Tag Archives: Alistair Carmichael

Conference speeches: Alistair Carmichael: Liberal Britain will follow this party once again

Here is Alistair Carmichael’s speech to Conference in full:

It is good to be back in Brighton.

It has been quite a year since we all left Bournemouth after autumn conference last year.

I remember the journey home.

We had had a good conference.

Membership was up and we had more new members at conference than I had ever known

Glee Club had been as hot, tuneless and tasteless as I had ever known it.

Tim had delivered a stonker of a leader’s speech

The mood was upbeat.

But too be honest I remember thinking on that train pulling out of Bournemouth that it was all a little suboptimal.

I had just spent a week with good friends who had been fantastic colleagues in parliament but who had lost their seats just the same.

Good men and women who hadn’t deserved to lose.

Vince Cable, Norman Baker, Simon Hughes, Mike Moore, Jo Swinson, Lorely Burt, Mark Hunter, Steve Webb, Lynne Featherstone, Dan Rogerson….

I could go on.

Mostly, replaced by Tories carried in on a national tide who, even sixteen months later, for the most part I would struggle to recognise let alone name. How their constituents must regret it now.

That was hard.

It was, quite honestly, hard to see a way ahead for this party that I first joined as a fourteen old.

It was hard to see our purpose.

It was even harder to see our future.

After five difficult years in coalition it felt like the Tories had got all the benefit and we had

got all the grief.

They had won the majority in parliament. They wore the mantle of economic competence like they do so much in life – with that unmistakable sense of Tory entitlement.

As I say – just a bit…suboptimal.

Well, what a difference a year makes.

Twelve months after that rather subdued journey from Bournemouth home to Orkney, the landscape looks pretty different today.

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LibLink: Alistair Carmichael: May’s legacy on immigration detention is callous and cold

Alistair Carmichael has written an article for the Times Red Box website in which he slams Theresa May’s record on immigration detention:

32,000 people is half the population of my home town.

He explains why immigration detention is so bad:

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LibLink: Alistair Carmichael: We put an end to child detention. Now the Tories have backtracked

Alistair Carmichael writes for STV News about the Tories sneaking out the announcement about the closure of the Cedars facility:

It is the oldest trick in the parliamentary book. Slip out all the bad news on the last day when MPs are already looking out the Ambre Solaire and the flip flops. By the time the Commons returns in September the moment for protest will have passed and the pressure will be off.

Thursday’s clutch brought the usual mix of the good, the bad and the indifferent. And one more — the shameful. Buried in amongst announcements about schools funding, Ecofin and Armed Forces Pay Review Body appointments, there is one entitled “Cedars pre-departure accommodation”. It is a cosy-sounding title that betrays its true nature.

Cedars was the accommodation set up under the coalition government when implementing the commitment in the coalition agreement to end the detention of children for immigration purposes. It meant that children in families awaiting removal from the UK would no longer have to spend time in lock-down institutions.

Why should we treat children of asylum seekers less well than we would want our own to be treated, he asks.

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LibLInk: Alistair Carmichael: Theresa May’s liberal rhetoric a surprise

Alistair Carmichael has written an article for today’s Scotsman in which he matches up Theresa May’s words on entering Downing Street to her actions in government. Certainly we can all remember Margaret Thatcher’s warm words about bringing peace and harmony when she entered No 10, and we know how that turned out.

For many people there were three main reasons for being pleased to see Theresa May enter No 10 Downing Street last week. Firstly she was not Boris Johnson; secondly she was not Michael Gove and thirdly she was not Andrea Leadsom. As a father, I felt it could have been worse. Mrs May, a vicar’s daughter we are told, delivered a little homily for the benefit of the world’s media outside her new residence. The rhetoric was good. I know from five years in coalition government that getting some Conservatives even to acknowledge the inequalities of modern life can be difficult. Here we had a Conservative prime minister not just acknowledging them but promising to tackle them.

But her record so far doesn’t quite reflect this:

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LIbLink: Alistair Carmichael: Parliament can not duck responsibility for UK joining Iraq war

As we have a 13-years-too-late mea culpa (but a big boy made him do it) from John Prescott, Alistair Carmichael writes for the Times about Parliament’s role in supporting the Iraq War.

He makes the very valid point that Parliament could have given Blair a much harder time, asking for more evidence, scrutinising every claim made, but they ducked it.

Too many of those who now say, “Of course, if I had known then what I know now …” must be challenged. For the most part they could not have known then what they know now because they were not prepared to ask the questions or to demand the evidence.

Attention focuses on the actions of the prime minister and government of the day and rightly so — they failed to do what they should have done. That is, however, equally true of the Conservative opposition. Where they should have questioned, they acquiesced. Where they should have demanded evidence, they accepted assertions. As a party of the establishment, they could not allow themselves to believe that the various arms of government would be embarking on a war without a sound basis in law.

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Carmichael: Britain needs to hear liberal internationalist voices like never before

Alistair Carmichael has given his reaction to the referendum result on his Facebook page, reproduced here with his permission.

Facebook asks what is on my mind. This may not be the most coherent answer I can give in my sleep-deprived state but here goes :

1. As a result of the referendum vote we now have massive economic issues to face and deal with – the priority for all parties should be to tackle that.

2. We can not tackle these problems while, as a country, we are split down the middle so this is a time for bringing people together and healing the divisions if we can. I sense a lot of anger amongst my friends and I share the frustration but we can not allow that anger to be self-indulgent. There is too much at stake.

3. The only way in which a break up of the UK can now be avoided is if we go for a properly federal structure and elect it proportionately. Brexit is the consequence of a broken political system.

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Alistair Carmichael MP writes: Snoopers’ Charter debate was a circle of Hell even Dante could not have imagined

This week in Parliament we debated the Investigatory Powers Bill or, as some would have it, the Snooper’s Charter take 2. It was two days of my life that I will never have back and, after fifteen years as an MP, it was two of the most depressing days I have known. Being an MP is a great job and when parliament works as it is supposed to it can be exhilarating. When it fails to do what it is elected to do, namely to hold the government of the day to account, then it is hell. The debate on this bill took us to a new circle of hell that even Dante could not have imagined.

The Bill is rotten to its core and I wish we could have blocked it as we did in Coalition when faced with the Communications Data Bill. Dealing with Tories in government was difficult. Dealing with Tories in government and Labour in opposition is impossible.
We had two days to debate hundreds of amendments in the House of Commons. The government alone brought forward one hundred and four amendments on the first day and a further twenty on the second. After all the amendments the provisions on bulk data collection and the retention of “internet connection records” are not even half-baked. They are raw.

You would have thought that this would be grist to the mill of any decent opposition. You would be right in that. Unfortunately we don’t have a decent opposition, we have the Labour Party. There was not a single amendment in the whole two day debate on which Labour considered worthy of voting. For two days they were absent from the voting lobbies. We did get a little excited on day two when we heard through the usual channels that they were “going to vote on something”. We need not have got our hopes up – it turned out that “something” was a third reading of the bill (ie on the bill as a whole) and the vote they cast was to support it.

For our part, despite our overarching opposition to the Bill we had tabled a raft of amendments in an attempt to make the Bill a little less awful. The SNP took the same approach. I will not bore you with them all but give you a flavour below.

First, I proposed – and pushed to a vote, an amendment which would have deleted provisions in the Bill for the introduction of the collection and storage of Internet Connection Records (ICRs). Now, I’m not yet 100% clear what an internet connection record is. Nobody is – even the Home Secretary. I surmise that it will probably be your web history. This will then be stored for 12 months just in case you ever come under suspicion. Meanwhile, that information can be hacked and stolen revealing an enormous amount of detail about your life, activity and even your state of mind. I knew that when I pushed the amendment it would not pass. Andy Burnham the shadow Home Secretary had already said that whilst he accepted that ICRs were incredibly intrusive and might not even be helpful in solving crime he supported their collection in principle (God alone knows what the principle was but by this time I had given up on trying to understand the Labour Party’s position).

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