Tag Archives: a postcard from

Postcard from China (2): The Pearl of the Orient

alex payton british consulate hong kongShould the Head of State be elected? Who should be allowed to be a candidate, and who should be allowed to vote?

Hong Kong currently faces these questions in its quest for universal suffrage and a democratic future, and was the recurrent theme during the second part of the trip to China organised by the British Chinese Project, in which I and three other Lib Dem delegates – Merlene Emerson, Sarah Yong and Steven Cheung – took part along with representatives from the other two main …

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A postcard from… China: a fly on the Great Wall

Great Wall of ChinaIt was not my first visit to China (in fact my third time climbing the great wall) but certainly the most intense: ten days from 22nd October to 1st November.  Along with 26 other Overseas Chinese delegates involved in politics from eight nations in Europe and Africa, I was on a study visit at the invitation of the Chinese Government on the eve of the 18th Peoples’ Congress.

Amongst our number were an MP from South Africa, an ex-Minister from Mauritius, a special advisor to the Mayor of Cologne, Germany (twinned with Beijing), Councillors from the Netherlands and France, as well as representatives from all 3 major parties in the UK. Other Liberal Democrats included Councillor Sam Li from Lewes, Jerry Cheung from Sheffield and Anna Lo from our sister Alliance party in Northern Ireland.

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A postcard from… Australia

The coalition continues to hold relatively fast, despite the predicted fall out from June’s vote on the Jeremy Hunt affair. Down Under however, a more dubious coalition is not looking so chipper, and the Lib Dems would be wise to note the similarities, and differences, from the Australian experience.

Much has been said about the pros and cons of political coalitions. In Australia, the centre-right Liberal and rural-based National Party have been in coalition since 1922. Both parties hold similar conservative values and have historically …

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A postcard from… Yerevan

The decision of the ELDR Bureau to hold the Spring Council meeting in Armenia sparked a good deal of debate as to how far the borders of Europe extend. No such ambivalence could be seen in the hundreds of predominantly young people we saw at an outdoor celebration of Europe Day.

This small country, a shadow of its historic past, manages to be on good terms with near neighbours Russia, Iran and Georgia. The relationship with Turkey to its east have been hostile since the deaths of more than a …

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A postcard from… Brussels

The capital of Europe is not exactly what a visitor from an alien civilisation would expect. There is little in the way of grand boulevards, monumental buildings, overblown statuary. Indeed, it all seems a little down at heel. I’ve always suspected that Belgians don’t waste money maintaining facades on the basis that, soon enough, someone will invade and do it for them.

In Howard Blake’s ‘New National Songbook’, he writes, “”Good heavens, look at that Empire!”, we thought. Most of us were thinking about trees and birds all the while.”. …

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A postcard from… Oulu

Oulu, Finland’s 7th largest city, lies on the same latitude as Iceland, the southern tip of Greenland and Fairbanks, Alaska. It is however in central Finland and there’s an awfully long way you can travel north.

Students across the country are celebrating penkkarit marking their graduation from school with processions through the towns involving music, playing tricks on your old school and the throwing of sweets to the watching crowds. This ceremony is about a hundred years old and goes back to the time when the few students who …

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A postcard from… Abuja

A week away from Westminster offers our Parliamentarians an opportunity to travel. And whilst Ros Scott went north, as we’ll see later today, Mark Williams headed towards the warmth of West Africa. He sent us this…

If ever there was a justification for our coalition government’s commitment on overseas aid, it was laid bare for me on a half-term trip to Nigeria as part of the All-Party Group on Global Education working with the charity ActionAid International. I will never forget the village school in Abuja with 700 children with absolutely no water supply, no toilet provision, no drinking water, but …

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A postcard from… Valladolid

It seems that this idea is catching on, as Liberal Democrat Voice has received its first unsolicited postcard. So, without further ado…

It is generally assumed that the Mediterranean countries do not have a strong liberal, democratic strand to their politics. Indeed, the two members of the ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) Group in the European Parliament are the nationalist parties of two Regions, Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (Catalonia) and Partido Nacionalista Vasco (the Basque Country).

However, there are liberal democrats in Spanish politics, awaiting discovery by …

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A Postcard from… Bucharest

The wall on the Liberal Democrat Voice office has another postcard, this time from Dr Cristian Ghita, a visiting scholar at Edinburgh University who hails from Bucharest. Here he takes us behind the current headlines

On Monday, February  6th, The Romanian Prime Minister resigned, following nation-wide protests. The BBC reported that “In a statement, Mr Boc, 45, said that in a time of crisis, his centrist government had not taken part in a popularity contest but had acted to save the country.”

Wonderful statement, and one that would have befitted a Prime Minister leaving his office! A pity, therefore, that it …

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A postcard from… Chennai

Here in the LDV office, we’ve received another postcard from Baroness Ros Scott. Typically, she’s arrived long before the postcard did…

The failure of the Lokpal Bill in Parliament is a good example of just how difficult Parliamentary business can be in India. The Lok Sabha is directly elected on a constituency basis, but with regional loyalties such a strong determinant of voting, thirty-four political parties are represented, as well as nine independents.

If you think that two party coalition is tough, consider for a moment the job of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose ruling Congress Party governs as part …

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A postcard from… Mumbai

Baroness Ros Scott has been away visiting family for the past fortnight, and has let us have some thoughts on what she has found there…

As a politician, starting the day with newspapers and coffee is a habit that is hard to break. Indian newspapers are a joy, with their old fashioned use of English – “the altercation ended in fisticuffs”, “the ruffians were apprehended” and a diet of celebrity gossip and above all, politics. All Indian media give detailed blow-by-blow accounts of the machinations of politicians in the national and state governments and, although there’s a lot going on, …

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Introducing ‘A postcard from…’

Think of this as an experiment.

I’ve always been intrigued by questions such as, “What does the rest of the world think about what we’re up to?”. In a surprisingly parochial political culture, where the debate, if there is any, is about what the big countries are up to, what is the view from other places? And, as those nice young people at Liberal Democrat Voice have left me partly in charge on a day release basis, I thought that I should at least make an effort to find out…

So, …

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    Backing British manufacturing makes sense. Restoring a manufacturing based economy rather than placing reliance on the financial services “industry” is likely to be more sensible...
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    @ John Dunn, What I fail to understand is, if you are not MEPs to participate in the EU or fix it, how can you...
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