Author Archives: NewsHound

LibLink: Martin Horwood – Lib Dems clamping down on the arms trade

martin horwoodOver at the Lib Dems’ website, Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood has welcomed today’s announcement that Vince Cable has put out a call for evidence on a new register of arms brokers, introducing tougher regulations on the arms trade. Here’s an excerpt:

Arms brokers act as intermediaries in many arms deals by bringing together potential buyers and sellers in return for a cut of the transaction. Currently UK companies require a license before they can export military goods, but brokers are somewhat of an unknown entity. Under the proposals all brokers will

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LibLink: Tim Farron – In 2010, we promised to deliver the Pupil Premium. In 2015, I want us to promise to deliver the Student Premium

Tim Farron speaking - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsLib Dem party president Tim Farron has given his personal backing to the Lib Dems promising a Student Premium – modelled on the well-received Pupil Premium – at the next election. First proposed by his colleague Stephen Williams, Tim writes the Student Premium “could potentially change the game in terms of student uptake, especially from disadvantaged backgrounds”. Here’s an excerpt of his article for the April issue of the magazine, Politics First:

The Pupil Premium is being delivered only because the Liberal

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LibLink: Sir Robert Smith – We must not turn our back on Afghanistan

At a workshop on child rights at French Cultural Centre, Kabul, AfghanistanSir Robert Smith, Lib Dem MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine and Co-Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Afghanistan, has written this week about the need for Britain, as our direct military involvement comes to an end, to ensure we keep our promise to maintain support for a developing Afghanistan.

… the attacks of September the 11th brought home the fact that what happened in that far away country made a difference back here.

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LibLink: Alistair Carmichael: Let’s cut out referendum tension and concentrate on historical significance of referendum vote

Carmichael looking mean croppedLiberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael has written for the Daily Record about the need to conduct the independence referendum in a more respectful tone, citing examples of attacks from independence supporters on those who want to stay in the UK:

Cybernats – or internet trolls, to give them their proper name – wish Eddie Izzard serious harm simply because he has the cheek to disagree with them.

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LibLink: Lynne Featherstone: More action needed on reproductive rights for all

Lynne FeatherstoneThis week, International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone is attending the UN Commission on Population and Development. She has written for the Huffington Post about how crucial it is to make sure that women have the choice about when to have children by having access to contraception, potentially saving 800 lives every day:

Globally there are 222million women who wish to space or delay the timing of births, but do not have access to modern forms of contraception. This has real and devastating consequences on their lives. In 2010, 800 women a day died from causes related to pregnancy or childbirth and in 2008 an estimated 8.7million young women aged 15 to 24 in developing countries resorted to unsafe abortions. All of this was preventable.

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Nick Clegg talks of shock and disappointment at Sheffield’s Labour council refusing to accommodate vulnerable Syrian refugees

Syrian refugee children fleeing the violence in their country with their families pose for a picture on February 20, 2012 at a partially set up camp in Mafraq city, near Jordan's northern border with Syria.From today’s Guardian:

Nick Clegg has accused Labour council leaders in Sheffield of refusing to take a single refugee from Syria under the coalition government’s vulnerable persons relocation (VPR) scheme.

The deputy PM and Sheffield MP is furious that Labour put pressure on the coalition government to do more to help Syrian refugees but is refusing to offer practical help locally. Refugees have been arriving from Syria in the past few weeks under the government scheme.

photo by: FreedomHouse
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LibLink: Lynne Featherstone: Last night we saw the nasty side of Nigel Farage

Lynne featherstone by paul walterLynne Featherstone has written an article for the Liberal Democrats’ website in which she slams Nigel Farage’s comments on same sex marriage  and Crimea in the debate last night.

I agree with Vlad

Nigel Farage loathes the EU so much that he is prepared to side with Vladimir Putin against the people of Ukraine and the democracies of the western world.

His statement, that the EU has “blood on its hands”, was an insult to those pro-democracy demonstrators who bravely took to the streets of Kiev to fight for their

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#NickvNigel: Charles Kennedy: I couldn’t get the Liberal Democrats to fight a pro-European campaign

Charles KennedyThis morning, Charles Kennedy went on the Today programme to talk about tonight’s Nick v Nigel debate.

There was just a trace of frustration in his voice as he remembered that he, as a “down the line unashamed unalloyed pro-European”, couldn’t get the party to campaign on that basis, so when Nick took the initiative:

I was absolutely delighted and if I’d been in his shoes I’d have taken the same initiative but I might have been blocked or thwarted. We are the down the line pro-European party and Nigel is the direct opposite. It’s a good clash that needs to be heard.

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LibLink: Lynne Featherstone: A long road ahead to stop gender based violence, but we are on the right track

Lynne Featherstone has been writing for local paper in her constituency about her trip to New York for the UN Commission on the Status of Women and the works she’s doing in Government aimed at dealing with the global problem of violence against women and girls:

Over the last year, I have spearheaded a new multi-million pound programme to tackle one of the most extreme manifestations of gender-based violence – female genital mutilation (FGM). And because of this solid foundation of work and momentum, this July the prime minister will host a major summit to tackle FGM as well as early …

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LibLink: Vince Cable: Smell the coffee, Boris. The Mansion Tax has slipped in already

Mansion Only - Some rights reserved by Gerg1967This story appears under the byline of a “Daily Mail Reporter” which is a bit odd, because I don’t think they’ve let any of them into the Cabinet yet, and certainly not any who oppose the Tories. The reference to “my Cabinet colleagues’ kind of gives the game away that it’s our Vince who has taken on Boris over the Mansion Tax. Now, there’s another debate I’d like to see alongside Nick vs Nigel. Vince vs Boris. One day, maybe..

Anyway,  Vince started by pointing out that action was taken in the Budget to tax corporate property buying:

One less publicised move was a crackdown on people using high-value property to make easy capital gains from property inflation and then dodge tax, hiding behind a corporate façade.

At a time when families are desperate for housing, thousands of luxury flats sit empty in tower blocks along the Thames. The Government is stopping this abuse by charging a penal rate of stamp duty and a charge on the property value – a mansion tax.

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Independent: “Lib Dems fall out over who should take on George Osborne in election debate”

Cable alexander clegg some rights reserved by liberal democratsStephen Tall’s article here yesterday – Without a shadow of a doubt: Vince Cable should be the Lib Dems’ Shadow Chancellor at the 2015 election – has been picked up by today’s Independent:

As the minority coalition partner, the Lib Dems do not have a shadow chancellor. Nick Clegg must choose between the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, and the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, who represented the Lib Dems in the 2010 debate.

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“I thought it was a spoof” Danny Alexander on Shapps’ “patronising” Bingo tweet

Proof, as if we needed it, that Liberal Democrat and Tory mindsets are very different can be seen from Danny Alexander’s reaction to Grant Shapps’ “Bingo”poster.

 

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Nick’s Netmums Q & A on childcare

imageOver at Netmums, Nick Clegg has been answering questions about the new tax free childcare system announced yesterday. He explains the three elements, including the extra help for families on the lowest incomes:

Firstly, if you’re a working family with children under 12, which doesn’t receive tax credits, Universal Credit or Employer Supported Childcare, but both parents are working or you’re a lone working parent, the government will provide 20% of your child care costs up to £10,000 a year.

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33 years ago today the launch of the SDP was announced

SDP logoThe Guardian has delved into its archives to bring us the announcement, on 18th March 1981, about the launch of the Social Democratic Party.

The Social Democratic Party is to launch itself to the end of the runway next week, and even its most devoted supporters admit that they have not the faintest idea whether it will take off.

But the launching is to be conducted with military efficiency. The big names, including Mr Roy Jenkins and Mrs Shirley Williams, will be deployed across the nation to ensure maximum coverage.

The operation was announced at the Commons yesterday by Mr Mike Thomas, MP for Newcastle East. He made it clear that substantial sums of money, including £80,000 in the bank, will be available to finance it.

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Vince Cable: I don’t understand why bankers need to earn a million quid a year

Vince Cable speaking York Europe Jobs Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsIn an interview for the Observer magazine’s “This much I know” feature, Vince Cable has shared his life lessons.

He shares his incredulity that anyone needs a salary/bonus of over £1 million to live on:

I don’t understand why people need a million quid a year. I’ve asked one or two of the more sympathetic bankers to explain it to me. The response has been: “It’s not that I need the money, it is because others get it so I should, too.”

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LibLink: Danny Alexander: Get real, Lord Lawson, it’s the low paid who need our help

Danny Alexander by Paul WalterLinking to the Daily Mail usually brings me out in hives, but there are occasions when it’s ok. Danny Alexander taking down Lord Lawson for suggesting that further tax cuts should be focused on higher earners is one such case.

In today’s paper he starts by reminding people that it was a Liberal Democrat priority to cut taxes for the lowest earners. He missed a trick by reminding people where Tory hearts lay – an inheritance tax cut for the rich, but that’s by the by.

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LibLink: Tim Farron – We need to capitalise on our scientific excellence

University of the West of England, laboratory, science. Some rights reserved by JiscTim Farron has been writing for the Adam Smith Institute – there’s a sentence we didn’t expect ever to write – about turning the UK’s universities into entrepreneurial hubs. The Lib Dem party president is familiar with the sector, having worked in higher education at Lancaster University before entering Parliament. Here’s an excerpt:

Britain has a historically poor record of turning our scientists into entrepreneurs. Too often we have favoured the image of the mad professor or boffin, absent-mindedly beavering away in their lab, oblivious to the wider world around them. We must root out this gross caricature and start talking about the scientists of the future, like Dr Judith Spitz, who as well as not being male and grey haired, jumped at the opportunity to take her skills in speech and language therapy into the corporate world to become Chief Information Officer of Verizon.

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LibLink: Lynne Featherstone in New York for the Commission on the Status of Women

New york police  Some rights reserved by Amiga-Commodore Development Minister Lynne Featherstone spent two days in New York earlier this week at the United Nation’s annual Commission on the Status of Women. She posted a series of blogs from the Big Apple. Here are some highlights.

Day One:

I’ll be attending a whole load of events as well as talking to my counterparts from around the world to ensure the CSW negotiations lead to a

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Cable and Davey proud to employ foreign staff

Au pairs - Some rights reserved by LisaBPhotoWhile we’ve had the Tories tying themselves up in knots so as not to have to admit to anyone employing foreign staff in their homes, Ed Davey and Vince Cable have an entirely different attitude. Ed’s au pair is from Hungary and Vince Cable’s cleaner is from Poland, as the Telegraph reports:

The willingness of Mr Davey and Mr Cable to disclose details of their help at home contrasts with the vast majority of Conservative ministers, who have declined to say if they employed a foreign cleaner or nanny.

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Rachel Smith talks to the Telegraph about the Coalition, being a politician’s wife, and how she’s a fan of Nick

In 2001, Rachel Smith, went along to a local meeting in the New Forest at which Vince Cable was speaking. She asked him a question and the rest is history. They were married in 2004. Last year about this time, she gave an interview to the Telegraph. This year, she’s done it again. She comes over as very warm, human and honest – just the same as she does when you meet her.

She had this to say about Vince’s supposed leadership ambitions:

She pre-empts questions about her husband’s alleged bid to oust the Lib Dem leader. “When people mutter about

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Ed Davey makes QR codes compulsory on energy bills

ed-davey-post-officeAccording to the BBC: Energy bills to come with compulsory QR barcodes. This is one of Ed Davey’s initiatives as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. He explains:

The government hopes its plans will encourage the development of smartphone apps that let consumers swipe their phone over an energy bill to read data such as tariff and consumption.

The data could then be automatically uploaded to price comparison sites, to let consumers look at deals from other energy suppliers.

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Reports of domestic violence rise, but convictions drop

Norman BakerThe Guardian reveals that the proportion of domestic violence cases that are being referred by the police to prosecutors has dropped from 12.1% in 2009/2010 to 10.5% in 2012/2013, even though the number of cases reported to the police had risen.

According to the House of Commons Library, more than 838,000 reports of domestic violence were made to police forces across England and Wales in 2012/2013, but only 6.3% resulted in a conviction, compared to 7.1% in 2009/2010.

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LibLink: Sarah Teather – Why I’m Going Hungry on Saturday

Sarah Teather, MP for Brent Central

Lib Dem MP for Brent Central Sarah Teather will be part of a hunger-fast relay today in protest at what she describes as the coalition government’s “wilful indifference to the hunger of its citizens”. Here’s an excerpt of what she’s written for the Huffington Post:

I shall be fasting as part of the End Hunger Fast Relay. I pick up the baton from the Bishop of Salisbury tonight and pass it on to a Quaker leader on Sunday as we take part in an act of community solidarity with the thousands of British people who go hungry each day because they cannot afford to buy food.

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Tim Farron says Liberal Democrats are likely to oppose “Bedroom Tax” in 2015

Tim Farron has said that he expects that Liberal Democrats will oppose the so-called “Bedroom Tax” in 2015. In an interview with Inside Housing, he has said that in its current form it was causing hardship and depriving housing associations of the money to build much needed new homes. While he praised the Liberal Democrats who had secured more money for discretionary housing payments to mitigate its effects, he acknowledged that reforms were needed.

He said:

I would be disappointed if we did support it in its current form.

I do not expect our party to support this policy unreformed, we must

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Clegg: Tribal voices should not deprive the UK of stable government

Today’s Guardian reports Nick Clegg’s comments at his monthly press conference on reported moves in both Conservative and Labour parties to rule out a second coalition after 2015.

He said:

Clearly, there is a sort of McCluskey tendency in both the Labour and Conservative parties.

I think what you are seeing, in a sense, is the last gasp of the assumption from the two bigger parties that somehow they have got a right to run things.

We should let the British people have their say rather than people constantly assuming that they can decide, rather than the British people, about how this country

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LibLink: Edward McMillan-Scott MEP: Cameron’s EU policy plays into Putin’s hands

Edward McMillan Scott, Vice President of the European Parliament with responsibility for human rights and democracy has been writing about how David Cameron’s European policy has enabled Russia’s President Putin to develop his strategy for a Eurasian Union based on illiberal and anti-democratic values.

He opens by outlining the problems faced by Angela Merkel with the rise of the eurosceptic right wing AFD:

Events in Ukraine may still overshadow Thursday’s trip to London by Angela Merkel, during which David Cameron will seek her support for EU reform.  She will not be pleased that Cameron has allowed his Eurosceptics to continue talks with

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LibLink: Baroness Floella Benjamin: Positive role models can break cycle of despair

Baroness Floella Benjamin has written for the Voice website about what the government is doing to help young black people find jobs.

More than 30 million people are now in work and since the 2010 General Election, the number of people claiming the main out-of-work benefits has fallen by 566,000. This is great news and my party, the Liberal Democrats, have worked hard in government to achieve success stories like these, listening to people’s concerns and ensuring the right support is being put in place.

But disappointingly there’s no denying that unemployment is still disproportionately high amongst young black people, especially men

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LibLink: Danny Alexander: Scotland can’t go it alone and keep the pound. That’s not bullying, it’s reality

Danny Alexander has taken to the pages of this week’s Mail on Sunday to write about the Scottish independence referendum.

He tackled the hostile reaction from some nationalists to David Bowie’s entreaty at the Brits. “Scotland, stay with us.” said the rock legend.

David Bowie’s call sparked strong reactions on both sides of an ever more passionate debate. He was attacked for being a ‘celebrity’, being English and not living in the UK.
And why shouldn’t a ‘celebrity’ have a view and express it? Why shouldn’t an Englishwoman have a view on  an issue that will change the country she lives in, too?

Come

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Nick Clegg “vows to veto any Tory Eurosceptic as EU Commissioner”

nick clegg euFrom the Independent:

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will veto any attempt by the Conservatives to appoint a Eurosceptic candidate to become Britain’s next EU Commissioner, The Independent has learnt.

As Prime Minister, David Cameron has to nominate a successor to replace Baroness Ashton, who will step down as Britain’s representative on the European Commission later this year.

But the Liberal Democrat leader has made it clear that many of the candidates favoured by the right wing of the Conservative Party who want to see “one of their own” in Brussels would be unacceptable to him and he would veto them.

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LibLink: David Heath: Electorate has casting vote on number of female MPs

Just two weeks after the excellent Sarah Yong was selected to fight his Somerton and Frome constituency next year, retiring MP David Heath has been writing in the Frome Standard about the need for more women in Parliament.

He will be slightly red-faced to have under-estimated even our lowly number of women in the MPs, saying we have five, rather than seven, but that doesn’t undermine the premise of his piece.

But I think there is still an issue for all political parties in ensuring that parliament better reflects the make-up of the country at large. Instead, there is a huge

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    Quite @Paul in Twickenham
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