Author Archives: Katharine Pindar

Tim’s resignation: Wrong reasoning, wrong cause, wrong result

There is a clear irony in this car-crash. Prejudice against Tim’s supposed prejudices appears to have led to his resignation. Since he neither expressed such prejudices, nor, if he had them, allowed them to influence in the slightest his work as Liberal Democrat MP and Leader, what he has experienced is itself prejudice, an attack on his freedom of thought.

It seems a disgrace that he should have been confronted by senior party figures and asked to resign, apparently because of the supposed views which he has not expressed. It was unfair, and the more so since the delegation to him was apparently of unelected peers accountable to nobody, overriding the wishes of members who had elected him.

To the watching world it looks as if he has been forced out on the basis of aspects of his Christian faith. So, whether from an internal or external viewpoint, our party grandees seem to have acted from prejudice, rather than supporting the leader over the media voices which have tormented him with persistent, intrusive but irrelevant questioning.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 133 Comments

‘Fiery Farron’ will fight false Mayism – but so may leading Tories

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron was given a new title by the Mail on Sunday. Under the striking large-caps headline, THE WRATH OF FIERY FARRON, Tim was reported as  fired up to denounce the Tory manifesto declaration that the value of people’s homes will be taken into account in future to help pay for extensive home care. People will only be able to safeguard £100,000 of their total assets, including their home. ‘If you have dementia’, Tim is said to have told the Mail journalist Simon Walters, ‘Theresa May is coming for you. Your house is up for grabs.’ He said it showed the hardness of May and her party. ‘She’s making the Tories nastier than ever.’

This is the Prime Minister who pledged herself when taking office last July to ‘a vision of a country that works not for the privileged few but that works for every one of us.’ Here is a May policy which seems likely to dismay every modest home-owner in England and Wales who contemplates retirement without much other wealth, in fear now that the lottery of life may make them or their partner housebound with long-term illness.

Mayism in practice already seems far from the Prime Minister’s vision. Inflation has reached its highest level in almost four years, with consumer prices at 2.7% now rising faster than earnings at 2.3%. As always, it will be the poorest families who suffer most, with the greater part of their income going on necessities including food and energy. And there is no relief proposed in the Tory manifesto for families on frozen or reduced benefits, already suffering from the government’s austerity programme. Instead, pensioners will lose the present guarantee of a 2.5% annual rise in their pensions, and primary-school children are to be denied their nutritious free school lunches, reversing policies initiated by the Liberal Democrat ministers in the Coalition government.

Posted in News | 15 Comments

The country goes a-Maying now, but is being led a merry dance

England has a long tradition of May Queens, but never before had a May who sometimes acts like a queen. ‘This is the most important election in my lifetime’ she insisted to Andrew Marr on one of his Sunday-morning BBC 1 shows.  ‘It’s about the future of the country and about the national interest’. She made plain her belief that to get the ‘tough’ Brexit negotiations right the country needs her in charge, which will also ensure a strong economy and ‘a country that works for everyone’.

She put over the same message even more explicitly on a visit to Scotland on April 30, stating that ‘every vote for me and my team will strengthen the Union, strengthen the economy, and the UK and Scotland together will flourish’.

Her messages are evidently working, as the local election results seem to show. The tide of approval and trust evidenced by comments of ordinary people who may never have voted Tory before almost suggests a developing cult status for her. When she held that queenly audience outside No.10 to announce that ‘some in Brussels’ want to sabotage Brexit, try to affect the election result and harm the UK, she was not noticeably received with incredulous laughter. Her words were not generally regarded either as paranoid or manipulative, but instead brought solemn head-shaking about our erstwhile friends apparently becoming enemies, in a newly Manichean view of Europe.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 27 Comments

Of eggs hatching, plants springing up, and polls rising for us

 

Easter is a time of new beginnings, wrote my local Vicar in his April newsletter. New beginnings for whom? I wondered. If the followers of a 2000-year-old religion can talk about new beginnings, can there be anything in the idea for the rather younger Liberal Democrats?

This is a time of working and waiting, for us – working for the May elections and waiting for Brexit-related developments. But could this be a pregnant pause, with our party about to burst into new life after the nine-month post Referendum hard grind? I believe so.

What strikes me first about this time is the sound of silence. All the fierce denunciations by Brexiteers of supposed backsliding by Remainers (who actually thought they were lucky to get a word in edgeways) has ceased. The angry headlines in the right-wing press, stirring up ordinary folk to stay agitated about immigrants and Brussels and rulings by foreign courts or even our own – all gone.

The intimidation of Remainers had its effects. Canvassing in Gorton last Saturday, I didn’t quite convince a young man who believes we are right in our demands over Brexit and for a referendum on the final deal, will vote for Jackie Pearcey but feels May is too entrenched with too many backers for our national aims to succeed. He had evidently been silenced by the angry clamour which claimed to represent that elusive ‘will of the people’, who ‘wanted their country back’.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 40 Comments

Now we must stand firm, and proclaim our own powerful vision.

So we come to the crunch. We have voted against triggering Article 50 in both the Commons and the Lords. We are being attacked, as Tim Farron was on Radio 4’s Any Questions last Friday night, for being anti-democratic.

I have read this accusation many times here on Liberal Democrat Voice. I have occasionally heard it on Copeland doorsteps too, during the recent by-election. No amount of pointing out, as Tim did again that night, that the people who voted Leave in the Referendum had not voted to leave the EU Single Market has cut much ice with those voters who simply demand, ‘We voted to leave – get on with it!’  Theresa May’s government will shortly obey them.

Were we wrong in what we insisted on? And if so, are our electoral chances being harmed by that public perception? Maybe the latest Tory wins in local elections, maybe the commanding Tory lead in the opinion polls, maybe the too-few votes for us in the recent by-elections – perhaps they all had some small connection with public disagreement over our known stance. Could that be the case?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 7 Comments

This is our time now: a time for assertiveness and for anger

This country deserves better than to be ruled as it is by an Alice–in-Wonderland government, feebly countered by a Humpty-Dumpty official opposition.

I am angry that, as a result, in my neighbouring Copeland constituency our Liberal Democrat candidate Rebecca Hanson was sidelined by the clash of these tottering Titans. Of course she did well to double our share of the vote and beat the hollow UKIP, but not nearly as well as such an excellent standard-bearer deserved.

Instead the representative of this uncaring, and ultimately incompetent government of ours went to Westminster.

The Liberal Democrat campaign in Copeland was focused. ‘Who is fighting hard Brexit?’ demanded one leaflet, which explained how the Liberal Democrats are the only party fighting to protect jobs, jeopardised by the Conservative plan to leave the Single Market. Rebecca’s support for the further investment in the local nuclear industry was there, with back-up details.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 77 Comments

Campaigning in Copeland

In Copeland we’re energetically getting on with promoting our excellent candidate, Rebecca Hanson in the by-election which takes place on 23 February. Willing helpers are flocking to this huge constituency. There is immense Facebook support, but the pleasures of reaching out to the towns and villages between the fells and the sea are considerable, so we invite many more of you to come to share them with us in the next, crucial, ten days.

Yesterday morning Roger Putnam, Vice-Chair of our Copeland and Workington Executive, and I managed to beat the rain, leafletting in Seascale in the south-west of the constituency under only a slight drizzle. This was our third visit to Seascale, delivering the Health Facilities survey, a second  leaflet, and now the tabloid glossy proclaiming, Rebecca Hanson and the Liberal Democrats. Fighting to protect local jobs from hard Brexit, improve local schools and safeguard our NHS.

A lone Tory was out at the same time, delivering an eight-page A4 breezily entitled Cumbria View, of uncertain purpose. As with the Labour Party here, it feels as if the Conservatives are relying on past loyalties for their votes. Well, we aim to bring the focus firmly into the present. For a start, Rebecca seems to be winning the leaflet contest; the house porches blossomed with orange leaflets, the freepost delivery having just arrived as well.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 13 Comments
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