Tag Archives: featured

Why Theresa May’s speech is good news

Theresa May’s speech today was a mixture of vacuous soundbites and ominous indicators of the direction of travel.  Shorn of the window-dressing, it is clear that she leads a government of the Hard Brexit.  She concluded with a nauseous section suggesting that the country is “coming together” after June’s referendum.  As one wag put it on Twitter, that is like setting a fire, burning the house down and expecting those who queried what you were doing to “come together” in the rebuilding project.  More seriously, by opting for a Hard Brexit, exiting the single market (ironically, an achievement of Margaret Thatcher) and almost certainly the customs union, she is demonstrating no respect for the 16 million people who voted Remain.

So, why do I think the speech is good news? The clue is today’s YouGov poll. This shows that the population currently splits as follows:

39%  – Hard Brexit

25% – Soft Brexit

23% – Remain in the EU after all

13% – Not sure

Pursuing a Soft Brexit would have been risky for May but not as risky as Hard Brexit.  For the first time, she has clearly put herself in backing a position supported only by a minority of voters.  This allows the divided Remain side to unite around opposition to the UK coming out of the single market (with much historic material from Dan Hannan and Boris Johnson to support them!).  It also allows them to peel off those Leavers who wanted to maintain single market access.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 69 Comments

A new propaganda

Very nearly every political movement since the late 18th century has its roots in the enlightenment, from American constitutionalism to the rational imperialism of Napoleon. It is hard to overstate its influence on every strand of modern political thought, from conservatism to socialism to liberalism. All built on this revelation: that facts matter more than faith, and reason is greater than fear.

The fascism of Italy, that spread like wildfire across Europe and then the rest of the world, was not built on the foundations of the enlightenment. It was instead a rejection of the values espoused by it, a direct reaction to reason and humanism. Fascism dictates that acting as one is more important than what is actually true, and that the truth dictated by those in power is supreme to any other, no matter what evidence might say. As Sartre said: “ have chosen hate because hate is a faith to them; at the outset they have chosen to devalue words and reasons.”

I recently finished reading Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev, a harrowing account of the post-Soviet media under Putin’s regime. He describes how the propaganda under Putin, like that of the Nazi Party and the Italian Fascists before it, works not by espousing a single version of the truth, but by undermining the very concept of truth. It calls into doubt all sources, until the public believes none, and instead sees all truth merely as an act of faith. Evidence is not of intrinsic worth in a such an environment, but is instead perceived to be a rhetorical tool like any other.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 49 Comments

Norman Lamb leads calls for National Convention to resolve NHS funding crisis

Norman Lamb has co-ordinateda cross-party group of MPs to call for a national convention on health and care to resolve the crisis in NHS funding.

Norman said:

The health and social care system in England is facing unprecedented challenges. Failing to find a solution to this crisis puts some of the most vulnerable people at risk – frail and elderly people in need of care services, disabled people who need support and people with long-term illnesses, particularly those suffering from mental ill health.

Building a sustainable health and care system that can provide high-quality care can’t be realised without putting aside party political point-scoring.

The public is sick and tired of the NHS and care system being treated like a political football.  People have had enough, and are crying out for an honest discussion and bold solutions to these challenges.

It speaks volumes that so many Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum are backing this initiative.  At Prime Minister’s Questions, I will urge Theresa May to recognise the gravity of the situation we are facing, and to agree to meet with us to listen to our proposal.

Norman has persuaded an illustrious group of MPs and former health secretaries to back his call. They include the  Conservative former health minister Dan Poulter MP and Labour former shadow care minister Liz Kendall MP. It is also supported by four Select Committee Chairs – Sarah Wollaston MP (Health Committee), Meg Hillier MP (Public Accounts Committee), Clive Betts MP (Communities and Local Government Committee) and Frank Field (Work and Pensions Committee) – along with former Health Secretaries Stephen Dorrell and Alan Milburn.

The full statement says:

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 24 Comments

And your problem with an innovative way to tell girls they don’t have to put up with violence is…..?

There are few things in life more irritating than the Daily Fail crowing. It is doing just that this morning after International Development Minister Priti Patel announced that funding for what the Fail called the “Ethiopian equivalent of the Spice Girls” was being cut from our international aid budget. In the same way as they pepper words like “bogus” around when talking about asylum seekers, or make it sound like every second person claiming benefits is doing so fraudulently (when the figure is less than 1%), they are trying to make it sound like all the money that we send overseas is being frittered away on frivolity.

What they don’t tell you is that the group Yegna is a brilliant, innovative and creative way of getting an important message about women’s and girls’ rights through to both men and women. It tells girls that they don’t have to put up with being beaten by their parents. It changes minds. Just look at this poster from the Girl Effect, who manage this project.

 

I’d particularly want to draw your attention to the changes in knowledge, attitudes and behaviours section. Almost all boys who were exposed to Yegna’s work would be moved to report it if they were aware of a girl being forced into marriage compared with just over half who were not. 59% of girls beaten by their parents who had listened to Yegna would agree that it should be reported to the authorities compared with less than a third who had not. 25% more girls who had listened to Yegna realised that it was wrong for men to hit their wives.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 18 Comments

William Wallace writes…The politics of unreason

As 2017 begins, the politics of unreason seems to be spreading its influence across British politics and media.  Liam Fox inside the government, and John Redwood and Peter Lilley outside, are arguing that we don’t need to negotiate a treaty with the EU as we leave.  They propose that Britain simply reasserts its sovereignty, and to hell with international law, commercial and security interests, and rights of access and residence elsewhere across the EU for the 50 million journeys UK citizens make every year. (Peter Lilley, like Nigel Lawson, lives part of the year in France; you’d have thought he might have taken rights of residence into account.)  Free trade, they assert, is something that we can if necessary adopt unilaterally.  The mercantilist policies of China and India, the threats of protectionist tariffs that the President-elect Trump has been making, do not disturb their tranquillity.

Meanwhile, Wednesday’s Times  carried an article in its business section by Mark Littlewood, the director of the Institute of Economic Affairs, recommending Las Vegas as the model for post-Brexit Britain’s economy, in particular by spreading casinos through our ‘left behind’ seaside towns.  He’s as serious about this as Tim Congdon (of Economists for Britain) is when he argues that Britain’s economy can manage without an industrial base, and as the Taxpayers’ Alliance is when it recommends further deep cuts in public spending.  That’s the US Republican model they aspire to, even as Donald Trump moves away from it.  It is, of course, the opposite of what most Leave supporters thought they were voting for, and what the Leave campaign appeared to be promising.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 16 Comments

Vince Cable calls for end to EU free movement

Vince Cable writes for this week’s New Statesman arguing for the end to the EU’s free movement of people.

He builds on the themes he initially set out on an article for this site just after the referendum – which turned out to be our most read article of 2016.

In the New Statesman he writes:

As a liberal economist, I welcome freer trade and globalisation in general; and as a political liberal I oppose attempts to fence people in. I naturally value the freedom to travel around Europe for business or pleasure with minimal restriction.

But I have serious doubts that EU free movement is tenable or even desirable. First, the freedom is not a universal right, but selective. It does not apply to Indians, Jamaicans, Americans or Australians. They face complex and often harsh visa restrictions. One uncomfortable feature of the referendum was the large Brexit vote among British Asians, many of whom resented the contrast between the restrictions they face and the welcome mat laid out for Poles and Romanians.

He goes on to argue that while there are benefits to immigration, they are not as conclusive as we would like to think for the country. He sets out what he thinks is the way forward:

The argument for free movement has become tactical: it is part of a package that also contains the wider economic benefits of the single market. Those benefits are real, which is why the government must prioritise single market access and shared regulation. Yet that may not be possible to reconcile with restrictions on movement. The second-best option is customs union status, essential for supply chain industries.

I do not see much upside in Brexit, but one is the opportunity for a more rational immigration policy. First, it will involve legitimising the position of EU nationals already here. It must involve a more sensible way of dealing with overseas students, who are not immigrants and benefit the UK. The permeability of the Irish border must lead to a united Ireland in Europe. And, not least, there can be a narrative in which control on labour movements is matched by control on capital – halting the takeovers that suffocate the innovative companies on which the country’s future depends.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 159 Comments

Willie Rennie’s New Year Message: Lib Dems THE pro UK, pro EU progressive party

Last year Liberal Democrats started winning again. Our wins in the May elections, our victory in local council elections and our stunning win in Richmond were great progress. Those wins combined with our thousands of new members means the Liberal Democrats are back. We started winning again because people want champions for an open, tolerant, generous, internationalist, progressive kind of country.

This year our ambitions are for the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union, Scotland to remain in the UK and Scotland to adopt a progressive programme to make us the best again.

Liberal Democrats are the only party that is Pro UK, Pro EU and Progressive.

My colleagues and I will make the powerful case for a Brexit Deal Referendum on the terms of the deal. It would only be right for voters to have the final say rather than just signing a blank cheque for the Prime Minister to agree any deal she likes no matter what the consequences.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 20 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarFiona 22nd Jan - 12:09pm
    This is a big and complex one, but it is of course right to acknowledge that many of the 52% voted Brexit because they were...
  • User AvatarDJ 22nd Jan - 12:06pm
    "The Tories are not breaking up the UK. When it happens it will be the inevitable consequence of devolving power." False. The Tories were perfectly...
  • User AvatarGeoffrey Payne 22nd Jan - 12:03pm
    This is absolutely what we should be doing. I know where I live in Hackney which is a Remain stronghold that it is easy to...
  • User AvatarNick Cunningham 22nd Jan - 11:54am
    A don't understand this argument democracy should stand still because one camp has won a referendum by under 4% in their favour. Democracy does not...
  • User Avatarexpats 22nd Jan - 11:41am
    WW, Perhaps you should start with our leadership? Demanding a re-run of the referendum in every speech, because those who voted out (your 'left behinders')...
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 22nd Jan - 11:23am
    Peston-on-Sunday's use of the word "Panglossian" without explanation, at the end of the programme, was interesting, but elite. Oxfor, Chambers, Slang and BBC dictionaries did...