Author Archives: NewsHound

LibLink: Baroness Zahida Manzoor: Why Muslims should vote Lib Dem

Lib Dem peer Zahida Manzoor has written for Muslim News setting out the reasons that Muslims should find it easy to vote Liberal Democrat. First the basics:

The Lib Dems are the party of opportunity. We believe everybody, no matter who they are, should be given the same chances in life. We want to do all we can to make sure everyone has the opportunities to get on in life.

Conservatives are seeking to remove some of the basic freedoms in the European Convention of Human Rights, which sit strongly alongside the principles of Islam. We are the only party in

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Two Lib Dems standing down: Ming on competitiveness, Iraq and backing Clegg, Teather on “political self harm”

The Observer is interviewing some MPs who have stood down from Parliament. Ming Campbell and Sarah Teather are featured today.

Ming says his proudest moment in his 28 years in Parliament was deciding not to support the war in Iraq:

The second Gulf war, that’s the most significant political thing I’ve been engaged with. We took the decision – not an easy decision – that we were going to thoroughly oppose it, and there were some sleepless nights for me and for Charles . All it needed was a company of American marines to discover two tanks of anthrax – our position would have been wholly undermined. So it was a big risk, but we thought it was right and we thought wasn’t legal.

Ming comes from a different place politically than Nick Clegg, and he hasn’t had a government job. What does he make of our leader?

I’m a great admirer of Clegg, he was my pick and he’s astonishingly resilient when you consider some of the stuff that’s written about him. Forming the coalition was a very brave thing to do – it’s no secret I had some reservations – but if you’re in the ex-leaders club your duty is to follow your leader. If you’ve been through the fire and brimstone yourself, then you really have a duty to ensure that your successor is not subject to that.

Sarah had some pretty astute observations about modern politics which should make us all think about why it’s so deeply unsatisfying. She had been asked if we should worry about the number of women standing down:

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LibLink: Kavya Kaushik: Britain’s immigration debate has taken a turn for the toxic

Ealing Southall Liberal Democrat candidate Kavya Kaushik has been writing for the New Statesman about the effect of the sort of rhetoric we’re hearing in the immigration debate.

She was annoyed by Evan Davis’ comments about Nick Clegg’s family background during his leader’s interview last week and recognised Nick’s obvious irritation:

The choice to fixate upon Clegg’s multicultural upbringing, suggesting it to be out of touch with “British” people, made for uncomfortable viewing. For centuries immigrants have been an integral part of the British working class. Within the context of the current immigration climate, it feels like further demonisation of BME people.

Davis’s intention was unlikely to be intentional racial discomfort, but Clegg’s furious reaction mirrored that of many children of migrants. Our Britishness is consistently questioned despite having lived in the UK for our entire lives. Casual racism is on the rise, particularly within politics. On the doorstep a BME canvasser is increasingly likely to hear “I don’t want your people here”, and worse. These experiences lead to racial sensitivity and passing comments questioning multiculturalism vs Britishness can be interpreted as a personal attack when coupled with modern attitudes to race in Britain.

Hang on! What was that?

On the doorstep a BME canvasser is increasingly likely to hear “I don’t want your people here”, and worse. 

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Willie Rennie: Look at the things we got right, not the thing we got wrong

Willie Rennie has given a candid interview to the Scotsman about the prospects for the Liberal Democrats and our record in government. Given the tuition fees question, he is apologetic but asks people to look at the whole picture:

Saying sorry isn’t a tactic,” he insists. “People who are annoyed with us will be annoyed with us, but they deserve an apology. Some will never understand or forgive. They’re entitled to do that. My only plea to them is look at all the things we’re getting right, not just the thing we got wrong.”

Repentance and sincerity are unnatural political bedfellows, but convincing Scotland’s electorate you mean what you say should be easier for a Fifer with a buzzcut than an Old Etonian.
There’s quite a sympathetic approach – the journalist suggests that he is a genial, robust and consensual presence at Holyrood, a bulwark against the SNP’s more illiberal instincts, but the party’s baggage hangs over him.
It could be understood if Willie were to try to put some distance between the Scottish party and them in Westminster, but he doesn’t, not just because it wouldn’t be credible, but because he wouldn’t do that to colleagues:
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Tim Farron: Politics needs a sense of vision

There’s an article Thursday’s Guardian which compares the level of campaigning activity in two seats, one with the lowest turnout in the country, Manchester Central, and one with a high turnout, Tim Farron’s Westmorland and Lonsdale.

The report argues that the poorest and most vulnerable feel that voting is pointless as nobody will do anything to serve their interests, while in more affluent areas, people are more inclined to vote, creating a major democratic deficit.

I feel I have been forcibly excluded from participating in politics and the issues that are of interest to me and my children,” said Ray Linton, 58, a former youth worker who has been unemployed for eight years. “They think speaking on TV is all they need to do. Everything is distant now.”

Powell’s Liberal Democrat opponent, John Reid, admitted that the level of campaigning in the constituency was “depressing”. “I grew up seeing every house with a poster or board outside,” he said. “Then you go through Manchester Central and you don’t know there’s an election.

In contrast, on Tim Farron’s patch:

Within minutes of starting canvassing on the Kirkbarrow estate, three drivers have honked and waved at the candidate. Skateboarding children yelp excitedly: “It’s Tim Farron”, a resident in pink slippers collars him to complain about Poles leapfrogging the council housing list, and Calum, eight, invites him for a kickabout, which he immediately accepts, going in goal and high-fiving Calum when they score.

As an aside, you do actually need to click on the article to see the wonderful photograph of Tim’s face as the football heads for him.

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Beware of Blukip

blukip

 

Nick Clegg has today been warning voters to Beware Blukip.

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Pramod Subbaraman, Edinburgh South Lib Dem candidate talks about need for greater diversity in politics

Edinburgh South’s Liberal Democrat candidate Pramod Subbaraman has given an interview to the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights blog. He talks about his background:

I was born and raised in Southern India and moved to the UK in 2005 at the age of 28. I moved at that time as I was invited by the Department of Health to help fill the shortage of dentists in the English NHS. It was not an easy ride as there were a lot of hurdles erected for immigrants from outside the EU and that did take its toll, but I jumped over those hurdles, occasionally knocking a few and had to start again in places. I started working in England and then moved to Scotland in 2013. I joined the Liberal Democrats in 2010 and am now the candidate for the General Election to represent the people of Edinburgh South\

He talks about the need for more diversity in politics:

Politicians and the Electorate always seem to find reasons and excuses and keep on selecting and electing white men from political backgrounds and political jobs to parliament. It just does not make sense. Just as the most successful businesses are those that reflect the diversity of their target populations in their workforces and on their boards, so too should politics be! But it isn’t and I am part of the solution to that problem. I would represent the large Visible minorities as well as present one face for diversity in my party which in parliament is the least diverse of parties.

When asked about problems facing minorities in his constituency, he goes reassuringly off-message:

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LibLink: Jo Swinson: Shared Parental Leave is an important step to the wider cultural change that they need

Jo Swinson has been writing for the Huffington Post about what the Liberal Democrats have done on child care and parental leave.

 Liberal Democrats in the coalition government have taken important steps to support parents with childcare costs despite the challenging economic situation. We extended free early years education to 15 hours a week for three and four year olds, and introduced 15 free hours for four in 10 two-year-olds – those from the most hard-pressed homes. We are also introducing Tax Free Childcare to save working families up to £2,000 per child per year from September.

But there’s more to come. Not only a tripling of paternity leave, but extra help with childcare costs.

We also want to extend free early years education to all two year olds. We know that pressure to budget for childcare costs doesn’t just start when a child is two years old, and that the costs can prevent parents from returning to work. We are committed to bridging that gap so that free childcare is available for working parents from the end of paid parental leave. On average, this will save working parents the equivalent of £2,670 a year.

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Norman Lamb on the party’s prospects, leadership, mental health and the benefits system

We know that many aspects of the welfare reforms have been very difficult for people with mental ill health. Norman Lamb is aware of that too, and sets out what he wants to do to change that in an interview with the International Business Times:

Lamb, who said he was pleased with the progress the government has made on mental health, wants to join up the benefits and health system.

“One of the things that sometimes happens if you are suffering from mental ill health, is that sometimes that you don’t turn up in time you may be in a dark place, struggling to cope on a particular day. The idea of sanctioning that person because of their ill health is something that I’m very resistant to,” he said.

“My mission in trying to link up better the NHS and the benefits system is to ensure that the two systems work rationally together and indeed we are doing a lot to make it much easier for people who are out of work and often because of their mental ill health, to get access to psychological therapies, which can help people recover and often get them back to work.”

Lamb added: “Often work is a good thing for your mental health – it improves your self-esteem and your sense of self-belief. We shouldn’t be trying to resist the idea of helping getting people back to work but we need to make sure that the benefits system is sensitive to the needs of people who suffer from mental ill health.

“We are a long way away from having a properly joined up system and I repeat that I will continue my mission to make sure that the benefits system is sensitive to those who suffer from mental ill health.”

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Richard Dawkins endorses Lib Dem candidates Layla Moran and Maajid Nawaz

From Twitter:

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Sorry seems to be the hardest word for Mr Miliband

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Lib Link: Stephen Tall: The ins and outs of tactical voting (nose pegs optional)

Our esteemed former co-editor Stephen Tall has a piece on the Independent Voices site looking into tactical voting. Why might you, he asks:

For all the complexity of political debates about the economy, public services, the environment and immigration, the choice each of us faces when handed our ballot paper is simple: which candidate should receive our solitary “X”?

Suppose you’re a Conservative supporter living in Nick Clegg’s seat of Sheffield Hallam; should you stick by your party, even if that means handing the seat to Labour? Or lend your vote to the Lib Dem leader this time?

Or perhaps you’re a Scot who wants to see the UK stick together – then the canny choice will be the candidate best-placed to thwart the SNP. Danny Alexander is pinning his hopes of survival in his Inverness seat on rallying anti-nationalist voters.

He adds that voting for the party that most reflects your values is not always the best way of getting something like your values enacted under the first past the post electoral system:

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LibLink: Jo Swinson: Across much of Scotland, Lib Dems are the only party who can beat the SNP

Jo Swinson has written for Scotland on Sunday’s Election Essays series. First of all she outlines the Liberal Democrat contributions to the Government:

The last five years have demonstrated beyond doubt that the Liberal Democrats made the right decision and are a force for good in government. We’ve taken tough decisions to get growth up and the deficit down, while also protecting the public services on which we all rely. We have been able to deliver vital Liberal Democrat policies, while preventing the Conservatives from dancing to the right-wing tune of their Eurosceptic backbenchers and the populism of Nigel Farage’s Ukip.

As a result, the economy is recovering strongly: we grew faster than any other G7 country last year, and we’re borrowing half as much as we were in 2010.

You don’t have to choose between governing fairly and balancing the books as Labour and Conservatives would have you believe:

Liberal Democrats will balance the books by 2018, and do so fairly. We won’t drag out the pain for years longer like Labour, or slash public services to the bone like the Conservatives. These parties will try and convince you that you have to choose between eliminating the deficit or protecting public services. You don’t. With the Liberal Democrats’ balanced plan, we can do both.

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LibLink: Layla Moran: Six ways to break British research

All parliamentary candidates are being deluged by emails from organisations and constituents on a huge range of subjects. One particular missive comes from Vote Cruelty Free which encourages candidates to sign up to the following six pledges:

1) Ban experiments on cats and dogs.
2) End the secrecy surrounding animal experiments.
3) Stop importing monkeys for use in laboratories.
4) End non-medical experiments.
5) Stop genetically modifying animals.
6) Stop suffering in the most extreme experiments.

Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat candidate for Oxford West and Abingdon has written an article for the Our Kingdom website in which she looks at these pledges and explains why she can’t sign up for them because of the effect it would have on British research and ultimately be worse for animals as research is driven to parts of the world where animal welfare is not taken as seriously as it is here.

First, a general overview and the benefits of well-regulated life science research:

On February 24, Britain took the historic step of legislating to make mitochondrial donation therapy possible, offering hope to those carrying mitochondrial defects and creating the possibility for them to have children without passing on the diseases that currently afflict — and usually kill — over 100 babies each year. But medical progress depends on a global ecosystem of life sciences research. Development of novel techniques to a level where mitochondrial donation could be trialled in humans relied on earlier studies using macaques, for example.

Britain is at the forefront of much of this research and, in addition, currently has the highest animal welfare standards worldwide. It is already illegal to conduct animal experiments if an alternative exists and illegal to use cats or dogs if a different animal could be used. Research on animals for cosmetics or on great apes for any application is banned outright. I’m proud that the UK has such high standards and proud that the Liberal Democrats have worked hard in the UK and Europe to drive further improvements.

And then she tackles the substance of the 6 pledges:

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Peter Preston reminisces about David Steel’s by-election victory half a century ago

Former Guardian editor Peter Preston has been reminiscing about the Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles by-election 50 years ago which was won by a young David Steel. He’s been to the opening of a new exhibition celebrating the by-election and muses on the difference between politics then and now.

First, he sets the scene:

Fifty years ago, as a neophyte Guardian reporter, I covered the Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles byelection that catapulted David Steel into parliament. Now I’m back in Selkirk to open an exhibition celebrating his victory: a kind of still living artefact in a mini-museum full of faded speeches, posters and promises. Ah yes, I remember it well. The eerily youthful “boy David” who went on to lead the Liberals through that pact; wildly enthusiastic meetings, 300 or more strong, greeting big hitters – George Brown, Lord Hailsham, Jo Grimond – up from the smoke; an enthusiasm and a turnout (81.5%) with referendum intensity.But the past is not an island – even in a chilly mansion-cum-embryo-arts-centre perched by a loch. For the clan gathering to congratulate the old boy (aka Lord Steel of Aikwood) is large and intriguing. Here’s George Reid, the early SNP warrior who succeeded Steel as presiding officer in the Edinburgh parliament. Here’s Tam Dalyell of the Binns, Labour’s superlative stoker of backbench trouble through four decades. Here (well, at least expected soon) is Ronald King Murray, 92, who lost his Labour deposit but went on to win laurels as lord advocate. Here are canvassers who tramped the streets of Galashiels, folk with a memory leaning on a stick.

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Paddy Ashdown on the campaign trail

 

We have The Courier to thank for this story:

Former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown is quite the character. Aside from his rather acerbic literary take on Alex Salmond’s referendum diaries, his loose cannon nature proves both entertaining and stressful for party staffers.

However, as campaign coordinator, he still knows how to turn on the charm.

During a door-knocking session in North East Fife, he was invited into a woman’s Newport home after being told she had a house guest who was a fan of his.

It turns out the person was Chinese and he ended up having a full-blown conversation in Mandarin. It’s just a pity for Paddy and his party that she’s not eligible to vote!

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LibLink: Jo Swinson: Why the Government is spending £2 million to tackle bullying

This week, Lib Dem Equalities Minister Jo Swinson announced the eight organisations who will receive £2 million of government money to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying. To accompany that announcement, she wrote an article for Pink News explaining why this money is needed:

Earlier this year singer-songwriter Sam Smith publicly came out and talked openly about being bullied at school. Denying he was gay made the bullying worse and the thing he most hated was how his friends and family heard the names he was called. Fortunately he’s gone on to have a multi-million album selling, Grammy winning career so I think we know who has had the last laugh.

But hindsight is a wonderful thing; bullying can take a terrible toll, have a devastating effect on a young person’s education, isolate them from their peers and damage their self-esteem for life.

How widespread is the problem?

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LibLink: Catherine Bearder MEP et al: Liberalism in Europe is facing its biggest fight

Three current and one (sadly) former liberal MEPs have written for the European Parliament’s Magazine following a Liberal International meeting in Oxford. They argued that liberals must stand together against the far-right and the politics of fear.

Catherine Bearder, Dutch MEP Hans van Baalen, our Graham Watson and Swedish MEP Cecilia Wikström show how liberals see the world:

As liberals, we will be standing together against the racists, the xenophobes and those who believe Europe needs to return to its fragmented past.

Liberals are naturally internationalist; it is in our DNA. We view the world as a global stage, not one subdivided by borders. We see friendly cooperation with our neighbours as the very key to unlocking a more secure, sustainable, prosperous and market-oriented future for Europe and the rest of the world.

We need to spread the message that liberalism is a home for people who don’t seek to brand migrants as ‘other’, for people who believe a Europe without the EU would be weaker and for people who see a reversion to separatism as the very worst outcome.

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Miriam Gonzalez Durantez meets Miranda Sawyer

There’s an interesting interview between Miranda Sawyer and Miriam Gonzalez Durantez in the Guardian this weekend.

They meet at an Inspiring Women event on sport at the aquatics centre where the Olympics took place and, separately, in Miriam’s office.

Miriam talks about the attitudes in the Spanish village where she was brought up, where people pitied her working mother.

Her mother was the object of some local sympathy. “People felt sorry for her because she had to work,” González Durántez says, “but she wanted to. My mother has taught three generations in the village. I am never going to make so much of a difference.”

Actually, many of the women González Durántez knew had jobs – they just weren’t paid. Both her grandmothers came from rural communities where women laboured in the fields. Her maternal grandmother brought up eight boys (one died) during the Spanish civil war. “She was a tiny, dynamite woman,” González Durántez says. “Always vivacious and positive, a lesson in life.”

Though democracy came to Spain after Franco died in 1975, old-fashioned attitudes took a while to wither. At her school, “when boys did sport, girls did knitting. And boys, when they behaved badly, were sent with the girls.” González Durántez enjoyed reading and music – she played an hour of piano every day (“I say this to my children, who do half an hour a week!”). As the eldest child of the mayor, she was very much part of village life: “I organised things for the little kids, I helped my father in politics, I tried it all. A race or something, there I was. I wasn’t very good at running, but I tried it all.”

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Twelve major improvements announced in the budget

There are twelve significant improvements announced in today’s budget:

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Cable: No room for “pre-election bonanza” budget

The Guardian reports:

Vince Cable has warned that George Osborne has no room in next Wednesday’s budget for a substantial pre-election giveaway, but acknowledged that there was some headroom in the public finances for modest tax cuts or an increase in public spending.

The Liberal Democrat business secretary indicated the chancellor had a sum estimated at £5bn – that could be used to increase the personal allowance tax threshold or to row back from plans to cut public spending back to the level of the 1930s in the next parliament.

In an interview with the Guardian a few days before the last major financial event of the coalition government, Cable said: “This budget, I think there is a common agreement across the coalition, cannot be some kind of pre-election bonanza because that would completely undermine credibility.”

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LibLink: Stephen Tall: Ignore the Liberal Democrats at your peril, and don’t write them off

Stephen Tall has been writing for the Times’ Red Box on Liberal Democrat prospects for the election. He makes the point that although commentators seem keen to ignore the party, we may yet be serious players in the next Parliament.

However, the Lib Dems’ 120+ polls reveal something Ashcroft’s polling has neglected: naming the candidate makes a big difference for the Lib Dems. In seats as diverse as Labour-facing Cambridge and Tory-facing St Austell and Newquay, asking voters to think about whose name will actually appear on the ballot paper is enough to flip these seats into the Lib Dem column.

Even in Scotland, where the SNP surge could flatten all before it, the party rates its chances of holding a clutch of seats, such as Aberdeenshire West and Kincardine. Oh, and anyone betting against Charles Kennedy needs their head examined.

The margins, though, are wafer-thin. On a good day, with a following wind, the Lib Dems could hold up to 40 seats (though few expect the final tally to be quite that high).

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Swinson and Clegg force Tory u-turn on gender pay gap

One particularly satisfying piece of news in the last week is that Jo Swinson and Nick Clegg have forced the Tories to agree to transparency on equal pay between men and women. 45 years after the passing of the Equal Pay Act, women still earn on average almost 10% less than their male colleagues for doing the same job.

Now, after a voluntary scheme saw only five companies publish details of men and women’s pay in their company, an amendment to the Small Business Bill will make the reporting mandatory, with a potential £5000 penalty (as well as the bad publicity) for failure to comply.

The Guardian quotes Nick Clegg and a Liberal Democrat source on this:

Welcoming the move, Clegg said: “While the Liberal Democrats have made real progress in areas like shared parental leave and extending the right to request flexible working, the labour market is still stacked against women.

It simply cannot be acceptable that, in the 21st century, women on average still receive a smaller pay packet than men.

We can’t wait and we can’t dither. We need to sort this out now. Both Jo Swinson and I have pushed for this to happen within government for a long time.

These measures will shine a light on a company’s policy so that women can rightly challenge their employer where they are not being properly valued and rewarded.”

A Lib Dem source added: “In discussions this week, it was clear that the Tories wanted to delay taking any action on equal pay and kick the can down the road, just like they have for the last five years.

“This is extraordinary International Women’s Day, you have some Tories feigning support for women in the economy while dragging their feet on gender pay transparency.

“It’s a huge U-turn from the Tories but it’s welcomed. At last we can take some real action before the election to make companies publish pay differences between men and women.”

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LibLink: Norman Lamb MP: Why we had to axe Lord Saatchi’s bill and think again

Last month, Dominic Nutt, one of the advocates of Lord Saatchi’s Medical Innovations Bill, argued on this site in our Independent View slot that the Bill should be given Commons time for debate.

So what’s happened since then? Well, the Bill will make no further progress after the intervention of Liberal Democrat Ministers. Norman Lamb wrote a sensitively worded article for the Telegraph last week where he showed empathy for those with serious life-threatening illnesses, but said that he couldn’t allow them to potentially be preyed upon by unscrupulous people:

We must do everything we can to ensure patients get access to the best possible treatments, including removing any unnecessary barriers to innovation

So when I first heard about Lord Saatchi’s Medical Innovation Bill I was immediately attracted to its purpose.

We must seek to ensure that doctors are confident that they are able to try innovative treatments within a clear framework which protects patient safety and safeguards them from litigation.

I have enormous sympathy for all those who have been through the awful experience of not being offered treatment which they believe might offer a chance of survival or of improving their condition.

But getting the law right in this area is incredibly important. We have to avoid the risk of unintended consequences.

The Liberal Democrats have listened to the concerns of patient organisations, research charities, legal bodies, royal colleges and medical unions who have told us the Bill in its current form could actually put patient safety at risk.

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LibLink: Sarah Teather: It’s clear our system of immigration detention isn’t working

Sarah Teather has been writing for the Huffington Post in the wake of the report on immigration detention released the other day. She started with a shocking story:

One such occasion took place last July. I was sat in a committee room in the House of Commons, chairing the first evidence session of an inquiry into immigration detention. We were talking, via a phone link, to a young man who was being held in one of the giant detention centres next door to Heathrow.

He told us about how he had ended up in the UK. At the age of 16, he had been trafficked from his home on the Nigeria/Cameroon border to Hungary. He told us how he was “put in a basement, beaten, raped and tortured”. He managed to escape and then found himself in London, a stranger. Then he was detained.

I asked him how long he had been in detention. His answer caused those in the room to gasp.

“Three years”.

Three years he had been in detention, locked up not because he had broken the law but for immigration purposes. A young man who had been the victim of some horrendous abuse had arrived in the UK and instead of being given support and treatment, was locked away indefinitely.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg and Richard Branson: We have been losing the war on drugs for four decades. End it now.

Nick Clegg Glasgow 2014 by Liberal DemocratsIn a major keynote speech today, Nick Clegg will call for responsibility for drugs to be moved from the criminal justice system to the health care system. In that, he has the support of Richard Branson and the two men have written for the Guardian’s Comment is Free section. First of all, they show how the current system is both wasting money and failing:

 Since the “war” was declared by President Richard Nixon in 1971, we have spent over £1tn trying to eradicate drugs from our societies. Yet the criminal market continues to grow, driving unimaginable levels of profit for organised crime. We devote vast police, criminal justice and military resources to the problem, including the incarceration of people on a historically unprecedented scale.

In many parts of the world, drug violence has become endemic. As Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, visits the UK, we should remember the estimated 100,000 people killed in Mexico alone since 2006. Yet tragically, the sum total of enforcement efforts against drug supply over the past 40 years has been zero. Efforts at reducing demand have been similarly fruitless. Here in the UK, a third of adults have taken illegal drugs and the gangs are doing a roaring trade. The problem simply isn’t going away.

While other countries around the world are rethinking their approach, Britain remains stubbornly, truculently wedded to the old way, with tragic human consequences:

And yet we desperately need better solutions in this country. One in six children aged 11 to 15 is still taking drugs; 2,000 people die each year in drug-related incidents; the use of unregulated “legal highs” is rampant.

At the same time, the police are stopping and searching half a million people a year for possession of drugs, prosecutions of users are close to record levels, and prison cells are still used for people whose only crime is the possession of a substance to which they are addicted. This costs a lot of money, which could be better spent on treatment and on redoubling our efforts to disrupt supply. And it wrecks the lives of 70,000 people a year who receive a criminal record for possession and then find themselves unable to get a job.

As an investment, the war on drugs has failed to deliver any returns. If it were a business, it would have been shut down a long time ago. This is not what success looks like.

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Prominent Tory disillusioned by Big Society, ‘Vote Blue, Go Green’ and Compassionate Conservatism

paul_hodgkinsonAccording to the Gloucestershire Echo, Oliver Cooper was the deputy chair of the Cotswold Conservative Association, chair of the Cotswold branch of Conservative Future and a council candidate. He has given up all those rôles to join the Liberal Democrats and is backing our candidate Paul Hodgkinson (pictured) for the Cotswold seat. Oliver said:

It didn’t take long after the 2010 election for the intellectuals of the centre right such as Steve Hilton, Philip Blonde and Jesse Norman to be dropped from the centre stage and be replaced by the ruthless Lynton Crosby.

Since then the Tories have ditched any attempt to live up to the tag lines of the Big Society, ‘Vote Blue, Go Green’ and Compassionate Conservatism; they have replaced them with a suite of policies that pits the ‘shirker’ against the ‘striver’, proposes to isolate Britain from our closest neighbours and pursues economic growth without any regard for ballooning disparity between the wealth of the richest and the poorest in our country.

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Vince Cable: Labour’s tuition fee plan is “financially illiterate”

Commenting on today’s announcement from Labour, Vince Cable has said:

Labour’s policy is based on a soundbite, and as a result, is completely financially illiterate. It will do great harm to universities and create a costly black hole in the national budget.

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Police surround Lib Dem Councillor using sledgehammer

Never let it be said that Liberal Democrat councillors avoid hard work. When a skateboard park in his ward was damaged, Aberystwyth’s Councillor Ceredig Davies (also our group leader on Ceredigion County Council) arranged to get down there and fix it.

Some local people didn’t see it that way. What they saw was a random man taking a sledgehammer to a local facility, as the Cambrian News tells us:

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LibLink: Julian Huppert: Safe seats and second jobs are at the root of the Rifkind/Straw mess

Julian Huppert MPAs Parliament prepares to debate whether MPs should have second jobs, Julian Huppert has written on the controversy surrounding Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind for the Guardian.

He attacks what he calls an “abhorrent” and “unacceptable” aspect of our political culture and sets out why he thinks there should be more regulation of MPs’ outside interests.

Many of us work night and day to get through our work. We find it is the equivalent of having two full-time jobs – one in Westminster and one in the constituency.

But there are just far too many who don’t behave that way. They’ve been here so long a sense of duty morphs into one of entitlement. They get caught up with the pomp and ceremony, allowing the link between the public and their parliamentary role to unravel.

At the crux of this failure is our electoral system. Safe seats generate complacency. They give many MPs the opportunity to sit back, knowing they’ll get re-elected again and again. And it is often in safe seats where some MPs find they have enough time to take on two jobs. Suddenly they believe they don’t need to respond to casework or do the work in parliament. They are above all that – and why shouldn’t they earn £5,000 a day at the end of their careers?

photo by: Policy Exchange
Posted in LibLink | Tagged , , , and | 13 Comments
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