Author Archives: NewsHound

Jo Swinson’s election car-share

It is a truth pretty much universally acknowledged that East Dunbartonshire is one of the key battlegrounds and best hopes for a Lib Dem gain in the UK. Our Jo Swinson is fighting to regain the seat she lost to the SNP in 2015. I’ve been in the constituency twice this week and have been impressed by the number of Jo Swinson posters in people’s gardens. It feels much more visible than it did back in 2005 when she was first elected.

The Scottish Sun has done an election car-share type thing with her in which she talks about life in and out of politics – including her early days of campaigning back at school.

I tell you what I did crusade on at my school Douglas Academy. I was on the school council and one of the campaigns I ran was for uniforms to be changed so that girls could wear trousers if they wanted to.

“I didn’t particularly want to wear trousers but I thought it a matter of principle. I made my case about how it would be warmer if they could wear them in the winter.

“And I remember the assistant head saying to me quite pointedly, ‘Well it might be warmer than a very short skirt’.

She also talked about her experience working in the lingerie department of Marks and Spencer’s.

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LibLink: Paddy Ashdown: Tories’ Royal Marine cut plays fast and loose with UK defence

It makes sense that Paddy should write for the Plymouth Herald on defence given the city’s strategic importance.

He took the Government to task for cutting the Marines – about which he knows more than most people:

For more than three centuries – from Gibraltar and Trafalgar to Normandy and Afghanistan – the Royal Marines have epitomised those qualities. They have fought in more theatres and won more battles than any other British unit. In our nation’s hours of danger, they have been, as Lord St Vincent predicted in 1802, “the country’s sheet anchor”.

So the news that the Government is cutting 200 Royal Marine posts – at such a volatile time in world affairs – should concern us all. They are committing this folly in response to a crisis of their own making.

The cost of Conservative foolishness doesn’t end with the Royal Marines. They’ve cut personnel numbers, breaking their manifesto promise not to reduce the Army below 82,000. Troops on the frontline are deprived of basic equipment and combat training has been slashed, putting soldiers’ lives in greater peril. Warships sit idle at quaysides. No wonder top generals have accused the Government of “deception” over defence.

The Tories are very practised at talking tough on defence in elections. But look at the history: it’s always Tories who cut most on defence in government. It’s now clear that Mrs May will get back in because of the hopelessness of the Labour Party. But it would be very dangerous to give her a big enough majority to ignore us again.

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Norman Lamb “The best MP in the region”

“Can Norman Lamb hold on in Leave voting North Norfolk?” is the headline from a PoliticsHome article.

The constituency is profiled and this is what Norman has to say about it:

After four general election victories, can the region’s lone Lib Dem fend off the Tories and cling on his largely rural constituency for a fifth time? On the surface the signs are ominous. In 2015, his majority dropped to just over 4,000. In last year’s referendum, North Norfolk voted to leave the European Union by 59%. And while the Greens are getting behind Lamb, Ukip has pulled out of the race and urged supporters to vote Tory to “rid ourselves of our Liberal Democrat MP”.

But Lamb – who defied his party line and abstained on the vote to trigger Article 50 – says Brexit doesn’t come up on the doorstep very much and “the majority of people you talk to don’t mention it at all”. The clumsy Ukip intervention has galvanised non-Tories who “don’t like that sort of attitude and language”, he claims.  He is also finding it “very easy to persuade people who in the past voted Labour to support us this time”. And above all, he is optimistic that his personal connections with voters will win the day.

“In a way, this is a contest between the Conservative national message … and a growing sense that a Tory landslide is pretty much an inevitability. So do we really want a one-party state? And do people actually want to lose an MP who has a got a long track record of active campaigning?” he asks.

“Interestingly, as you go round talking to people on the doorsteps and in town centres and outside schools, a lot of people are saying ‘I will vote for you because of what you have done here or what you’ve done for our family’. Yesterday, someone said ‘You saved my daughter’s life’. It was a case of an eating disorder where they weren’t being listened to and I intervened on their behalf and got things moving.

“A lot of people say ‘We’ll vote for you, we want to keep you as our MP’. And this is a side of politics that the commentators often don’t see.”

“The best MP in the region”

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LibLink: Sarah Olney: Brexit undermines universities at every turn

Sarah Olney has written an article for the Times Educational Supplement talking about the difficulties facing universities as a result of Theresa May’s push for a hard brexit.

Citing Cambridge University’s assertion that Brexit poses a significant risk to our Higher Eduction sector, Sarah outlines this in detail:

Unfortunately, the Conservative government doesn’t seem to be listening. Theresa May has chosen to pursue the hardest and most destructive version of Brexit possible: taking us out of the single market and the customs union, and even threatening to do so without a new trade agreement with the EU. The government is also refusing to guarantee the rights of EU nationals  living and working in the UK to remain after Brexit.

The government’s hard Brexit policies and rhetoric risk driving away international students and academics. The number of EU nationals applying to British universities has already fallen by 7 per cent compared with last year, despite the government’s assurance that those starting this year won’t face higher fees after Brexit. Some 53 per cent of foreign academics are now actively looking to leave the UK, and 88 per cent say that Brexit has made them more likely to do so in future.

And what about the EU’s Erasmus programme? It gives 16,000 British students the chance to study abroad every year but the government has made no commitment to maintaining or replacing it after Brexit. Last year, the Liberal Democrats delivered a petition to No 10 and the European Parliament, calling on them to save Erasmus. This petition was signed by more than 10,000 people.

And contrasts the Lib Dem view:

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LibLink: Amna Ahmad: The Tories’ response to the refugee crisis shows that they are turning their back on the world

Lib Dem candidate for Sutton and Cheam, Amna Ahmad, has written for the House magazine about the ongoing refugee crisis.

We have always helped those seeking sanctuary, even at times when we faced domestic challenges and hard times, and we must continue to do so. Recognising others’ need even when we have distractions of our own is part of our identity, or “British values”, and I will not allow Brexit or Nigel Farage to take that away.

Furthermore, at a time when we are seen by many to be turning our back on the rest of to the world, behaving with compassion in the way we relate to those fleeing their homes sends a hugely significant message of unity and understanding to other nations, and we will find it affects our standing in the world for years to come.

But Theresa May has shown that she does not care. Under her government, the Conservatives have U-turned on two previous pledges, including one to take more refugees from Syria and another to help abandoned child refugees.

She outlines what the Liberal Democrats would do:

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LibLink: Tim Farron: The nature of the victims puts this attack in a different order

On the Times Red Box, Tim Farron has been writing about the Manchester attack:

Music brings people together, often in joy, and Ariana Grande’s music in particular is that infectious pop loved by children and young people. Monday’s concert will have been a rhapsody of happiness, laughter and unadulterated joy. The fact that anyone would look at that and see a target for their anger and hate is monstrous.

That is why this attack is of a different order, because of who the victims are. Who the attacker hoped his victims would be. It is not by chance that so many children have been caught up in this atrocity. It was a deliberate and calculated attack on innocence. And to me this is incomprehensible.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of those who have lost their loved ones and to all those who wait by hospital beds and by phones for news of those who continue to fight for their lives. I cannot even begin to imagine the anguish being felt across Manchester right now as the families and city come to terms with what has happened.

Amongst all the horror there have been rays of light and hope. Our emergency services responded with great bravery and compassion and continue to work round the clock, either on the ongoing investigation into who is responsible and how this happened or in the hospitals caring for those injured in the attack.

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Business leaders: Only Lib Dems are speaking for business and the people

In a letter, more than 50 business leaders, including Nicola Horlick and the founders of EBookers and Innocent Drinks, have said that they will be voting Liberal Democrat because of our stance on Brexit.

From the Times (£)

The 53 signatories who say they intend to vote Lib Dem include senior players in the investment and IT sectors, two industries that could be hit by a poor Brexit deal. They represent small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) rather than FTSE 100 companies.

“The Conservatives’ failure to even mention a transitional deal threatens Britain’s status as one of the best countries in the world with which to do business,” the letter reads. “While we may not have voted Liberal Democrat in the past and we may not agree with the party on all issues, they are now the only party speaking for business and the majority of Britons on the key issue at this election.”

Richard Reed, the co-founder of Innocent Drinks and board member of Britain Stronger in Europe, Dinesh Dhamija, the founder of the Ebookers travel site and the businesswoman Nicola Horlick are among the signatories.

In response, Vince Cable said:

The Liberal Democrats now have support from a large number of serious figures in the business community, showing that we are rapidly emerging as the party of business, both big and small.

Theresa May’s determination to take us out of the single market would devastate the financial sector, while taking us out of the customs union would cause incalculable disruption to manufacturing .

Theresa May herself warned of the Brexit dangers to our exports in a speech at Goldman Sachs. Since then she has taken on the agenda of Nigel Farage, who has understandably declared himself delighted with her.

That is scary. It is vital that the next parliament contains enough Liberal Democrat voices to argue for Britain’s future in the world’s most lucrative single market. The more Liberal Democrat MPs, the better the deal we can secure on Europe.

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