Category Archives: LibLink

For highlighting articles by Lib Dems that have appeared elsewhere in the media.

LibLink: Willie Rennie on St Andrew’s Day – “No Racism: Refugees Welcome Here”

Willie leader launch crouching in front of bridgeThe St Andrew’s Day Anti-Racism March and Rally will focus on refugees this year, under the theme No Racism: Refugees Welcome Here.  It will start at 10.30am from Glasgow Green. Willie Rennie has been explaining the importance of this year’s march to the Scottish Trade Unions Congress.

The refugee crisis is the biggest humanitarian challenge that Europe has faced since 1945. Our response to the crisis needs to match the scale of this challenge. And just as we speak out against racism, we need to ensure that we are challenging those who would see us ignore our obligation to help.
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And now for something completely different – Tim Farron is normal


The Telegraph Travel section has interviewed Tim Farron about his holidays in their Celebrity Travel spot.

He reveals some distinctly non-celebrity holiday behaviour:

My wife, kids and I tend to have one foreign holiday a year, either in France or Spain – this year we spent two weeks in Andalusia – to get a bit of sun and spend some time together as a family. Most recently, I spent a few days on the Isle of Arran with my family during the half-term break.

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Liblink: Tim Farron on the five things Lib Dems want to see in the Spending Review


Tim Farron has been writing today in the Huffington Post.

The simple fact is that nearly half of the cuts George Osborne will make aren’t necessary to get spending under control. Instead that are motivated by an ideological drive to shrink the state. That’s a big departure from the decisions Liberal Democrats took in Coalition.

He outlines the five things that he would like to see in the review:

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Alison Suttie writes…Why shouldn’t 16 year olds vote in the EU Referendum

In the wake of the House of Lords voting to give 16 and 17 year olds the vote in the EU Referendum, Alison Suttie wrote about the debate for the Huffington Post.

It’s fair to say she was unimpressed with the Tories’ arguments against the measure:

Some of the arguments we heard from Tory peers against extending the franchise for the EU referendum last night were truly absurd and were the sort of patronising arguments and attitudes that would not have sounded out of place in the House of Lords a hundred years ago in debates about giving women the right to vote. 16-year-olds are mature enough to work and pay tax. They are mature enough to join the army or get married. Suggesting that they are incapable of understanding political debate is patronising in the extreme.

As a Scot, Alison knows only too well the positive impact 16 and 17 year olds had on the referendum.

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LibLink: Norman Lamb MP: Government must fund equality for mental health

Writing for PoliticsHome, former Liberal Democrat Health Minister Norman Lamb argued that the Government must put its money where its mouth is when it comes to ensuring equality for mental health:

The Spending Review is a critical moment that will shape the Government’s spending for the duration of the Parliament, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer has an opportunity to make a bold statement on the importance of tackling mental illness. I will not be humoured by the warm words for mental health and my efforts as a minister – it’s about time that this Government put their money where their mouth is.

And it isn’t simply a case of investing to improve mental health services or leaving them the way they are. Mental health trusts are under severe financial strain, and last week’s report by the King’s Fund was the latest in a long line of warnings of the impact of neglecting mental health. There is no doubt that services will slip backwards if we do not take urgent action to provide stable funding for mental health, on a par with physical health.

One in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point during their lifetime, and a far greater number will know somebody who is affected.

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LibLink: Shirley Williams tells George Osborne that he has 10 days to save the NHS


Writing in the Guardian, Shirley Williams picks up the baton passed on by Nigel Crisp, the former chief executive of the NHS, who four years ago wrote about his experiences in his book 24 Hours to Save the NHS.

Shirley explains that many of the financial woes in the NHS have been inherited from past schemes:

For example, the number of funded places for young men and women training in this country as nurses was cut by 12% – 2,500 places – in 2012. The consequent shortage of newly qualified nurses has been filled by people recruited by employment agencies. The cost of agency staff is one of the main reasons for overspending by NHS trusts. In 2014/15, agency staff cost the NHS £1,770m, a year-on-year increase of 29%.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: My family are up in arms over ham but I’m raging over sugar

Nick Clegg’s been on a bit of a journey on his views about sugar consumption. In an article for the Evening Standard last week, he outlined the dangers of consuming too much hidden sugar and said that he now favoured strong action to reduce our sugar consumption:

Now, finally, we are beginning to have a proper debate about what we can and should do about it. A recent report by Public Health England proposed a number of measures, as has the ever- compelling Jamie Oliver.

Reducing two-for-one deals, clamping down on advertising targeted at children, reining in the marketing of high-sugar food and drinks, reducing sugar content and portion sizes, and introducing a tax on sugary drinks and food have all been called for.

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Paddy Ashdown on snoopers’ charter: Politicians in a democracy must guard our freedoms

Paddy Ashdown took part in a Guardian Live event the other night, talking to Andrew Rawnsley in Bristol. The subject of the new Investigatory Powers Bill, son of Snoopers’ Charter, came up. Paddy knows about this kind of stuff. He said:

We charge the intelligence services with keeping us safe, so of course they want the maximum amount of power. But the job of a politician in a democracy is to be jealous about giving away those freedoms, and to do so only when it’s necessary. You have to make judgments as to how much infringement of the liberty of

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LibLink: David Laws: George Osborne needs to prove his cuts won’t stall improvement in education

As Schools Minister, David Laws introduced the Pupil Premium, extra money for disadvantaged kids in school to help close the attainment gap.

He has written for the Independent to say that the Government needs to do more to ensure that people have a route out of poverty:

The Government also needs a new drive to raise educational standards, and to keep the focus on improving attainment for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds – those who are much more likely to end up in poverty and on benefits. We are not going to address poverty and create opportunity while 60 per cent of young people from poor households fail even to achieve the old and unambitious target to secure five GCSEs at C grade or higher, including English and Maths. This figure is a national disgrace.

The last Government had a strong record on education – with the introduction of the Pupil Premium, swift action to tackle failing schools, and the clean- up of English’s discredited qualifications system. But there is nothing at all to be complacent about. If the country’s main anti-poverty and pro-opportunity strategy is now to rely on education and work, then we have got to do an awful lot more and more intelligently

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LibLink: Guy Verhofstadt – David Cameron wants a two-speed Europe


Guy Verhofstadt heads the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament and is the former Prime Minister of Belgium. In the Independent he examines David Cameron’s stance on Europe under the headline “EU referendum: David Cameron should spell it out. He wants a two-speed Europe“. He writes:

This week, or so we are told, the Prime Minister will set out his Christmas list of EU reforms to the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk. A broad agreement on the UK’s renegotiation package is envisaged at the December summit of European leaders. There will be battles and setbacks in the weeks to come, but there are reasons to think a deal can be found.

Many in continental Europe strongly agree with David Cameron that the European Union of today is not fit for purpose and is in need of fundamental reform. Most accept that the direction of travel has shifted towards some form of “two-speed Europe”, broadly based around eurozone “ins” and “outs”. And clarifying these two types of membership would surely be progress, compared with the chaotic multi-speed, hotchpotch EU of today. Maybe it is time for Cameron to be explicit and use the expression “two-speed”.

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LibLink: Kate Parminter on puppy farming

Kate ParminterKate Parminter has written in the Huffington Post about her campaign against puppy farming. Under the headline “Parliament Must Do the Right Thing and Do What It Takes to Bring the Horrific Practice of Puppy Farming to a Halt” she writes:

Our nation’s love of dogs and the way we care for our pets often brings out the very best in human nature. But sadly when it comes to breeding, it can also bring out the worst. For most people, care for animals is instinctive, coming from a deep understanding of their vulnerability and need for love and attention. For a few heartless criminals, the huge demand for pets, dogs in particular, is viewed simply as an opportunity to make easy money, with no regard at all for the welfare of the animals that are at their mercy.

It is not enough to simply rescue and treat animals – we need to go further than that and stop the abuse from happening in the first place. What is needed is political action which tackles the problem at its source, not just putting a sticking plaster over a problem when the damage has already been done.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg – MI5 access to phone calls kept secret from most ministers

Nick Clegg Q&A 8Writing in The Guardian today, Nick Clegg claims that in 2010:

When a senior official took me aside and told me that the previous government had granted MI5 direct access to records of millions of phone calls made in the UK– a capability only a tiny handful of senior cabinet ministers knew about – I was astonished that such a powerful capability had not been declared either to the public or to parliament and insisted that its necessity should be reviewed.

That the existence of this previously top secret database was finally revealed in parliament by the home secretary on Wednesday, as part of a comprehensive new investigatory powers bill covering many other previously secret intelligence capabilities, speaks volumes about how far we’ve come in a few short years.

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LibLink: Claire Tyler on Equality4MentalHealth

Baroness-Claire-Tyler-1We have covered the launch of the Equality for Mental Health Campaign this week and we also linked to Norman Lamb’s account of his son’s struggles with mental health. And now our spokesperson in the Lords on Mental Health, Claire Tyler, has written an article in Politics Home.

She outlines the campaign then writes:

Our job now is to hold this Government’s feet firmly to the fire and make sure the promised money finds its way into the system and, crucially, that money earmarked for mental health services is indeed spent on mental healthcare by Clinical Commissioning Groups. In a recent, and very welcome, spate of debates and questions in the Lords I have pushed for more details about where and when the additional £1.25 billion promised for young people’s mental health during this Parliament is going to be spent.

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LibLink: Norman Lamb MP – My son’s struggle with OCD showed me the unfairness people with mental illness face

Norman Lamb has been much in the news this week, having launched a cross-party campaign for mental health to be treated equally with physical health across the health service. Norman has written a piece for the Guardian drawing on themes that will be familiar to party members from his excellent conference speech earlier this year.

Here’s an excerpt:

When our oldest son, Archie, was 16, he was clearly very unhappy. He eventually told us just how distressed and troubled he had become. We got a referral to our local children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) and a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder followed.

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Tim Farron on Lesvos: epicentre of the European refugee crisis

We covered Tim Farron’s visit to Lesvos last week and his raising of the situation at PMQs. Now Tim writes of the experience for

At one centre I spoke to Armet from Iraq, who was staying in a UNHCR provided metal shelter for the night with his family. Armet told me that as he got off the boat in Lesvos his seven-year-old son asked him “Is ISIS here too?”

That little boy demonstrates the reality of this crisis. The right-wing press and lazy politicians would like us to believe these are people either coming to Europe for


LibLink: Cllr Peter Thornton: Harold Macmillan built our house

Peter Thornton is the Liberal Democrat leader of South Lakeland Council. Their area includes Tim Farron’s Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency. Housing has long been one of the priorities of the Liberal Democrat administration. Peter writes for the Huffington Post comparing the current Conservative thinking on housing to that of their predecessors in the 1950s and 1960s. Harold Macmillan built his family home, he said, on the instructions of Winston Churchill:

This was a generation who knew that setting targets and making speeches was not enough to make things happen. Production, supply lines, labour forces, these were also needed to win wars and also to build the homes that we needed.

Macmillan made sure brickworks were at full production, he organised supplies of softwood from abroad and he divided the country into ten regions, each with it’s own targets. He realised that public housing, Council Houses as we all knew them, was the most efficient way to build homes quickly for the people who needed them.

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Cable: Counter-extremism bill will lead to “bland exchange of views” in universities

The Guardian reports:

The onus placed on universities by the government’s new counter-extremism strategy will lead to inoffensive and bland campus debates without preventing any student radicalisation, according to the former business secretary Vince Cable.

The former Liberal Democrat MP instead says that banning extremist speakers from universities may in fact exacerbate the problem by driving underground hitherto non-violent extremists.

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LibLink: Ed Davey: The Tories are trying to kill off our renewable energy boom

Former Lib Dem Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey has condemned the way that the Conservatives governing alone are trashing all he did to create a boom in clean, planet-saving renewable energy:

My experience as energy and climate change secretary – in the months I spent battling George Osborne over the budget for investment in low carbon, and in the daily attrition with Eric Pickles over onshore wind – was that many Conservatives simply regard their commitment to climate change action as something they had to say to get into power. With some honourable exceptions, most Conservatives I worked with seemed to view Lib Dem green energy policies as part of the political price they paid for the coalition.

Happily, the Conservatives cannot undo much of what the coalition achieved: from the trebling of the UK’s renewable power capacity to the 27 contracts I signed in March for more renewable power plants to be built over the next few years, the Lib Dems’ green legacy stands. I have heard that the chancellor has asked if he can get out of the contracts I signed. But he can’t. So I’m looking forward to Conservative ministers opening onshore and offshore wind farms that I commissioned.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: The Tory assault on housing associations is another betrayal

Nick Clegg has a new regular Evening Standard column and in the latest edition, he talks about housing.

After a look at the history and importance of housing associations, Nick writes about how he and Danny Alexander secured assurances that housing associations would receive support to continue building more houses for rent. These assurances have now been trashed now the Tories have a majority:

Five years ago I dissuaded the Conservatives in Coalition from fiddling with social rents to cut the housing benefit bill because it would have had a disastrous effect on the ability of housing associations to raise the money

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LibLink Special: Nick Clegg’s El Pais article: “We are losing the war on drugs”

Earlier this month, Nick Clegg wrote for Spanish newspaper El Pais about the need to totally change the way we deal with drug use. Liberal Youth Scotland co-president Hannah Bettsworth, a final year Spanish student, has kindly translated it for us.

On 19th April next year, United Nations member states will hold a special session in New York to discuss the future of the world’s drugs policy. The starting pistol for government negotiations around the summit was fired last week, in a meeting at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna.

The last time an event of this importance was held, in 1998, the meeting was dominated by US Government strategy, which still consisted of the doomed ‘war on drugs’, thought up by Richard Nixon in 1971. (awkward sentence in English) The gathered member states, in a move we can today see as a false collective delusion, solemnly agreed to reach the goal of “a drug-free world in 2008.”

Of course, 2008 came around and nothing happened. Not only had production, supply and use of illicit drugs not been wiped from the Earth, trafficking continued to flourish and bring millions of dollars to organised crime. The well-intentioned efforts of law and order had had hardly any impact in the long term. Violence in origin and transit countries had skyrocketed (in Mexico alone, it is calculated that 100,000 people have died in the war on the cartels since 2006.) Around the world, millions of drug users are still hounded and incarcerated. This serves only to ruin lives – it has no deterrent effect.

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LibLink: Kath Pinnock: Lib Dems have stood up for the needs of very young children

You can sense Kath Pinnock’s frustration about the Government’s Childcare Bill as she outlines how she and the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords tried to force the Government to add some detail into the proposals in an article for Politics Home. It was pretty basic stuff that needed fleshing out as well – like the level of funding available for councils to provide 15 hours of childcare a week. Quality and training standards weren’t outlined – and nor was there even a definition of who was eligible.

Liberal Democrats tabled several amendments to deal with these issues at both Committee stage when debate takes place on the details and at Report stage when the Government is held to account if it hasn’t listened to concerns and made changes. Time and again during detailed debate we challenged the Government Minister to declare the level of funding that would be available. Every time we were told to wait for the announcement from the Chancellor in his funding review in November. And every time, we responded that this was not good enough. We have a responsibility to very young children to make sure there was enough funding for quality childcare. We pushed that to the vote and, with Labour Peers, the Government was defeated.

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LibLink: Tim Farron: Cameron and Corbyn stance on Brexit “downright pathetic”

Tim Farron has put up a stonking case for Britain to remain in the EU over on Politics Home and denounced the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition for their stance on the issue:

On my mantelpiece there is an old black and white photo. It’s of my Uncle Morris at 14, the same age as my daughter is today.
It was taken in 1934 and in six years, he was dead, shot down over Beachy Head.

A generation ago there were nuclear weapons pointed at Britain on the soil of countries that today are our partners in the EU. Now we are sitting round a table together.

If these were the only reasons for staying in the EU they would pretty much clinch it for me.

What is the European Union? I’ll tell you – it is the most successful peace process in world history.

As such events show we toy with European disunity at our peril. Being a supporter of the European Union is not always easy. Some of the institutional structures and decision-making are hard to defend – indeed in many cases I wouldn’t want to.

But the case for Europe isn’t about institutions. It’s about partnership with our neighbours. It’s about a vision of how we address the great challenges of the 21st century: economic globalisation and protectionism, resource depletion and climate change, terrorism, crime and war.

After making the case that this is no world for isolationism to be a good idea, he then criticises David Cameron for effectively putting party before country:

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Escort, Micra, Volvo, Buzz Aldrin, Prefab Sprout

Ford Escort MkI 1100 1972

Tim Farron has spoken to the author of the Car Torque column of the Northern Echo; not so much on transport policy.

The closest we get to a revelation is that


LibLink: Jo Swinson: Shared grandparental leave risks dads missing out

Jo Swinson has cast a critical eye over George Osborne’s plans to extend parental leave to grandparents in an article for Personnel Today.

As minister responsible for introducing shared parental leave just 6 months ago, Jo explained why they hadn’t included grandparents at that time:

When the legislation was being debated in Parliament we looked carefully at extending leave to non-parents, and rejected that change for good reasons. If it is no longer to be about developing parental bonds, then why draw the line at grandparents? Shouldn’t leave then be shareable with aunts, uncles or friends?

Important though other carers and relatives are, parents have a unique role in a child’s life.  Shared parental leave is also about addressing the historical lack of workplace provision for men to fulfil their roles as fathers.

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LibLink: Tim Farron: The Tory conference is ignoring the humanitarian crisis unfolding on our doorstep

Tim Farron has written for the Independent about how the Tory Conference is ignoring the humanitarian crisis. This was written at the same time as Liberal Democrat Chief Whip went to Calais with a car full of items donated by Liberal Democrat staff.

They will say, over and over, that Jeremy Corbyn will bankrupt your country, steal your job and surrender to Britain’s enemies. They might even have a go at him for not singing the national anthem. And while I might agree that the Islington North MP lives in an economic fantasy land – a land far removed from fiscal reality – these Tory tactics are a smokescreen; and not a particularly sophisticated one. You can bet your bottom dollar they won’t be talking about the biggest single issue facing Europe today – the refugee crisis.

They will simply not discuss developing a proper international plan to help the hundreds of thousands of migrants scattered across Europe or the millions of people trapped in Middle Eastern tented camps. But with this help and support must come a diplomatic strategy to deal with nations like Syria whose barbaric civil war is uprooting millions of people.

Diplomacy is not done at the barrel of a gun or from 30,000 feet it is done by supporting moderate opposition and working with regional actors to make sure we do not play into the IS narrative. Together with a humanitarian response must come a diplomatic strategy. One strand cannot work without the other.

He outlined the action he wants to see:

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LibLink: Tim Farron: It’s Theresa May, not immigrants, who is really damaging Britain

The unpleasant rhetoric of Theresa May’s speech this morning has given every liberal what we Scots call “the dry boak” Her remarks were not measured, not reasonable and entirely designed to win over that small proportion of the population who are members of the Conservative Party.

Anyone who knows anything about the immigration system will know how difficult it is to actually get into this country. Married couples often have to endure years of separation before (and it’s not inevitable that they will be) they can live together in this country. The strain put on families is intolerable. People who have endured unimaginable hardships and abuse are often turned away when they come here seeking sanctuary.

Tim Farron has spent the day standing up to May’s inaccurate, misleading and shocking speech. He’s written an article for in which he says there is someone damaging Britain – and it is not immigrants:

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LibLink – Giles Wilkes: £93bn of corporate welfare? What nonsense

Giles Wilkes, who was a special adviser to Vince Cable and chief economist at CentreForum, is now a leader writer at the Financial Times (which usually charges an online subscription). One of his recent editorials has been transferred to the free blog section so we are able to bring it to you.

Labour should be wary of giving credence to a very suspect number.

The £93bn figure now routinely used to evaluate the scale of “corporate welfare” in Britain is badly misleading. If the Labour Party is to re-establish its economic credibility, it needs to give the number a very wide berth.

First of all, the very concept of “corporate welfare” is tricky and question-begging. When applied to individuals, welfare is easy to understand – it means payments from the state provided on the basis of need.

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Catherine Bearder to Nigel Lawson: Pulling out of the EU would mean losing power and influence over our future

Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder has written to the Times (£) to respond to Nigel Lawson’s article which argued that the UK should leave the EU:

She wrote:

Sir, Lord Lawson’s argument for EU exit may be eloquent but it is fanciful. It is true that the 19 countries of the eurozone are going to have to move closer together. But that makes it even more imperative that Britain, as the financial capital of Europe, defends its economic interests in the EU’s single market as a whole.

Half of our exports go to the rest of Europe and even if we were

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LibLink: Tim Farron’s introduction to Black History Month

bhm-logo600Tim Farron has been writing at the Black History Month website about what the event means to him:

As a Liberal Democrat, one of my most deeply held beliefs is that everyone should have the opportunity to achieve their ambitions and become anything they want to be.

So many of the people who we will remember this Black History Month embody this ideal.

People like Winifred Atwell, the first black artist to have a number one single in the UK or John Kent the first black police officer. People like Mary Seacole, the pioneering nurse who overcame prejudice in order to go and treat sick and wounded soldiers in the Crimean war.

To me, part of the importance of Black History Month is that it reminds us of the invaluable work of so many black and minority ethnic men and women, who have fought discrimination and injustice to secure freedoms and opportunities for future generations.

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LibLink: Paddy Ashdown – While Russia launches airstrikes Britain’s position on Syria remains an inglorious failure of diplomacy

Paddy Ashdown has been writing in the Independent about this week’s developments and diplomatic stand-offs regarding Syria. He said that the west has allowed its influence to be diminished by successive failures:

We bluster in the UN, Washington and London about willing the ends, but we have nothing left but bombs to will the means. The levers to make things happen in Syria now lie in Moscow and Tehran – all we are left with is a bomb-release button at 30,000ft.

This is a diplomatic failure of inglorious proportions. Historic proportions, too, since the result will inevitably be another ratchet down in the West’s influence, already grievously diminished by our failures in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. One would have thought that we would have learnt the lessons of those defeats. But, still – sadly, stupidly – when the West sees a problem in the world its first instinct is to bomb it.

He asks what some great foreign secretaries of the past would have done:

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 26th Nov - 2:40am
    I tell you what I wouldn't vote for: the strategy that looks the one preferred by English speaking security experts, especially some of the hawks:...
  • User AvatarAndrew McCaig 26th Nov - 12:48am
    The UK is already doing plenty of "heavy lifting" against IS. According to this we had flown the largest number of sorties (up to...
  • User AvatarHoward 26th Nov - 12:45am
    Peter, it is a great pity that the Great British electorate saw fit to vote UKIP at the last EU election. Voting UKIP is a...
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    While I'm not hugely convinced by the need for a new group, I very much agree that we ought to deliberately reach out to social...
  • User AvatarGeorge Kendall 25th Nov - 11:53pm
    @John Marriott I think Greenfield may just be pointing out that the priority is to get PR. I agree splitting after would be unnecessary. But...
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    @expats You may not believe it, but it was my throat, and I was there. You may not believe Miffed 'Red Tory', but (s)he knows,...