Author Archives: Mary Reid

Mary Reid was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, and has developed websites for several parliamentarians and Lib Dem organisations. She manages the annual conference for the Social Liberal Forum.

“Cornwall’s Liberal Democrats lead the doorstep fightback”

 

That’s the encouraging headline in today’s Guardian. And the timing couldn’t be better with everything to play for on 4th May in the local elections and the Manchester Gorton by-election.

In Cornwall …

… the tide appears to be turning.

The Lib Dems have won a succession of council by-elections in Cornwall and are now once again the biggest group on the council with 43 members, governing in coalition with the independents.

Lib Dem loyalists are buoyed both by the national party’s resurgence and by a report in the New Statesman claiming that Lynton Crosby, who helped the Tories into government in 2015, has warned the prime minister, Theresa May, that if she called a snap general election she would lose all the Lib Dem seats her party gained in Cornwall.

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The Garden Bridge – or Johnson’s folly

If you live outside London you might be unaware of the on-going row over the proposal for a Garden Bridge. The concept was supported by Boris Johnson, with celebrity endorsement. The project envisaged a pedestrian bridge located between Waterloo and Blackfriars Bridges, designed as a park.

The Mayor of London published a report last week, authored by Margaret Hodge, which identified major problems with the project and recommended that it should be scrapped. Costs have increased from £60m to over £200m, and the procurement processes were deeply flawed. What is more, the project was “driven more by electoral cycles than value for taxpayers’ money.”

Hodge said:

In the present climate, with continuing pressures on public spending, it is difficult to justify further public investment in the Garden Bridge.

Caroline Pidgeon had this to say about it:

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“Brexit: What The Hell Happens Now?”

Here is a neat explanation for you to share with anyone who wants to know. It was created by Damn Fine Media, which is run by two former BBC producers.

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Tim Berners-Lee: It is up to all of us to build the web we want – for everyone

 

I’ve been meaning to write about this subject for the last week, but somehow Conference got in the way.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee wrote an important article in The Guardian about a week ago, which should be taken seriously by anyone involved in politics who a) cares about democracy and b) understands the significance of online campaigning – which I guess means most LDV readers.

As the inventor of the worldwide web, Berners-Lee has ardently campaigned for web universality and net neutrality, and he has put structures in place to try to ensure its independence from political and commercial interference. I wrote something about his concerns in 2010 when he marked the 20th anniversary of his invention with a warning article in Scientific American.

He repeats some of those worries in his latest article, demonstrating that the threats have not gone away, and indeed have been joined by new ones.

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Lib Dems on Surrey County Council call on Tory leader to resign over ‘sweetheart deal’

Some of you from outside the area may have missed the story that has been rumbling along about the communications and connections between the Government and Surrey County Council.

Back in January Conservative-led Surrey announced that they were planning a 15% increase on Council tax this year.  They could only implement that by holding a referendum, which they would hold on the same day as the county council elections.

Then in February, David Hodge, the Leader of Surrey County Council, stated, to some bemusement, that they would not be holding the referendum after all. All became clear when Jeremy Corbyn asked the PM whether a special deal had been done for Surrey. She replied that the matter was entirely up to the Council. Corbyn then read out leaked texts from Hodge to a civil servant in the Department of Communities and Local Government.

I am advised that DCLG officials have been working on a solution. You will be contacting me to agree a memorandum of understanding.

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LibLink: David Laws – UK reaches socially acceptable limits of austerity

David Laws has written an article in the Financial Times, but you have to be a subscriber to read it.  We will give you a flavour of the piece here so you can decide whether to subscribe (the trial version is £1 for 4 weeks).

In May 2010, as the chief secretary in the UK’s coalition government, I warned that the choices available to us in Britain’s biggest postwar spending squeeze lay between the unpalatable and the disastrous, and that we were moving from an age of plenty to an age of austerity.

It has not been a bad prediction, by political standards.

At that time, public sector austerity was both necessary and deliverable. Necessary, because our budget deficit was an eye-watering £163bn, in excess of 10 per cent of gross domestic product. Deliverable, because the UK had only just ended an unprecedented expansion of public spending under the Blair and Brown governments.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged and | 23 Comments

LibLink: Catherine Bearder on World Wildlife Day

 

I’m afraid we didn’t mark World Wildlife Day on LDV last Friday. Fortunately our MEP Catherine Bearder did in an engaging post covering the top wildlife wins and losses in the past year.

She writes:

2016 was a historic year in the global fight against wildlife crime. From the ivory bans to the new CITES protection for over 500 species – there is a lot we can be proud of.

But we would be kidding ourselves if we think the work here is done. Wildlife trafficking is still a top four global criminal activity and the money streams gained from it are often used to fund other illegal operations like arms trafficking and even terrorism.

Wildlife by its nature is unsupervised and therefore vulnerable to the criminal gangs who exploit it for massive profit.

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