Author Archives: Caron Lindsay

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #395

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 395th 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 (-, 2014), 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:

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It’s the Liberal Democrat Blogosphere Wedding of the Year – congratulations to Richard and Alex

I had planned to be in Stockport this afternoon. A bit of a health scare for my poor husband means that I can’t make it but my heart is there with my friends Alex Wilcock and Richard Flowers. It’s twenty years today since they first got together and they are celebrating by getting married. It’s the Wedding of the Year for the Liberal Democrat Blogosphere

Both have been star Liberal Democrat bloggers for some time. Richard won our Blog of the Year in 2010 for his Very Fluffy Diary of Millennium Dome, Elephant. Alex is constantly challenging us to be better at articulating our liberal values on Love and Liberty. Both of these blogs are proper food for the Liberal Democrat soul.

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Caron’s Sunday Selection: Must-read articles from the Sunday papers

sundaypapsHere’s my pick of today’s Sunday papers. Please add your favourite stories in the comments.

First up, an article in the Independent reports criticism of Nick Clegg’s failure to put a woman in the Cabinet from Alice Thomas (citing her article on here) and from Presidential candidate Daisy Cooper.

Hannah Summers reports in the Sunday Times (£) on the casting for a new drama about the formation of the Coalition. Doctor Who and Sherlock writer Mark Gatiss, who also plays the shadowy Mycoft Holmes in the latter, has been cast as Peter Mandelson. Writer James Graham is interviewed

The pivotal part of the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg has gone to Bertie Carvel, who won an Olivier award in 2012 for his performance as Miss Trunchbull in Matilda the Musical.

“It’s the texting, the calls, the clandestine meetings between the three leaders, but primarily it focuses on Clegg,” Graham said of the drama.

“He went from being this harmless outsider and figure of fun to facing this incredible rollercoaster and essentially becoming a kingmaker . . . Nobody had experience of building a coalition. They were bluffing their way through, which brings an endearing, farcical feel to it.”

Posted in Op-eds | 4 Comments

Liberal Democrats the sexiest party, apparently…

Well, you thought we were all about constitutions and Focus leaflets, didn’t you? Well, the Mirror reports that, apparently, Liberal Democrat supporters have the most adventurous sex lives of all political supporters. This all comes from a book to be published next week called Sex, lies and the ballot box: 50 things you need to know about British elections by Philip Cowley and Robert Ford. That’ll be winging its way to my Kindle on Tuesday. I’ll let you know what I think of it in due course.

I’m sorry if this is too delicate a subject for this time in the morning and if you have choked on your Corn Flakes, I hope you got your breath back quickly.

Posted in News | 5 Comments

Why I’m spitting furious about Johann Lamont’s resignation.

The Scottish Labour Party has been thrown into turmoil by the sudden resignation of its leader, Johann Lamont. Her decision effectively sets Labour’s Holyrood and Westminster camps in open warfare against each other.

Lamont threw in the towel after discovering that Scottish Labour’s General Secretary Ian Price had been removed from office without her even being consulted. I have to say that I am beyond furious about the way Ian has been treated. He is a friend of mine and an opponent who is worthy of respect. The problems faced by the Labour Party are primarily to do with their sense of entitlement to power and their predilection towards factionalism, personality cults and in-fighting, not a pragmatic, sensible general secretary who could actually have been part of the solution if he’d been allowed. I do not like seeing my friends being treated badly.

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Botswana elections: Liberal Democrats help sister party and its “calm revolutionary of our time”

Three chiefs and justice gaborone botswana by BoHeMIoYesterday was polling day in the General Election in Botswana. 57 parliamentary seats are up for grabs along with council seats across the country. The Botswana Democratic Party has been in power since the country gained independence in 1966. The Liberal Democrats have been helping our sister party, the Botswana Movement for Democracy, which has been fighting the election as part of a coalition of opposition parties, the Umbrella for Democratic Change. In early August, their campaign suffered a huge blow when BMD leader and Vice Presidential candidate Gomolemo Matswaledi was killed in a car accident on the way back from a visit to Johannesberg.

Top Liberal Democrat campaigns guru Victoria Marsom, who has the by-election victories in both Brent and Eastleigh under her belt, has been working closely with the BMD for the past year as part of a project funded by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. She’s travelled to Botswana twice, once in June and she’s there now for this last week of the campaign. I had a bit of a surprise the other night when I found this from her on my Facebook timeline:

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Teacher workload – a concern north and south of the border

Yesterday, Nick Clegg gave a speech to public sector workers. His specific focus was on teacher workload. Everyone thinks that teachers work short hours and have long holidays. Yet everyone who has a child actually at school will know how much effort goes in to preparing lessons. And everyone who knows a teacher knows that they spend a lot of their supposed “off-duty” time thinking of interesting lessons or, more likely these days, filling in interminable paperwork. We know that children need to be kept safe and their progress checked, but I get the feeling that the bureaucracy is overbearing and unnecessary. Let’s just give you a small example from my own experience. Every time my child sets foot outside the school we have to fill in a consent form. It’s A4. It has all sorts of medical info on it. It even asks how far they can swim unaided, a skill which is unlikely to be needed when representing the school in a maths competition or reading stories to 6 year olds in the local primary school. We can be filling in one of these forms twice a month. If it’s a mild inconvenience for us as parents, what’s it like for teachers who have maybe 30 of them to collect for each class? Why can parents not fill in a standing consent with all the info which covers the whole year?

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Shouldn’t Parliament Square be for protesters?

Parliament square by Paul WalterThe name Donnachadh McCarthy means something to those of us of a certain age. Donnachadh was once a Liberal Democrat and he was proper Awkward Squad. I spent many hours arguing with him on Cix, which was where all online Liberal Democrats hung out back in the day. Quite often I agreed with him and even when I didn’t, I realised that he was the sort of pain in the backside that every leader needs. Liberals have always been particularly bad at venerating their leaders. Willie Rennie described us, the day he became Scottish leader, as a party that doesn’t want to be led.

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Liberal Democrat storms to by-election win – in the House of Lords

House of Lords - Some rights reserved by UK ParliamentWe have a new Liberal Democrat Parliamentarian tonight after a by-election win. It’s a wee while since we could say that. But it’s a very different type of by-election and one that raises more than a little disquiet. I have to say I find it pretty objectionable that you can get a seat in Parliament not through election by actual voters but because of the circumstances of your birth.

The House of Lords Act of 1999 left 92 hereditary peers in place after the Labour government backed down from full reform. That’s the Labour party, blocking reform at every turn whether in government or opposition. When one of them dies, there is a by-election held to admit a new one. The electorate is the whole House of Lords.

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LibLink: Hannah Thompson on her successful campaign to outlaw revenge porn

hannah thompsonEvery time I read about what Hannah Thompson went through, the ordeal of not knowing when and where photos which she had intended only for private consumption would end up next after her former boyfriend abused her trust, it makes me want to cry. Partly in empathy, feeling for what she went through, partly in anger that anyone could do that to a former partner, partly in total admiration at the way she has calmly and reasonably campaigned for what happened to her to be made an offence. This week the House of Lords passed the amendment which makes revenge porn illegal.

Hannah told her story to the Telegraph, first of all talking about the powerlessness of not knowing where these photos, which should never have seen the light of day, would resurface, especially when the Police said there was nothing they could do:

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A sneak preview of the Scottish Autumn Conference Agenda

This year’s Scottish Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference takes place much later than usual. It’s been delayed by the Referendum and will take place in Dunfermline on Saturday 22nd November. There’s just about enough time for Presidential candidates to come and chase some last minute votes.

The preliminary agenda has just been published and it’s busy. Six policy debates, two keynote speeches, a  devolution discussion, a thank you reception for our former MEP George Lyon and two lunchtime fringe meetings crammed into one day.

The policy motions include:

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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #394

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 394th 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 (12-18 October, 2014), 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 | 1 Comment

Caron’s Sunday Selection: Must-read articles from the Sunday papers

sundaypapsHere’s my selection of articles to inform, infuriate and inspire from this week’s Sunday papers.

First up this week is a piece from the Observer by Barbara Ellen. Its headline “Like all rapists, Ched Evans will never be really free” got my hackles up, but the article itself is a bit more balanced than its headline suggests. It’s worth remembering, though, that most rapists go unpunished because the conviction rate is scarily low. Ellen says that Evans will never be able to leave this crime behind him, much more so than if he’d been convicted of a different sort of offence. Well, given that the man has shown not one tiny bit of remorse for what he did, or accepted that his victim, being as drunk as she was, was incapable of consenting to what he put her through, or apologised to her, I’m not sure that we can say with any confidence that he has been rehabilitated.  The speed with which he has been given a new high profile football job concerns me as does the way that the media often tries to make excuses for men who are violent to women. It’s not just Evans. Oscar Pistorius comes in for way more sympathy than he actually deserves. In September, a Texas man murdered his 3 young children and his wife before turning the gun on himself. Much of the media coverage around this mentioned the strain he must have been under, rather than the horros he put his family through. This article sums up why that approach is just wrong. 

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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #393

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 393rd 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 (5-11 October, 2014), together with a hand-picked quintet, you might otherwise have missed. This is very late. It’s been languishing in drafts since Monday evening but the not so small matter of a bit of a health scare in m house (he’s fine now he’s full of rat poison) has delayed it.

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 | 5 Comments

Voters give Liberal Democrats credit for tax threshold rise according to IPSOS-MORI poll

We all heard David Cameron and George Osborne take credit as often as they can for the raising of the tax threshold during this Parliament but a poll from IPSOS-MORI with fieldwork done after our Conference shows that the public just aren’t buying the Tory claims. 41% give the Liberal Democrats the credit for the policy compared to just 26% for the Conservatives as this graphic shows.

ISPOS-MORI tax threshold poll

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Liberal Democrat Lucy Care answers questions from NUS students

The National Union of Students is questioning candidates across the country via the medium of Twitter as part of its build up to next year’s General Election.

The idea is that they will take one marginal seat at a time and ask each of its candidates a series of ten questions. The  candidates will then tweet their replies. The first such event took place last Wednesday involving the candidates from Derby North, including our own Lucy Care. Tackling the subject of tuition fees in 140 characters and doing it justice was quite a challenge but Lucy managed it.

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Danny Alexander’s stroll on the Grassy Knoll and other great #dannyswalks

Twitter is evil. We all knew that, right?

And it can be very funny.

And even evilly funny.

Out of the most innocent and an assuming of gestures, it can make a Big Internet Thing.

And so it was when all that Danny Alexander did was change his cover photo. He picked an image of him walking alongside Loch Morlich, near Aviemore in the heart of his Highland constituency.  In the shadow of Cairngorm mountain itself, he strolled, casually dressed.

And then Hannah Thompson, who you may remember is the woman whose brilliant campaign against revenge porn is about to change the law to make it an offence, casually mused:

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Miriam Gonzàlez Duràntez on faking it, elites and inspiring girls

Miriam Gonzàlez Duràntez by Liberal DemocratsThere’s a great interview in the Standard with Miriam Gonzàlez Duràntez. It irks me slightly that Charlotte Edwardes doesn’t even get 20 words into her article before she mentions what Miriam is wearing. At least she got “top corporate lawyer” in there first, so I guess that counts as progress.

All the papers have picked up on what Miriam said to a group of young women – telling them that women have been faking things for years so they should fake self confidence. It’s  about feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

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LibLink: Paddy Ashdown: Learning six languages changed my life

rally paddy 01The Guardian is hosting an exhibition called “The Languages that changed my life” at its office in London. This interests me as I was both good at and fascinated by languages at school and I now have a teenager who almost obsessively studies language, learning Swahili, French and a bit of Mandarin Chinese for fun.

Paddy Ashdown has written a piece for the Guardian’s exhibition  about how his language learning has enhanced his life. There are a couple of quite funny anecdotes. Just be thankful he didn’t make one of them at a diplomatic reception or there might have been an international incident:

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Fancy seeing Adam Stachura dangling on a rope?

Scottish Director of Campaigns works very hard. He has had a referendum and a European election to deal with this year so he’s been putting in many hours. You can tell how much of a slog it’s been for him by what he chooses to do on one of his rare days off.

On Sunday, Adam and his partner Gemma will be abseiling down the 165 feet of the Forth Rail Bridge to raise money for the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  I never knew he had a head for heights. He doesn’t need to have on the golf course where he normally spends his free time.  This You Tube video quite accurately conveys the height and the wind and the conditions Adam and Gamma will face. I’m not embedding it because it gave me Vertigo, but it’s worth a watch. Just as an aside, the white building across the road is the Hawes Inn in South Queensferry where I had my wedding reception. 

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Lynne Featherstone on shortlist for Stonewall Politician of the Year

Lynne Featherstone at PrideOn 6th November, Stonewall’s annual awards ceremony takes place in London. Many Liberal Democrats have had their issues with Stonewall in the past, but I’d say that they are definitely improving. For example, it’s good to see Stonewall Scotland’s “Some people are Trans, get over it” t-shirts. They may have come late to the equal marriage party, but they got there eventually.  On top of that,  their resources for schools are excellent.  Stonewall Chief Executive, Ruth Hunt, who is doing some great work in making the organisation more inclusive, spoke at our Conference in Glasgow.

Up for Politician of the Year is our own Lynne Featherstone, the woman who set the country firmly on the road to same sex marriage. Alex Neil, the Minister who was responsible for the Scottish bill, is also nominated. As an aside, it was announced yesterday that the first Scottish same sex marriages will take place on Hogmanay. That’s not a huge amount of time to organise a party, but I’m sure some will manage it.

The shortlist in full is:

Lord Cashman
Lynne Featherstone MP
Lord Fowler
Kerry McCarthy MP
Alex Neil MSP

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