Tom Brake: Plans to divert aid for Brexit negotiations are a disgrace

One of the things we can be most proud of is that we ensured that this country was committed in law to providing 0.7% of GDP in foreign aid to provide things like food, humanitarian aid, water, schooling and protection for women and girls at risk of abuse to the poorest places on the planet.

Now it seems that the Brexiteers in government plan to divert some of that money to EU countries to advance our position in the Brexit negotiations. That doesn’t strike us as being what it’s for.

Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesperson Tom Brake has called the plans a disgrace:

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Vote Leave: Strong democratic case for referendum on the Brexit deal

When Liberal Democrats have talked about offering a referendum on the Brexit deal, they have had tonnes of abuse shovelled at them from outraged Brexiteers. We’re undemocratic, they say. We’re not willing to accept the will of the people. How on earth giving the people a say on whether their government has interpreted their wishes correctly is undemocratic is beyond me, but to the Boris Johnsons, and Iain Duncan Smiths and Theresa Mays of this world, it makes sense. That would be the people with power who don’t want it challenged.

Tony Blair is the latest figure to come in for the disapproval of the Brexiteer zealots, which now appear to include the Labour leadership. I’ll just leave this tweet from Robert Hutton here, just as an aside:

What’s interesting is that Tony Blair didn’t say much different what Nick Clegg and Tim Farron have been saying since the referendum. It’s hardly surprising that both Liberal Democrats expressed approval.

We can be absolutely certain that had the vote on 23rd June been 52-48 in favour of Remain that the Leave campaign would have been arguing for a second referendum already.

But a referendum on the Brexit deal is an entirely different thing. So what did Vote Leave have to say about that? Well, in January 2016, before we even knew the date of the referendum, Vote Leave’s director Dominic Cummings, the guy who came up with the £350 million a week for the NHS pledge which was dumped within hours of the result being known, gave an interview to the Economist. Twitter is full today of how this is still being linked to from the Vote Leave website.

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LibLink: Norman Lamb: Time for honesty about future funding of our NHS

Liberal Democrats have been talking a lot about health and social care this week. In the Yorkshire Post, Norman Lamb argues for an urgent change of direction to give the NHS a sustainable future which meets our needs.

First he seems out the crisis facing the NHS.

But it seems this Conservative Government has become increasingly ambivalent to the state of our health service. In Yorkshire, vital A&E wards in Dewsbury, Huddersfield and Scarborough are all at risk of being closed or downgraded – it’s the same over the border at Darlington. Communities are set to face even longer waits for emergency care, including those in rural areas who may soon have to travel hours to receive treatment. These changes are happening for a simple reason – this Conservative government is failing to give the NHS and care services the cash they need to cope with rising demand. To make matters worse, local people on the ground are not being given a say into these decisions which will have a huge impact on their lives. The stark reality is that we are seeing the gradual downgrading of our health service taking place behind closed doors.

He attacked the use of well-paid consultancy firms drawing up cuts in services with no consultation of the public.

So what is the solution? It’s two-fold. First of all a cross party commission:

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Federal Policy Committee Report – 15 February 2017

Federal Policy Committee met on Wednesday 15th February. The meeting was slightly in advance of our normal cycle (it having been obviously felt that having a long FPC meeting on the evening before the Stoke-On-Trent and Copeland by-elections was a bad idea).

Sadly the combined effect of a Parliamentary recess and half term in some areas of the country led to a lower turnout than at the previous meeting with neither Tim Farron MP nor the regular compiler of these reports Geoff Payne being able to attend. In Tim’s absence the meeting was chaired by the committee vice-chair Duncan Brack.

The meeting as a whole was driven much more by discussion over future process than the previous meeting’s focus on policy matters for Spring Conference. In some ways Federal Policy Committee regards our pre-conference work as “done with”; we are now awaiting the input from conference on the policy papers, motions and consultation papers to shape how FPC will proceed. As such, much of our work this time was on preparation for post-conference work.

The shape of some of our subcommittees and working groups due to report back for Autumn Conference was fleshed out. Belinda Brooks-Gordon was elected as the Chair of the Policy Equalities Impact Assessment Group (of which I am also a member) which will review Policy proposals with an intersectional view of the impact of policies upon all diversity strands.

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P-5: The oatcake crisis at Stoke-on-Trent Central HQ

Problems often arise with a campaign – and today was one of those days when problems came in threes.

1. We ran out of delivery and residents and deliverers complained that we were doing some houses for the second and third time.
2. We ran out of canvassing that we had prepared and printed and ready and now have a data backlog
3. We ran out of bacon, cheese and tomoatoe to go with the oatcakes… yes really.
Given we need to be ready for the rest of the day and tomorrow and the final weekend I can’t talk for long and need to crack on.  The campaign HQ is at The Wheatsheaf Hotel, Sheaf Street, Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 4LW and is open from 10 am – 9 pm daily.  You know where to come… I will leave it there.
Ed
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Donald Trump, Twitter and distraction

Compare and contrast:

Less than a month ago, on 20th January, Donald Trump took this very solemn oath:

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States

That constitution enshrines the rights of a free press and democracy.

Last night, 4 weeks after he took above oath of office, the President of the United States, the so-called leader of the free world, someone with more power than most others on this planet of ours, tweeted this:

What had got his goat this time was coverage of his bizarre press conference when he attacked the media. It’s a pity that the media claims can’t be verified with video footage of the entire 76 minute extravaganza.

The media is there to be a pain in the backside to those in power. Part of our problem here at the moment is that much of the media is cheerleading for the government rather than putting it under pressure. The rich, Brexiteer owners of our media, in whose interests it is to be out of the scope of EU regulations, are not sufficiently challenged.

What is worrying is that anyone who challenges the wishes of the powerful is denounced as an enemy of the people. Over here, we had the Daily Fail disgracefully demonise Supreme Court judges upholding the law in that fashion. Now we have Trump dismissing any media outlet that disagrees with him in the same fashion.

Who does he think he is? Vladimir Putin?

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Political elites and why we think we need them

Scenes Frontispiece

The blessed work of helping the world forward, happily does not wait to be done by perfect men; and I should imagine that neither Luther nor John Bunyan, for example, would have satisfied the modern demand for an ideal hero, who believes nothing but what is true, feels nothing but what is exalted, and does nothing but what is graceful. George Eliot

The only thing that has kept the race of men from the mad extremes of the convent and the pirate-galley, the night-club and the lethal chamber, has been mysticism — the belief that logic is misleading, and that things are not what they seem.  GK Chesterton

We have been told a lot lately that recent political upheavals represent a revolt against the “club” of “elites” dominating western politics. On reflection, I wonder if it actually meant the opposite: the realisation “elites” are not very elite at all, but in fact every bit as flawed and tangible as ourselves, just as they always were in the days before television. I was thinking this, recently, wandering around the National Portrait Gallery transfixed by the mesmeric eyes of inane bully Henry VIII – and wondering if we have traded these faintly Tory myths, for the more dangerous oil paints of the Spectator butterfly.

George Eliot’s words from the 1850s are a double-edged sword. Writing in “Scenes on clerical life” she pointed out the great secret of progress, and good politics: normal people like ourselves. This is not always easy. It was, I think, one of the great joys of Coalition for many Liberal Democrats, one which we were too slow at times to appreciate, that we were actually changing quite a lot. With hindsight, I wonder if it felt hard to believe the strength of policies like the Pupil Premium and Shared Parental Leave, not because the Tories did it, nor even that Nick Clegg did it, but because we did it.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarAndrew McCaig 19th Feb - 2:22pm
    Alternatively, in classic Chancellor obfuscation, introduce the new social contribution on all incomes but simultaneously reduce the 12% NI rate!
  • User AvatarMartin 19th Feb - 2:19pm
    Further to Paul Barker's comment: From our Liberal perspective Brexit is clearly wrong from both principled and pragmatic standpoints. However in terms of what is...
  • User AvatarAndrew McCaig 19th Feb - 2:19pm
    One obvious solution is to progressively raise the rate of NI above the upper threshold to 12% . The idea that NI is only progressive...
  • User AvatarPhilip Rolle 19th Feb - 1:54pm
    @Laurence Cox Paying extra income tax does not confer enforceable rights. Paying a social insurance premium would. So if an operation was cancelled, a patient...
  • User Avatarpaul barker 19th Feb - 1:47pm
    The reason for our focus on Brexit is that once things start to happen it will be the dominant issue in British Politics, we are...
  • User AvatarAndrew Tampion 19th Feb - 1:46pm
    As a matter of fact none of the candidates to replace David Cameron did argue for a second referendum so the level of support for...