Tag Archives: featured

Stephen Lloyd MP writes… Can good Religious Education build better communities?

lessons from quran, drasIn the UK we benefit from a truly diverse and multi-cultural society, yet we continue to be bombarded with distorted images of nationality, customs, faith and belief in the mainstream media and the internet.

Sadly some of these myths and stereotypes have become embedded in the national psyche, making it harder for our young people to make important ‘informed’ decisions around faith and belief and distorting perceptions of some minority groups.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 10 Comments

Danny Alexander writes… Direct community engagement on Scotland’s future

TGOC 2011: NW Highlands (gp027)When Russell Johnston, that stalwart of liberal democracy, first ran for parliament for Inverness in 1964 he made a point of holding public meetings across the constituency. And when I first met him, in the 1980s, he was still following that old tradition – small gatherings, inviting all-comers to engage in open debate, determined that he could persuade the communities he served so energetically to follow him on the best path for the Highlands.

Over the subsequent years, politics has perhaps lost a little of that traditional engagement.

photo by: Ted and Jen
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The Independent View: Removing the ‘right to have rights’

LibertyWhile the Commons grappled with the latest wave of backbench Euroscepticism, quietly and without fanfare the Home Secretary introduced an amendment to the Immigration Bill which strikes at the heart of our national conscience.

The impetus for this power came not from the urgent necessity of fighting terrorism, but is rather the result of a six year legal battle. In October last year, the Supreme Court held that the executive could not remove British nationality from an individual where to do so would render him stateless.  A frustrated Home Secretary now seeks a broad, discretionary power to remove what Hannah Arendt so memorably described as “the right to have rights”.

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged , , and | 13 Comments

Opinion: Police use of the TASER – what counts as ‘reasonable force’?

Holstered taserMost of us have an idea of what is, and should be, understood by the the term ‘reasonable force’ – presumably, that which a reasonable person would consider reasonable in the circumstances, and generally the lowest amount of force necessary to achieve the desired objective.

However, in the heat of the moment, what one may subjectively regard as reasonable in the circumstances may not be judged by others as acceptable after the event.

As a now ubiquitous piece of police equipment, the TASER is marketed and deployed as a ‘less-than-lethal’ weapon

photo by: Doctor_Q
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Opinion: Regina v Nigel Evans should wake up MPs

Statue of Justice - The Old BaileyNigel Evans’s acquittal on charges of rape and sexual assault has triggered various expressions of concern.
Those expressed, trenchantly by some, are:

    1. The Crown should never have prosecuted him because the evidence was weak.
    2. The Crown treated him differently because he is an MP.
    3. The case shouldn’t have relied on alleged victims who did not consider themselves to have been victims.
    4. Nigel Evans is left with a huge bill to pay his defence.

“The Crown should never have prosecuted him because the evidence was weak.”

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 35 Comments

Jeremy Browne’s ‘Race Plan’. I’ve read it, so here’s my review…

Jeremy Browne bookThree points to make right from the start about Jeremy Browne’s new book, Race Plan.

First, it’s a wholly Good Thing that a Lib Dem MP is choosing to think aloud, to set out clearly his views. Nick Clegg having decided that he did, after all, like one of the Beecroft recommendations and decided to fire-at-will his home office minister, Jeremy could have slunk away, tail between his legs, to nurse his bitterness. He’s chosen a rather more constructive outlet for his disappointment. By which I mean this book, rather than his short-lived, C.19th-throwback, gap year beard.

Secondly, there is a fundamental problem with the central conceit of this book: that Britain is in a global race, and that if we don’t get fitter, we’ll be overtaken by or competitors in the coming Asian Century, fall behind, and become poorer.

Posted in Books, News and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 58 Comments

LibLink: Sir Robert Smith – We must not turn our back on Afghanistan

At a workshop on child rights at French Cultural Centre, Kabul, AfghanistanSir Robert Smith, Lib Dem MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine and Co-Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Afghanistan, has written this week about the need for Britain, as our direct military involvement comes to an end, to ensure we keep our promise to maintain support for a developing Afghanistan.

… the attacks of September the 11th brought home the fact that what happened in that far away country made a difference back here.

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Manifesto 2015: The debate is on

logo_lg new Liberal Democrat logoLast week saw the final, rearranged, Manifesto Roadshow in Leeds chaired by Sal Brinton. Those of us present had some good opportunities to suggest and debate policy ideas for the 2015 General Election manifesto.

There was lots of discussion of transport issues – around the quality and reliability of buses and trains and the capacity of the rail network. I raised the point that transport links between and within the northern cities has been identified as a vital ingredient in the agglomeration recipe that supports economic growth. While there has been some progress on this, such as with the Northern Rail Hub, we need much stronger and clearer ambition still.

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Paul Burstow writes: Standardised tobacco packaging – a step in the right direction

cigaretteAs Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on smoking and health, I welcome the publication of Sir Cyril Chantler’s review of the public health case for introducing standardised packaging for tobacco products.

The Review is a thorough assessment of the public health evidence, particularly as it relates to marketing smoking to young people. One of the key objectives of the all party group is to help prevent the next generation of children and young people from taking up the habit.

photo by: SuperFantastic
Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 22 Comments

Jeremy Browne and his plan for the privileged

Eton college sign. Photo by Paul WalterOver the last couple of days, discussion of Jeremy Browne’s new book has caused, it’s fair to say, a bit of controversy on this site. Race Plan, contains ideas which make some liberals dance with joy and others wince. We previewed it yesterday and Nick Thornsby has produced an extremely well written review. You might well disagree with it, but he presents his arguments knowledgeably and respectfully.

I have not read this book. I probably will, but it’ll take a wee while before it gets anywhere near the top of my “must read” list. I do, however, feel that I know enough of its contents from Jeremy’s Daily Politics video, various press articles and, of course,  Nick’s review.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 106 Comments

Book review: Jeremy Browne’s ‘Race Plan’

Jeremy Browne - Some rights reserved by Foreign and Commonwealth OfficeJeremy Browne spent just over three years as a government minister following the formation of the coalition in 2010, first in the Foreign Office, where his responsibilities included Britain’s relations with countries in Pacific Asia and Latin America, and latterly in the Home Office. However, reading his new book, Race Plan: An authentic liberal plan to get Britain fit for ‘The Global Race’, it does not take long to discover which of these offices had the biggest influence on his political outlook.

Because while the detail of the book focusses primarily on domestic policy, the theme that pulls it together, which provides its context, is Britain’s role in a rapidly-changing, globalising world.

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Baroness Sal Brinton writes…Disabled rail travel: We’re not just treated like second class citizens, we’re treated like packages

Link is Very Friendly to WheelchairsWhen people in wheelchairs meet one another, disabled travel experiences are a frequent topic of conversation. Rail, buses or taxi we have often encountered brilliant helpful staff, but frankly, sometimes appalling service.

My train commuter run to Parliament from Watford Junction to Euston is usually very smooth, with unfailingly helpful London Midland and National Rail assistance staff, but both stations are staffed for as long as trains are running. Unstaffed stations can be really patchy.

photo by: Oran Viriyincy
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The Independent View: Without thriving city economies, there can be no sustained national recovery

New Skyscraper Under ConstructionThis year, George Osborne delivered his Budget against a backdrop of better than expected growth, higher than expected employment, and a deficit reduction plan that exceeded previous OBR forecasts.

His speech, unsurprisingly, made much of the success of the “long-term economic plan delivered by a coalition Government and a Conservative Chancellor”. Yet the fact that our cities still lack the powers they need to fulfil their economic potential, and drive growth locally, will constrain future growth for large parts of the UK economy.

photo by: Martin Pettitt
Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged , , , , and | 7 Comments

UPDATED: Full list of Lib Dems standing in our held seats and top 50 targets

We’re little more than a year from the May 2015 election so here’s my latest running check on how candidate selection is going in our held and key target seats…

Lib Dems winning hereI published a first draft of this list at the start of October, and asked readers to help me update it. Many thanks to those of you who have helped me keep it updated, including the party’s Candidates Services Office. Here’s the latest version of the list of (re-)selections in our held seats and the top 50 targets for the party.

It’s a snapshot of how the party’s doing in getting people in place in the battleground seats that will determine the extent of Lib Dem influence in the next parliament:

Posted in Selection news | 4 Comments

Alison McInnes MSP writes…The Scottish Justice Secretary is wrong to say stop and search is an operational matter

Police stop and search1st April 2014 marked the 1st anniversary of Police Scotland, a single national police force that replaced our 8 regional forces.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats were the only group in the Scottish Parliament to oppose the national force from the outset.

One of the key strengths of Scotland’s policing up until then had been its local foundations.  Funded by local councils, managed by local officers and officials, accountable to locally elected representatives, responsive to local needs.

photo by: Tony Austin
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Chart of the day: how spending on day-to-day public services will have been cut by 37% by 2018-19

It is simply not true – as our critics on the left pretend – that we are slashing and burning the state. By the end of this Parliament, public spending will still be 42% of GDP. That’s higher than at any time between 1995 and when the banks crashed, in 2008.

    Nick Clegg, 10th March 2013

It’s a soothing line from Nick Clegg, designed to reassure Lib Dems that the Coalition’s austerity programme is simply curbing the spending excess of the Blair/Brown years.

photo by: Images_of_Money
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Opinion: Towards a sensible welfare system

Piles of money. Photo credit: czbalazs - http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1236662Where is the development of Lib Dem welfare policy? It’s hard to see any. Even the recent living standards policy paper (pdf) said “we do not believe that this paper is the appropriate place to determine a Liberal Democrat approach to welfare reform. this is an area that needs further debate within the Party.”

We all want a society in which technology, employment, education, high pay, low inequality, progressive taxation and cheap homes reduce the need for means-tested benefits, but this long-term …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 12 Comments

The Swiss Wheeze: the Better Off Out argument that’s full of holes

Swiss CheeseIf only we were Switzerland, eh? That’s the dream of the Better Off Out brigade, who long for its freedom as part of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). And it’s a tempting offer: all the benefits of free trade with EU member states, and (if you believe Nigel Farage, Dan Hannan et al) none of the risks.

Except it’s not quite that easy, as The Economist highlighted when it investigated Britain’s options.

photo by: Filter Forge
Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged , , , , , , , and | 19 Comments

Opinion: The reason an EU Referendum is a bad idea is one that no politician dare utter

European Union flagWe are constantly told that we “need” a referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the European Union. Here’s the thing: we don’t. We don’t actually need a referendum on anything just now. Referenda are, in general, actually a bad idea.

They are vital every once in a while: the vote happening in Scotland on September 18th of this year is a good example. The government of Scotland is made up of nationalists who want to make Scotland an independent country. To legislate directly for this would be unthinkable, so …

photo by: YanniKouts
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Nick v Nigel: the polls call it for Farage. Disappointing, but don’t panic! Here’s 3 reasons why you shouldn’t…

Farage cleggLast week we had one post-debate poll. It showed Farage won overall, but the split was more interesting: Labour and Lib Dem voters went for Nick, Tory and Ukippers for Nigel. As you’d probably expect.

This week we had two post-debate polls, and their results are remarkably similar. ICM says Clegg was reckoned to have won by 31% of viewers, Farage by 69%. YouGov says 27% preferred Clegg, 68% Farage.

ICM has released the breakdown of its poll. This week, Labour voters split (narrowly) in Farage’s favour, by 57% …

Posted in Op-eds and Polls | Also tagged and | 56 Comments

Nick v Nigel, Round 2: My second thoughts

clegg farage lbcLast week, there was no doubt in my mind that Nick Clegg won the debate – he quite simply out-classed Nigel Farage, and YouGov’s poll showed Labour and Lib Dem voters agreed (though not Tory and Ukip voters).

This week, it was much more evenly matched. The early part belonged to Nick. With the focus on the Ukip leader’s praise for Vladimir Putin as a “brilliant operator”, Nigel Farage was always going to be on the back-foot. He was, and Nick was able successfully to claim the calm …

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 39 Comments

Liberal Democrat membership grows by over 500 in first quarter of 2014

Lib Dems winning hereLiberal Democrat membership hit 44,000 in the first quarter of 2014, a rise of more than 1500 since the beginning of 2013. Parties in government tend not to increase their membership and last year’s results for the Liberal Democrats were the first time in recent history that this had been done.

This is in no small part down to new financial incentives to local parties if they increase their membership. If they have more members, they get more money to spend on their local campaigns. That means that they …

Posted in News | Also tagged | 29 Comments

Opinion: Young people benefit from the EU. We need to persuade them to vote for the party of IN

Youth on the Move in Volos 20Each one of us who was glued to a screen or radio for the Nick vs Nigel EU debate last Wednesday will have our own opinion of who lost and who won as facts, rhetorical points and the affection of the audience were fought over. But I’ll tell you whose affection wasn’t fought over – that of Britain’s young people. And I, along with friends in and outside the party, was disappointed.

The lives of young people in this country – your children, your activists, you …

photo by: EU Social
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Liberal Democrats launch innovative – but controversial – online fundraising plan

News reaches me of a potentially very effective but highly controversial fundraising move planned by Liberal Democrat HQ for the general election.

Back when I worked at party HQ, I was involved in trademarking the party’s logo so that the party was in a stronger legal position when dealing with cyber-squatters or producers of fake literature.

Now the party is planning to go one step further, trademarking the party’s name and starting to enforce the trademark, charging royalties for its use.

photo by: by claire
Posted in News | 11 Comments

LDV Debate: Could One Member One Vote work for Liberal Democrat Conference?

Autumn 2012 conference - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsSue Doughty and Gareth Epps discuss the issues.

Sue: During the consultation at conference and before conference there were many positive reasons to support this. For example, younger members who may not have a permanent address find it difficult to maintain links with a local party and so don’t get elected as voting reps and sadly some parties didn’t notify HQ of their voting reps.  Although conference can be expensive the work by Federal Conference Committee with York Local Party meant that there …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 22 Comments

Time for Nick Clegg to ditch the “Great Britain not Little England” line

england-flag“Great Britain not little England” – it was a line Nick Clegg used in his recent Spring conference speech, setting up the new political dividing lines between those who are optimistic, outward-looking, progressive pro-Europeans and those who are gloomy, isolationst, reactionary anti-Europeans.

It’s a line he used again in this week’s Nick v Nigel debate. “Great Britain, not Little England” was the subject line, too, of the party’s immediate post-debate email to supporters.

Clearly it’s a line the party believes encapsulates the main fault-line in British politics right now. …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 36 Comments

A longer read for the weekend: How important will incumbency be to the Lib Dems in 2015?

Liberal Democrat badge - Some rights reserved by Paul Walter, Newbury, UKLast year I wrote a piece, So, about that Lib Dem wipeout in 2015 then…, highlighting that – though the polls are grim for the Lib Dems – the assumption of many pundits that this will automatically translate into Lib Dem annihilation at the next election is flawed.

That brief analysis was based on looking at the lists of Lib Dem-held seats that Labour and the Tories are targeting. Now Craig Johnson from Newcastle University has taken a more …

Posted in Party policy and internal matters and What do the academics say? | Also tagged and | 8 Comments

Steve Webb MP writes…Tackling rip-offs, standing up for savers

SavingsEarlier today, I had the pleasure of announcing in the House of Commons a raft of new measures designed to make sure that when people save for a pension they get value for money.

One of the Coalition’s most successful policies, for which I have had lead responsibility, is the introduction of ‘automatic enrolment’ into workplace pensions.   Starting with the biggest firms in October 2012, and reaching the smallest ones by 2017, employers now have a legal duty to put their workers in a pension scheme and to make an employer …

photo by: Tax Credits
Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 15 Comments

Norman Lamb MP writes… Improving patient safety in the NHS

Nurse jokes with patientBack in 2012, an independent study of NHS case notes from hospitals concluded that in about 2.3% of hospital deaths there was strong evidence that death could have been prevented. In practice, this equates to around 6,300 preventable deaths in hospitals every year.

This is a shocking statistic. As Liberal Democrats, we should never fall into the trap of talking down the NHS – our health and care services do fantastic work day after day savings lives and providing excellent care.  But we must also be willing to confront …

photo by: NHSE
Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 4 Comments

YouGov’s Nick v Nigel poll: Clegg wins with Labour, Lib Dem voters; Farage with Tory, Ukip voters

Nick clegg york in europe Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsMy overall view of last night’s Nick v Nigel debate was that Mr Reasonable won it. But then I would think that, wouldn’t I? What did rest of the British public think?

Well, the vast, vast majority of rest of the British public would have had no view either way: they didn’t watch it. But polling firm YouGov did ask those who did watch it – though as Anthony Wells notes, “to get 1000 people for our poll of people …

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 38 Comments



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  • User AvatarRichard Church 16th Apr - 10:47pm
    @ Helen Tedcastle. No, Humanists are not included in SACRE's. Sometimes they are invited to participate as observers, but the 25% of the population who...
  • User AvatarRadical Liberal 16th Apr - 10:45pm
    Andrew Suffield - 'We already have that. Prescription fees, dentists, etc. Yes, I think that these things are an acceptable part of our society'. Please...
  • User AvatarHelen Tedcastle 16th Apr - 10:39pm
    Little Jackie Paper " The question is whether we want a pay and go society. Perhaps the majority does?" I don't think there is an...
  • User AvatarLittle Jackie Paper 16th Apr - 10:25pm
    Helen Tedcastle - Well....With the NHS there is, I suppose, a valid argument that there could be some sort of insurance system. Germany (or parts...
  • User AvatarJohn Broggio 16th Apr - 10:14pm
    Prescription fees are a trifle (and not at all reflective of the whole cost - for a start, GP appointments are free to the user)...
  • User AvatarHelen Tedcastle 16th Apr - 10:14pm
    Andrew Suffield " We already have that. Prescription fees, dentists, etc. Yes, I think that these things are an acceptable part of our society." That...