Author Archives: Caron Lindsay

Rennie: Stand up to the nationalist thugs

Yesterday, Labour MP Jim Murphy was egged in Kirkcaldy as he was speaking there as part of his 100 towns in 100 days tour. He travels the country with 2 Irn Bru crates to stand on and speaks and meets people around the country.

Twice in the last week, there have been really ugly scenes as he was surrounded by Yes campaigners who did their best to shout him down. Last week the same thing happened in Motherwell. Now, I don’t much care for Murphy’s politics, but he has the right to express himself without facing intimidation.

I’ve been chased down streets by Labour thugs before. They didn’t like being beaten with the regularity we managed it in Chesterfield in the 90s. I remember copping a mouthful of abuse from some scary Labour men in a quiet street during the Littleborough and Saddleworth by-election back in 1995. I remember It’s really unpleasant and not how politics should ever be conducted. Since I’ve been back in Scotland, bar the odd skirmish at counts between Labour and the SNP, things have been pretty civilised in comparison. Until the last few months.

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And the winner of the referendum debate was…….Charles Kennedy

Charles indyrefI’m sure we all remember THAT debate on Monday night between Alistair Darling and Alex Salmond. It was what we call in Scotland a right  rammy. Two men standing up on stage shouting at each other has typified the independence debate has generally been going on up here. It’s not edifying. I took part in STV’s live blog of the event and you can see my take on it here.

Although Salmond is widely judged to have won the debate, the pivotal moment came when he laughed at me. Well, not actually at me, but at anyone who wants reassurance that we’re not risking higher interest rates or economic instability over the fundamental issue of the currency. When Alistair Darling, on behalf of people with those concerns, continued to question he First Minister on the risks that sterlingisation would put us under, and to challenge the wisdom of not taking a share of the UK’s debt, Salmond laughed. In a very sneery way. And then he called Darling a One Trick Pony. You know, when you’re trying to persuade people to trust you and make the massive change you want, you need to show you understand their concerns and address them, not treat them with contempt. It’s no wonder that the main theme in my Facebook was that people were fed up and were switching off.

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Better Together can always make a better ad. Alex Salmond can not give us a better currency option than we have being part of the UK

20 pound note. Photo courtesy of steved_np3 on Sxx.huWhat’s the last thing you would want to happen on postal voters’ polling day? How about your own side putting out a broadcast that is beyond terrible? Better Together’s latest effort, showing a woman’s two minute clumsy, contrived monologue as she makes up her mind to vote No. It was Rosie Barnes and her rabbit without the political intelligence.

I’m willing to accept that I may not be its target audience. After all, I am a thoroughly committed No voter and this will have been aimed at undecided women in the largely Labour voting central belt of Scotland. I’m not sure I’m meant to absolutely hate it as much as I do, though. There are ways of appealing to a segment of the population without really annoying a similar group of people.

Calling a broadcast “The woman who made her mind up” as if this was some flight of fancy is the first major error and it doesn’t get much better.  That it was shared more on social media by Yes campaigners than pro UK supporters tells its own story. They have made hay, contributing to a #patronisingbtlady thread on Twitter which, to be honest is just as patronising and sexist as the original broadcast.

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Liberal Youth Elections 2014 – nominations close at 8pm TONIGHT

It dawned on me yesterday, my wedding anniversary, that a baby born on the day I was married would, as of now, be ineligible for automatic membership of Liberal Youth, having reached the age of 26 years. That is a very scary thought.

It’s been a very long time since I was eligible to stand in Liberal Youth elections, but I am now their Returning Officer for their annual elections.

This is a reminder that nominations for their Executive at Federal level and for Liberal Youth England close at 8pm tonight. You can see details of all the posts available and how to apply on their website

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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #387

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 387th 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 (17-23 August 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 | 3 Comments

Nicola Sturgeon challenges Nick Clegg to do the Ice Bucket Challenge

ice bucket challenge photo by University of Central ArkansasWe can’t look at our social media at the moment without coming across an avalanche of videos of our own friends or celebrities doing the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness of Motor Neurone Disease and raise money for its charities across the world.

I have to say that I have actually refused to do the challenge. I am too much of a free spirit, I suppose. I don’t think I have the right to tell someone which charity to donate to or publicise, nor do I like being so told myself. This doesn’t make me a wimp (although I do not deny that I am about most things), or lacking in a sense of humour or heartless. I just don’t like the peer pressure element of it and I think it’s ok to say that you’re not going to conform. I felt particularly strongly about this after seeing one person say in their video that if those nominated didn’t do it, they didn’t care  and were basically evil.

I also have a bit of a worry about so much water being wasted. In so much of the world it’s such a precious commodity. I wonder what people in parts of the world where it is so scarce think of the waste.

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Former Liberal Democrat MP John Barrett says he’s voting Yes in the Independence Referendum

imageWay back in January, former Edinburgh West Liberal Democrat MP John Barrett made a very intelligent contribution to the debate on independence in an article for the Scotsman. He said his vote was still up for grabs. He was fed up with the banality of the official campaigns and highly critical of the Liberal Democrats for participating in Better Together.

Well, his vote isn’t up for grabs any more as he’s decided that he’s voting yes on 18th September and explains why in today’s Edinburgh Evening News.  Even though I reach a different conclusion on the question of independence, I can’t find much to disagree with in what he has to say about the quality of the two official campaigns:

I believe neither side is telling the whole truth and that the facts about the future of an independent Scotland, or one remaining in the UK, are not as clear as either side likes to make out. There are risks with either option and if either, or at least one side, would admit to this, they would gain more credibility in the public’s eyes.

Alex Salmond claiming he will get everything he wants in every single set of complex negotiations after a Yes vote is something I am sure that even he does not believe.

On the other side, the No campaign claiming that Scotland’s future use of the pound or membership of the EU will be something they will not support is equally hard to believe.

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Danny Alexander doing Facebook Q and A on Scottish Independence Referendum tonight at 6 pm

Danny's indyref q and a

 

 

Danny Alexander will be answering questions on Facebook tonight for half an hour from 6 pm. If you have a question, you can submit it via the “You Decide” Facebook page which is run by the Scotland Office.

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Norman Lamb announces task force to tackle “unfit for purpose” mental health services for children and young people

Norman Lamb, Minister for Consumer AffairsWhen your child suffers from a mental health problem, be it crippling, life limiting anxiety, devastating Depression, an eating disorder, schizophrenia or any other condition which causes them suffering and distress, you want them diagnosed and treated quickly and close to home. You want them to have that support for as long as they need it, not for it to be abruptly withdrawn at a particular date on the calendar.

There is nothing more devastating for a parent than to see your child suffer. You need to …

photo by: bisgovuk
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Lord Rennard’s membership of the Liberal Democrats restored by Party Committee

It’s been announced tonight that the suspension of Lord Rennard’s membership of the Liberal Democrats has been lifted, bringing to an end the disciplinary process against him.

From the BBC:

The former Lib Dem chief executive was suspended after being accused of bringing the party’s name into disrepute for failing to apologise over sexual harassment claims.

He apologised in May for his behaviour.

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said the dropping of disciplinary proceedings had now brought the matter to a close.

A Party spokesperson is quoted as saying:

The Regional Parties Committee met this week to consider whether the party had been brought into disrepute by statements made by Lord Rennard, or on his behalf, following the publication of Alistair Webster’s conclusions.

It decided not to proceed with the disciplinary process against him. This brings the matter to a close and means the suspension of his membership is lifted.

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LibLink: Willie Rennie: Alex Salmond’s future looks bleak so he turns to the past

st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TWillie Rennie has been writing for the Daily Express in response to Alex Salmond’s invocation of Robert the Bruce yesterday. The First Minister has obviously given up on the detail and is sticking with the Big Picture aimed at emotional appeal. I’ve always been one for tugging on the heartstrings. I go on about it all the time. You do need to have some facts in there somewhere, though. It helps if those facts have some relation to the truth, as well.

It’s been annoying me for some time that the pro UK side has not been quick enough to rebut the ridiculous claims that the pro-independnece side makes about the NHS. They claim that it’s been privatised in England. I’m no fan of the changes in the Health and Social Care Act of 2012, but I know that health care is still free at the point of need as it should always be.  It’s been annoying that few senior Labour figures have rammed that home to the SNP, perhaps because it doesn’t suit them to do so in a Westminster General Election context.  Willie makes it perfectly clear who calls the shots as far as the Scottish NHS is concerned:

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Sloths are cool – but they can’t run Liberal Youth

Sloths are coolThis little chap is a cutie, isn’t he?

He was the star of the email sent to Liberal Youth members kicking off the 2014 Annual Elections for which I am again the Returning Officer.

I don’t know yet how we’re doing but I am really keen for an email from me to beat the open rates of previous sloth emails sent from Liberal youth and, of course, the notorious one featuring Ed Balls.

Being involved in the running of Liberal Youth can be fantastic fun. It’s a long time since I was eligible but I really enjoyed being involved in Scottish SDP Students back in the day. I met friends for life during those years. Others have had the opportunity to head to places like Sri Lanka and Georgia to train young people in those countries.

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Revenge porn: Ministry of Justice launches consultation, Hannah Thompson interviewed on Women’s Hour

Smartphone bar.We’ve written about the issue of revenge porn extensively over the last few months, most recently covering the amendments introduced in the House of Lords which would make it illegal for abusive ex partners to upload intimate images to the internet without consent.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Justice launched a consultation on the issue, saying:

The Government is keen to understand more about the scale of this issue, whether incidents are being reported to the police or other authorities and, where they are, how these are being dealt with. This will allow us to

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Let Kirsty Williams know your views on nursing levels in Wales

Kirsty Williams and Peter Black visit nursesWelsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams has been on a mission for some time to ensure minimum nursing levels in Welsh hospitals. She explained on this site why this was important in a post in March this year.

Evidence is increasing from across the world on the positive impact that nurse staffing levels have on patient care and the recruitment and retention of staff. Nurses who have fewer patients to tend are able to spend a greater amount of time with each patient and as a result can provide better care. If they are more easily able to identify potential problems with a patient’s care, then they are able to play a preventative, rather than a simply reactive, role and consequently reduce the level of treatment needed and the cost of this care to the NHS. It also means better support for staff which leads to more manageable workloads, increased job satisfaction and reduced levels of stress or burnout.

Kirsty’s attempts to put staffing levels on a statutory footing has now reached the next stage. She has published a draft Bill and is currently running a consultation on it. You can access the Bill and the Consultation Document here.

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Announcing the Liberal Democrat Voice Awards 2014

(C) Manny Begum Yasadein PhotographyIt’s less than 9 weeks until Federal Conference in Glasgow. And late on the Saturday night of Conference, for the 9th year, Liberal Democrat Voice will be holding  annual awards.  As usual, they’ll be awarded in a budget lavish and deliciously random ceremony in Castle 3 at the Crowne Plaza between 10 and midnight. The dress code is “imaginative.”

There will be a fantastic selection of Liberal Democrats presenting the awards. You can read about last year’s ceremony, where Nick Clegg called us infuriating and inspiring here.

We revamped the Awards last year and people seemed to like what we have done, so we’ve kept the format the same with one wee tweak. We think that we should give your imaginations free rein with the photoshopping and the parliamentarians so there’s a separate category for them.

This year’s awards are as follows:

  • Liberal Democrat Blog of the Year
  • Liberal Democrat Blog-post of the year
  • Liberal Democrat Tweeter/Facebooker of the Year
  • Best use of social media by an elected representative (Tim Garden award)
  • Best online campaign run by a Liberal Democrat
  • Lib Dem Councillor of the Year
  • The Lib Dems’ Favourite Tory MP award
  • The Lib Dems’ Favourite Labour MP award
  • Best online campaign of the year (non Lib Dem)
  • Best photograph of a Liberal Democrat Parliamentarian (real life)
  • Best photo-shopped photo of a Liberal Democrat Parliamentarian
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LibLink: Tim Farron: Ending the silence

Tim Farron has written an article for the Huffington Post about his new report on youth mental health services.

He describes why and how his volunteer team produced the 127 page documents, motivated by the young people who came to his surgeries in desperate need of help:

There are then events that have a particularly profound and lasting effect on me – the deaths of young people who have struggled with mental health conditions. These tragic events and the circumstances surrounding them have brought to light serious flaws in the way in which we support our young people and the need for

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Cleaning up politics is about more than money

When we talk about cleaning up politics, we generally mean party funding and lobbying. There is so much more that needs to be done, though with regards to the environment in which politics is conducted.

Every week when Parliament is sitting we see the childish scenes at PMQs. We’ve had our own Julian Huppert talk about how it feels to be on the receiving end of bullying and intimidating behaviour.

The tone of debate on social media often leaves a lot to be desired, especially if you happen to be a woman in possession of an opinion. The cumulative effect of constantly being told you are evil/stupid/treacherous or being threatened  is not insignificant. I recently had a bit of a wobble after months of bombardment from cybernats, UKIP types and, even more distressingly, a small number of fellow Liberal Democrats. However much you try to ignore it, it can get overwhelming at times. I don’t have a problem with actual calm and rational debate but every single day, people cross the line into abuse and that’s just not on. I was livid with myself for getting so upset. After all, in large parts of the world, simply finding somewhere private to go to the toilet entails taking your life in your hands if you happen to be female, so it felt very trivial to almost reduced to tears by a jibe from some stranger whose good opinion mattered to me not one jot. It was utterly ridiculous, but it happened nonetheless. Of course, this is the sort of reaction these bullies want and, given that I intend to continue inflicting my views on the world, I just needed to find a way of dealing with it which mostly involved the support of good people who know who they are.  It shouldn’t be like that, though.

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Charles Kennedy: Independence would “inflict huge damage” on rural Scotland

Charles Kennedy is not one for the sort of sloppy, casual scaremongering we’ve seen from both sides in the Scottish independence debate. Danny Alexander has form for it, saying, unhelpfully,  the other day that independence would be worse for Scotland than the 2008 economic crash. So when he expresses concerns about stuff, we should probably take notice.

He will be talking today about the effects of independence on rural Scotland, like the massive area he represents. He’s particularly concerned with the costs of providing the postal service.

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What a waste of an interview with Jo Swinson!

Jo Swinson Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer AffairsThere is so much to annoy in today’s Daily Record interview with Jo Swinson. First of all there’s the headline: Women’s Minister tries to explain why none of Nick Clegg’s Girls made it to the Cabinet.’  Hang on a minute. Nick Clegg’s girls?  What sort of way is that to refer to Members of Parliament? You wouldn’t see the men referred to as “boys.”

That, though, was the sub-editor’s fault. The first five paragraphs comprise a moan by journalist Annie Brown about the format of the interview. which seems unjustified to say the least. She was offered a call with Jo, she wanted and got a face to face meeting. It actually sounds like Jo’s press people bent over backwards to give her what she asked for.

I don’t expect the Daily Record to give any Liberal Democrat an easy time but I felt that Brown could have got a lot more out of the interview by making it more wide-ranging. For a start, she’s interested in a lot of the same things Jo has been campaigning on for years on body image and how women are portrayed in the media and expected to behave. There was precious little in the interview about Jo’s actual ministerial work on things like shared parental leave and extending the right to request flexible working to everyone.

Instead, Brown goes on at great length about the recent Cabinet reshuffle, complaining that no Liberal Democrat women had been promoted to the Cabinet. Had she not noticed that this was an exclusively Conservative reshuffle? There are plenty Liberal Democrats who want to see a woman in the Cabinet and who are also aware that much work has been done, a great deal of it by Jo, to support female candidates with both selection and election. It might not be enough yet, but there’s stuff happening. Of the eight retiring MPs’ seats, five have selected women and so have a good number of our targets.

photo by:
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It’s all kicking off in Calderdale as Liberal Democrats help oust Labour administration and win concessions from Conservatives

You would think, wouldn’t you, that if you were in a situation where you were running a minority administration that was dependent on the casting vote of the Mayor, you might be a bit more consensual in your approach to local government.

Not so the Labour party in Calderdale who, from this Storify compiled by Jennie Rigg, seem to feel some sort of entitlement to power. I cut my political teeth campaigning against Labour in the East Midlands so it’s no surprise that they think like that but it’s depressing that nothing has changed in 25 years.

In Calderdale, they projected some sort of humility in May, saying that they would work in a consensual manner and then proceeded with a controversial crossroads against the wishes of the local community.

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Actually, this having the World Cup in England might be a good idea

I am not a huge football fan. Unless it involves Inverness Caledonian Thistle, I really don’t care and even then it’s more of a spiritual thing. I don’t actually need to watch 22 men kick the bag of wind around the field. But my antipathy to the game wasn’t the only reason my heart sank when I saw the new Liberal Democrat campaign, “Bring the 2018 World Cup to England” this morning.

Certainly, having just had a month of nothing but football anywhere, I was screaming for respite. It’s bad enough on the other side of the world but if …

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Nick Clegg “surprisingly good at Twitter”

Whether it’s posting a selfie from a football match, posing with a Princess mug, mocking the Daily Mail or looking like the perfect domestic goddess before admitting that it was Miriam who had made the very nice looking pie (for which we still need the recipe), Nick Clegg certainly has a quirky way with Twitter that. Over at the i, they’ve recognised that today by posting these highlights, commenting that:

 He seamlessly blends being part of the liberal establishment and looks genuinely happy to be at a football match.

They added that a scene with children could look very awkward if …

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Clegg: Commonwealth must live up to its values and oppose LGBT discrimination

Clegg signs in at Pride HouseWe know that Nick Clegg has spoken out against discriminatory LGBT laws across the Commonwealth. He’s done so again in an interview with Gay Times magazine.  He called them after his visit to Pride House i(where the picture was taken) n Glasgow.

Shortly before he took his place in the stalls for the opening ceremony, the Deputy PM gave GT Towers a ring. “This is the Downing Street switchboard. We have the Deputy Prime Minister on the line for you,” came the call. Well, that was

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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #383

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 383rd 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 (20 – 26 July, 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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Lib Dems have led the case against armed police in the Highlands – not that you’d know from the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland

This time next week, I will be in one of what I think is the most magical places on earth, the Black Isle. The friendly people, gorgeously rich scenery from the fertile farmlands to the wonderful pink-sanded Rosemarkie beach, the rubbish mobile phone signal and the utter peace of the place combine to make it my perfect bolt-hole.  I feel myself relaxing as soon as I get my first view of Munlochy Bay from the A9. It’s pure heaven.

I try very hard when we’re there to do all my shopping from local shops rather than the big supermarkets in Inverness, …

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

sundaypapsHere’s my pick of the Sunday papers this week. Please put your choice of must-read articles in the comments.

There are many harrowing, difficult to read accounts of the reality of being on the receiving end of the Israeli bombardment in Gaza. The Independent talks to a man who has lost two children and his 8 months’ pregnant wife:

“We didn’t know anything about this ceasefire. Just a few hours later they stopped bombing, just a few hours and we would have been all right. We don’t know why they decided to bomb our house with so many women and children. We are just poor people, we have nothing to do with politics. We did not receive any warning, why did they do it?” he asked. “Some of the family had come from another place, there was a lot of killings where they were. They thought they were safe here.

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Social Liberal Forum Conference – a belated report of an enriching day

Social Liberal Forum conference Jul 19 2014 closing panel Photo by Paul WalterThis time last week, I had just arrived at a very crowded Euston Station in London for the Social Liberal Forum’s Annual Conference. It was more than worth the 800 mile round trip, even if  I’ve been ill ever since.

Our own Mary Reid had a major hand in the organisation of the event, which was attended by over 200 people. She did a fantastic job. Everything ran smoothly and the food and drink on offer all day was …

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LibLink: Charles Kennedy: Why our destiny must lie with the F word

Charles KennedyThe Independence Referendum campaign continues to be depressing. The only really good things associated with it tend to come from Liberal Democrats and most especially Charles Kennedy. He’s written a thoughtful and persuasive article in the Herald about the dilemma facing Scotland beyond 18th September as, whoever wins, we’ve all lost out from increasing centralism to Edinburgh in recent years.

He outlines the problem:

In the pre-devolution days of one- party Tory domination there was much legitimate railing against the excessive concentration of power within Whitehall. The centre accrued and amassed while

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Nick Clegg: I want to hardwire LGBT rights into our entire human rights agenda

Rennie and the Queen's Baton
The Commonwealth Games opens in Glasgow in a couple of hours and we’re promised quite a spectacle. All of Scotland is ready. Except perhaps Edinburgh, where the powers that be have decided, in their wisdom,  to dig up the road outside Waverley Station, causing total chaos.

Politicians have been all over the place in Scotland today, ahead of attending the Opening Ceremony.

Willie Rennie managed to get his hands on the Queen’s Baton (see the photo on the right).

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David Ward apologises for his tweet and calls for more action by world community to end humanitarian crisis in Gaza

David WardDavid Ward has apologised for last night’s tweet,  saying that he does not condone firing rockets into Israel. Here’s his statement in full:

I utterly condemn the violence on both sides in Israel and Gaza.

I condemn the actions of Hamas, and my comments were not in support of firing rockets into Israel. If they gave the opposite impression, I apologise.

However, while I defend the right of Israel to exist and defend itself, I will continue to speak out for the rights of the Palestinian people who are facing untold suffering. More must be done by the world community to end this humanitarian crisis and protect the families living in Gaza. I can understand their plight and desperation.

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Recent Comments

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    Excellent result .I detect the hand of David Faulkner
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    Joe: I do not for a minute doubt, your expertise on the nuanced history of that region. But it adds to nought when you return...
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    @Paul barker That seems unlikely given the logistical issues in the islands which mean they do not normally declare election results until Friday. I believe...
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