Tag Archives: jim wallace

What does the Queen’s Speech mean for Liberal Democrat strategy?

When the Government sets out its agenda for the next year in the Queen’s Speech, it gives the other parties a chance to do the same. What can we learn from the frenzy of Liberal Democrat activity in the press in the past few days about where we might be going.

Well, Tim had a piece in the Huffington Post the other day that put education at the heart of our thinking. This is far from being a new concept. It’s one of our core principles that we’ve always talked about. Tim had developed a 5-point education charter with the aim of giving young people and the economy the skills they need for the modern world.

The future is full of exciting opportunities, as technology changes the way we work and live. However, there are also massive challenges, from giving people the skills they need to adapt to our changing economy, to tackling climate change.

Education is key to meeting these challenges. That is why the Liberal Democrat vision is for a country which enshrines the rights of every child to a decent education. We believe this should be the number one priority of the Government when they set out their agenda. We are calling for a Charter for Education which guarantees every child is taught a curriculum which includes creative arts subjects, sports, languages, technical and vocational courses and practical life skills.

Over the years education has become more about passing tests and getting a good Ofsted rating than making sure children get the skills they need and grow into healthy, happy and confident adults. This is harmful for young people, and my fear is that it will leave them ill-equipped to deal with the challenges – and opportunities – of the future.

It’s a bit more satisfying than the Tories’ battle with teachers and local authorities for the sake of it. It also looks at wellbeing and happiness which are crucially important.

The nuts and bolts of the Charter are:

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LibLink: Jim Wallace: House of Lords must not become an impotent debating society

Following the publication of the Strathclyde Review, the Tories’ revenge attack on the House of Lords, Jim Wallace has written for Politics Home to say that we need a strong second chamber to keep the Government under control.

He looks back at the Tax Credits issue and criticises the Government’s strategy of trying to limit the debate in the Lords:

The Government proposed this change in an SI, for which the scrutiny process is considerably weaker. Each House would only have a single debate on an issue, with the Commons’ time severely limited. It could, of course, have brought the measure forward in primary legislation, where much more detailed scrutiny is possible. And if they had inserted clauses into the Finance Bill, the Lords could not have touched it. But Ministers, fearing perhaps that a number of Tory rebels might join forces with the opposition in the Commons to amend the Bill, chose the route which offered least resistance. Or so they thought.

But, the House of Lords voted to delay implementation of the changes to tax credits until transitional protections were put in place. The Government’s response was to throw its hands up in horror at the temerity of the Lords daring to express a view that was contrary to theirs.

Having lost the argument, says Jim, the Government is now trying to change the rules:

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IfG interviews former Lib Dem ministers, feat. Browne, Swinson, Hughes, Featherstone, Cable, Huhne

The Institute for Government did a lot of work during the coalition looking at how this (by English standards) unusual arrangement was working, and could work better. Now we have (for now at least) moved beyond coalition, the IfG has been interviewing ministers who served in the last government, seeking their reflections on their time there.

The IfG website has transcripts of a number of interviews with both Conservative and Lib Dem former ministers. The Lib Dems featured are:

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For Human Rights Day: Jim Wallace on falling foul of the Human Rights Act

It’s Human Rights Day today. Earlier this week, Jim Wallace spoke to the Legal Services Agency Conference about protecting our rights. He remembered that he had found himself on the wrong end of a Human Rights Act judgement. His attitude was much better than Alex Salmond’s was when the SNP were found wanting 12 years later. At that point, he referred to people bringing actions under the Act as among “the vilest people on the planet.”

For my part, I spent decades as a Liberal and Liberal Democrat candidate and MP, supporting campaigns to incorporate the European Convention on Human Rights into our domestic law. “Bringing Rights Home” was our call; and so I understandably welcomed the passing of the Human Rights Act 1998. What never occurred to me during all the years of campaigning was that I would be the first government minister in the UK to be on wrong end of a decision under that Act. Yet on 11th of November 1999 that’s exactly what happened.

On that day, the Court ruled, in Starr & Chalmers v Ruxton that Temporary Sheriffs were unable to provide an independent and impartial tribunal and, as a result, as Justice Minister, I was forced to suspend every temporary Sheriff overnight.

Let’s not pretend. At the time,I would much rather that the case had been won. Losing put significant pressure on resources and made, for a time, the operation of our sheriff courts more difficult.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 3 Comments

Jim Wallace’s inaugural Charles Kennedy Memorial Lecture: Charles’ legacy should be a call to refresh our radicalism

Five days before what would have been Charles Kennedy’s 56th birthday, Jim Wallace, who entered the Commons on the same day as Charles in 1983, delivered the inaugural Charles Kennedy Memorial Lecture in Fort William. Seeing Charles Kennedy and Memorial in the same sentence still freaks me out slightly. It feels very wrong.

Jim has very kindly provided us with a copy of his lecture so that those of us who couldn’t make it up to Fort William can hear what he had to say. His subject was Charles, the legacy he left of internationalism and an example of always conducting his politics with respect and how his values were shaped by his highland background. He talks about the challenges we now face as a party and how we can learn from Charles as we deal with the challenges we face.

Here is the lecture in full. It’s long, over 5000 words, but, do you know what, every single one is worth reading. Go make yourself nice cup of tea, put your feet up and enjoy.

In keeping with many public lectures in the Highlands, albeit of a somewhat different nature, I start with a text: from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, chapter 51, verse 1 –

Look unto the rock from which you are hewn.

It is an enormous privilege to have been asked this evening to deliver the inaugural Charles Kennedy memorial lecture; to speak about one of my closest friends in politics, Charles, and how his politics were shaped by his roots in this Highland community, and the Highland Liberal tradition.

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Lord (Paul) Tyler writes…Government is playing a dangerous game by resisting democratic reform of the Lords

 

This week the House of Lords is set to do one of the things it loves most: talking about itself. How wonderful it is; how learned are its members, but how beastly it is that anyone new is ever placed here. We will hear many wise heads opine that the Prime Minister is guilty of a gross abuse of process in appointing new peers this year, and that he is making the place “unsustainable”.  We will hear over and over that the “reputation of the House” is under threat. Some Peers seem to imagine that the public would view as entirely peachy an unelected chamber of Parliament predicated on patronage, just as long as only those who have already been appointed are the only ones ever allowed in.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 7 Comments

Jim Wallace: Statement on refugees falls short of a moral response

Here is Jim Wallace’s response to the Government’s statement in the House of Lords on the drone strikes and the refugee crisis. Here it is in full:

My Lords, I also thank the noble Baroness the Leader of the House for repeating the Prime Minister’s Statement on these very profound and serious issues. I also endorse what the noble Baroness the Leader of the Opposition said—we appreciate the fact that there will be an extended period for Back-Bench questions.

Probably nothing is more important than the Government’s primary responsibility of security of the realm and its citizens. The Prime Minister acknowledges that in his Statement. Clearly, we do not have the evidence, nor would it be appropriate to share that evidence publicly, and therefore we must accept the judgment of the Prime Minster in responding to perhaps one of the most serious calls that has been made on him. However, it would be interesting to know whether this is a matter that the Intelligence and Security Committee will be able to look at.

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged and | 8 Comments
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