Author Archives: Mark Valladares

Venezuela – a failure wrought by paranoia and a cause without much principle

It is noticeable that Venezuela is prominent in the British media at the moment. To be honest, the chaos of a typical Latin American banana republic seldom causes such interest, but given the links between the Venezuelan Government and Jeremy Corbyn, its failure is a convenient stick to beat him with.

And let’s be honest, things are bad there. I had the opportunity to go to Caracas in December 2015, when things were already falling apart, inflation was spiralling and the bolivar was on its way to toilet paper status. At that point, the government had stopped publishing most economic data – it was pretty meaningless anyway – and had acknowledged its exchange rate difficulties by offering an alternative exchange rate for tourists.

The official rate was six bolivars to the dollar. As a tourist, you could legally get two hundred bolivars to the dollar. The black market, usually a fair judge of reality, was offering eight hundred bolivars to the dollar. And, as the largest bank note in circulation was a one hundred bolivar note, you can easily imagine what that meant in terms of carrying money.

So, why are things so bad in Venezuela? Firstly, the economy is almost entirely underpinned by oil exports (which represented 96% of total exports) and when the price of crude fell, GDP fell catastrophically. A market economy can adjust to that, albeit painfully. Sadly for the Venezuelan people, they have a government which not only doesn’t believe in markets, it doesn’t appear to understand them either.

Posted in Europe / International, News and Op-eds | Tagged and | 30 Comments

Here, there and everywhere – a report back from Federal International Relations Committee…

So, (some of) you very kindly voted for me last year to serve for three years as a member of Federal International Relations Committee. And, as promised, I am reporting back on what I’ve done, as well as making a few comments on our recent meeting on 13 July.

I’ve spent much of the first half of 2017 bringing the Committee up to constitutional speed. I produced our first Standing Orders in January, and have since amended them to create some formal process for selecting our candidates for positions on the Bureaux of Liberal International and the ALDE Party, following …

Posted in Europe / International, News and Party policy and internal matters | Tagged | Leave a comment

ALDE Party Council review: meanwhile, in Europe…

On Saturday, the European liberal family gathered in the Slovene capital, Ljubljana, to compare notes and to start the process of preparation for the 2019 European Parliamentary elections. It offers your correspondent an opportunity for reflection and, if you’ll excuse me, more than a hint of regret.

But first, what will be happening? The ALDE Party Bureau have appointed Taavi Roivas, the former Prime Minister of Estonia, to chair a ten member Manifesto Committee, whose task it will be to gather evidence and ideas from across Europe and beyond the narrow confines of …

Posted in Europe / International and News | Tagged and | 4 Comments

Liberal International: meanwhile, in a small country far away…

Good morning, and welcome to Liberal Democrat Voice’s coverage of the 70th Anniversary Congress of Liberal International from sunny Andorra.

Liberals from around the world have gathered in the Co-Principality to talk about human rights, debate the big global issues of the day, elect a new Bureau and, most importantly, formally adopt a newly-updated “Liberal Manifesto” which aims to express how liberal values and ideas are relevant in a rapidly changing world. For, whilst policies are forever evolving in the face of events, values offer insight into the types of solutions on offer.

The …

Posted in Europe / International and News | Tagged | 2 Comments

It’s time to stand up for what we believe in… a manifesto is launched

Tonight, at an event in London’s East End, Tim Farron formally launched the Party’s manifesto for the General Election. This is what he had to say…

A couple of weeks ago, in Kidlington near Oxford, I met a guy called Malcolm. I say met…he came up to me in the street and started shouting at me.

You might have seen it on the news. Or the Internet.

In the end we actually got along. But he was angry with me for not getting behind Theresa May and backing Brexit. I think I calmed him down a bit when we spoke, but

Posted in News | 25 Comments

Yesterday’s Press releases in review – 5 May 2017

We took a day off yesterday, due to the absence of releases on polling day, so it’s time to get back into the groove…

Lib Dems respond to leaked Govt plans for new mass surveillance powers

The government has secretly drawn up details of new bulk surveillance powers under the Investigatory Powers Act, according to leaked documents obtained by The Register. According to the documents all communications companies would be obliged to provide real-time access to the full content of any named individual within 24 hours, including encrypted content.

The Investigatory Powers Act was passed last year, after Labour failed to join the …

Posted in News | Tagged | 6 Comments

Yesterday’s Press Releases in review – 3 May 2017

Yes, it’s polling day for many of our readers, including here in Suffolk, where I’m our candidate in the evocatively named Upper Gipping division. It’s a river, by the way. Good luck to everyone, be it as candidate, agent, activist or supporter. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

Here, again, are some of the press releases not covered elsewhere on our pages that were issued yesterday…

Lamb: IFS figures reveal both health and social care spending to fall per person

Both health and social care spending per person are set to fall in the coming years under current government plans, analysis by the Institute …

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  • User AvatarTony Greaves 20th Aug - 2:29pm
    I am not sure that the EU "has to discover anything the hard way". None of this is of their doing and they don't really...
  • User Avatarfrankie 20th Aug - 2:27pm
    Translation of Davies plea for the brave Brexiteers it is not "Strong and stable, man in control" it's "SOS help me can't you see I'm...
  • User AvatarCatherine Jane Crosland 20th Aug - 2:11pm
    Interesting that Vince has chosen to set his novel in a post brexit Britain!
  • User AvatarYellowSubmarine 20th Aug - 1:55pm
    Davis wanted talks about exit arrangements and a future trade deal running together. To me this seems like a perfectly reasonable approach. As the brexit...
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 20th Aug - 12:04pm
    The England team should look to improve before the tour of Australia. Boycott says they need to defend better, so that former captain Cook has...
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 20th Aug - 11:59am
    England 514 for 8, Windies 168 and 137. England win by an innings and 209 runs. Edgbaston sold out for three days, best not to...