that we can include them in the paper itself. Ultimately of course the paper is just an expression of the broader conversation we want to have about stuff that really matters and canvassing progressive ideas that can make a positive difference.

    Opinions welcome!

  5. The Cornish Democrat

    RT @leftfootfwd Our litmus test of the state of UK politics today: //bit.ly/aF0MrU – by @leftfootfwd, @ConHome & @libdemvoice

  6. Robert

    Phew thank god nobody is going to talk about welfare reforms, best not to since Brown had to ask the Tories to back him, it would look stupid now for Labour to come out in favour of having a policy for these creeps, I mean what can you do with all 10 million disabled people most like myself hard working people who ended up in hospital due to working conditions on building sites, or were born with abnormalities. if you cannot work them mate life is going to be shit.

    I’m for stopping them voting after all most are retards scroungers and works are they not well according to Jesus Christ or was that Blair

  7. Mr. Sensible

    There are a lot of topical issues to get stuck in to there.
    First, on the economy, the government need to explain why, if cuts are so important, there’s room for these tax cuts, including a cut in Corporation Tax which will help the banks. What will happen if these cuts in spending cause economic problems? And, if, as shown by the BBC and Experian, places like Middlesborough and Mansfield are shown as less able to withstand spending cuts, whereas places in the home counties are seen as more able, how are we all in this together?

    I don’t know if anyone else finds this ironic but, I hear today that Robert Chote, the director of the IFS who last month said the budget wasn’t fair, has now been appointed to head the Office for Budget Responsibility. I will be interested to see how long he lasts!

    On immigration, I think having such a cap is a bad idea, as I have said before on here. And it sounds to me like businesses are concerned about what this could do to the recovery.

    And on the ‘Big Society’, I think it’s high time someone explained how this notion can run alongside the notion of making government more accountable? 2 examples:

    First, Eric Pickles has said a lot about making local councils more accountable, and yet he is looking to scrap the Audit Commission, which provided an independent assessment of how peoples’ Council Tax is being spent.

    Second, who are these ‘Free Schools’ and accademies going to be accountable to? Remember that the local authorities which manage maintained schools are democratically elected, so if people don’t like how the local authority is managing a particular school they can kick the administration out at the next election.

    Finally, on the issue of constitutional reform, I don’t really favour changing the voting system, but am all for the referendum. What I am not in favour of is the way in which the government want to conduct this boundry review.

    On the question of Lords reform, before we consider this, I think we must ask ourselves what we see as the role for the upper house. I see it as a place where laws can be considered by people with expertees in different fields, and revised accordingly. In my view, if we introduced an elected house, we would introduce party politics more in to there, meaning the current role is somewhat lost.

    Those are my thoughts on some of those issues.

  8. Yvonne

    Why are the Condems peddling the myth that public spending cuts in other countries have been ‘good for growth and jobs’?
    Growth resumed in these countries because the impact of spending cuts was offset by loosening monetary policy (i.e. cutting interest rates) and/or a huge rise in exports (due to currency devaluation and strong export markets). Neither option is available to the UK in 2010
    ConDem Ministers claim that in other countries at other times the introduction of deep public spending cuts has led to high levels of growth and employment – Canada in the 1990s is their example of choice. This is deliberately disingenuous.
    Growth resumed in these countries because the impact of spending cuts was offset by loosening monetary policy (i.e. cutting interest rates) and/or a huge rise in exports (due to currency devaluation and strong export markets). Neither option is available to the UK in 2010 with interest rates up already at 0.5% and austerity being the order of the day across all our key export markets; it is simply impossible for all nations to export their way to high growth.
    You want independant analysis?:
    •The Boom not the slump is the right time for fiscal austerity, Arjun Jayadev, Mike Konczal
    The Roosevelt
    •Marshall Auerback,
    ‘The UK draws the wrong lessons from Canada’
    •Stephen Gordon, Universite Laval, Quebec
    On the lessons to be learned from the elimination of the Canadian federal deficit in the 1990s
    •Paul Krugman, New York Times,
    ‘Fiscal Fantasies’
    (and for more info please see the STUC’s campaign ‘There is a Better Way’…

  9. Aren Grimshaw

    Interesting collaboration between the leading UK left, centre & right political blogs into the state of UK politics today //ow.ly/2C0I7

  10. Anon E Mouse

    This should be interesting – good idea. It should give a wide range of views and one’s where there is actually a difference between the parties.

    For example I think we need another larger cut in Corporation Tax and quickly to stimulate the economy and should stop worrying about the “What if – double dip – blah blah” hand wringing doom merchants in politics think.

    On immigration a promise was made at the election to reduce the numbers coming to the UK. If politicians wish to restore trust from the electorate they need to start doing what they say. Make UK nationals do the work instead of bringing other people in and if they need up-skilling then train them.

    Hey sounds like Labour’s “British jobs for British workers” idea!

    By scrapping the Audit Commission, Eric Pickles has managed to get rid of that incompetent Jenny Watson and a wasteful useless quango in one go. Nice one Eric, couldn’t come soon enough. Get rid of that hopeless Baroness Ashton next I say…

    Roll on the AV vote and boundary changes as well – remember Labour won the 2005 election with 35.3% of the popular vote. The Tories were just a few points behind with 32.3% of the vote but because of the FPTP system Labour had a significant majority with 356 parliamentary seats compared to 198 seats for Tories and that’s not fair.

    Even though the Tories got 36.1% of the 2010 vote they only got 306 seats and while Labour had a result only as good as that achieved by themselves under Michael Foot they still have 258 seats – again it’s unfair. Simples.

    As for the Other Place I don’t trust any of them I’m afraid…

  11. Left meets right in litmus test | Pauljheaney's Blog

    […] Blogs from the left, right and centre of the political spectrum join forces to produce a litmus test of the state of UK politics today. […]

  12. Mr. Sensible

    Mouse, please tell me you would exempt the banks from this tax cut?

    You can give a business all the tax cuts in the world, but if it hasn’t got work, it will fail. Simple as that. And several parts of construction have been getting work from things like Building Schools for the Future.

    As for Jenny Watson, that’s the Electoral Commission. But what the Audit Commission does is provide Council Tax payers with an independent assessment of how a council is spending their money. Councils could say anything if they were left to produce the info themselves. And if you replace the AC with people like Pricewaterhouse Coopers, how much will that cost the taxpayer?

    As for keeping promices, I don’t know if that’s ironic Mr Mouse, but Clegg has certainly broken plenty of the commitments in his manifesto to form this coalition.

  13. Nicholas Ripley

    RT @leftfootfwd: Our litmus test of the state of UK politics today //bit.ly/aF0MrU

  14. Simon Summerscales

    RT @leftfootfwd: Our litmus test of the state of UK politics today //bit.ly/aF0MrU

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    Our litmus test of the state of UK politics today: Public concern over immigration was a key issue during the el… //t.co/flOMzU7r

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