Author Archives: NewsHound

Vince Cable’s message for Black History Month

Over on the Black History Month website, as they gear up for the 30th year, Vince Cable has sent a message for this year’s Black History Month which starts next week.

Since its inception in 1987, Black History Month has given us many inspiring stories, reminding us of the tireless efforts of those who have fought for equality in the face of adversity, hate and indeed danger. They did so selflessly, so that future generations would enjoy the freedoms and opportunities they were denied.

I am really pleased to once again extend my support to this annual celebration of culture, identity and community in this its 30th year in the UK. As I think back over British history, I am overwhelmed by the remarkable legacies of BAME diaspora communities, whose contributions have transformed the political, economic and cultural landscape of this country for the better.

Undoubtedly, though, there is still so much more to be done. Levels of hate, prejudice and discrimination remain worrying and by some measures are on the increase, as evidenced in the recent Lammy Review. It is our duty to tackle this head on.

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Universal Credit a train wreck that must be stopped – Stephen Lloyd

As Winter approaches, the last thing you would want is for people to be without money for weeks on end, yet this is what the Government is about to inflict on thousands of benefit claimants as it rolls out Universal Credit. Evidence shows that the 6 week wait (and longer in many cases) for the first payment is causing real suffering and distress.

This morning, Conference will debate an emergency motion calling for the roll-out of Universal Credit to be halted until the problems with it can be fixed. From the Guardian:

The party’s work and pensions spokesman, Stephen Lloyd, is to say in a speech on Monday that the party has lost faith in the coalition’s flagship welfare reform with its accelerated rollout just weeks away, and that the Conservatives have altered it beyond recognition.

“The Tories ideological fixations over universal credit are leading to appalling consequences for thousands of people,” he will say. “And if it is not checked, stopped right now, in its tracks, so the failings can be addressed, it will be tens of thousands of our fellow citizens slipping into into grotesque levels of debt.”

Lloyd is convinced thousands of families will lose their homes unless the policy is rethought, and hopes the Lib Dems will work with Labour and some Conservative MPs to force a change.

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LibLink: Willie Rennie: Lib Dems put forward a vision of Scotland at the heart of both unions

The Scottish Liberal Democrats are the place to be if you want to stay in the UK and the EU, says Willie Rennie. In a wide-ranging article for Holyrood magazine, he sets out what we would do to tackle the crisis in Scotland’s public services. Health, education and the Police are all in a mess and we have the ideas to fix them.

A strong education system is the key to a strong economy in the long term. It is critical that we educate future generations so that they have all the skills they need to succeed.

Failing at education is failing on the future of Scotland. The SNP have let Scotland’s world-leading education system fall from the best in the world to just average.

Eighty-six per cent of teachers say their workload has risen in the last year, yet John Swinney has his head in the sand and refuses to take action to relieve the pressure our teachers face.

We have had a year of assurances from the Scottish Government that they are tackling this major problem, but teachers say the problem is getting worse rather than better.

Instead of nationalist spin, teachers, parents and pupils want concrete action.

That’s why my party used budget negotiations to press the SNP over its dramatic cuts to college budgets, which have led to 150,000 fewer college places today compared to when the SNP came to power, as well as for transformative investment in Scottish education.

The health service in Scotland is under immense pressure. GP surgeries are closing their lists to new patients and others are contemplating closure because they can’t find the staff they so desperately need.

Meanwhile, children are waiting years to receive mental health treatment while the country barrels towards a staffing crisis that risks bringing the service to its knees.

This year my party have pressed the SNP to deliver the required funding and provide a new mental health practitioner in every surgery, relieving the pressure on other parts of the service. This is how we build a healthier Scotland.

Only the Liberal Democrats consistently opposed SNP centralisation of the police force and once again, this year we have been central to scrutinising the actions of the single force.

We told the SNP that their politically motivated centralisation of the police would damage those services, but they did not listen.

Instead, the closure of police control rooms in Aberdeen and Inverness has caused havoc to the services in the North and North East, leading to a series of serious and potentially life-threatening blunders, like sending police to Glasgow instead of Aberdeen.

Every time the SNP attempts another power grab, mistakes are made and our communities suffer.

The Scottish Government must call an end to the one-size-fits-all agenda and find a way to give powers back to our communities.

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LibLink: Vince Cable The Tory fallacy that immigrants are taking British jobs and driving down wages

It is good that people like Andrew Adonis help to build the case for a referendum on the Brexit deal. However it is profoundly depressing when both he and Tony Blair feed the “immigration is bad” narrative.

Thank goodness somebody is out there saying that immigration is actually a good thing and that this narrative that these foreigners are coming over here and taking our jobs and driving down wages. Step forward one Vincent Cable, writing in the Guardian:

At the heart of the politics of immigration is the belief, repeated by Theresa May as a fact, that immigrants, especially unskilled immigrants, depress wages. At first sight the argument seems plausible – and undeniably there is low-wage competition in some places. But there is no evidence that this is a general problem. When the coalition embarked on its review of EU competences in 2013, I commissioned a range of reviews and studies to establish the facts. They showed that the impact on wages was very small (and only in recession conditions). By and large, immigrants were doing jobs that British people didn’t want to do (or highly skilled jobs that helped to generate work for others). This research was inconvenient to the Home Office, which vetoed the publication of its results. I have now written to the prime minister to ask her to publish them as part of the current public debate.

So, the Government has evidence, commissioned by Vince, that the right wing tabloid press is talking hogwash and refuses to publish it.

And he makes an important point about the costs of immigration and who they affect:

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Layla Moran on her Palestinian heritage, and what she’s fighting for at Westminster

Layla Moran ht the headlines this week when Tory MPs jeered her as she got up to ask the Prime Minister a question.

She’s now been speaking to Times Red Box about the issues that matter to her.

She talks about her Palestinian heritage:

She is also the first member of parliament of Palestinian descent, through her mother, a Christian whose relatives became a “typical diaspora family” after they were forced out of their home in Jerusalem.

She has already been adopted an unofficial ambassador for the Palestinian community in parliament, but is reluctant to be defined solely by her heritage. “I think I could not get away with not being an ambassador for the Palestinian people but that wasn’t why I was elected. It was to fight for education and the NHS.”

Ms Moran says there is a desire amongst Palestinians to show a different face to the world. “They want people to see that unlike refugee-ridden, poor, downtrodden peoples, in fact Arabs are very proud of our culture and we are intelligent and articulate and talking about that things that matter like education and health.”

She has wanted to be an MP for some time:

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LibLink: Vince Cable: Why the Murdochs’ takeover of BSkyB should be blocked

It’s like 2010 all over again.

The intervening years have not made Vince Cable any more amenable to Rupert Murdoch and his Empire.

He’s been writing in the Evening Standard explaining why the Murdochs should not be able to takeover BSkyB.

The grounds for opposing the takeover are two-fold. The first is that concentration of media ownership is already a concern and will become worse if the takeover goes ahead. The Murdochs’ 21st Century Fox is the leading supplier of newspaper content (through The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times), the leading supplier of news content through commercial radio and the third-leading supplier of TV content via Sky. While there has been a proliferation of internet sites carrying news, few of these generate content; they are aggregators for the big players…

And that’s before we even think about the “fit and proper person” test.

In 2012 Ofcom issued a damning report on the conduct of James Murdoch, then chairman of News International, about his attitude towards the egregious wrongdoing identified in the phone hacking scandal, as forensically probed in the Leveson Inquiry. Ofcom concluded that Sky should be regarded as “fit and proper” to hold a broadcast licence only if there was minority Murdoch control of Sky, and if James Murdoch was not in an executive role. But the takeover will result in 100 per cent control and Murdoch will be chief executive. When last in the Sky studios, staff told me there is a beautifully appointed office with a marble-topped table and specially designed chairs awaiting his arrival.

And the wrongdoing at the News of the World was — it emerged — considerably worse than when the 2012 report was written. Since that damning Ofcom judgment there are even bigger reasons for questioning the corporate governance arrangements over which Murdoch presided. Since 2012 there has been a succession of sexual and racial harassment cases at 21st Century Fox.

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LibLink: Layla Moran “You can’t silence me now”

Following the dreadful way she was treated by Tory MPs at PMQs on Wednesday, Layla Moran has written for the Independent in some detail about the Tories’ failures on free childcare which led to her question to Theresa May.

She outlined the basic facts:

The news that parents would get 30 hours a week of free childcare for all three and four year olds came as a relief, as it offered the chance for women to return to work, as a structured and cost-friendly option was being put on the table for them.

This was an extension of policies the Liberal Democrats pushed in the Coalition government and is one of the answers to closing the gender pay gap, as well as allowing parents a real choice about how they want to bring up their families.

But – and it is a big but – it turns out that this childcare isn’t free after all. It all seemed like a great idea until the Government realised they were actually going to have to pay for it.

Quite simply, the Government aren’t giving child minders and nurseries enough money to actually deliver these places for three and four year olds, and make a living at the same time.

The consequences are hurting parents with either no provision being offered or:

Stories I have heard include child minders and nurseries having to increase the cost of childcare for under-threes in order to make up the shortfall. Many more have started charging parents for extras like nappies, baby wipes, lunches and early/late pick-ups that had previously been included.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 9 Comments
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