Author Archives: Linda Jack

Opinion: What’s worse than a watery grave?

The news this week has been dominated by the horrendous tragedies of over 1000 deaths in the Mediterranean. With the notable exception of the vile Katie Hopkins, this tragedy has moved the hardest hearts, not least because of the number of children who have died.

For me it’s far closer to home and I confess I have spent the last couple of days fighting back the tears. I have the enormous privilege of caring for two children who made that same journey. And the danger for them didn’t begin when they climbed into a rickety boat, it began as they crossed the Sahara, in cars carrying maybe 30 passengers, many hanging on to the outside, where if one of them fell off they would be left to die in the scorching sand. Or in the insanitary, cruel and overcrowded cells of a Libyan detention centre.  And then, having reached ‘safety’ sleeping rough and eating out of bins while all around you people are dying.

As a family we have heard the horrendous stories of the children who are now part of our family, neither of them knowing where their birth families are, both very clear that they were prepared to take the risk to get here because the alternative was worse. Both now lauded by their schools for being role models for other students with their diligence, good humour and determination to succeed.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 20 Comments

Change: How?

change howAt a time when many of us activists complain about apathy and the electorate complains about us ‘all being the same’, we see UKIP winning the Euros, a huge turn out in the Scottish Referendum, the Greeks electing Syriza, the Spanish enthralled by Podemos and Marine Le Pen taking ground in France.

For me this is an obvious symptom of a largely elitist political system, itself often controlled by powerful vested interests, leaving ordinary people feeling disempowered and disaffected. For some the answer is to join Russell Brand in his protest non vote, for others it is to vote for parties that will give the incumbents a kicking, will offer hope that maybe things could be different.

Posted in News | Tagged | 12 Comments

Remembering Sarah – Thanking Nick

Almost two years ago I arrived home in the early hours from the Children and Young People Awards, to see the lights on. My stomach hit the floor – if my daughter was still up something was wrong. I was right – my sister Sarah had been found dead in her house, suspected suicide. Members in Watford will know Sarah as one of their deliverers, two weeks before she died she was out with me delivering for the PCC elections in Bedfordshire. But Sarah had one of the most painful illnesses known to man or woman – she was bi-polar and schizophrenic. She was also one of the most loving people you would ever meet, a carer all her life, a house always full of children, especially those who she thought needed feeding! However, her illness led to so much misunderstanding and prejudice, and even for someone like me – trying to get her the right care was like banging your head against a brick wall.

Posted in News | 12 Comments

Opinion: A constitutional convention: If not now, when?

As a Jack I owe my life and heritage to Scotland. I totally understood why so many Scots voted yes, but the thought of losing Scotland also filled me with dread. However, whichever side of the debate you sat, I hope we can all agree that the positive outcomes for all of us have been the revitalising of politics in Scotland and the reopening of the question of how as a United Kingdom we should constitute ourselves. We saw graphically the power of having a say in something that really matters. No, the electorate are not apathetic, they are disillusioned and cynical. I don’t think I have ever been out canvassing without at least one comment of “you’re all the same” – to which my reply is generally “if we were all the same why on earth would I be in the Lib Dems?”  We now have a great opportunity to demonstrate that difference, to lead the debate in response to the events of last week.

So, as the call is growing stronger for a Constitutional Convention, I firmly believe this is an issue we as a party should and must take a lead on. Unlock Democracy, the Electoral Reform Society and others including the Labour and Green parties, are  calling for a citizen led convention. In my view such a convention must tackle not only the relationship between our four nations and devolution of power from the centre, but also electoral and Lords reform. This is our bread and butter – our opportunity to kill more than a few birds with one stone! For too long reform has been slow and piecemeal. Despite the clear disaffection of so many, the political elite continue to drag their collective ‘vested interest’ hobnail boots. Remember the man in his 70s who was voting for the first time in Scotland?Despite the clear interest and engagement of the people when they have the chance to vote for something that really matters, the threat that this always poses to those who already have power limits progress.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 42 Comments

Opinion: Reaching out to young people

I’ve just submitted an article for the ‘Youth 100’ for this year. I’m honoured to have been asked to contribute to the publication, still regarded as a national expert on youth issues. Having spent most of my career working with or on behalf of young people I am constantly exercised about how we as a party connect with them. Post tuition fees – how do we once again become the party of choice for young people?

It’s not easy, but I think the popular brands I’ve been reflecting on this week have some lessons for us. Among other things, …

Posted in News | 8 Comments

Opinion: Post Rennard, what should the party do?

Liberal Democrat badge - Some rights reserved by Paul Walter, Newbury, UKThe news that Lord Rennard has been welcomed back into the fold has engendered both despair and joy across the party. Those who ‘never understood what the fuss was all about’, those who are no longer sure they want to be part of a party that doesn’t appear to live its values.  Lester Holloway, among others, offers an excellent analysis of the wider implications.

I have made no secret of my disappointment about the way this case has …

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged , and | 43 Comments

Linda Jack writes… Why I am standing for Party President

linda-jack-6I believe passionately in our party and in spreading a progressive liberal message, so when I recently received a call to be part of a Newsnight panel discussing welfare policy, it was an opportunity to make the most of.  What surprised me was the level of support and number of approaches I then received from fellow Lib Dems up and down the country, asking whether I would consider standing for Party President.

As our party faces many new challenges, the role of Party President has never been more critical. It is essential that our leadership, HQ, members and supporters are all better connected. Our strength nationally is fundamentally dependent on our strength locally in communities across the nations and regions of the UK. I believe sincerely in rebuilding the trust and confidence of our members and supporters in order to deliver the positive vision we hold for society. I believe we CAN reconnect with those who supported us in the past, renew our collective vision for the future and ensure mutual respect between leadership and membership.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 53 Comments
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    @Glenn, UKIP might be a threat to some Labour seats but they have no chance of unseating the Tories. The government needs to delay brexit...
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    Christopher You might be right, but consolidating or not, it's still the worlds largest bank spending 400 million dollars on a new office block in...
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    I have come to see that 3-member STV (which I know is smaller constituencies than many would prefer in this party) could be quite workable...
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    Article 50 http://archive.is/ItEss
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    If anybody knows about dirty tricks it is Alistair!
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    Conor McGovern - Not necessarily. That's down to how the profits are allocated between profits on the one hand and wages/salaries on the other. However,...
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