Nick Clegg compares Investigatory Powers Bill powers to Russia

On the Today programme, Nick Clegg compared the “dragnet” approach of Theresa May’s Investigatory Powers Bill to the way things happen in Russia.

During the Coalition years, Nick had stopped the Conservatives from introducing a “snooper’s charter.” It’s worth remembering that he was going to let it through until a conference call with some angry bloggers who understood the technology, and the intervention of people like Julian Huppert, made him think twice. But once he’s changed his mind, he was good to his word and held May off for 3 years.

The Guardian quotes him as saying this morning:

He said: “Why there is this great congregation of concern from all wings of political opinion is because what the home office is in essence proposing is that in order to be able to surveil and analyse something they are saying they want to collect everything on everyone. That is a dragnet approach which I have always felt is disproportionate.”

He dismissed the analogy of the needle in the haystack – the argument that the security agencies need to embark on the bulk collection of data in order to be able to find crucial nuggets of details about terrorists.

He told Today: “I know the needle-haystack argument and it is a comforting analogy. But the reality is a little different. Why, for instance, is there no other European or Commonwealth country that I know that pursues this dragnet approach?

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Kirsty Williams’ More Nurses Bill becomes law

Kirsty More Nurses Bill graphicKirsty Williams has ensured that Wales is the first nation in Europe to have legislation to guarantee safe staffing levels on hospital wards.

Her bill is only the second private members’ bill to make it into law. The first was by her Liberal Democrat colleague Peter Black.

At Welsh conference the other day, Kirsty explained how a visit to an admissions ward with a family member allowed her to see at first hand the stress that the nurses were under. There simply wasn’t enough of them and Kirsty spoke to one nurse who had been there long beyond the end of her 12.5 hour shift. As she pointed out, if a nurse made a mistake through exhaustion, it would be they, not the manager who had made them work for so long, who would be held accountable.

Kirsty said:

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LibLink: Willie Rennie: SNP obduracy on using tax powers shows party is no champion of progressive politi

Willie Rennie’s ambition for better education and health services in Scotland has been clear and so has his ambition to use the tax raising powers given to the Scottish Parliament. His plan for a penny on income tax for an almost half billion investment in education to introduce the Pupil Premium, extend nursery education and reverse cuts to college and schools funding.

The SNP, having squealed blue murder for years about not having enough powers to do anything, fails to use them when they are given them.

Willie often says these days that the SNP “talk left and walk right” and he has written a damning critique of the SNP’s approach in the Herald.

As it was a Liberal Democrat Secretary of State who delivered these new tax powers, it is perhaps not surprising that we were the first to propose using them to transform education in Scotland. By putting a penny for education onto income tax bands, we would raise £475 million a year.

Willie’s proposals have brought outrage from SNP and Tories alike. Finance Minister John Swinney said he would rather sacrifice public sector jobs (which in turn affects the most vulnerable) than raise tax rates. The Resolution Foundation says a tax rise is progressive. Willie challenges the SNP:

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Lamb: Government wrong to impose junior doctors’ contract

Norman Lamb has commented on Jeremy Hunt’s ill-advised decision to impose the controversial contract on junior doctors. He said:

It is a mistake to force a new contract on junior doctors when there is clearly still such strong opposition to its terms. There is a serious risk that large numbers of junior doctors will leave the NHS to go and work abroad, which will have serious consequences for the health service and patient safety.

Growing demand for services, coupled with a funding settlement which doesn’t keep up, are the fundamental problems facing health and care and yet the Government is refusing to take real action to address this.

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Lord Paul Strasburger writes…Report shows that nobody thinks Home Office is right on investigatory powers

Today the Joint Committee published its report on the draft Investigatory Powers Bill. This follows hot on the heels of the Intelligence and Security Committee report which was surprisingly critical of the serious shortcomings of the Bill given its previous rather relaxed approach – what a difference a new Chair makes, you could say.
 
I was the only member of the Joint Committee that also sat on the Committee that looked at Theresa May’s last attempt to legislate on surveillance powers – the ill-fated draft Communications Data Bill. The previous committee had twice as long to look at the Bill than we’ve had this time round, despite the fact that this Bill is far bigger. The Home Secretary promised Parliament and the public that this process wouldn’t be rushed, that is not the reality.
 
As the only Liberal Democrat on the committee I knew it would be tough, and I think it will come as no surprise to anyone to learn that from the committee was heavily weighted in favour of the Home Office. It was a hard slog but as always with the Lib Dems, we managed to punch above our weight. If you flick to the back of the report you’ll see that on a whole range of issues I forced votes – sometimes I got others on side and we won, others were more lonely.

photo by: Defence Images
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With his Trident stance Corbyn shows himself to be no fan of ‘new politics’

Few words stir the heart of the politically interested than ‘a new politics’, and quite right too, for who on earth wants the status quo?

But the utterer of that rather normative phrase is immediately pitched a political challenge, to keep on board those who are the bedrock of their support, while also delivering something challenging enough to be new.

Jeremy Corbyn is a man with far less personal ambition than he has integrity and honour, and that may be ‘new’ for a politician in the UK right now, but it is not enough to qualify as ‘new politics’.

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“Shoot refugees” extremism from Conservatives in the European Parliament

In the European Parliament, MEPs form groups with colleagues from other member states who share their political outlook and aims.

For Liberals Democrats, ALDE is our long-standing pan-European party, which has existed practically since the Treaty of Rome was signed.  In 2009 the UK Conservatives left the similarly long-established European People’s Party to for a new ECR group.

From the outset there was concern about some of the extremists with whom the Tories were apparently prepared to work.

In 2014, ECR recruited a new German faction, Alterative fur Deutschland.  They are a hardline Eurosceptic party whom UKIP also courted.

One of AfD’s MEPs has said that refugees should be …

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    With the utmost respect to readers here, if the Lib Dems are all for making the UK a part of an EU "super-state", which ultimately...
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    If Trident was that wonderful, the Germans, the Australians, the Belgians, The Danes, the Swedes, the Italians, the Brazilians et al et al would want...
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