Author Archives: Simon McGrath

Simon McGrath is a member of the Board of Liberal Reform and Chair of Merton Lib Dems

We must speak for our EU Citizens in the UK

eupetitionCanvassing during the referendum in the London borough of Merton one point came up on a surprising number of households – what was going to happen to people from the EU living here if we voted to Leave. We were only canvassing people entitled to voted in the referendum but in many cases the person who opened the door was from the EU and their partner was British. It was often said slightly jokingly with people saying they could tell us how their British partner would be voting ‘or else’ but with an undertone of concern. As the polls got worse the concerns got greater and at out street stall in Morden the Saturday before the vote several people spoke of real concern – as one women put it to me ‘my son loves his school, my husband has a good job and we have a nice flat. I don’t want to leave and go back to Italy – this is now our home’.

With the result – and what seem to be increasing attacks on immigrants those concerns have only got worse Last Saturday we held a street stall in Wimbledon asking people to sign our petition that people from the EU who are here should be able to carry on living and working here without any concern about any worries – and that the same thing should apply to British citizens in the rest of the EU. We had a quite extraordinary response – I have never seen anything like it. People were queuing up to sign , shaking our hands and thanking us for taking up the issue. There is a real concerns about the uncertainty which makes it impossible for people to plan for the future.

Posted in Op-eds | 21 Comments

It’s time to move party HQ out of London

One of the adverse effects of the awful General Election result has been a significant drop in Party income, as we are now of much less interest to potential donors and people who wish to exhibit and hold fringe meetings at Conference. That means that we have to look at radical measures to cut costs so that we can deliver the maximum political effect on our reduced income. One area we should look at very closely is the location of Party HQ and whether we need have staff in an expensive central London location. The easy answer would be to move to another, cheaper London base, but that in my view would be a mistake – we should be asking if most of our staff need to be in London at all or whether they could be based somewhere else, where rents and salaries are lower.

Without a detailed knowledge of who does what at HQ it is difficult to know how many people we would need to keep in London – the press team of course and anyone who needs daily personal contact with Tim and the MPs. But looking at the latest organisation chart it is difficult to see why the people who work on IT and digital, compliance, conference, Membership and Finance need to be in London.

Posted in News | Tagged | 37 Comments

Petition asking Labour to oppose benefit cuts sweeps the internet

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 08.23.03Lib Dems will be familiar with the many petitions launched by 38 degrees attacking us during the Coalition years in which the iniquities of the changes to benefits was a constant theme. Given that 38 degrees have frequently said that they do not support the Labour Party, it might have been expected that they would have something to say about Labour’s extraordinary decision to abstain in the vote on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill on Monday evening- but they have been silent. The nice balance – 184 Labour MPs abstaining with a Govt majority of the same number is just the sort of thing that might have been expected to get their attention!

They can’t be ignoring it can’t be because there is any doubt about the effects of the cuts, independent organisations like the Child Poverty Action Group and the Institute for Fiscal Studies have made clear the damage that will be done to the poorest families, particularly by the £6 bn cuts in tax credits.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 13 Comments

Opinion: Generation Y – Why don’t they vote Lib Dem?

Last year the Economist ran a fascinating article on  “The strange rebirth of Liberal England” on how young people have attitudes in many areas which are very liberal, though as we know this does not necessarily  equate  with voting for the Lib Dems. Liberal Reform explored this further at a fringe meeting in Glasgow which included some polling on Generation Y. Our three panellists, Kavya Kaushik, Jeremy Browne and Paul Marshall, with Chair Miranda Green talked about the polling and what Lib Dems could do to attract Generation Y to vote for us.

The polling is very clear on personal liberalism:  for example the percentage saying homosexuality is wrong, that people who want children should get married, and that a husbands job is to earn money the wife’s to look after the home and family are all lower for Generation Y. They also have markedly more Liberal views on immigration, being the only age group to see it as a net positive.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 114 Comments

Opinion: Vince is wrong about London

One of the oddest statements made by a Lib Dem in 2013 was surely Vince Cable saying that London was “draining the life out of the rest of the country”’.

Odd not just because Vince is MP for a London constituency but because he was so clearly wrong – far from draining the life out of the rest of the UK, London is a huge contributor. The most obvious way is financially: London subsidises other parts of the UK which would have higher taxes or less public spending without the benefits of the London

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 47 Comments

Opinion: Let’s have some facts on the ‘bedroom tax’

One of the ‘facts’ about the ‘bedroom tax’ which is becoming increasing accepted is that 9 out of 10 disabled people affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ and refused a discretionary payment are going without food.

There is a rather good graphic, much shared, on Facebook illustrating this and it has been added to the Labour rhetoric of the all round wickedness of the Coalition.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 47 Comments

Special Lib Dem Conference announced

An unprecedented alliance of groups within the Liberal Democrats have announced an agreement to turn the Spring 2016 gathering into a special Conference. Liberal Vision, the Social Liberal Forum, Liberal Left and Liberal Reform have agreed with the Federal Conference Committee that normal arrangements will be suspended in favour of a special ‘we’re sorry’ day.

A spokesman for the four groups said:

Rather than spending each Conference for years to come rejecting various policy items which the Party supported while in Coalition it seemed much easier to do it all at once .

The format has been agreed as a series …

Posted in News | 24 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDavid Allen 28th Jun - 11:56pm
    “No one in the LEAVE campaign has suggested that EU people already living and working in the Uk would lose any rights to continue to...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 28th Jun - 11:50pm
    So the way forward, after reading all this, seems to be as Graham Watson wrote. The referendum was advisory not legally binding, and with two-thirds...
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 28th Jun - 11:47pm
    The petition is a great idea. Here is a parallel petition which I think makes very similarv points, and which has achieved far more signatures...
  • User AvatarDerek Campbell 28th Jun - 11:40pm
    @David Raw in response to Lorenzo A whipped LibDem MP would vote against capital punishment, that is clear. There is also the option of refusing...
  • User AvatarAlex Macfie 28th Jun - 11:20pm
    I think that we should not, under ANY circumstances, vote for a Parliamentary motion to invoke Article 50. Even before an election. This is a...
  • User Avatarron sanders 28th Jun - 11:04pm
    Leave won the referendum, so for heaven's sake get over it and stop sulking. The issues were aired endlessly for months, so saying that the...