Category Archives: Op-eds

Putting in a good word for Turkey and the Turks

I couldn’t believe the UKIP Party Political Broadcast (PPB) earlier this week. It really is a new low for a PPB to comprehensively denigrate an entire country and its people.

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Lib Dem parliamentarians mark #timetotalk day

Today has been Time to Talk day, Time for Change’s annual initiative to get more people to talk about mental health. It’s something we’ve done to great effect over the last couple of years. You can read the many moving and personal articles our readers have written here.

One Liberal Democrat parliamentarian who was definitely talking about mental health today was Welsh AM Eluned Parrott. She led a debate in the Senedd this afternoon.

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Tim on Tour – talking, campaigning and almost not getting fed

Tim Farron has been out and about doing what he loves best around the country – campaigning with big groups of Liberal Democrats, knocking on people’s doors and spreading the Lib Dem word.

In a hectic 36 hours, he fitted in stops in Manchester, Edinburgh and Cardiff. He’s actually going to Cardiff again on Saturday to speak at Welsh Conference, too.

He recorded this video from the campaign office of Alex Cole-Hamilton, candidate for Edinburgh Western and one of the few human beings who could challenge Tim for sheer campaigning energy:

My latest TimTalks, straight from Alex Cole-Hamilton’s campaign office in Edinburgh Western!

Posted by Tim Farron on Wednesday, 3 February 2016

His theme was partly about motivation and encouraging people to get out on the doorsteps and partly one-party states – highlighting the situation in Manchester where Labour hold virtually every Council seat and the SNP’s stranglehold on power in Scotland.

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Baroness Kath Pinnock writes…Flexible childcare: Another Lib Dem victory

Who is going to look after the children?

One of the biggest worries for working parents is finding high quality and affordable childcare. It is also one of the biggest barriers, especially for women, to getting back into work.

So, when the chance came to ease those worries by improving what childcare the Government were offering, we grabbed it.

Liberal Democrats, of course, recognise that childcare is a critical issue for parents of pre-school children and successfully introduced childcare for two year olds from disadvantaged families. An increase in hours available for all 3 and 4 year olds was in our Manifesto. So we were in broad agreement with the Government Bill to increase the free childcare offer to 30 hours per week during school times.

Throughout the Bill we argued that this was a great opportunity to extend the free hours to school holidays and outside the normal school day. Parents and providers told us that the school holidays often turned out to be a nightmare to organise and could cost a small fortune. Parents who worked non-standard hours in a great variety of jobs such as nursing, cleaning, social care, and catering told us that they ended up paying for childcare when parents who worked during the school day were able to have free childcare.

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William Wallace writes… Sources of UK extremism

Part of our role in both houses of Parliament is to hold the government to the commitments they – often reluctantly – give.  One of the five conditions Lib Dem parliamentarians established in return for supporting the extensions of air operations over Iraq to Syria was that the government should set up an enquiry into sources of funding for extremist versions of Islam within the UK.  Alastair Carmichael in the Commons, and myself in the Lords, are holding the Conservatives to the promise they made to report on this by ‘the Spring of 2016’. Alastair has pressed ministers on the size and quality of the ‘Extremism Analysis Unit’ set up in the Home Office to cover this.  I asked an oral question in the Lords yesterday (February 3rd) on how thoroughly overseas funding will be investigated, from both foreign government and from private sources. In both cases, the answers have been that the government is acting on this commitment, but there are clear reasons why we should continue to put pressure on them to deliver.

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Do we need to reinforce our open-minded, tolerant and liberal credentials?

Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities represent a growing proportion of the UK. In 2010 they made up a total of 14% of the population and 8% of the voters. Yet at the last general election the majority (52%) of BAME voters cast their ballot for Labour not the Lib Dems. In fact over two thirds – 67% – of the black community voted Labour, with 38% of the Asian community voting Conservative.

Lib Dem opposition to the Iraq war in 2003 won the party a legion of new supporters, many from BAME communities, who felt let down by Labour’s march to war. The result was that in the 2005 general election the Lib Dems polled 16% from ethnic minority voters, with support particularly high amongst Pakistani voters amongst whom they polled 25%. Fast forward a decade and Lib Dem support among BAME voters in 2015 had collapsed to just 4%. It’s clear that the Party urgently needs to address this, and find neat innovative ways to appeal to BAME voters whose trust has been lost perhaps because of lack of engagement and lack of attention at the top of the party.

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Is the Basic Income Guarantee an idea whose time has come?

Way back when I was first involved in politics, the ideas that everyone should have a basic income and that tax and national insurance should be integrated were mainstream SDP/Liberal Alliance ideas.

The Greens have in recent years been the only party to advocate such a change but during the General Election, Natalie Bennett was unable to convince people that it was affordable.

This week, think-tank Reform Scotland has come up with a costed scheme to give every adult a basic income of £100 per week and every child £50. The authors, Liberal Democrat Siobhan Mathers and Scottish Green candidate James Mackenzie, acknowledge that there would be a cost, around £2 billion in Scotland, £12 billion across the whole UK and that personal taxation rates would have to rise by about 8%, but that nobody earning under £26,000 a year would be worse off. However, with 2 children, a £100k household would be over £1200 a year better off

It’s certainly radical, with those on lowest incomes gaining and those on £100,000 without children being around £2,200 a year worse off, but isn’t that what a progressive tax system is supposed to do? There is a question, though, around whether a £100k household needs to be mae £1200 a year better off courtesy of the state.

The report argues that there are seven big advantages of such a scheme:

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Recent Comments

  • User Avatarmalc 6th Feb - 12:46am
    Last opinion poll I saw for Wales was carried out by You Gov in Dec 15. Lab 35% Tories 23% PC 20% UKIP 15% LibDems...
  • User AvatarLorenzo 6th Feb - 12:36am
    Alex , well said , nobody above dealt with any of the points I raised, I think not standing a candidate means people think we...
  • User AvatarJudy Abel 6th Feb - 12:02am
    I know what I'm going to say won't be very popular, but in all discussion on childcare, no one ever mentions what might actually be...
  • User AvatarTracy 5th Feb - 11:09pm
    Apologies for the typos above. I blame my phone!
  • User AvatarSimon Shaw 5th Feb - 11:07pm
    @Tony Greaves @Nick Thornsby You are both correct. As I asked in the first posting, if people really would prefer us have 5 MPs, one...
  • User AvatarTracy 5th Feb - 11:06pm
    Totally agree with you Ian. It is neither liberal nor democratic. I don't think there is any such thing as 'positive' discrimination. It is discrimination...