Category Archives: Op-eds

Happy 40th Birthday, Alex Cole-Hamilton

Today, Liberal Democrat MSP for Edinburgh Western, Alex Cole-Hamilton turns 40.

I have to confess to being slightly traumatised by this – much more so than by my own imminent Golden Jubilee.

You see, I don’t feel 50. I feel about 28. And I’m in much better shape physically and mentally than I was at 28, so it’s all good here. And the waiter at the Indian last night referred to me as a “young lady.” Even better.

Alex’s big day, though, provides inescapable evidence of the passage of time. I can’t help but remember that I first met him when he was a young lad fresh out of university. Now he’s a 40 year old father of three.

He hides it well, though. He’s probably even more irrepressible now than he was back then.

I’ve asked some of his friends to help me come up with 40 Legendary Alex Moments. Sit down with a cup of tea and enjoy a meander through the life of someone who is guaranteed to bring a smile to whatever is going on. Happy Birthday, Alex:

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Mathew’s Musings -commentary on this week’s news

Our new leader

I wish Vince all the luck in the world, in what is one of the most demanding jobs in politics today…ensuring we get enough coverage to break through and continue the Lib Dem Fightback which Tim Farron made a such a good start on during his time in the top job.

There’s no doubt that Vince has pretty good name recognition among the general public (for a politician, anyway) and is clearly a trusted voice on the economy, something which hasn’t always been the case for our leaders.

As the star of a past Christmas edition of Strictly Come Dancing, we can but hope that Strong and Cable Vince will glide across the political scene and ensure that liberalism and social democracy not only survive but thrive in the form of the Liberal Democrats in the years ahead.

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The sixties

I just visited an amazing exhibition in Montreal at La Musee de Beaux Arts, entitled ‘Revolution’, all about the sixties, when I was a teenager. The revolution in question was the change in art, ideas, politics, power, dress, music etc etc that occurred in the late 1960s, which culminated in the 1968 student riots, Expo ’67 in Montreal and Woodstock.

Many people today, especially young people it seems, criticise the sixties as a time of fantasy, forgetting what life had been like before the so-called swinging sixties. Before the sixties, (male) homosexuality was illegal, women were second class citizens, treated as appendages of their husbands especially in regard to finance, people were hanged for murder, computers and the internet were non-existent, books, plays and films were rigorously censored and non-white people were subject to overt harassment and discrimination. Who can forget the prosecution of the publishers of Lady Chatterly’s Lover – the book the prosecutor said you would not want your wives or servants to read! Or the shocking Tory campaign in Smethick in 1964, when the Labour MP Patrick Gordon-Walker lost his seat to a campaign of ‘If you want a ******* for a neighbour, vote Labour’.

During the sixties, homosexual acts between consenting adults in private were made legal, the Race Relations Act outlawed much discrimination based on colour or race, hanging was abolished, abortion was legalised up to 28 weeks and the voting age was reduced to 18.

The sixties saw an unprecedented revolution in fashion in which the UK through designers like Mary Quant and the Carnaby Street shops changed clothing forever from the somewhat staid post war styles to the modern ever changing fashions of today. The Women’s Liberation Movement started demanding equal rights for women and the end of patriarchy, which, in Britain, eventually led to the Sexual Discrimination Act and the Equal Pay Act in 1975.

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Observations of an ex pat: Crooked or incompetent?

Is the Trump team totally incompetent or crooked? Is it perhaps a combination of the two or an unappealing variation on the political spectrum?

For despite the never-ending stream of White House protestations and presidential tweets, not all of President Trump’s problems are the result of a witch hunt of historic proportions orchestrated by  the Democrats, the liberals, “ the dishonest media,” immigrants, refugees, Muslims, “so-called judges”,  turncoat Republicans, Chinese currency manipulators, Angela Merkel, Mexicans and Canadians.

Next week we may start to learn the answer to the questions posed. It is a major week for the Trump Administration.  Three big names from the Trump campaign—Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort – are all appearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating the Russian hacking scandal.

A bit of background for anyone who has been living at the bottom of a mile-deep Tibetan cave for the past month.  Donald Junior—after initially denying he had met with any Russians—published a string of emails which revealed that in the depths of the presidential campaign he was keen to meet with a Russian lawyer who could dish the dirt on Hillary Clinton.

The White House made much of the fact that Trump Junior released the  correspondence rather than having  it  revealed by someone else. Little was made of the fact that he made public  the emails after the New York Times said they were going to publish them.

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Vince’s manifesto shows just how far Tim took us

When Tim Farron stood for the leadership two years ago, his winning manifesto was quite internally focused. It had to be. We’d just had what could have been a mortal blow from the electorate. We were all in shock, devastated at the psychological impact of the loss of so many of our heartlands.

We knew we had to pick ourselves up, but in those early weeks, every time we tried to get ourselves off the floor, we couldn’t quite manage it. Then along came Tim with a jolt of electricity, a motivational message that energised us and got us going again. A lot of his manifesto was internally focused – about picking a ward and winning it, about tackling diversity, about how he’d make decisions in the party (with a diverse group of people in the room), and about having a festival of ideas. It was a time of innovation when newbies developed initiatives like Lib Dem Pint and Your Liberal Britain. But it was mainly internal.

Tim has left us in better shape and grew the size of the parliamentary party in an incredibly difficult election for us.

Vince’s manifesto is much more outward looking. He doesn’t really talk about internal stuff at all. It’s all about our positioning to the world.

He uses language about being ambitious for party and country that reminds me of Willie Rennie’s optimistic campaign in Scotland where we won two seats from the SNP. Where we could get that message out in sufficient volume, people liked it. It was full of heart and authenticity and optimism. People want something to look forward to.

Vince concentrates on five policy areas:

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Vince takes the stage with a strong “Exit from Brexit” line

Vince is not our almost leader any more. Just after 4pm, Sal Brinton announced that there had only been one nomination received and therefore he was our actual leader.

Having one of the country’s most credible and authoritative experts on the economy at a time when the economy is at risk is no bad thing.

We will certainly see a change in style from Vince. He won’t be as Tiggerish as Tim, but he’ll fight the recklessness of the Tories and Labour and promote our Liberal Democrat values with energy and optimism.

Vince has huge intelligence, a way of telling it like it is that makes sense to people and a wicked sense of humour. I feel much more optimistic than I did on 9th June that we can actually get somewhere.

Watch this afternoon’s proceedings here. You can see speeches from Sal, Tim, Jo and Vince.  Some key points from Vince’s speech are below.

There is a huge gap in the centre of British politics and I intend to fill it. As the only party committed to staying in the single market and customs union, the Liberal Democrats are alone in fighting to protect our economy. It will soon become clear that the government can’t deliver the painless Brexit it promised. So, we need to prepare for an exit from Brexit.

Theresa May wants to take Britain back to the 1950s while Jeremy Corbyn wants to take Britain back to the 1970s. I will offer an optimistic, alternative agenda to power the country into the 2020s and beyond.

We have a government that can’t govern and an opposition that can’t oppose. Labour and the Conservatives have formed a grand coalition of chaos, driving through a hard Brexit which would deliver a massive blow to living standards.

Both parties have abandoned mainstream economics. I want to put economics back centre stage.

Under my leadership the Liberal Democrats will be at the centre of political life: a credible, effective party of national government.

We have doubled our membership and our new members have given the party enormous energy. I want to give leadership to that energy, hitting the headlines and putting our party at the centre of the national debate.

 

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UK income inequality lower than a decade ago: three challenges for the Lib Dems

Counterintuitive though it may seem to many, Britain is significantly more equal than it was a decade ago – especially in London, where the fall in inequality has been “dramatic” according to the IFS.

This poses several challenges for those who consider that reducing income inequality should be a policy priority, among whose number are many Liberal Democrats.

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Recent Comments

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    "Nobody is going to offer David Davis a free hand to rewrite the fundamental principles of the EU treaties" Yes as regards the Brexit negotations....
  • User AvatarNick Hopkinson 23rd Jul - 12:37pm
    David Evershed should not fall for the Eurosceptic myth about the 1975 referendum - the geo-political context and political imperative of the European project was...
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 23rd Jul - 12:34pm
    "Where is the evidence that the EU would reform?" Some very valid questions are being asked here, but we should be careful to avoid seeking...
  • User AvatarMike S 23rd Jul - 12:06pm
    and the policies that come out of those messages and vision, giving the Lib Dems a CLEAR identity which is DIFFERENT to the tories or...
  • User Avatarfrankie 23rd Jul - 12:05pm
    Try P C Hodgell God Stalk, a dark fantasy, bit like Brexit ;)
  • User AvatarPeter Watson 23rd Jul - 11:46am
    @TCO "I merely wonder what the reaction from you would have been had I said that I support Theresa May and her policies. Which, for...