Nuclear fudge on the Lib Dem stall

Bismark is quoted as having said that “politics is the art of the possible” and in perpetuating a nuclear defence policy that can never be realised, the Liberal Democrats  have succeeded in stepping out of the debate on nuclear weapons.  The policy of having a part time submarine which probably isn’t carrying any nuclear warheads is neither possible nor deterrent.
 
This position is the sort of contingency that is adopted by fence sitters who do not expect ever to have to implement the policy that they have adopted and quite frankly for a party that aspires to government it is an entirely unsustainable policy.
 
There are in fact on the nuclear debate only two main questions, do we want a nuclear based defence policy or not?  If the answer is yes then the policy of the Liberal Democrats is not that policy as it means in reality that we leave the warheads at home until after war has been declared.  If the answer is no then the policy of the Liberal Democrats is not that policy as it retains the warheads.

Fundamentally we are saying that we want to negotiate away warheads that we will never use and will never have the opportunity to use and so we have taken our warheads out of any possible multi-lateral agreement.
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Thoughts on York

So, what was the most enduring memory of the York Liberal Democrat Spring Conference? Tim Farron taking on the Tories in a rousing final speech, or Nick Clegg in blistering form on Brexit? The feisty debate on faith schools, or the brief flirtation with unilateral nuclear disarmament, cunningly timed to coincide with England’s Grand Slam decider?

Or was it York itself, magnificent in the spring sunshine, giving us the perfect backdrop to the #libdemfightback?

Well, for me, the abiding memory is being a part of a vast hopeful army of conference newbies, who, like me, had chosen to get up off the canvas of 2016′s despair and do something- anything- to stop the world lurching into hate-filled extremism.

You can’t bottle “essence of York spring 2017″. But if you could, you might be intoxicated by the scent of a new libdemmery. One that had a heady dose of optimism, energy and hopefulness. But also a hint of something bloody, a visceral sense of patriotism that Tim Farron captured by announcing “I want my country back”.

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Joan Walmsley writes…Taxing patience and taxing patients

In order to “incentivise employers to think differently about their recruitment and skills decisions and the balance between investing in UK skills and overseas recruitment” (Lord Nash in the Lords on Tuesday) the government has decided to introduce an Immigration Skills Charge, a tax of £1000 per employee, per year, paid in advance by an employer wishing to recruit a skilled worker from outside the European Economic Area.

It does not apply to everyone, of course. Exceptions have been made for a variety of post-graduate scientists (including social and humanities scientists), research and development managers, and higher education teaching professionals.

Two groups that have not been exempted are professionals in health and social care. We know that both of these sectors are heavily dependent upon recruiting professionals from all over the world. We know only too well, from report after report, of the dire financial straits of the NHS: three quarters of NHS trusts are in deficit; nearly every A&E has limped from crisis to crisis this winter; we are short of nurses and retention is awful; hospital doctors’ rosters are unfilled; and GP practices can’t replace retiring doctors. The staff have become the shock-absorber for the NHS.

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In defence of the “second referendum”

When Farron announced that we were pushing for another referendum on Europe, I agreed with those who accused the Lib Dems of ignoring democracy because we didn’t like the result. While I still sympathise with these criticisms, I have eventually come around to the party’s position. Or at least – I think that there is a strong principled case for it (I still have some practical questions).

This case is based on accountability. Election results are not the be all and end all of democracy, they are part of a wider process. In a General Election, this process involves political parties making their case to the British people, and the public choosing which party they like best. Crucially, the people then judge how well that party has followed through with their promises, and hold them to account at the next election (as we know only too well in the Lib Dems).

Of course, I understand that you can’t have referendums every five years, but there still has to be some mechanism of accountability to make a vote democratically viable.  Otherwise, campaigners can just say whatever they think will get people to vote for them, whether it’s achievable or not. The alleged “£350 million for the NHS” was the most infamous case of this, but Leave campaigners also hedged their bets wildly on the single market – much more significantly in my view. The Remain camp lied too (Osborne said that he would introduce an emergency budget after Brexit, Cameron said that he would stay on as Prime Minister) but as we lost anyway, these lies aren’t as pressing from a democratic perspective, as we know they didn’t change the result. 

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Observations of an Ex Pat: Brexit goes nuclear

The EU is worried about losing their American nuclear umbrella.

The UK is worried about losing their European market and their seat at the European top table.

Britain has nuclear weapons. The EU has markets. Is there a fit?

If so, the result could be a tectonic strategic shift with far-reaching political repercussions.

My sources say there is enough of a fit for Prime Minister Theresa May to be thinking of offering to extend the British deterrent to EU countries in return for Brexit concessions.  This is most likely to be in cooperation with the French.

The reaction of the strategic eggheads ranges from “not incredible” to “logical,” to “totally unrealistic” and then “utterly crass” with a lot of “no comments” thrown in for good measure.

No comment was what the British Ministry of Defence said. No reply was all I could elicit from The Foreign Office and Downing Street. But The Department  for  Exiting the European Union, was more forthcoming. It referred me to Mrs May’s 18 January  Brexit strategy speech in which she said: 

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Yet another Liberal Democrat GAIN from the Conservatives

Congratulations to Peter Pilkington, elected to West Somerset District Council with an amazing gain from the Conservatives last night. In a ward that we didn’t stand in last time.

There was another good increase in vote share from a standing start in Herefordshire:

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Flying our flags – @timfarron and @libdems at Conference

Tim Farron has shown British politics the meaning of political leadership. On Brexit, his fight for the public to be allowed a further say and against ultra-Brexit that no-one voted for has been bold.  In contrast, the leader of the supposed official opposition has dithered.  The unelected Prime Minister pursues a course she herself described as a catastrophe.

Too much of our future is falling under the Brexit axe, which people were reassured by the Leave campaign would not happen.

So, straight after business in the conference hall was concluded on Saturday, Tim Farron was able to join a large group of EU …

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 24th Mar - 3:39pm
    I've come around to the idea of unilateral disarmament. This isn't a peacenik policy if we significantly boost our conventional forces with the saving. We...
  • User AvatarAndrew Hickey 24th Mar - 3:12pm
    Absolutely agreed. I voted for the unilateralist amendment, but frankly any policy at all, even one I disagree with 100%, would be better than the...
  • User AvatarDav 24th Mar - 3:08pm
    Also: possessive 'its'.
  • User AvatarDav 24th Mar - 3:07pm
    Can the UK launch it’s nuclear missiles without US permission? Yes. Even if US permission is not needed, can the UK maintain it’s missiles without...
  • User AvatarLittle Jackie Paper 24th Mar - 2:47pm
    Ben Andrew - Just to add to my previous comment about the EU being open-ended. My wife is from Eastern Europe and I go out...
  • User AvatarLittle Jackie Paper 24th Mar - 2:43pm
    Ben Andrew - OK. Again, I'm not entirely without sympathy. 'because we all know what remaining in the EU looks like (having done it for...