Author Archives: Mathew Hulbert

Mathew’s musings…Commentary on this week’s news

A climate of denial

It was good to see former U.S. Vice President Al Gore in the UK yesterday, for the British debut of his new film ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’ and he was touring the broadcast media studios to promote it.

Mr Gore is one of the most knowledgeable and trustworthy non-scientist voices on the impending doom that is man-made climate change and the urgent changes we need to make to stop it.

He’s dedicated his post-political life to raising this worldwide issue and using his significant platform and very high profile to encourage today’s political leaders to ensure it remains at the top-or very near it-of the agenda.

Sadly, due to Brexit and the ‘election’ of Donald Trump, this most important issue we all face-impending and potentially life-threatening catastrophic global warming-has increasingly been an also-ran in our political debate and news agenda.

That’s why this latest film from Gore and his team-a follow-up to his 2006 documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’-couldn’t be timelier or more needed.

In an interview with the excellent LBC mid-morning presenter James O’Brien yesterday Gore alleged that the BBC are ‘Climate Change deniers’ due to them embracing a ‘false equivalency’ between experienced and knowledgeable experts on the subject-such as himself-and those he alleges (and it’s hard to disagree with him) of being deniers…such as former Chancellor of the Exchequer Lord Nigel Lawson.

The ‘Today’ programme team, on BBC Radio 4, put Lawson up against Gore yesterday morning…as if they are both of equal standing on the issue when they quite clearly are not.

As I pointed out in a recent piece in The New European newspaper, by seeking ‘balance’ BBC News (and, to be fair, other broadcasters) often actually give greater weight to one side/point of view than its merits deserves.

They skew true debate.

This is one such case.

95-plus per cent of climate scientists agree that the global warming we’re experiencing is down to the actions and gross irresponsibility of human beings.

How dare the BBC give equal weight, respectability and air-time to echo-chambers of the tiny minority who try and argue that climate change isn’t man-made?

I’m all for the representations of minorities, usually, but, in this case, the BBC is deeply irresponsible for creating an equivalency which demonstrably doesn’t exist.

Do I think the BBC is institutionally climate change denying? No, I don’t.

But do I think they need to look seriously and urgently at their version of ‘balance’? Yes, I very much do.

Climate change is real. It is, overwhelmingly, caused by the actions of human beings. We, all of us and especially political leaders and governments, must do all in our power to stop it.

Before it’s too late.

Doing sweet FA

Last weekend I watched an excellent-but soul-destroying documentary on BBC Two (I love the BBC, by the way, I just get annoyed when it lets itself down…re my commentary above.)

It saw the former Welsh rugby captain Gareth Thomas, a hero of mine who I was fortunate to meet a number of years ago, one of the first UK professional sportsmen to come out as gay, exploring homophobia in football and what, if anything is being done to stop it.

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Mathew’s Musings – commentary on this week’s news

No s***, Brexit

This week, two significant individuals have told various truths about the impending catastrophe that is Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union and have both faced ridicule and scorn for daring to do so.
Firstly Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, expressed the statement of the obvious that uncertainty due to Brexit is already having a negative effect on the UK’s economy.

Well, no s*** Sherlock.

The growth forecast has been revised down and the pound has fallen.

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Mathew’s Musings -commentary on this week’s news

Fifty years on

As many (if not all) of you will know, this week marks fifty years since the partial decriminalization of homosexuality.

As an out and proud gay man, it is humbling to remember the efforts of so many people…most of whom didn’t live to feel the joy of (near) equality but who nonetheless kept up the fight and the campaigning in the hope that future generations of gay and bi men and women would.

I shed a few tears this week thinking of all the people who were demonized, criminalized, abused, and died, just because of who they they were and who they loved.

There’s still much more to do, of course, from doing more to tackle homophobic bullying in schools, to further acceptance in institutions such as the Church, recognition and rights for non-binary individuals, and further rights and equality for Transgender people.

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Mathew’s Musings -commentary on this week’s news

Our new leader

I wish Vince all the luck in the world, in what is one of the most demanding jobs in politics today…ensuring we get enough coverage to break through and continue the Lib Dem Fightback which Tim Farron made a such a good start on during his time in the top job.

There’s no doubt that Vince has pretty good name recognition among the general public (for a politician, anyway) and is clearly a trusted voice on the economy, something which hasn’t always been the case for our leaders.

As the star of a past Christmas edition of Strictly Come Dancing, we can but hope that Strong and Cable Vince will glide across the political scene and ensure that liberalism and social democracy not only survive but thrive in the form of the Liberal Democrats in the years ahead.

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Tories downgrade youth policy

I was astonished and saddened to discover this week that the Government appears to have downgraded the importance it gives to Youth Policy.

The ministerial role in which Youth Policy is included, the Civil Society brief, has been moved by no-mandate Prime Minister Theresa May from the Cabinet Office to the so-called ministry of fun, the Department of Culture of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS.)

When based at the Cabinet Office, youth policy was at the heart of government.

Now, of course, this didn’t by any means guarantee good decision-making on youth-related issues and, indeed, I disagreed strongly (and continue to do so) with the Tories doing virtually nothing to safeguard the future of vitally-needed out-of-school youth services and the role of professional youth workers.

But I think it a clear downgrading of youth policy that it’s been moved to DCMS.

Youth Policy, by its very nature, covers a full range of issues and to see it moved to a ministry whose sole focus is culture, media and sport (as important as all three are) means, to me at least, that youth issues are set to be all-but forgotten by this government.

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Cuts to youth services? You couldn’t make it up


You really couldn’t make it up.

A senior Tory Cabinet member has bemoaned a local Council for making cuts to its Youth Service.

Iain Duncan Smith, yes the Work and Pensions Secretary, who according to reports believes people with debilitating and life-limiting illnesses can still work, has told a local newspaper that the “vitally important” provision must be saved. Read the story here.

I think the nail has finally been hammered in to irony’s coffin and it is being lowered into the ground.

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It’s high time this government acted to save vitally-needed youth services

I was very proud, at our party’s Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, to move a motion calling for revitalised and refunded youth services (things such as youth clubs, outdoor education, youth advice/information and so on) and supported the amendment to the motion which called for the funding of these services to be placed onto a statutory footing.

I was very proud of our party when the motion (as amended) was given unanimous support by Conference.
This helped to reinforce previous party youth policy which, in large part, is thanks to the work of my friend and colleague Linda Jack who has many, many years of experience in the youth and youth work sector.

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