Author Archives: Chris Key

Our nation’s mental health is a clear and present danger

On Monday, Theresa May’s announcement about mental health came to precious little in money terms – a mere £15m of additional investment to be precise. This despite the fact that Norman Lamb and others have made it clear that extra money that was earmarked for mental health last year has in fact been used to prop up NHS trusts who are suffering from financial difficulties. Mental health is crying out for more money as Isabel Hardman eloquently writes about in the Telegraph today based on her own experience.

The statistics are clear. Research in 2014 found that one in ten people wait over a year just to get an assessment for a talking therapy, while four in ten wait more than three months. Two thirds told the We Need To Talk coalition that they had become more unwell while waiting, with one in six attempting suicide. In 2014, over 6,000 people died from suicide which is 16 per day. Nobody would be happy to wait three months for a broken leg to be treated or to have to travel 300 miles to see their children for a broken arm. Yet this is precisely the state of mental health in the UK today.

Posted in News | Tagged | 15 Comments

How the Lib Dems can reach out to lower paid voters ignored by the Labour leadership

 

This year’s revelations about Amazon and Sports Direct’s business practices have shown that even though we are in the year 2016 some companies still behave as if we were still in the Victorian age. As the Labour party drifts into an ocean of hard left anti-business irrelevance we in the Liberal Democrats have an opportunity to speak up for a better way forward.

In the area of low pay, many companies especially in the retail sector have taken advantage of the introduction of the living wage to chip away at other benefits. Take the example of Cafe Nero which took away the free panini from staff in response to the Living Wage.

Paying staff properly so that they do not have to take second jobs is good business sense. Making work pay reduces staff turnover and consequently recruitment costs as Costco found out in the US a few years ago.

We as a party should be calling for an expansion of the teams involved in enforcing regulations on pay and calling out companies who act in this way.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 22 Comments

Liberal Democrats need to play smart on immigration and border controls

If we are to learn from the lessons of Trump becoming President and the EU referendum, we progressive politicians must play smarter in the area of immigration. This does not mean aping Mr Trump or Nigel Farage but working out where the real blame lies for failures in our border controls and who has accountability for fixing them.

The current government has decided landlords and schools are suddenly  quasi immigration officers. Even the Daily Mail noted that the government pilot project to require landlords to check tenants rights to live in the UK had been an abject failure. Many parents at my own children’s school complained about the need to audit the nationalities of their children and where their parents were from. Parents were not even told this was optional and that they could refuse to complete the census. The head teacher complained of the administrative burden of this new dictat. Quite rightly so, given no extra resources were given to schools to carry out this work.

This brings me back to where I think we as Liberal politicians should be looking to do more around border controls. The introduction of proper exit checks last year was long overdue and the Lib Dems contributed to this in the Coalition. Yet individual landlords and schools are being asked to mop up the mess created by previous governments. Technology initiatives from the Labour government on immigration control during the 2000s cost up to £1 billion and were not fit for purpose.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 35 Comments

An Economics lesson for Trump voters

 

No doubt the millions of Americans who voted for Trump will claim he will be the economic saviour of the United States bringing back millions of jobs from Mexico and Asia. For anyone who has studied even a basic level of Economics knows that this false promise will only bring disappointment to those who voted for him.

Argentina is a classic example of what happens when a country takes a protectionist and nationalistic approach. During the years of its former President Cristina Kirchner, it gorged on a diet of economic populism including ridiculous import restrictions in the vain hope that everything would be suddenly mass produced by “Industria Argentina”. Things got so bad that at one point women could not even by tampons because they could not be imported and prices sky rocketed with inflation hitting 40%.

Americans would do well to realise that slapping a tariff of 45%, as Trump wants to do on Mexican imports, will not encourage US industry to become more efficient as it will simply isolate them from competition. Moving car production back to the US will simply serve to raise prices, and reduce demand which will lead to less demand for employees. Furthermore all the tariffs in the world will not help prevent technology from replacing humans in producing everything from I-phones to Electric cars.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 9 Comments

Reasons to doubt Zac Goldsmith will be re-elected

So we have the first by-election test in London for the Prime Minister who wants a country that works for everyone. How does Zac Goldsmith stack up against this mantra (even if not the official Tory candidate)?

Firstly he voted to cut disability benefits by £30 a week, resulting in him being dumped by a local disabled charity.

Secondly he has never railed against the lack of affordable housing in his own area as Richmond Council allows more and more luxury flats to be built in a form of Bosnian style ethic cleansing as his friend Boris described the London housing crisis. He also supported the sale of precious social housing stock.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 18 Comments

The double-speak of the Prime Minister and her Cabinet

It is a common dictum that politicians should be judged by their actions not by their words. Well it would appear that on many fronts the government could be rightly accused of double-speak after this week’s Conservative Party Conference.

Theresa May was Home Secretary for six years.  During that time she deported almost 50,000 students with dubious legality and yet still failed to meet her own unrealistic targets. She also oversaw a big reduction in the number of immigration officers at ports and airports. However rather than accepting targets will never be met and giving the Home Office the staff they need, it has now become the job of head teachers and property owners to control immigration. If you cannot do it yourself outsource to someone who can is the leitmotif of the May government.

Landlords now face the risk of prosecution if they fail to check the right of their tenants to live in the U.K. Yet when a Tory Minister for immigration in the last government failed to check the papers of his cleaner he simply went to the back benches only to be reappointed to a Ministerial job. The “A country which works for everyone” slogan needs more small print than the average insurance policy.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 2 Comments

It is time to see spending on mental health as an investment not a cost

On a recent Question Time there was an excellent debate on the future funding of the NHS and social care. Norman Lamb, the former Care Minister and Lib Dem MP made a passionate plea for greater investment in the NHS and in particular on mental health.

Tory MP, Jacob Rees Mogg, unsurprisingly, countered that the UK cannot pay more tax. Even the usually more Conservative Julia Hartley Brewer nodded in agreement when Lamb outlined how little we spend on health as a proportion of GDP, which by the way is less than other European countries including Portugal.

While Lamb focused on the human cost of a lack of investment in mental health including on his own family, Rees Mogg’s attitude was totally oblivious to the impact of not spending more. It appeared as if Rees Mogg was finishing an A Level Economics test, not appearing on a national TV programme where human beings with real problems were watching as he regurgitated historical tax take percentages.

Posted in Op-eds | 6 Comments
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  • User AvatarDavid Pocock 20th Jan - 11:55pm
    Tbh I would protest trump but this protest already feels like it is further left than I'm comfortable. I think at some point we have...
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    Sarah - to check - you mean the organisers tweeted inviting other parties including UKIP but didn't tweet inviting the Libs?
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 20th Jan - 11:25pm
    Catherine If nearly everyone was the same or similar how dull it would be and how strongly I do encourage a range of views ....
  • User AvatarCaron Lindsay 20th Jan - 11:23pm
    Lorenzo, I was incredibly proud when Vince Cable as acting leader refused to engage with the Saudi Arabian king who was here on a state...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 20th Jan - 11:14pm
    Caron I think you are right in criticising Trump. I have written a lot about my views on this man, on here , and on...
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    Watching Twitter daily there seems no letup in "I joined today" posts. A great time to be a LibDem.