Author Archives: Joe Otten

Iconic coalition era building demolished

Do you remember the days when many an urgent TV news interview on the state of the nation was conducted in a plumbers’ yard? The yard contained the constituency office of Nick Clegg MP, and before him Richard Allan MP. Nick moved out around a year ago to a nearby alternative, and this morning on the school run I saw …

To be honest, even when standing it wasn’t much prettier than this. But the office was unpretentiously a place of ordinary decent hard work, at the heart of the community, next door to a church and a primary school. And it has years of memories for Sheffield Liberal Democrats.

Posted in News | 3 Comments

UK Ambassador to the EU resigns

Sir Ivan Rogers, the UK’s ambassador to the European Union has resigned. Highly experienced and diligent, Rogers was expected to play a key role in the upcoming Brexit negotiations.

Nick Clegg has commented

The resignation of somebody as experienced as Sir Ivan Rogers is a body blow to the Government’s Brexit plans.

I worked for Ivan Rogers in the EU twenty years ago – then he worked for me and the rest of the Coalition Government several years later.

Throughout all that time Ivan was always punctiliously objective and rigorous in all he did and all the advice he provided.

If the reports are true that he has been hounded out by hostile Brexiteers in Government, it counts as a spectacular own goal.

The Government needs all the help it can get from good civil servants to deliver a workable Brexit.

Posted in News | 50 Comments

Michael Wilkinson appointed head of digital content

Telegraph political correspondent and web editor Michael Wilkinson has been appointed as head of digital content at the Liberal Democrats.

Posted in News | 18 Comments

Aleppo must be a wake up call

Amid the humanitarian catastrophe that has been the siege and fall of Aleppo, both supporters and opponents of earlier calls for military action by the West against Assad have been claiming vindication by events. Perhaps some are relieved that the TV pictures of bloodied children in rubble can be attributed to Russian bombs rather than Western ones.

And perhaps we are guilty – as the EU is supposedly guilty of welcoming closer ties with Ukraine – of seeing a potential for good in the Arab Spring. Torment nobody with the promise of freedom and democracy unless you can deliver it, at gunpoint if necessary? Don’t start a civil war you can’t win, however bad your government?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 29 Comments

Jedi is not a religion: official

A ruling from the Charity Commission yesterday, has determined that Jediism, the worship of the mythology of Star Wars, is not a religion. This marks the release of the latest Star Wars film, episode 3.5, Rogue One, which in deference to the Charity Commission’s ruling does not feature (spoilers?) a single proper Jedi Knight, though there is a blind kind-of-Jedi monk, with whom is the force, and who seems to do as much damage with a stick as a proper Jedi does with a light sabre.

I’ll confess I was ignorant that the Charities Commission’s powers and competence extended to determining the validity or frivolity of theological doctrines, and I now look forward to many more theological disputes being settled by the same good people.

Posted in Op-eds | 16 Comments

The other Brexit negotiations plan

There is an ongoing heated debate over how much if anything of her intentions Theresa May will reveal before triggering Article 50. Does she want to stay in the single market? Does she want UK citizens to have any rights (short of complete freedom?) to travel and work in the EU? Does she want to maintain the reciprocal arrangement on health care? Does she want all the policing co-operation to continue (we think so)? Does she want us to stay in the scientific research programmes? Etc. Etc.

This is all in our interests: does a sovereign nation that has taken back control have the right to enter agreements that are in its interests? Yes it does. That’s how we got in to the EU.

Presumably we want out of the Common Fisheries Policy, but some sort of agreement on fisheries will be desirable, to prevent overfishing. (Yes, I know that’s what the CFP is.) And do we want to expropriate the fishing quotas that have been sold by British fishermen to Spaniards? I wouldn’t think so – that’s not how the UK behaves – but in that case, what respite is there for British fishermen?

Posted in Op-eds | 36 Comments

Reaction to Fidel Castro’s legacy

The death of Cuban revolutionary, dictator and hard left cause celebre, Fidel Castro has reopened a debate on his legacy.

Tim Farron released the following statement

There is no doubt that Fidel Castro was a vastly significant 20th century leader, but even as we respectfully acknowledge this on his passing, we must not overlook the appalling human rights abuses including brutal summary executions for which he was responsible

As expected Jeremy Corbyn was among the more fulsome in praise, to objections from progressives:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 46 Comments

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    @Eddie Sammon "The Commons, and definitely not the Lords, won’t vote for hard brexit." I'm not so sure. A parliamentary vote is likely to be...
  • User Avatarmatt 18th Jan - 12:07am
    @Sesenco "Ask yourself why people with higher educational qualifications overwhelmingly voted Remain. Was it because they were all stupid?" What a nasty condescending attitude.. What...
  • User AvatarValko Yotov 18th Jan - 12:01am
    People calm down. There is a good news - It is a long game. Option 1 - May fails to do any negotiation and we...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 17th Jan - 11:45pm
    Thanks Lorenzo. I may do soon-ish. :)
  • User AvatarDJ 17th Jan - 11:32pm
    My initial thoughts are that May is saying, as have others in the months following, that because the Remain campaign told voters that Leave would...
  • User AvatarPeter Watson 17th Jan - 11:25pm
    "he joked that many of us in the audience probably did things that might not be missed by the public if we went on strike"...