In Praise of the Independent: Finding strengths in Nick Clegg

The Independent writes Are the Lib Dems and Labour testing out their own Coalition? in which they outline some strengths in Clegg’s recent performance which is worth highlighting:

Clegg seeks more distinctiveness in the formation of those policies. He could have made the clear and well-argued speech he delivered to Demos earlier this week at any point in his career, as the purest liberal to lead his party since its formation. At times, Clegg’s form of liberalism coincides with Cameron’s modern version of Thatcherism, but his focus on redistribution, social mobility, Europe, and radical constitutional reform shows that, contrary to a widespread perception a year ago, Clegg is not a Conservative.

Making the Lib Dem message on Compassion Meaningful: Ideas for a distinctive Liberal message

This was published in the November Liberator magazine which you can access for a short time here.

What is the point in voting for the Liberal Democrats? The May 2011 elections gave a distinctive answer – “I am not quite sure”. So the Independent (9 May 2011) offered some advice to the party to “retain a unique selling point – a belief in compassion” and the party may have taken them up on this advice.

Competence and compassion will be the slogan that the Liberal Democrats fly under in future elections, arguing that they are more economically competent than Labour and more compassionate than the Tories.

We see the Liberal Democrats making preparations to flesh out the competence strand with their tax proposals for 2020 underway, but very little in the way of fleshing out the compassionate strand. This may be because compassion has not been seen to provide a tangible benefit beyond a positive perception of those who espouse it. But perhaps we have missed the real benefits of what compassion can provide politics.

On realist terms, politics is about power, security and order, and the question of whether politics can practice compassion is often seen as irrelevant. However, where politicians are seen as compassionate, they have not only been successful politicians but have also genuinely made the country a better place for all. A politics of compassion is therefore possible and some would argue necessary to address human security needs.

WHAT IS COMPASSION?

Compassion is a concept that can bring up strong reactions in many – from Thatcher who said it was “a very patronising word” to Albert Einstein who said that “our task must be to free ourselves… by widening our circle of compassion”. Yet if it is Liberal Democrat selling point and we are going to sell ourselves on it, then we must make it mean something, otherwise there will be no point to it.

Despite Thatcher’s thoughts on the word, she still believed she was being compassionate, stating that “efficiency is the ally, not the enemy, of compassion”. But this misunderstands the concept of compassion. Compassion is to recognise the suffering of others, then take action to help, and is very much ‘suffering with’. Efficiency drives do not show that you understand someone’s situation, let alone feel ‘with’ them, and there are many who will argue that you do not need compassion in politics to be successful or create a better society. Yet there is a very strong case for compassion in politics and one that the Liberal Democrats should meaningfully embrace.

COMPASSION AS VOTE WINNER

While stressing compassion in politics may have been seen as a ‘fringe’ activity, there are many examples where compassion has been, and continues to be, a defining element in elections.

Jack Layton was the leader of the New Democratic Party in Canada and took the party from being a minor party to become the official opposition for the first time in the party’s history in 2011. The interesting thing about Jack Layton was how he was seen by the voters. A poll by Angus Reid Global Monitor asked voters to describe the party leaders. All were described as intelligent but, with the exception of Layton, they were also described as arrogant and out of touch, while Layton was described as compassionate and down to earth. This offered him a unique standing in Canadian politics. His leadership was a success for his party and turned the tide on its electoral fortunes; the view that he was compassionate played a significant part.

During his election night for Governor of Texas in 1998, George W. Bush announced his desire for a ‘compassionate conservatism’, only to be ridiculed by many at the time. While it was a controversial election, he campaigned on this theme heavily in the 2000 presidential election campaign, which swung many non-traditional Republican voters to vote for Bush. In such a tight race, this proved to be decisive. Fast forward eight years to the 2008 presidential election campaign and we saw opinion polls showing the presidential hopefuls on similar footings but with Barack Obama being viewed as the more compassionate candidate.

Tony Blair knew when he took over as leader of the Labour Party that he needed to be seen as compassionate and talked extensively about it in the run up to the 1997 general election. David Cameron tried his own version of compassionate conservatism in the 2010 general election and, while he did not win the election, he did manage to achieve the best result the Tories have had since 1992. The point about compassion being a vote winner is the fact that it reaches to a majority on both sides of the political spectrum as well as beyond traditional political boundaries; the Dalai Lama, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein have all been advocates for a secular compassion in society.

COMPASSION AS A STRATEGY

Jack Layton and Tony Blair’s skill was to turn compassion as an ideal into something more meaningful, so people could see it put into action. Here in the UK, the Human Rights Act 1998 and the minimum wage were just some examples of how this was framed. Bush and Cameron do not quite have the same skill and have not tried to keep it on the agenda. This offers lessons for the Liberal Democrats to ensure that compassion is right at the heart of policy making, otherwise the claim that they are a compassionate party will only breed contempt and mistrust.

There are also lessons for the Liberal Democrats from Ted Kennedy, one of the longest-serving senators in US history who has also been considered to be one of the greatest. For Ted Kennedy, it was his compassion that gave him his outlook, the causes he fought for and how he went about his business. He played a major role in passing many laws that have had a dramatic effect on people’s lives, including apartheid, disability discrimination, AIDS care and civil rights. He stood out from others in his party, working with anyone, even those outside of his philosophical comfort zone. Compassion gives a sense of purpose that transcends party political lines to strive for a better society. It gives a framework on which to work with others, even when you do not agree with their politics. It provides principles by which to guide our policies.

As the Liberal Democrats have been seen as compassionate, and they have now begun to market compassion as a selling point of the party, they need to start making it mean more than just words or gestures. The Liberal Democrats need to begin to define what kind of society they offer and how compassion fits into this. A liberal society is not the same thing as a big society as there are no principles which guide a big society. Without guiding principles, a big society could mean anything, but a liberal society is a compassionate one.

SUPPORT THE CHARTER FOR COMPASSION

The first thing the Liberal Democrats should do is sign up to the Charter for Compassion, which is an international grassroots movement promoting a secular vision of compassion for the modern world. It is a document that transcends religious, ideological, and national difference. Supported by leading thinkers from many traditions, the Charter inspires worldwide community-based acts of compassion. The Charter demands people take action, recognising that our present policies – political, financial, environmental – are no longer sustainable, and that if any government, religion or person does not emphasise the compassionate ethos, they will fail the test of our time.

This Charter has been developed to be a grassroots movement so that everyone can get involved. It has begun to grow widespread support, with the Australian parliament recognising the Charter for Compassion and working to get it included in the educational curriculum. In the UAE, it has been introduced to the rulers and imams of the Arab world and they are beginning to sign up. In Malaysia, the former prime minister has formed an organisation devoted to implementing the Charter, and there are similar motions afoot in Singapore. It is a shame that there is not such recognition for it in Britain, considering the issues we have experienced in society; and that the idea came from Britain in the first place.

In April 2010, Seattle became the first city in the world to affirm the Charter for Compassion and the Mayor of Seattle proclaimed Seattle a ‘Compassionate City’. The city has a group of committed people who meet citizens, non-profit organisations, educators, youth, businesses, and others to find ideas of how to make the city a more compassionate place. This has in itself spawned a whole range of local, onthe-ground initiatives to promote compassion and offers many policy initiatives that would fit very well into community politics and the Liberal Democrats’ localism and community agendas. There are distinct similarities between the Charter for Compassion and the Liberal Democrat constitution, and it offers the Liberal Democrats a chance to make the theoretical idea of compassion a practical reality.

It would provide a more distinctive voice in local government by Liberal Democrat councillors and councils taking up the Charter for Compassion and setting up British Compassionate Cities/Councils. It taps into an established grassroots movement, which attracts many who may otherwise not get involved in politics, as well as those who might. But more importantly, it offers opportunities to make the places we live genuinely much better places to live. It offers a principle of how to use the Big Society – and it is this which is closer to a Liberal Society than the one currently on offer by the Conservatives, as compassion is a virtue and the cornerstone of greater social interconnectedness

COMPASSION AS AN IDEOLOGY

Yet there is a bigger reason for supporting compassion in politics than just a tactical one; there is also a very strong moral case for compassion in politics. Without compassion, human sympathy or emotional identification with people, our politics would be a cold and brutal affair. Nelson Mandela could have taken a very different path to the one he did but he said that he learnt compassion from others while he was in prison. As President of South Africa, Mandela set out to transform the nation through compassion, which sought to bring understanding to those wronged by injustice as well as those accused of perpetrating the injustice.

So while technology moves rapidly forward with ever increasing ways to connect people, perhaps we should take a lesson in politics from Einstein. He believed compassion should be seen as a spiritual technology, and one which mankind needs as much as all other technologies that have connected us, as compassion is the only technology which provides us with the terrifying and wondrous possibility of actually becoming one human race.

Banking reform: But what else do the Lib Dems offer?

As Vince Cable announces that the Government will regulate the banks as per the Vickers Commissioned report we should be asking the question what else? Once we have implemented these reforms both the Tories and the Lib Dems will say these are a good think and take credit for their implementation but the Lib Dems need to win back voters and win new voters so what else do the Lib Dems propose to reform the financial sector?

Splitting the high street banks from the investment banks may (or may not) protect the tax payer but it will do nothing to change the culture in the finance industry that is abhorred by the everyday person. Reading the news about billions of pounds given out in bonuses to bankers makes many angry at the injustice or depressed at the hopelessness of their/our ability to make a difference to this.  The Lib Dems have been calling for reform of the bonus system and perhaps we should be making this an element of our vision for a new finance policy?

The problem with the banking reforms is clearly stated by Stani Yassukovich, a former investment banker and one-time head of the predecessor to the Financial Services Authority, the Securities and Futures Authority

Since the political class has a lamentable lack of understanding of how finance actually works, it is forced to rely on advice from roughly the same crew that sank the ship in the first place, in determining how the ship should be remodelled

So perhaps we should be listening to others for advice and one person we should be listening to when it comes to the bankers bonuses is Dan Pink:

In this video he outlines experiments relating to bonuses and motivation and concludes that where a task requires cognitive skill not only do bonuses lead to worse performance but the larger the bonus the worse the performance. So we have a situation where we have the political elite being informed by the bankers themselves about reform of a system that doesn’t work but works for them personally. The result being little reform of the things that need reform. So bonuses continue despite the fact that this system has so spectacularly failed and no one is really coming forward with any real policy on how to bring about a new system that does work.

Ed Miliband tried with his good vs bad businesses but that misunderstands and over simplifies the problem with the system. His solution was to provide incentives for the type of business he likes but that is not a change in system. A better way to communicate it would be to say the system allows and even promotes businesses which harm the country, something Vince Cable has said on many occasion to the dismay of the Daily Mail and the delight of the Guardian.  We should use this as it was distinctive and appealed to potential voters. We should develop it further.

We should be more vocal on the fact that the system does not work and we need to replace bonuses with a different mind set. Dan Pink would suggest that it should be replaced with autonomy, mastery and purpose. Linking the banking activities to these attributes improves performance while at the same time is good for the country.

A poll of 5.9% in the by-election: Even putting it in context it is bad

In politics the final poll is what matters but polls can only really be understood in a context of how the party has been doing over the years. By taking a long term view of the polls we can see how one poll relates which will give us a idea of how good or bad we did in context. So this is what our polls look like in context:

The recent result in Feltham and Heston gained the Lib Dems 5.9% which in context puts us smack bang in the bottom part of the bottom part i.e. that is not good at all. I know there are many reasons for this and I know we as a party will give these reasons, some of which may make us feel better, some may not, but the bare fact of the matter is that this is not a good result, which ever way we look at it.

It was a good campaign by the Lib Dems with a good candidate and so we should see this a call to do things differently.

Clegg needs to stop being so reasonable with the Tories

I wrote sometime ago that Nick Clegg needed to stop being so reasonable with the Tories and considering what has happened I think I need to revisit this idea.

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. George Bernard Shaw

Nick Clegg is a reasonable man. In the TV debates he was seen as ‘Mr Reasonable’  and many liked this. When a Coalition was announced Cameron said that reasonable, civilised, grown-up behaviour was what they would have in government.  And now in Government Nick Clegg has gone on to try and be as reasonable as possible even using the word to explain difficult decisions such as when he said it was ‘reasonable’ to cap the amount of housing benefit claimants can receive and what we asked for at the EU summit was ‘reasonable’.

While this may be an admirable trait, particularly in opposition against a back drop of fighting within and between the two main parties, this is starting to cause a lot of problems in power. The Guardian have seized on his reasonableness in an attempt to ridicule him

Immediately following each unpleasant new announcement, Cleggsy Bear shuffles on stage to defend it, working his sad eyes and boyish face as he morosely explains why the decision was inevitable – and not just inevitable, but fair; in fact possibly the fairest, most reasonable decision to have been taken in our lifetimes, no matter how loudly people scream to the contrary.

While everyone understands there needs to be compromise in Coalitions it seems to many that he is being very reasonable with the Tories and then trying to win people over with persuasion. It is this reasonableness with the Tories that has left us worse off, damaged, and many Lib Dem members feeling the Coalition was a mistake and voters wondering why they should vote Lib Dems. It is time Nick Clegg stopped being so reasonable with the Tories and started being more unreasonable.

This is a picture that shows why the Lib Dems are doing so badly and what we can do to improve things

Following the events at the weekend and for all who believe that Europe is important to Britain’s future having to wait, potentially years, to find out the consequences of the decision of one man under pressure from his own party, it is time to take stock of where the Lib Dems are in Coalition and what is going on. We have some fundamental questions we need answering: If we are implementing so many of our policies, why are we doing so badly? If we are having a bigger impact in Government than our polling at the General Election, then why have those who voted for us deserted the party? Now there are many simple answers to these questions but what we need now is something more helpful than what comes out of an angry ex-Lib Dem voter. We need to view this in simplistic terms and below is a very good way of doing this.

This Coalition is made up of 2 parties and we can therefore consider every decision in a very simple way: it is either good or bad for either of the parties, which means we could make a simple chart like this:

I have put a scale on both sides which gives us grades as to how good or bad an issue has been for a party (10 being very good and 0 being very bad). So if we take the decisions at the weekend we can say that it was probably very good for the Tories who need to both appease those on the Tory right and attract those who may be considering voting UKIP. It was a disastrous decision for the Lib Dems and I struggle to see how it could be any worse, so we could view this like this:

There are a number of voters who consider voting Lib Dems or Tories and we are both attempting to attract them. However, there are also many voters who would never consider voting Tory who would vote Lib Dem and on the whole there are some sizeable difference in values that makes our voter bases very different. We are both speaking to a pool of the same voters and at the same time different audiences. So if we start to chart what the Coalition has done we start seeing a very interesting pattern:

What is good for the Lib Dems is generally good for the Tories. In fact I struggled to think of things that the Coalition has done which has been good for the Lib Dems and bad for the Tories. I’m not saying that there isn’t anything, I just couldn’t think of any in the short time I had to put this together so please do let me know what you think and I will update the chart. Equally, what has been bad for the Tories, in relation to their audience, they have done their best to right it e.g. Forests and NHS. Again if you think of more issues for this box do let me know. But the point here is that on the whole what is good for the Lib Dems is good for the Tories, which may go some way to explain why having 75% of our manifesto implemented hasn’t resulted in an improvement in support. Equally, what has been good for the Tories has quite often been bad for the Lib Dems. We had to make significant concessions to go into Government e.g. cutting the deficit, increase in VAT, tuition fees etc. All of which we went in to the election with opposing views and so signing up to these has hit us hard.

So we can start to get a picture of what is happening here. We are taking significant hits by being in Government and we are not getting sole credit for implementing good policies. The question becomes what should our focus be on? Clearly the ‘good for Lib Dems’ and ‘good for Tories’ box should be the main focus in a Coalition. I then question why there has been such a focus on the ‘bad for the Lib Dems’ and ‘good for the Tories’ box?  Why do we allow them to have such a focus on this area? Should we not spend our time saying ‘no’ more to things in this box and trying to find more things for the top right one? Restraining the Tories does not register in the minds of the voters as this is a negative force which is unknowable. You cannot put it in any box; it is not a vote winner.

Whether any of this is actually good for the country will be decided in the future but we have our beliefs as to why the things we believe in would be good for the country and we need to be more forceful about what these are. We need to think more clearly about the effect these decisions will have on us. We need to start being more of a pain in the arse in Government. Say no more if it will hurt us. Tell people we said no. There are many things we can focus on which may be good for both parties and the more time we spend doing things we don’t like, the less time there is doing things we both like. Let us not waste our time in Government and get hammered at the ballot box too. If things continue as they are there will be a time when it won’t be worth being in Government.

In Praise of the Guardian: Finding strengths in Nick Clegg

The Guardian write Break up the coalition? Neither Clegg nor Cameron would dare in which they identify something positive about Nick Clegg which is worth highlighting:

In recent months I’ve begun to think that Nick Clegg was getting the hang of power-sharing, finding a more effective voice with which to articulate Lib Dem hopes, fears and achievements under the coalition duvet with the 500lb Tory gorilla, much as Sinn Féin and Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists have evolved a mutually accommodating vocabulary at Stormont.

In Praise of the Guardian: Finding strengths in Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems

The Guardian write Liberal Democrats and Europe: time to fight arguing that the pro-European voice needs to be heard in British politics and that the very recent tone from Clegg and the Lib Dems on the issue of Europe has been the right. They highlight some strengths in todays editorial which is worth reading:

The Lib Dems are right, therefore, to fight their corner very publiclyagainst the policy of EU disengagement which is at the core of David Cameron’s veto in Brussels last week. After an initial dither on Friday, that is clearly what the party has done over the weekend. That first dither was a mistake, understandable in a way, but not acceptable once the full implications of Mr Cameron’s 4am walkout became clear. So the Lib Dem message of positive engagement that ran through the various statements and interviews from senior party figures in and out of the government in the last 48 hours has been the right one.

What would Clegg say if he wasn’t in Government? Lib Dems have lost their most effective voice

Clegg

Nick Clegg

There was a time when I would listen out for Clegg’s words on the radio and TV as he always seemed to know what to say to represent my views. He always seemed accurate and articulate in putting the liberal case forward. When I wasn’t sure about an issue, I would listen out for what he had to say and he would show me the way. Clegg was a great liberal voice and a great opposition leader. Since the Coalition things have changed but the Europe issue has shown it very clearly. We have lost our voice because we have lost Clegg to Government.

That might sound like a stupid thing to say seeing as the point of politics is to gain power and now we have it for the first time in 60 years or so. But let’s look at the Europe issue to see how we have lost him. Cameron has made a decision that effectively means Europe is getting a divorce according to the Economist and that Britain is now not only leaving the EU, but falling from it. For those of us who believe that Europe is a good thing for all involved, it has been such a gigantic move by Cameron that it has sent some into a state of post-traumatic fantasy land just to cope with it. While others are more realistic they are damning of Clegg and the Lib Dems considering we are the so called pro-European party that has presided over the single biggest decision to distance ourselves from Europe in its history.

Now let us just imagine what Clegg would have said had this have been a decision made by a majority Conservative Government. On past performance he would have been on Newsnight, the Today programme, PM, every news channel he could get himself on, he would have been outlining in very simple terms why this was a bad move and what needs to be done. He would have been outraged, firm and adamant in the liberal position. We would watch or listen at home nodding our heads, saying to ourselves (or others) I’m so glad someone is saying that, no one else is standing up for what I believe in. It would make us feel proud to be a Liberal Democrat.

I remember many an occasion of something similar to this situation whether it be ID cards, the police state, extraordinary rendition, you name an issue. The country knew what our positions were. The country knew what we believed in and what we were fighting for. The longer he went on in opposition the better he became. So where are we now?

Defending a rise in tuition fees.  Defending cuts to public sector workers’ pay and conditions . Defending cuts in benefits. Defending NHS reforms (which changed) . I could go on but the impression that is being left is one of confusion amongst the public as to what the Lib Dems stand for any more, with The Guardian going as far as to say

The tuition fees U-turn was just a gateway drug for the Lib Dem leader. The formerly pro-Europe Clegg is now mainlining U

So let’s go back to the issue of Europe and what has just happened. Firstly Timothy Garton Ash who can be considered to be highly knowledgeable on the issue thinks this is a very bad thing and others who may be more sceptical but are perhaps not blinded by prejudice also think it is a bad thing:

Unfortunately Britain is the clear loser here because there is no way that Britain can go against the whole E.U., which appears united against Britain therefore expect the E.U. member states to vote for a string of laws that will hurt Britain’s biggest industry the financial sector, such as preventing euro-zone banks from doing business in London, which means Britain could now be on the fast track towards an exit from the European Union.

So what was Clegg’s response? It was the response of the Deputy Prime Minister, which is not the same thing as the response of the leader of the Liberal Democrats. I was not left with a sense of pride in the liberal position. He was not straight, direct, or clear on our position as he had to manage an extremely difficult situation of being responsible for implementing things which we/I don’t like and on a bigger picture for many things many people don’t seem to like. If I am not left with a sense of pride in what is being said then it is no wonder there is confusion and our polls are down. Have a watch of Clegg here defending Cameron’s decision. He clearly knows this is a very bad thing but is left having to defend it.

Some in the party are now calling for Lib Dem wins in Government which is certainly a good idea but the issue is bigger than that. While we do need some wins, getting policy wins is not working for the Lib Dems. Why is it that after having 75% of our manifesto implemented in Government do we not ride higher in the polls? Why is it that having so much to shout about do people question what we stand for? I believe that it is because policies are a product of values and that a piecemeal approach to policy destroys the link to the original value. People can no longer see why it is fair to keep benefit rises in line with inflation while other people effectively have their wages cut. They can no longer see why it is fair to give schools more money for poorer children when they believe school standards are decreasing due to the cuts.

People can’t see what the Lib Dem position is when we take responsibility for all the Government’s decisions. And who do people go to, to hear what the Lib Dem position is? Nick Clegg, who is not being very convincing any more about what the Lib Dem position is. For example – he believes that we now have a 2 speed Europe, that we are on the outside and that it is bad for jobs and growth, yet he defends the decision Cameron took? Does this make sense to people who believe Europe is a good thing? I doubt it.

What we are seeing is the result of Clegg having been put in a box and having lost his voice. As a result the Lib Dems have lost their voice and so we shouldn’t be surprised that our poll rating is so low. When I spoke to someone recently about Clegg they started the conversation with I will never vote for him again and it ended with her saying that she wanted him as Prime Minister not Cameron. In other words, she believed in what he used to say and is disappointed he doesn’t have more power and feels let down that he isn’t speaking for her anymore. Read the papers and listen to what people are saying and this is the common theme – People expressing feelings of hurt and being let down because he can’t be himself anymore now he is DPM. What do people who feel hurt and let down do? Often attack or withdraw to protect themselves.

There are no easy answers to this as this is the problem with Coalition politics. What we can say is that what we are doing right now is not working for the party. What we need is Clegg to be straight, direct, and clear on our values and our position as a result. He should not be afraid to say this was a bad decision and what should happen. He should not be afraid to be the Lib Dem leader more often than just at Conference. The country misses Nick Clegg, but more importantly, the country needs Nick Clegg.

A Liberal Vision for Education: There’s no point reforming our broken system. This is a new education system.

Mark Pack recently looked at the attitudes towards income inequality between ’87 – ’09. The interesting thing in this data is the fact that almost a consistent 80% of people for over 20 years have said that the gap between the rich and poor is too large. While there has been no change in attitudes since the financial crash there has been a decrease in belief that the government should increase tax or benefits to address the concern.

 

Mark Pack makes the case for education as a way to improve incomes for those from lower socio-economic families and states that this needs to be made as it can’t just be assumed by default.  Mark Pack states that

Instead, it is policies such as providing better educational opportunities for the least well off (pupil premium anyone?) which best fit what the public says it wants

But once people have woken up to the idea of the Pupil Premium, and it is no longer something we can use to show what we will do in power, what is the Lib Dem education policy? I think that we can be congratulated for implementing a good policy which will hopefully make a real difference to people’s lives, most notably in the future. However, the problem with any policy based on an existing system is that it very much depends on how good the existing system is in the first place. So how good is the educational system we have in the UK at the moment?

Well Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google, condemned it. Anthony Seldon said that it is collapsing into a form of mass indoctrination. While Ofsted shows that nearly one in every seven schools inspected this year have been judged no better than satisfactory twice in succession and have no more than a satisfactory capacity to improve. At the same time, nearly one in every five colleges inspected this year have received only a satisfactory rating for the third time in a row. I could go on but the point it that we have a system that does not serve the people who it is intended to serve. Many people do not come out with as good a grades as they could get and many don’t even get an education. On top of that if anyone went to a state school like mine will know that they are not nice places to be and can in fact, at times, be very dangerous.

To illustrate the point that this is structural, Labour pumped millions in to the system only to find limited improvement, or even worse in some areas. While we may characterise this as Labour incompetence, and in some cases it was, it was also due to the system being inflexible and incapable of improvement. So how much use is improving a system that doesn’t work?

A Liberal education system is one where the pupils learn the best way they learn. Children learn in very different ways and sticking them all in front of a teacher at the same time to do the same thing is an outdated way of teaching. We have put sticking plasters on the system to try and make it more responsive to the children’s needs but the system remains an outdated. Because of this we are producing children who are brilliant at something, but they don’t know it and never find out. We demonise children for being bored despite living in a technological age and instead of looking at the system we look at the children and say it must be something wrong with them.

We need to start looking at new ways of doing education as part of our new vision for the country. This should be personalised learning. We have the technology and understanding to engage children. We have the expertise to deliver teaching tailored to what they are good at. We can reorganise the curriculum so that there isn’t a focus on academia, which seems to be routinely agreed upon that is not the most effective focus for education. We can do better than what we have.

For a much better talk on the current education system and more on personalised learning watch this (it is very good):

 

The Lib Dems need to make themselves relevant again. The only way to do this is if we have a idea of what a Liberal Britain would look like and to be honest I am not too sure of what that is right now. Education is a good place to start and personalised learning is a very liberal idea.

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