Author Archives: NewsHound

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.

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LibLink: Danny Alexander – Liberal Democrats have no part in Tory plans for harsh cuts and empty tax promises

The two Coalition parties continue the process of “conscious uncoupling” today. Yesterday, George Osborne said the Lib Dems threatened the economic recovery. Today, it’s a case of straight back atcha from Danny Alexander, as he lays bare the difference between the Lib Dem and Tory economic approach ahead of the May 2015 election in an article in today’s Telegraph:

Last Wednesday, the Coalition delivered another Autumn Statement that stuck to the strategy we’ve had since 2010: clearing up Labour’s mess in the public finances and doing so fairly; reforms to reward work and improve the UK’s long-term growth prospects. This

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LibLink: Stephen Tall – At least five spectres haunt the Lib Dems.

In his fortnightly ConservativeHome column, LDV co-editor Stephen Tall has taken a look at the five fears (the “queasy quintet”, as he terms them) be thinks haunting the Lib Dems. The first two questions – ‘A May massacre?’, ‘Are we becoming irrelevant?’ – are self-explanatory. Here’s what he has to say about the third and fourth fears:

3) Have the Lib Dems done enough in government?

Oh, we have lists of achievements. There isn’t a senior Lib Dem alive who’s won’t rehearse, when challenged “But what have you done?”, the line that the our top 2010 priorities – tax-cuts for low-earners,

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LibLink: Ibrahim Taguri: Immigration – do you want the truth or something beautiful?

Brace yourselves. Brent Central Liberal Democrat candidate has written a hard-hitting and heartfelt article for the New Statesman on immigration. He expresses his anger at what passes for debate on the issue:

This country has been built on the blood, sweat and backs of immigrants. This is the story of immigration in this country. It’s about time the political establishment recognised this. Not make us feel like foreigners in our own country.

The disenfranchised working classes are being whipped up over the issue and after being long abandoned by Labour are turning to Ukip.

Our country is being betrayed by politicians who are too weak and too self-serving to make the positive case for immigration. Instead it’s a testosterone fuelled race as to who can be hard, harder and hardest on immigrants.

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LibLink: Danny Alexander – The coalition has helped, not hurt the poor

Danny Alexander by Paul WalterDanny Alexander, Lib Dem chief secretary to the Treasury, has an article in today’s Observer rejecting the paper’s front page lead last week headlined ‘Revealed: how coalition has helped rich by hitting poor’.

I absolutely reject this assertion. Nick Clegg and I led the Liberal Democrats into coalition not just to rescue the British economy from the aftermath of the 2008 crash, but to do so fairly.

He details, with examples, various of the Coalition’s policies which aren’t picked up in the analysis reported by the Observer …

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LibLink: Edward McMillan-Scott: Major adds new ingredient to Europe debate

edward mcmillan-scottFormer Liberal Democrat MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber has written about John Major’s intervention on Europe last week.

But Sir John’s intervention shows how desperate David Cameron is to shore up his dwindling store of continental goodwill, to appease the 100-or-so Tory MPs who want out of Europe and are holding their tongues until after the Rochester and Strood By-election this coming Thursday.

Although the headlines have focused on Ed Miliband’s leadership crisis, both he and Mr Cameron are now on notice. And bang on cue Nigel Farage – on target to win the by-election handsomely – positions himself between them with a demand to be included in TV debates.

How often have foreign leaders heard a British Conservative say “I really need your help: my backbenchers want to see real change?” and usually they have delivered. It is not weakness on their part but a strategic calculation that Britain must be part of the process, whether it is the EU or, say, Nato.

John Major’s speech was often equivocal about Mr Cameron’s tactics towards the EU, but he introduced a new note, massively upping the ante, by saying “for the first time, there is a serious possibility that our electorate could vote to leave the EU. I put the chance of exit at just under 50 per cent”.

Posted in Europe / International and LibLink | Tagged , and | 3 Comments

LibLink: Lynne Featherstone: Remembering the journey to equal marriage

Lynne Featherstone has been writing for Left Foot Forward about her part in the equal marriage legislation. And she had a tantalising hint that there was more of the story to tell.

One day, when I am no longer a minister, I will be able to tell the whole story of how the law came to be. But for now I can publically thank the activists, the LGBT+ community, the cross-party group of MPs, the Home Secretary, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and others for the support they gave.

What has equal marriage meant for LGBT people?

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LibLink: Ibrahim Taguri: It’s time for the truth: it’s time to publish the Chilcott Inquiry

Brent Central Liberal Democrat candidate Ibrahim Taguri has called for the speedy publication of Sir John Chilcott’s report into the decision to go to war in Iraq. “How can we have trust without truth?” he asks in an article for the New Statesman. He asks how on earth we can contemplate taking military action (a decision he is not happy with) again in that part of the world without learning the lessons from last time:

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LibLink: Julian Huppert: Politicians can’t afford to look tough any more. We need to embrace drugs reform

Writing in the Independent, Julian Huppert makes the case for drugs reform in the wake of the Parliamentary debate brought by he and Caroline Lucas. They were debating the Home Office report instigated by Liberal Democrat ministers which provided evidence that the prohibitionist approach simply doesn’t work. Unsurprisingly, the Tories did everything they could to suppress it. Julian writes about the debate and the Liberal Democrat perspective:

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Kirsty Williams calls for right of recall for AMs

rally kirsty williams 1What happens when Parliamentarians misbehave? Not a lot unless they are sent to prison for over a year, apparently. The clamour for a right of recall, to make errant parliamentarians face their electorate if found to have been involved in serious wrongdoing, has been growing since the MPs’ expenses scandal five years ago. Last year the case of Bill Walker, the MSP convicted of violent assaults on three wives, showed why such a law was necessary.

Posted in News | 16 Comments

Clegg talks to Cosmopolitan

This week Nick Clegg talked to Cosmopolitan magazine, answering questions put to him by students.

He tackled the tuition fees issue head on:

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Lib Dem scientists announce their ‘Team Science’ candidates

Aldes — the Association of Liberal Democrat Engineers and Scientists — have put together a shortlist of Liberal Democrat MPs and parliamentary candidates who they think can play in important role in the Commons thanks to their background and/or interest in science.

As Aldes explain:

The Team Science campaign thinks that candidates with a background in science, engineering, technology and medicine have a great deal to contribute to politics and are currently underrepresented in Parliament. For this reason we are championing support for the following team of Lib Dem candidates in the 2015 general election.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 18 Comments

A good night for marijuana – US mid-term elections

USA Flag - Some rights reserved by freefotoukFiveThirtyEight has certainly shone through as an excellent resource in these US Mid-term elections. On that website, at the end of a long night, Harry Enten wrote the excellent headline above with these reflections:

In addition to Republican governors, Republican senators and minimum wage increases, marijuana had a good night. Recreational marijuana easily won in Oregon and Washington, D.C., and it’s currently leading in Alaska.

Posted in LDVUSA | Tagged and | 4 Comments

Clegg: We may need to “reserve places” for women candidates

Nick Clegg Q&A - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsAppearing on BBC3’s “Free speech” Nick Clegg said Westminster is a “ludicrously clapped out place” which, on Wednesdays at lunch time, resembles “Downton Abbey gone a bit loopy”. He also said he favoured a “one off” measure to increase the number of Liberal Democrat women candidates:

Posted in News | Tagged | 27 Comments

LibGreenLink: Julian Huppert and Caroline Lucas: Our prohibitionist drugs policy isn’t working

There may be not much desire on either side for an electoral pact between the Liberal Democrats and the Greens but we are working together on drugs policy, as both parties see the futility of continuing with the current approach.

They firstly counted the cost of prohibition’s failures:

Because the scale of our failures can’t be ignored any longer. There are around 2,000 drug-related deaths every year, and it is estimated that 400,000 people in the UK have a serious drug misuse problem. Consider then that for every one of these cases, there are many more whose lives are thrown into chaos because their loved ones suffer from a vicious cycle of dependency. The failure of current policy is quite literally failing millions of people.

The financial costs are massive too. Every single year in the UK alone, we spend over £3billion of taxpayers’ money tackling drug use, roughly half of which is spent on drug law enforcement. That total – over £3billion – would buy six state-of-the-art hospitals.

Posted in LibLink | 7 Comments

LibLink: Tim Farron – What Can Government do to Help the Self Employed?

Tim Farron MP speaks at the rallyLib Dem party president Tim Farron has been writing at the Huffington Post about the need for politicians to support the growing number of what he terms the ‘little platoons’ of entrepreneurs and small businesses:

Unlike many politicians, I think this rise in self-employment could be a good thing, at least for those who’ve made the choice. I welcome the fact that entrepreneurial individuals are trusting themselves and their skills and striking out on their own. Especially amongst older workers, an increased willingness to share acquired knowledge and experience is creating successful small business owners and consultants. …

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LibLink: Paddy Ashdown: Afghanistan war is textbook for how to lose this kind of conflict

rally paddy 01Paddy has been writing in the Mirror about the Afghanistan war? Was it all worth it and could we, should we, have done things differently? What can we learn for the future?

First of all, Paddy writes, we did some good:

So has it all been for nothing?

No. There are children – and especially girls – going to school in Afghanistan who wouldn’t be there if British troops had not risked their lives to give them the chance. Democracy, though frail, has taken root.

There is growing prosperity in some areas, markets in previous ghost towns, new roads that never existed and, perhaps most important of all, a knowledge of how things can be better, planted in people’s minds.

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LibLink: Sarah Teather: Let’s stop the scourge of revenge eviction

Sarah TeatherSarah Teather has been writing for the Guardian about the problems created by so-called revenge eviction and how her Private Members’ Bill will tackle it. First she gave an example of what had happened to her constituent:

Last month, a constituent came to my office in Brent for help after his landlord served him with an eviction notice. His property suffered from severe cold and a cockroach infestation, and following an environmental health inspection the council served notice on the landlord to fix the property. The landlord decided to evict my constituent and re-let the flat instead.

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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.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged and | 16 Comments

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.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , , , and | 21 Comments

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:

Posted in LibLink | Tagged | 8 Comments

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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