Author Archives: NewsHound

Work is “like health treatment” says Iain Duncan-Smith

Iain Duncan SmithThe Gainsborough Standard reports:

Iain Duncan Smith has defended plans to get the sick and disabled back to work amid allegations that he is “punishing” society’s most vulnerable.

The Work and Pensions Secretary insisted being employed was like a “health treatment” and could help make people better.

He also denied that he had a target of taking a million disabled people off benefits, arguing it was sensible to ask whether individuals could do some work rather than writing them off altogether.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 10 Comments

LibLink: Jim Hume MSP: Out of sight, out of mind? Why the SNP need to get serious on mental health

Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume has been writing on the Scottish Liberal Democrat website about the crisis in mental health care in Scotland, where they haven’t had a Norman Lamb in power transforming mental health provision.

In Scotland during the last 5 years, over 4000 people were treated outside their own health board. Jim says that’s not good enough:

Despite the number of patients being discharged from psychiatric hospitals in Scotland falling dramatically in the past decade, hundreds of patients are still facing being treated away from their families and communities.

There will always be some patients who need to be sent to specialist clinics outside of their health board for treatment. But it is clear that mental health units across the country are struggling to cope with demand on their services.

We know that sending patients out of area can isolate them from their support networks, including friends, families and their community care team.

The life-changing nature of such a move means it could also have implications for the civil liberties of an indidividual – which must be considered under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (ScotlandAct 2003.

It can be detrimental to a persons recovery.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 2 Comments

LibLink: Cllr Jayne McCoy: Council intervention drives housing market

Cllr Jayne McCoy chairs the London Borough of Sutton’s Housing, Economy and Business Committee. She has written for the Local Government Association’s First magazine about how Sutton Council have set up a development company to build the right sorts of houses at the prices key workers can afford:

In Sutton we have seen numerous private developments of one bedroom flats, however what we need are two and three bedroom family homes. We also see both the private for sale and private rented sector out of the price range of most of our residents.

In response we have sought to take control and lead the delivery of housing ourselves by setting up a council-owned development company. This will allow us to take advantage of preferential borrowing rates to invest in the housing market across all tenures.

The development company gives the council the flexibility to build homes for private ownership, private rent or to build council houses in the traditional sense. The company will also seek to unlock sites where development has stalled.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 14 Comments

Tim Farron on Calais refugees: “These are bright, educated people that just want to create a life for themselves.”

While David Cameron uses demeaning language comparing them to insects, Tim Farron takes himself off to Calais to actually meet some of the refugees there. He spoke to Buzzfeed’s Emily Ashton about his experiences. Here are some of the highlights:

An invitation to David Cameron

He should go ,” said Farron of the prime minister. “I will take him. He should talk to people there and look at the reality of the situation and he should deal with the reality rather than dealing with the myth.

The idea that they are all money grabbing people seeking to claim UK benefits is rubbish

The significant majority in the camp are, according to the French authorities and doctors, absolutely what any reasonable person would consider a refugee fleeing from war or persecution,” he said.

So this idea they are all money-grabbing people is just rubbish. I got talking to a bunch of guys from Eritrea, from Sudan, from Libya, and these are guys who wanted to come to England. Not one of them had a clue about benefits. They wanted to come to the UK because the UK represents the good life. Not that it’s a bed of roses or it’s cushy; I mean a life where people aren’t shooting at you, where you can be free to worship where you want to worship.

“We don’t get fewer losers by pitting one group against others”

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Inside story of the coalition to come in book form from David Laws

Biteback publishing have announced that David Laws will be writing a book for them on the inside story of the coalition:

Iain Dale, MD of Biteback Publishing, has acquired world rights to Coalition, the inside story of the Cameron-Clegg Coalition by David Laws, the former senior Liberal Democrat MP, and author of the bestselling 22 Days in May: The Birth of the Lib Dem-Conservative Coalition (Biteback, 2010).

Posted in Books and News | 26 Comments

Tim Farron calls for a bit of compassion in the Calais debate

Tim Farron has made the following comment on the Calais issue:

If you don’t give people hope, they will resort to desperate measures. We are treating this as a security issue, but primarily it is a humanitarian one.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 20 Comments

++ Tim Farron announces diverse spokesperson team

Tim Farron has just announced his “frontbench” spokesperson team, and it is very diverse, with women leading on the economy and defence.

From the Liberal Democrats:

Tim Farron today set about ending the Liberal Democrats’ lack diversity at the top of the party – by naming the most diverse shadow cabinet team in the party’s history.

Posted in News | Tagged | 56 Comments

‘A leftwing Labour leader could raise the Liberal Democrats from the dead’

So runs the headline in the Guardian over a piece today by Mary Dejevsky:

A return to more leftwingery for Labour could create more ideological space for the Liberal Democrats and foster a stronger electoral identity for both parties.

Posted in News | 50 Comments

Tim Farron talks to his local newspaper on becoming Lib Dem Leader:

The first people Tim Farron called on becoming Liberal Democrat leader were his local paper, the Westmorland Gazette. Here are some highlights of his first in-depth interview as leader:

Turning his local success into a national phenomenon

This is a big deal. It will be a great responsibility and I will work tirelessly to fight for Liberal values.

There are real challenges ahead but we have shown in Westmorland how we can succeed and we want to make a difference all over the country.

“A fairer, greener, freer Britain”

Posted in News | Tagged and | 30 Comments

Laura Kuenssberg appointed as BBC political editor

laura kuenssbergThe BBC has announced that Laura Kuenssberg is to be its new Political Editor, succeeding Nick Robinson who is moving to the Radio 4 Today programme.

Posted in News | Tagged | 4 Comments

LibLink: Baroness Sally Hamwee: It is time to legalise Cannabis for medicinal purposes”

Sally Hamwee has been writing for Politics Home about her attempts to have Cannabis legalised for medicinal use.  She firstly outlined the need:

Medicinal herbal cannabis is very effective for many people (not all) suffering from some very severe and debilitating conditions, the spasms and cramps associated with multiple sclerosis and spinal cord damage, Parkinson’s Disease and some of the symptoms of cancer and of the treatment of cancer among them.

It is available in 23 states of the USA, Canada, Israel and Netherlands from where it is exported to several other countries of the EU.  But not – legally – the UK.  The Dutch have used genetic alteration to maximise the benign content and eliminate the dangerous, psychosis-inducing component.

No wonder that so many British people go to great lengths to go abroad to get hold of it.  The cannabis-based drug licensed in England is much more expensive and only prescribed on a “named basis” as NICE regards it as not cost-effective (it is approved in Wales).

And then she outlined how both Conservatives and Labour in the House of Lords wouldn’t accept her ideas:

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 18 Comments

Nick Clegg on life as a constituency MP

Nick Clegg has been spending a lot of time in his constituency recently. He was there regularly as Deputy Prime Minister, but now he unconstrained by office, he can afford to get up there during the week. He spoke to the Star:

The ‘trappings of power’ have gone, with a security team reduced, the ministerial Blackberry returned and fewer staff – it is a big change from striding along the corridors of power in Whitehall to campaigning on tree felling in Sheffield.

As it happens I’m really enjoying having more time to work in the constituency again,” insists Mr Clegg.

When the Conservatives and SNP argued each other to a standstill on fox hunting, I was able to jump on a train and went straight to the leaving party of a headteacher at Dore Primary School – I would never have been able to do that before.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 8 Comments

LibLink: David Steel: Tim Farron is a man of conviction and a risk taker – that’s why he got my vote

David Steel has written in the Guardian about why he backed Tim Farron and what he thinks he’ll bring to the party:

That level of deep commitment which Farron obviously has, combined with his organisational skills and northern public persona, has all the ingredients of a successful leadership. I speak as one who sat in a gloomy Commons party of six after the 1970 election debacle, three of us clinging to majorities under 1000. It took time, but we turned that round, and went on both to increase our numbers and form the significant Alliance with the SDP and eventually the new united party, which at elections under Paddy Ashdown, Charles Kennedy and Clegg reached new heights of public support. The same can happen again.

A colleague said to me during this contest: “But isn’t Farron a bit risky?” I responded that that may be so, but what the party needs at this time is a risk-taker, not afraid to revisit more traditional Liberal policies – on Trident, on Europe, on industrial democracy, on land value taxation, on the pursuit of a more just society, and on the need for a federal constitution including a new upper house.

It will be a long and at times painful journey, but with Tim Farron inspiring and leading it I see grounds for real hope and optimism.

 You can read the whole article here. 
Posted in News | Tagged , and | 2 Comments

LibLink: Simon Hughes: A message to Tim Farron: Unite, inspire and enthuse

Simon Hughes was one of the first people to endorse Tim Farron for leader. He’s written an article for today’s Independent in which he outlines what he thinks Tim should do next:

The new leader knows what to do. He must and will unite, inspire, and enthuse the party, involving supporters of both candidates in one big campaign for liberalism, determined to rebuild – and quickly. The clarion calls dreadfully muffled in the last year must be heard in all our communities: freedom, democracy, respect for our planet, a decent quality of life for all, and much greater equality in our still horribly unequal country. We must turn our policy and philosophy into practice where we govern and into campaigns where we do not. We need a massive housing programme of council, social rent, and other affordable housing, and help for the mentally ill. We must champion political reform to restore the link between voters’ views and election results. We must be the party of internationalism and of Europe, and a movement which values those who have chosen to live here.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 18 Comments

Lib Dem party steward saves a life

One of our volunteer stewards at Federal Conferences is in the news for having saved a man’s life.  The Manchester Evening explains what happened in an article headlined Good Samaritans save life of man on motorway bridge.

Hamza Afzal, a student from Manchester, was driving from Bolton to Manchester with a friend, when they spotted a man standing on a motorway bridge, on the wrong side of the barriers. They stopped and managed to pull him back to safety just as he was falling unconscious.

Congratulations to Hamza on his quick thinking and timely actions.

 

Posted in News | 2 Comments

Two ways to find out more about the Ethnic Minorities Liberal Democrats Leadership Hustings

cropped EMLD logo
Last week, Ethnic Minorities Liberal Democrats held a very good hustings event in London where Tim Farron and Norman Lamb were put through their paces.

You can listen to the whole thing here on Soundcloud.

You can also read Lester Holloway’s report of for The Voice here.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 4 Comments

Guy Verhofstadt tells it to Greece and the EU like it is

Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the liberal ALDE group in the European Parliament, has set out a potential solution to the Greek crisis in an article for Politico. He makes it clear that there are faults on both sides and both sides need to take constructive action to resolve the crisis fairly for everyone.

We are in this mess because the Greeks never made a real reform package, or a clear break with their mistakes from the past. But also because Europe has followed wrong policies — policies of pure accountancy that slowly but steadily choked the Greek economy. Everybody can make the wrong policy choices, but we have been clinging on to them far too long.

He implores people to stop the scaremongering:

Posted in Europe / International and LibLink | Tagged , and | 16 Comments

LibLink: Norman Lamb and Julian Huppert: Defeating radicalisation and extremism, a battle we must win

On the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 bombings, Norman Lamb and Julian Huppert looked at what should and should not be done in order to tackle the radicalisation and extremism that leads to such awful attacks. They wrote for Politics Home and outlined first the measures we should not take, because they don’t work and are just wrong in principle:

But the 7/7 bombings also presented an existential threat to the sort of liberal society we want to live in – raising questions that many will have asked again in light of last week’s terrorist attack in Tunisia.

Do we address these threats by giving government the power to snoop indiscriminately on every citizen, and the vast resources needed to sift through all that information?

Do we target “at risk” communities and faith groups with increasing scrutiny, limit their freedom of speech, and intervene aggressively in an attempt to clamp down on potential extremism?

Internationally, is it right to believe can we combat terrorism by bombing some of the most volatile regions in the Middle East, particularly if it may be contrary to international law?

To each of these, as Liberal Democrats our answer must be – emphatically, no.  Firstly, it doesn’t work.  In 2005 the Security Services were already faced with too much information, on too many threats, to see the wood from the trees. Remember that if we tread roughshod over disenfranchised faith communities we will earn ourselves more enemies than friends.  And if we spend the next year bombing Syria all we will have to show for it are craters, innocent casualties, and a rising defence bill.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , , , and | 13 Comments

LibLink: If I’m Lib Dem leader, we’ll oppose fracking

Tim Farron has been writing for Politics.co.uk about his desire to see the party change its policy on fracking. The headline is entirely misleading, because what he actually does is show respect to the party’s processes by saying he’ll ask the Federal Policy Committee and Conference to reconsider the issue. But why?

The UK should not be pursuing another fossil fuel source, when there is so much potential for renewable generation from tidal and hydro that is still untapped. I would like the party, through the federal policy committee and the conference, to think again about our existing policy on fracking.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , , , , and | 46 Comments

LibLink: Norman Lamb: It would be easy for our party to shelter in our comfort zone but it would be very, very wrong

Norman Lamb has been writing for the Huffington Post about his vision for the future of the Liberal Democrats.

The next few years can’t just be about making ourselves feel better; we must be far more ambitious than that.

That means broadening our policy and political thinking, daring – once again – to be radical and challenging. It is why I am proposing a renaissance in our approach to political action and debate, reaching out to include the many – particularly young people – who share our values and instincts but are put off by closed party structures and, even worse, by tribalistic political thinking.

Our task now is not just to devise short-term tactics or louder opposition. We will succeed when we have a long-term, coherent and persuasive set of strategic ideas for Britain.

The good news is that Liberalism fits our age. Britain has become less collective, citizens and consumers feel more empowered and many individual rights – through equal marriage for instance – are better recognised.

What are his key issues?

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 23 Comments

Lib Dem Leadership: Farron and Lamb campaigns covered in Welsh media

Norman Lamb and Tim Farron have been featured in the Welsh media.

Norman’s comments were reported in Walesonline.

He talked about drugs policy:

We have a really crazy situation where there are very many people who end up criminalised and with their careers blighted when actually half of the Government will have taken drugs in their early years… This is put down as a youthful indiscretion if you’re a fully signed-up member of the middle classes, but there are many of their fellow citizens who have criminal convictions for doing the same thing.

He says he regrets signing the tuition fees pledge:

I don’t think we should have signed it in the first place. It was pressure from the campaigns department to sign this…

I should have stood up to that.

Posted in News | 3 Comments

LibLink: Cllr Keith House: The New Housing Finance Institute can help Councils build homes

Eastleigh Council leader Keith House has written on the party website about the potential of the new Housing Finance Institute to ensure that we build the houses we need to tackle the housing crisis we face in this country:

The aims of the HFI are to increase housing supply across all tenures; to unlock opportunities for the public sector and to help business to deliver and finance housing.

The HFI was a key recommendation of the Government-commissioned Elphicke-House Report 2015. Over the course of a year-long review, Natalie Elphicke and I listened to more than 400 organisations from across the nation. The organisations came from all parts of the housing and finance industries as well as local and national government. They made the case for a new approach that would bring everyone together. The idea for the HFI was born and made a key recommendation of our report. Councils can do more, working with housing associations and developers, with private and public finance. My own Council, Eastleigh, is building homes for affordable and private rent, and homes for sale.

There are three things the HFI can do:

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

Leadership LibLink: Norman Lamb: It’s time to halve the prison population

Earlier this week, Norman Lamb wrote for the Huffington Post outlining a strong, liberal case for putting fewer people in prison. It’s powerful stuff:

There can be no other area of public policy, with the exception of the related issue of drugs reform, where establishment politicians so readily bang the drum for the exact opposite of any evidence-based solution. Our prisons clearly fail to rehabilitate: half of those released reoffend within a year, including six in ten of those on sentences of less than twelve months.

Liberal Democrats must lead the call for drastic and urgent action to reduce crime, protect victims more effectively, help criminals turn their lives around and protect taxpayers money: we must push for a Ministry of Justice target to halve the prison population by 2025.

Maybe we should look at the reasons people commit crime and tackle them, says Norman:

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 8 Comments

LibLink: Edward McMillan-Scott: Tories might pull their hair out but they’re not going to get a parliamentary veto in the EU

Former Lib Dem MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber Edward McMillan-Scott has been writing or Politics.co.uk about the Tories’ efforts to ensure that national parliaments can veto EU laws that they don’t like.

Edward clearly knows a fair bit about how the EU works, arguably significantly more than your average Eurosceptic Tory backbencher. He’s been in on the organisation within the EU that actually does represent the rights of national parliaments and it has asserted itself in recent years.

He explains how the process works:

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Tim Farron talks about Asylum and Immigration

Last week Elizabeth Needham recorded some video footage of leadership candidate Tim Farron talking about asylum and immigration.

She’s happy for it to be shared, so, enjoy!

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 9 Comments

LibLink: Norman Lamb MP.. I will stand up for LGBT rights as Lib Dem Leader

Tim Farron gave a major interview to Pink News a few weeks ago and now it’s the turn of Norman Lamb to lay out his views on LGBT issues.

He wrote for the site this week, starting off by reminding us that when he came into parliament, it was legal to discriminate against LGBT adoptive parents, section 28 was still in force, homophobic bullying was rife in school and LGBT couples were not allowed to get married (or even have a civil partnership).

It has been a privilege throughout that time to have had the chance to be part of the movement to change these profoundly homophobic laws that institutionalised bigotry, created misery and held back people’s freedom to love and thrive.

So far, my contribution to that change was as Health Minister in the Coalition government. I made the cause of equality for those suffering mental ill health a true NHS priority for the first time.

I recognise the impact of mental ill health on the LGBT community. I introduced the first maximum waiting times for mental health treatment.

I also worked to tackle the evil of gay ‘conversion therapy’, that treat people’s sexuality as a sickness rather than something to celebrate.

I proposed and secured the first ever memorandum of understanding with all the key bodies to commit clearly that this so called therapy has no place in a modern country.

There is, he argues, so much more to do:

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 21 Comments

LibLink: Sir Menzies Campbell: Commons reform is fitting tribute to Kennedy

Sir Menzies Campbell has written an article for the Sunday Times in which he argues that the House of Commons should be reformed to reflect Charles Kennedy’s style of politics.

It is hard to match the extraordinary and justified tributes made this week on the too-early death of Charles Kennedy. But perhaps the most fitting thing to do now would be to see what can be learnt from his style of politics in order to create a more appreciative understanding between politicians and the people they represent.

He talked about Charles’ ability to communicate, his sense of humour which was mischievous but never cruel and his tolerance and respect for others.

He went on to outline the specific reforms that could be enacted in the Commons to make it reflect those values:

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 3 Comments

LibLink: Tavish Scott: Principles and warm wit with a highland accent

Shetland MSP, who started out his career, like Danny Alexander, as a party’s press officer back in the 80s. That involved working with a young Charles Kennedy and he writes about that experience in a tribute written for the Yorkshire Post:

On one such occasion the MPs joined a demonstration with students at Inverness College. Charles spoke and debated with the students and had them eating out of his hand. They laughed at his jokes and nodded at his serious observations. We then drove to Portree. The next day, on the three-hour drive back to the Highland capital, Charles gave me a political tour de force on the Highlands, nationalism and Britain. The lessons of that discussion stay with me to this day.

Fast forward to 1999 when Tavish was an MSP:

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Don’s Dark Arts: Foster reveals the secrets of being a Chief Whip

The House Magazine has produced a Westminster Survival Guide for New MPs. One of the first articles is by former Liberal Democrat Chief Whip who gives some humorous, we think, advice on how to deal with your whips. It’s an article that seeks to take no prisoners from the start:

How to deal with the whips? You don’t have to. The whips deal with you.

He talks about how the job of being a whip has changed over the years. Gone are the days when a whip could hold something in your private life over you.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 6 Comments

LibLink: Malcolm Bruce: The Commons Man

Malcolm Bruce has written, for Politics Home, a tribute to Charles Kennedy that gives quite an insight into their friendship and his parliamentary career as well as his life outside politics.

There are bits that will make you cry with sadness and bits that will make you absolutely howl with laughter. The accounts of their double dating exploits probably fits best in the latter category. You will want to click on the link to find out what “Frocks at Eight” means.

Here’s an extract:

From the start Charles had two contrasting lifestyles. In London he was at the centre of political debate, rarely

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