Author Archives: NewsHound

LibLInk: Edward McMillan Scott: Turkey’s EU membership will remain in the EU’s deep freeze, no matter what Leave says

The Leave campaign continue to peddle the lie that Turkey is about to join the EU.

This is not going to be happening any time soon despite the disgraceful leaflet which shows the 76 million figure and an arrow going straight from Turkey to Britain (and actually in Scotland, the arrow pointed to Scotland).

Former Liberal Democrat MEP Edward McMillan has outlined the issues surrounding Turkey’s application in an article on politics.co.uk.

Turkey has always been a divisive issue for the Tories, whose Ukip tendency see Turkey’s membership as the final nail in the EU’s coffin. I witnessed this for several years in the 1990s, when I was the European parliament’s spokesman on Turkey’s accession bid. Leading Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan has waded into the Warsi resignation debate this week. He says he asked her to join Leave and now claims she declined, although his friend, Ukip MP Douglas Carswell, told the Huffington Post that Hannan had indeed recruited her.

But internal Conservative politics aside, the fact remains that Turkey’s entry into the EU remains a very distant prospect. The EU’s response to Turkey’s often blunt courtship has traditionally been: “We don’t think either of us is ready for this yet, but let’s keep working on the relationship”. However, recent thuggish behaviour by President Erdogan’s hoodlums against any dissent to his corrupt regime has made even EU diplomats use much stronger language.

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LibLink: Tim Farron: The EU is bloated and bureaucratic but it just needs reform

You can’t say Tim Farron isn’t brave! He’s written for the chiefest of the Brexity newspapers, the Daily Express.

The comments under his article are in the main as you would expect. When the nicest thing you can see is a comparison to Ashley Peacock from Coronation Street, you know it’s not going down well in some quarters.

However, as we know, commenters do not always reflect the opinion of the majority of readers. We need to win people over to the Remain cause  and we’re not going to do that by snuggling up to passionate pro-Europeans.

Here’s what he had to say:

There is no doubt in my mind that to work alongside those countries who share our interests and share our values, we need to remain.

And there is no doubt in my mind that to be the beacon of hope and freedom, in a turbulent and dangerous world, we must vote to remain.

We are a proud nation that stands tall in the world. We are home to freedom, ingenuity, creativity.

He then goes on to tackle the sovereignty issue:

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 18 Comments

Jo Cox: Brexit is no answer to real concerns on immigration

As part of our tributes to Jo Cox, we’re linking to this article in the Yorkshire Post, published last Friday. In it, Jo Cox very persuasively argues that Brexit will not solve concerns over immigration. She accepts that those concerns are genuine – sincere worries about pressures on GP surgeries or schools.

But she explains that Brexit will not answer the concerns and calls for practical steps to improve the situation.

Posted in Europe Referendum | Tagged , , and | 15 Comments

Sally Hamwee explains why she’s introducing her Missing Persons Guardianship Bill

Yesterday, Sally Hamwee introduced her Private Members’ Bill which would enable guardianship orders to be made for missing people so that their affairs could be managed.

Earlier she wrote for the Missing People website:

With no legal system for managing a missing person’s affairs, they can fall into disarray with disconcerting speed.  Salaries may stop being paid into a bank account, but direct debits, mortgage payments and rent will continue to be paid out – until the funds run out.  However sympathetic a bank may be, it needs the signature of its account holder to change arrangements. Some may even regard themselves as unable to provide information.

Once you grasp the legal position, you can begin to see the practical impact.  You can’t use the missing person’s money to pay his rent and other bills.   You can’t sell a house which is in your and your missing husband’s joint names, but because your family’s circumstances have changed neither can you afford the mortgage.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: Brexit Lords have a cheek to complain about EU democracy

Nick Clegg turned to the subject of EU democracy in his Standard column this week.

He was quick to point out the irony of members of the House of Lords castigating the democracy of the EU:

With more than 800 members, the House of Lords is only second to China’s National People’s Congress in size and is about as undemocratic: unique in Europe, its members can revise and amend the laws of the land without anyone actually being elected. It is, in short, an affront to the basic democratic principle that those who make the laws of the land should be elected by those who obey the laws of the land.

Yet this obvious inconsistency appears to have escaped Lord Lawson et al when they berate the EU as “profoundly undemocratic”. I find what they do every day in the House of Lords profoundly undemocratic too.

The rest of our democracy is riddled with faults too:

Similarly, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Chris Grayling and the other Brexit ministers appear to be entirely untroubled that they serve in a Government that garnered no more than 24 per cent of the eligible vote. Such an undemocratic outcome — wielding unchallenged power when three quarters of voters either voted for another party or didn’t vote at all — is, it seems, acceptable to these high priests of democratic virtue.

The truth is that our own democracy is in need of a complete overhaul. Westminster is hopelessly stuck in the past: MPs are not allowed to shake each other’s hands on the parliamentary estate; we can’t call each other by our names and must instead use arcane titles such as “my right honourable friend” or “the gallant and learned gentleman”. We are not allowed to clap in the Commons so we register our approval by manically guffawing and waving papers instead.

The EU has its flaws, but it’s not lack of democracy that causes the problem:

What I would never advocate, however, is that Westminster and Whitehall should be razed to the ground or that we should quit our democratic institutions altogether. Yet that is precisely what Brexiteers are inviting us to do: respond to the flaws in the EU, which are numerous, by turning our backs on it altogether.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 20 Comments

LibLInk: Christine Jardine: A European Journey

Scottish Liberal Democrat Environment spokesperson Christine Jardine has reflected on the EU referendum as her daughter sets out on a journey round Europe. She thinks back to how her grandmother felt seeing her son go to Normandy – to fight in a war. She imagines her horror and panic when he briefly went missing and was found injured. All this, she argues, amounts to a powerful case to stay in the European Union:

My daughter and her friends have already visited Thiepval, the Normandy beaches, a concentration camp.

They have studied that period of European History which is about to pass from living memory, and regard it as their own, as Europeans.

When they talk of either World War what I hear is not blame or criticism of other nations but a recognition that, as a continent, we screwed up.

And they do not talk in terms of former enemies and allies, but of neighbours, fellow Europeans with whom we are building a common, and better, future.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged | 2 Comments

Guardian obituary of Jonathan Webber

In February, former West Midlands Lib Dem chair and President’s Award winner Jonathan Webber sadly died. His partner Kathryn Ball wrote an obituary for us, with tributes from Nick Clegg, Paddy Ashdown and Tim Farron. Tim said:

His advice and counsel to successive leaders, his energy and his optimism, helped sustain the party in the most challenging of circumstances.

Kathryn has now written a very interesting article on Jonathan’s life for the Guardian. Here’s an excerpt:

After studying drama and setting up a small business as a bookseller, Jonathan worked as a bus conductor in Exeter. There he met a Greek student, Kleio – and later hitchhiked 1,500 miles to Athens to be with her. He spent the next 18 years in Greece, becoming fluent in Greek and working as a literary agent publishing Greek versions of bestselling Penguin novels.

After moving to Thessaloniki, he was asked to run the UK government division of the British Hellenic Chamber of Commerce to help stimulate business links throughout the Balkans – and he also started the Thessaloniki Cricket Club.

Jonathan returned to the UK in 1995. He joined the Department of Trade and Industry, helping to promote British exports and advising on trade with Greece and the Balkans, before joining the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, where I met him, and where he became director of international trade in 2005.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 1 Comment
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