Category Archives: LibLink

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

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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LibLink: Tim Farron: Not satisfied with snatching their milk in the 70s, the Tories now seem set to steal the lunches of children

Remember how Mrs Thatcher put an end to free school milk in the 1970s? Our parents really should have known then, shouldn’t they? Anyway, the Tories appear to be getting ready to ditch the free school meals introduced by the Liberal Democrats two years ago.

Tim Farron has written for the Huffington Post making it clear why he thinks that free school meals are important:

Children from all backgrounds, rich and poor sitting down for lunch together, ending any stigma of young pupils having to admit they receive free school meals is a good thing. I will not sit by while the Conservatives equivocate on this. My party is utterly opposed to it’s removal.

The Tories are taking an axe to the education budget at the expense of children’s learning.

Not satisfied with snatching milk in the 1970s, they now seem set to steal the lunches of children.

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Former Lib Dem Councillor tells his story of coming to UK as a teenage refugee

We’ve heard a lot of Liberal Democrats urging a compassionate response to the refugee crisis but for former Brent Councillor Paul Lorber, it’s personal.

He told the Brent and Kilburn Times about his family’s escape from Czechoslovakia and how he found safety in the UK:

He said: “I had no wish to go. I had a happy childhood in Czechoslovakia and did not want to leave all my friends and everything else I had known.”

His parents, who had both survived the horrors of Nazi concentration camps in the Second World War- his mother Auschwitz Berkenau and his father Sachenhausen- knew the risks of bringing up a Jewish family under a violent dictatorship and wanted a secure future for their sons.

After their first attempt to cross the Austrian border was blocked by a stand-off with a Russian tank his father was forced to falsify exit papers which claimed he was taking them on holiday to Yugoslavia…

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LibLink: Zahida Manzoor: The Government’s changes to tax credits will have a severe impact on the lives of millions

In the Huffington Post this week, Lib Dem Work and Pensions spokesperson Zahida Manzoor wrote of the party’s opposition to the Government’s severe cuts to tax credits for the lowest paid.

The Tax Credit system is hugely complicated, made up of various different ‘payment thresholds’ and so-called ‘disregards’. But ultimately the key aspect of the system is the ‘taper rate’ – that means how much is taken away in Tax Credits for every additional pound you earn.

This taper rate is important, because when someone is making the decision about whether to take on more hours, particularly if they have children, then money matters. If it turns out you’re only going to keep a few pence in the pound by taking on the extra work it may not be worthwhile, particularly if you need to pay for expensive additional childcare in order to cover the increased time spent away from home.

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LibLink: Paddy Ashdown derides Cameron’s refugee offer

David Cameron has highly developed skills in the art of following where he should be leading. And so, after being taught an excruciating lesson in compassion, decency and leadership by Angela Merkel, and sensing himself behind opinion again, he has produced a plan to take in 20,000 refugees – over five years. Nothing better shows the PM’s tone deafness to the urgency of the situation than to announce this headline figure, and then add that it will take five years to implement.

My emphasis.


Vince Cable and Chuka Umunna criticise Government’s industrial strategy in Independent article

Vince Cable has teamed up with Chuka Umunna in an Independent article that warns of the likely consequences if Vince’s former department of Business, Innovation and Skills suffers the massive cuts predicted. It’s not a protected department, so its budget could be cut by up to 40%. That would make it difficult to continue Vince’s successful industrial strategy:

One of the positive legacies of the Coalition government was the establishment of an ‘industrial strategy’ with the same objectives. It was successful in attracting a lot of support from business in general and in key sectors like automotive, aerospace, bio-tech, creative industries, energy and railway supply chains and construction. In vehicles and aerospace, especially, a large amount of private sector and government money was committed to R&D. The approach was flexible, accommodating and welcoming of disruptive technologies and the emergence of new industries. Before the election, the Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems (and the SNP) subscribed to the industrial strategy.

There has been a deafening silence since. We are now past the first 100 days: the government’s honeymoon. There is no excuse for lack of clarity over a key area of government policy. There may be an innocent explanation: a wish by the Conservative government to rebrand the industrial strategy as part of its ‘Long Term Economic Plan’, while work quietly proceeds in the background. A more worrying possibility is that the ideologues in government have got their teeth into it believing, against all previous experience, that market failures will correct themselves and that the UK economy will achieve balanced, sustained, recovery thanks to resurgent banking and app start-ups in Shoreditch.

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LibLink: Shirley Williams: American democracy is up for sale and it’s a warning to us all

Shirley Williams has been writing for the Independent about the pernicious influence of big money in politics in the US. She writes about the huge amounts of money being poured into Republican campaigns, how this clearly gives them advantages in access to the voters through the media. More worryingly, she outlines what appears to be a strategic approach of using the courts to abolish funding limits and of gerrymandering congressional districts to again give themselves an advantage at the expense of others.

She gives a very stark warning about why this is a bad thing. We need to think that we have a realistic chance of getting rid of our government if we don’t like them. A politics where you have to have the backing of the stinking rich to succeed is not exactly likely to benefit all and will lead to disillusionment:

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LibLink: Tim Farron – ‘There is only one opposition now – and it’s not Labour’

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Tim Farron raises prospect of a repeat of Labour’s disastrous 1981 split. He pitches for the LibDems to replace Labour as the only credible opposition to the Tories:

With just 20 days before Labour chooses its new leader, many who believe Britain needs a strong Opposition are holding their heads in their hands.

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LibLink: Jim Hume MSP: Out of sight, out of mind? Why the SNP need to get serious on mental health

Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume has been writing on the Scottish Liberal Democrat website about the crisis in mental health care in Scotland, where they haven’t had a Norman Lamb in power transforming mental health provision.

In Scotland during the last 5 years, over 4000 people were treated outside their own health board. Jim says that’s not good enough:

Despite the number of patients being discharged from psychiatric hospitals in Scotland falling dramatically in the past decade, hundreds of patients are still facing being treated away from their families and communities.

There will always be some patients who need to be sent to specialist clinics outside of their health board for treatment. But it is clear that mental health units across the country are struggling to cope with demand on their services.

We know that sending patients out of area can isolate them from their support networks, including friends, families and their community care team.

The life-changing nature of such a move means it could also have implications for the civil liberties of an indidividual – which must be considered under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (ScotlandAct 2003.

It can be detrimental to a persons recovery.

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LibLink: Julian Huppert on 1984, the Telecommunications Act and the crucial need for scrutiny of its use

GCHQ Bude by Paul WalterOver on Open Democracy, our old friend Julian Huppert writes an excellent piece on his work as an MP looking at the scrutiny of UK state surveillance. He points to the 1984 (yes really) Telecommunications Act and the little debated clause 94 which gives the relevant Secretary of State virtually limitless powers to order telecoms companies to do anything without any parliamentary scrutiny.

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LibLink: Lord Carlile – UK must speak up against sharp rise of executions in Iran

Stop executions in Iran protest Trafalgar square by helen.2006 or helen61 CCL on FlickrWriting on PoliticsHome, Alex (Lord) Carlile calls on the British government to condemn the situation in Iran, where there have been just short of 700 executions this year:

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LibLink: Tim Farron – After 100 days, the penny is well and truly dropping on how hard Lib Dems fought in government

On Huffington Post, Tim Farron writes:

We’re 100 days into a Tory government and, let’s be honest, they have been fairly clear on what they’re about. Unfortunately, for the majority of us across the UK – those of us who didn’t vote Tory – it doesn’t look pretty.

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LibLink: Norman Baker – with the LibDems reduced to a “pile of rubble”, we’re in danger of sleepwalking into a one party state

Writing in the Independent, Norman Baker details a number of reasons why we are “sleepwalking into a one-nation state”, concluding as follows:

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LibLink: Cllr Jayne McCoy: Council intervention drives housing market

Cllr Jayne McCoy chairs the London Borough of Sutton’s Housing, Economy and Business Committee. She has written for the Local Government Association’s First magazine about how Sutton Council have set up a development company to build the right sorts of houses at the prices key workers can afford:

In Sutton we have seen numerous private developments of one bedroom flats, however what we need are two and three bedroom family homes. We also see both the private for sale and private rented sector out of the price range of most of our residents.

In response we have sought to take control and lead the delivery of housing ourselves by setting up a council-owned development company. This will allow us to take advantage of preferential borrowing rates to invest in the housing market across all tenures.

The development company gives the council the flexibility to build homes for private ownership, private rent or to build council houses in the traditional sense. The company will also seek to unlock sites where development has stalled.

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LibLink: Tim Farron says blood donation rules urgently need to change

Writing on Huffington Post, Tim Farron calls for changes to the current blood donation rules:

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LibLink: Paddy Ashdown: Diplomacy, not bombs will defeat ISIS. The west is being sucked into a sectarian conflict

So, David Cameron, like Tony Blair before him, pledges to help the US in the Middle East. We know that that sort of intervention is unlikely to end well. It would also be unlikely that the UN would ever agree to sanction any military action. Russia and China would just block it. So the option would be to have another Iraq, without properly defined objectives and potentially make a horrendous situation even worse.

I don’t always agree with Paddy, but he’s always my first port of call on foreign affairs. He’s been writing for the Independent about what should happen next and what is the best way to tackle the growing ISIS problem. And if you are under any illusion about life under ISIS, have a look at how they treat women and gay people.

Paddy reckons we’ve been too careless, too quick to grab the guns instead of quietly building international coalitions to tackle the major problems faced in the region.

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LibLink: Baroness Sally Hamwee: It is time to legalise Cannabis for medicinal purposes”

Sally Hamwee has been writing for Politics Home about her attempts to have Cannabis legalised for medicinal use.  She firstly outlined the need:

Medicinal herbal cannabis is very effective for many people (not all) suffering from some very severe and debilitating conditions, the spasms and cramps associated with multiple sclerosis and spinal cord damage, Parkinson’s Disease and some of the symptoms of cancer and of the treatment of cancer among them.

It is available in 23 states of the USA, Canada, Israel and Netherlands from where it is exported to several other countries of the EU.  But not – legally – the UK.  The Dutch have used genetic alteration to maximise the benign content and eliminate the dangerous, psychosis-inducing component.

No wonder that so many British people go to great lengths to go abroad to get hold of it.  The cannabis-based drug licensed in England is much more expensive and only prescribed on a “named basis” as NICE regards it as not cost-effective (it is approved in Wales).

And then she outlined how both Conservatives and Labour in the House of Lords wouldn’t accept her ideas:

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LibLink: Simon Hughes: A message to Tim Farron: Unite, inspire and enthuse

Simon Hughes was one of the first people to endorse Tim Farron for leader. He’s written an article for today’s Independent in which he outlines what he thinks Tim should do next:

The new leader knows what to do. He must and will unite, inspire, and enthuse the party, involving supporters of both candidates in one big campaign for liberalism, determined to rebuild – and quickly. The clarion calls dreadfully muffled in the last year must be heard in all our communities: freedom, democracy, respect for our planet, a decent quality of life for all, and much greater equality in our still horribly unequal country. We must turn our policy and philosophy into practice where we govern and into campaigns where we do not. We need a massive housing programme of council, social rent, and other affordable housing, and help for the mentally ill. We must champion political reform to restore the link between voters’ views and election results. We must be the party of internationalism and of Europe, and a movement which values those who have chosen to live here.

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LIbLink: Willie Rennie: We need the facts on the M9 tragedy

Ten days ago, a small blue car crashed just off the M9 near Stirling. A call was made to the Police reporting the incident. Nothing was done for three days. The driver of the car, John Yuill, was already dead. His partner, Lamara Bell was still alive but, sadly, she too died on Sunday.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie is one of the MSPs for the area. He has called for a comprehensive and wide-ranging enquiry to which all police staff should be free to contribute without fear of repercussions. He is concerned at attempts by the Chief Constable to pre-judge the existing smaller scale enquiry. Sir Stephen House apologised for Police Scotland’s failures but made it sound as though the fault was down to an individual. That seems to me to be grossly unfair to a member of staff. We know that pressure on staff has increased as control rooms have been closed and we need to look properly at the impact that these measures have had on staff wellbeing and their ability to provide the service we need from them. 

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Have you got a first class stamp?

tim farron norman lamb squarish by paul walterYou’d be wise to get one if you haven’t yet voted in the Leadership election. The deadline for ballots to be returned in this Wednesday, so put it in an envelope NOW and get along to the postbox.

No … wait … we have some final LibLinks to share with you to help you make up your mind. Huffington Post published articles by both candidates on Friday.

First, Tim Farron wrote under the headline: The Time for Britain’s ‘New Federalism’.

I love the unitedness of our kingdom. Ours is a rich tapestry that is unrivalled in the world, a union of histories and rituals and oddities, stronger together than our individual parts. But our unity should never come at the cost of these individual streaks. We should never confuse togetherness for conformity; never seek to leak the colours away from our towns and cities and shores, for some bland notion of oneness. Union does not mean uniformity.

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Guy Verhofstadt tells it to Greece and the EU like it is

Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the liberal ALDE group in the European Parliament, has set out a potential solution to the Greek crisis in an article for Politico. He makes it clear that there are faults on both sides and both sides need to take constructive action to resolve the crisis fairly for everyone.

We are in this mess because the Greeks never made a real reform package, or a clear break with their mistakes from the past. But also because Europe has followed wrong policies — policies of pure accountancy that slowly but steadily choked the Greek economy. Everybody can make the wrong policy choices, but we have been clinging on to them far too long.

He implores people to stop the scaremongering:

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LibLink: Norman Lamb and Julian Huppert: Defeating radicalisation and extremism, a battle we must win

On the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 bombings, Norman Lamb and Julian Huppert looked at what should and should not be done in order to tackle the radicalisation and extremism that leads to such awful attacks. They wrote for Politics Home and outlined first the measures we should not take, because they don’t work and are just wrong in principle:

But the 7/7 bombings also presented an existential threat to the sort of liberal society we want to live in – raising questions that many will have asked again in light of last week’s terrorist attack in Tunisia.

Do we address these threats by giving government the power to snoop indiscriminately on every citizen, and the vast resources needed to sift through all that information?

Do we target “at risk” communities and faith groups with increasing scrutiny, limit their freedom of speech, and intervene aggressively in an attempt to clamp down on potential extremism?

Internationally, is it right to believe can we combat terrorism by bombing some of the most volatile regions in the Middle East, particularly if it may be contrary to international law?

To each of these, as Liberal Democrats our answer must be – emphatically, no.  Firstly, it doesn’t work.  In 2005 the Security Services were already faced with too much information, on too many threats, to see the wood from the trees. Remember that if we tread roughshod over disenfranchised faith communities we will earn ourselves more enemies than friends.  And if we spend the next year bombing Syria all we will have to show for it are craters, innocent casualties, and a rising defence bill.

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LibLink: Claire Tyler delivers the William Beveridge Memorial Lecture

Baroness-Claire-Tyler-1Baroness Claire Tyler is our spokesperson for mental health in the Lords, and on Saturday she gave the William Beveridge Memorial Lecture at the Social Liberal Forum conference. The full text has now been published, but we can give you a taster here.

The title of the lecture was ‘Wellbeing – a modern take on Beveridge’ and she began by saying:

I think it is entirely appropriate to be revisiting Beveridge at a conference entitled ‘Rebooting Liberalism’. It’s neither regressive nor intellectually lazy to be looking to the past as we seek to move forward. Far from it – we are fortunate to have an incredibly strong intellectual tradition within the party and in seeking to both clarify and communicate exactly what we stand for, we could do much worse than draw on the ground-breaking work of one of the grandfathers of modern Liberalism.

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LibLink: If I’m Lib Dem leader, we’ll oppose fracking

Tim Farron has been writing for about his desire to see the party change its policy on fracking. The headline is entirely misleading, because what he actually does is show respect to the party’s processes by saying he’ll ask the Federal Policy Committee and Conference to reconsider the issue. But why?

The UK should not be pursuing another fossil fuel source, when there is so much potential for renewable generation from tidal and hydro that is still untapped. I would like the party, through the federal policy committee and the conference, to think again about our existing policy on fracking.

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LibLink: Norman Lamb: It would be easy for our party to shelter in our comfort zone but it would be very, very wrong

Norman Lamb has been writing for the Huffington Post about his vision for the future of the Liberal Democrats.

The next few years can’t just be about making ourselves feel better; we must be far more ambitious than that.

That means broadening our policy and political thinking, daring – once again – to be radical and challenging. It is why I am proposing a renaissance in our approach to political action and debate, reaching out to include the many – particularly young people – who share our values and instincts but are put off by closed party structures and, even worse, by tribalistic political thinking.

Our task now is not just to devise short-term tactics or louder opposition. We will succeed when we have a long-term, coherent and persuasive set of strategic ideas for Britain.

The good news is that Liberalism fits our age. Britain has become less collective, citizens and consumers feel more empowered and many individual rights – through equal marriage for instance – are better recognised.

What are his key issues?

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LibLink: Paul Burstow on leaving the elderly at death’s door

Paul BurstowIn the Telegraph today, Paul Burstow expresses his concerns for social care under the Conservative Government. He writes:

Ninety per cent of NHS leaders now believe that social care cuts are directly affecting patient care, while social care leaders report that over half of the providers they work with are facing financial difficulties. This is not sustainable.

Social care has always been the poor relation of the NHS, but in the last Government, Norman Lamb and I made the reform of social care a priority, and, we made more progress in five years than the previous government did in thirteen. We secured an extra £7.2 billion, reformed social care law putting well-being and prevention centre stage, limited individual exposure to care costs and made sure no one should ever again have to sell their home to pay for care. And we laid the groundwork for bringing the NHS and social care together with one budget.

But he sees all that being placed at risk.

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LibLink: Cllr Keith House: The New Housing Finance Institute can help Councils build homes

Eastleigh Council leader Keith House has written on the party website about the potential of the new Housing Finance Institute to ensure that we build the houses we need to tackle the housing crisis we face in this country:

The aims of the HFI are to increase housing supply across all tenures; to unlock opportunities for the public sector and to help business to deliver and finance housing.

The HFI was a key recommendation of the Government-commissioned Elphicke-House Report 2015. Over the course of a year-long review, Natalie Elphicke and I listened to more than 400 organisations from across the nation. The organisations came from all parts of the housing and finance industries as well as local and national government. They made the case for a new approach that would bring everyone together. The idea for the HFI was born and made a key recommendation of our report. Councils can do more, working with housing associations and developers, with private and public finance. My own Council, Eastleigh, is building homes for affordable and private rent, and homes for sale.

There are three things the HFI can do:

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Leadership LibLink: Norman Lamb: It’s time to halve the prison population

Earlier this week, Norman Lamb wrote for the Huffington Post outlining a strong, liberal case for putting fewer people in prison. It’s powerful stuff:

There can be no other area of public policy, with the exception of the related issue of drugs reform, where establishment politicians so readily bang the drum for the exact opposite of any evidence-based solution. Our prisons clearly fail to rehabilitate: half of those released reoffend within a year, including six in ten of those on sentences of less than twelve months.

Liberal Democrats must lead the call for drastic and urgent action to reduce crime, protect victims more effectively, help criminals turn their lives around and protect taxpayers money: we must push for a Ministry of Justice target to halve the prison population by 2025.

Maybe we should look at the reasons people commit crime and tackle them, says Norman:

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