It’s going to be a bit quiet around here for a couple of weeks…

As you read this, I’ll be on my way to the beautiful Highlands for two weeks. I need my spiritual home to work its restorative magic on me.

I have decided that I’m going to have a proper break. In previous years, I’ve still done meetings and continued to write for LDV albeit at a reduced rate.

This year has been a bit of a rollercoaster. From the personal drama of my husband’s serious illness last Autumn to the Council elections to the General Election and starting a new job, I’ve …

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Happy 40th Birthday, Alex Cole-Hamilton

Today, Liberal Democrat MSP for Edinburgh Western, Alex Cole-Hamilton turns 40.

I have to confess to being slightly traumatised by this – much more so than by my own imminent Golden Jubilee.

You see, I don’t feel 50. I feel about 28. And I’m in much better shape physically and mentally than I was at 28, so it’s all good here. And the waiter at the Indian last night referred to me as a “young lady.” Even better.

Alex’s big day, though, provides inescapable evidence of the passage of time. I can’t help but remember that I first met him when he was a young lad fresh out of university. Now he’s a 40 year old father of three.

He hides it well, though. He’s probably even more irrepressible now than he was back then.

I’ve asked some of his friends to help me come up with 40 Legendary Alex Moments. Sit down with a cup of tea and enjoy a meander through the life of someone who is guaranteed to bring a smile to whatever is going on. Happy Birthday, Alex:

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Mathew’s Musings -commentary on this week’s news

Our new leader

I wish Vince all the luck in the world, in what is one of the most demanding jobs in politics today…ensuring we get enough coverage to break through and continue the Lib Dem Fightback which Tim Farron made a such a good start on during his time in the top job.

There’s no doubt that Vince has pretty good name recognition among the general public (for a politician, anyway) and is clearly a trusted voice on the economy, something which hasn’t always been the case for our leaders.

As the star of a past Christmas edition of Strictly Come Dancing, we can but hope that Strong and Cable Vince will glide across the political scene and ensure that liberalism and social democracy not only survive but thrive in the form of the Liberal Democrats in the years ahead.

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: The country cannot afford a Summer of Brexit discontent

Edinburgh West MP Christine Jardine has set out some thoughts on our strategy as we respond to the total mess that the Tories are making of the Brexit negotiations.

In an article for the Times Red Box (£), she sets the scene:

The internal squabbling of our chancellor, foreign secretary, and Brexit secretary — to name just a few of the clowns at play — is making the chances of a poor deal for the UK, or a catastrophic failure to get a deal at all, all the more likely.

Instead of knuckling down and approaching negotiations with a seriousness befitting the task, Davis has so far shown up to a photo-op without even pretending to have the necessary papers and briefings, then taking the first Eurostar home. No doubt heading straight back to the journalists to criticise his leader. It rather undermines the negotiation of critical issues like EU citizens’ rights, a solution for Northern Ireland and the UK’s debt to the EU when your so-called chief negotiator would rather be at home leaking cabinet papers.

But this is all part of a hard hearted strategy. She thinks that they are trying to create such a bad atmosphere that in a year’s time, they walk way blaming the EU for the failure.

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The sixties

I just visited an amazing exhibition in Montreal at La Musee de Beaux Arts, entitled ‘Revolution’, all about the sixties, when I was a teenager. The revolution in question was the change in art, ideas, politics, power, dress, music etc etc that occurred in the late 1960s, which culminated in the 1968 student riots, Expo ’67 in Montreal and Woodstock.

Many people today, especially young people it seems, criticise the sixties as a time of fantasy, forgetting what life had been like before the so-called swinging sixties. Before the sixties, (male) homosexuality was illegal, women were second class citizens, treated as appendages of their husbands especially in regard to finance, people were hanged for murder, computers and the internet were non-existent, books, plays and films were rigorously censored and non-white people were subject to overt harassment and discrimination. Who can forget the prosecution of the publishers of Lady Chatterly’s Lover – the book the prosecutor said you would not want your wives or servants to read! Or the shocking Tory campaign in Smethick in 1964, when the Labour MP Patrick Gordon-Walker lost his seat to a campaign of ‘If you want a ******* for a neighbour, vote Labour’.

During the sixties, homosexual acts between consenting adults in private were made legal, the Race Relations Act outlawed much discrimination based on colour or race, hanging was abolished, abortion was legalised up to 28 weeks and the voting age was reduced to 18.

The sixties saw an unprecedented revolution in fashion in which the UK through designers like Mary Quant and the Carnaby Street shops changed clothing forever from the somewhat staid post war styles to the modern ever changing fashions of today. The Women’s Liberation Movement started demanding equal rights for women and the end of patriarchy, which, in Britain, eventually led to the Sexual Discrimination Act and the Equal Pay Act in 1975.

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How do we measure the evolving will of the people?

The 2017 Liberal Democrat manifesto boldly sets out in section 1.1 the intention to hold a second referendum on EU membership (or indeed, a first vote on the Brexit deal). As a LibDem supporter and remainer in an area which voted 70% to leave, I was simultaneously pleased and worried at the announcement.

When asked by Nick Robinson on the BBC Question Time Leaders Special about the second referendum, Tim Farron made it clear that the result of the referendum is respected, though the people ‘didn’t vote for destination’. Whether true or not, I believe that the type of Brexit that the majority of people voted for needs ratifying in some way, which one could argue a second referendum could allow.

But much more importantly, the question of overturning Brexit, in my opinion is entirely reliant on a second referendum. Polly Toynbee wrote an insightful and interesting piece for the Guardian a few days ago. She argues that a second referendum is naturally divisive, and that an ‘indefinite limbo’ could be ‘the least worst option’.  Whilst I entirely agree that referenda are by their very nature divisive, particularly close ones, I disagree with the idea of a second referendum being wrong. I believe that Brexit can only be overturned by the will of the people to avoid the potential backlash over the perception that the ‘political elite’ have ignored people who feel long-forgotten by the system. The only means to avoid the backlash is to allow the will of the people to overturn the will of the people.

However, whether there is a taste for it is unclear, and what it would take for the minority Conservative government to call one is undetermined. Opinion Polls are famously unreliable at the present. One can pick and choose an opinion poll based on their opinion on a second referendum. For example, YouGov suggest that the support for a second referendum sits at 31%, whilst against sits at 58%. Conversely, Opinium suggests that the support for a second referendum is growing, now sitting at 41% compared to against at 48%. 

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Observations of an ex pat: Crooked or incompetent?

Is the Trump team totally incompetent or crooked? Is it perhaps a combination of the two or an unappealing variation on the political spectrum?

For despite the never-ending stream of White House protestations and presidential tweets, not all of President Trump’s problems are the result of a witch hunt of historic proportions orchestrated by  the Democrats, the liberals, “ the dishonest media,” immigrants, refugees, Muslims, “so-called judges”,  turncoat Republicans, Chinese currency manipulators, Angela Merkel, Mexicans and Canadians.

Next week we may start to learn the answer to the questions posed. It is a major week for the Trump Administration.  Three big names from the Trump campaign—Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort – are all appearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating the Russian hacking scandal.

A bit of background for anyone who has been living at the bottom of a mile-deep Tibetan cave for the past month.  Donald Junior—after initially denying he had met with any Russians—published a string of emails which revealed that in the depths of the presidential campaign he was keen to meet with a Russian lawyer who could dish the dirt on Hillary Clinton.

The White House made much of the fact that Trump Junior released the  correspondence rather than having  it  revealed by someone else. Little was made of the fact that he made public  the emails after the New York Times said they were going to publish them.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarAndrew Tampion 23rd Jul - 1:13pm
    I don't think that it is unreasonable to point out that asking people to vote again on a substantially unreformed EU is likely to get...
  • User AvatarHywel 23rd Jul - 12:45pm
    "Nobody is going to offer David Davis a free hand to rewrite the fundamental principles of the EU treaties" Yes as regards the Brexit negotations....
  • User AvatarNick Hopkinson 23rd Jul - 12:37pm
    David Evershed should not fall for the Eurosceptic myth about the 1975 referendum - the geo-political context and political imperative of the European project was...
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 23rd Jul - 12:34pm
    "Where is the evidence that the EU would reform?" Some very valid questions are being asked here, but we should be careful to avoid seeking...
  • User AvatarMike S 23rd Jul - 12:06pm
    and the policies that come out of those messages and vision, giving the Lib Dems a CLEAR identity which is DIFFERENT to the tories or...
  • User Avatarfrankie 23rd Jul - 12:05pm
    Try P C Hodgell God Stalk, a dark fantasy, bit like Brexit ;)