P-1: Deep breath

Well after a few weeks, numerous days, endless hours and given my tiredness, countless minutes – polling day is about to commence. And yes, we have reached that point. ‘No more leaflets’ shout the notices on the doors. Some of the notices scream ‘NO MORE LEAFLETS’, some of the house don’t want UKIP leaflets specifically and some of the residents are quite articulate in their resistance. The most receptive and consistent in welcoming the avalanche of the leaflets have been the recycling boxes and bins.

What has been striking and fellow Liberal Democrats will appreciate this – has been the warmth of reception that we have had. Without a doubt the candidate who has emerged as kind, honest, respected and yes distinctive has been Dr Zulfiqar Ali.

I have worked with many many candidates and I can confidently say that you can be proud of the work, standing and respect of Dr Zulfiqar Ali. Zulfi has been beset by media and unlike virtually all of the other candidates he has not been on the run – he has been calm and accessible.

So we clear the office, bundle the good morning leaflets and prepare for a full-on count where no party really knows what will happen. Can I on behalf of the team here, and perhaps on your behalf, thank Dr Zulfiqar Ali, Liberal Democrat Candidate for Stoke-on-Trent Central.

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LibLink: Kishwer Falkner on ‘How I will vote on Article 50’

Baroness Kishwer Falkner has been explaining on her blog how she plans to vote on Brexit and Article 50. She writes:

In life, with voluntary relationships there is a clear line between the length of a relationship and the one’s attachment to it.  I have felt those 32 years acutely in the last few months as I have reflected on my own position with respect to the Liberal Democrats position on Brexit and the need for a second referendum.  But in arriving at my decision to vote against the Lib Dem position I feel that it is the fact that I am a Lib Dem – a pro-European to my core – that makes this the right thing to do.

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Where power is going and more reason for democracies to band together

The Independent has covered a PwC report on the likely biggest 32 economies by the middle of this century.

It is a familiar prediction of power slipping away from the West towards the global South and East.  As history teaches us, with economic size go political, diplomatic, military and cultural power.

The PwC prediction has China and India overtaking the USA.  Only Germany, Britain and France from Europe in the top 12.

Of the top 5: China, India, the USA, Indonesia and Brazil.  All except China are putative democracies and have functioning multi-party systems, to an extent, but all have serious human …

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LibLink: Liz Barker on Trump and his ‘hateful eight’

 

Lib Dem peer Liz Barker has written a post on Politics Home titled ‘Trump and his hateful eight are condemning women worldwide‘.

She writes:

So egregious is the Trump administration that it is difficult to focus one’s anger and start to plan a fightback.  The thing which spurred me on was that photograph of Trump and a bunch of old white men – the hateful eight – signing the executive order for the global gag.  At the stroke of a pen, a bunch of billionaires condemned women and girls all over the world to misery, illness and, in many cases, death.

The policy originated in 1984 under Reagan and was reinstituted under both Bush governments, all three Republicans. The policy in the past required non-US NGOs to certify that they would not “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning” (an anti-abortion lobby standard line), even with non-US funds, as a condition for receiving USAID global family planning assistance

The Trump version of the policy of 23 January 2017 is, predictably, bigger and more insidious.  NGOs who are receiving any US global health assistance will have to sign the Gag Rule, including those running HIV programmes, maternal and child health programmes, infectious diseases programmes, or those dealing with Zika virus – as well as family planning programmes. Moreover, it applies whether the funds come from USAID, as in the past, or from any US government agency or department.

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P-2: Feeding the team that delivers on its stomach

I always found one aspect of military history interesting – yes, army logistics.  It’s all very well sending 200 people out but how do you feed them at breakfast, in the morning, at lunch and in the evening and then when they are randomly hungry?

So we have sought to run a HeadQuarters that is warm, friendly, welcoming and well stocked.  Now there have been a few local stalwarts who have been champion at ensuring our kitchen has been well stocked – croissants, biscuits (most variants), savoury biscuits, bread, oranges, bananas, apples (most variants), and yes we also have oatcakes, cheese, tomatoes and some bacon.  And how could we forget the ever ending supply of samosas.

And the atmosphere – well you have all been very willing, cheery and prepared to go out again and again.  It has been really noticeable how many of you who have travelled have a) arrived early, b) have stayed for a full day of work and c) stayed overnight and d) returned again and again.

Now I can say the team here have been bouncy and energetic and focused on making sure you left with a positive impression.  Now I realise that risks sounding flippant, but we have deliberately constructed the campaign in a way that places huge value on a quality and warm reception.  Under the attentive gaze of Simon Drage we try and make sure that you are fed watered and rested between and after your campaign activity.

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Towards a world free of nuclear weapons

At Spring Conference in York, Liberal Democrats will debate a new policy paper, Towards a World Free of Nuclear Weapons. 

This is an important debate for Liberal Democrats, because we understand all too well the catastrophic consequences of detonating nuclear weapons. The ethical questions they raise go to the heart of our party’s values: we believe that any nuclear war is morally unacceptable and must never be fought. We appreciate that as a founding signatory of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation on Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the UK has a legal responsibility to reinvigorate international nuclear disarmament initiatives. And we have always recognised the Government’s duty to protect the British people from attack and to play a full part in protecting the UK’s NATO allies.

We are reviewing our nuclear weapons policies because the international security situation has changed, and not for the better, since 2013 when they were last updated. With Russia’s growing military adventurism, increased instability in the Middle East and a changing balance of power in Asia, the world is a more dangerous place than it has been for many years. In this challenging environment, strengthening NATO solidarity, military capability, and coherence should be the highest priority for the UK’s defence policy, especially if we leave the EU. The policy paper concludes that this is not the right time to renounce our nuclear weapons. The UK should maintain a minimum nuclear deterrent. 

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Liberal Democrat spring conference agenda published

The agenda for the Liberal Democrat spring conference in York 17-19th March is now available here.

We already knew the topics to be covered from Zoe O’Connell’s report three weeks ago, but this is the first chance for most members of the party to see the full texts to be debated and consider proposing amendments.

Here’s my rapid summary of some key points (and I have decoded some of the titles):

F4 Sex work Decriminalise sex work as the best way to reduce harm from it and to …

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 23rd Feb - 1:12am
    Good points, I think, above, from people who still support the party policy, as I do. I like John Hall's dissection of the Baroness's suggestion...
  • User AvatarJohn Mitchell 23rd Feb - 1:03am
    I would agree with Peter. Such a referendum would only enhance the European Union's negotiating hand. At this stage when the vote has been decided...
  • User AvatarMartin 22nd Feb - 10:24pm
    "Move on"??? (a very different Martin says) Suffer the appalling consequences more like. You do not understand, just because you have decided to jump, does...
  • User Avatarcrewegwyn 22nd Feb - 10:19pm
    Well done Dr Ali and Team. Sorry couldn't be with you this week; enjoyed my earlier visits. Great team - hope you get the result...
  • User AvatarMartin 22nd Feb - 10:14pm
    We are leaving the EU, stop the navel gazing; get over it; and move on.
  • User AvatarPeter Kemp 22nd Feb - 10:14pm
    And .... do not forget Copeland .... 11 Lib Dem MPs on Friday ??