When Guardian columnist Deborah Orr appeared on Newsnight a few weeks ago as the token Liberal Democrat her performance was embarrassing to say the least. However, her ineptitude is redeemed by a splendid article on Saturday 3rd December entitled "Any one got a clue how to make things better? Well yes, actually, I have..."(sorry, the link thing is not behaving itself) with six very practical suggestions as to how the pain of the present economic situation could be spread more fairly and used positively to build a more equitable society. The article is well worth reading but if you haven't time then her suggestions are, briefly:
1. Concentrate on work sharing rather than sacking people or making them redundant.
2. When people can no longer afford to pay their mortgages, rather than their being turned out on the streets, Local Authorities should take their houses into joint ownership, let them live there as tenants, and thus increase the public housing stock.
3. Banks compelled to write off debts should have 100 year bonds in return. (I don't quite see how this would work but am sure M/s Orr will explain it to the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he's interested.)
4. Local companies, co-ops, mutuals and charities should have priority in local and national government procurement.
5. Companies registered offshore should not be allowed to have "free" labour on government work-experience schemes.
6. Offshore companies should have to pay an annual levy to compensate for the education their workforces have received and to which they haven't contributed. The income from the levy should be used for further education and training.
M/s Orr concludes her article: "This is no time to be backward in coming forward with ideas," a refreshing approach compared with the present negative and destructive policies. Let's hope Liberal Democrats in government will adopt it.