Tag Archives: featured

Norman Lamb writes … Tackling conversion therapy in the NHS

It may seem hard to imagine, but until 1992 the World Health Organisation classified homosexuality as a form of mental illness. Academic studies have shown an extraordinary prevalence, not too long ago, of therapists seeking to ‘convert’ gay people to become heterosexual – treating people’s sexuality as an illness rather than an inherent part of who they are.

In recent decades, society and the medical professions have fortunately come a long way. Most people now recognise that this as dangerous nonsense.

But there remain a few counsellors who still believe in the “treatment” of homosexuality to combat same-sex attractions.  I said nearly a year ago now that, although there was no evidence to suggest that such practices were taking place in the NHS, I wanted to do all that I could to put an end to them once and for all.

As Liberal Democrats it is incredibly important that we work to create a society which is not only more tolerant and open, but also one in which people are able to access support which helps rather than harms them when they are struggling with issues like their sexual orientation.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 5 Comments

Surely it’s time for the Liberal Democrats to part company with Alex Carlile

alex carlile - house of lords
After much provocation over the years, I have finally reached the end of my patience with Alex Carlile. The sooner he and the Liberal Democrats part company the better.

It was embarrassing enough to watch him give the green light to so many of Labour’s illiberal anti-terror laws, but when he supports something which threatens to scupper a key concession won by the Liberal Democrats, it is time for us to actively campaign for him to go.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 57 Comments

Opinion: A liberal postcard from Athens

Sunday morning in Kifissia, one of the leafy northern suburbs of Athens, and the view from my bedroom balcony is blue sky with dark clouds looming – a fitting scene for this very important Greek Election Day.

A product of the oil industry in Aberdeen, I am one of many Scottish expats supporting the oil and gas industry around the world (and lets not mention oil prices!). I have been working in Greece for a little over a year and after commuting between the Athens of the North and the real Athens for a year, I have been resident (and paying tax!) in Greece since November.

Greece has been going through a tough time in the last five years, unemployment is high and wages are low. Though there are few signs of austerity in the posh northern suburbs, my Greek colleagues (I am a lawyer) have lost faith in their politicians and their economy. Much though they love their country, pessimism is rife.

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 24 Comments

Flags at half mast – the right way to mark the passing of an illiberal despot?

You can probably guess that my answer to this question is a resounding “No.” When I saw yesterday that Westminster Abbey of all places was flying the flag at half mast to mark the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, I was horrified. The vomit-inducing tone of the tributes portraying him as some sort of reformer added to my irritation. If he was a reformer, Brian from the Magic Roundabout is a world champion sprinter to rival Usain Bolt.

I guess what intensified my overall sense of injustice was the chorus of silence from Liberal Democrats. Surely at least one of our parliamentarians should have openly criticised such a ridiculous decision. The only honourable exceptions I can find are Meral Ece and Mike Thornton, both of whom have been retweeting human rights information about Saudi Arabia and wry observations about the reaction to Abdullah’s death:

Most annoying was that it fell to a TORY to heap the most condemnation on the flags decision:

It’s all so different from 2007 when Vince Cable as acting leader boycotted the State Visit of King Abdullah, saying:

Mr Cable added: “I think it’s quite wrong that as a country we should give the leader of Saudi Arabia this honour.”

He said that although Britain has a “business-like” relationship with the country, Britain would not dream of extending the same invitation to other controversial leaders like Libya’s Colonel Gadaffi..

He said he had also been critical of the Saudi regime’s treatment of Britons.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 37 Comments

The Independent View: Progressive and pro-European voters must unite against Tory-UKIP chaos

Britain stands on the edge of a cliff with the General Election only 105 days away.  Will we vote Tory or UKIP for Euroreferendum chaos, lasting two years at least and putting thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and our long term peace and security at risk? Or will Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green and all progressive voters come together in the marginal seats that matter to elect a Parliament for progress and reform and a Labour-led Government with Ed Miliband as Prime Minister?  He has stood firm against the clamour for a referendum with considerable courage and nous.  Scotland shows how referenda, even with a 55-45 vote, can settle nothing, just open a can of worms.

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged | 67 Comments

Alistair Carmichael MP writes…A proud day as we move nearer to Liberal Democrat vision of home rule for Scotland

Saltire - St Andrews Flag - Scotland - Some rights reserved by byronv2One of my first political campaigns was the 1979 referendum on a Scottish Assembly, as it was then styled.

The failure of that campaign was formative in my political thinking.  We all learned the hard way some simple political truths. Constitutional change is only achieved by working with people from other parties and of no party and that our liberal vision of Home Rule for Scotland within a strong federal United Kingdom is more relevant today than it has ever been.

As a teenager growing up in a small tight-knit island community I also quickly realised that local communities were best placed to make the decisions that affect them. We also understood that Government in Edinburgh was just as capable of getting things wrong for us as government in London.

Fast forward thirty five years and it was a proud day for me as Secretary of State for Scotland when we won decisively the vote to keep our 300 year old family of nations together with a promise of extensive new powers for our Scottish Parliament.

We set up the cross-party Smith Commission to bring people together and build consensus on what these new powers should be.

No party got everything they wanted but we owed it to the majority of Scotland who made the democratic decision to reject independence to see through their desire for more powers – a desire shared by our party.

I was pleased the Smith Commission aimed high.

The draft clauses I have published today will mean our Scottish Parliament will raise over half of what it spends. It will create a new Scottish Welfare State System with a starting budget of more than £2.5 billion.

And it will introduce votes for 16 and 17 years olds for Holyrood and local government elections.

Smith also made another important point that has not received the attention that it deserves, namely that the process of devolution should not stop in Edinburgh but should be driven to local communities across Scotland.

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Nick Clegg tells Chilcot: People will think your report is being “sexed down”

Following tonight’s news about the further delay in the publication of the Chilcot Report until after the election, Nick Clegg has written to Sir John Chilcott to ask him to get on with it.

Here’s his letter in full 

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Norman Lamb MP writes… We need to talk openly about suicide and work to prevent it

Yesterday was supposedly “blue Monday” – the most depressing day of the year.  The idea was dreamed up in 2005 by a TV marketing campaign to sell holidays and the myth persists.

But yesterday, Nick Clegg and I were talking about something really serious.  Almost 4,700 people took their own lives in 2013 in England alone, and suicide remains one of the biggest killers for men under the age of 50.  We hosted a conference bringing together leading figures in the mental health world to call for an ambition for ‘zero suicides’ across the NHS.

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Clegg: “Liberalism youthful, optimistic philosophy”, Ashdown threatens to eat Murnaghan & Grender reminds us of Labour’s NHS deals with private sector

It’s been a marathon this morning. Nick Clegg has been on the Andrew Marr Show and Pienaar’s Politics, Paddy Ashdown has been on Murnaghan talking about the debates and the Counter Terrorism Bill and Olly Grender took part in a panel on Pienaar’s Politics.

I have done a Storify thingy of all my tweets from all the interviews here but I shall outline the key themes in this post.

This was a morning when, as we’ve seen, there have been two powerful initiatives from the party on ending illiteracy by 2025 and improving mental health crisis care so that people don’t end up in police cells. These weren’t mentioned very much in any of the interviews.

Clegg – Lib Dems in Government have been obsessed with ensuring kids get best start in life

Clegg really came into his own in the Pienaar interview where he had more opportunity to talk about Lib Dem values and priorities than on the Marr Show. He outlined how initiatives like protecting the schools budget and giving extra money to disadvantaged kids in school had started to close the attainment gap. He talked about liberalism being a “youthful, optimistic philosophy which seeks to create a society where everybody can get ahead.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , and | 16 Comments

The Greens: the Lib Dem fightback begins

Yesterday’s news that the Greens had overtaken the Liberal Democrats in terms of membership – their 44713, compared to our 44680 – has, from what I’ve seen on my social media, galvanised our activists rather than demoralised them. And so we should be proud of ourselves. For a party in government in the most trying economic circumstances since the 30s to have grown for 6 quarters in a row is nothing short of miraculous. The Labour party couldn’t manage that and they had the most benign economic circumstances in years.

The Green’s figures include Northern Ireland which ours don’t so like for like it’s more neck and neck.  (Update: Adam Ramsay on Twitter assures me that the Greens figures do not include Northern Ireland).  I’ve also seen some people say that it’s not fair because the Scottish Greens and the Green Party of England and Wales are two separate organisations. There’s no point in splitting hairs, though.

The Party has been making a bit of a concerted effort to make sure that the Greens don’t have the stage for themselves. Tim Farron has written an article of the New Statesman in which he emphasises what the Liberal Democrats have done in government to protect the environment:

The Conservatives’ approach to the environment in Europe shows what sort of approach they would take if they are allowed to govern alone. In coalition, Liberal Democrats have fought to make sure that the environment has stayed at the top of the agenda. We’ve doubled the amount of energy generated from offshore wind and stopped the Tories from slashing support for renewable energy. And while senior Conservative politicians voice their doubts about man-made climate change, Energy Secretary Ed Davey has been busy paving the way for a global deal to cut carbon emissions. Without the Lib Dems, there would be nothing to stop the Tories from lurching to the right on the environment. The truth is, the only way to make blue go green is by adding yellow.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 181 Comments

Have you sorted out how you are getting to Liverpool yet?

It’s just 8 short weeks till we all gather in Liverpool for Spring Conference. What’s even scarier is that it’s only another 8 weeks until we know the result of the general election.

On the party website, there’s information about all sorts of deals to help you plan your transport. I actually managed to get very cheap first class tickets ages ago. It means leaving in the middle of the bloomin’ night, but I’ll live with it.

Anyway, Virgin are apparently offering 20% off on fares from London (cos, clearly, that’s the only direction we’d go in to get there – rage) and if you’re going by coach, National Express are offering a 50% discount.

You can find all the details here.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 8 Comments

The Hughester gits dan wiv da kids

Well, not really, the title above is rubbish, but Simon Hughes seemed to score a “street cred” point yesterday when an interview with him was carried on Buzzfeed.

Posted in Humour and News | Also tagged and | 10 Comments

Pub landlord to call time on Farage

Oh joy! Oh rapture!

At last the prospect of some fun during the election campaign!

All hail to the ale!

The Guardian reports:

Comedian Al Murray has announced he plans to stand against Nigel Farage in the seat of South Thanet in May’s general election.

Posted in Humour and News | Also tagged , and | 22 Comments

No ifs, buts or maybes. Liberal Democrats must not support Counter Terrorism and Security Bill in its current form.

I’ve written before that I have reservations about the Government’s Counter Terrorism and Security Bill. Last week, there were signs that Nick Clegg was going to insist on changes when it comes to the House of Lords.

The very least you would expect for a Bill that’s supported by Liberal Democrats is that it meets human rights standards. Today, a report by Parliament’s joint committee on human rights says that amendments are required in several key areas of the Bill:

photo by: Francisco Diez
Posted in News | Also tagged | 12 Comments

Je suis encore Charlie

It was a “you’ll remember where you were when you heard the news” moment.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 14 Comments

Opinion: Why we can all be Charlie

I’ve often been moved to offer a rebuttal to comments made in the public sphere. Indeed, I’m known for taking a sharp intake of breath and squeezing my eyes shut in an anxious state when Michael Gove went to make a comment on education, before taking my big letter writing pen to an article asking what planet he inhabits.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 118 Comments

Tweets from the campaign trail – the first major campaign Saturday of 2015

I’m going to get told off for that headline, I’m sure, because I expect most Liberal Democrat campaign teams were out campaigning last Saturday too. Anyway, I thought I’d share a few tweets to give a wee flavour of what our candidates have been up to today.

We have to start with Tom Brake. Can you believe he’s been running street stalls in Wallington since 1990? That’s 300 separate occasions.

Lynne Featherstone shows that Lib Dem MPs get results:

The Cleggster was out and about in Sheffield.

And Christine Jardine wasn’t letting the snow stop her from socking it to Salmond in Gordon:

A warm reception on the doors, then.

Nobody was letting the seasonal weather put them off, especially not Tim Farron. It was quite appropriate that I’d been writing this morning’s article about him last night (I know how to live) while watching a programme about the excellent film Frozen.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 22 Comments

LibLink: Nick Clegg We must always be free to criticise ideas, even religious ones

A powerful article in today’s Telegraph passionately defending the right to free speech by Nick Clegg:

Every so often we are confronted by events that force each of us to take a clear stand – and a side. The attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo was just such a moment, demanding a straight answer to a simple question: “are you Charlie?” You don’t have to agree with everything, or even anything, that Charlie Hebdo published to “be Charlie” – you only have to wish to protect the freedoms and rights that define liberal societies like ours.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , , and | 48 Comments

Êtes-vous Charlie?

There was a bit of a discussion on Twitter yesterday about the use of the hashtag “Je suis Charlie.” Some people are uncomfortable about being seen to endorse a publication whose views they did not agree with. Here are two opposing views from George Potter and Caron Lindsay:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 133 Comments

Opinion: Deliberately offending people might be necessary

I’ve been pretty disappointed in the reaction of progressives to the aftermath of the Paris massacre, in particular the debate over satirical imagery of Mohammed. A fair few progressives are saying that it’s wrong to publish such satire, because it’s known that it will offend people, and deliberately offending people is wrong. This initially sounds like a reasonable position, but as a progressive it disappoints me for two reasons.

The first reason is that just a few weeks ago, many of these same people were arguing in exactly the opposite direction:

a) a mother was breastfeeding in public and was given a …

Posted in Op-eds | 117 Comments

Je suis Charlie

Charlie front page

We have made an extraordinary change to our home page. We have four “featured post” windows at the top of it. They contain a photo accompanied by a headline. Today we have changed all the photos to show a “Je suis Charlie” image. The headlines then link to articles, on the subject, which we have published so far.

This is a small act, to underline a few things.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 14 Comments

Ming Campbell’s response to the Charlie Hebdo shootings worries me

I was more than a little perturbed when I saw Ming Campbell on the BBC News Channel this morning. He was talking about yesterday’s atrocity at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

He started well enough, saying that this was not just an attack on France but on our values, Then he worried me by asking that we now need to ask ourselves how much we need to curb freedom in order to protect it, adding that the bigger the threat, the greater the precautions you need to take.

He brought it back a little by saying that you can’t protect everyone from everything, but there are things you can do to minimise the risk. Then came the killer punch: he said that we may have to consider things that would be unacceptable at other times in order to deal with the extremists.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 104 Comments

Call Clegg review: “You cannot have freedom unless people are free to offend each other”

A very croaky Nick was back in the hot seat for Call Clegg this morning. Gone was his usual jacket and tie-less shirt combo for a more relaxed pullover look, and he seems to have new glasses too.

Yesterday’s attack at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris was uppermost in everyone’s minds, with three questions on this. The first two were variations on the theme of “Is enough being done to stop this happening here?” The third provoked exactly the angry response you would expect from the leader of a liberal party. The questioner implied that the magazine’s content was the staw that broke the camel’s back for Muslims after the US being complicit in torture and the invasion of Iraq. I was quite shocked at his line of questioning and very proud of the way that Nick dealt with him.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 15 Comments

Nick Clegg on the Charlie Hebdo horror: “barbaric attack on freedom of speech”

Nick Clegg has responded to the news of the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris:

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 43 Comments

Charlie Hebdo – in sympathy and solidarity

The news from Paris today is deeply shocking. There are twelve people who are reported dead and four reported injured by the attack at the offices of satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. Four cartoonists and the editor-in-chief of the magazine are reported to be among the dead. We express our sincere sympathy to those who have lost loved ones and those affected by the tragedy. We also express our solidarity with the French people and Charlie Hebdo magazine in standing for free speech and against such mindless acts.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 29 Comments

48 good things Nick Clegg has done

 

It’s Nick Clegg’s 48th birthday today and we at Liberal Democrat Voice obviously wish him a happy day and successful year ahead.

I thought it might be a good idea (with a little help from LDV colleagues) to take a look at some of the good things he’s done, 48 of them to be precise, and encourage party supporters to make 48 calls to voters in our key seats to tell them about them this week. Not all of them in each call, of course, but there’s plenty to be going on with.

So, here we go:

1.  From his very first major speech as leader, championing mental health and in government improving treatment and services.

2.  Investing money in disadvantaged kids in school which is already helping to improve attainment figures in that group.

3.  Defying both Labour and the Conservatives to cut income tax for people on low and middle incomes.

4.  Having the guts to take questions for half an hour every week from members of the public on live radio.

5.  Not just voting for same sex marriage but actively and enthusiastically being comfortable with it.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 8 Comments

Clegg says Lib Dems would spend extra £8bn on NHS

nhs sign lrgNick Clegg has set out how the Liberal Democrats would invest in the NHS in government for the next five years.

From the Guardian:

Fleshing out the figure released by the deputy prime minister at a press conference, the Lib Dems said they would increase the NHS’s funding by £8bn a year by 2020-21 in three stages. They would make permanent the coalition government’s extra £2bn a year – which was announced in the autumn statement – by 2015-16.

In addition, Clegg said the party would find another £1bn a year in real terms in 2016-17 by capping pension tax relief for the wealthiest (which the Lib Dems said would save £500m), aligning dividend tax with income tax for those earning more than £150,000 (saving £400m) and scrapping the shares for rights scheme, which allows employees to forfeit certain employment rights in return for company shares (saving £100m).

Once it had reduced the deficit in 2017-18, Clegg said that the party would increase health spending in line with growth in the economy. He said: “It’s a combination of change plus more money and the reason we can do that, and no other party will be able to do that, is firstly, as we explained at our party conference, is we are going to introduce some tax changes which only affect the very wealthiest, to put in an extra billion pounds into the NHS, and next year and the year after that.”

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 37 Comments

Martin Horwood MP writes…Pavement politics

Pavement_parking_1 by PeterEastern
It is a badge of honour for Lib Dem MPs, Councillors and activists when people call us pavement politicians. We are a party that is relentlessly focused on community politics and the issues that matter on streets up and down the country.

That’s why, when I was drawn earlier this year in the Private Member’s Bill ballot, I decided to champion a Bill focused on an issue that blights tens of thousands of streets across the country – pavement parking.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 18 Comments

When Molly from Sherlock met Miriam

In the bar on the Monday of the Glasgow Conference hotel last October, a smiling party press officer told me that Louise Brealey, Sherlock actor and writer, had been following Miriam Gonzalez Durantez around all day in order to write a profile for Red magazine. I’ve been looking out for it ever since and it’s now appeared. It’s a delight to read, so sit down with a cup of tea and a biscuit and enjoy it.

The two women seem to have developed quite a rapport during the day, and that comes across in the article.

I met Louise at a Sherlock Convention (I could pretend I was there because of the Teenager, but I did get more involved than I anticipated because Louise and Benedict Cumberbatch were on the guest list) last February and was very impressed by the fact that she insisted on staying until every single fan who wanted one had her autograph. She spent time talking to each person and didn’t even take a proper meal break.  Having seen her in action, I can imagine her and Miriam getting on very well.

She picked up that the atmosphere of Conference was not quite the gloomy and doom affair the press made it out to be:

The newspapers have decided the Liberal Democrat conference is a bleak affair, but this morning the lobby of Glasgow’s Crowne Plaza thrums with cheerful party members necking coffee, shouting shop and forking sausages. ‘Are you thinking beyond May?’ a councillor from Wells asks a co-forker over his congealed fried eggs. The latter’s reply is inaudible.

This was the first time that Nick and Miriam had been interviewed together, too. Louise was sitting in the very seat I sat in when I went to a meeting with Clegg in that very room so I found her description of its corporate opulence quite amusing.  She, like many others who have met him, found Clegg “nice, friendly, bright, normal.” It’s just a pity we can’t get him on a one to one with 60 million people by May.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 1 Comment

Charles Kennedy MP writes…Our challenge for 2015 is to make positive case for UK political reform

 

As the BBC Radio Scotland self-promotional message has been reminding us at regular intervals throughout the holiday period 2014 certainly was “Scotland’s Year.” The best of times, the worst of times. From the sporting triumphs of the outstandingly successful Commonwealth Games and the hosting of the victorious Ryder Cup through to the referendum and ending on the tragedy of the Glasgow bin lorry crash we have never been out of the news.

The ever-perceptive journalist and commentator Iain MacWhirter (like myself, essentially, a federalist – unlike myself a Yes voter) reckons that the referendum represented the moment at which Scotland became “psychologically independent.” It is an interesting reflection and one which will be further tested as soon as May in the looming Westminster general election.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 5 Comments
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