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Nick Clegg struggles to be polite about the government’s self-deluded piffle

Nick Clegg, blistering in the Standard, warns that the government is condemned to break its Brexit promises.

Recalling promises of a stronger trading position, the continuation of the benefits of membership, no hard border with Ireland (never mind Scotland), less red tape, taking back control – never mind the £350 million; Nick warns of an impending reckoning.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 27 Comments

Heartbreak

I’m feeling pretty heartbroken at the moment. Like Charles Kennedy, I’m a highlander, a Scot, a Brit and a European, with the first and the last most important. Now my rights as a European citizen (though I will be one no matter what) and a British citizen are under threat.

As I write, the Labour Party, the so-called opposition, is about to crumble  and let the Government have its way on the Bill that will pave the way for our exit from the European Union. It beggars belief that the Government has been able to get this through without any serious opposition. It’s the greatest issue of our time, and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party might as well have been part of the most right-wing, isolationist, dangerous government we have  had in my lifetime.

I’ve been fairly sure that the country has been headed to hell in a handcart before. There was the 80s, for a start, when Thatcher destroyed the industrial fabric of our country and championed selfishness over community. You thought things could only get  better with a Blair Government but he ended up ruining the country’s standing with the folly of Iraq.

I thought I had felt heartbreak in 2011 when I saw so many of my friends lose in the Holyrood election, when we lost our MEPs and the turmoil that followed, in 2015 when the General Election result was the worst we could have anticipated. None of that, tough that it was, comes close to my sadness and fear for the future.  I feel like we’re throwing away our safety net in so many ways. What will be left of workers’ rights and human rights in ten years’ time?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 41 Comments

Is Trident’s successor a white elephant?

On Saturday afternoon Spring Conference debates motion F11 “Towards a World Free of Nuclear Weapons” which actually endorses the government’s plans to replace Trident with Successor at a cost of £200 billion, twice the original estimate.  The motion also talks about developing multilateral negotiations and ending Continuous-at-sea Deterrence (CASD) but in essence it supports a like-for-like deterrent, which we opposed through the coalition years.

I was on the working group which drafted the report which this motion approves, but I don’t agree. I’m tabling an amendment which agrees with most of the motion’s analysis and call for beefing up negotiations but also calls for Trident to be phased out and NOT replaced.

Many party members have long supported ending the UK’s nuclear weapons but others have placed their faith in nuclear deterrence on balance.  People may feel the global security situation inclines them more than ever to support replacing Trident with the Successor programme.  The argument can be summarised as “Oh my God, Putin !, Oh my God, Trump !  We better have our own nukes”.  I originally felt that the party’s latest working group on the subject was a waste of time.  Nothing had changed.  But I was wrong.  

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

John Leech writes…Help save fire-rescue hero from deportation

If I asked you to imagine your ideal community, who and what would be in it? What kind of people would you choose to have as your neighbour? Would you want a neighbour who would be there in your moment of need – maybe even go as far as risking their life for you?

Well, you may have heard that just over a month ago, a resident here in Manchester did just that.

Robert Chilowa ran to the scene of a ferocious blaze engulfing a neighbour’s house after hearing screams of terror. He rescued two young children from the flames and assisted another who had broken her ankle in the disaster that had already claimed the lives of their grandparents. His heroic efforts were the only saving grace in an otherwise tragic event.

Now, I’ll take a pretty good guess that you’d want this man as your neighbour, right? Well, despite braving the devastating fire in Withington, rightly garnering national headlines, he has now been threatened with deportation.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 2 Comments

Let’s turn the forensic spotlight on Theresa May’s “Britain that works for everyone”

It should have been one of the government’s more difficult weeks.
 
News emerged that police forces in England are rationing how they respond to calls for help. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary says too many crimes are not being properly investigated and fewer prosecutions reaching the courts. That’s the sort of Britain that works for everyone.
 
Another watchdog, this time the Care Quality Commission, says 80% of hospitals are failing across a range of vital areas. That’s the sort of Britain that works for everyone.
 
In the House of Lords decency prevailed and the Noble members of that house voted to guarantee the UK residency and other rights of EU nationals. The government’s immediate response was to say it will try and overturn the vote when the Bill comes back to the Commons. That’s the sort of Britain that works for everyone.
 
What else, oh yes, Shelter says 80% of families in England can’t afford to buy a new home in their locality. A Tory minister gave a grudging apology following an outcry over his dreadful remarks about mentally ill people. In the South East of England commuters continued to suffer strikes and delays as the government plays ideological games over the Southern Rail dispute, which is really of course about the Tories crushing the last ounce of power from the public-sector unions. That’s the sort of Britain that works for everyone.
Posted in Op-eds | 26 Comments

Winning in Stoke-on-Trent: The foundations that YOU laid

On Tuesday, Ian Horner and I as Agent and Campaign Co-ordinator respectively cleared the by-election HQ for Stoke-on-Trent Central.   Unlike many such events from former by-elections, this was no sad or weary wake.

As we loaded up the bags and boxes, sorted out what could caravan into the next election portal we laughed, smiled and exchanged anecdotes of a campaign well fought.

1. Over 60% of the constituency that voted had voted against the Stoke Labour Party nominee, Gareth Snell. This result ws no ringing endorsement.
2. UKIP – the party that was going to win this unfairly designated “capital of Brexit” – were beaten and their Leader sent packing to fight his own internal civil war with no mandate, no victory and a clear rejection.
3. The ramifications of Labour’s strategy of total compromise and to become the party of Brexit Plus has lead to them voting with the Government. Yes, on Brexit Labour supported the government – now arguably the suicide note of history just got shorter.
4. The Tories, with a young shiny candidate did well to consolidate their support, build in their local councillor base and to almost supplant UKIP for second.

So with these elements at play, what worked for the Liberal Democrats?

We ran a campaign that was bold, confident, almost audacious. I recall clearly the moment in Sleaford and North Hykeham when it emerged that Ross Pepper was the only remain anti-Brexit candidate. With Labour fleeing the field, it is now clear that that will be the norm now going forwards.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 6 Comments

Giving EU nationals the right to stay benefits us all

I’m feeling quite nervous this afternoon. The House of Lords is debating an amendment which would give EU nationals who have made their homes here the right to stay. The Government is expected to be defeated and I hope very much that this will be the case and that we won’t have the disgraceful scenes we saw on Monday when the so called opposition were whipped to reject an amendment on the single market.

For me, this is something very personal – and also a bit selfish. Like virtually everyone else, I have friends who are EU nationals. They live here. This is their home. I don’t want to see them used as bargaining chips. My neighbours are from Poland. I don’t want them to have any worries about whether they will be forced to uproot their lives and disrupt their daughter’s education.

Those things are important, but as many of you will know, my husband was seriously ill at the end of last year. He is making a good recovery thanks to the excellent specialist medical care he received. The surgeon who saved his life and who sped back into the hospital at dead of night when there was a problem to operate again is Italian. He’s the same surgeon, actually, who saved the life of Nicola Sturgeon’s father-in-law. His registrar is from Greece. The nurse who looked after him in ITU so skilfully was also Italian. I want them to have the right to live here unimpeded for two reasons. First of all, it’s the right thing to do. Secondly, I don’t want to lose their skills which make Edinburgh one of the best places for cardio-thoracic surgery in the UK. 

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 16 Comments
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  • User AvatarGlenn 25th Mar - 5:21am
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  • User AvatarGlenn 25th Mar - 1:20am
    Roland; I misunderstood you chap. I don't agree. Germany, France and even Italy all had and have stronger trade unions. Unions have not been that...
  • User AvatarCllr Mark Wright 25th Mar - 12:25am
    "The second problem is that the Bank of England itself takes the view that Quantitative Easing is regressive, because it pushes asset prices upwards, and...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 25th Mar - 12:24am
    Dear Rebecca, As I was a Politics student and Union of Liberal Students member at Leeds University in 1966 I read your article with delight,...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 24th Mar - 11:23pm
    The article is overblown, the responses almost measured in comparison. The policy is a compromise. Yes those to the left of Ho Chi Min and...
  • User AvatarRoland 24th Mar - 10:23pm
    @Glenn - The trouble is that 'business' also includes the workers. Remember just how many of trade union call to arms has been about the...