Author Archives: Caron Lindsay

Tim Farron’s Q & A with Scottish Party members: “Liberals, moderates, our time has come”

Tim Farron came to Scotland on Thursday and spent an hour taking questions from party members at a very hastily arranged event at Party HQ in Edinburgh. Even though it hadn’t been organised until Tuesday afternoon, there was standing room only. A fair proportion of the audience was made up of new members.

He spoke about our place as a party, positioning ourselves as a party of economic credibility and compassion ready to stand up to the authoritarian governments in London and Edinburgh. His words complemented what Willie Rennie was saying about us being at the heart of the radical centre in his speech on Wednesday. 

It was very clear that he had been very strongly affected by his trip to Calais. His frustration at the misrepresentation of these vulnerable people in the press and by Government ministers was clear.

He promised to be back in Scotland many times for campaigning in the lead up to the Holyrood elections.

Here is a Storify thingy which covers the highlights:

Posted in News | Tagged | 3 Comments

Lib Dems could try to out-flank Corbyn from the left? Are you having a laugh? Oh, and quit the anonymous briefings…

I am more than a little irritated by an article in the FT in which three of our eight MPs are quoted. They are all talking about the need for the Liberal Democrats to stick to that centre ground and not try to move to the left of Labour if they elect Jeremy Corbyn.

When on earth was that ever going to happen? How on earth could you outflank Corbyn from the left? He is an old fashioned socialist. He wants to nationalise everything, leave NATO, dispense with any sort of fiscal caution. To go any further left would involve Five Year Plans, hammers, sickles, a whole load of red and a Politburo. That’s not really our usual style, shall we say.  The notion that Tim Farron would actually try and do this is risible, yet we have three of our MPs and perhaps an un-named fourth constructing a straw-man.

One un-named MP is quoted thus:

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 27 Comments

Don’t talk to me about migrants…

I didn’t actually get to see a news bulletin until 10pm last night and when I did, I was livid. Language matters. The 59 men, 8 women and 4 children who suffocated in that lorry were human beings and yet they were being described as “migrants” not people. Had those people been British, there would have been wall to wall news coverage of the tragedy for days. Already it’s slipping down the pecking order in the news bulletins along with the news of the drowning of another 200 people in the Mediterranean.

Calling these people “migrants” is both inaccurate and dehumanising. It’s inaccurate because most of them are refugees. Let’s face it, if you live in Syria you find yourself caught between a brutal government and barbaric ISIS. Amnesty’s most recent report on Syria outlines just how bad things are.

Syria’s internal armed conflict continued relentlessly through the year and saw both government forces and non-state armed groups commit extensive war crimes and gross human rights abuses with impunity. Government forces deliberately targeted civilians, indiscriminately bombarding civilian residential areas and medical facilities with artillery, mortars, barrel bombs and chemical agents, unlawfully killing civilians. Government forces also enforced lengthy sieges, trapping civilians and depriving them of food, medical care and other necessities. Security forces arbitrarily arrested or continued to detain thousands, including peaceful activists, human rights defenders, media and humanitarian workers, and children, subjecting some to enforced disappearance and others to prolonged detention or unfair trials. Security forces systematically tortured and otherwise ill-treated detainees with impunity; thousands of detainees reportedly died due to torture or harsh conditions. Non-state armed groups, which controlled some areas and contested others, indiscriminately shelled and besieged areas containing civilians perceived to support the government. Some, particularly the Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS) armed group, carried out indiscriminate suicide attacks and other bombings in civilian areas, and perpetrated numerous unlawful killings, including summary killings of captives and suspected opponents.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 40 Comments

URGENT: Deadline for notifying LDHQ of Conference reps extended till Monday 7th September at midday

There was great disappointment amongst Liberal Youth members earlier this month as they were told that they were too late to notify LDHQ of their voting reps for Federal Conference. The organisation has a number of voting places allocated to it as young people often find it difficult to get elected to the role by a local party as they are more likely to move home or to be away studying half the year.

They had not been aware of the original deadline and over the past few days have made their case to LDHQ and the Federal Conference Committee. Some local parties also missed out because they hadn’t realised there was a rush.

This afternoon, Party President Sal Brinton announced that the deadline would be extended until Monday 7th September at midday.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 5 Comments

Safety on trains for women – what do the rail companies have to say?

reading railway station by paul walterThere’s been a lot of discussion about train safety for women over the last week or so after the publication of statistics showing a rise in the number of sexual assaults on trains and the subsequent controversy over Jeremy Corbyn’s comments on women-only carriages.

However, we haven’t heard much from some very influential organisations about this, surprisingly so. The train companies themselves have been pretty silent.

Liberal Democrats Kelly-Marie Blundell and Daisy Cooper took to Twitter to question them.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 20 Comments

Willie Rennie’s tribute to Charles Kennedy from Dingwall memorial service

CK MemorialOn Monday, a memorial service for Charles Kennedy was held in Dingwall, a town just north of Inverness which he had represented for the whole of his 32 years as an MP. His constituency office was there and over 300 people turned out to remember their former MP. Music was provided by the Kiltearn Fiddlers, who played a piece of music written by Charles’ father when he was elected to Parliament in 1983. The Dingwall Gaelic Choir also sang. It was quite an emotional occasion, but also full of laughter as memories of Charles were shared.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie paid tribute to Charles. Before the service, he gave an interview to STV. The wonderful scenery in the background shows the Cromarty Firth with views down to the towns of Maryburgh, Conon Bridge and Dingwall, an area represented by excellent Liberal Democrat councillor Angela Maclean.

Willie was keen to share many of the things that had been said about Charles by so many across the political spectrum since his death to show, as he said, how much he meant to the world. He also had a list of what he called Charles’ Greatest Hits – his funniest and wisest sayings. Here is his tribute in full. 

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 5 Comments

Tim Farron in Scotland: Scotland’s parties can embarrass Tories into action on migrant crisis

Tim Farron was up in Scotland today, on his first visit since becoming leader.. He hosted a roundtable session in Edinburgh with the Scottish Refugee Council, Amnesty and the Refugee Women’s Strategy Group. Issues discussed included devolution and refugees, making asylum work for women and what political parties could do in the UK and Scotland to campaign for fairer treatment of vulnerable refugees.

Here they are having their discussions:

Amnesty’s Scottish Director welcomed the meeting:

After the meeting, Tim said:

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Dame Annette Brooke, Hilary Stephenson, Matt Hanney and Ben Williams OBE and the rest of the Lib Dem Dissolution Honours

The dissolution honours have been published in full. When Vince Cable publishes his new book next month, he will do so as Sir Vince. There’s also a knighthood for Danny Alexander.

Nick Clegg has also rewarded Margaret Binks, his constituency office manager, Andy Sangar, his election agent and Ian Sherwood, a volunteer in his Commons office who had also served Ming Campbell and Charles Kennedy.

The list in full has been published here.

The Lib Dems are as follows:

Posted in News | Tagged | 43 Comments

Eleven new Liberal Democrat peers announced

Eleven new Liberal Democrat peers have been announced in the Dissolution Honours. Congratulations to them.

I will admit to being slightly annoyed at the fact that there are a majority of men – 6 men and 5 women. Surprisingly, there is no peerage for Fiona Hall, the former group leader of our MEPs, nor for Annette Brooke former MP for Mid Dorset and Poole North. We may find out that they had been offered a peerage and turned it down.

Most of the list is as we expected with peerages for the longest serving MPs Sir Alan Beith, Sir Malcolm Bruce and Sir Menzies Campbell. It had already been widely reported that Danny Alexander and Vince Cable had turned down peerages but they have had knighthoods instead.

Other than that there are a couple of very welcome surprises in the inclusion of Shas Sheehan and Dorothy Thornhill, both of whom are part of Tim Farron’s team of spokespeople.

Here is the Lib Dem list in full:

Posted in News | Tagged | 54 Comments

Willie Rennie: Lib Dems are for aspirational Scots with a social conscience

In a speech to the Scottish Council for Development and Industry in Aberdeen yesterday, Willie Rennie claimed the radical centre ground for the Liberal Democrats, talking about Labour and the SNP fighting it out on the left, while the Conservatives move further to the right. He outlined a position that championed social justice while making sure that we lived within our means.

Willie now finds himself as the oldest political leader in Scotland at just 47 years old. Nicola Sturgeon is 46, Ruth Davidson 36, Patrick Harvie 42 and Kezia Dugdale 33. It’s certainly different from when I was growing up when most political leaders were in their 50s and 60s and the President of the USA was in his 70s.

The challenges for the Scottish Liberal Democrats are obvious. Standing firm in our own space and talking in a unique way about our issues is very important in post-coalition Scotland. I say standing firm, and not finding our own space as we have always been a radical centre ground party which champions individual freedom. Willie looks back to Gladstone, Asquith, Lloyd George, Russell Johnston, David Steel and Charles Kennedy as liberal inspiration.

There’s an interesting turn of phrase about our years in government:

There are some things I would soon forget about our time in government but our decision to put country before party for economic recovery is not one of them.

He then goes on to talk about the good things we did in Government and indeed the changes in SNP policy that his own parliamentary group of just 5 MSPs have driven.

Here is Willie’s speech in full:

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 24 Comments

Christine Jardine selected to fight Aberdeenshire East for Holyrood election

Christine jardineChristine Jardine put up one hell of a fight against Alex Salmond in the Gordon constituency this year. She got 1500 more votes than Malcolm Bruce had 5 years earlier and is in a very clear second place to challenge the SNP in the future.

She has now been selected to fight the Aberdeenshire East constituency in May next year for the Scottish Parliament.

The Ellon Times has the story:

A delighted Christine said: “Its very humbling to know that people are prepared to put their faith in you. I had a lot of support in the general election – 19,030 votes – and, while it’s clear we have a lot of work to do, I know those people, and the many others who have joined the party, are looking to us to repair the health service, improve education and protect jobs.

I am determined that the next Scottish Government will give us here in the North East a better deal on health, education, housing and more.

I’m a Liberal. I believe politics is not about nations or states it’s about people, about individuals and should always put them first.

Nobody should have to travel to another town to find a GP, or to the central belt for an operation or wonder if their child will have a teacher when the term resumes.

Those are the things I want to change. That I will work to change and I will ask the electorate to help by making me their next MSP.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 11 Comments

The Telegraph takes a pop at the Lib Dem Disco

Disco 2014One of the highlights of the forthcoming conference, the Lib Dem Disco, has been mocked by the Daily Telegraph. Is there a higher accolade?

In an article which includes Paul Walter’s video of the Gay Gordons, played by one DJ Cazzie Sparkle (who finished second to winner Alistair Carmichael), but without crediting him for it, it’s fair to say that the paper is less than impressed:

An attendee of last year’s event told The Telegraph: “The music was mostly cheesy pop. It was like a school disco. YMCA, Macarena, Cha cha slide, B*witched were all on the playlist.”

“Farron started his leadership bid early by playing slightly edgy 80’s songs. The dance floor was mostly filled by Liberal Youth members, while most of the normal members milled by the bar due to a £15 price tag. Somebody paid for my ticket so I watched the sights”

“The Lib Dem presidency battle was on at the time so candidates were trying to show their cool side on the dancefloor, but in reality they looked more like extras on Coronation Street”

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 2 Comments

Why I’m not going to castigate Jeremy Corbyn over women only train carriages

Twitter is having one of its more febrile moments over Jeremy Corbyn’s plans for women-only train carriages.

I actually think that there are reasons to praise Corbyn for floating the idea.

First of all, it’s pretty good to see a male politician think that the issue of sexual assault on public transport is an important one that we should do something about. Where were the other politicians, including Liberal Democrats, when the statistics showing showing an increase in reported sexual assaults came out last week?

Secondly, look at what Corbyn actually said:

Some women have raised with me that a solution to the rise in assault and harassment on public transport could be to introduce women only carriages.

My intention would be to make public transport safer for everyone from the train platform, to the bus stop to on the mode of transport itself. However, I would consult with women and open it up to hear their views on whether women-only carriages would be welcome – and also if piloting this at times and modes of transport where harassment is reported most frequently would be of interest.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 117 Comments

Conference Countdown 2015: The first policy debate on creating safe and legal routes for refugees.

In the run-up to Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, we’ll be looking ahead to examine the highlights in the debating hall, the fringe and training rooms. You can find the papers here. You can find all the posts in the series here.

The first policy debate of tho year’s Conference is on Creating safe and legal routes for refugees. It will be proposed by Suzanne Fletcher who is one of the founder members of Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary.

The motion is unlikely to be controversial and is particularly relevant at the moment. It is very consistent with the sorts of things that Tim Farron has been saying, especially since he visited the refugees in Calais himself.

However, if there are any developments, amendments can be submitted until 7th September. 

Posted in Events and News | Tagged | 2 Comments

When Sal Brinton pioneered considerate behaviour contracts for builders

We had a very productive Everyday Sexism Open Mic event in Edinburgh on Saturday. Most of the content, rightly, should not be discussed on here but I have Sal Brinton’s permission to share with you something she told us about her efforts to make sure that female students were not harassed when construction work took place at Lucy Cavendish College in Cambridge where she was bursar.

From her Facebook:

Yesterday at the Scottish Lib Dem Women Anti Sexism Open Mike session I referred to having the first considerate behaviour contract with builders in 1994 when I was Bursar at Lucy Cavendish College (an all women’s college in Cambridge), which was grabbed by the press as ‘a ban on wolf whistling’. It was August, and the story went viral and I was doing TV and radio interviews around the world (Canada, Thailand, Europe).

I’m delighted that most major construction companies now use Considerate Contractor undertakings, and here’s a clip from the Daily Mail in 2008, when they did an update on the story on how behaviour affects women house buyers.

Sadly, it is very clear that wolf whistling and its modern equivalent, trolling,still persist. Women often feel they daren’t say anything as it may make things worse, and we need help from witnesses (male and female) to point out such behaviour is unwanted and unacceptable.

Posted in News | 7 Comments

Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #428

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 428th weekly round-up from the Lib Dem blogosphere … Featuring the seven most popular stories beyond Lib Dem Voice according to click-throughs from the Aggregator (16 – 22 August, 2015), together with a hand-picked quintet, you might otherwise have missed.

Don’t forget: you can sign up to receive the Golden Dozen direct to your email inbox — just click here — ensuring you never miss out on the best of Lib Dem blogging.

As ever, let’s start with the most popular post, and work our way down:

Posted in Best of the blogs | 2 Comments

Willie Rennie backs all women shortlists

Willie Rennie has announced that he supports the use of all women shortlists and quotas to improve the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ appalling record on gender balance. He is to lead a group which will draw up specific proposals for the 2019 European, 2020 Westminster and 2021 Holyrood elections.

The Scottish Party looked on in shock when members in the North East did not place highly effective Justice Spokesperson at the top of the list when it was selected at the end of last year. Since then, and particularly following the General Election, there have been strong calls for much stronger action on gender balance. Willie has consulted widely within the party and he announced his plans at the Scottish Party’s and Scottish Liberal Democrat Women’s Everyday Sexism Open Mic event in Edinburgh yesterday.

The Working Group to be led by Willie will consider all options including:

•         All women shortlists

•         Making gender a part of the party’s electoral strategy

•         Quota systems

Willie said:

I have lost patience with the current system and its inability to ensure proper representation of women.  It is now time to take the necessary action to deliver change.

A fresh start for the Liberal Democrats requires us to change.  We need to be more reflective of the people we seek to represent and to perform at our best we need to deploy our best people to make the case for our cause.

Despite an abundance of talented women the party has been unable to put enough in positions to get elected.   It is difficult to make the case for opportunity for everyone when only one of our parliamentarians is a woman.

Twenty years ago my party agreed in the Constitutional Convention to work towards a gender balance in our Scottish Parliamentary representation. Yet since the Scottish Parliament was created we have elected no more than two women at the four elections to Holyrood.   I determined to finally deliver the commitment made to the Constitutional Convention.

Encouragement and organisational support is simply insufficient to overcome the barriers to electing women.

That is why I will lead a working group to finalise proposals to put to the Spring Conference of the Scottish Liberal Democrats that will break down those barriers and increase the representation of women Liberal Democrats in Parliament.

It is my intention that the new arrangements will be in place for the European Election in 2019 and will also apply to the 2020 General Election and 2021 Scottish Parliamentary Election.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , , and | 57 Comments

Conference Countdown 2015: The Directory has been on a diet

In the run-up to Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, we’ll be looking ahead to examine the highlights in the debating hall, the fringe and training rooms. You can find the papers here. You can find all the posts in the series here.

The reality of our new circumstances hit when the Conference Directory landed on my doorstep the other day. The Directory lists all the fringe and exhibition activity going on over the five days in Bournemouth. While there is still a huge amount to do and people will still be struggling to choose which  meeting they would like to go to in every slot, it’s noticeable that the fringe is a good deal smaller than it was last year. Mine is a good deal smaller still after my puppy, Hazel, got hold of it and decided to rip it to shreds.

By way of comparison, there were 10 pages of exhibitors last year and only 6 this year, and the balance has shifted so that there is a higher proportion of party stands than we have become used to.

Posted in News | Tagged | 2 Comments

I’m so glad I don’t have a vote for Labour leader

So, I was watching the 10 o’clock News last night and saw our Stephen Tall flaunting his Labour leadership ballot paper.

As he explains, he wasn’t out to do a Toby Young and vote for Jeremy Corbyn:

I was ambivalent whether I would actually exercise my vote, but decided that, if I did, it wouldn’t be to troll Labour by choosing Jeremy Corbyn: I would vote for the candidate the other parties would least like to face.

Assuming, that is, Labour gave me a vote. After all, the party assures us they have “rigorous due diligence” processes in place to weed out infiltrators from other parties. Having stood for election against Labour a few weeks ago, I half-assumed they’d (quite legitimately) disenfranchise me.

But then yesterday morning I received my online ballot paper…

Stephen decided to register as a supporter to see how their leadership process worked as an interested observer. By rights, any decent verification process would have spotted him and got rid of him. Instead, it seems to be getting rid of long term Labour supporters whose social media profiles were a bit too lefty for them. In fact, it plays into the hands of lefty conspiracy theorists that someone who would, if he’d voted at all, have voted for Liz Kendall, received a ballot and they didn’t.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 101 Comments

Conference Countdown 2015: How do Conference debates work?

In the run-up to Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, we’ll be looking ahead to examine the highlights in the debating hall, the fringe and training rooms. You can find the papers here. You can find all the posts in the series here.

For those of you who haven’t been to Conference before, I thought it might be useful to run through how Conference debates work.

Local parties, groups of Conference representatives and organisations (SAOs) like Liberal Youth and Lib Dem Women can submit motions to Conference. They are then circulated and are open to amendment. This year’s deadline for amendments is 1pm on Monday 7th September, so if you want to amend any of the motions, persuade 10 Conference representatives, or persuade your local party or an SAO to submit it for you. You can submit amendments online here and until next Tuesday at 1pm, you can even get drafting advice from expert motion writers here.

Posted in Events and News | Tagged | 4 Comments

Conference Countdown 2015: #libdemdisco is back

In just four weeks’ time, Liberal Democrats will be flocking to Bourmemouth for our annual Autumn Conference. I’m so looking forward to it because I have never been there.

Every day between now and then, we’ll be previewing the debates, the fringe, the training and telling you everything you could possibly want to know about the event.

As it’s Friday afternoon, we’ll keep today’s preview lighthearted. Many of you will be delighted to see that the #libdemdisco is back. Last year, the event, run by Cambridge Liberal Democrats, was a huge hit. I was lucky enough to be one of the DJs, competing against Tim Farron, Alistair Carmichael and Don Foster. I was pretty surprised to come second in that illustrious field to Alistair Carmichael. Now it’s time to dust off the glitter balls for this year’s event.

“Your proposal for carnage is appealing”

So said the email from one of last year’s organisers. I was determined that as we were in Glasgow, we should do something Scottish. And it went remarkably well, as Paul Walter’s video shows:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 3 Comments

ALDC’s Local Campaigner magazine is out – essential reading for those interested in #libdemfightback

I’ve long said that ALDC (the Association of Lib Dem Councillors and Campaigners) is pretty much essential for anyone involved in Liberal Democrat campaigns. Of course, I would say that, because I’ve been a member of the organisation for a long time. But even with that interest declared, I’m sure most people would agree that they have loads of practical advice and campaign ideas and will be a vital part of ensuring that activists have the skills to fight future campaigns.

Today the Autumn edition of their Local Campaigner magazine arrived with members. It’s full of really interesting articles including:

  • How to welcome new members to the party, by Neil Fawcett
  • Engaging the community in developing a neighbourhood plan
  • Tips to make door-knocking enjoyable and productive, with high-quality contacts that are more than about voter ID
  • How we won a double by-election in Surrey
  • A commentary on the Calais crisis by Tim Pickstone, ALDC’s Chief Executive.
Posted in News | Tagged , and | 4 Comments

Memorial service for Charles Kennedy to take place in Dingwall next Monday

Charles Kennedy represented his highland constituency for 32 years, and his constituency office was based in Dingwall. Next Monday evening, there will be a memorial service for Charles in the town:

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie will give a tribute to Charles and the service will feature music composed by Charles’ father, Ian Kennedy, who also died earlier this year.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 1 Comment

SNP Scottish Parliament selections – 2 MSPs deselected so far as Salmond endorses one challenger

The SNP is currently choosing its candidates for the Scottish Parliament. Like the Liberal Democrats, they allow challenges of sitting parliamentarians. Two MSPs have been deselected so far. Of greatest interest to Liberal Democrat fortunes is the deselection of Colin Keir in Edinburgh Western. The seat will now be fought by Toni Giulani who had the backing of former SNP leader and first minister Alex Salmond. In our party it would simply not be permitted for a senior, powerful party figure to take such an influential public stance in a selection.

SNP parliamentarians already have a fairly draconian disciplinary code to obey. They are not allowed to publicly criticise any decisions of the group and have had very few rebels in parliamentary votes. Their MSPs are, on the whole, pretty compliant. When two of them voted against the party’s new position on NATO in a vote at their conference, they resigned from the party. It now seems that if their faces don’t fit, key players will contribute to your demise.

Alex Cole-Hamilton is our candidate in Edinburgh Western. He also tops the party’s Lothian regional list. Although we lost Mike Crockart in Edinburgh West in May, the SNP’s margin of victory was comparatively small, our West campaign organisation is pretty strong and the SNP have given up any benefits of incumbency. 

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 30 Comments

“No holds barred” discussion on sexism in Lib Dems to take place in Scotland

About a year and a half ago, I wrote an article about how the behaviour of some men was driving women out of politics. I said:

I’ve seen good women driven away from active politics out of sheer exasperation at the way powerful men exclude and demean them. Participation in politics should not require putting up with such behaviour and politics itself is better when it more accurately reflects the society we live in.

A start would be for us all to be much more aware of our behaviour and that of others. Men in powerful positions, have a look at your own behaviour. Do you exclude women, do you behave aggressively towards them in a way that you would never do to a man? If so, change your behaviour. Decide that you won’t do that in future. It’s not difficult.

The rest of us need to look out for women who are being treated like this and challenge disrespectful behaviour. Even if we don’t agree with what they say, we should always support their right to be heard and treated with dignity. Let’s tackle our everyday sexism.

The comments thread that followed was dominated by men, some more helpful than others, but, behind the scenes, so many women contacted me privately to share their experiences of sexism not just in our party but in others. I don’t for a minute think that our party is any more sexist than society or other political parties, but that’s not to say that we should just put up with it. This party needs to show that it is a welcoming place for everybody.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 37 Comments

Lunchtime debate – should e-cigs be prescribed by NHS?

On 16th September, it’ll be 17 years since I last had a cigarette. I was one of those smokers who never really wanted to give up, who really enjoyed a cigarette. However, my consumption was a bit worrying – at least a pack of 20 a day.

It was pregnancy which forced my hand. From the moment I saw the positive test, I have not had another cigarette. That doesn’t mean that I never want one. Even after all this time, the smell can (especially after a few wines) set off all the old cravings. Giving up just like that was far from easy and I doubt I would ever have managed it if I hadn’t had that overwhelming incentive to do so. I daren’t have even one or I think that road back to a pack a day would be very short.

I had no choice but to just give up without any help other than the daily “I really want a cigarette, talk to me until the craving goes away” phone calls to various people. They were remarkably effective, by the way. In the same circumstances, that would be the same today. I wouldn’t be able to use e-cigarettes. Evidence suggests, however, that they are 95% less harmful than ordinary cigarettes and can help people give up smoking for good.

photo by: planetc1
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 55 Comments

Lib Dem Jobwatch Special: Fancy being a Parliamentary Adviser?

The Liberal Democrats are setting up a more streamlined parliamentary policy team as befits our new circumstances and, for the first time, one team will serve both Commons and Lords. Applications close at 5 pm this coming Wednesday.

The job description for the three parliamentary adviser posts is as follows:

The PAU is a dynamic, exciting and fast paced team working to support and promote the efforts of Liberal Democrat Parliamentarians in both the House of Commons and House of Lords.

The Parliamentary Adviser will specialise in one of six key policy areas, supporting all Parliamentarians in carrying out their duties.  We are currently advertising for three of these policy areas.

Working with the Leaders and Chief Whips of both Houses, the post holders will support the design and delivery of key parliamentary campaigns, which promote the ideals and aims of the Liberal Democrats in Westminster. As such a detailed understanding of parliament, ability to identify and engage with key external stakeholders and experience of policy communication are essential.

The PAU will be based in the Liberal Democrat HQ in Westminster.

The portfolio areas to be recruited are:

  • Human Rights, Policing, Justice and Security
  • Housing, Sustainability and Environment
  • Europe, Foreign Affairs, Defence and UK Devolution (including devolved Parliaments)

There are also two Parliamentary support and correspondence officer positions available:

Posted in News | Tagged | 2 Comments

Willie Rennie puts us all to shame – is it time he challenged Farron?

Willie Rennie certainly is a pretty good role model for a healthy lifestyle.

This is the sight that greeted me when I arrived at Scottish Lib Dem HQ for a meeting yesterday morning.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 6 Comments

Tim Farron’s seven campaign priorities

Just before heading off on holiday, Tim Farron has announced his seven campaign priorities. As they cross departmental boundaries, he’s put together a campaign team to lead on each issue. It’s a sign of how much importance he attaches to housing that he has taken the lead role on that issue himself.

The team will be responsible for taking our campaign messages and making sure that they get out on the ground. The seven priorities and the lead people responsible are as follows:

 

Chaired by Greg Mulholland MP, the Parliamentary Campaigns Team will consist of:

  • Rural Communities and Vice Chair – Mark Williams MP
  • EU referendum – Catherine Bearder MEP and Lord Jim Wallace (Deputy)
  • Mental Health – Norman Lamb MP
  • Immigration – Shas Sheehan
  • Civil Liberties – Alistair Carmichael MP
  • Green Economy – Baroness Susan Kramer
  • Housing – Tim Farron MP

Tim said:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 63 Comments

Two appalling examples of lack of diversity in our public services

Before anyone mentions it, yes, I do know that the Liberal Democrats’ parliamentary gender balance is horrendous everywhere except Wales and Europe,the latter being because we only have one MEP. Stuff must be done to resolve this, but that’s not the point of this post.

This week, two examples of lack of diversity in our public services have come to light. The first has been revealed by the Scottish Liberal Democrats. Only 1% of Scotland’s Police Officers identify as coming from a BAME background – and none make it to the highest grades in the force.

Figures obtained using freedom of information laws found that – despite 7.6 percent of Scotland’s population being BAME – there are no BAME officers in the top two ranks and only two across the top four ranks held by the 446 most senior officers in Scotland.

In total, there are only 175 BAME officers out of a total 17,515 police officers.

Figures for police staff showed that there are no BAME in the top five grades, and only 69 out of 5963 staff overall.

Commenting, Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Alison McInnes MSP said:

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , and | 11 Comments
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    I voted Liberal Democrat because I believe myself to be a tolerant and freedom loving person. There are so many people who describe our party,...
  • User AvatarAl 30th Aug - 2:39pm
    Caron rightly points out that Scotland could easily take on 4000 people. Unfortunately it can't because it is tied to UK immigration policy. Credit to...
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    Of course in 1999 we famously gained control of Sheffield, gaining 11 seats from Labour including the afore-mentioned Darnall! We certainly did not do that...
  • User AvatarPsi 30th Aug - 2:15pm
    Jennie "when I punched the bum groper, I was told that I was over reacting, that he probably did it by accident" Well done, perhaps...
  • User AvatarDavid Evans 30th Aug - 2:00pm
    It really worries me when people like Joe Otten says 'If the FT asked me “Do you think Tim will/should try to outflank Corbyn on...
  • User AvatarAndrewMcC 30th Aug - 1:45pm
    I think what is interesting in Joe's chart is that on these economic questions the closest voters to us are actually UKIP! Which shows that...