Author Archives: NewsHound

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
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Danny Alexander: if we allow the Tories to govern by themselves, it frightens me

Buzzfeed joins Danny Alexander on the campaign trail in what he admits will be a close fight with the SNP to hang on to his seat.

But he insists his local record – “I think I’m the only MP in the country who gets attacked by his opponents for delivering too much to his constituency” – and tactical voting against the nationalists will get him over the finishing line. His campaign team are desperately trying to convince Labour and Tory supporters who don’t want another independence referendum to lend Alexander their vote. “I remain confident that I can win this constituency,” he says.

Posted in News | 50 Comments

Lord Avebury’s personal story – why he wants the option of assisted dying

eric aveburyLiberal Democrat peer Eric Avebury, a great friend of this site, has been talking to the Dignity in Dying website about why he feels so strongly that assisted dying should be an option, to help him avoid a “very terrible” death from his blood cancer.

I am committed to campaigning for terminally ill, mentally competent people to have the right to an assisted death. I have an incurable disease, a form of blood cancer called myelofibrosis, where the inside of the bone marrow turns to fibre and it no longer produces blood, so you suffocate. I have been told that it can be very terrible in the last stages.

It is a debate that the public have been engaging in for many years and finally Parliament has decided to catch up. I have had my own conversations with my family. My wife comes to all my consultations and we have discussed assisted dying. She knows that the ideal would be to have a peaceful death at home and for palliative care to deal with any serious pain, but if it doesn’t she would respect my decision to have an assisted death – assuming the Bill is passed by then. I am not keen on the idea of travelling to Switzerland and we haven’t discussed that option. My four children know my views and don’t object to them either.

I obviously have a personal stake in the Bill and the future of the assisted dying campaign. Currently I am not in the latter stages of my illness and I am very hopeful that this year will not be my last.

I am confident that, when this time comes for me, assisted dying for terminally ill people will be a legal right in the UK, and I will be able to plan the death that I want.

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Call Clegg makes Nick “more approachable and familiar” than any other leader

call cleggPraise for Nick Clegg and his Call Clegg show is found in Gillian Reynolds’ radio review column in the Telegraph today:

Call Clegg, the weekly live phone-in on LBC hosted by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg but steered by Nick Ferrari, was a novelty when it started two years ago but has achieved unexpected wonders. It’s allowed a sliver of regular direct access to a politician in a position of power. (Not much power, you might say, but, admit it, more access than anyone else in this situation would allow.)

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Paul Tyler reminds the Guardian that Labour ruined Lords reform

House of Lords - Some rights reserved by UK ParliamentEarlier this week, a Guardian editorial called for a pre-election pact between the parties on the size and proportions of the House of Lords.

The piece complained about the cost of the peers and the size of their House.

The Commons itself is very large. But the size of the Lords is the real problem. There is no other bicameral legislature anywhere in the world in which the upper house is larger than the lower house. The case for change is overwhelming – morally, democratically and on every other ground.

Liberal Democrat peer Paul Tyler wasted no time in reminding the Guardian of a thing or two – namely that if Labour hadn’t behaved like toddlers, we would be on the way to our first Lords elections in just a few weeks’ time:

Posted in News | 41 Comments

LibLink: Julian Huppert: Journalists must be able to protect their sources

Julian Huppert MPJulian Huppert has tabled an amendment to the Serious Crime Bill enabling journalists to better protect their sources. He wrote about why this was necessary in the Guardian – apparently over 600 applications have been made to access journalists’ phone records in the last three years. That’s about four a week. As Julian puts it:

How will anyone be brave enough to contact a journalist in the public interest, if they know that they can easily be tracked down?

What’s more, these actions have clearly discouraged whistleblowers from coming forward, having a chilling effect on free speech.

Current procedures do not give adequate protection to journalists:

At the moment the police quite rightly need the approval of a judge before they can take documents from a journalist. But they authorise themselves to access the journalist’s mobile phone records and other communications data. This cannot be right.

As a matter of principle, police and security services should not be able to authorise themselves to snoop on journalists to get to their sources. It may be convenient for the police but it’s not right for freedom of the press and it’s not right for the whistleblowers who badly need protection.

photo by: Policy Exchange
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LibLink: Danny Alexander: A defence of our role in Coalition, whatever Jeremy Browne thinks

Danny Alexander takes to the pages of the Independent to challenge the points made by Jeremy Browne in his critical interview in that paper yesterday.

He looks back at the recessions of the 80s with their mass unemployment and misery and highlights the differences in approach brought into government by the Liberal Democrats. This, he says, has brought about a quicker, fairer end to the economic downturn:

Liberalism is about individual freedom, fairness and opportunity. And freedom, fairness and opportunity cannot flourish without a strong economy.

Today, Britain has the strongest growth and fastest job creation of any advanced economy. Inflation is benign, business investment is rising and we have record numbers in work. By any measure, Britain is making strong progress and opportunity is increasing.

This recovery has not come about by accident. It has been hard earned by millions of people and businesses. But we needed the right economic climate for the recovery. That climate is the direct result of liberal values in the recovery plan – fairness and opportunity. Delivered in the Coalition by Liberal Democrat policies – a balanced approach to dealing with the deficit; raising the income tax personal allowance to make work more attractive; creating apprenticeships to give people the skills they need; and the priority we have given to boosting investment in regional and local businesses, innovation and infrastructure. This is not “splitting the difference” between the other parties. It’s doing things in a distinctly different way, the liberal way.

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Gareth Epps to stand for Liberal Democrats against Community Pubs minister at the General Election

Gareth EppsLong standing Liberal Democrat, Glee Club MC, CAMRA member and anti-pubco campaigner Gareth Epps has been selected to fight the seat of Keighley in Yorkshire at May’s General Election. Gareth has sought out this seat as the current incumbent is the community pubs minister Kris Hopkins. He highlighted all the reasons why he was, shall we say, dissatisfied with Hopkins’ performance in a blog post n November:

Mr Hopkins has been given evidence by among others CAMRA locally and nationally that the Article 4 system is not working. The farcical scenes at Wokingham Council where under legal threat from Tesco, officers asked councillors to rescind an Article 4 they had only just granted, illustrate this perfectly. He is siding with the pubcos who are flogging pubs like those in Cuckfield and Earley, and ignoring communities.

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LibLink: Norman Lamb: Let’s ditch the rhetoric and do a deal on the NHS

Norman Lamb takes to the pages of today’s Independent on Sunday to make a plea to replace political heat with non-partisan light in the debate over the future of the NHS. He outlines what is currently happening:

Labour is pulling out all the stops to convince voters that the NHS is in crisis – a basket case run by private firms working to destroy it; the party searches for negative statistics and hospital horror stories to fit its narrative. On the other hand, the Conservatives have failed to come up with a plan to meet the £8bn shortfall by 2020 identified by Simon Stevens, the chief executive of the NHS.

But the NHS is far too important to be treated as a political football. The truth is that it’s neither on the verge of disintegration, nor is everything perfect. There are problems, but also triumphs. The majority of patients, for the majority of the time, receive world-class care from dedicated staff.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 24 Comments

LibLink: Andrew George on renewable energy

andrew georgeAndrew George, Lib Dem MP for St Ives, has been writing for The Cornishman on renewable energy in the county.

I consistently pressed for Cornwall to become the ‘Green Peninsula’ – the UK exemplar for environmental policy, renewables and energy security – coining the phrase in an economic strategy paper for Cornwall ‘Rediscovering our distinctiveness’ in 1998.

I’m pleased that Cornwall has made good progress, but there’s still more to do. Cornwall now has thousands more jobs and millions of pounds more in turnover and is exporting its know-how and talents worldwide, in geothermal, offshore renewables infrastructure, etc.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged and | 7 Comments

Clegg calls for gay victims of the Nazis to be remembered in national Holocaust memorial

In a Pink News exclusive, Nick Clegg has called for gay victims of the Nazis to be included in the planned national Holocaust memorial – the “first senior politician” to do so.

Posted in News | 21 Comments

LibLink: Michael Moore: The Smith Commission has delivered

The Vow deliveredThis was the week that the Government unveiled the 44 clauses of the Scotland Bill which will be debated after the General Election. Former Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore was a member of the Smith Commission upon whose report the clauses were drafted. He says in an article for the Scotsman that the Commission has delivered and “the Vow” has therefore been kept:

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LibLink: Jo Swinson: Shared parental leave will deliver the flexibility that couples want

We missed this when it was published last week but it’s no less relevant now. Shared parental leave becomes a reality in the next few months. Parents will be able to decide which of them takes the time off from their work to stay at home following the birth of a baby. Jo wrote about this for the New Statesman’s Staggers blog:

Under the new rules, mothers will still take at least two weeks of maternity leave immediately after birth, but after that working couples can share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay.

Research published by my department this week underlines the importance of shared parental leave in allowing parents to choose a pattern of leave that fits their own family situation. People are rejecting dated stereotypes about the roles of men and women. Parenting is a shared endeavour and many fathers understandably want to spend more time at home when they are adapting to the demands of a new baby. Shared parental leave will let couples choose how to share their childcare responsibilities in whatever way works best for them, and enable both parents to spend time developing that vital bond with their baby in the early stages.

Our survey found the majority of people believe that childcare should be the equal responsibility of both parents and less than a quarter of people believe that the mother should have main responsibility for childcare.

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LibLink: Tim Farron: Only way to make blue go green is to add yellow

Over at PoliticsHome, Tim Farron has been showing up the Tories, who voted in favour of loosening controls on air pollution. Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder opposed the plans:

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Edinburgh South PPC Pramod Subbaraman explains why he is a Liberal Democrat

We want to tell you as much as we can about the wonderful Liberal Democrats who will be putting themselves before the electorate in May. Our Edinburgh South candidate is Pramod Subbaraman who is a dentist.

Pramod is a dentist and recently, on GDPUK, a site for dental opinion and information, he explained his decision to join the Liberal Democrats, which was rooted in Nick’s sensible stance on immigration. He explains what liberalism means to him:

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Julian Huppert, banking on visibility

Julian Huppert, Lib Dem PPC for CambridgeVarsity – the Cambridge University student newspaper - has profiled Julian Huppert. It doesn’t begin too well:

“Huppert the Muppet, I call him,” says the cab driver taking me to see Cambridge’s most visible politician, Julian Huppert, Liberal Democrat MP for the city since 2010.

But it gets better.

“I think it will be a very tight race,” he says, “and it’ll be a question of whether people like my track record as someone who has worked for Cambridge and delivered for Cambridge.”

He does work hard in Parliament: They Work For You ranks him “well above average” for his participation in debates and questions, and he is in several all-party groups, as well as the Home Affairs Select Committee.

Yet Huppert cites constituency work as the most rewarding part of his position, talking at length about a constituent whom he had assisted in finding housing.

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Norman Lamb praised in Cosmo…

Norman Lamb

Could we be on the brink of a huge  mental health breakthrough?

So asks no less a publication than Cosmopolitan in an article citing how Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb has been making the weather on ensuring that the NHS has the money it needs in the future and for saying that improving mental health treatment is one of the key aims for the next Parliament.

Over the past ten years, there’s been a 77% rise in self–harm admissions to hospital among women under the age of 25, and young women are most likely to suffer from eating disorders. We’re also twice as likely as men to suffer from anxiety disorders, and one in four women will require treatment for depression at some time in her life. So it makes sense that the NHS needs urgent help to make these changes, doesn’t it?

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LibLink: Tim Farron: Without the Lib Dems, there would be nothing to stop the Tories neglecting the environment

Tim Farron has been writing for the New Statesman about what the Liberal Democrats have done, despite the Tories, to protect our environment.

He says we can look to Europe to see the sorts of things they would be doing without us to propel them with some force towards the door marked “green”.

 But we’ve come a long way since the days of trips to the Arctic and hugging huskies. Cameron now openly talks about “getting rid of green crap,” while Tory minister Michael Fallon has said the Tories would stop the construction of onshore wind farms if they win in 2015. As we near the general election, the Conservatives are rapidly abandoning any pretence that they care about the green agenda.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the European Parliament, where the Tories are completely unrestricted by the constraints of coalition government. Time and again Conservative MEPs have shown their true colours when it comes to EU environmental measures, and they are definitely not green. They voteddown EU measures to restrict the destructive practice of deep-sea fishing. They’ve opposed efforts to reduce plastic bag use and tackle the scourge of plastic waste in our oceans. And they’ve repeatedly voted against efforts to strengthen the EU’s carbon emissions trading scheme, Europe’s landmark policy for fighting climate change.

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LibLink: Brian Paddick on the Counter Terrorism Bill

As the House of Lords settles down to begin its deliberations on the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill, Brian Paddick has given his impressions on the party website. His piece is very much a descriptive narrative of what the Bill aims to do. There’s no facility to leave questions on the website, but if you leave them here, we’ll see if we can get him to answer them.

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LibLink: Paddy Ashdown – We have experienced anarchy like this before. We should not over-react to it

PAddy Ashdown by Liberal DemocratsWriting in the Independent on Sunday yesterday, Paddy Ashdown compared the violence in Paris with earlier events:

You do not have to be a young Muslim living in the 21 century to be subject to radicalisation. It has always, down the ages been possible to persuade young men (and a few – a very few young women) of all faiths and none to the believe that is noble to kill innocent people in pursuit of what they have been persuaded is a great cause.

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LibLink Special: Martin Horwood’s cartoon column for his local newspaper in tribute to Charlie Hebdo victims

Martin Horwood, Liberal Democrat MP for Cheltenham is also a skilled cartoonist.

He writes a regular column for the Gloucestershire Echo. This week, he felt it was time to pick up the pen again “for the right to write and draw and think in freedom.”

Martin Horwood cartoon column

 

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Trouble and strife for Labour in Redcar

In 2010, Liberal Democrat Ian Swales won the Redcar seat with a swing of 22% from Labour. He announced last July that he was standing down and in September local Councillor Josh Mason was selected to defend his 5200 majority.

It seems that while the Liberal Democrats in Redcar are working hard to elect Josh, all is not so well in the Labour camp where local leaders have been likened to North Korea and a neighbouring Labour MP has taken to using Freedom of Information legislation to find out what his party’s council is doing.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg We must always be free to criticise ideas, even religious ones

A powerful article in today’s Telegraph passionately defending the right to free speech by Nick Clegg:

Every so often we are confronted by events that force each of us to take a clear stand – and a side. The attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo was just such a moment, demanding a straight answer to a simple question: “are you Charlie?” You don’t have to agree with everything, or even anything, that Charlie Hebdo published to “be Charlie” – you only have to wish to protect the freedoms and rights that define liberal societies like ours.

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LibLink: Edward McMillan Scott – The embarrassing link between Cameron and Germany’s anti-Islamic movement

Writing on Politics.co.uk, former MEP Edward McMillan-Scott highlights a potential cause of tension at today’s meeting in London between the Prime Minister and the German Chancellor:

When Angela Merkel meets David Cameron in London today, one topic could cause embarrassment to both leaders: Cameron’s association with the German anti-Islamist movement, Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West), which was condemned at the New Year by the German chancellor.

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Malcolm Bruce: People will realise the positive impact Lib Dems have made in Government and will want more of us there

Lib Dem Deputy Leader Sir Malcolm Bruce told the Herald recently that Nick Clegg is “strong and resilient” and that the Liberal Democrats have achieved much in government. When people reflected on the last five years, he said, they would want to see us in Government again:

The MP for Gordon said voters would in the next few months have to “think very hard” about what outcome they wanted on May 8.

“At the moment, people are in protest, they don’t like the fact we’ve had a really hard economic time and, therefore, they are not prepared at the moment to reward the Coalition government. But when they consider what the alternatives are and what the outcome might be, they will firm up their support for the Coalition because they will recognise that it has brought about a recovery that the other parties could throw away,” argued Sir Malcolm.

When it was pointed out that the Lib Dems were fourth in Scotland and fourth or sometimes fifth across the UK, the deputy leader insisted people should not prejudge the outcome of the election.

“There are people out there yet to make up their mind and when they reflect the positive things the Liberal Democrats have achieved on tax, pensions, the green agenda and schools, they will want to see more not fewer Liberal Democrats in the next parliament; that’s what our campaign’s going to be about.”

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LibLink: Norman Lamb: Decades of not understanding Mental Health has left too many Unhelped – but we are getting there

Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat Health Minister, has written for the Huffington Post about the changes he’s been trying to implement in mental health care and treatment.

First he talked about services for young people:

Recent provisional data shows that hospital admissions for self-harm for young people aged 11-19 are at their highest for five years. Maybe it is better reporting, maybe it is a result of the added stresses young people face. But these figures represent real young people and their families and the serious emotional distress they face.

Some find it difficult to talk about their mental health, which is why it is so important for those who can to be open about the problems they have faced. Don’t underestimate how important it is to encourage others to feel they can talk about it. In a way, it’s the most important thing.

I want young people to get good and compassionate personalised care. I want them to be given both physical and mental health care which helps them in their time of need but also gives them techniques and support to help prevent or manage further problems.

That’s why, earlier this year, I convened a Taskforce to advise us on improvements to mental health services for children and young people. This is the first time a group of experts from across, health, education and social care have come together to focus on making sure every young person gets the care they need. Crucially, we are also involving young people in this work so they can give their views on what they want from services. And it’s my aim that services don’t just stop at the youngsters themselves – services need to support entire families to deal with the challenges of living with mental illness.

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LibLink: Tim Farron – Pandering to Ukip risks handing over British-grown ideas to overseas competitors

Tim Farron launches the Lib Dem YES! campaignLib Dem party president Tim Farron argues that “a simplistic debate over immigration will force potential wealth creators overseas” over at the Huffington Post website today. Here’s an excerpt:

Pollsters will say that migration is one of the main concerns of this election. An ill-fated and simplistic response by politicians to this issue will not address their concerns. A cap will do nothing to address the problems that Britain faces. Low pay will not be solved by a migrant cap. The housing crisis will not

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Davey: We need to look at rules on transparency of fossil fuel investments

The Financial Times reports:

Britain’s energy secretary has called for tougher rules to be applied to companies holding “risky” fossil fuel assets that could plunge in value because of global action to tackle climate change.
Ed Davey’s move makes him one of the first senior politicians to weigh into a growing debate on the future of oil, gas and coal companies as governments work on sealing a global climate deal in Paris next year.

“We’re seeing a move from a carbon economy to a climate economy,” Mr Davey told reporters on the sidelines of UN talks in Lima shaping the Paris agreement.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 10 Comments
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  • User AvatarSimon Shaw 27th Feb - 9:28pm
    @Glenn Are you saying that the IFS have got it wrong when they say that the Labour proposals would: 1. Benefit higher income graduates; 2....
  • User AvatarStuart 27th Feb - 9:15pm
    As I mentioned on the other thread - Vince's comments were made several hours BEFORE Labour had even announced the full details of their policy....
  • User AvatarSimon Shaw 27th Feb - 9:15pm
    @Jackson Do you genuinely not understand the way it works, or is it just that you want to make random anti-Lib Dem observations whenever the...
  • User AvatarJackson 27th Feb - 9:11pm
    And yet it was the policy that Clegg, Cable, etc promised would be the "norm" following the publication of the Browne report.
  • User AvatarSimon Shaw 27th Feb - 9:11pm
    @malc Completely disagree. When your political opponents put forward a policy (that they have taken 42 months trying to cobble together) which has such obvious...
  • User AvatarSimon Shaw 27th Feb - 9:01pm
    And this "policy" took Labour nearly 42 months to come up with the detail. Unbelievable!
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