Category Archives: Op-eds

What next Mr. Gove? Martians flooding your A&E departments?

 

It is always useful to know what you’re talking about when invoking possible EU expansions in any debate about Europe and European membership.

  • The Dutch army and society were traumatized when poor UN organization and a British/French/American No Bombing deal forced our DutchBat soldiers to witness helplessly how a Serbian massacre got underway at Srebrenica in 1994. The Dutch have been taking extra attention of Balkan goings on ever since.
  • Inside the past year, Erdogan has first interned and then expelled (or: allowed to slip away) two critical Dutch journalists working from Turkey. The first was Mrs. Geerdink, an expert on Turkish-Kurdish relations working from Diarbakir (Turkish Kurdistan); the second was the Dutch & Turkish columnist Ebru Umar staying with her Turkish parents in a sea resort. The Dutch governments have been closely involved in all kinds of talks about Turkey joining the EU since the formal EU procedure for that was started around 2005; that is because like Germany, we have a substantial segment of Dutch citizens from Turkish descent (holding obligatory Turkish passports as well, and voting in Turkish elections).
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Liberal Britain – Changes for the better

A Liberal Britain cannot simply consider this country alone. The picture must include Britain in Europe and the wider world. The vision should be long-term, not simply the life of the current Parliament. I suggest:

  1. A United Federal Kingdom. The existing Parliament suffices as a federal one, provided voting on matters of sole concern to England is restricted to English MPs. At present many issues relate to the ‘four nations’ but the more powers are devolved to Scotland etc the more likely federal concern will be limited to defence and foreign affairs, plus perhaps energy, fishing policy and overseas development.

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Is it the BBC’s fault that Bargain Hunt is so popular?

I have a confession to make. I watch BBC’s antiques competition, Bargain Hunt, three times a week. Perversely, I watch it with the volume turned down, reading the sub-titles (I’m on the treadmill in the gym at the time).

It’s a strange programme, because, as my lifelong auctioneer father often says, in exasperation:

They’re going the wrong way!

What he means is, that prices are lower at auctions than flea markets/boot sales. So, if you buy some things at an auction, you can earn good money on them at a boot sale. But if you go the other way, you are often on a hiding to nothing.

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The man who braved the Bradford riots & was slated by a Tory secretary of State is now Lib Dem Lord Mayor of Bradford

Geoff ReidThis week, Liberal Democrat Councillor Geoff Reid became Lord Mayor of Bradford. He was proposed for the office by fellow Councillor Jeanette Sunderland. Extracts from her speech follow. It’s longer than our usual articles, but it’s a fascinating read.

Geoff has a lifelong record of community service as a Methodist minister and Councillor. He has spoken truth to power and provoked the ire of a Conservative Cabinet Minister. He played a pivotal role in providing support and healing for communities in Bradford after the riots.

You can read more about him on the Telegraph and Argus site here.

It is with great pleasure that I ask for the support for the nomination of Councillor Geoff Reid to be the Lord Mayor of Bradford for the municipal year 2016-2017.

Geoff Reid will bring a depth to the role of Lord Mayor which finds it roots in his history as a Methodist Minister, a politician, a collaborative write, a visitor to pubs and his love of public transport.
Geoff Reid born on the same day in 1946 as Freddie Mercury, in a two room flat in the Scotswood Road area of Newcastle upon Tyne. His parents wanted a council house but having only one child failed to qualify.

His father, who had returned from five years as a Prisoner of War to become a leading light of the Tyneside Anglo-German Friendship Society, joined a self-build group of 32 men who completed 32 houses in their spare time. Geoff moved across the city to North Heaton, eventually attending Heaton Grammar School. In the 1950s he came on an early visit to Ilkley with Newcastle Methodist Mission Poor Children’s Summer Camp.

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We are not a party of compromise

In the autumn of 1980, former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was urged by political commentators and members of her own party – including Ted Heath – to U-turn on policies that ushered in a fierce liberalisation of the economy. In a response that was to gleam through the decades as one of the most memorable moments of UK politics in recent history, with her now-iconic sternly glare and aura of authority, she addressed her party at the Conservative conference with the immortal phrase, “You turn if you want to – the lady’s not for turning”. And so, Thatcher’s ferocious refusal to compromise was to solidify her part in British history, play a juggernaut role in keeping her in power for the next eleven years and earn her the nickname ‘The Iron Lady’.

However, for the past six years, public perception has been that the Liberal Democrats are the antithesis of that caricature Thatcher had built for herself – we have been branded as the party of the centre ground; the party of compromise. The party that sells itself as radically centrist, able to flexibly navigate in and out of both the left and right, pandering to voters on both sides. I am here to argue that this is not only unabashedly false, but frighteningly hurtful to the causes of liberty, freedom and equality, the three main tenants of our party.

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PJS/YMA – Ultimately a sensible judgment by the Supreme Court

It is rather disconcerting that, sitting down to write this post, I have to think quite hard about what I can and can’t say. It does seem that free speech is rather trammeled when people can’t talk directly about this case. Those who have bothered to spend a little time googling (try Australian, US and Canadian outlets or a well-known political blog), will know what I am talking about. Those who haven’t, won’t. It’s all a bit strange.

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Coalition: Yes or no?

Liberal Democrats quite like to be in government. We like to think that we can make a difference. So when the larger parties find themselves without an overall majority, we – as individuals – are courted.

This article deals with two aspects of the decision to go into coalition – political legitimacy and our party’s mandate to govern.

Liberal Democrats do not support the current unequal voting system. Put simply, we want every vote to be valued equally. We want the number of elected representatives to correspond to the number of people who voted for each party. So, if a party overall gets 10% of the vote, we believe that they should have 10% of the representatives.

When this doesn’t happen – which is nearly all of the time – the main question to ask is whether we make our decisions based on the numbers of representatives, or based on our vote share. For example, if we have 10% of the vote but only 2% of the representatives, do we say our mandate reflects our 10% or our 2%?

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