Labour hang on in South Yorkshire – my guilty part

Labour have retained the post of Police and Crime Commissioner, following the resignation of Shaun Wright, with 50.02% of first preferences ahead of UKIP on 31.66% with a turnout of 14%. The Liberal Democrats did not stand a candidate.

The campaign was dominated by the issue of the child sexual exploitation scandal in Rotherham, with UKIP accused of crassly exploiting the issue for their own political ends, and Labour accused of being responsible for the authorities that failed those children. Both accusations have merit, though in my book failing to protect 1600 children is worse than crass politicking. I’m not suggesting that Labour’s policy was to fail these children, but any virtual one-party state is likely to fail its people and needs to be voted out.

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Norman Lamb warns against demonising people with mental ill health at Hallowe’en

We’ve always had great fun at Hallowe’en in our house. We love the guisers (none of this new fangled Trick or Treat stuff, if you please). My husband loves carving the pumpkin even if he isn’t as elaborate as some. My Facebook timeline has been full of everything from Pumpkin Daleks to the delicious irony of an actual Cinderella carriage. I have some very creative friends.

The Teenager is spending Hallowe’en with her friends and will be headed out in vampire dress leaving us to greet the scores of little devils, ghouls, zombies, fairies, princesses, ghosts and animals who will come …

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Opinion: We can’t afford not to pay for social care

I had a visitor the other day – a resident who was her husband’s carer. Neither was elderly and she was coping remarkably well. I am honestly not sure I could perform her role. I suspect many of us couldn’t.

She had no complaint to make but instead wanted me to understand – for the purposes of local and national policy – what caring looked like in terms of costs. The simple point is that the care she provides comes cheap. She does most of the work so the local authority delivers only respite care at some thousands a year. But were she older, frailer or even simply smaller in stature this would not be possible. And then the cost of care would escalate as it fell to the state to provide it. Ultimately it would reach a six figure sum. Per annum.

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Opinion: Afghanistan – Fools rush in…

US soldier in Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of US Department of DefenseFor the generation of UK military and civilians that served in Afghanistan over the past 13 years, watching the extensive coverage of the final withdrawal from Helmand province comes with mixed feelings.

As the Foreign Office’s “man in” Helmand during 2010, even then it was obvious to me that the UK media had already made up its mind: the conclusion was we had failed. So, when I read the reports earlier this week that “a third” of Helmand’s schools were still …

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Last chance to make your views heard on more powers for Scotland..

Well, not the last chance ever, but certainly the last chance to make a submission to the Smith Commission, which is looking into delivering more powers for Scotland in the wake of the independence referendum.

My view is that it was very clear that people wanted significantly more powers. I don’t think that was predominantly why they voted No, but it was clearly indicated during the debate.

The difficulty that the Commission has now is that the Labour Party, which has been dragging its feet on more powers anyway, now has no leader and no direction. Like the other parties, it has submitted its own recommendations, which are by far the most timid, but how is it going to get its act together enough to agree anything more substantial. It will have to, because  the most basic instincts of self preservation tell you that “The Vow” made must be kept.

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UK decision to stop migrant rescue operations attacked by Teather (“unethical”) and Ashdown (“inhuman”), defended by Clegg (“Italian decision”)

Conservative home office minister James Brokenshire defended the Government’s decision to withdraw support – along with all other EU member states – for future search-and-rescue operations for migrants in the Mediterranean. The BBC reports:

James Brokenshire told MPs the change would “save lives rather than putting them in peril.” About 3,000 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean so far this year. That is out of an estimated total of 150,000 to have made the trip by boat across to Europe. Mr Brokenshire said operations to rescue migrants encouraged more people to make the “perilous journey” across the Mediterranean in the hope of being granted asylum. He said the “despicable work” of human traffickers had made the problem much worse, and must be tackled. On the new approach, he added it was “inconceivable to suggest that if a boat were in peril, that support would not be provided”.

Italian officials have made clear they intend to scale down their government’s current operation, known as Mare Nostrum, as the EU introduces a new operation known as Triton. Triton will focus more on border control – tasks such as vetting asylum seekers once they are ashore, and coastal patrols – rather than search and rescue in international waters. Mr Brokenshire said that 28 EU member states had “unanimously agreed” to the new proposals, and criticised those attacking the policy for seeking to “politicise” the issue.

Lib Dem MP Sarah Teather was not impressed by the minister’s defence:

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UKIP MEP calls equal marriage supporters “equality Nazis” and defends UKIP’s collaboration with party whose leader praised Hitler

Six months ago, Scotland had an actual farmer as an MEP. George Lyon’s knowledge of farming and rural issues was a massive asset to Scotland’s representation in Europe.

Not that I’m bitter, well, maybe a bit, but his replacement, UKIP’s David Coburn, who lives in London, has been telling the Huffington Post hat equal marriage supporters are ‘Equality Nazis”:

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Alison McInnes makes debut at First Minister’s Questions

Highly regarded Scottish Liberal Democrats Justice Spokesperson Alison McInnes stood in for Willie Rennie, who’s recovering well from routine surgery, at today’s First Minister’s Questions. You can watch her here from 23 minutes in.

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LibGreenLink: Julian Huppert and Caroline Lucas: Our prohibitionist drugs policy isn’t working

There may be not much desire on either side for an electoral pact between the Liberal Democrats and the Greens but we are working together on drugs policy, as both parties see the futility of continuing with the current approach.

They firstly counted the cost of prohibition’s failures:

Because the scale of our failures can’t be ignored any longer. There are around 2,000 drug-related deaths every year, and it is estimated that 400,000 people in the UK have a serious drug misuse problem. Consider then that for every one of these cases, there are many more whose lives are thrown into chaos because their loved ones suffer from a vicious cycle of dependency. The failure of current policy is quite literally failing millions of people.

The financial costs are massive too. Every single year in the UK alone, we spend over £3billion of taxpayers’ money tackling drug use, roughly half of which is spent on drug law enforcement. That total – over £3billion – would buy six state-of-the-art hospitals.

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Andrew Stunell MP writes…Tackling anti-semitism at home and abroad

We may have had a peaceful summer at home but overseas the situation was anything but relaxed, not least in Gaza where the tension between Israel and Palestine spilled over into violence and bloodshed. Whatever your interpretation of events there, nothing can excuse the fact that the resultant anger and hurt felt by many was channelled by a few into violence against British Jews, leading to a 400% increase in recorded antisemitic incidents in the last quarter. That was a pattern repeated across Europe, which is why as a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism I joined a delegation of MPs to Berlin and Paris in order to learn the lessons of the summer. Our findings will help to inform a new parliamentary report into antisemitism now being drawn up.

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Opinion: The Economic Crisis is Now Political

Clacton-on-Sea is going nowhere… This is Britain on crutches. This is tracksuit-and-trainers Britain, tattoo-parlour Britain, all-our-yesterdays Britain- Matthew Parris, The Times

Matthew Parris’s dismissal of poor, coastal Essex adorned thousands of UKIP leaflets in Clacton. It served only to justify UKIP’s rout of the Tory party.

Inadvertently, Parris came close to the truth: Britain as a political entity almost ceased to exist in September. Despite the eventual result in Scotland, the strength of the yes vote saw victory in Glasgow, quadrupled the membership of the SNP and caused Scottish Labour to implode. The high turnout alone belied the modern complaint of political apathy.

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Stephen Williams doing a Reddit Ask Me Anything tonight at 6:30 pm

Stephen Williams MPEarlier this year, we featured Communities Minister and MP for Bristol West Stephen Williams’ Reddit questionnaire where he invited constituents to “Ask me anything.” And they did, too. 

Here’s a wee snippet:

First of all, I tweeted you support on the day of the Marriage Act vote and you replied. Thank you for that, you made my day on both counts.

Now for a question: I initially supported a boycott of Starbucks and Amazon for non-payment of UK tax. After a year, however, I feel that the blame

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On making LDV more inclusive

Today has not been a good day. It’s not a good feeling when you discover that someone has left the party over something you did, as Lester Holloway has done. I hope that he reconsiders his decision.

The story begins on Saturday when I published this story about Lib Dem Campaigns supremo Victoria Marsom’s visit to Botswana at the culmination of a year long  project to help our sister party in the elections there.

Lester said in the comments that he was unhappy with our interference in this African election. In the ensuing debate, onc eommenter, who as far as we know is not a member or even a supporter of the party, made a racist comment at around 11pm on Monday. I woke up to an email complaining about it at 8am on Tueadsy. I immediately removed the comment and had a fairly lengthy email conversation with a number of people who were copied into the email. I would have been quite happy to bin the comment completely, but I gave an additional option that it should be reinstated but with a very clear statement that comments of that nature are completely unacceptable. It was agreed that this is what we should do and two of the people who were copied into that email thanked me and seemed happy with the outcome.

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Stephen Lloyd MP writes…Ed’s climate change deal shows how UK can reform EU


Yesterday the Prime Minister’s statement to Parliament reminded us thatthere are two EU stories around at the moment. Sadly one is getting far more attention than the other! One is about the Prime Minister “standing up to Europe” and refusing to pay a £1.7bn demand. The other which is ultimately of much greater significance, concerns the EU agreeing an ambitious climate change deal, under British leadership, as described by Catherine Bearder and Ed Davey recently on LDV.

Liberal Democrats can rightly be proud that as the greenest of the main British political parties and as “the party of in” we have shown …

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Baroness Kate Parminter writes…Campaigning on green issues in the south west

With the Green Party announcing they are targeting 12 seats including a number of our key seats, and the Labour party acknowledging the threat they pose by appointing Sadiq Khan to lead the fightback, Green votes could make the difference between winning and losing – as we sadly saw with Graham Watson MEP.  So as our Environment Spokesperson in the House of Lords I’ve been keen to get out and help our candidates promote what we have achieved in Government and champion our 5 Green Bills which we’d introduce in a future Parliament.  Over the summer I spent two days visiting the Great Heath Project in Mid Dorset & North Poole with the Wildlife Trust and our parliamentary candidate, Vikki Slade.

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Half of current Green supporters voted Lib Dem in 2010

“As Ukip is to the Tories, so can the Green party be to the Lib Dems.” That’s a sentence I wrote 7 years ago, November 2007. So I was interested to see this post by YouGov’s Peter Kellner – ‘Ukip, the Greens and the new politics of protest’ – which looks at his firm’s polling data to find out more about the current spike in support for the Greens.

In it, he aggregates three weeks’ polling data to create a sample size large enough to find out who these new Green voters are. One finding probably won’t surprise many of us: half current Green supporters voted Lib Dem in May 2010:

yougov - green vote

Here’s how Peter Kellner analyses it:

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LibLink: Tim Farron – What Can Government do to Help the Self Employed?

Tim Farron MP speaks at the rallyLib Dem party president Tim Farron has been writing at the Huffington Post about the need for politicians to support the growing number of what he terms the ‘little platoons’ of entrepreneurs and small businesses:

Unlike many politicians, I think this rise in self-employment could be a good thing, at least for those who’ve made the choice. I welcome the fact that entrepreneurial individuals are trusting themselves and their skills and striking out on their own. Especially amongst older workers, an increased willingness to share acquired knowledge and experience is creating successful small business owners and consultants. …

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LibLink: Paddy Ashdown: Afghanistan war is textbook for how to lose this kind of conflict

rally paddy 01Paddy has been writing in the Mirror about the Afghanistan war? Was it all worth it and could we, should we, have done things differently? What can we learn for the future?

First of all, Paddy writes, we did some good:

So has it all been for nothing?

No. There are children – and especially girls – going to school in Afghanistan who wouldn’t be there if British troops had not risked their lives to give them the chance. Democracy, though frail, has taken root.

There is growing prosperity in some areas, markets in previous ghost towns, new roads that never existed and, perhaps most important of all, a knowledge of how things can be better, planted in people’s minds.

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Coalition stooshie* as Tories refuse deal to get EU Referendum Bill debated

There’s been an almighty row in the Coalition over which Private Members Bills should be given government support.

The Liberal Democrats had offered the Tories a deal which would have given both Bob Neill’s Bill on an EU referendum and Andrew George’s on the Bedroom Tax a fair chance of becoming law. In return, the Tories offered the Liberal Democrats a deal under which only the EU Bill would have stood a chance. We’d have been daft to have let them away with it.

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Sal Brinton writes… Ukip’s hypocrisy on tackling serious child abuse issue is breath-taking

UKIP logoToday in the House of Lords, Baroness Joan Walmsley and the Lib Dems secured an agreement from the Government on the Serious Crime Bill, for a major consultation on introducing rules on mandatory reporting of child abuse.

At our recent Federal Conference in Glasgow, Liberal Democrats passed new Party policy in support of requiring those who work with children and vulnerable adults to be required by law to report to the authorities if they have any suspicion that abuse is taking place. However, despite debates on this and other amendments concerning child abuse being debates, Ukip members of the House of Lords failed again to participate in this work.

Ukip’s hypocrisy is breath-taking. They issue a photograph of a girl with the headline ‘There are 1400 reasons why you should not trust Labour again’ in Rotherham, but their record on tackling serious child abuse issue is disgraceful.

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Nick Clegg: I’m not voting in this Thursday’s PCC by-election

Police helmetThere’s a by-election taking place this Thursday. The good news is the Lib Dems won’t lose our deposit.

The reason is the party’s not standing a candidate in the Police and Crime Commissioner by-election triggered by the resignation of former PCC Shaun Wright over the Rotherham child sex abuse scandal.

Here’s how Nick Clegg explained the decision to the BBC earlier this month:

“Having looked at the experiment of police and crime commissioners, I’ve come to the conclusion it just doesn’t work. Look what happened in South Yorkshire and across the whole of the north of England; it’s all re-hashed, re-tread Labour politicians and, guess what, the public don’t like it and they don’t bother to vote for it at all.”

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What can we learn from this year’s World Gender Gap Report?

Climbing beans production in Rwanda - Photo by CIATThe BBC reports on this year’s Gender Gap report published by the World Economic Forum which shows a narrowing of the gender gap worldwide. 105 companies have seen improvements and Rwanda becomes African’s newest entry, right in at number 7, reflective of its high female participation in the workforce.

It’s worth having a look at the full report and individual country profiles.

Rwanda finds itself a whole 19 places above the UK. While we do ok on health and education, our gender pay gap is not good, and neither is our female participation in politics. We also get extra points because we have a female head of state which, if things continue as they are at present, will not be the case within, most likely, the next decade and a half.

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LibLink: Sarah Teather: Let’s stop the scourge of revenge eviction

Sarah TeatherSarah Teather has been writing for the Guardian about the problems created by so-called revenge eviction and how her Private Members’ Bill will tackle it. First she gave an example of what had happened to her constituent:

Last month, a constituent came to my office in Brent for help after his landlord served him with an eviction notice. His property suffered from severe cold and a cockroach infestation, and following an environmental health inspection the council served notice on the landlord to fix the property. The landlord decided to evict my constituent and re-let the flat instead.

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Kirsty Williams: For Labour and the Tories, Welsh patients are just collateral damage in NHS War

rally kirsty williams 1Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams emailed Welsh members yesterday about the current war of words over the Welsh NHS. Here’s what she said:

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Opinion: Alice vs the system: Lessons from a lifetime of “help” from public services #3

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

This is the third in the series about Alice and her experience of ‘the system’ and covers her life as a young adult. The first article, introducing the series, can be found here and the second, on her adoption and early life, here.

It’s taken me longer to write this article than I thought it would. Things have been difficult for Alice over the past few months; she has recently come off her meds and we’re dealing with the fallout (my contribution is largely indirect, trying to support my mum), and I haven’t had the heart to bring myself to write about it. David Cameron’s “family test” fired me up again though.

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Opinion: We need HS2 and HS3 to benefit the north

HS2 Distortion 200The government’s support for HS2, despite the critics, has shown a real commitment to providing adequate transport links to sustain the UK and give the North a fairer deal as we head into the mid 21st century. We Lib Dems can be proud to be some of the program’s most enthusiastic and enduring supporters. The announcement yesterday of the creation of Transport for the North and the government’s support for HS3 means the North may finally start to enjoy the benefits of transport investment equivalent to the £17bn Crossrail and £6bn Thameslink that benefit London.This is a project worthy of our support, but there are a few questions to be answered.

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Opinion: Delivering a stronger economy and a fairer society

Liberal democrats

The Liberal Democrat pre-manifesto contains a lot of good policy, but what it is lacking is the narrative to pull all those disparate threads into a single powerful statement of who we are and what we stand for.  In this short article I will try to provide just that.
In 2010 we knew that our country was headed for a major recession and that the first priority of the Liberal Democrats in government must be to protect the poorest whilst setting in place the infrastructure necessary in order to re-grow our economy, close the deficit and start to repay the national debt.  That is why we have invested so heavily in cutting taxes for the poorest, improving education for all our children and ensuring that we research new technologies to keep us at the forefront of innovation so that as the world comes out of recession this country is able to meet the new demands.
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Federal Committee candidate lists announced

Libby - Some rghts reserved by David SpenderIf you are a party member, you might want to head to this thread on our Members’ Forum to see the lists of people standing for the Party Committees. The ballot will be conducted predominantly online with links to the ballot being provided to those Conference Representatives for whom the party has an email address. Those emails will be being despatched imminently. Ballots will be sent by post to those for whom there is no email address. The postie will be struggling up the path with the weight of the mailing – there are over 100 candidates for the 42 places on the three committees.

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Carmichael talks green investment, energy and renewables

AlistairCarmichaelYesterday, Alistair Carmichael spoke at a Green investment conference in Edinburgh, which is, of course, home to the Green Investment Bank.

It was a strong pitch to persuade those attending that the Liberal Democrats are delivering in Government on policies that are both green and pro-businesss. Here are some of the highlights.

Being Scotland, there had to be a bit on the constitution, though, and the Smith Commission:

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Why would you not be a feminist? says Clegg

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 17.45.31Elle magazine is doing  a big push for feminism at the moment. It attempted to get the three main party leaders south of the border to wear their “This is what a feminist looks like” t-shirt.

Ed Miliband was happy to do it and so was Nick Clegg, who said:

I support equality and choice – so yes, I’m a feminist. How on earth in this day and age can you not be? As a wiser person than me once said: “Men who actually treat women as equals are the ones with more cojones.”

That wiser person is, of course, is his wife Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, who made the comment in relation to childcare earlier this year, much to the consternation of the Daily Fail.

David Cameron decided not to risk the wrath of the right wing tabloids by daring to wear a t-shirt with the F word on it. Elle magazine aren’t wildly chuffed about that. Editor-in-chief Lorraine Candy said:

We asked the Prime Minister five times if he would wear the Fawcett Society’s iconic This Is What A Feminist Looks Like slogan T-shirt and send us a snapshot (it would only take 10 minutes). Five times, he declined. This is a shame on so many levels, especially given he knew Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband had agreed without hesitation, alongside many other influential men who were more than happy to call themselves feminists. It seems the Prime Minister still has an issue with the word “feminist”.

I was personally disappointed that we couldn’t feature Mr Cameron in our Feminism Issue because it is ELLE’s aim to engage with men in the fight for equality: because of parliament’s current gender imbalance, it is men who have the power to make changes in every area of British women’s lives. When the man in charge doesn’t engage, it doesn’t bode well. Given the huge international male support for UN Women’s #HeForShe campaign, it does rather make our Prime Minister look like the odd one out.’

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  • User AvatarDavid-1 1st Nov - 2:08am
    Paul Barker will be surprised; ostensibly, at any rate.
  • User AvatarT-J 1st Nov - 12:58am
    Sorry, David, I thought I was responding to anecdotes of your experience of LibDem internal politicking with anecdotes of my experience of the Greens. Having...
  • User Avatarmalc 1st Nov - 12:01am
    The bookies now have the LibDems at odds on - 5/6 - to get less than 25 seats at the next GE - I doubt...
  • User AvatarSesenco 31st Oct - 11:55pm
    For me, the most telling observation about the Rochester & Strood byelection thus far is that Labour, if it is to form the next government,...
  • User Avatarmalc 31st Oct - 11:47pm
    The best odds on the parties to win Rochester: UKIP 1/11 Tories 10/1 Labour 80/1 Greens 500/1 Britain First 750/1 LibDems 1000/1
  • User AvatarRoland 31st Oct - 11:27pm
    @Stuart, I get your point of view and broadly agree with your assessment of the news worthiness of a public figure's sexuality. However with respect...