Author Archives: NewsHound

Alison Suttie writes…Why shouldn’t 16 year olds vote in the EU Referendum

In the wake of the House of Lords voting to give 16 and 17 year olds the vote in the EU Referendum, Alison Suttie wrote about the debate for the Huffington Post.

It’s fair to say she was unimpressed with the Tories’ arguments against the measure:

Some of the arguments we heard from Tory peers against extending the franchise for the EU referendum last night were truly absurd and were the sort of patronising arguments and attitudes that would not have sounded out of place in the House of Lords a hundred years ago in debates about giving women the right to vote. 16-year-olds are mature enough to work and pay tax. They are mature enough to join the army or get married. Suggesting that they are incapable of understanding political debate is patronising in the extreme.

As a Scot, Alison knows only too well the positive impact 16 and 17 year olds had on the referendum.

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LibLink: Norman Lamb MP: Government must fund equality for mental health

Writing for PoliticsHome, former Liberal Democrat Health Minister Norman Lamb argued that the Government must put its money where its mouth is when it comes to ensuring equality for mental health:

The Spending Review is a critical moment that will shape the Government’s spending for the duration of the Parliament, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer has an opportunity to make a bold statement on the importance of tackling mental illness. I will not be humoured by the warm words for mental health and my efforts as a minister – it’s about time that this Government put their money where their mouth is.

And it isn’t simply a case of investing to improve mental health services or leaving them the way they are. Mental health trusts are under severe financial strain, and last week’s report by the King’s Fund was the latest in a long line of warnings of the impact of neglecting mental health. There is no doubt that services will slip backwards if we do not take urgent action to provide stable funding for mental health, on a par with physical health.

One in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point during their lifetime, and a far greater number will know somebody who is affected.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: This is no time for division. It’s what the extremists want

The appropriate response to events in Paris is the subject of Nick Clegg’s Standard column this week.

With ominous predictability, populists from Nigel Farage to Marine Le Pen are already using the attacks to pursue their long-held ambitions — to turn countries inwards and away from each other.

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Votes at 16 LibLink Special: Tim Farron: If you are old enough to fight, you are old enough to vote

Ahead of the crucial Lords vote this afternoon, Tim Farron has written for the Telegraph about why giving 16 and 17 year olds the vote in the EU Referendum is so important:

He points out the logical flaws in the Government’s stance:

It is striking that the same people who argue people that generations of Brits “haven’t had a say” on the EU are now opposed to giving 16 year olds the right to vote. They seem to want democracy, but only the kind they like – or think will get the result they want.

Sixteen and seventeen year olds will have to live with the consequences of this huge decision for many years to come and to not give them a say, is simply, anti-democratic. This is why I support increasing the franchise.

He highlights the success of the Scottish precedent:

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LibLink: Vince Cable: Britain’s economic recovery is precarious and an economic storm is coming

Vince Cable has form for predicting economic disaster, so you take notice when he says that there could be another one on the horizon, even if he qualifies it with an anecdote from his professional life:

I use the word “could”. I am always mindful of the day 20 years ago when I was greeted in my role as chief economist at Shell with a plaque, in Arabic, which translated meant “Those who claim to be able to forecast the future are lying even if, by chance, they are later proved right”. The reputation of economic forecasting as a science, which makes astrology looks respectable, reflects the same scepticism. And that scepticism was greatly reinforced by a total failure of standard economic models based on efficient financial markets to anticipate the last disaster.

Writing in the Independent, he outlines the factors which could indicate that all is not well: the high level of debt, the asset bubbles which have been created particularly in housing and the international economy, particularly any shock waves from a Chinese slowdown.

One side-effect of keeping economies growing through cheap money and credit creation through quantitative easing has been the generation of asset bubbles, especially in property markets. Britain demonstrates the problem in an extreme way, magnifying underlying imbalances between housing demand and supply. Double-digit housing inflation is not merely creating appalling social problems and division between classes and generations but grossly distorting investment from productive activities to property holding. The Bank of England has tools of macro-prudential management to curb this inflation but the extreme timidity in using them reveals the high level of dependence on this precarious and dangerous form of growth.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: My family are up in arms over ham but I’m raging over sugar

Nick Clegg’s been on a bit of a journey on his views about sugar consumption. In an article for the Evening Standard last week, he outlined the dangers of consuming too much hidden sugar and said that he now favoured strong action to reduce our sugar consumption:

Now, finally, we are beginning to have a proper debate about what we can and should do about it. A recent report by Public Health England proposed a number of measures, as has the ever- compelling Jamie Oliver.

Reducing two-for-one deals, clamping down on advertising targeted at children, reining in the marketing of high-sugar food and drinks, reducing sugar content and portion sizes, and introducing a tax on sugary drinks and food have all been called for.

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Paddy Ashdown on snoopers’ charter: Politicians in a democracy must guard our freedoms

Paddy Ashdown took part in a Guardian Live event the other night, talking to Andrew Rawnsley in Bristol. The subject of the new Investigatory Powers Bill, son of Snoopers’ Charter, came up. Paddy knows about this kind of stuff. He said:

We charge the intelligence services with keeping us safe, so of course they want the maximum amount of power. But the job of a politician in a democracy is to be jealous about giving away those freedoms, and to do so only when it’s necessary. You have to make judgments as to how much infringement of the liberty of

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LibLink: David Laws: George Osborne needs to prove his cuts won’t stall improvement in education

As Schools Minister, David Laws introduced the Pupil Premium, extra money for disadvantaged kids in school to help close the attainment gap.

He has written for the Independent to say that the Government needs to do more to ensure that people have a route out of poverty:

The Government also needs a new drive to raise educational standards, and to keep the focus on improving attainment for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds – those who are much more likely to end up in poverty and on benefits. We are not going to address poverty and create opportunity while 60 per cent of young people from poor households fail even to achieve the old and unambitious target to secure five GCSEs at C grade or higher, including English and Maths. This figure is a national disgrace.

The last Government had a strong record on education – with the introduction of the Pupil Premium, swift action to tackle failing schools, and the clean- up of English’s discredited qualifications system. But there is nothing at all to be complacent about. If the country’s main anti-poverty and pro-opportunity strategy is now to rely on education and work, then we have got to do an awful lot more and more intelligently

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++ Breaking news: Adrian Sanders wins in Torbay


Congratulations to Adrian Sanders, the former MP for Torbay, who won a local council seat in yesterday’s by-election, increasing the percentage of votes from 30% to a stonking 69%.  The by-election followed the sad death of long-standing Lib Dem councillor Ruth Pentney.

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Alex Carlile rejects suggestion support for intelligence agencies may have been influenced by business relationship with ex-spy chief

Alex Carlile has rejected any suggestion his public support for the intelligence agencies may have been influenced by his business relationship with one of the UK’s ex-spy chiefs. Speaking to the Guardian he said:

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Draft Investigatory Powers Bill – the key points and link to the full text

The Guardian has helpfully just published this handy guide to the draft Investigatory Powers Bill, just announced in parliament by Teresa May:

  • Requires web and phone companies to store records of websites visited by every citizen for 12 months for access by police, security services and other public bodies.
photo by: Defence Images
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By-election news – Jane Brophy selected for Oldham West and Royton

jane_brophyThe Lib Dems have selected Jane Brophy as their candidate in the by-election in Oldham West and Royton, caused by the death of Michael Meacher MP. Polling day will be 3rd December.

Although Meacher held the seat in May with a majority of nearly 15,000, the Liberal Democrats ran the council until 2011.  Elections in Oldham tend to be Labour/Lib Dem battles and are often close, so we will be fighting hard in the by-election.

Jane is an experienced campaigner and has been a councillor for over 15 years. She works for the NHS in Greater Manchester.

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What made Norman Lamb threaten to resign?

Norman Lamb tells the Eastern Daily Press that he threatened to resign during his 3 year term as health and social care minister.

The issue was waiting time targets for mental health conditions – and he got his way.

You always had the feeling that Norman knew exactly what he was doing on mental health but never quite knew why. Then in March, the Sunday Mirror revealed that Norman’s son Archie suffers with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This is absolutely not about having all the tins facing the same way or the bed linen straight. It’s a daily nightmare for those people who are enslaved by its rituals which protect them from dark thoughts.

When his son Archie, now 27, was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) 12 years ago, the North Norfolk MP witnessed the problems patients in Norfolk and Suffolk continue to face.

He explained: “As a family we were faced with the problems in Norfolk of long waiting times and told he had to wait six months to start psychological therapies.

“For us that was too long and I gave up on the NHS at that stage. We paid for him to get access to counselling, but I’m acutely aware many people cannot do that. I don’t find that situation tolerable.

“It got to the point where Archie couldn’t walk down the street, he was worried there would be something sharp on the pavement. He found it hard to leave the house. In that situation you are constantly checking things because of the dark thoughts in your mind, which you simply can’t escape from.”

He then talked about the targets he introduced and other things he’d done as health minister:

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LibLink: Tim Farron Why we must stop the Tories hitting the most vulnerable

Tim Farron has shown great self discipline. In an article for the Mirror about this week’s tax credits showdown in the Lords, he turns his fire, rightly, on the Tories. He only slips in one sly dig at Labour:

Sadly Labour wouldn’t support our move to scrap the cuts altogether, but we joined with them to force a delay.

It isn’t ideal, but it is a chance to tell the government it should improve its plans.

If Labour wouldn’t support the move when they are led by a proper leftie, you wonder if they ever would.

Tim looks at why these tax credit cuts are so bad:

These cuts to tax credits hit people exclusively on low pay .

People who are doing the right thing- who are working- but in low paid work.

People who find themselves having to plan their spending carefully- who get to the end of the month and are having to watch where every penny goes.

These are simply the wrong people for the Conservatives to be taking money from.

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LibLink: Cllr Peter Thornton: Harold Macmillan built our house

Peter Thornton is the Liberal Democrat leader of South Lakeland Council. Their area includes Tim Farron’s Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency. Housing has long been one of the priorities of the Liberal Democrat administration. Peter writes for the Huffington Post comparing the current Conservative thinking on housing to that of their predecessors in the 1950s and 1960s. Harold Macmillan built his family home, he said, on the instructions of Winston Churchill:

This was a generation who knew that setting targets and making speeches was not enough to make things happen. Production, supply lines, labour forces, these were also needed to win wars and also to build the homes that we needed.

Macmillan made sure brickworks were at full production, he organised supplies of softwood from abroad and he divided the country into ten regions, each with it’s own targets. He realised that public housing, Council Houses as we all knew them, was the most efficient way to build homes quickly for the people who needed them.

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LibLink: Ed Davey: The Tories are trying to kill off our renewable energy boom

Former Lib Dem Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey has condemned the way that the Conservatives governing alone are trashing all he did to create a boom in clean, planet-saving renewable energy:

My experience as energy and climate change secretary – in the months I spent battling George Osborne over the budget for investment in low carbon, and in the daily attrition with Eric Pickles over onshore wind – was that many Conservatives simply regard their commitment to climate change action as something they had to say to get into power. With some honourable exceptions, most Conservatives I worked with seemed to view Lib Dem green energy policies as part of the political price they paid for the coalition.

Happily, the Conservatives cannot undo much of what the coalition achieved: from the trebling of the UK’s renewable power capacity to the 27 contracts I signed in March for more renewable power plants to be built over the next few years, the Lib Dems’ green legacy stands. I have heard that the chancellor has asked if he can get out of the contracts I signed. But he can’t. So I’m looking forward to Conservative ministers opening onshore and offshore wind farms that I commissioned.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: The Tory assault on housing associations is another betrayal

Nick Clegg has a new regular Evening Standard column and in the latest edition, he talks about housing.

After a look at the history and importance of housing associations, Nick writes about how he and Danny Alexander secured assurances that housing associations would receive support to continue building more houses for rent. These assurances have now been trashed now the Tories have a majority:

Five years ago I dissuaded the Conservatives in Coalition from fiddling with social rents to cut the housing benefit bill because it would have had a disastrous effect on the ability of housing associations to raise the money

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Tim Farron on Swim Deep, Wild Beasts and Everything Everything

Everything Everything @ LatitudeRemember that awkward moment with Ming and the Arctic Monkeys? This is not a problem we’re going to have with Tim Farron. In fact, he’s more likely to introduce us to bands we’ve never heard of. When he took his dog Jasper fell running the other night, he was listening to Everything Everything.

NME have picked up on an interview he did with The Big Issue North in which he talked about his musical tastes:

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Jo Swinson supports size 6 model who was told she was “too big” for her agency

Last week model Charli Howard hit the headlines when she wrote an open letter to her modelling agency who had told her that at a mere size 6, she was too big to work. From the Independent:

“The more you force us to lose weight and be small, the more designers have to make clothes to fit our sizes, and the more young girls are being made ill. It’s no longer an image I choose to represent,” she wrote.

Howard’s letter made headlines globally and comes after a number of models have openly criticised the fashion industry for body-shaming by telling them they need to lose weight.

In yesterday’s Sunday Times (£) former Equalities Minister and Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson was quick to give Charli her support, telling the paper:

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LibLink: Kath Pinnock: Lib Dems have stood up for the needs of very young children

You can sense Kath Pinnock’s frustration about the Government’s Childcare Bill as she outlines how she and the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords tried to force the Government to add some detail into the proposals in an article for Politics Home. It was pretty basic stuff that needed fleshing out as well – like the level of funding available for councils to provide 15 hours of childcare a week. Quality and training standards weren’t outlined – and nor was there even a definition of who was eligible.

Liberal Democrats tabled several amendments to deal with these issues at both Committee stage when debate takes place on the details and at Report stage when the Government is held to account if it hasn’t listened to concerns and made changes. Time and again during detailed debate we challenged the Government Minister to declare the level of funding that would be available. Every time we were told to wait for the announcement from the Chancellor in his funding review in November. And every time, we responded that this was not good enough. We have a responsibility to very young children to make sure there was enough funding for quality childcare. We pushed that to the vote and, with Labour Peers, the Government was defeated.

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In video: Nick Clegg on Newsnight

In case you missed it, here’s Nick Clegg talking on last night’s Newsnight about the EU referendum. When asked whether hope or fear would win the day for the In campaign, he said that the simple fact was that it was in our national interest to be part of the EU.

He also said that he regretted sitting next to David Cameron at PMQs for five years, saying it looked like we were passive rather than architects of many aspects of the government’s programme.

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LibLink: Tim Farron: Cameron and Corbyn stance on Brexit “downright pathetic”

Tim Farron has put up a stonking case for Britain to remain in the EU over on Politics Home and denounced the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition for their stance on the issue:

On my mantelpiece there is an old black and white photo. It’s of my Uncle Morris at 14, the same age as my daughter is today.
It was taken in 1934 and in six years, he was dead, shot down over Beachy Head.

A generation ago there were nuclear weapons pointed at Britain on the soil of countries that today are our partners in the EU. Now we are sitting round a table together.

If these were the only reasons for staying in the EU they would pretty much clinch it for me.

What is the European Union? I’ll tell you – it is the most successful peace process in world history.

As such events show we toy with European disunity at our peril. Being a supporter of the European Union is not always easy. Some of the institutional structures and decision-making are hard to defend – indeed in many cases I wouldn’t want to.

But the case for Europe isn’t about institutions. It’s about partnership with our neighbours. It’s about a vision of how we address the great challenges of the 21st century: economic globalisation and protectionism, resource depletion and climate change, terrorism, crime and war.

After making the case that this is no world for isolationism to be a good idea, he then criticises David Cameron for effectively putting party before country:

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Ten Lib Dem council leaders call for borrowing powers to build council houses

Terraced housing
Ten Liberal Democrat council leaders, including the party’s local government spokesperson Watford Mayor Dorothy Thornhill, have written to the Guardian to call for the government to allow councils to borrow money to build council houses to deal with the “national emergency” in housing provision:

As Liberal Democrat council leaders we are outraged at the government’s short-sightedness in selling off council homes to pay for the right-to-buy extension to housing associations (PM warns councils over housing provision, 12 October). We have a vast shortage of affordable homes, which constitutes nothing short of a national emergency, and yet the government is seeking to make quick financial gains by disposing of properties that could provide much-needed homes for generations. Forcing right to buy on housing associations was the wrong policy before the election and it remains the wrong policy now. Shifting homes from one tenure to another without addressing our failure to build enough homes overall is like rearranging the deckchairs on a sinking ship.

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Major funding boost for ALDC

aldc-logoWe’ve just heard the excellent news that the Association of Liberal Democrats Campaigners and Councillors (ALDC) has been awarded £480,000 from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd (JRRT) .

The funding will be over five years and will expand ALDC’s team of Development Officers. They are the people who travel around the country to help local parties.

We’ve received comments from two Tims.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: Britain should stick to diplomacy if it really wants to help Syria

Nick Clegg has been writing in the Evening Standard about how he think the UK can best help Syria:

The impression the Conservatives seem to give is that they wanted to take military action all along but were thwarted in doing so by the Labour Party — or because they didn’t have a majority in Parliament of their own.

This is not true. The decision not to bomb Syria was taken by Cameron and myself and discussed across both sides of the Coalition. The logic was simple: there was no coherent ground campaign in Syria to which air strikes could usefully contribute.

Posted in News | 6 Comments

LibLink: Tim Farron: Ignore the spin – social housing is still under threat from the Conservatives

Tim Farron has put David Cameron’s new housing policy under the microscope and found it wanting. We should take notice of what he says because he knows a lot about housing, the issue that brought him into politics and has made his number one priority. Writing in the New Statesman, he says:

This is still an economically illiterate and socially divisive policy with devastating consequences, which was flung into the Conservative election campaign in a last minute attempt to grab some votes by invoking memories of Thatcher.

Firstly, selling off housing association homes does nothing to address the national emergency in housing. The huge shortage

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LibLink: Jo Swinson: Shared grandparental leave risks dads missing out

Jo Swinson has cast a critical eye over George Osborne’s plans to extend parental leave to grandparents in an article for Personnel Today.

As minister responsible for introducing shared parental leave just 6 months ago, Jo explained why they hadn’t included grandparents at that time:

When the legislation was being debated in Parliament we looked carefully at extending leave to non-parents, and rejected that change for good reasons. If it is no longer to be about developing parental bonds, then why draw the line at grandparents? Shouldn’t leave then be shareable with aunts, uncles or friends?

Important though other carers and relatives are, parents have a unique role in a child’s life.  Shared parental leave is also about addressing the historical lack of workplace provision for men to fulfil their roles as fathers.

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LibLink: Tim Farron: The Tory conference is ignoring the humanitarian crisis unfolding on our doorstep

Tim Farron has written for the Independent about how the Tory Conference is ignoring the humanitarian crisis. This was written at the same time as Liberal Democrat Chief Whip went to Calais with a car full of items donated by Liberal Democrat staff.

They will say, over and over, that Jeremy Corbyn will bankrupt your country, steal your job and surrender to Britain’s enemies. They might even have a go at him for not singing the national anthem. And while I might agree that the Islington North MP lives in an economic fantasy land – a land far removed from fiscal reality – these Tory tactics are a smokescreen; and not a particularly sophisticated one. You can bet your bottom dollar they won’t be talking about the biggest single issue facing Europe today – the refugee crisis.

They will simply not discuss developing a proper international plan to help the hundreds of thousands of migrants scattered across Europe or the millions of people trapped in Middle Eastern tented camps. But with this help and support must come a diplomatic strategy to deal with nations like Syria whose barbaric civil war is uprooting millions of people.

Diplomacy is not done at the barrel of a gun or from 30,000 feet it is done by supporting moderate opposition and working with regional actors to make sure we do not play into the IS narrative. Together with a humanitarian response must come a diplomatic strategy. One strand cannot work without the other.

He outlined the action he wants to see:

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LibLink – Giles Wilkes: £93bn of corporate welfare? What nonsense

Giles Wilkes, who was a special adviser to Vince Cable and chief economist at CentreForum, is now a leader writer at the Financial Times (which usually charges an online subscription). One of his recent editorials has been transferred to the free blog section so we are able to bring it to you.

Labour should be wary of giving credence to a very suspect number.

The £93bn figure now routinely used to evaluate the scale of “corporate welfare” in Britain is badly misleading. If the Labour Party is to re-establish its economic credibility, it needs to give the number a very wide berth.

First of all, the very concept of “corporate welfare” is tricky and question-begging. When applied to individuals, welfare is easy to understand – it means payments from the state provided on the basis of need.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged and | 42 Comments

Catherine Bearder to Nigel Lawson: Pulling out of the EU would mean losing power and influence over our future

Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder has written to the Times (£) to respond to Nigel Lawson’s article which argued that the UK should leave the EU:

She wrote:

Sir, Lord Lawson’s argument for EU exit may be eloquent but it is fanciful. It is true that the 19 countries of the eurozone are going to have to move closer together. But that makes it even more imperative that Britain, as the financial capital of Europe, defends its economic interests in the EU’s single market as a whole.

Half of our exports go to the rest of Europe and even if we were

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarHuw Dawson 26th Nov - 11:37pm
    I am deeply unhappy about our likely involvement in the oncoming campaign in Syria - but given that Labour is about to eat its own...
  • User AvatarGeorge Kendall 26th Nov - 11:34pm
    @Jonathan Brown Me too. I like being in a broad church. At the moment, I'm describing myself as a Social Democrat, because I think that...
  • User AvatarPeter Hayes 26th Nov - 11:09pm
    A question he might ask, can the Prime Minister confirm that expanding the air war will not reduce the air support to the Kurds who...
  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 26th Nov - 10:26pm
    @ a social liberal, Obviously I didn't make myself clear in my post.I have always been opposed to British involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. I...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 26th Nov - 9:53pm
    PS, I know you can achieve a no-fly zone diplomatically, but it isn't explicitly said and it looks like the equivalent at this stage of...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 26th Nov - 9:42pm
    We don't necessary need to defeat Daesh anytime soon. Airstrikes are right in principle, so I think the argument that airstrikes alone won't defeat Daesh...