Category Archives: LibLink

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

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”.

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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: Vince Cable on why we need the EU and immigrants

Vince Cable Social Liberal Forum conference Jul 19 2014 Photo by Paul WalterWriting in the Mail to coincide with Remembrance Sunday, Vince Cable made a heartfelt plea for tolerance of a united Europe and immigration, citing personal experience:

I am astounded when people say they have never been allowed to talk about immigration and that politicians ignore it. I remember it differently: a continued, sometimes angry, political debate going back to the 1950s. There was not an immigration issue as such. Until the late 1990s, net immigration was negative. More people left than arrived. But those leaving were white and most arriving were black or Asian.

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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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“Lib Dems have made majority Conservative rule in Britain less likely for perhaps a generation”

Rafael-BehrRafael Behr, formerly of the New Statesman now at The Guardian, is my favourite political columnist. A brilliant writer, he is also dispassionately shrewd. So it is today, when he analyses the impact of the Lib Dems in Coalition.

It’s inspired by Norman Baker’s resignation – which, he rightly observes “says more about the Home Office than it does about the coalition more widely” – and examines how the Conservatives being forced to share power with the Lib Dems in Coalition has squeezed out what remains of liberal Conservatism:

It is true that the Lib Dems have inflicted serious damage on the Tories, but not in the way many of them seem to think.

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LibLink: Norman Lamb on integrated funding for health and care

Norman LambIn an interview with Public Finance Norman Lamb says that he has his sights on 2018, as the date by which all health and care spending will be pooled in England. He said:

I want the approach to evolve rather than having anything imposed. The only imposition is to say that we have got to get budgets pooled locally completely, and I’ve talked to a lot of people about this and I think we’ve come up with a neat solution to achieve the pooled budget without a national reorganisation, which nobody wants.

The Better Care Fund seems to me to be the sensible way of achieving that objective, to progressively increase the extent of the pooling, and as you do that I think you remove the perverse consequences of the gaming across the boundary between the two.

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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.

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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: What Nick Clegg wrote on Mumsnet about shared parental leave – and he didn’t mince his words

Nick Clegg Glasgow 2014 by Liberal DemocratsLet’s bankrupt Britain’s businesses and, once we’re done, burn the buildings to the ground.

This is what you might have thought I’d said last week, if you saw some of the reaction to my plans to increase fathers’ rights when it comes to shared parental leave.

Nick Clegg was writing on Mumsnet at the weekend, dealing with some of the misleading and downright misogynistic claims made in the media about the scheme. As he made clear:

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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: Hannah Thompson on her successful campaign to outlaw revenge porn

hannah thompsonEvery time I read about what Hannah Thompson went through, the ordeal of not knowing when and where photos which she had intended only for private consumption would end up next after her former boyfriend abused her trust, it makes me want to cry. Partly in empathy, feeling for what she went through, partly in anger that anyone could do that to a former partner, partly in total admiration at the way she has calmly and reasonably campaigned for what happened to her to be made an offence. This week the House of Lords passed the amendment which makes revenge porn illegal.

Hannah told her story to the Telegraph, first of all talking about the powerlessness of not knowing where these photos, which should never have seen the light of day, would resurface, especially when the Police said there was nothing they could do:

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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: Catherine Bearder MEP on UKIP’s collapse in the European Parliament

As we reported yesterday, the loss of a Latvian MEP, Iveta Grigule from UKIP’s “Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy” group mean that is no longer eligible for group status, losing substantial budgets and (unwanted, unused) influence.

Catherine Bearder writes in the New Statesman

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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LibLink: Shirley Williams: How Scotland could lead the way towards a federal UK

Shirley WilliamsThe Guardian posted an article by Shirley Williams yesterday, in which she writes:

The referendum decision will come at the culmination of a long period of disillusionment with politicians. The SNP, like the other mainstream parties, has attracted its own share of public frustration about centralisation and the excessive rule of Edinburgh over other regions of Scotland. Nationally, the disillusionment began with the poll tax, the decline of manufacturing in Scotland, Wales, the Midlands and the north of England during the Thatcher years, the failure of our interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan and the financial crisis in 2008 which loaded on taxpayers the huge costs of bailing out the banks.

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LibLink: Menzies Campbell: Federalism is in touching distance

Sir Menzies Campbell, whose Commission drew up the Liberal Democrats’ proposals for more powers to the Scottish Parliament, has written for the Scotsman saying that he thinks federalism is closer than we could ever have imagined.

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LibLink: Tim Gordon: When I think about the UK splitting up, something inside me breaks

Liberal Democrat Chief Executive Tim Gordon has written an emotional piece on the party website’s Ad Lib blog (which you can access if you are a member) in which he says how much he values the UK and how upset he would be if it were to break up.

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LibLink: Kirsty Williams: A chance to promote a new union

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams has been writing for Click on Wales saying that she hopes that Scotland remains within the UK and how the Referendum gives an opportunity to make the union between our nations work better.

First she talks of the benefits of remaining in the Union:

The referendum offers us a chance to promote a new Union, rather than stubbornly defend the old.  The Welsh Liberal Democrats offer people a more positive future:  not one of isolation, but one in which all corners of the United Kingdom are indeed stronger and better together.

I firmly believe that Scotland should remain part of the United Kingdom. Being part of a strong family of nations like ours is in the best interest of not just Scotland but the rest of the UK too. We all benefit from a stronger economy, greater national security and a powerful international voice that would be hard to match as separate states. However, Scotland must have more powers to determine its future.  To simply do nothing in the event of a ‘No’ vote cannot be an option.

And she talks bout what needs to happen in the future for both Scotland and Wales and highlights what the Liberal Democrats have achieved in Government.

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LibLink: Charles Kennedy: Scotland’s energy considerations benefit from the UK

Photo of loch Sloy hydro electric scheme by paul walterCharles Kennedy is one of a handful of politicians on the pro-UK side never to have put a foot wrong in the independence debate. Labour’s Kezia Dugdale, always passionate on feminism and social justice is another. Better Together could do a lot worse than leaving all the talking to them for the next 12 days.

On his own website, Charles has written a typically thoughtful article about Scotland’s energy needs, what we gain from being part of the UK and how independence would affect us.

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LibLink: Sir Malcolm Bruce MP – The positive case for the Union

Sir Malcom Bruce, Lib Dem deputy leader, has been writing for Endeavour Public Affairs on the choice facing Scots in next week’s referendum.

Here’s an excerpt:

To make a positive case for Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom is to recognise multiple identities and respect that what it means to feel British – or Scottish for that matter – is up to the individual as long as it is inclusive.

It would be all too easy to pick apart the arguments presented by the Yes campaign with endless short-term policy guarantees, limitless and non-costed spending promises. However, there is also a very strong argument in making a positive case for saying a polite but robust No, Thanks to independence.

Sharing resources and strengths while supporting each other through weakness means we can achieve much more than if either party was alone.

As much as there is to set Scotland apart from the rest of the United Kingdom, there is as much that brings us together in terms of culture, (modern) language, shared history, and the free movement of people over the generations. Together we have consistently punched above our weight in terms of international diplomacy, social development, the arts, invention, and enterprise. Scotland and Scots have played a major role in this.

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LibLink: Paddy Ashdown: Britain’s best defence to the terror threat is international action

In today’s Observer, Paddy Ashdown cautions against knee-jerk reactions to the prospect of radicalised Jihadists returning to Britain and wreaking havoc on our streets:

He says, basically, that we’ve dealt with this before, in more difficult circumstances and we know how to do it:

On Friday, the government announced that the imminent danger of jihadi attack meant Britain’s threat level should be raised to “severe”. Then, from the prime minister downwards, Tory ministers took to every available airwave to tell us how frightened we should be and why this required a range of new powers for them to exercise. For the record, the threat level in Northern Ireland has been “severe” for the past four years – as it was in all Britain for many years in the 1980s and 1990s, when the IRA threat was at its greatest.

I say this not to deny the threat from returning jihadis – though as the former head of counter-terrorism for MI6, Richard Barrett said on Saturday, this should not be overestimated. But rather to make the point that this is not a new threat. It is one we have faced before and one we know how to deal with – effectively, without panic and without a whole new range of executive powers that could endanger our liberties. Indeed, when it comes to facing threats, it was surely far more difficult to cope with IRA terrorists slipping across the Irish Sea than it is to stop jihadis returning from Iraq?

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