Author Archives: Caron Lindsay

Vince: Trump state visit would be “completely wrong” after Charlottesville comments

“Fine people on both sides” said Donald Trump of the horrific events in Charlottesville at the weekend. I suspect most of you reading this site will, like me, utterly reject the notion that you can go to a demo, stand on the same side as people carrying swastikas and dressing kids up in KKK costume and be a “fine person.”

Vince Cable has condemned Trump’s remarks and has renewed Liberal Democrat calls for the offer of a State visit to be withdrawn.

He said:

The events of the last few days have shocked and appalled the entire world.

Images of Nazis, marching in American streets, terrorist attacks on peaceful protestors. Every world leader should be able to condemn that.

Donald Trump’s response to these tragic events has been shocking.

He has shown that he is unable to detach himself from the extreme-right and racial supremacists.

The fact he remains highly dependent on White House advisors from the extreme-right shows he is firmly anchored in this detestable worldview.

It would be completely wrong to have this man visit the UK on a State Visit.

The government should be following the far more prudent example to relations with the US President set by Angela Merkel in Germany.

Tim Farron first called for the State visit offer to be withdrawn in the wake of Trump’s first attempt at a travel ban the week after he entered the White House.

It is pretty awful to have a Government that is so dependent on the hope of a trade deal that they won’t condemn the way he has reacted. We’ve spent the last 70 years at the heart of an organisation that has fought for human rights and democracy across the world. Now we are going to be entering a period of excessive pandering to all sorts of dodgy characters because we need their trade and will probably have to take it on whatever terms they demand. It will be a far cry from the days when we could roll up with 27 of our mates and tell them to get lost with their chlorinated chicken. 

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Federal Conference to debate revocation of Article 50

Like many others, I was horrified to see that our Federal Conference in Bournemouth was only going to have a consultation session on Brexit and our relationship with the European Union.

That, I felt, was an opportunity missed to make very clear and unambiguous policy. We were a bit too equivocal during the election. Had Tim Farron said on the day the election was announced that if he walked into Downing Street as Prime Minister, the first thing he would do would be to revoke Article 50 because the political earthquake that would had happened would justify it, people would have understood and been convinced that we are an anti-Brexit party. Our referendum on the deal is a good mechanism to stop Brexit but it’s not a good message.

Since the agenda was published, there have been a great number of behind the scenes representations to the party leadership and Federal Conference Committee saying that a consultation simply isn’t good enough.

The good news is that there has been a rethink and Conference will now be given the opportunity if it wishes to have a debate rather than a consultation session. A motion will be published today on the party website. This motion will be amendable.

Because we are a democratic party, we don’t just allow the agenda to be altered by anyone, so Conference has to give its consent. A vote will take place to enable the motion to be discussed in the very first session, at 9:05 am on Saturday 16th September, so those with sore heads from Lib Dem Pint will have to power on through and get in to the hall.  If Conference allows the change, then the motion will be debated on Sunday 17th September between 10:45 and 12:30. If Conference votes against the change, the consultation session will take place as planned at the same time.

The motion itself will probably need amending. It calls for:

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David Miliband backs referendum on the deal and argues for social and political benefits of EU – how we can build on the growing anti Brexit consensus

It’s one of the great what -ifs of our time. Would we still be in the same mess if David Miliband had won the Labour leadership in 2010? We’ll never know and there are arguments on both sides. His Blairist approach might have propelled a bigger drift of Labour supporters to populist UKIP but he might also have had a big enough impact on the arguments to shift us away from Brexit or even having a referendum on the EU in the first place. Of course, his leadership might well have stopped Cameron from getting a majority at all in 2015 and we would certainly not have been in this mess.

Today, Miliband makes a new intervention in the Brexit debate with an article in the Observer in which he becomes the latest big name to back calls for a referendum on the deal.

The case against the EU depends on avoiding a discussion of the alternative. It is the equivalent of voting to repeal Obamacare without knowing the replacement. It is a stitch-up. That is one reason it is essential that parliament or the public are given the chance to have a straight vote between EU membership and the negotiated alternative. That is a democratic demand, not just a prudent one.

People say we must respect the referendum. We should. But democracy did not end on 23 June 2016. The referendum will be no excuse if the country is driven off a cliff. MPs are there to exercise judgment. Delegating to Theresa May and David Davis, never mind Boris Johnson and Liam Fox, the settlement of a workable alternative to EU membership is a delusion, not just an abdication.

Brexit is an unparalleled act of economic self-harm. But it was a big mistake to reduce the referendum to this question. The EU represents a vision of society and politics, not just economics. We need to fight on this ground too.

The Europe of Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel stands for pluralism, minority rights, the rule of law, international co-operation – and not just a single market. In fact, the real truth about the single market has been lost in translation.

He goes on to make the very valid point that the EU’s institutions protect our rights as individuals and as workers against exploitation from large commercial organisations and governments. As he puts it, the EU has actually done more to shield us from the effects of globalisation than to harm us:

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LISTEN: Ming Campbell on North Korea, an anti-Brexit party, gender equality and what he ate before a big race

When something goes awry in the world, I always want to hear what two people think of it – Paddy and Ming. I don’t always agree with them, but what they have to say is always worth hearing.

Last night Ming Campbell was on Any Questions. He had his own alliterative response to Trump’s “fire and fury” and “locked and loaded” – inexperienced, incompetent and incoherent. He said that the UK should work with the UN to sort this situation out and warned against any sort of military engagement. He said that the world was in a very dangerous situation.

Other issues raised included whether there should be a new centrist anti-Brexit party. Ming said, quite correctly, that there was one and there was no time to faff about creating another. The fallout from the Google memo was also discussed.

But you’ll have to listen to the end to find out what Ming used to eat before a big race in his running days when he held British records and stuff. It certainly wasn’t the sort of tailored, scientific approach we see with elite athletes today.

I was also surprised that he came out in favour of the sacking of James Damore from Google. He was pretty clear. What he’d said was wholly inappropriate and he had to go. I kind of agree with him – but on the other hand, I am very aware that Damore worked for a company in a country which has next to no employment rights. I suspect that firing him will make him a vast amount of money and will make him a bit of a celeb in alt-right circles. A disciplinary process that told him off might have been a better way of dealing with the situation.

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Tom Brake: Lib Dems will fight to keep citizens’ rights to sue the government

One of the things that worried me most about Brexit before the referendum was that it would lead to an erosion of the rights that we have as citizens to hold our Government to account.

In any civilised society, citizens must have the right to sue the Government. Governments make mistakes but are not very good at owning up to them or fixing them. Anyone who has worked as an MP’s caseworker will have seen shocking examples of this.  Sometimes the only way to sort things out is through the courts.

It seems that the not-so-great Repeal Bill is repealing that right. …

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Lib Dem Chief Executive Tim Gordon steps down

Tim Gordon has stepped down as the Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats.

In a statement today, he said:

It has been an honour to work for the Party for the past half decade. These have not been easy years but I am proud to have worked with both Nick Clegg and Tim Farron who so clearly and eloquently articulated the Liberal voice that Britain needs.

We now have a great new leader and deputy in place and after the challenges of the past few years this feels like an appropriate moment for a change. There are other opportunities that I have delayed pursuing for long enough and I want to give my successor as much time as possible to prepare before what could be yet another snap General Election.

I am extremely proud of what my team has delivered. After decades of decline we are now well in to our fifth consecutive year of membership growth and are on track for our fifth consecutive year of fundraising growth, beating Labour’s non-union donations in most sets of quarterly returns. Both have benefited from our investment in new systems and digital communications; online fundraising has increased over 40-fold. HQ’s diversity has improved: both the director team and salary levels are now gender-balanced. Critically, we are again winning electoral battles – even if there remains much to do. I am incredibly grateful and frequently humbled by all those across the Party who have worked so hard for the fightback that is now underway.

The Party under Vince Cable is now well positioned to move forward. We have the right approach to Brexit for both party and country. And I intend to keep on helping the Party in the ways that I have always done: knocking on doors and delivering the odd leaflet.

Senior figures thanked him for his five years at the helm of the party:

Sal Brinton, our Party President said:

On behalf of the party I want to place on record a huge thank you to Tim for his all his amazing hard work over nearly five often gruelling years.

He has run the party machine during extremely demanding times, with the Liberal Democrats in coalition government, then two general elections and the EU Referendum.

After the setback of the 2015 general election, Tim immediately set out to make sure that the party’s finances were secured, and provided the structures that have allowed the party to recover. In the last two years our membership has doubled, we have won many council by elections and the Richmond Park parliamentary by-election and in June this year increased our MPs. He leaves at a time when the Liberal Democrat fightback is well-underway and we wish him the very best.

Vince Cable added:

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It’s going to be a bit quiet around here for a couple of weeks…

As you read this, I’ll be on my way to the beautiful Highlands for two weeks. I need my spiritual home to work its restorative magic on me.

I have decided that I’m going to have a proper break. In previous years, I’ve still done meetings and continued to write for LDV albeit at a reduced rate.

This year has been a bit of a rollercoaster. From the personal drama of my husband’s serious illness last Autumn to the Council elections to the General Election and starting a new job, I’ve …

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