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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #429

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 429th weekly round-up from the Lib Dem blogosphere … Featuring the seven most popular stories beyond Lib Dem Voice according to click-throughs from the Aggregator (23-29 August, 2015), together with a hand-picked quintet, you might otherwise have missed.

Don’t forget: you can sign up to receive the Golden Dozen direct to your email inbox — just click here — ensuring you never miss out on the best of Lib Dem blogging.

As ever, let’s start with the most popular post, and work our way down:

Posted in Best of the blogs | Leave a comment

Don’t talk to me about migrants…

I didn’t actually get to see a news bulletin until 10pm last night and when I did, I was livid. Language matters. The 59 men, 8 women and 4 children who suffocated in that lorry were human beings and yet they were being described as “migrants” not people. Had those people been British, there would have been wall to wall news coverage of the tragedy for days. Already it’s slipping down the pecking order in the news bulletins along with the news of the drowning of another 200 people in the Mediterranean.

Calling these people “migrants” is both inaccurate and dehumanising. It’s inaccurate because most of them are refugees. Let’s face it, if you live in Syria you find yourself caught between a brutal government and barbaric ISIS. Amnesty’s most recent report on Syria outlines just how bad things are.

Syria’s internal armed conflict continued relentlessly through the year and saw both government forces and non-state armed groups commit extensive war crimes and gross human rights abuses with impunity. Government forces deliberately targeted civilians, indiscriminately bombarding civilian residential areas and medical facilities with artillery, mortars, barrel bombs and chemical agents, unlawfully killing civilians. Government forces also enforced lengthy sieges, trapping civilians and depriving them of food, medical care and other necessities. Security forces arbitrarily arrested or continued to detain thousands, including peaceful activists, human rights defenders, media and humanitarian workers, and children, subjecting some to enforced disappearance and others to prolonged detention or unfair trials. Security forces systematically tortured and otherwise ill-treated detainees with impunity; thousands of detainees reportedly died due to torture or harsh conditions. Non-state armed groups, which controlled some areas and contested others, indiscriminately shelled and besieged areas containing civilians perceived to support the government. Some, particularly the Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS) armed group, carried out indiscriminate suicide attacks and other bombings in civilian areas, and perpetrated numerous unlawful killings, including summary killings of captives and suspected opponents.

photo by: FreedomHouse
Posted in News | Also tagged and | 68 Comments

A chance to help shape Liberal Democrat policy on social security, privacy and sex work

The party’s Federal Policy Committee is looking for party members to take part in policy working groups to develop policy in three particular areas:

  • Social security
  • Security and privacy
  • Sex work

From an email sent to party members today:

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 10 Comments

Willie Rennie’s tribute to Charles Kennedy from Dingwall memorial service

CK MemorialOn Monday, a memorial service for Charles Kennedy was held in Dingwall, a town just north of Inverness which he had represented for the whole of his 32 years as an MP. His constituency office was there and over 300 people turned out to remember their former MP. Music was provided by the Kiltearn Fiddlers, who played a piece of music written by Charles’ father when he was elected to Parliament in 1983. The Dingwall Gaelic Choir also sang. It was quite an emotional occasion, but also full of laughter as memories of Charles were shared.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie paid tribute to Charles. Before the service, he gave an interview to STV. The wonderful scenery in the background shows the Cromarty Firth with views down to the towns of Maryburgh, Conon Bridge and Dingwall, an area represented by excellent Liberal Democrat councillor Angela Maclean.

Willie was keen to share many of the things that had been said about Charles by so many across the political spectrum since his death to show, as he said, how much he meant to the world. He also had a list of what he called Charles’ Greatest Hits – his funniest and wisest sayings. Here is his tribute in full. 

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

Tim Farron MP writes…Liberal Democrats will work with anyone to reform the House of Lords

Yesterday, the news was released about the latest tranche of appointments to the House of Lords.  The Liberal Democrat peers will be, as they always have been, constructive and conscientious. Where we agree with the government we shall support them and where we don’t we shall work to amend and if needs be oppose.But the principle matters, Liberal Democrat peers were appointed on the pledge ‘to abolish themselves’.

The Lords has two functions. To revise and to hold the Executive to account. The first it does quite well, the second it does not at all – how can it when, by definition, it is a creature of the Executive?

The Lords is wholly undemocratic and will never have the legitimacy it needs for a healthy democracy until this is changed.

Every party in their manifestos hints at reform or abolition of the second chamber, but the Liberal Democrats are the only party committed to it. So today we recommit our party – and its new Peers – to working actively for the reform of the House of Lords and ideally its abolition in favour of an elected second chamber. We urge the other parties to join us in this effort.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 48 Comments

Jo Swinson writes…Dissolution honours make the contribution of women look invisible

Congratulations to all of the new Liberal Democrat Peers announced today.  They will strengthen our existing excellent team in the Lords, fighting for a democratically elected second chamber while in the meantime using their power to provide a check on the government and its worrying assaults on the poor, on our civil liberties, and on the environment.

It’s also good to see recognition for those in our party who have served our communities and our country so well – Sir Vince Cable, Dame Annette Brooke, Ben Williams OBE and others.

What is depressing and wearily familiar, however, is the missing women.

But surely our Lords list is balanced?  5 out of the 11 nominations (45%) for the peerage go to women, which is progress I suppose – of the 40 people nominated to the Lords under Nick Clegg’s leadership, just 17 (43%) were women.

And 45% women wouldn’t be so bad if the existing Lords group was well-balanced, but of our 101 Peers, just 35% are women – so we’re still far from equality.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 53 Comments

Willie Rennie: Lib Dems are for aspirational Scots with a social conscience

In a speech to the Scottish Council for Development and Industry in Aberdeen yesterday, Willie Rennie claimed the radical centre ground for the Liberal Democrats, talking about Labour and the SNP fighting it out on the left, while the Conservatives move further to the right. He outlined a position that championed social justice while making sure that we lived within our means.

Willie now finds himself as the oldest political leader in Scotland at just 47 years old. Nicola Sturgeon is 46, Ruth Davidson 36, Patrick Harvie 42 and Kezia Dugdale 33. It’s certainly different from when I was growing up when most political leaders were in their 50s and 60s and the President of the USA was in his 70s.

The challenges for the Scottish Liberal Democrats are obvious. Standing firm in our own space and talking in a unique way about our issues is very important in post-coalition Scotland. I say standing firm, and not finding our own space as we have always been a radical centre ground party which champions individual freedom. Willie looks back to Gladstone, Asquith, Lloyd George, Russell Johnston, David Steel and Charles Kennedy as liberal inspiration.

There’s an interesting turn of phrase about our years in government:

There are some things I would soon forget about our time in government but our decision to put country before party for economic recovery is not one of them.

He then goes on to talk about the good things we did in Government and indeed the changes in SNP policy that his own parliamentary group of just 5 MSPs have driven.

Here is Willie’s speech in full:

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 25 Comments

Why I’m not going to castigate Jeremy Corbyn over women only train carriages

Twitter is having one of its more febrile moments over Jeremy Corbyn’s plans for women-only train carriages.

I actually think that there are reasons to praise Corbyn for floating the idea.

First of all, it’s pretty good to see a male politician think that the issue of sexual assault on public transport is an important one that we should do something about. Where were the other politicians, including Liberal Democrats, when the statistics showing showing an increase in reported sexual assaults came out last week?

Secondly, look at what Corbyn actually said:

Some women have raised with me that a solution to the rise in assault and harassment on public transport could be to introduce women only carriages.

My intention would be to make public transport safer for everyone from the train platform, to the bus stop to on the mode of transport itself. However, I would consult with women and open it up to hear their views on whether women-only carriages would be welcome – and also if piloting this at times and modes of transport where harassment is reported most frequently would be of interest.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 117 Comments

How would Jeremy Corbyn actually lead the Labour party?

It was bad enough watching Ed Miliband rather out of his depth as leader of the Labour party. He seemed to sit back in his study quite a lot, talking with his inner circle. He did quite well at PMQs sometimes. But you got the impression that he wasn’t really fully in charge. This was made worse by unfortunate (and somewhat irrelevant) incidents such as the bacon sandwich episode.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 64 Comments

I’m so glad I don’t have a vote for Labour leader

So, I was watching the 10 o’clock News last night and saw our Stephen Tall flaunting his Labour leadership ballot paper.

As he explains, he wasn’t out to do a Toby Young and vote for Jeremy Corbyn:

I was ambivalent whether I would actually exercise my vote, but decided that, if I did, it wouldn’t be to troll Labour by choosing Jeremy Corbyn: I would vote for the candidate the other parties would least like to face.

Assuming, that is, Labour gave me a vote. After all, the party assures us they have “rigorous due diligence” processes in place to weed out infiltrators from other parties. Having stood for election against Labour a few weeks ago, I half-assumed they’d (quite legitimately) disenfranchise me.

But then yesterday morning I received my online ballot paper…

Stephen decided to register as a supporter to see how their leadership process worked as an interested observer. By rights, any decent verification process would have spotted him and got rid of him. Instead, it seems to be getting rid of long term Labour supporters whose social media profiles were a bit too lefty for them. In fact, it plays into the hands of lefty conspiracy theorists that someone who would, if he’d voted at all, have voted for Liz Kendall, received a ballot and they didn’t.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 101 Comments

Lunchtime debate – should e-cigs be prescribed by NHS?

On 16th September, it’ll be 17 years since I last had a cigarette. I was one of those smokers who never really wanted to give up, who really enjoyed a cigarette. However, my consumption was a bit worrying – at least a pack of 20 a day.

It was pregnancy which forced my hand. From the moment I saw the positive test, I have not had another cigarette. That doesn’t mean that I never want one. Even after all this time, the smell can (especially after a few wines) set off all the old cravings. Giving up just like that was far from easy and I doubt I would ever have managed it if I hadn’t had that overwhelming incentive to do so. I daren’t have even one or I think that road back to a pack a day would be very short.

I had no choice but to just give up without any help other than the daily “I really want a cigarette, talk to me until the craving goes away” phone calls to various people. They were remarkably effective, by the way. In the same circumstances, that would be the same today. I wouldn’t be able to use e-cigarettes. Evidence suggests, however, that they are 95% less harmful than ordinary cigarettes and can help people give up smoking for good.

photo by: planetc1
Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 56 Comments

How to Beat the SNP

 

I don’t know when the SNP will be toppled, but I am confident it will happen eventually. I also seriously doubt people will flock en masse back to Labour, a party that took Scotland for granted for years and, in my opinion, doesn’t deserve the return of unwavering support. There will be a gap that we could perceivably fill, but we have to earn the right of that space, not make Labour’s mistake of taking it as a given.

Here are some things I have been trying to keep in mind over the past few months talking to SNP voters:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 63 Comments

Shortlist for London Assembly elections

 

Voters at the London elections next May will be given three ballot papers each using a different voting system – let no-one claim that alternative systems to First Past The Post can’t work.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 22 Comments

Consultation opens on Liberal Democrat values and beliefs

agenda2020

Why are we Liberal Democrats? What do we mean by liberalism (or, if you prefer, liberal democracy)? What do our beliefs and values have to offer the country over the next five years?

Every member will have their own answers to those questions, but the party hasn’t attempted to describe its basic philosophy in full since the paper It’s About Freedom, published in 2002. As we wrote here on Liberal Democrat Voice two months ago, given the catastrophic result of the 2015 election, coupled with the huge, and very welcome, influx of new members, the Federal Policy Committee thinks it’s time we did so again. Discussing and articulating our basic beliefs – the backbone around which we build our policies on specific issues – is a vital part of our fightback.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 27 Comments

David Laws peerage “blocked” – plus new Liberal Democrat House of Lords members speculation

David Laws speaking at Lib Dem Spring conference, Liverpool 2008

The Times (£) reports that former Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has nominated former Yeovil MP, David Laws, for elevation to the House of Lords. However, it adds:

His nomination for a peerage was blocked by the House of Lords Appointments Commission, chaired by an independent peer, Lord Kakkar.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 83 Comments

Politics and gardening

Garden by Emma Nagle (etcher) Flickr CCLPolitics and gardening don’t mix. You need to pay most attention to flowers and vegetables in March and April, when campaigning for the May elections fills your evenings. In June and July you should be watering your vegetables more evenings than not, instead of going out to parish council meetings or encouraging new members. Only in August, when it’s too late to do much more than harvest what came up nevertheless, can the activist give the garden or allotment the attention it needs.

Posted in Humour and Op-eds | 12 Comments

++Lib Dems GAIN former council ward of Brecon and Radnor’s Conservative MP

Great news this morning.

Congratulations to Councillor James Gibson-Watt! Very well done to James and all the Brecon and Radnor team!

Details are:

Posted in Council by-elections and News | Also tagged and | 18 Comments

Liberal heroes in pop culture Part 3: Mary Poppins

This is the third of a series of pieces that we will publish over the summer. Please do nominate further entries in the comments! This one was suggested by Cathy Thompson! See here for a link to Parts 1 and 2.

This latest liberal icon is different in several ways from our prior picks. She isn’t a military captain or commander, but she’s arguably a greater source of authority than that. She’s an educator. And she’s practically perfect, in every way. She is the one and only Mary Poppins.

As portrayed by Julie Andrews in the classic film, Mary Poppins is a shamanistic governess who enters the staid world of 1910 London, and turns it upside down. The political scene of 1910 is worth several articles in itself. For one thing, the plot of Mary Poppins takes place during a Hung Parliament, and just after a legitimate constitutional crisis. Of course, none of this is mentioned. But we do get the Suffragettes. Maybe Disney thought kids weren’t that interested in Herbert Asquith. Shame on them…

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

New members declare why they are liberal on Twitter #libdemnewbies #imliberal

This is a great sort of viral sort of thing. You can join in with the hashtag #imliberal and/or #libdemnewbies.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 1 Comment

No replacement of Trident

 

Members and supporters of the  Libdems against Trident group have proposed a motion calling for the like-for-like replacement of Trident to be scrapped.  The motion will be debated at Bournemouth in September. I am not able to get to Bournemouth, but the motion has my full support.

This does not mean that I am anti-nuclear; I am not. What I am is anti-waste on a nuclear scale, which is what I believe the replacement of Trident to be. It takes us back to 1930s thinking which saw Britain prepare to fight the previous war, not the next one or the one after that. The days of Mutual Assured Destruction, and the Cold War are behind us thankfully. The Soviet Union has collapsed and whatever its posturing, Russia is a much weaker opponent. China is no threat to the UK and the nuclear powers outside Europe have regional not global ambitions.

Posted in Op-eds | 72 Comments

On drugs, protests and direct action

 

On 1st August I attended my first ever protest outside the houses of Parliament. There was no kettling, shouting, or even any placards. Instead, there were balloons, balloons filled with nitrous oxide – laughing gas. This was the protest against the Psychoactive Substances Bill, organised by The Psychedelic Society to highlight the idiocy of the Bill, both in its principle and in its wording.

I could fill this entire post, and a few more, with criticisms of the Bill itself, from its illiberal premise, to its impact on medical research, to its utter unworkability, but I won’t.

Posted in Op-eds | 19 Comments

Lib Dems are the natural party for Eastern Europeans in Britain

Britain’s always changing. That is one of the best things about our country.

Liberal Democrats, and before us Whigs and Liberals, have long supported outsiders seeking to make this place their home.

Whigs supported Huguenots – religious refugees from France. In the nineteenth century Liberals supported equality for Jews and Catholics, who were denied basic civil rights.

It is well documented in history that the arrival of new people has made our country greater. Immigrants have brought new talents and energy.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 43 Comments

Sal Brinton writes: Consultation on party governance

Over the last two years members have made it clear that they feel that the party is out of touch, often unaccountable and our complex structures unintelligible to all but those heavily involved in them. Reform was a key issue raised by members in the Presidential campaign in 2014 and again in the Leadership campaign earlier this year.

In answer to this, I promised during my Presidential campaign that I would be a reforming President, tackling the difficult issue of party governance head on by carrying out a full review of the party’s governance, followed by a root and branch restructuring …

Posted in News | 21 Comments

Tim Farron goes to Calais to see the humanitarian crisis for himself

For Tim Farron, the situation in Calais has always been primarily a humanitarian one. He was furious last week when David Cameron described the desperately vulnerable people there as a “swarm.” Most recently he asked Cameron to make sure that we were doing our fair share to end the “immeasurable suffering” of the people in Calais. He wrote:

I am sure you agree that it is heartbreaking to see hundreds of desperate people subsisting in makeshift camps night after night, willing to risk life and limb in the hope of a better future while many in Kent and across the country see their daily lives hugely disrupted through no fault of their own.

I welcome your commitment yesterday to providing France with the resources needed to deal with the situation and am writing to seek assurances that alongside the necessary security measures, support will also be given to humanely process those seeking asylum, return those who have no right to remain, and ensure that, in line with international obligations, standards of welfare and accommodation are urgently improved.

Today he went to Calais to see the situation on the ground for himself.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 24 Comments

An essential part of any committee room

I saw a discussion elsewhere on social media about this and thought it was worth mentioning here.

If you are running a committee room on polling day, or in fact any election HQ, bear in mind that you are likely to have people there who have periods. It is also very probable that they will be there for many hours working very hard.

It is therefore essential that you make some provision for them. It’s really quite simple. This post will tell you what you need to do and why. It’s very simple. A packet of basic sanitary pads (which I wouldn’t bother hiding away) and a little bin with a lid  which you can buy incredibly cheaply from most supermarkets can make a very big difference to people. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 14 Comments

Bournemouth Conference Agenda: 5 days, 15 policy motions, 8 keynote speeches and some very important consultation sessions

2015 Outline AgendaThe outline agenda for the Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference in Bournemouth has been published and in it there is a great deal to interest and excite the members both old and new who will be heading to the seaside town. I am really looking forward to it because I have never been to Bourmemouth before.

We don’t yet have the text of the motions, or the directory of fringe meetings, but we do know when all the key debates and speeches are taking place.

The most controversial motion on the agenda is the one to oppose the renewal of Trident which takes place at 3:25 on Monday afternoon. Other policy motions include:

Housing

Human rights

Air quality

Safe routes for refugees

Posted in News | Also tagged | 11 Comments

When the Divine Ms Duffett met Mr Farron

Watch what happened when Helen sat down with Tim. Find out what VDV means:

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 6 Comments

Photos: Tim Farron meeting our two sensational Kingston and Richmond by-election victors today

290715 1
Here’s a couple of photos of Tim Farron today meeting Geraldine Locke and Jon Tolley at Banquet Records in Kingston upon Thames.

Both Geraldine and Jon have scored sensational by-election victories since the general election in May.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 2 Comments

Tim Farron calls for a bit of compassion in the Calais debate

Tim Farron has made the following comment on the Calais issue:

If you don’t give people hope, they will resort to desperate measures. We are treating this as a security issue, but primarily it is a humanitarian one.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 20 Comments

++ Tim Farron announces diverse spokesperson team

Tim Farron has just announced his “frontbench” spokesperson team, and it is very diverse, with women leading on the economy and defence.

From the Liberal Democrats:

Tim Farron today set about ending the Liberal Democrats’ lack diversity at the top of the party – by naming the most diverse shadow cabinet team in the party’s history.

Posted in News | 56 Comments
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