Author Archives: NewsHound

LibLink: Tim Farron: Don’t despair, we can help those whose lives are threatened by climate change

Tim farron photo by liberal democrats dave radcliffeTim Farron has been writing for the Guardian about the extent of the practical problems faced by communities around the world as a direct result of climate change. Last week he met with someone from the Philippines who knows only too well what climate change means to their islands:

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LibLink: Sarah Teather: Tackling revenge eviction – a step closer

Sarah Teather was one of the five Liberal Democrat MPs who won a spot in the annual ballot (actually a big raffle) for Private Members’ Bills. John Hemming is tackling secrecy in the family courts, Andrew George the Bedroom Tax, Martin Horwood is trying to stop parking on pavements while Mike Moore wants to enshrine the 0.7% aid target into law.

Sarah’s bill is to stop your landlord chucking you out in the street if you complain about poor conditions. So called revenge evictions cause huge problems. She’s written a blog for Shelter explaining what her bill would do and why it is necessary:

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LibLink: Giles Wilkes – Tax cuts are exactly what we don’t need

In the Financial Times today, Lib Dem blogger (turned FT leader writer) Giles Wilkes – former special adviser to Vince Cable and chief economist at liberal think-tank CentreForum – lays into the party’s flagship manifesto commitment to raise the personal allowance:

Giving hundreds of pounds to millions of people is rather popular. Since this is what raising the income tax threshold implies, it is no shock that both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties want it in their manifestos. Sadly it is an idea that gets worse with each passing year.

A commitment to “take people out of tax” first emerged in 2008 at a Lib Dem conference. Strategically it was an astute move, threading between the Conservatives’ preference for inheritance tax cuts and Labour’s obsession with doing everything through welfare. It showed Nick Clegg, Lib Dem leader, wrestling his spending-obsessed party towards a more economically liberal philosophy.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: Why we must reduce teachers’ workloads

Nick Clegg has been writing for the Times Educational Supplement on the need to make sure teachers’ workloads were more manageable. He recognised that most teachers put in much more effort than they get credit for:

There’s an outdated preconception, which hasn’t quite died out, that a teacher’s working day starts at 9am and finishes at 3pm, with 12 weeks off a year to recuperate. Yet, ask anyone who actually spends their days trying to inspire and educate a classroom of children and they’ll tell you a very different story.

They’ll talk about 50 hour working weeks, the unnecessary bureaucracy they have to deal with every day, the challenges of helping children, from all different backgrounds, get the skills they need and also the rewards, like that moment when you see a young boy or girl in your care thrive.

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LibLink: Edward McMillan-Scott: Britain’s obligation towards Hong Kong

Former MEP Edward McMillan-Scott, who until June was a Vice President of the European Parliament with responsibility for human rights, has written about the current situation in Hong Kong. First he sets out the context:

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LibLink: Paddy Ashdown: We must embrace Putin to beat Islamic State

Paddy Ashdown has been writing in the Times about the need to get Russia onside in the fight against Islamic State.

Russia has so far been excluded from our coalition that is fighting Islamic State (Isis). Why? It has a dog in this fight, too — arguably a much bigger one than we have. Sunni jihadism is roaring away in the Russian Islamic republics of Dagestan and Chechnya, almost as much as in Iraq and Syria. We in Europe may be concerned about jihadis returning from the battlefield. But Russia is one of the battlefields.

Washington friends tell me that the reason for this reluctance to draw in Russia is the personal animus between presidents Putin and Obama. If so, get over it. A wider coalition that includes the Russians, actively or passively, could open the way to a UN security council resolution, provide the best means of limiting the spread of the crisis and vastly enhance our horsepower in resolving it.

Posted in Europe / International and LibLink | Tagged , , , , and | 13 Comments

LibLink: Sam Ghibaldan: Time to end constitutional quirk

england-flagEnglish votes for English Laws has become the great rallying cry of the last week ever since David Cameron decided it was appropriate to use the exact moment that almost half of the 85% of Scots who voted in the referendum said they wanted to leave the UK to pick a fight with Ed Miliband over what has been traditionally called the West Lothian Question. Sam Ghibaldan was Special Adviser to two Liberal Democrat Deputy First Ministers in Scotland and he has some advice for Ed in an article in today’s Scotsman.   He urges him to stop prevaricating and embrace the potential change.

First of all he sets the context:

In the 18th century, of course, the whole political system was largely corrupt and the rotten boroughs provided yet more opportunities for bribery. The West Lothian Question does not do that, thankfully, but it is nevertheless a serious democratic aberration, pushed back to the top of the political agenda by the independence referendum.

The concern is something we British like to think of as our own: fairness. Why should Scottish – or for that matter Welsh or Northern Irish – MPs, vote on English issues, when their English counterparts cannot vote on Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish ones?

The answer to that – they shouldn’t – is so obvious that most Scottish voters, let alone English ones, oppose their MPs voting on English issues. It is one of those rare constitutional questions that chimes with the electorate, appealing directly to their inherent sense of justice.

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LibLink: Alison McInnes: Better late than never for views on armed police to be heard

policeThanks in no small part to the efforts of Scotttish Liberal Democrat spokesperson Alison McInnes, the Scottish Police Authority has finally launched a retrospective consultation  on the decision of Police Scotland to allow Scottish Police to carry arms on routine duties. This has caused huge consternation in highland communities.

Alison McInnes writes about this consultation over at the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ website:

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Norman Lamb gets on his bike…

Norman Lamb cycle rideCare Minister Norman Lamb is undertaking a 100 mile cycle around his constituency to raise money for a number of care charities in the area. The first leg took place yesterday as EDP 24  reports:

He left from North Walsham and District War Memorial Hospital at 10am, travelling through Honing, Smallburgh and Hoveton before crossing to Ludham and then North to Stalham.

The route then headed out towards Hickling before following the coast road to Sheringham.

Mr Lamb was scheduled to call in at the Break shop on Stalham High Street, and will be at Cromer Hospital at 3pm.

Mr Lamb said: “One of my highest priorities as Member of Parliament for north Norfolk has been campaigning for better health and care services in our area.

“We are fortunate to have some wonderful hospitals and local charities in this area, and I am really pleased to have the opportunity to support such a great set of causes and the excellent work they do.

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Labour to cut short their party conference?

Manchester Town Hall ClockThe Labour party is planning to cut short their party conference if Scotland votes Yes, according to leaks to Huffington Post.

The conference is due to run in Manchester from this Sunday through to next Wednesday, but they are assuming that Parliament would be recalled on Monday if Yes wins. In that event, it seems all ministerial speeches and fringe meetings will be cancelled, “with the exception of the keynote address from Labour leader Ed Miliband next Tuesday” .  That does not leave much, and delegates who are not MPs will be left to create their own entertainment in Manchester.

photo by:
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LibLink: Shirley Williams: How Scotland could lead the way towards a federal UK

Shirley WilliamsThe Guardian posted an article by Shirley Williams yesterday, in which she writes:

The referendum decision will come at the culmination of a long period of disillusionment with politicians. The SNP, like the other mainstream parties, has attracted its own share of public frustration about centralisation and the excessive rule of Edinburgh over other regions of Scotland. Nationally, the disillusionment began with the poll tax, the decline of manufacturing in Scotland, Wales, the Midlands and the north of England during the Thatcher years, the failure of our interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan and the financial crisis in 2008 which loaded on taxpayers the huge costs of bailing out the banks.

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Decentralisation decade – Nick Clegg responds

Last Friday Nick Clegg was speaking about devolution at an event organisation by the Institute for Public Policy Research. It marked the launch of their publication entitled ‘Decentralisation decade: A plan for economic prosperity, public service transformation and democratic renewal in England‘.

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Vince Cable on the road

Vince Cable smiling - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsVince Cable is responsible for the UK car industry, so what was he doing driving around his constituency in a sporty Japanese car? It seems the Guardian had invited him to check out a Mazda MX-5 as a guest passenger for their weekly motoring column. As Laura Barton says:

It has a sleek, muscular grace, and runs thrillingly low to the ground – though taller passengers such as Cable have some trouble exiting.

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LibLink: Kirsty Williams – Scottish independence result will have ‘colossal impact’ on Wales and UK

rally kirsty williams 1Kirsty Wiliams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, has added her voice to those calling for Scotland to remain within the United Kingdom. Here’s an excerpt of what she had to say at BBC Online:

I firmly believe that Scotland should remain part of the United Kingdom. We all benefit from a stronger economy, greater national security and a powerful international voice that would be hard to match as separate states.

However, Scotland must have more powers to determine its future. To simply do nothing in the event of a No vote cannot be an option. It’s clear that the constitutional make-up of the entire UK will have to change even if the No side wins.

Posted in Scotland and Wales | Tagged | 23 Comments

LibLink: Kirsty Williams: A chance to promote a new union

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams has been writing for Click on Wales saying that she hopes that Scotland remains within the UK and how the Referendum gives an opportunity to make the union between our nations work better.

First she talks of the benefits of remaining in the Union:

The referendum offers us a chance to promote a new Union, rather than stubbornly defend the old.  The Welsh Liberal Democrats offer people a more positive future:  not one of isolation, but one in which all corners of the United Kingdom are indeed stronger and better together.

I firmly believe that Scotland should remain part of the United Kingdom. Being part of a strong family of nations like ours is in the best interest of not just Scotland but the rest of the UK too. We all benefit from a stronger economy, greater national security and a powerful international voice that would be hard to match as separate states. However, Scotland must have more powers to determine its future.  To simply do nothing in the event of a ‘No’ vote cannot be an option.

And she talks bout what needs to happen in the future for both Scotland and Wales and highlights what the Liberal Democrats have achieved in Government.

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LibLink: Sir Malcolm Bruce MP – The positive case for the Union

Sir Malcom Bruce, Lib Dem deputy leader, has been writing for Endeavour Public Affairs on the choice facing Scots in next week’s referendum.

Here’s an excerpt:

To make a positive case for Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom is to recognise multiple identities and respect that what it means to feel British – or Scottish for that matter – is up to the individual as long as it is inclusive.

It would be all too easy to pick apart the arguments presented by the Yes campaign with endless short-term policy guarantees, limitless and non-costed spending promises. However, there is also a very strong argument in making a positive case for saying a polite but robust No, Thanks to independence.

Sharing resources and strengths while supporting each other through weakness means we can achieve much more than if either party was alone.

As much as there is to set Scotland apart from the rest of the United Kingdom, there is as much that brings us together in terms of culture, (modern) language, shared history, and the free movement of people over the generations. Together we have consistently punched above our weight in terms of international diplomacy, social development, the arts, invention, and enterprise. Scotland and Scots have played a major role in this.

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LibLink: Paddy Ashdown: Britain’s best defence to the terror threat is international action

In today’s Observer, Paddy Ashdown cautions against knee-jerk reactions to the prospect of radicalised Jihadists returning to Britain and wreaking havoc on our streets:

He says, basically, that we’ve dealt with this before, in more difficult circumstances and we know how to do it:

On Friday, the government announced that the imminent danger of jihadi attack meant Britain’s threat level should be raised to “severe”. Then, from the prime minister downwards, Tory ministers took to every available airwave to tell us how frightened we should be and why this required a range of new powers for them to exercise. For the record, the threat level in Northern Ireland has been “severe” for the past four years – as it was in all Britain for many years in the 1980s and 1990s, when the IRA threat was at its greatest.

I say this not to deny the threat from returning jihadis – though as the former head of counter-terrorism for MI6, Richard Barrett said on Saturday, this should not be overestimated. But rather to make the point that this is not a new threat. It is one we have faced before and one we know how to deal with – effectively, without panic and without a whole new range of executive powers that could endanger our liberties. Indeed, when it comes to facing threats, it was surely far more difficult to cope with IRA terrorists slipping across the Irish Sea than it is to stop jihadis returning from Iraq?

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LibLink: Tim Farron – “I’m Determined That a No Vote Won’t Just Mean We Return to the Status Quo”

Tim FarronLib Dem party president Tim Farron has an article in the Huffington Post on the forthcoming Scottish referendum. In it he asks himself two questions:

“Do I think that Scotland could go it alone? Yes, it could. Should it? No.”

He then explains why – here’s an excerpt:

I do believe we have a shared culture and a shared history. I believe our victories, triumphs and disasters are not one nations alone, they are all of ours. We are a family, a family that rows on occasion but the bonds that tie us

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LibLink: Maajid Nawaz: Why Islamists beat liberals in the Middle East

Liberal Democrat PPC for Hampstead and Kilburn Maajid Nawaz has been setting out for War on the Rocks why Islamism has become so prevalent in the Middle East and what those who want to see a secular, liberal society need to do about it.

First of all, he outlines some key factors that have driven the growth of Islamism:

Put simply, it comes down to five structural distinctions that make Islamist movements so potent in ways that their secular, liberal competitors are not. When combined, these tools create Islamism, this blatant manipulation of religion, an attractive ideology that will almost inevitably supersede the appeal of its secular, liberal rivals.

What are they, then? First, it is the basis of their political motivations, the idea that drives them: Islamism. Here, I am referring to the desire and perceived imperative to enforce a version of Sharia as law.

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LibLink: Norman Lamb – Supporting general practice

Norman LambThe GP magazine has run a piece by Lib Dem health minister Norman Lamb on the party’s plans to support general practice.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Liberal Democrats are proud to have ringfenced health spending over the course of this Parliament. With an ageing population, and emerging medical challenges, such as the growth in long-term conditions, facing our health service it may be a given that protecting health spending is a sensible thing to do.

That was not, however, the case in 2010. The coalition has made sure that we have protected the health budget, but the Labour party said that this was irresponsible, and in Wales have cut the health budget by 8%. Sadly, on this crucial area there is simply not consensus.

When faced with these emerging challenges what is needed is to look at how we approach providing health care. We need big shifts in care: from repair to prevention, from fragmentation to integration, from impersonal to personal. That is why we are committed to providing better care, closer to home, and combining health and social care budgets. We also want to see more joined up care – hospitals working with GPs, district nurses and social care workers. There is also an opportunity to better utilise technology in our health service, but at the heart of any changes will be GPs.

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Danny Alexander: “We would all be diminished by Scottish independence”

imageWith just a month to go before the referendum on Scottish independence, Danny Alexander gave an interview to yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph emphasising that a vote for independence would be forever and that he would be “desperately sad” to see the UK, with its strong social and economic ties, break up.

He suggested that people from other parts of the UK could urge their family and friends in Scotland to vote No on September 18th.

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LibLInk: Lord (Paul) Tyler – Just Deserts?

Paul TylerOver at Lords of the Blogs, Lib Dem peer Paul Tyler gives short shrift to the complaints of his parliamentary colleagues complaining that the red benches cannot accommodate the 22 new peers appointed last week:

What a nerve! If on 10th July 2012, having given the Government’s Bill a huge second reading majority, those very same MPs had allowed it to make progress, this alleged problem would have been solved. Egged on by Peers and journalists, they broke their manifesto promises to bring democracy to the Lords by playing party games. Had the Reform Bill passed, political appointments would have ceased by now and we would be preparing for the first election of 120 members representing every region and nation of the UK, next year. The choice was theirs two years ago: popular election or party patronage. They are now getting what they asked for.

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LibLink: Shirley Williams on a role for Europe in solving the Gaza crisis

Many thanks to Paul Walter for bringing our attention to this piece, written by Baroness Shirley Williams for the Guardian last week.

In it, she calls for a more activist stance by the European Union, given her view that America is not, and cannot be, an effective mediator between the two sides in the Gaza crisis.

The EU, as the main financier of the Palestinian Authority, is in a position to influence the PLO and to work with the Arab League on a settlement. The US remains Israel’s essential ally, but as a mediator is hobbled by the dependence of its

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LibLink: Tessa Munt – Why I’m boycotting Israeli goods and services

Tessa Munt photo by Keith EdkinsTessa Munt, Lib Dem MP for Wells in Somerset, has explained over at her own website why she’s taken the decision to boycott Israeli goods and services:

This summer, the majority of people I meet out and about are disturbed, upset and angry. It’s clear that Israel has crossed a line. It’s not ok to drop bombs on civilians and the sight of parents carrying the remains of their small children in plastic bags is sickening. Bombed hospitals and schools, an entire population stunned and damaged is criminal. It simply cannot be justified.

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Norman Baker: in profile

normanbakerThe latest Total Politics magazine has a profile of Lib Dem health home office minister Norman Baker. Here’s a snippet:

at the Home Office, Baker’s relationship with his boss Theresa May has developed into one of mutual respect. (May apparently told Baker early on that she didn’t know where the “spitting tacks” comment had come from.) According to one fellow MP: “He probably likes her because she stands up to Number 10. For her part, Theresa May doesn’t suffer fools gladly. It would’ve leaked out if she was unhappy with him.”

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“Homeowners could get payout if house values fall” – Nick Clegg on garden cities

In an unexpected intervention – an interview on BBC’s “Countryfile”, Nick Clegg has suggested that existing homeowners in areas where new garden cities are to be built could be compensated for any fall in value that might be caused by the building work;

We could maybe give deductions on council tax over a period of time during which the garden city is being built, we could possibly also say to those homeowners where they think the price of their homes will be effected, we will guarantee the price of their home, by buying it, if you like, up front.”

The …

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LibLink: Norman Baker – I want to see the end of all animal testing

Norman BakerIt is, perhaps, unusual for a minister to declare that he or she would like to see the end of part, or all, of their job. But then, Norman Baker isn’t necessarily your average minister. It is ironic that, given his record as an anti-vivisection campaigner, he was given responsibility for the regulation of animal experimentation. In an interview with BBC News, he said that he wants to see an end to such testing, although he understands that it “would not happen tomorrow”.

Unexpectedly perhaps, the number of experiments using …

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LibLink: Julian Huppert – We can’t tackle revenge porn using existing laws

Julian Huppert, Lib Dem PPC for CambridgeLib Dem MP for Cambridge Julian Huppert has wirtten an article at Politics.co.uk explaining why he’s supportive of a new law to make revenge porn illegal. First, he sets out why the it’s a problem that needs tackling:

These images were typically taken with consent, or by the victim themselves – but there was no consent for them to be broadcast to everyone, but rather an expectation that they would be kept secret. This causes immense harm to the victims – the shame and humiliation of

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LibLink: Nick Clegg – Israel must open talks with Hamas

Clegg Speech 40Writing for today’s Guardian Nick Clegg has this to say about the ongoing conflict in Gaza:

The daily images of human torment in Gaza have been harrowing and heartbreaking. More than 1,000 Palestinian civilians have been killed. Were it not for international aid rations, half the population would be without food. Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children are seeking shelter in UN schools – and even these offer little safety.

It is difficult to deny that Israel’s military action appears disproportionate and, combined with the Gaza blockade, is resulting

Posted in Europe / International and LibLink | Tagged , , , and | 9 Comments

LibLink: Alistair Carmichael – Independence vote is far too important to shun

AlistairCarmichaelWriting in the Scottish Daily Record, Alistair Carmichael praises that paper’s “Missing Million” campaign.

It seems 300,000 people have not registered to vote, and many others will probably not turn out on referendum day.  The paper had already been urging readers to exercise their vote, with a 16 page pullout yesterday, and they are now actively tracking people who are not on the roll.

Alistair writes:

The Daily Record. There’s a reason it’s called Scotland’s Champion and the “missing million” campaign shows why.

On September 18, you, I and every other eligible voter will have

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMatthew Huntbach 24th Oct - 12:48pm
    Marc Your words on tuition fees suggest you don’t wish to confront the depth of the betrayal many people feel towards the LibDems over this...
  • User AvatarStephen Hesketh 24th Oct - 12:41pm
    @Simon McGrath24th Oct '14 - 11:11am "William – because a) renwables are (at least at the moment) much more expensive than gas b) virtually all...
  • User AvatarMalcolm Todd 24th Oct - 12:39pm
    I think, Matthew, that you're falling into the trap of what Terry Pratchett memorably characterised as "believing that all the Orcs must come from Mordor"...
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    @john Tilley Solar power is not cheap - it (currently) requires high subsidies. Otherwise (capitalism and self interest being very effective at changing behaviour) we...
  • User AvatarBill le Breton 24th Oct - 12:30pm
    Intriguing. If Alex Salmond knows anything about Sheila Ritchie, he will give Gordon a wide berth.
  • User AvatarMatthew Huntbach 24th Oct - 12:29pm
    Simon McGrath Can you point to any evidence at all that any “orange bookers” have ever said this ? As Michael Meadowcroft often points out,...