Author Archives: Caron Lindsay

Well that’s one way to say goodbye to your colleague….

Clarkey Cat Carmichael onesieAdam Clarke, the Scottish Party’s rugby playing Director of Communications left this week. We will miss him.

Normally when you leave, you get a present and lots of kind words are said about you. That all happened with Adam, but his colleagues went one step further.

They gave the Herald newspaper the rather fetching photograph of Adam in his going away present from his previous job,  researcher for Alistair Carmichael. You can only hope that the Orkney and Shetland MP gave him something more than a onesie with his face on it. Let’s hope it was to cushion the many bottles of Orkney whiskies Scapa and Highland Park that accompanied them.

The photo of Alistair was, I think, taken for Liberal Youth’s Bears for Belarus campaign back in 2012.

One particular colleague grassed up to the Herald another memorable Clarke moment.

Posted in News | Tagged and | Leave a comment

Independent: “The Lib Dems could steal David Cameron’s seat tomorrow”

Liz LeffmanQuite a story in the Independent:

The Liberal Democrats came fourth last year with just 7 per cent of the vote, but could now leapfrog Labour and Ukip into second place. Normally there are no prizes for political runners-up, but if the Lib Dem candidate Liz Leffman comes a strong second it would give some credence to the “Lib Dem fightback” messages that activists send to each other to keep their spirits up after their crushing defeat in 2015.

It seems that they have noticed the effectiveness of Liz Leffman’s energetic campaign which has firmly established her as the main challenger to the Tories in Witney. Labour are nowhere in the seat – their vote is doing the snow off a dyke thing.

What the Conservatives want more than anything is for people to vote Labour or Green. You can tell this from the almost identically  misleading stories in the Express and the Telegraph.  They give prominent position to a poll putting the Tories 17 points ahead of Labour – but it’s the national monthly ICM poll which has no bearing on what’s happening on the ground in Witney. You have to wonder why they were bothering, given that they expect the by-election to be such an easy Conservative hold.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 4 Comments

Susan Kramer says that Government must unfreeze benefits

Back in July, I told a panel on social security at the Social Liberal Forum conference that in the wake of Brexit, a benefits freeze for four years, which was never a good idea, was entirely inappropriate and we should be opposing it loudly.

Analysis from the Institute of Fiscal Studies confirms that Brexit is going to hit those on benefits and low incomes particularly hard:

Normally many of those on the lowest incomes would be at least partially protected from the impact of higher prices by the rules that govern the annual uprating of benefits and tax credits. By default, benefit and tax credit rates are (with some exceptions, most notably the state pension) increased each April in line with the annual CPI inflation rate of the previous September – higher prices lead to higher benefit rates (albeit with a lag). However, in the July 2015 Budget the Government announced that, as part of its attempt to cut annual social security spending by £12 billion, most working-age benefit and tax credit rates would be frozen in cash terms until March 2020. This policy represented a significant takeaway from a large number of working age households. But it also represented a shifting of risk from the Government to benefit recipients. Previously, higher inflation was a risk to the public finances, increasing cash spending on benefits. Now the risk is borne by low-income households: unless policy changes higher inflation will reduce their real incomes.

I am glad to see that our shadow Chancellor, Susan Kramer, has now said that the Government must reverse its unfair benefits freeze plans:

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 9 Comments

Remembering Helen Watt

Helen WattMany of us have expressed the opinion that 2016 can just do one. The deaths early in the year of national treasures, the heroes we’d grown up with,  like David Bowie and Alan Rickman shocked us. In Scotland, that sense of loss has intensified and come closer to home as we learned of the passing on Monday of one of our most popular and stalwart members, Helen Watt.

Helen was convener of the Scottish Party’s Conference Committee between 2003 and 2007. She also chaired and held most of the offices of Scottish Women Liberal Democrats.  She stood for Parliament, both Holyrood and Westminster, many times. A member in East Dunbartonshire, she was a critical part of Jo Swinson’s campaign team from the very beginning and helped to elect the area’s councillors.

I served as an office bearer with her and always admired  and learned from her  practicality and common sense as I have neither.

Helen’s capacity for work was incredible. As well as full-on Liberal Democrat commitments, her retirement was taken up with other voluntary organisations such as Meals on Wheels. Everything she did was accomplished with energy, warmth and humour. The thought of not hearing that infectious laugh again makes me very sad. The last thing she would want, though, is sadness. Her instructions for her memorial events included positivity and red wine. I have shared many a bottle with her over the years, often well into the early hours. I have fond memories of one first thing Sunday Conference debate that she was chairing and I was aiding where we were a little ashen-faced and sleep-deprived but we got through it unscathed. 

Posted in News | Tagged | 6 Comments

Why would Alex Salmond nominate a key Brexiteer for Commons Brexit Committee chair?

This afternoon, we’ll find out who will be leading the Parliamentary scrutiny of Brexit as MPs vote for the chairs of the new select committee on Brexit.

It’s a race between Labour’s Hilary Benn, who campaigned for Remain, and Brexiteer Kate Hoey who does not think that membership of the single market is an achievable outcome.

From the Herald:

Labour’s Hilary Benn, the former shadow foreign secretary, is tipped to become chairman of the committee, which will have 21 members, including 10 Tories and MPs from six opposition parties; the average committee normally has 11 members.

But Ms Hoey, who represents Vauxhall in London, has also thrown her hat in the ring and, among those nominating her, is the former SNP leader. The onetime sports minister has said she wants Britain to have the fullest possible access to the single market but argues that taking back full control of immigration is incompatible with membership.

It is quite bizarre that Alex Salmond has chosen to nominate Kate Hoey given that the SNP has (rightly) been very vocal about the importance of continuing membership of the single market for the whole UK and for Scotland in particular. Why on earth would be support someone who doesn’t support that outcome?

Lib Dem Peer Jeremy Purvis had this to say on the matter:

Posted in News and Parliament | Tagged , and | 10 Comments

Nick Clegg shows why he is such a credible, authoritative leader of the opposition to May’s “hard brexit”

A year ago, Nick Clegg’s career appeared to be pretty much over. Some even wondered if he night have been upset to have clung on to his Sheffield Hallam seat.

Now, former critics are starting to be glad that he is there. He is by far the most experienced politician in the country on both international trade and how the European Union works.

This week has seen the latest in a fairly long line of articles, which started with the Mystic Clegg stuff in June, suggesting that Nick Clegg’s star is in the ascendancy again. The New Statesman, of all things, was even nice about him.

Clegg has previously voiced the hope that a botched attempt at hard Brexit might trigger a desire for an alternative to Tory rule among the British people. For him personally, Brexit is the perfect issue upon which to position himself as a voice of reason. He has the experience, the gravitas and the passion to help win back some of the political credibility he lost during the dark days of the coalition and the tuition fees debacle. Whether he can ever fully lose the traitor tag remains to be seen, but his intervention on Brexit will be welcome among the 16.1 million people who didn’t vote for any kind of Brexit, let alone a hard one.

Over at the Huffington Post, Beth Leslie suggests that Brexit means that it is time to forgive the Liberal Democrats.

Four million UKIP voters in 2015 elected just one MP, but they snowballed an idea that made Brexit a reality. Why couldn’t we centrists do the same? And with the money, resources and national recognition of an established party, the Liberal Democrats are the best-placed vehicle for us to try to do so.

Tim Farron and Nick Clegg have both been brilliant on Brexit all the way through. Tim’s PMQ got the PM to admit she doesn’t give two hoots about the nearly half the country who voted to remain and Clegg continues to work with others to fight the parliamentary campaign against a hard brexit that nobody voted for.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 49 Comments

ICYMI: Tim Farron at PMQs: When will she put the interests of hard-working British people ahead of an extremist protectionism that absolutely nobody voted for?

Courtesy of Channel 4 News:

A strong question from Tim:

The Prime Minister appears to have made a choice, and that choice is to side with the protectionists and nationalists who have taken over her party, as surely as Momentum has taken over the Labour party. She has chosen a hard Brexit that was never on anybody’s ballot paper and she has chosen to turn her back on British business in the process. As a result, petrol and food retailers have warned of huge price rises at the pumps and on the supermarket shelves in the coming days. When will she put the interests of hard-working British people ahead of an extremist protectionism that absolutely nobody voted for?

May’s answer showed that she thinks she doesn’t have to bother at all about the almost half the country who don’t want us to hurtle towards the disaster of a hard Brexit.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 25 Comments

Recent Comments

  • User AvatarNick Baird 24th Oct - 8:34pm
    I am curious as to how EU exporters would "save" €500 million in duties per year. Duty is paid by importers, not exporters, and it...
  • User AvatarPhilip Rolle 24th Oct - 8:27pm
    Both Farron and May appear to be deepening the animosity, from where I'm standing - May by pandering to prejudice; Farron by rejecting the will...
  • User AvatarNick Baird 24th Oct - 8:23pm
    @J Dunn - You will find that for many of us within the Lib Dems, our compassion for our fellow man does not stop at...
  • User Avatartonyhill 24th Oct - 7:41pm
    John Dunne - I'm glad you acknowledge that you may have been far too harsh in your assertion that the LibDems hate the British population...
  • User AvatarStuart 24th Oct - 7:36pm
    Correction to my earlier post. It wasn't South Lakeland who said they would take in 15 families, it was Cumbria as a whole. Since South...
  • User AvatarStuart 24th Oct - 7:29pm
    The government's plan to train more British doctors is one of the most sensible things they have come up with. It's the right and fair...