Vince Cable backs opt-out organ donation system

I’ve seen people go through the pain of losing someone they love because a transplant didn’t happen in time. I’ve seen people, in shock at having lost someone suddenly and tragically being put under the added pressure of deciding whether their loved one’s organs should be donated. Maybe they hadn’t even had the conversation and didn’t know what their wishes would be. Maybe it was pain too far.

I’ve always made it clear to my family that should it be me, anything that would make anyone else have a chance of improved life should be used. I’ve signed up to the organ donor register. However, not everyone who would be happy to donate their organs has got round to filling in the form.

That’s why I’ve always favoured an opt-out system. It means that anyone who objects to their organs being used has the right to ensure that it doesn’t happen to them. And if you do object, you will make sure that you have opted out. This is one of these issues where there are liberal arguments for both sides. For me, as long as there are proper safeguards for people, opting out is the way to go.

So I was very pleased to see that Vince Cable has backed The Mirror’s campaign for an opt out donor system.

He told them:

“There are around 6,500 people in the UK waiting for a transplant. I urge the Government to listen to this campaign and the calls of countless families across the country.

“We can ensure more lives and more children like little Max are saved. I’m proud to be a registered organ donor. I carry my card everywhere. It was an obvious choice.”

The “little Max” he was talking to is a 9 year old who had a heart transplant after a wait of 8 months.

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A response to the Conference debate on the Balfour Declaration

Shalom alechum, alsalam ealaykum, peace be with you.

Peace, Peace in the land between the river & sea is what we should be working for.

And, to put it mildly, the motion we passed at Conference on Sunday does not do that. Indeed, by passing it, it means we probably won’t get another chance to debate the Palestine/Israel conflict again for some time.

I tried to get the motion referred back to the FPC and to ask them to bring back a better, more comprehensive motion next year as the one we passed today is the lowest common denominator that is acceptable (begrudgingly) to two interest groups in the Party, Lib Dem Friends of Palestine and Lib Dem Friends of Israel.

It does nothing to say what we, as a small political party far away from the area, can do to advance the cause of peace between Palestine & Israel and, believe me, there is much we can do.

We could be learning more from groups like “Solutions not Sides”, we could be inviting speakers from One Voice, YaLa Young Leaders, Ta’ayush and similar organisations, we could be listening to those who work every day to break down the barriers (both physical & mental) between the two nations.

The motion also contains factual errors, for example, line 35 refers to “pre-1967 borders” but no such borders existed as they were Armistice Lines that marked the end of conflict in 1949, they were never meant to be the final demarcation between Israel & its Arab neighbours.

What is worse, all amendments to correct errors and improve the motion have been rejected by FCC. No reason has been given for this rejection.

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First impressions from my first party conference – by a Lib Dem who voted Leave

I joined the Liberal Democrats in April 2017. This was my first party conference. I also voted Leave in the EU the referendum. Should I be in this party? Absolutely.

Europe

I sensed that many members didn’t truly understand Leave voters. Nick Clegg seemed a bit more in tune: “why wouldn’t you vote Leave after all you were promised by the Brexiteers?”. Remain is one thing that undoubtedly keeps the party unified. But Remain in what? Jean-Claude Juncker’s vision of a more federalised EU with power centralised? Seems profoundly un-Lib Dem to me.

Nick Clegg convinced me on Remain when he talked about “concentric circles of membership” with the UK sitting on an outer layer, and that is the rub of it. It is not a credible position to just articulate “Remain.” The Lib Dems have to put forward a simple vision for what type of EU we advocate remaining in and how we will make it happen. Nick’s vision or something else that the UK population will buy into? That is how you can convince Leave voters.

The party of the centre

I understand liberalism – it’s why I joined the party, but I still wasn’t sure by the end of the conference, where the ‘centre’ actually is. One member gave Jo Swinson and Norman Lamb a good ear bashing during a session on how to revitalise the centre ground: “why have we gone through 6 conferences, 2 general elections, 1 referendum, and the party still doesn’t have a clear vision on this?”. To own the centre ground you have to be the party that defines it to the public, otherwise you are just emulating others and playing catch-up; to win the game it helps to set the rules.

We need to articulate what the Lib Dem USP is for the ordinary person, defined in a way that is easily consumable and clearly differentiated. At the moment I’m still not sure, and I can’t explain to my wife the unique difference between us and centrist leaning Conservatives / Labourites. Norman Lamb gave us a great starting point when he talked about the business of government being “how to create prosperity and how to share it”. This is the question to which we need some radical answers that differentiate us.

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Compassion and compromise – to get things done Labour has to work with the Lib Dems

The Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party are two parties that historically have had many things in common. The birth of the Liberal Democrats stems from a splinter section of the Labour Party joining with the Liberals. Therefore, whilst the two parties are further apart than they ever have been in their histories they both share a common history of social justice and a willingness to oppose the Conservatives.

Given that we are once again in a Hung Parliament it is more important than ever for Labour and the Liberal Democrats to work together to ensure that Britain gets the best possible deal out of Brexit and that positive legislation is passed to ensure that Britain can continue putting forward radical, innovative and game changing legislation despite having a Conservative government. This may certainly be a difficult task – whilst the Conservative’s majority is practically none existent even with the help of the DUP they still have a majority – but it is not an impossible task. If Labour and the Liberal Democrats alongside the SNP can work together Brexit can still be held accountable.

Similarly, though the most extreme elements of the Conservative’s manifesto won’t be implemented it is not impossible that they will not try to pass legislation which is ultimately detrimental to the people of Britain. Attempts at the restriction of privacy or the failure to check where British weapons are being sold are not something that either Labour or the Liberal Democrats wants to see or can allow to happen. Therefore, neither party can stand idly by in the Houses of Parliament and let the Conservatives turn Britain into a free for all, allowing any unscrupulous private investor to buy up companies, property or landmarks of British culture without proper investigation and examination of their motives. It is vital that both Labour and the Liberal Democrats come together and force these issues to the forefront of debate in the House of Commons. 

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Brexit, due process and the role of Parliament

Liberal Democrats should be leading the fight in both Houses of Parliament by demanding that a proper legislative process is followed which assesses the benefits, costs and risks of Brexit but also ensures that Brexit, if there has to be one, can only occur if, concurrently, the pitfalls in the constitutional framework exposed during the last 18 months are satisfactorily addressed.

A specific set of overarching rules would need to be put in place ideally before any Brexit can reasonably be implemented.

We should explain to the general public that Brexit is not only bad for the economy, our jobs and our rights but that it would be inappropriate to impose Brexit unless it is done alongside constitutional reform.

We are confident that voters will understand and support us if we tell them that our mission is to oppose Brexit and to ensure that Brexit, if there has to be one, is dependent upon due process and on a new constitutional framework.

The lesson learnt from Brexit: which constitutional reform

The Brexit process has exposed the pitfalls and deficiencies in the role of Parliament and the current constitutional framework.

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What Brexit means for women

Recently, an event was held in London, to discuss Brexit, and its effect on the rights of women and what might change following its implementation. As a participant, I had arrived with the view that it would be difficult to change the law as it stood, but new laws might be affected.

For the last 43 years, most if not all of our Equalities legislation has come through the European Union. For women in particular, that has changed both their entitlements and rights as matters from equal pay to maternity leave have been secured by that route. It is astonishing to think that women, up until that legislation was passed, had more rights in Anglo Saxon England than in the 800 or so years that followed the Norman invasion.

What transpired at the meeting caused much anxiety among those present. For it is the case that, as most if not all of our Equalities law emanates from Brussels. It has been adopted into UK law, so can be cut back by use of new powers currently going through Parliament.

There are several risk areas, according to the Fawcett Society, which cover rights at work, women’s economic life, safety from attacks and racism. Those explicitly protective of women such as the Pregnant Workers Directive, or indirect protection such as that provided by The Part Time Worker Directive and the Agency Directive, which protects pension rights, written contracts giving details of working hours and pay and parental leave. It matters for those working part time, where the majority are women.

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Our new PPB: The one with Vince’s hat

We have a new Party Political Broadcast to coincide with our Conference. It’s set in a creative agency in a meeting where they are trying to decide how to brand the Lib Dems. It’s got its quirky bits and is clearly set to appeal to the young, professional types.

The production quality is absolutely excellent. This could end up being the new Gold Blend series…

You can catch it on the actual telly at 18:25 on ITV and 18:55 on BBC1.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 21st Sep - 8:22pm
    Well performed , amusing to those who get it, but , as Catherine says, who is going to see it as we can , or...
  • User AvatarGlenn 21st Sep - 8:07pm
    Roland. We can't know what would have happened without membership of the various phases of the European project as we were part of it. The...
  • User Avatardavid 21st Sep - 7:52pm
    A very good article. You are certainly not alone in being a member and voting to leave. Moreover there are many former lib dem supporters...
  • User AvatarRoland 21st Sep - 7:43pm
    @ Glenn - “IMO it’s irrelevant whether or not the EU is democratic.” I understand how you could arrive at that conclusion! From a UK...
  • User AvatarRoland 21st Sep - 7:22pm
    @Glenn - re; 3 day week etc. Personally, I take claims for the negative impact of the European project with a lake of salt. The...
  • User AvatarAlistair 21st Sep - 7:21pm
    I really dont see why Leavers attach so much importance to Juncker's vision, he is merely a figurehead and noone else cares. I'm far more...