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F8 - Universal Basic Income (Amendments Saga - the sequel)

September 24, 2020 12:55 AM
By Keith Melton

Keith Melton (Keith Melton)As I indicated in my quiet rant the other day about Amendments that GLD sponsored, the amendment we submitted to motion F8 on Universal Basic Income (UBI) has taken a different turn.

Green Lib Dems decided that something was missing from the UBI motion which we thought should be there - and that was a reference to the potential extra costs of living a more environmentally friendly life as we seek to change the world after the shock of Covid-19. If, as we believe, UBI is to contribute towards wellbeing we need to set the rate at a level which enables people not to have to depend upon the cheapest (and often, therefore, the least environmentally friendly) products.

This, therefore, led us to link that to a possible source of offsetting income generated using the Polluter Pays Principle. However, this appeared to be a problem with the motion`s movers and we were contacted by Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats (and now a key promoter of UBI within the Party) Jane Dodds. I will let Jane continue the story in her own words!

As seen from the UBI team

"F8 is a motion that will put the Liberal Democrats on the political map if it is passed.

Jane Dodds (Jane Dodds)Universal Basic Income is a notion that 5 years ago I thought was mad, but now I am leading a small group of Liberal Democrat activists to push it this conference as a social programme which could start to make our society more equal. Many of you were earlier than myself in recognising its merits; eradicating food banks, helping carers, taking the stress out of the lives of those in unstable employment, and there are many more. And it is a liberal policy in giving people the tools they need to make the choices they want to make about their own lives.

We knew we had to give everything to get this motion through conference on Friday and working together with the Green Liberal Democrats to ask you to withdraw your amendment will have helped those chances. It will be close on Friday, and having reviewed your amendment (which we all agree with), we felt it would potentially distract from the principle of Universal Basic Income as a policy we wanted the party to support.

Carbon Tax

Our group can absolutely see that the idea of a "carbon tax" and making the polluters pay is an essential part of how we fund policies such as Universal Basic Income, but we wanted the debate to not focus on a taxation system, or how we cost this position; we wanted it to be about the benefits that Universal Basic Income can bring to everyone in this country.

After liaising with the proposers of your amendment, we are very grateful to you for your agreement to withdraw the amendment. This is about working together to get things like Universal Basic Income through. And who knows, next year, we may be working together on the next steps.

Thank you - Jane"

Revisiting Economic Policy

It is clear, not only from this experience, but from the experience we have had with all our other amendments, that it is time to revisit the whole basis of the way the economy is considered in this country. The fact that the Chancellor only this week has cancelled the Autumn Budget because of the impact of the pandemic lockdowns and the latest tightening of restrictions, makes it apparent that things will have to change. These changes range from the basis of income support including UBI, to taxation, to potential changes from value added taxes towards possible carbon taxes, to decarbonising capital investments and moving towards a circular/doughnut economy.

From the ChairGreen Liberal Democrats will be seeking to bring Liberal Democrat economics into line with our responsibilities for `...the fate of our planet and, by safeguarding the balance of nature and the environment, for the long term continuity of life in all its forms` - to quote a key extract from the preamble to the Party`s constitution! We look forward to working with Jane Dodds and her team looking to make UBI a central plank in our political ecnomic armoury

Keith Melton

Chair, Green Liberal Democrats