Author Archives: Karen Wilkinson

Opinion: Campaign against school attendance policy update

With the fining of Stewart & Natasha Sutherland this week, an update on the campaign to reverse the changes to the attendance policy (see my previous article).

Emma Whiting’s e-petition to 10 Downing St gained almost 50,000 signatures and closed before most parents were aware of the forthcoming changes. Craig Langman, finding himself unable to sign it in September, put up a members’ petition on 38 degrees and it went viral, gaining 127,000 signatures within a few weeks without any media coverage or promotion by 38 degrees. It now has 190,000 signatures. We delivered it to a nervous …

Posted in News | Tagged and | 41 Comments

Opinion: New policy on school attendance is illiberal

I owe Labour an apology for labelling the push a few years ago to reduce Heads’ discretion on family holidays as ”Nanny State”: no consultation with parents, just an assumption that only the state & education system could be trusted with a child’s best interests. There was a parent rebellion at our local primary school.

Nanny has now been replaced by the Patriarchal State  in an approach that implies “As some pupils have been skiving, the whole school will be kept in.”

As of this September, approval of all family holidays during term time is banned other than in “exceptional” circumstances. …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 37 Comments

Opinion: Aspiration exasperation

inspiration - Some rights reserved by h.koppdelaneyI love Friday nights. They keep me grounded and motivated simultaneously, they’re the week’s reset button. The fact they usually involve the pub and a reasonable amount of alcohol is completely coincidental.

I’ve been um-ming and ah-ing for ages over an article for LibDem Voice along the lines of “Aspiration Exasperation”. Politicians talk about aspiration easily enough but it bothers me. Aspiration for what? What I take from it – and I would be delighted to hear I’m wrong on this – is that they mean aspiration …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 9 Comments

Opinion: The hidden costs of pushing parents to conform

I heard odd things yesterday.  Talk of getting women back into the workplace by subsidising childcare for all parents – and this after means testing child benefit.

Then someone proposed that all child carers should have good GCSE Maths & English whilst increasing ratios! How did the human race survive before academic qualifications? Here we have another narrowing of work opportunities for people who are not so hot at academic stuff.

To add to my indignation, I heard someone say on the radio that only working parents provide a positive role model  for children and that “non-working” parents don’t contribute to the …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 14 Comments

Opinion: Formulaic differentation of the Lib Dems?

In the never ending quest to differentiate the LibDems , I’ve developed the following formula for use in the pub on a Friday night, whilst chatting over the veg in the local shop, or wherever else the question arises (my previous longer-winded attempt on a beach is here):

Labour = social conscience plus authoritarianism

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 22 Comments

Opinion: Conference showed Liberal Democrat heart, soul and backbone

I joined the Liberal Democrats in 2009 in the fug of the expenses and media scandals. The media wasn’t giving me a window, just leading me into a maze of distorted mirrors. With a slap to the forehead, it finally dawned on me that democracy is not something we wait to have thrust upon us at an election every 4-5 years, but something which we do. If I wanted to find out what was going on, I would have to go and look for myself. And if I wanted to change any of it, I would have to put my …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 17 Comments

The stimulus of applying for low-carbon community funding

Today will see the announcement of the successful applicants to the first round of LEAF funding from the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC). Congratulations to all!

I’m involved in a bid to be submitted on Friday, so I appreciate the work it took to get the bids in on time. We’re undertaking three months’ work in as many weeks, I’m told.

LEAF is the “Local Energy Assessment Fund” – a.k.a. loose change DECC found in its trousers pockets before the year-end wash. It was announced in December with two bid rounds. It’s £10 million for …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

Opinion: Legal Aid – the new NHS?

The aspect of Conference I most value is the opportunity to hear first hand from Ministers, MPs and Lords the thought processes and details of what we are doing in Government and to see them listen to the feedback from those who are delivering the relevant services on the ground.

A fringe debate on the NHS I attended this week was a great example of that – an open, constructive, intelligent exchange of differing views which left a clear sense that our party in government is listening and acting and has a plan.

Contrast that with the fringe meeting convened by

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 6 Comments

Opinion: What’s your prism?

The perennial question cropped up again the other day, on the beach this time: “What do the LibDems stand for?” I replied that the Tories and Labour view British society through the same prism of class or socio-economic groups, but that the LibDems see individuals.

We don’t believe that your gender, the colour of your skin, religion, social background, the number of parents you have, your weight or body shape or ability, your education level or bank balance say anything at all about your compassion, your willingness to get involved in your community, your intelligence, your wisdom, your sense of humour, …

Posted in Op-eds | 11 Comments



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  • User AvatarJohnTilley 23rd Apr - 6:34pm
    For people who think nuclear is a cheap or green way to generate electricity ask yourself why since 26th April 1986 the UK Government has...
  • User Avatarjedibeeftrix 23rd Apr - 6:08pm
    "There are more jobs in sectors, like science and research that are funded by the EU (€80bn of EU funds will go into science in...
  • User AvatarTheresa-1 23rd Apr - 5:21pm
    Backing British manufacturing makes sense. Restoring a manufacturing based economy rather than placing reliance on the financial services “industry” is likely to be more sensible...
  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 23rd Apr - 4:58pm
    @ John Dunn, What I fail to understand is, if you are not MEPs to participate in the EU or fix it, how can you...
  • User Avatarterry 23rd Apr - 4:31pm
    All very well green but green tooooooo expensive and wont solve our energy needs and as for environment negligible UK wise and minuscule world wise
  • User Avatarmatt 23rd Apr - 4:02pm
    @RC No I do not think a survey sample of 1% of the working age population is an efficient way to measure employment. So you...