Category Archives: LibLink

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

LibLink: Nick Clegg and Richard Branson: We have been losing the war on drugs for four decades. End it now.

Nick Clegg Glasgow 2014 by Liberal DemocratsIn a major keynote speech today, Nick Clegg will call for responsibility for drugs to be moved from the criminal justice system to the health care system. In that, he has the support of Richard Branson and the two men have written for the Guardian’s Comment is Free section. First of all, they show how the current system is both wasting money and failing:

 Since the “war” was declared by President Richard Nixon in 1971, we have spent over £1tn trying to eradicate drugs from our societies. Yet the criminal market continues to grow, driving unimaginable levels of profit for organised crime. We devote vast police, criminal justice and military resources to the problem, including the incarceration of people on a historically unprecedented scale.

In many parts of the world, drug violence has become endemic. As Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, visits the UK, we should remember the estimated 100,000 people killed in Mexico alone since 2006. Yet tragically, the sum total of enforcement efforts against drug supply over the past 40 years has been zero. Efforts at reducing demand have been similarly fruitless. Here in the UK, a third of adults have taken illegal drugs and the gangs are doing a roaring trade. The problem simply isn’t going away.

While other countries around the world are rethinking their approach, Britain remains stubbornly, truculently wedded to the old way, with tragic human consequences:

And yet we desperately need better solutions in this country. One in six children aged 11 to 15 is still taking drugs; 2,000 people die each year in drug-related incidents; the use of unregulated “legal highs” is rampant.

At the same time, the police are stopping and searching half a million people a year for possession of drugs, prosecutions of users are close to record levels, and prison cells are still used for people whose only crime is the possession of a substance to which they are addicted. This costs a lot of money, which could be better spent on treatment and on redoubling our efforts to disrupt supply. And it wrecks the lives of 70,000 people a year who receive a criminal record for possession and then find themselves unable to get a job.

As an investment, the war on drugs has failed to deliver any returns. If it were a business, it would have been shut down a long time ago. This is not what success looks like.

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LibLink: Kirsty Williams on more power to Wales

Kirsty WilliamsKirsty Williams would ‘”be very happy” to see a Lib Dem Secretary of State for Wales. As she says in an interview with Wales Online, under the Coalition the party has produced three Scottish Secretaries.

Having Liberal Democrats as secretaries of state gives us the best possible chance of wrestling power out of Whitehall and giving it to Wales.

She reflects on the devolution of the NHS Budget to Manchester.

You know, the fact that that kind of responsibility can be passed down without any referendum at all and here in Wales each step of the devolution pathway we have to have a referendum… The irony of that is not lost on me.

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LibLink: Tim Farron on the general election and afterwards

Over on the Huffington Post, Tim Farron talks about the election campaign from his constituency in Cumbria.

People need to believe they are not just going through the motions. We are not just doing it because we hate the Tories or because we like winning elections or because it’s a way of me getting a job. It’s about the things you can do with power.

He confesses that he would like to be a minister in a future Coalition; it was his role as Party President that precluded that, but also allowed him to emerge from this Parliament with a reputation untainted by proximity to Tories.

He was asked about the reports that claim he wants to be Leader, to which he responded:

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LibLink: Julian Huppert: Safe seats and second jobs are at the root of the Rifkind/Straw mess

Julian Huppert MPAs Parliament prepares to debate whether MPs should have second jobs, Julian Huppert has written on the controversy surrounding Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind for the Guardian.

He attacks what he calls an “abhorrent” and “unacceptable” aspect of our political culture and sets out why he thinks there should be more regulation of MPs’ outside interests.

Many of us work night and day to get through our work. We find it is the equivalent of having two full-time jobs – one in Westminster and one in the constituency.

But there are just far too many who don’t behave that way. They’ve been here so long a sense of duty morphs into one of entitlement. They get caught up with the pomp and ceremony, allowing the link between the public and their parliamentary role to unravel.

At the crux of this failure is our electoral system. Safe seats generate complacency. They give many MPs the opportunity to sit back, knowing they’ll get re-elected again and again. And it is often in safe seats where some MPs find they have enough time to take on two jobs. Suddenly they believe they don’t need to respond to casework or do the work in parliament. They are above all that – and why shouldn’t they earn £5,000 a day at the end of their careers?

photo by: Policy Exchange
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LibLink: Julian Huppert: Journalists must be able to protect their sources

Julian Huppert MPJulian Huppert has tabled an amendment to the Serious Crime Bill enabling journalists to better protect their sources. He wrote about why this was necessary in the Guardian – apparently over 600 applications have been made to access journalists’ phone records in the last three years. That’s about four a week. As Julian puts it:

How will anyone be brave enough to contact a journalist in the public interest, if they know that they can easily be tracked down?

What’s more, these actions have clearly discouraged whistleblowers from coming forward, having a chilling effect on free speech.

Current procedures do not give adequate protection to journalists:

At the moment the police quite rightly need the approval of a judge before they can take documents from a journalist. But they authorise themselves to access the journalist’s mobile phone records and other communications data. This cannot be right.

As a matter of principle, police and security services should not be able to authorise themselves to snoop on journalists to get to their sources. It may be convenient for the police but it’s not right for freedom of the press and it’s not right for the whistleblowers who badly need protection.

photo by: Policy Exchange
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LibLink: Danny Alexander: A defence of our role in Coalition, whatever Jeremy Browne thinks

Danny Alexander takes to the pages of the Independent to challenge the points made by Jeremy Browne in his critical interview in that paper yesterday.

He looks back at the recessions of the 80s with their mass unemployment and misery and highlights the differences in approach brought into government by the Liberal Democrats. This, he says, has brought about a quicker, fairer end to the economic downturn:

Liberalism is about individual freedom, fairness and opportunity. And freedom, fairness and opportunity cannot flourish without a strong economy.

Today, Britain has the strongest growth and fastest job creation of any advanced economy. Inflation is benign, business investment is rising and we have record numbers in work. By any measure, Britain is making strong progress and opportunity is increasing.

This recovery has not come about by accident. It has been hard earned by millions of people and businesses. But we needed the right economic climate for the recovery. That climate is the direct result of liberal values in the recovery plan – fairness and opportunity. Delivered in the Coalition by Liberal Democrat policies – a balanced approach to dealing with the deficit; raising the income tax personal allowance to make work more attractive; creating apprenticeships to give people the skills they need; and the priority we have given to boosting investment in regional and local businesses, innovation and infrastructure. This is not “splitting the difference” between the other parties. It’s doing things in a distinctly different way, the liberal way.

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LibLink: Brian Paddick – Tackling terrorism without compromising the privacy of law-abiding citizens

Writing on the Liberal Democrat website, Lord Brian Paddick talks through the recent attempted jiggery-pokery in the House of Lords which could have seen the Snoopers Charter

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LibLink: Tim Farron on Chilcot

At the Huffington Post, Tim Farron is decrying the delay to the Chilcot report into the Iraq war.

The publication of the Chilcot report is crucial and the delays are unacceptable – we cannot afford to continue walking in the dark.

The underlying issue which we need to understand and question is the alignment of British foreign policy with American priorities. Has Blair and Thatcher’s determination to maintain “the special relationship” benefitted our country? Should we continue in this vein? The Chilcot report, when it is eventually published, must force us to learn lessons for the years ahead: at the moment we are in limbo. In a year when the country will decide who rules for the next five, this is unacceptable.

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LibLink: Vince Cable – Why is Labour planning changes to tuition fees that benefit higher earning graduates before lower earners?

Writing on the Guardian’s Comment is Free, Vince Cable takes Labour to task on their developing plan to reduce the tuition fees cap to £6,000. He culminates with this question:

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LibLink: Andrew George on renewable energy

andrew georgeAndrew George, Lib Dem MP for St Ives, has been writing for The Cornishman on renewable energy in the county.

I consistently pressed for Cornwall to become the ‘Green Peninsula’ – the UK exemplar for environmental policy, renewables and energy security – coining the phrase in an economic strategy paper for Cornwall ‘Rediscovering our distinctiveness’ in 1998.

I’m pleased that Cornwall has made good progress, but there’s still more to do. Cornwall now has thousands more jobs and millions of pounds more in turnover and is exporting its know-how and talents worldwide, in geothermal, offshore renewables infrastructure, etc.

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LibLink: Michael Moore: The Smith Commission has delivered

The Vow deliveredThis was the week that the Government unveiled the 44 clauses of the Scotland Bill which will be debated after the General Election. Former Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore was a member of the Smith Commission upon whose report the clauses were drafted. He says in an article for the Scotsman that the Commission has delivered and “the Vow” has therefore been kept:

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LibLink: Tim Farron: Only way to make blue go green is to add yellow

Over at PoliticsHome, Tim Farron has been showing up the Tories, who voted in favour of loosening controls on air pollution. Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder opposed the plans:

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LibLink: Baroness Claire Tyler – Mental health matters

Writing on the Liberal Democrat website, Baroness Claire Tyler sets out detailed ways in which government can radically improve the treatment of mental health problems:

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LibLink: Baroness Sally Hamwee – Sending overseas students home is “economic nonsense”

Writing on PoliticsHome, Baroness Sally Hamwee, describes the recently mooted Conservative plans to send overseas students home as “economic nonsense”, which risk the good reputation of the UK:

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Edinburgh South PPC Pramod Subbaraman explains why he is a Liberal Democrat

We want to tell you as much as we can about the wonderful Liberal Democrats who will be putting themselves before the electorate in May. Our Edinburgh South candidate is Pramod Subbaraman who is a dentist.

Pramod is a dentist and recently, on GDPUK, a site for dental opinion and information, he explained his decision to join the Liberal Democrats, which was rooted in Nick’s sensible stance on immigration. He explains what liberalism means to him:

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LibLink: Tim Farron: Without the Lib Dems, there would be nothing to stop the Tories neglecting the environment

Tim Farron has been writing for the New Statesman about what the Liberal Democrats have done, despite the Tories, to protect our environment.

He says we can look to Europe to see the sorts of things they would be doing without us to propel them with some force towards the door marked “green”.

 But we’ve come a long way since the days of trips to the Arctic and hugging huskies. Cameron now openly talks about “getting rid of green crap,” while Tory minister Michael Fallon has said the Tories would stop the construction of onshore wind farms if they win in 2015. As we near the general election, the Conservatives are rapidly abandoning any pretence that they care about the green agenda.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the European Parliament, where the Tories are completely unrestricted by the constraints of coalition government. Time and again Conservative MEPs have shown their true colours when it comes to EU environmental measures, and they are definitely not green. They voteddown EU measures to restrict the destructive practice of deep-sea fishing. They’ve opposed efforts to reduce plastic bag use and tackle the scourge of plastic waste in our oceans. And they’ve repeatedly voted against efforts to strengthen the EU’s carbon emissions trading scheme, Europe’s landmark policy for fighting climate change.

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LibLink: Brian Paddick on the Counter Terrorism Bill

As the House of Lords settles down to begin its deliberations on the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill, Brian Paddick has given his impressions on the party website. His piece is very much a descriptive narrative of what the Bill aims to do. There’s no facility to leave questions on the website, but if you leave them here, we’ll see if we can get him to answer them.

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LibLink: Paddy Ashdown – We have experienced anarchy like this before. We should not over-react to it

PAddy Ashdown by Liberal DemocratsWriting in the Independent on Sunday yesterday, Paddy Ashdown compared the violence in Paris with earlier events:

You do not have to be a young Muslim living in the 21 century to be subject to radicalisation. It has always, down the ages been possible to persuade young men (and a few – a very few young women) of all faiths and none to the believe that is noble to kill innocent people in pursuit of what they have been persuaded is a great cause.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg We must always be free to criticise ideas, even religious ones

A powerful article in today’s Telegraph passionately defending the right to free speech by Nick Clegg:

Every so often we are confronted by events that force each of us to take a clear stand – and a side. The attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo was just such a moment, demanding a straight answer to a simple question: “are you Charlie?” You don’t have to agree with everything, or even anything, that Charlie Hebdo published to “be Charlie” – you only have to wish to protect the freedoms and rights that define liberal societies like ours.

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LibLink: Edward McMillan Scott – The embarrassing link between Cameron and Germany’s anti-Islamic movement

Writing on Politics.co.uk, former MEP Edward McMillan-Scott highlights a potential cause of tension at today’s meeting in London between the Prime Minister and the German Chancellor:

When Angela Merkel meets David Cameron in London today, one topic could cause embarrassment to both leaders: Cameron’s association with the German anti-Islamist movement, Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West), which was condemned at the New Year by the German chancellor.

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LibLink: David Laws – Tories will cut schools spending by a quarter

Writing in today’s Telegraph, David Laws says that Tory plans will mean huge cuts to spending on schools:

The Conservatives are offering unfunded tax cuts, meaning they will have to go on making deep cuts to public spending – by far more than is necessary to balance the books.

This would be a huge threat to all we are achieving on education.

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LibLink: David Boyle – The future? We’ve seen it all before

 

Over on the Guardian’s Comment is Free, former editor of Liberal Democrat News and Liberal Democrat blogger of the year, David Boyle, argues that technological change is slowing and we are increasingly re-embracing old “real” ways:

…we cling to the real world ever more tightly as the virtual world presses its claims, a phenomenon predicted by the American philosopher Robert Nozick. A growing minority of us may not shun tablets or ebooks (I write them, for goodness sake). We might even drink instant coffee sometimes. But we are determined that the unspun, unmanipulated and unmarketed shall not perish from this Earth. Even if we have to wait in line for a hissing coffee machine.

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LibLink: Tim Farron – CIA report shows we should fight even harder for liberal Britain

Writing in New Statesman, Tim Farron argues that liberalism is not a given, is under threat and we should fight for it:

We cannot continue to take liberalism for granted. We need to articulate our liberal values loudly and clearly to stop a creep into authoritarianism built on a currency of fear.

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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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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: Farron – we need to be honest about the housing crisis

Tim Farron writing at politics.co.uk is calling for 300,000 homes a year to be built to end the housing crisis in contrast to some of the less ambitious policies around.

The key issue in housing isn’t that first-time buyers can’t get on the ladder, nor that rents are too high. ‘Help to Buy’ isn’t the cure-all to our ills and whilst a rent cap might help renters in the short run, in the long run it will only disappoint. The politicians who propose these short-term measures will also disappoint, unless they have a more thorough approach. Unless we aim to end the housing crisis in its entirety, instead of just tinkering at the edges, we are just short-changing people for short-term electoral gain.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg – Mental health is top of our list

Nick Clegg with 2010 manifesto at Glasgow 2014 by Liberal DemocratsWriting in the Express, Nick Clegg explains why he is making mental health a top priority for the Liberal Democrats:

I have ­decided to make mental health one of my priorities for the next parliament, something no political party has ever done before.

I want this commitment to ­continue to overhaul our mental health services on the front page of the Liberal Democrat manifesto at the next election.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg – ensure there is no benefit abuse while retaining free labour movement

Nick clegg rally glasgow 2014
Writing in the Financial Times (registration needed), Nick Clegg argues in favour of immigration for work purposes from the EU, but lists a range of restrictions on benefits for those coming to the UK:

Overwhelmingly, European migrants come here to work and pay taxes.

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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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