Category Archives: News

Notes from a new Councillor: Taking Action

Many residents have contacted me with road concerns. I was warned before the election that roads would take a lot of my time! The list goes on and on: potholes, drainage, dips in the road, worn surfaces, pavements, kerbs, broken bollards, street-lighting, etc.

Is it worth my time? Yes. Getting a pavement cleared so that a mum with a pushchair can get through makes a difference. Getting a cycle route tidied of overgrown hedge keeps cyclists on the cycle path and safe. Working for new street-lighting protects young people as they walk home from school in the winter months. Improving drainage means people can access a recreation ground rather than walking through standing water to the gate.

I think I underestimated how much little things can have a big impact on people’s lives. And how, by sending an email or meeting with a county officer on a particular issue, not only will it improve the situation for one resident, but for many.

One reason I got involved in politics a couple of years ago was because of inequality. I think what I like most about being a county councillor is giving local people a voice. Listening to their concerns, hearing their concerns, and representing them. We live in an unequal world at many levels, socially, economically, educationally, opportunity.

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Vince’s six questions for David Davis on the customs union

Vince Cable has set out six questions the Government must answer after the “constructive ambiguity” in its document published yesterday told us not a huge amount. The questions seem designed to reveal whether the government’s position is actually based on any evidence about the impact of its options or whether the options are just a fig leaf to cover up the deep divisions in the Cabinet.

Vince said:

The government is offering two ways forward but won’t tell us which it prefers. That’s no doubt because cabinet ministers can’t even agree amongst themselves.

These plans are more concerned with papering over the cracks within the Conservative party than protecting our economy.

All those industries that depend on membership of the customs union, from the car industry to aerospace, still have no clear idea what is coming down the track.

All they know is that instead of jumping off a cliff in 18 months, the government now wants to do so in a few years’ time.

The government must come clean over the real costs of these plans for British businesses and consumers.

And on to the six questions:

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Could you be a future leader?

ALDC are recruiting the 2017 group for the ALDC’s Future Leaders programme at our November Kickstart and are asking could you be a leader in your area?
Whether you are standing for election next May, a key member of the core campaign team in your local constituency and ultimately looking to be a leader in your area, this could be the ideal opportunity for you.

This is an excellent training and development programme for Liberal Democrat activist and Councillors who are hopefully going to be the stars of the future.

It’s a free programme (including transport, accommodation and food) thanks to G8 funding based at ALDC’s residential Kickstart weekend on the 24th-26th November 2017 in Stone.

The group have a chance to undertake training and development for themselves in their progression as key activists in their areas, potential ‘leaders’ of local campaigning. This year the programme has a particular emphasis on young campaigners (under 30 years of age) and BAME campaigners.

If there are people on your local party who would benefit please encourage them to apply.

To apply for one of the bursaries, please send in evidence of current campaign activity (such as what you already do to help your local party) along with 200 words about why you want to be considered for one of these coveted places to [email protected].

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The combination of food and politics can bring seismic change

What do the the French Revolution, the Irish famines of the 19th century, the Boston Tea Party and Gulliver’s Travels all have in common? I suspect you have grasped my point already. They all have food at the centre of their stories. The ancient Lilliputian dispute between big-enders and little-enders (over which end to open a boiled egg), led to, “six rebellions…wherein one Emperor lost his life and another his crown.”
 
Swift was parodying and satirising the British state of George l. Marie Antoinette told her people that if they had no bread they should eat cake. Down came a tumbling the ancien regime. In Ireland, the enormity of the deaths from hunger and the mass emigration in the wake of the famines fueled the resentment that saw Ireland eventually rise up against Britain and create the sovereign Irish state we know today.  In 1773 in Boston harbour the idea of a tax on tea being levied without the consent of those paying the tax sparked the American revolution.  
 
Food matters. It matters for reasons so fundamental that I won’t patronise readers by articulating them. Jonathan Swift knew his history and his politics. He knew that food shortages and the cultural importance societies attach to given foods can have profound political consequences.
 

Rebellion in Russia and India

 
Food riots helped propagate the Russian revolution. In British India, locally engaged Hindu and Muslim soldiers serving the Crown rebelled in 1857 when they heard that the cartridges for the new Enfield rifle were coated with cow and pig fat, thus offending both religions. Things might not have got out of hand were it not necessary for soldiers to tear open the cartridges with their teeth (hence “bite the bullet”), thus forcing Hindus to eat the fat of cows, which they hold sacred and never to be eaten. Muslims were being asked to put pig fat in their mouths. It is a central canon of Muslim faith that pigs are unclean and unfit for human consumption. Many thousands died before the British restored order, though the event surely marked the beginning of the long, slow, disengagement of Britain from India. As has been so often the case with political turmoil, the matter of food unlocked seething anger at some of the many insensitive behaviours of the colonial power.
 
And now we have Brexit. Now we have Dr Liam Fox leaping and scurrying about in bovine bowing and scrapping at the feet of Donald Trump. A free trade deal with the USA makes Brexit Tories salivate at its very prospect. It’s more than trade and jobs and Britain’s place in the world for them. For them it represents a fixed link – a permanent bridge – between the very rich and very powerful economic and social conservatives of the American Right and creating a British world of red in tooth and claw capitalism, mindless xenophobia and the rolling back of employment rights and the great triumphs won to build a socially liberal Britain. A free trade deal with the USA is for the hard Right Tories the economic equivalent of the foreign policy and defence super glue of Trident.  
 

Pandora’s Box

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LibLink: Vince Cable: It’s time to tackle the UK’s dangerous addiction to debt

One of Vince Cable’s claim to fame is that he accurately predicted the 2007 financial crash. Ten years on, he recently wrote an article for City AM in which he said that our economy was again at risk because of high debt levels.

Debt, in itself, isn’t bad. He talks about his own experience:

Indeed, my own youthful borrowing included buying my late wife a grand piano on an overdraft, a decision that underpinned 33 years of happy marriage. (And I paid off the debt after a struggle.)

The issue with debt is one of limits and sustainability, for both the individual and the wider financial system. The same, clearly, applies to government debt and corporate and financial sector leverage.

What the 2008 financial crisis and its aftershocks have taught us is that those limits may be closer than we think – and, once crossed, can lead to rapid and painful corrections.

He looks at the current situation in which we are seeing high levels of personal debt again:

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New Lib Dem digital initiative – The week in politics

Those creative digital types at LDHQ have come up with a good idea – a Twitter summary of key Lib Dem activities over the past week called The Week in Politics.

It covers everything from Vince’s article on how the young have been shafted by Brexit to Lorely Burt’s period poverty action to our contingent at Leeds Pride.

It’s good that it looks beyond the activities of the parliamentary party, …

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LISTEN: Ming Campbell on North Korea, an anti-Brexit party, gender equality and what he ate before a big race

When something goes awry in the world, I always want to hear what two people think of it – Paddy and Ming. I don’t always agree with them, but what they have to say is always worth hearing.

Last night Ming Campbell was on Any Questions. He had his own alliterative response to Trump’s “fire and fury” and “locked and loaded” – inexperienced, incompetent and incoherent. He said that the UK should work with the UN to sort this situation out and warned against any sort of military engagement. He said that the world was in a very dangerous situation.

Other issues raised included whether there should be a new centrist anti-Brexit party. Ming said, quite correctly, that there was one and there was no time to faff about creating another. The fallout from the Google memo was also discussed.

But you’ll have to listen to the end to find out what Ming used to eat before a big race in his running days when he held British records and stuff. It certainly wasn’t the sort of tailored, scientific approach we see with elite athletes today.

I was also surprised that he came out in favour of the sacking of James Damore from Google. He was pretty clear. What he’d said was wholly inappropriate and he had to go. I kind of agree with him – but on the other hand, I am very aware that Damore worked for a company in a country which has next to no employment rights. I suspect that firing him will make him a vast amount of money and will make him a bit of a celeb in alt-right circles. A disciplinary process that told him off might have been a better way of dealing with the situation.

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Recent Comments

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  • User AvatarOliver Craven 21st Aug - 9:50pm
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    Peter, We have decided on Brexit, I think that is a game changer and will be looking with interest on the figures going forward. you...
  • User AvatarCassieB 21st Aug - 9:30pm
    Agreed it's not good teaching all children at a certain pace: too fast for some, too slow for others. But this isn't a new concept...
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