Tag Archives: shirley williams

Shirley Williams’ impression of Donald Trump

This little gem is from last Friday’s PM on Radio 4 and probably means that my licence fee has been well worth it for these 90 seconds of Shirley wit alone. Enjoy:


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Shirley Williams makes her final speech in the Lords

I was out and about yesterday and ended up being marooned in Glasgow and not getting home till late so I missed Shirley’s final speech in the House of Lords. She has been a giant of common sense and wisdom and one of my political heroes from the moment I first realised politics was a thing. This is a speech that you have to watch as well as read for all sorts of reasons, the interaction with David Steel being one, so thank goodness the BBC have provided an embeddable version.

She talks about the great institutions of the BBC, the NHS and the EU and how important they are to our national life. Two of them didn’t even exist when she was born.

Heaven knows she deserves her retirement at 85 and we all wish her well, but we are so going to miss her regular contributions to the Lords. However, it looks like she will be campaigning in the EU Referendum, which is great news as her contributions were one of the very few high spots of the Scottish Referendum on independence.

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Dick Newby writes….Limehouse at 35

2016-01-20 13.51.09

35 years on from the Limehouse Declaration and the launch of the SDP it’s easy to see the similarities. We have a Labour Party with a very left wing leader pushing ideologically driven policies and zero prospect of winning the next election. And we have a Conservative Party which is pursuing harsh economic policies at home and is split down the middle over the UK’s relationship with the EU.

But if there are similarities with 1981 there are even more differences. Britain is now a very different place socially and economically. It is much more ethnically diverse, particularly in the large cities. It is far less deferential and far fewer people have a strong party loyalty. It is also much more affluent – the average household is now earns twice as much as it did in 1981 – and unemployment and inflation are both much lower.

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Shirley Williams to retire from the Lords, 51 years after she was first elected as an MP

Shirley WilliamsThere are few people who have inspired me more than Shirley Williams. In 1981, 14 year old Caron watched her talk about scaling unscaleable heights and just taking opportunities when they present themselves. That was before she put herself up to stand in a by-election in a seat with a whacking great Tory majority. She won, of course, in Crosby in 1981.

Today, it’s been announced that she is retiring from the House of Lords. We certainly can’t grudge her her retirement.She’s 85 years old, after all, and she’s still been a thoughtful and powerful presence in the Chamber.

Tonight, Tim Farron will speak at an event to honour her 51 years of public service. She was first elected as an MP in 1964.

The party is going to miss her so much. Conference still loves her. This September, she was very influential in persuading Conference to back the leadership’s proposal for yet another fudge on nuclear weapons and did so in a much more conciliatory, thoughtful and wise way than some in the debate.

I will never forget the day she came to Dunfermline during the independence referendum. She could fairly draw a crowd, and even people from the Yes campaign were coming over to talk to her. At one point she held the hand of one woman who expressed her disappointment with the coalition. It was a moment of togetherness in a divisive campaign.

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LibLink: Shirley Williams tells George Osborne that he has 10 days to save the NHS

 

Writing in the Guardian, Shirley Williams picks up the baton passed on by Nigel Crisp, the former chief executive of the NHS, who four years ago wrote about his experiences in his book 24 Hours to Save the NHS.

Shirley explains that many of the financial woes in the NHS have been inherited from past schemes:

For example, the number of funded places for young men and women training in this country as nurses was cut by 12% – 2,500 places – in 2012. The consequent shortage of newly qualified nurses has been filled by people recruited by employment agencies. The cost of agency staff is one of the main reasons for overspending by NHS trusts. In 2014/15, agency staff cost the NHS £1,770m, a year-on-year increase of 29%.

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LibLink: Shirley Williams: American democracy is up for sale and it’s a warning to us all

Shirley Williams has been writing for the Independent about the pernicious influence of big money in politics in the US. She writes about the huge amounts of money being poured into Republican campaigns, how this clearly gives them advantages in access to the voters through the media. More worryingly, she outlines what appears to be a strategic approach of using the courts to abolish funding limits and of gerrymandering congressional districts to again give themselves an advantage at the expense of others.

She gives a very stark warning about why this is a bad thing. We need to think that we have a realistic chance of getting rid of our government if we don’t like them. A politics where you have to have the backing of the stinking rich to succeed is not exactly likely to benefit all and will lead to disillusionment:

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Shirley Williams highlights SNP’s failings in government

SCaron and Shirleyhirley Williams has written to the Times (£) to highlight that the SNP has not been as successful in government as it would like people to believe. She highlights failures on student debt, class sizes, the NHS and, importantly for anyone of a liberal mindset, its many failings on civil liberties.Here’s her letter:

The election campaign in the United Kingdom has been seriously impoverished by the absence of any detailed analysis south of the border of the SNP’s record in government.

Today the Scottish NHS is in crisis, with targets for cancer treatments not being met. More than 1,000 beds have been closed in Scottish hospitals since 2012. Last year, expenditure on the NHS in Scotland fell by 1.2 per cent while in England it rose by 4.4 per cent. Expenditure on training nurses and midwives in Scotland has been cut by 11 per cent.

In education, the SNP pledged to limit primary school class sizes to a maximum of 18 — a pledge it made when it first came into government in 2007. In fact, class sizes have risen in every year since 2010.

University students have been saddled with greater debt because they have to start repaying their loans once their incomes reach £16,500, while the figure in England is now £21,000. Worst of all, part-time college places have been cut by 130,000 — a travesty at a time when the UK needs skilled women and men to get the economy back on track. The SNP has not even met its unambitious target to build 6,000 affordable homes, despite the obvious need.

Additionally, the SNP’s troubling record on civil liberties has been further extended by its efforts to build an identity database based on NHS records. Its creation of a single national police force has been to the detriment of local policing and communities they serve; Highlanders have been aghast at the sight of armed police undertaking routine duties on their streets. It is a bigger insult that local communities’ calls to reverse the policy were ignored.

The SNP now seeks to present itself as a party with a strong interest in the future of the UK. Its own record makes that very hard to believe.

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