Author Archives: NewsHound

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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LibLink: Tim Farron’s introduction to Black History Month

bhm-logo600Tim Farron has been writing at the Black History Month website about what the event means to him:

As a Liberal Democrat, one of my most deeply held beliefs is that everyone should have the opportunity to achieve their ambitions and become anything they want to be.

So many of the people who we will remember this Black History Month embody this ideal.

People like Winifred Atwell, the first black artist to have a number one single in the UK or John Kent the first black police officer. People like Mary Seacole, the pioneering nurse who overcame prejudice in order to go and treat sick and wounded soldiers in the Crimean war.

To me, part of the importance of Black History Month is that it reminds us of the invaluable work of so many black and minority ethnic men and women, who have fought discrimination and injustice to secure freedoms and opportunities for future generations.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged and | 2 Comments

LibLink: Paddy Ashdown – While Russia launches airstrikes Britain’s position on Syria remains an inglorious failure of diplomacy

Paddy Ashdown has been writing in the Independent about this week’s developments and diplomatic stand-offs regarding Syria. He said that the west has allowed its influence to be diminished by successive failures:

We bluster in the UN, Washington and London about willing the ends, but we have nothing left but bombs to will the means. The levers to make things happen in Syria now lie in Moscow and Tehran – all we are left with is a bomb-release button at 30,000ft.

This is a diplomatic failure of inglorious proportions. Historic proportions, too, since the result will inevitably be another ratchet down in the West’s influence, already grievously diminished by our failures in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. One would have thought that we would have learnt the lessons of those defeats. But, still – sadly, stupidly – when the West sees a problem in the world its first instinct is to bomb it.

He asks what some great foreign secretaries of the past would have done:

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LibLink: Tim Farron: Not satisfied with snatching their milk in the 70s, the Tories now seem set to steal the lunches of children

Remember how Mrs Thatcher put an end to free school milk in the 1970s? Our parents really should have known then, shouldn’t they? Anyway, the Tories appear to be getting ready to ditch the free school meals introduced by the Liberal Democrats two years ago.

Tim Farron has written for the Huffington Post making it clear why he thinks that free school meals are important:

Children from all backgrounds, rich and poor sitting down for lunch together, ending any stigma of young pupils having to admit they receive free school meals is a good thing. I will not sit by while the Conservatives equivocate on this. My party is utterly opposed to it’s removal.

The Tories are taking an axe to the education budget at the expense of children’s learning.

Not satisfied with snatching milk in the 1970s, they now seem set to steal the lunches of children.

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Former Lib Dem Councillor tells his story of coming to UK as a teenage refugee

We’ve heard a lot of Liberal Democrats urging a compassionate response to the refugee crisis but for former Brent Councillor Paul Lorber, it’s personal.

He told the Brent and Kilburn Times about his family’s escape from Czechoslovakia and how he found safety in the UK:

He said: “I had no wish to go. I had a happy childhood in Czechoslovakia and did not want to leave all my friends and everything else I had known.”

His parents, who had both survived the horrors of Nazi concentration camps in the Second World War- his mother Auschwitz Berkenau and his father Sachenhausen- knew the risks of bringing up a Jewish family under a violent dictatorship and wanted a secure future for their sons.

After their first attempt to cross the Austrian border was blocked by a stand-off with a Russian tank his father was forced to falsify exit papers which claimed he was taking them on holiday to Yugoslavia…

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 3 Comments

Kelvin Mackenzie offers Stephen Tall £5000 to fulfil his pledge to run down Whitehall naked…

Remember that pledge of Stephen Tall’s that he’d run naked down Whitehall if we were down to 24 seats in the election? Well, he has been reminded about it every time he’s appeared on the Daily Politics since. Back on the programme yesterday, he was put in an awkward position when former Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie offered £5000 to charity for Stephen to do it. So long as the legal issues can be overcome, there doesn’t seem to be a way he can get out of it now. From the Telegraph:

Stephen Tall, co-editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, was asked on the BBC’s Daily Politics show why he had not yet delivered on his promise to run nude if his party lost half of its seats.

The Sun’s former editor Kelvin MacKenzie, who appeared on the same show, then offered Mr Tall £5,000 to complete the challenge.

Mr Tall and Mr MacKenzie shook hands on the promise that he would carry out the task in return for the money being donated to his chosen charity.

See the exchange on iPlayer here.

Stephen took to Twitter to repent in 140 characters.

Posted in News | Tagged | 13 Comments

Jo Swinson ‘mistaken for secretary’ by government official

Jo Swinson Opening Glasgow ConferenceThe BBC reports:

Former minister Jo Swinson has spoken of the “delicious” moment she was mistaken for a secretary by a senior government official.

The ex-Lib Dem MP, an equalities minister in the coalition government, was speaking about the difficulties faced by women in the workplace.

She said the official was mortified when he realised his mistake.
She also revealed that her then boss Vince Cable skipped a diversity training seminar she had set up.

Ms Swinson said she had set up a session for business department ministers and senior civil servants on avoiding “unconscious bias” in the workplace but that she was “the only minister that turned up”.

Posted in Conference | Tagged | 3 Comments

LibLink: Sir Nick Harvey: Only the Lib Dems can fill the void left by Labour

Former North Devon MP Nick Harvey writes for the Mirror that the Liberal Democrats have a great opportunity in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s election and sets out what we must do to take advantage of it:

Socially, we must fight unfair benefit cuts which hit the weakest and undermine the working poor.

We must expose the chicanery of a “living wage” which will barely match the existing “minimum wage” if inflated in line with past trends.

Economically, we campaign unequivocally for Britain’s membership of the world’s largest market, the European Union, and for global efforts to liberalise trade fairly.

Posted in News | 9 Comments

Farron talks housing, Clegg, airports and Corbyn in first pre-conference interview

“The Tories need to be opposed in ways that are credible” says the headline to Tim Farron’s first pre-conference interview in yesterday’s Evening Standard. Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader, argues Tim, leaves a big space in British politics for a responsible opposition party to hold the government to account:

Tomorrow morning he will start the #LibDemfightback, as they are hashtagging it, when he rallies the Lib- Dem faithful in Bournemouth at his first party conference as leader.

There will be “no glib slogans”, he says, but a return to grassroots campaigning. And a lot of mentions of the unlikely saviour that Farron thinks will most help the Liberal Democrats in their hour of need — Jeremy Corbyn.

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LibLink: Zahida Manzoor: The Government’s changes to tax credits will have a severe impact on the lives of millions

In the Huffington Post this week, Lib Dem Work and Pensions spokesperson Zahida Manzoor wrote of the party’s opposition to the Government’s severe cuts to tax credits for the lowest paid.

The Tax Credit system is hugely complicated, made up of various different ‘payment thresholds’ and so-called ‘disregards’. But ultimately the key aspect of the system is the ‘taper rate’ – that means how much is taken away in Tax Credits for every additional pound you earn.

This taper rate is important, because when someone is making the decision about whether to take on more hours, particularly if they have children, then money matters. If it turns out you’re only going to keep a few pence in the pound by taking on the extra work it may not be worthwhile, particularly if you need to pay for expensive additional childcare in order to cover the increased time spent away from home.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

Jennie Rigg nails it

Posted in News | 21 Comments

Willie Rennie on “dark, secretive” Better Together and “despicable” Cameron

Willie Rennie has gone to town on the Better Together pro-UK campaign in an interview for the Sunday Herald. He described it as “dark” and “secretive.”

Labour had a dark campaigning style. It was very secretive. Everything would be last minute. You would never be told much about what was going on until it happened. We all suffered. The Tories and ourselves suffered more, but some in Labour were out of the loop as well.”

You mean an inner circle ran everything? “Yes. It was Blair and Rob . People like that were making decisions and had this addiction to secrecy.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 2 Comments

Vince Cable co-authors anti Trade Union Bill article with TUC chief

Well, there’s a turn-up for the books. A former Business Secretary teams up with the head of the TUC to warn about the draconian effects of the Trade Union Bill introduced by the Government.

In an article for the Guardian, Vince Cable and Frances O’Grady say that the Bill is trying to resolve a problem that doesn’t exist. Anyone who was brought up in the 70s would surely find it hard to argue that today is even remotely as bad as it was then. They say:

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: George Osborne’s Living Wage is a trick and workers have been betrayed

Very, very strong words from Nick Clegg this lunchtime in an article on the Standard. He talks about how the Liberal Democrats’ carefully constructed initiatives to help people into work and eliminate the poverty trap have been swept away by George Osborne.

He starts by outlining why he thinks work is so important:

Work is not just an economic necessity. It brings identity and self-reliance. It is a spur to ingenuity and a catalyst for growth. Work demands the learning of new skills. It sustains communities and nourishes families. Without work, society crumbles.

He goes on to say what the Liberal Democrats did to help people into work:

That is why seven years ago — shortly after I became leader of the Liberal Democrats — the party started arguing in favour of lifting the income tax personal allowance. It seemed a little technical at the time — harder to explain than headline-grabbing reductions in tax rates — but the aim was simple enough: working taxpayers, especially those on low pay, should keep more of the money they earn as an incentive to work.

It seemed indefensible at the time that the taxman was taking money off you the moment you earned £6,035. The rest, as they say, is history: the aim of lifting the tax allowance to £10,000 and beyond became the principal tax reform of the Coalition. It took millions of people on low pay out of paying income tax and proved to be so popular that the Conservatives now claim it was their idea all along.

He said he thought that that legacy of the coalition years would be safe, but was horrified at the budget:

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LibLink: Catherine Bearder MEP: Cameron must wake up and join the EU’s response to the refugee crisis

Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder has written for Left Foot Forward to criticise David Cameron’s decision to take Syrian refugees, as long as they aren’t already in Europe.

Plans are being drawn up to take a limited number of refugees directly from camps on Syria’s borders, but much to the dismay of our EU partners, Cameron continues to rule out taking part in an EU response to the thousands of desperate refugees arriving on Europe’s shores. This may be politically expedient, but it is strategically short-sighted. Only by working together at the EU level can we address the biggest refugee crisis since WW2.

Like Tim Farron, Catherine has now visited Calais to see the camps there for herself:

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Vince Cable and Chuka Umunna criticise Government’s industrial strategy in Independent article

Vince Cable has teamed up with Chuka Umunna in an Independent article that warns of the likely consequences if Vince’s former department of Business, Innovation and Skills suffers the massive cuts predicted. It’s not a protected department, so its budget could be cut by up to 40%. That would make it difficult to continue Vince’s successful industrial strategy:

One of the positive legacies of the Coalition government was the establishment of an ‘industrial strategy’ with the same objectives. It was successful in attracting a lot of support from business in general and in key sectors like automotive, aerospace, bio-tech, creative industries, energy and railway supply chains and construction. In vehicles and aerospace, especially, a large amount of private sector and government money was committed to R&D. The approach was flexible, accommodating and welcoming of disruptive technologies and the emergence of new industries. Before the election, the Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems (and the SNP) subscribed to the industrial strategy.

There has been a deafening silence since. We are now past the first 100 days: the government’s honeymoon. There is no excuse for lack of clarity over a key area of government policy. There may be an innocent explanation: a wish by the Conservative government to rebrand the industrial strategy as part of its ‘Long Term Economic Plan’, while work quietly proceeds in the background. A more worrying possibility is that the ideologues in government have got their teeth into it believing, against all previous experience, that market failures will correct themselves and that the UK economy will achieve balanced, sustained, recovery thanks to resurgent banking and app start-ups in Shoreditch.

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Work is “like health treatment” says Iain Duncan-Smith

Iain Duncan SmithThe Gainsborough Standard reports:

Iain Duncan Smith has defended plans to get the sick and disabled back to work amid allegations that he is “punishing” society’s most vulnerable.

The Work and Pensions Secretary insisted being employed was like a “health treatment” and could help make people better.

He also denied that he had a target of taking a million disabled people off benefits, arguing it was sensible to ask whether individuals could do some work rather than writing them off altogether.

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LibLink: Jim Hume MSP: Out of sight, out of mind? Why the SNP need to get serious on mental health

Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume has been writing on the Scottish Liberal Democrat website about the crisis in mental health care in Scotland, where they haven’t had a Norman Lamb in power transforming mental health provision.

In Scotland during the last 5 years, over 4000 people were treated outside their own health board. Jim says that’s not good enough:

Despite the number of patients being discharged from psychiatric hospitals in Scotland falling dramatically in the past decade, hundreds of patients are still facing being treated away from their families and communities.

There will always be some patients who need to be sent to specialist clinics outside of their health board for treatment. But it is clear that mental health units across the country are struggling to cope with demand on their services.

We know that sending patients out of area can isolate them from their support networks, including friends, families and their community care team.

The life-changing nature of such a move means it could also have implications for the civil liberties of an indidividual – which must be considered under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (ScotlandAct 2003.

It can be detrimental to a persons recovery.

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LibLink: Cllr Jayne McCoy: Council intervention drives housing market

Cllr Jayne McCoy chairs the London Borough of Sutton’s Housing, Economy and Business Committee. She has written for the Local Government Association’s First magazine about how Sutton Council have set up a development company to build the right sorts of houses at the prices key workers can afford:

In Sutton we have seen numerous private developments of one bedroom flats, however what we need are two and three bedroom family homes. We also see both the private for sale and private rented sector out of the price range of most of our residents.

In response we have sought to take control and lead the delivery of housing ourselves by setting up a council-owned development company. This will allow us to take advantage of preferential borrowing rates to invest in the housing market across all tenures.

The development company gives the council the flexibility to build homes for private ownership, private rent or to build council houses in the traditional sense. The company will also seek to unlock sites where development has stalled.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 14 Comments

Tim Farron on Calais refugees: “These are bright, educated people that just want to create a life for themselves.”

While David Cameron uses demeaning language comparing them to insects, Tim Farron takes himself off to Calais to actually meet some of the refugees there. He spoke to Buzzfeed’s Emily Ashton about his experiences. Here are some of the highlights:

An invitation to David Cameron

He should go ,” said Farron of the prime minister. “I will take him. He should talk to people there and look at the reality of the situation and he should deal with the reality rather than dealing with the myth.

The idea that they are all money grabbing people seeking to claim UK benefits is rubbish

The significant majority in the camp are, according to the French authorities and doctors, absolutely what any reasonable person would consider a refugee fleeing from war or persecution,” he said.

So this idea they are all money-grabbing people is just rubbish. I got talking to a bunch of guys from Eritrea, from Sudan, from Libya, and these are guys who wanted to come to England. Not one of them had a clue about benefits. They wanted to come to the UK because the UK represents the good life. Not that it’s a bed of roses or it’s cushy; I mean a life where people aren’t shooting at you, where you can be free to worship where you want to worship.

“We don’t get fewer losers by pitting one group against others”

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Inside story of the coalition to come in book form from David Laws

Biteback publishing have announced that David Laws will be writing a book for them on the inside story of the coalition:

Iain Dale, MD of Biteback Publishing, has acquired world rights to Coalition, the inside story of the Cameron-Clegg Coalition by David Laws, the former senior Liberal Democrat MP, and author of the bestselling 22 Days in May: The Birth of the Lib Dem-Conservative Coalition (Biteback, 2010).

Posted in Books and News | 26 Comments

Tim Farron calls for a bit of compassion in the Calais debate

Tim Farron has made the following comment on the Calais issue:

If you don’t give people hope, they will resort to desperate measures. We are treating this as a security issue, but primarily it is a humanitarian one.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 20 Comments

++ Tim Farron announces diverse spokesperson team

Tim Farron has just announced his “frontbench” spokesperson team, and it is very diverse, with women leading on the economy and defence.

From the Liberal Democrats:

Tim Farron today set about ending the Liberal Democrats’ lack diversity at the top of the party – by naming the most diverse shadow cabinet team in the party’s history.

Posted in News | Tagged | 56 Comments

‘A leftwing Labour leader could raise the Liberal Democrats from the dead’

So runs the headline in the Guardian over a piece today by Mary Dejevsky:

A return to more leftwingery for Labour could create more ideological space for the Liberal Democrats and foster a stronger electoral identity for both parties.

Posted in News | 50 Comments

Tim Farron talks to his local newspaper on becoming Lib Dem Leader:

The first people Tim Farron called on becoming Liberal Democrat leader were his local paper, the Westmorland Gazette. Here are some highlights of his first in-depth interview as leader:

Turning his local success into a national phenomenon

This is a big deal. It will be a great responsibility and I will work tirelessly to fight for Liberal values.

There are real challenges ahead but we have shown in Westmorland how we can succeed and we want to make a difference all over the country.

“A fairer, greener, freer Britain”

Posted in News | Tagged and | 30 Comments

Laura Kuenssberg appointed as BBC political editor

laura kuenssbergThe BBC has announced that Laura Kuenssberg is to be its new Political Editor, succeeding Nick Robinson who is moving to the Radio 4 Today programme.

Posted in News | Tagged | 4 Comments

LibLink: Baroness Sally Hamwee: It is time to legalise Cannabis for medicinal purposes”

Sally Hamwee has been writing for Politics Home about her attempts to have Cannabis legalised for medicinal use.  She firstly outlined the need:

Medicinal herbal cannabis is very effective for many people (not all) suffering from some very severe and debilitating conditions, the spasms and cramps associated with multiple sclerosis and spinal cord damage, Parkinson’s Disease and some of the symptoms of cancer and of the treatment of cancer among them.

It is available in 23 states of the USA, Canada, Israel and Netherlands from where it is exported to several other countries of the EU.  But not – legally – the UK.  The Dutch have used genetic alteration to maximise the benign content and eliminate the dangerous, psychosis-inducing component.

No wonder that so many British people go to great lengths to go abroad to get hold of it.  The cannabis-based drug licensed in England is much more expensive and only prescribed on a “named basis” as NICE regards it as not cost-effective (it is approved in Wales).

And then she outlined how both Conservatives and Labour in the House of Lords wouldn’t accept her ideas:

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Nick Clegg on life as a constituency MP

Nick Clegg has been spending a lot of time in his constituency recently. He was there regularly as Deputy Prime Minister, but now he unconstrained by office, he can afford to get up there during the week. He spoke to the Star:

The ‘trappings of power’ have gone, with a security team reduced, the ministerial Blackberry returned and fewer staff – it is a big change from striding along the corridors of power in Whitehall to campaigning on tree felling in Sheffield.

As it happens I’m really enjoying having more time to work in the constituency again,” insists Mr Clegg.

When the Conservatives and SNP argued each other to a standstill on fox hunting, I was able to jump on a train and went straight to the leaving party of a headteacher at Dore Primary School – I would never have been able to do that before.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 8 Comments

LibLink: David Steel: Tim Farron is a man of conviction and a risk taker – that’s why he got my vote

David Steel has written in the Guardian about why he backed Tim Farron and what he thinks he’ll bring to the party:

That level of deep commitment which Farron obviously has, combined with his organisational skills and northern public persona, has all the ingredients of a successful leadership. I speak as one who sat in a gloomy Commons party of six after the 1970 election debacle, three of us clinging to majorities under 1000. It took time, but we turned that round, and went on both to increase our numbers and form the significant Alliance with the SDP and eventually the new united party, which at elections under Paddy Ashdown, Charles Kennedy and Clegg reached new heights of public support. The same can happen again.

A colleague said to me during this contest: “But isn’t Farron a bit risky?” I responded that that may be so, but what the party needs at this time is a risk-taker, not afraid to revisit more traditional Liberal policies – on Trident, on Europe, on industrial democracy, on land value taxation, on the pursuit of a more just society, and on the need for a federal constitution including a new upper house.

It will be a long and at times painful journey, but with Tim Farron inspiring and leading it I see grounds for real hope and optimism.

 You can read the whole article here. 
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LibLink: Simon Hughes: A message to Tim Farron: Unite, inspire and enthuse

Simon Hughes was one of the first people to endorse Tim Farron for leader. He’s written an article for today’s Independent in which he outlines what he thinks Tim should do next:

The new leader knows what to do. He must and will unite, inspire, and enthuse the party, involving supporters of both candidates in one big campaign for liberalism, determined to rebuild – and quickly. The clarion calls dreadfully muffled in the last year must be heard in all our communities: freedom, democracy, respect for our planet, a decent quality of life for all, and much greater equality in our still horribly unequal country. We must turn our policy and philosophy into practice where we govern and into campaigns where we do not. We need a massive housing programme of council, social rent, and other affordable housing, and help for the mentally ill. We must champion political reform to restore the link between voters’ views and election results. We must be the party of internationalism and of Europe, and a movement which values those who have chosen to live here.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 18 Comments

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