Tag Archives: Alistair Carmichael

LibLink: Alistair Carmichael on the Extremism Bill

 

We have just caught up with an article by Alistair Carmichael in The Independent. The headline itself offers a jolt: “The Extremism Bill means that the Queen’s speech might be the only one you hear from now on”. Writing just before the Queen’s Speech last week he claimed:

This Government still seems wedded to the notion that if you ban something it will go away.They banned psychoactive substances, despite zero evidence that it would reduce harm. They tried banning encryption, making all of our data less secure. Now they are trying to ban “extremist speech” via an Extremism Bill which they will introduce in the Queen’s Speech tomorrow.

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Farron: Queen’s Speech is dogmatic assault on civil liberties and empty rhetoric on key challenges

Funnily enough, Liberal Democrats aren’t that impressed with the Queen’s Speech. There certainly is a lot to worry people of a liberal disposition. Three immediately come to mind:

The Queen might as well have said: “My Government will indulge all its prejudices regardless of the evidence.” For “upholding the sovereignty of Parliament and the primacy of the House of Commons” read “My Government will do all it can to avoid being held to account despite only having the support of a third of the electorate.”

The counter-extremism stuff is pretty sinister, as Alistair Carmichael said the other day:

Rumours about what the upcoming extremism bill will include paint a dark picture. The government seems to think that the answer to every problem is to ban it. The last thing we should be doing is driving extremists into the shadows and underground.

The government is not only threatening our safety with this bill but the very fabric of our multicultural society by alienating certain communities.

I’m slightly worried about the adoption measures. If the state is going to remove children and allow them to be adopted by other people, there does need to be proper safeguards. That could and should take time before permanent ties are broken, especially if the parents do not have the support in place to help them overcome their problems.

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What does the Queen’s Speech mean for Liberal Democrat strategy?

When the Government sets out its agenda for the next year in the Queen’s Speech, it gives the other parties a chance to do the same. What can we learn from the frenzy of Liberal Democrat activity in the press in the past few days about where we might be going.

Well, Tim had a piece in the Huffington Post the other day that put education at the heart of our thinking. This is far from being a new concept. It’s one of our core principles that we’ve always talked about. Tim had developed a 5-point education charter with the aim of giving young people and the economy the skills they need for the modern world.

The future is full of exciting opportunities, as technology changes the way we work and live. However, there are also massive challenges, from giving people the skills they need to adapt to our changing economy, to tackling climate change.

Education is key to meeting these challenges. That is why the Liberal Democrat vision is for a country which enshrines the rights of every child to a decent education. We believe this should be the number one priority of the Government when they set out their agenda. We are calling for a Charter for Education which guarantees every child is taught a curriculum which includes creative arts subjects, sports, languages, technical and vocational courses and practical life skills.

Over the years education has become more about passing tests and getting a good Ofsted rating than making sure children get the skills they need and grow into healthy, happy and confident adults. This is harmful for young people, and my fear is that it will leave them ill-equipped to deal with the challenges – and opportunities – of the future.

It’s a bit more satisfying than the Tories’ battle with teachers and local authorities for the sake of it. It also looks at wellbeing and happiness which are crucially important.

The nuts and bolts of the Charter are:

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Carmichael: Tories “hell-bent on unravelling the union”

Citing concerns raised by the Irish Justice Secretary to her Eurosceptic British counterpart, Michael Gove, Alistair Carmichael, Lib Dem Home Affairs Secretary has accused the Government of being “hell-bent on unravelling the Union.”

The Irish Minister said that decoupling Northern Irish law and the European Convention on Human Rights could undermine the Good Friday Agreemment on which the peaceful settlement in Northern Ireland was based.

The Minister’s letter can be read here.

This also applies to the devolution settlements in Scotland and Wales.

Alistair said:

The devolved settlements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have the European convention hard-wired into them. This Tory government seems hell bent on unravelling the Union by their actions.

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When the Minister didn’t quite get Alistair Carmichael’s sarcasm…

This week, Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael  put down an Urgent Question to the Home Secretary after she all too casually said that the UK should leave the European Convention on Human Rights. It’s clear that ,whatever the result of the Referendum, the Tories are desperate to have a big bonfire of all of our most basic rights. What they could object to about things like the right to privacy and freedom of expression is beyond me.

Anyway, Theresa May didn’t bother to turn up to face Alistair. She sent Attorney General Jeremy Wright instead. He didn’t really answer her question, prompting Alistair to say:

I am grateful to the Attorney General for that answer. I should make it clear that I hold him in the very highest regard; I enjoyed working with him as a Minister in the previous Government. But he is not the Home Secretary, and he should not be responding to the urgent question today. The Home Secretary was the one who could make the speech yesterday and she can, apparently, come and make a statement tomorrow. She should be here today. Yesterday she went rogue; today she has gone missing.

There is total confusion at the heart of Government policy. What the Attorney General has just said at the Dispatch Box contradicts clearly what has been said previously. Yesterday the Home Secretary said:

The ECHR can bind the hands of parliament, adds nothing to our prosperity, makes us less secure by preventing the deportation of dangerous foreign nationals – and does nothing to change the attitudes of governments like Russia’s when it comes to human rights. So regardless of the EU referendum, my view is this: if we want to reform human rights laws in this country, it isn’t the EU we should leave but the ECHR and the jurisdiction of its court.”

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LibLink: Alistair Carmichael: The child refugee vote brought shame on the government

Alistair Carmichael has written a coldly furious article for the New Statesman about the vote last night when the Government defeated the Lords’ Amendment to the Immigration Bill which would have seen this country do its duty and take a relatively small number of child refugees.

Just last week, we saw the Government feign compassion to draw away attention from the calls for accepting 3,000 children, through their own announcement which completely sidestepped the issue of child refugees in danger within Europe, where Europol has estimated that as many as 10,000 unaccompanied children on the continent have disappeared, and will be spread out over four years to water down an already disappointing figure. They then went one step further by implanting a clause meaning that this will be the last time the amendment to accept 3,000 child refugees can be debated. It’s pretty hard to look away from the simple truth that the Government simply doesn’t care about these children.

We can get disappointed by the many wrong decisions the Conservatives are making, be they selfish, misguided or unproductive, but it’s the decisions like the one taken yesterday which really show the Government at its worst and really make me and so many others across our country downright angry. Like cuts to tax credits or employment support allowance, failing to help these refugees is directly putting lives in grave danger.

Providing a safe home for these children, separated from their families and in desperate circumstances, was easily achievable, he said:

However it’s imperative that, as politicians, we do care and when this year alone approximately 171,000 refugees decided water was safer than land and made the treacherous crossing across the Mediterranean, it’s our duty to provide a sustainable solution to deliver help for the most vulnerable. The amendment which was voted on last night would have allowed a small number of child refugees into the UK, a number which our country could have easily handled. The Liberal Democrats carried out a consultation with experts and charities to provide a blueprint for resettling Europe’s child refugees and the clear evidence showed that it was possible. Members from across the House united to try to save these children, having been profoundly moved by their terrifying ordeal.

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Willie Rennie: I want Scotland to be the best

In today’s Sunday Herald, Willie Rennie talks to political editor Tom Gordon about the Scottish Liberal Democrat campaign. He sets out the key Liberal Democrat themes:

I want to get Scotland back up there, with an ambitious programme for investing in education with a penny on income tax.

Protecting our civil liberties, getting our police force to be the best again so that it’s got the confidence of the public but also police officers themselves.

On the environment, making sure we have a very strong programme on fracking and not cutting Air Passenger Duty . And on the health service, making sure mental health services get the support they need and recruiting more GPs. You couldn’t be more positive than that.

As Holyrood gains new tax powers, Lib Dem plans to increase income tax by a penny to invest in education is the most radical in a set of fairly modest measures put forward by all the parties. The SNP have always talked a good fight, but when they are actually given significant power, it’s like they’ve been given a Ferrari that they won’t take out of second gear. Willie talked about the SNP’s timidity:

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