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Vince Cable predicts second economic storm

Remember back in 2003, when Vince Cable was saying that at some point the economy would collapse because of the amount of consumer credit?

Well, he was right then and he’s now saying that we could be up for another Brexit fuelled crash.

The former Business Secretary, who hopes to win back his former seat of Twickenham, says that a combination of declining consumer confidence, job losses and inflation has the potential to outstrip the economic storm of the previous decade. That, if you remember, was the direst economic crash since the Depression in the 30s.

Vince said:

For Britain, the economic weather is arguably worse than it was before the credit crunch. The pound has plummeted, which is driving up prices and trapping consumers in a vicious Brexit squeeze.

Consumer confidence was all that kept the storm clouds away. But with job losses at everywhere from Deutsche Bank to Nestlé, that confidence is going to drain away further.

The Chancellor clearly has no confidence in the economic strategy of the government, because he knows that leaving the single market and customs union has the potential to devastate the UK economy.

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Alex Cole-Hamilton: Family cap and rape clause have no place in a civilised society

Yesterday the Scottish Parliament debated the Conservative cuts to tax credit which means that only two children per family are covered.

Every Scottish Conservative MSP voted for it, with many robustly defending the policy. Their line seems to be, as the Conservative candidate at my local council hustings said last week, that this is a compassionate (that’s the word she actually used) exemption. They are also saying that the woman doesn’t have to fill it in, it’s a third party. Well, have a look at the form and imagine how you would feel if it applied to you. You have to write down the name of your child and sign a declaration that “I believe the non-consensual conception exception applies to my child.” How you can do that without your mind drifting back to the traumatic circumstances of that conception? You are also then required to take the form to a third party to get them to fill it in. You are going to have to relive that ordeal. You may never have told anyone about it before and be worried about whether you are going to be believed. If implementation of a policy requires this sort of trauma, then the policy itself is clearly wrong.

There were many fantastic speeches from across the Chamber, including moving personal testimonies sent to MSPs like Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale.

The Liberal Democrats were represented by Alex Cole-Hamilton, who condemned these policies – and pointed out that during the coalition years, we had put a stop to their introduction:

I pay tribute to Kez Dugdale and Sandra White for offering very moving personal testimonies, and I congratulate the Scottish Government on lodging the motion. I assure it of the support of the Liberal Democrats. We will support Kez Dugdale’s and Alison Johnstone’s amendments, as well.

Who can forget Theresa May’s inaugural words in her tenure as Prime Minister? In her Francis of Assisi moment on the steps of number 10, she said of families that rely on tax credits in particular:

“If you’re from an ordinary working class family, life is much harder than many people in Westminster realise. You have a job but you don’t always have job security. You have your own home, but you worry about paying a mortgage. You can just about manage but you worry about the cost of living and getting your kids into a good school … I know you’re working around the clock, I know you’re doing your best, and I know that sometimes life can be a struggle. The government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few, but by yours.”

In the two-child tax credit cap and the rape clause that underpins it, we see the measure of that commitment made flesh. I am certain that those words have now turned to ash in the Prime Minister’s mouth.

There are days in the chamber when we are debating welfare reform and social security matters in which I rise to speak with some trepidation and a recognition that there were times when my party, through dint of the coalition, participated in decisions and reforms that were distasteful to us as Liberals, but were far less egregious than those that our partners originally proposed. Members rightly lose no time in reminding me of that in colourful interventions. That is fair enough, but the untold story of our days in coalition is what never made it to the statute book thanks to Liberal Democrat resistance: regional pay, which would penalise any workers outside the south-east of England, inheritance tax cuts for millionaires and enhanced powers for employers to sack staff without notice or recourse to a tribunal.

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Baroness Joan Walmsley writes….Tories ensure more taxation without representation

It was Thomas Mayhew, minister of the West Church in Martha’s Vineyard, who coined the slogan “No taxation without representation” in 1750, capturing in that phrase one of the major causes of the American civil war.

Of course, this phrase reflected a clause of the Magna Carta, written in 1215.

British citizens who live outside of the United Kingdom are currently entitled to vote in elections for only 15 years after leaving the UK, but the Conservatives promised to extend this to lifetime enfranchisement in their 2015 election manifesto. The Tories said they were intent on “scrapping the rule that bars British citizens who have lived abroad for more than 15 years from voting” and would introduce “votes for life”, opening up registration to more of the five million Britons who live abroad. (There are currently less than a quarter of a million overseas residents registered to vote.)

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The Lib Dem Lowdown: 100,000 members special: A guide to the Liberal Democrats for our new members

When Tim Farron set his 100,000 members by 2020 target during his leadership campaign in 2015, it seemed pretty ambitious. Since Brexit, though, around 30,000 members have signed up to our party. A warm welcome to every single one of you.

Around half of those 30,000 have joined in the 6 days since Theresa May made her announcement about the General Election. This afternoon, Tim Farron was able to announce that we had reached that ambitious 100,000 target at a rally in Vauxhall.

I wouldn’t celebrate for too long, though. Tim is not one to rest on his laurels. I’m sure an even more ambitious target will be set fairly soon!

Every so often I roll out this post, which is basically a rehash of an article that I first wrote in May 2015 when many joined the party in the wake of the General Election result in the hope that it might be useful to tell you a little bit about how our party works and give you a bit of an idea of the opportunities open to you. If you are not yet a member, read it and if you think it sounds appealing, sign up here.

What do we believe?

Before we get into the nitty gritty of organisation, the best statement of who we are and what we’re about can be found in the Preamble to our Constitution which underlines how we believe in freedom, opportunity, diversity,  decentralisation and internationalism. Here’s a snippet:

The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. We aim to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity. We believe that the role of the state is to enable all citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the decisions which affect their lives.

We look forward to a world in which all people share the same basic rights, in which they live together in peace and in which their different cultures will be able to develop freely. We believe that each generation is responsible for the fate of our planet and, by safeguarding the balance of nature and the environment, for the long term continuity of life in all its forms. Upholding these values of individual and social justice, we reject allprejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality.

We have a fierce respect for individuality, with no expectation that fellow Liberal Democrats will agree with us on every issue. We expect our views to be challenged and feel free to challenge others without rancour. We can have a robust debate and head to the pub afterwards, the very best of friends.

Your rights as a member

Posted in Op-eds | 7 Comments

Lib Dems will not go into coalition – Farron

Tim Farron has done what I’d been hoping and ruled out the Liberal Democrats going into coalition with either Tories or Labour.

This means that the Tory argument that Corbyn, Sturgeon and Farron will get together and do a deal with the Loch Ness Monster to crash the stock exchange (ok, maybe the last bit of that was an exaggeration) is shown to be nonsense. People can vote Liberal Democrat with confidence knowing that we will do everything we can to oppose the Tories and Labour on Brexit.

It also has the advantage of putting to bed at the earliest stage of the campaign the endless questions about who we would go into coalition with and what would we compromise on. This has dominated questions to Lib Dem leaders in past elections and it is good that we have eliminated it. There is no way that we could credibly do a deal with either. Providing serious issue by issue opposition is what we will be doing.

Here’s what Tim said in an email to party members:

I want to make this clear.

The Liberal Democrats will not enter into any coalition deal with either Theresa May’s Conservatives or Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party.

On Thursday 8th June, every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to change the direction of our country and stop a hard Brexit.

The reasons for this decision are simple.

Under no conditions can we sign up to Theresa May’s Hard Brexit agenda; a hard Brexit will be a disaster for Britain. It risks crashing our economy and leaving us isolated on the global stage.

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West of England: Five reasons to win with Williams

The West of England Mayoral election is now only a month away. Here are five reasons to volunteer in the campaign.

1) It is a two-horse race
At the start of the campaign, the bookmakers Ladbrokes made Stephen the favourite to win with the Conservative candidate right on our heels. Notably, Labour and the Greens are completely out of the contest so we need to pick up all the progressive second preferences.

There is a real chance that the Liberal Democrats can win this newly created role. It is going to take a lot of enthusiasm to outcampaign the spending of the Conservatives but let us prove that the experts are worth listening to.

Posted in Op-eds | 2 Comments

Vince Cable to liberals: Don’t despair, go local, celebrate identities and embrace social democratic policies

Last night, Vince Cable gave the annual John G Gray Lecture to the Scottish Liberal Club in Edinburgh. John G Gray was a leading Scottish figure in the fightback from near extinction in the middle of the last century. He was at one point the only Liberal councillor in Scotland. Vince observed that at the same time as he was successfully fighting a ridiculous proposal for a ring road in Glasgow, Gray was doing the same in Edinburgh, making sure that a proposal that would have damaged much of the city’s heritage never came to fruition.

The subject of his talk was Brexit, Trump and the Crisis of Liberalism. He set out four things that we should do to stop the “insidious” politics of populism and nationalism taking root.

Firstly, he looked at some of the reasons for populism taking hold. History has many examples, from the South Sea Bubble, to the Depression to the 2008 crash, of economic heart attacks being followed after some years by populism. When people lose out, they turn to the extremes and we have over the past decade seen the fall in post war living standards. Significantly, the measures used to keep the economy afloat, low interest rates and quantitative easing, ensured that pensioners’ savings didn’t grow. That resulted in discontent and nostalgia became a powerful emotional driver.

He warned that as the populists fail, the search for a scapegoat would turn on the judiciary and the other elements which underpin our democracy. He highlighted the Daily Fail’s talk of the enemy within – where the Lib Dems were top of the list. Populists do what they can to delegitimise anything that gets in their way. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 15 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 30th Apr - 7:12am
    @Sue Sutherland, ' I think that making fun of May is a good way of undermining her Well making fun of Jeremy Corbyn seems to...
  • User AvatarSACHA GRIFFITHS 30th Apr - 5:30am
    I think the solution lies with the broadcasters' resolve. This is going to happen every election. So what the broadcasters should do with invited non-participants...
  • User AvatarThomas 30th Apr - 5:14am
    Peter Martin - I hope that there would be plan for British Business Bank expansion. Oh wait, we can use the state-owned RBS. But state...
  • User AvatarMick Taylor 30th Apr - 1:59am
    stick = stitch
  • User AvatarMick Taylor 30th Apr - 1:58am
    Richard S. Do you live on another planet to me? Have you been listening when people who understand the EU a lot better than you...
  • User AvatarJohn Minard 29th Apr - 11:12pm
    We certainly have the people but they're not generally allowed to speak, unless it's bad news of course! The BBC ought to remind viewers that...