Tag Archives: featured

Tim Farron’s New Year Message: Don’t shrug your shoulders. Get involved.

2016 was a year when the unexpected happened.

Britain voted for Brexit. Donald Trump is going to be President of America. Leicester City won the Premier League.

So what you won’t get from me are any predictions for 2017.

We go into the New Year surrounded by uncertainty.

The Government has no plan for Brexit. No plan for life outside the Single Market.

Our NHS and social care system is in crisis.

We have a refugee crisis on our doorstep.

There is widespread insecurity in our economy, in our world and in the lives of too many of our fellow citizens.

If you believe, as I do, that Britain is at its best when it is open, tolerant and united, then 2017 is a year when you must make your voice heard.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 21 Comments

2017: A year when Liberals across the world need to work like never before

It’s here. We’ve bid the often crushing 2016 farewell and now have to face up to its consequences.

In politics and world affairs, Brexit and the election of Donald Trump have signified a terrifying and undoubtedly disastrous change in direction. The irony of powerful rich men railing against political elites has not yet been realised by the general population. As liberals we really have our work cut out for us to challenge a chilling new orthodoxy of national selfishness, of scapegoating, insularity and the unravelling of decades of international European and transatlantic co-operation.

The hideous and entirely preventable suffering we see in Syria, Yemen and in refugee camps across Europe is a powerful reminder of the need for countries to work together, not to retreat into isolation and enmity.

The Liberal Democrats have a lot to offer this uncertain world. We have always and will always be on the side of the powerless against those powerful elites. We have and always will call for people to have decent housing. We have and always will champion people being paid a decent wage and having decent employment rights. We are that radical, insurgent, planet saving, establishment busting, freedom loving force for good that this country needs and we need to get out there with absolute confidence in that. You don’t see the likes of Farage or Theresa May (and the two, sadly, are almost interchangeable these days) waver one bit in what they are saying. We can be too darned reasonable sometimes. We need  to counter the most serious threat to our way of life we have ever known  with passion. This is not going to be easy. We’ve already seen Tim Farron called all sorts  of names – and some Conservatives have called for him and anyone else who supports the EU to be charged with Treason.  It’s going to get a lot uglier. The treatment meted out to Charles Kennedy when he rightly opposed the Iraq War is going to seem like a teddy bear’s picnic but we all have to step up, face it and roll up our sleeves to fight for what we believe in.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 25 Comments

Tim Farron’s Christmas message

Tim went to a refugee centre in Paris to film his Christmas message. He asks what we would want other countries to do if we were a war-torn country. How would we want them to treat us and our children?

He says: “I am not at all squeamish about patriotism” before urging liberals to reclaim the language of national pride by reminding people that British values have long been about openness, tolerance and unity.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 10 Comments

The triumph of mendacity, and what we can do about it

Brexit. Syria. Trump. 2016 in three words. It is human nature to see commonalities where there are none, but there are surely some here.

First, of course, there is the not-so-invisible hand of a resurgent Russia to be seen in each. Time magazine’s choice of Donald Trump as its Person of the Year was a mistake: it is not Trump but the subject of his admiration, Vladimir Putin, who has shaped world events this year more than any other individual.

Second (and not entirely unrelated to the first) is the triumph of mendacity. Key to each of the year’s key events was dishonesty. The referendum campaign felt at points like a contest to see which side could bend the truth furthest but it will, in the final analysis, be the Leave campaign that will be viewed as one of the most dishonest political campaigns in this country’s democratic history. Its mendacity was of course easily surpassed by Donald Trump, a man who in the face of inconvenient facts doesn’t just deny their existence but creates his own new reality. It didn’t help that the Democrats nominated a candidate much of whose political career has been defined by sleights of hand and questionable dealings: lying simply became relative.

Posted in Op-eds | 19 Comments

Friday Festive Fun as LDV does #christmasjumperday

Today is the day that Save the Children asks us to wear Christmas jumpers and donate £2 towards their work across the world.

We thought it was only right that we should get into the festive spirit to follow the example set by our Scottish leader. Here’s Willie Rennie with the other Scottish party leaders looking uncharacteristically bashful.

As you can see from the photo above, mine is a gingerbread man this year.  And I’ll point out the word “balderdash” above my head before someone else does. It’s a fun game which will no doubt be played over Christmas in this house. And, yes, that is Matt Smith’s Doctor lurking behind the tree.

Technical guru Ryan goes for the festive cardie chic:

 

And here’s Alex Foster looking very cool indeed.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 3 Comments

A longer read for the weekend: Baroness Kate Parminter’s Burntwood Lecture on Brexit and the Environment

This week Liberal Democrat peer Kate Parminter became only the third woman (after Sara Parkin (1997) and Professor Julia Slingo (2013) to deliver the prestigious Burntwood Lecture to the Institution of Environmental Sciences.. She spoke of the challenges facing the environment from Brexit in a 45 minute lecture entitled “Separation Anxiety.” Read her full lecture below:

It’s an honour to have been asked to present the Burntwood Lecture this year, and to follow in the footsteps of such an illustrious parade of former speakers. Many of your previous guests have been eminent scientists or fearless campaigners; I stand here tonight to deliver this lecture (pause) as a politician. That’s not inappropriate, however: Lord Burntwood, the IES’ first Chairman, whose name the lecture commemorates, was himself a member of parliament and a minister in Clement Attlee’s Labour government. But more importantly, it’s not inappropriate because the great challenge of our time, the subject on which I’ve been asked to speak, is itself primarily political: Brexit.

How the United Kingdom manages its withdrawal from the European Union will shape this country’s future for decades. In the absence of any clarity from the government over what it sees as the final destination of this process, I hope I can enlist everyone here in helping me to draw up the broad approach the UK should adopt in dealing with environmental policy post-Brexit. I’m going to tell you what I think, and I hope you’ll respond at the end with thoughts of your own.

There are two competing visions for the future of the UK outside the EU. One – hinted at by some of the supporters of the Leave side during the referendum, but never fully articulated – is of a country free of the kind of burdensome regulations they liked to pretend emanated from Brussels; a fleet-footed, buccaneering, free-trading nation spotting openings in the global marketplace and exploiting them ruthlessly. This vision implies a deregulated low-cost low-tax low-value economy – with clear implications for environmental policy. In May this year, for example, George Eustice, the farming minister, attacked – quotes – ‘spirit-crushing’ EU directives, including, explicitly, the birds and habitats directives – and went on to criticise the use of the precautionary principle as the basis of EU legislation, a criticism echoed by many of his colleagues. You may remember that this kind of approach echoes Conservative ministers’ attempts, during the coalition government, to water down or scrap environmental regulations through such initiatives as the Red Tape Challenge and the balance of competences review – attempts which, happily, Liberal Democrat ministers ensured came to nothing.

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

Lessons from Lincolnshire

Elections come and go, but the memories and the camaraderie live on.  The telling of old by-election stories and hearing them re-written over time and years is part of the fun.  But they can also be sad and hurtful.  

It has taken me years to get over the deep personal trauma that I now realise I suffered in the aftermath of years of campaigning to win Hampstead and Kilburn, and the impact of losing on a recount.  And I probably will never fully lose that trauma.  Yet I am sitting here now in the wreckage of a by-election HQ and I’m beaming.

Here in the HQ it’s down to just me and the agent Ian Horner. Even Ada our host has gone shopping, and yet neither of us feel sad.  There is a positive mood about what we achieved and a satisfaction about a job well done.

You all know the result. You had predicted it and over analaysed it before the count had even commenced so I won’t attempt to drag over it again here.  But  let me offer some thoughts that I think are important for the Liberal Democrats, and for me, issues we urgently need to address and tackle.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 52 Comments
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  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 22nd Jan - 1:19am
    No Lib Dem should be making help for Stoke Central any more of a priority than Copeland. In both, we will climb from very small...
  • User AvatarRBH 22nd Jan - 1:13am
    Only Scottish Lib Dems can decide how they feel about independence and another referendum. As an Englishman, it'll be one of the saddest days of...
  • User AvatarGlenn 22nd Jan - 1:10am
    Angrysteve. You've just done it now. Obviously, the scientific method stay the same but data changes the nature of the what is seen as a...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 22nd Jan - 12:42am
    Stuart Thank you for your comment , which I find to be just the sort of encouragement needed for putting real effort into being politically...
  • User AvatarAdam Cain 22nd Jan - 12:38am
    Well, David Bell, the reason LDs keep entering democratic votes is because we keep winning them. We have this weird idea that the electorate are...
  • User Avatarmalc 21st Jan - 11:51pm
    Both the up coming by-elections should be interesting, but Stoke Central looks very close with all 4 major parties having a chance. If the campaign...