Author Archives: Andy Boddington

Gove governing Defra is a bad move for the environment

Michael Gove now oversees environmental policy, food, farming and fisheries. His arrival in the cabinet is part of Theresa May’s struggle to avert a leadership bid. More than ever, we need an independent government-backed assessor for the environment, biodiversity and wildlife.

Politically, we live in curious times with no certainty that the government will be stable or strong enough to survive the Brexit process. Theresa May has reappointed most of her pre-election cabinet, but she moved Andrea Leadsom from Defra to become Leader of the House of Commons. Michael Gove has been brought back to cabinet as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. We have gone from a barely noticed Defra Secretary to one that will crave attention by swinging a wrecking ball through environmental regulation.

Andrea Leadsom was a climate change sceptic and even asked Defra officials whether climate change is real. Apparently convinced by them that it was, she nevertheless supported shale gas extraction through fracking. She also backed foxhunting and selling off forests.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 16 Comments

Australian charity workers or local Tory activists? Shropshire Tories struggle to tell the difference

This is from the “Department of You Couldn’t Make It Up”.

With less than a month to go to the May local elections here in Shropshire, the county Conservative group has had to halt delivery of its election manifesto. This came after we discovered the image of local activists at the head of the manifesto was lifted from the website of an Australian mental health charity.

Posted in Op-eds | 15 Comments

Brexit – it could be the Lib Dems’ finest hour if we act now

So much has been said. So much more will be said about last week’s referendum result. But what concerns me greatly is hearing Lib Dems speak in anger. If we allow anger to dominate our agenda and the way we react, we will let the people of Britain down.

We Lib Dems are the true Europeans. We think as internationalists. We now have an opportunity to become the steadying, wise voice on Britain in a post-EU age.

The grim reality is that voters did not back our arguments. But this is not a time for licking our wounds. It is an opportunity for us to grab the agenda.

Tim Farron has struck a bold tone with his commitment to battle the next election on a remain in EU ticket. That election could be as early as November, depending on what happens within Labour during the next 48 hours. (Elections are now triggered by a 75% parliamentary majority, or a simple majority in a vote of no confidence and a failure to form a new government within 14 days.)

But that election might not happen and we need to prepare to champion our principles of freedom and fairness within an Article 50 context.

Posted in Op-eds | 26 Comments

Opinion: Cash in your pocket or green fields on your doorstep?

Cash in your pocket or green fields on your doorstep?

Does anyone think the planning system is working? I don’t and neither do many communities and local councils. Ministers certainly don’t think so. Buried in the National Infrastructure Plan published on Tuesday are proposals for more planning reform (pdf). They are bad proposals.

One plan is to set up a specialist court to deal with planning disputes. That’s a good idea, but as with so much legislation under this government, the detail undermines the principle (for example, the Lobbying and Antisocial Behaviour bills). What the government is really aiming for here …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 21 Comments

Opinion: Women must stop stepping into the political shoes of men

It’s a cute piece of research for two reasons. It sits comfortably with what so many of us think, even if we don’t say it out loud. Yet it challenges every one of us.

University of Pennsylvania researchers have shown that women’s brains are wired from left to right – that’s linking logic with intuition. In men, the neural connections go from front to back. That strengthens their spatial and motor skills. This research suggests that those age old stereotypes are true. Overall men are better at reading maps and being single-minded when tackling a problem. Women are in general …

Posted in News | Tagged and | 47 Comments

Opinion: After 150 years, the Gettysburg Address still matters

LincolnIt was just ten sentences long. A mere 273 words delivered in less than three minutes. Yet the Gettysburg Address has resonated through history, finding relevance in every age.

In May 2003, I was researching history in Los Angeles. The news channels had cleared the decks for just one story. One hundred or so miles to the south, President George W. Bush trying to define his own place in history.

The USS Abraham Lincoln was stationed off San Diego after a long deployment, including action in the Bush/Blair war in the Gulf. Beneath a banner of “Mission Accomplished”, a jubilant Bush told the assembled crew and an attentive nation that major combat operations in the Iraq War had ended. In a speech that lacked humility, he said: “We have fought for the cause of liberty, and for the peace of the world.” Bush boasted of the precision of war, of how “new tactics and precision weapons the guilty have far more to fear from war than the innocent.” Seemingly oblivious to the huge cost in human life, he declared that war against terror, against Al Qaida, was being won.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 6 Comments

Opinion: Lib Dem Voice compromised its independent voice with Heathrow sponsored post

LDV Heathrow advertLib Dem Voice got it wrong yesterday publishing a propaganda article on behalf of Heathrow Hub. It compromised its integrity. It undermined its independent voice.

In my view, it is wrong in principle and wrong in practice to take the corporate shilling for editorial content.

The post on Lib Dem Voice yesterday came just three days into Heathrow’s big money PR offensive on “the plan for a quieter Heathrow expansion that isn’t being heard”, which began with a full page advertisement in the Sunday Times. Advertising is fine. But advertorials in a political context are not. They distort the editorial process because “he who pays the piper, calls the tune.”

Posted in Op-eds | 65 Comments
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