Tag Archives: nick clegg

Nick Clegg on Jane Brophy and the #libdemfightback

On Thursday alone, 5 of the Lib Dems’ 8 MPs were in Oldham. Tim Farron had been there on Monday and Sal Brinton is there today. You never know who you might meet if you go there this weekend.

Nick spoke to the Oldham Evening Chronicle, saying he thought Jane was fantastic and talking about the #libdemfightback

As a party that took a real knock in the General Election this by-election gives us the opportunity to get out and speak to people again, explain who we are.

I think Jane’s getting a really positive response on the doorstep and I am very confident that she is going to do a lot better than we did in the General Election.

We have got to rebuild like any party, like any individual that takes a hard knock. You have got to lick your wounds a bit but move on and dust yourself down.

The party’s finding its zeal and fighting spirit again. In a constituency like this where we haven’t traditionally been competing at Westminster level we still have scores and scores of activists coming into our HQ and knocking on people’s doors.

It shows that, as much as our opponents might suggest that the Liberal Democrats have been put out of action, we’re mounting a fight back. We’ve had a massive influx of new members.

He also commented on the Autumn Statement and in particular the Chancellor’s u-turn on tax credits:

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: This is no time for division. It’s what the extremists want

The appropriate response to events in Paris is the subject of Nick Clegg’s Standard column this week.

With ominous predictability, populists from Nigel Farage to Marine Le Pen are already using the attacks to pursue their long-held ambitions — to turn countries inwards and away from each other.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: My family are up in arms over ham but I’m raging over sugar

Nick Clegg’s been on a bit of a journey on his views about sugar consumption. In an article for the Evening Standard last week, he outlined the dangers of consuming too much hidden sugar and said that he now favoured strong action to reduce our sugar consumption:

Now, finally, we are beginning to have a proper debate about what we can and should do about it. A recent report by Public Health England proposed a number of measures, as has the ever- compelling Jamie Oliver.

Reducing two-for-one deals, clamping down on advertising targeted at children, reining in the marketing of high-sugar food and drinks, reducing sugar content and portion sizes, and introducing a tax on sugary drinks and food have all been called for.

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Nick Clegg’s new book announced

If you were wondering what former Special Adviser Phil Reilly had been up to lately, he reveals all today on his blog,

Blimey O’Reilly

He’s been helping Nick Clegg write a book about the febrile nature of today’s politics. It’ll be published next year:

For the last few months I have had the privilege of helping Nick Clegg to prepare his upcoming book (hence the sporadic nature of these blogs), which has been formally announced by the publisher today. Politics: The Art of the Possible in an Age of Unreason will be published next year on The Bodley Head, an arm of Penguin Random House.

Nick has been clear from the start that he didn’t want to write a long-winded political memoir or a salacious kiss and tell. This is a serious book that uses his experience at the top and bottom of British politics, and his time in government in particular, to grapple with a big question: why has politics become so volatile and unpredictable? From Cleggmania and Corbynmania to the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, the unlikely has become the commonplace. From the SNP and UKIP at home to Syriza and Podemos abroad, populism and the politics of identity is on the rise. In Politics, Nick explores why that is and what the future holds, especially for those who believe in the politics of evidence, reason and compromise.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg – MI5 access to phone calls kept secret from most ministers

Nick Clegg Q&A 8Writing in The Guardian today, Nick Clegg claims that in 2010:

When a senior official took me aside and told me that the previous government had granted MI5 direct access to records of millions of phone calls made in the UK– a capability only a tiny handful of senior cabinet ministers knew about – I was astonished that such a powerful capability had not been declared either to the public or to parliament and insisted that its necessity should be reviewed.

That the existence of this previously top secret database was finally revealed in parliament by the home secretary on Wednesday, as part of a comprehensive new investigatory powers bill covering many other previously secret intelligence capabilities, speaks volumes about how far we’ve come in a few short years.

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Farron: Lib Dems will resist Snoopers’ Charter

GCHQ Bude by Paul WalterIt looks like the Tories’ Snoopers’ Charter to be unveiled this week will be the blinged-up version, with even more sweeping powers than they tried to introduce before. Tim Farron told the Independent that the Liberal Democrats would oppose it just like we did in Government:

Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat leader, signalled that he would be prepared to muster his 112-strong bloc of peers to oppose measures which undermined individual liberty. “We would use all parliamentary tools available to us to ensure any proposed legislation is properly scrutinised,” he told The Independent.

“Liberal Democrats will always support proportionate measures to increase our security, but we must not allow cornerstone civil liberties to be swept away. We will wait with interest to see the detail of the draft Bill, as the Tories have long argued for powers that are not targeted and not proportionate. We blocked the ‘snooper’s charter’ in government and would strongly resist any attempt to bring it back.

“It would be a dramatic shift in the relationship between the state and the individual and fundamentally strikes the wrong balance between liberty and security.”

Back in 2012, Nick Clegg almost agreed to this but after interventions, one by angry bloggers who understood the technicalities in a Conference call with a special adviser, he pulled back. Instead, a draft bill was tabled and subjected to scrutiny by a committee made-up of representatives from both Houses of Parliament, including our Julian Huppert. They rejected the plan and you can read their report here. They determined:

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: When it comes to the EU, we shouldn’t kid ourselves. All forms of “Out” are as bad as each other

Nick Clegg is doing a lot of writing at the moment. Today, he has an article in the Independent busting the myths put about by Leave the EU campaigners that it would all be fine if we left as we could just be like Iceland or Norway and enjoy the benefits of the single market.

Errr, no, actually, we couldn’t says Nick.

The Outers want us to believe we can have our cake and eat it, effortlessly freeing ourselves from the shackles of Brussels while continuing to trade on equal terms with our neighbours across the Channel.

And that last point is the most deceptive of all. There is no access to the single market without adherence to its rules and regulations.

Out campaigners respond by talking misleadingly of a ‘free trade deal’ with our European neighbours – but a free trade agreement is a very different thing to accessing the single market.

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“Missing the Lib Dems”

inewspaper24th oct2015From the letters page of the i newspaper yesterday:

After the election, one commentator remarked that history would treat the Liberal Democrats better than the electorate did.

Posted in News | 39 Comments

LibLink: Nick Clegg: The Tory assault on housing associations is another betrayal

Nick Clegg has a new regular Evening Standard column and in the latest edition, he talks about housing.

After a look at the history and importance of housing associations, Nick writes about how he and Danny Alexander secured assurances that housing associations would receive support to continue building more houses for rent. These assurances have now been trashed now the Tories have a majority:

Five years ago I dissuaded the Conservatives in Coalition from fiddling with social rents to cut the housing benefit bill because it would have had a disastrous effect on the ability of housing associations to raise the money

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LibLink Special: Nick Clegg’s El Pais article: “We are losing the war on drugs”

Earlier this month, Nick Clegg wrote for Spanish newspaper El Pais about the need to totally change the way we deal with drug use. Liberal Youth Scotland co-president Hannah Bettsworth, a final year Spanish student, has kindly translated it for us.

On 19th April next year, United Nations member states will hold a special session in New York to discuss the future of the world’s drugs policy. The starting pistol for government negotiations around the summit was fired last week, in a meeting at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna.

The last time an event of this importance was held, in 1998, the meeting was dominated by US Government strategy, which still consisted of the doomed ‘war on drugs’, thought up by Richard Nixon in 1971. (awkward sentence in English) The gathered member states, in a move we can today see as a false collective delusion, solemnly agreed to reach the goal of “a drug-free world in 2008.”

Of course, 2008 came around and nothing happened. Not only had production, supply and use of illicit drugs not been wiped from the Earth, trafficking continued to flourish and bring millions of dollars to organised crime. The well-intentioned efforts of law and order had had hardly any impact in the long term. Violence in origin and transit countries had skyrocketed (in Mexico alone, it is calculated that 100,000 people have died in the war on the cartels since 2006.) Around the world, millions of drug users are still hounded and incarcerated. This serves only to ruin lives – it has no deterrent effect.

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In video: Nick Clegg on Newsnight

In case you missed it, here’s Nick Clegg talking on last night’s Newsnight about the EU referendum. When asked whether hope or fear would win the day for the In campaign, he said that the simple fact was that it was in our national interest to be part of the EU.

He also said that he regretted sitting next to David Cameron at PMQs for five years, saying it looked like we were passive rather than architects of many aspects of the government’s programme.

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The UK and the EU have a chance to stand up for drug policy reform


Nick Clegg made a big announcement on Thursday 1st October that has as yet gone unreported on LDV – he’s going on a jolly around Europe. Well no, not quite. He’s actually going on a tour of the EU to try to convince its leaders to stand together on the subject of international drug policy reform. Nothing like a challenge, eh Nick? But this is a serious issue, and at an absolutely crucial time. In April next year, the UN General Assembly will be holding a Special Session (UNGASS) to debate how to approach global drug policy over the next ten years and beyond, at a point where different parts of the world are diverging ever more rapidly on the issue of how to tackle the problems associated with drug use.

If the EU stands together united at UNGASS in calling for certain reforms to the UN conventions, and I sincerely hope Nick succeeds with his mission and it does, it has a much greater chance of making a positive impact. But what reforms can the EU agree to stand on? At one end countries like France and Sweden do not endorse any kind of change to their (relatively) strict drug laws, whereas countries like the Netherlands and Portugal have lead the way on liberal, evidence-based drug reforms for years. In the middle we have countries moving both ways too, with both Germany and Italy making noises about reforming their cannabis policies, Ireland voicing its support for drug decriminalisation and supervised injecting rooms and the the UK… well the less said about that the better. In fact, it has been noted that the EU can be seen as a near-perfect experiment for comparing the efficacy of a spectrum of subtly varied drug policies on relatively similar populations.

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Video: Nick Clegg’s speech to conference

We previously carried the full text of Nick Clegg’s speech to the Bournemouth conference. Here below is the video of the speech, courtesy of the party’s conference YouTube channel.

I wasn’t in the hall for the speech.

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I agree with Nick, I have left too

I have just joined the Liberal Democrats. It has been a long time coming, but I finally did it. The final straw was the brilliant Nick Cohen’s piece in The Spectator titled “Why I’ve finally given up on the left”. I agree with Nick, I too have left; I have found my proper political home.

I used to vote Labour and I voted “Yes” in the AV Referendum in May 2011, I am a pro-European and I always identified as slightly centre-left. Then came 2015: the Conservative majority, the SNP landslide in my native Scotland, and the election of the hard left within the Labour Party.

I have always been a liberal, I realised recently. I have always been willing to listen to the most beyond-the-pale viewpoint out of a sense of tolerance. Freedom of speech is something fundamental and core to liberalism, something with which I have a strong affinity.

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IN FULL: Nick Clegg’s speech to conference

Clegg conference 2015Here is the speech Nick Clegg is currently delivering at conference:

On the morning after I resigned as Leader of our party in the wake of that devastating election result, I decided to buy… a phone.

Rather than moping at home I thought I’d cheer myself up by buying some new gadgets.

In any event, I half expected some grim faced official from the Home Office to turn up and demand my security vetted Blackberry back at any minute.

So, I figured, what better way to prepare for life out of Government than getting my own phone?

So off I went with my eldest boy, Antonio, to the nearest high street.

I was braced, as you can perhaps imagine, for lots of awkward sideways glances from other shoppers.

After all, we’d just been subject to a very public drubbing at the hands of the country’s voters.

Instead, something quite unexpected happened: person after person came up to me to say how sorry they were, how undeserved they thought the election result was, how unfairly they thought we’d been treated.

Posted in Conference | 12 Comments

LibLink: Nick Clegg: George Osborne’s Living Wage is a trick and workers have been betrayed

Very, very strong words from Nick Clegg this lunchtime in an article on the Standard. He talks about how the Liberal Democrats’ carefully constructed initiatives to help people into work and eliminate the poverty trap have been swept away by George Osborne.

He starts by outlining why he thinks work is so important:

Work is not just an economic necessity. It brings identity and self-reliance. It is a spur to ingenuity and a catalyst for growth. Work demands the learning of new skills. It sustains communities and nourishes families. Without work, society crumbles.

He goes on to say what the Liberal Democrats did to help people into work:

That is why seven years ago — shortly after I became leader of the Liberal Democrats — the party started arguing in favour of lifting the income tax personal allowance. It seemed a little technical at the time — harder to explain than headline-grabbing reductions in tax rates — but the aim was simple enough: working taxpayers, especially those on low pay, should keep more of the money they earn as an incentive to work.

It seemed indefensible at the time that the taxman was taking money off you the moment you earned £6,035. The rest, as they say, is history: the aim of lifting the tax allowance to £10,000 and beyond became the principal tax reform of the Coalition. It took millions of people on low pay out of paying income tax and proved to be so popular that the Conservatives now claim it was their idea all along.

He said he thought that that legacy of the coalition years would be safe, but was horrified at the budget:

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Nick Clegg joins Board of Social Mobility Foundation

Way back in 1998, Nick Clegg walked into a dingy room in Leicester to be interviewed as a potential European candidate for the East Midlands. I have to say I was not particularly optimistic about this. His CV was the most boring thing I had ever read that wasn’t a phone book. That’s not to decry his illustrious career to date, working at a high level in the European Commission and a brief stint as a journalist in New York. It just didn’t inspire.

However, he came in that night and blew us all away with his sheer passion for breaking down barriers for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. This has been the driving force of his political career and why in government he drove the Pupil Premium and nursery education for so many disadvantaged 2 year olds.

It’s no surprise, then that he’s joined the board of the Social Mobility Foundation, a charity that helps young people from disadvantaged backgrounds into universities and into professions like the law, medicine and business.  He joins the likes of former Labour Cabinet Minister Hazel Blears and former Chair of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission Trevor Phillips on the Board.

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David Laws peerage “blocked” – plus new Liberal Democrat House of Lords members speculation

David Laws speaking at Lib Dem Spring conference, Liverpool 2008

The Times (£) reports that former Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has nominated former Yeovil MP, David Laws, for elevation to the House of Lords. However, it adds:

His nomination for a peerage was blocked by the House of Lords Appointments Commission, chaired by an independent peer, Lord Kakkar.

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An open letter to Nick Clegg


Dear Nick

I delayed writing this letter until the leadership election was past, so it didn’t get lost in that campaign, but want to write to thank you for your rich contribution to the Liberal Democrats.

We owe you a great deal, not least for the wisdom, statesmanship and tenacity you have shown. It is a tribute to you and the colleagues who you led that you stepped into ministerial roles with a naturalness and fluency that belied the fact that we had not formed a majority government in living memory. It is a tribute to you personally that you withstood so many brickbats from so many quarters with such dignity.

Posted in Op-eds | 121 Comments

On Farron’s lurch to the left…

If you read some commentators, you’d think that in less than a week of leadership, Tim Farron had virtually turned us all into revolutionary socialists.

Matt Dahan wrote a story for the Independent which suggested that Nick Clegg would be “shaking his head” in “uncomfortable dismay” at Tim Farron’s bid to “form a Lib/Lab pact” to oppose welfare cuts.

The former deputy prime minister has been left sitting on the backbenches in the House of Commons, where he is forced to choose between toeing the party line or causing what would be a major rebellion in a party of just eight MPs.

It seems Mr Farron is leading the Lib Dems further to the left than Labour, even sending a letter to interim Labour leader Harriet Harman telling her to form a Lib-Lab alliance to fight the Government’s spending cuts.

Except Tim’s stance on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill is entirely consistent with the stance Nick Clegg took in Government. He stopped all this nonsense about taking Housing Benefit off young people and limiting tax credits to two children and further reducing the benefits cap. If Tim had supported them, it would have been a massive story.

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Nick Clegg on life as a constituency MP

Nick Clegg has been spending a lot of time in his constituency recently. He was there regularly as Deputy Prime Minister, but now he unconstrained by office, he can afford to get up there during the week. He spoke to the Star:

The ‘trappings of power’ have gone, with a security team reduced, the ministerial Blackberry returned and fewer staff – it is a big change from striding along the corridors of power in Whitehall to campaigning on tree felling in Sheffield.

As it happens I’m really enjoying having more time to work in the constituency again,” insists Mr Clegg.

When the Conservatives and SNP argued each other to a standstill on fox hunting, I was able to jump on a train and went straight to the leaving party of a headteacher at Dore Primary School – I would never have been able to do that before.

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Nick Clegg’s first interview since the election

Nick Clegg was interviewed by Andrew Marr on the Sunday Politics show yesterday. Amongst other things he discusses how PR could be a condition of any further coalition.

Posted in News | 20 Comments

Dangling on a rope, pulling pints, catching the tube – photos of Nick Clegg by the party’s official photographer

nick clegg with diver 17th April 2015 Photo by James Gourley from Liberal Democrats CCL Flickr photostream
James Gourley worked for Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats as our official photographer until May.

He’s put up some super photos on this blog post.

Nick is seen at Go Ape where he famously went during the election, on the campaign bus, behind the scenes at Conference, sitting on the Government benches in the House of Commons, feeding a sea lion, waiting to catch a tube. He was even smiling when he was doing that!

You can see him delivering leaflets, blowing up balloons, rehearsing his speech for conference and much more.

The photos capture the mood of the moments beautifully and are well worth a look.

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Video: Nick Clegg’s interview on LBC

Nick Clegg was interviewed on LBC this morning. Some highlights:

  • He had no idea what was coming. He thought that 20 seats would have been a bad result:
  • He was blindsided by the exit poll and first thing he did was have a cigarette
  • He doesn’t regret for one millisecond going into government
  • Labour in Sheffield laughed and cheered when Vince Cable lost his seat
  • He’s immensely proud at stats showing narrowing of attainment gap because of pupil premium
  • He put defeat solely down to Tory scaremongering about SNP and SNP surge in Scotland
  • Public have been “really generous” to him since election result
  • Predictably, he didn’t back anyone for leader, saying we have two brilliant candidates
  • He wants to serve his constituents and support the new leader
  • There was a horrible phone call from someone asking about his personal security and insinuating he didn’t look after Charles Kennedy enough. Nick gave him really short shrift, quite deservedly.
  • A call from a new member, who had actually voted Tory as a tactical vote and was horrified at the result so joined Lib Dems 2 days later
  • He said make-up of Parliament was “dotty” but Labour and Tories would block any attempt to reform it unless they were forced into it
  • He wants to speak out on civil liberties (and will be opposing Snoopers’ Charter in Commons today), EU and mental health

Here’s the video. Enjoy.

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Nick Clegg back on LBC at 9am today

For over two years, Nick Clegg owned that Thursday morning 9 am slot on LBC as he spent half an hour taking calls from the public, It was a brave thing to do and he did it really well.

This morning, he’s back there in what’s billed as his first major interview since the election.

You can watch it here and we’ll certainly be discussing it later.

What are his plans? Will he get involved in the EU referendum campaign? And he ‘s bound to be asked, as the ballot papers hit members’ doorsteps, what he thinks of the leadership contest. Don’t expect him to endorse anyone, though.

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Guardian revelations about Clegg, Cable and the Lib Dem election catastrophe

Well, as the ballot papers get sent out in the leadership election, the Guardian publishes a series of revelations tonight about the last year of the coalition and the aftermath of the European elections.

Apparently Nick Clegg was ready to resign in the wake of the European elections and was talked out of it by, among others, Paddy Ashdown and Tim Farron. Certainly at the time, the feedback that Federal Executive members gave at our post Euro disaster meeting was that there was no appetite in the wider party for a leadership election, but they did want things to change.

Vince Cable, it transpires, did know about the Oakeshott polls.

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In full: Lib Dem MPs’ Commons tributes to Kennedy

We’ve already posted the video of the tributes to Charles Kennedy from the Commons on Wednesday and we’ve also posted Nick’s in full. We thought it might be useful to put the text of all five of the Lib Dem tributes, including Nick’s, in one post for ease of reference and posterity. They all did Charles proud. Greg and Mark talked about the way he really connected with ordinary people and about his concern for others. Norman spoke about his unfailing courtesy in his dealings with people, highlighting the need to tackle the stigma around mental ill health and emphasising Charles’ passions for internationalism and social justice. Tim’s emotional tribute spoke about Charles the persuader, how he could change minds and really tug on the heartstrings. Nick’s was just beautiful, and I particularly liked the memory he shared about their fly smoke outside the National Liberal Club where they discussed the Coalition. In years to come, I hope that Charles’ son and those who were close to him find great comfort and pride. To be universally admired in our tribal politics takes some doing.

I guess I should advise that if you are going to read all five of them in one sitting, you will need a cup of tea and a box of tissues.

So, here they all are, starting with:

Greg Mulholland

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In full: Nick Clegg’s Commons tribute to Charles Kennedy

Nick Clegg gave this tribute to Charles Kennedy in the Commons today:

A few days ago I got in touch with Charles because I was looking for a telephone number of someone we both knew.

His friends will not be surprised to learn that we were texting each other. He was notoriously bad at answering his phone but famously fluent by SMS.

He said he didn’t have the number on him – but he would get back to me this week – because he was spending time with his beloved son, Donald, during his half term break.

While we all remember Charles as a formidable parliamentarian and a much-loved politician, it is worth remembering that he retained his greatest pride and devotion for his family. He lived next door to his parents and latterly his brother in his grandfather’s croft house near Fort William and cared for them through sickness and old age.

Much though he was wedded to politics all his life, I think Charles would have wanted to be remembered as a kind and loving father, brother and son first; and an accomplished politician second.

And my thoughts and condolences are with all his family and friends today.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

The Liberals Putin can’t bear to have in Russia

I was very amused by this tweet from former Liberal Democrat MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber Edward McMillan-Scott.

If you look at the list, you’ll see that Edward, who was a powerful voice for human rights in the European Parliament, is viewed as more dangerous than Sir Malcolm Rifkind who was chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee. Edward is at 45 and Rifkind is 16 places further down at 61. It shows off your values when you are more horrified by people who want your citizens to have rights than someone who’s scrutinising the people who might be spying on you.

Edward is not the only dangerous liberal on that list, though:

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In full: Nick Clegg responds to the Queen’s Speech

The Liberal Democrats worked hard to ensure that the coalition government’s agenda had a clear thread of liberalism running through it – from the priority we gave to mental health and the green agenda, to creating the pupil premium and protecting our civil liberties.

So it is dispiriting – if pretty unsurprising – to see how quickly, instead of building on those achievements, the new Conservative Government is turning its back on that liberal stance.

The human rights we hold dear, our right to privacy in an online age, our future as an open-minded, outward-looking country, are all hanging in the balance again because of the measures announced today.

It is clear, too, that the previous Government’s commitment to fairness is also weakened.

There was little in today’s speech to help the poorest and the most vulnerable; not enough to improve social care; and no plan to build the Garden cities and 300,000 new homes a year our young people need for the future.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 24 Comments

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