Tag Archives: tom brake

LibLink: Tom Brake – The Human Rights Act

Over at the party website, Tom Brake has been writing about the importance of the Human Rights Act. The Tories may have apparently watered down planned action to repeal it but they are absolutely desperate to do so. The last thing we should be doing is letting up our campaign to convince the public about the need for the protections the ECHR and Human Rights Act provide.

He outlines some of the people who have been helped by the HRA.

Take for example, 90-year-olds Richard and Beryl Driscoll. They lived together for more than 65 years until, in 2006, he was moved into a residential care home.

He could not walk unaided and she was blind. She relied on her husband as her eyes and he relied on her for his mobility.

They wanted to remain together but the council said it wasn’t possible to accommodate them in the same nursing home.

But thanks to a campaign that argued their treatment breached their human rights – specifically their right to a family life – the council were forced to back down and they were reunited.

It’s difficult to believe that, without the protection afforded to them by the HRA, there would have been a happy ending.

The same is true in Europe too. Up until 2004, it was possible for two gay men to be prosecuted for having sex if one was aged 16 or 17, even though it was legal for heterosexual couples.

This blatant unfairness was only removed as a result of an ECHR ruling, one the right to a private life, a clause that causes heartless Tories such distress.

And, in 2002, a male-to-female transsexual – asked Strasbourg to determine whether there had been a violation of her right to respect and family life.

Why? Because Britain did not legally recognise her changed gender and did not let her marry. Her victory was a huge step forward in the battle for trans-equality in this country.

Our current human rights legislation has also blocked blanket interception of private messages by the state, protected our right to a fair trial and prevented indiscriminate police stop-and-search.

You can read the whole article here.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 6 Comments

Tributes to Sutton’s Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader, Colin Hall

We’ve heard the sad news that Cllr Colin Hall, the Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader of Sutton Borough Council, died last week after a short illness. He was only 53.

Tributes have been paid to him on the Sutton Liberal Democrat website. Go below the cut to read a beautifully crafted and heartfelt obituary by his old friend Ed Fordham.

Council leader Ruth Dombey said:

Colin was a wonderful colleague and a good friend. He was passionate about the borough and dedicated to his work as a councillor.

His particular interest was the environment and how to make Sutton a more sustainable place to live. He was highly respected across London for his knowledge and experience and tributes are flowing in from people who admired his work.

He was kind and generous and always ready to help and guide others.  Colin’s wife and three children are overwhelmed by depth and warmth of the huge number of tributes they have received.

He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Tom Brake MP said:

It was very clear that he was totally committed to Sutton and he had a particular commitment and interest in environmental issues. His passing will be a great loss to Sutton and my thoughts are with his family at this very difficult time.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 4 Comments

Sal Brinton on how Liberal Democrats helped change law on revenge porn

Sal BrintonIf you have half an hour today, make sure you listen to the Week in Westminster, available here on iPlayer.

In it, Tom Brake debates the merits of fixed term Parliaments. The Tory argument against them seems to be more based in self interest and “we are sick fed up of the coalition and these pesky Liberal Democrats” than anything that actually matters.

Sal Brinton is also on talking about revenge porn which was made illegal in moves driven by Liberal Democrats including Sal, Olly Grender, Jonathan Marks and Liz Barker. Presenter Helen Lewis had initially said that the move was part of Chris Grayling’s move to combat internet abuse. Sal put her right, explaining that the impetus actually came from Liberal Democrats on the back of Hannah Thompson’s campaign. She was very diplomatic about the process of getting Government support for the move. You’ll have to listen to see how, in the last few minutes of the programme.

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

Liberal Democrat Voice Awards: The Shortlists (1): The Tim Garden Award

The Liberal Democrat Voice Awards are only a week away. At 10 pm on Saturday 14 September, in Castle 2 of the Crowne Plaza, with cash bar on hand, and an imaginative dress code, the best in blogging, campaigning, social media and politics in general will be feted in a ceremony filled with razzmatazz, glitz and glamour.

In years past, all the shortlists have been released at once. That’s because the Divine Ms Duffett is kind to you. I on the other hand, am happy to mess with your heads a bit more. So, in the style of the announcement of …

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

The Independent View: Concerns about lobbying bill are not alarmist

So the pot has addressed the kettle again. Tom Brake and Chloe Smith have accused 38 Degrees of being either alarmist or scaremongering about the effects of Part 2 of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill. Perhaps they would like to add the  famously hysterical Electoral Commission to their list of doom-mongers, as they have also expressed serious concerns.

Mr Brake and Ms Smith claim that Part 2 will save the UK from unaccountable big-spending American-style Super-PACs. No alarmism there, then – especially when the only thing preventing this horror is that non-party spending …

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

The Independent View: It’s not alarmist to raise concerns about government plans for non-party campaigning

The government ministers leading on the transparency of lobbying, non-party campaigning and trade union administration bill need to make their minds up. Last week, the newspapers were briefed that the government was “open to changes” to the bill following severe criticism from senior charities. This week, Tom Brake and Chloe Smith are lining up to attack 38 Degrees for “scaremongering” over the bill. So what is the truth?

Unlock Democracy has campaigned for several years now for the introduction of a statutory lobbying register and so has taken a keen interest in this bill. Our

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged and | 11 Comments

Marginal gains

Silver bullet - some rights reserved by eschipulToo often people come into political campaigning searching for a silver bullet which will revolutionise their candidacy and transform the electorate into ardent fans overnight. It’s the most common mistake of first time candidates. Those of us who have already spent decades stuffing letterboxes know that a quick fix doesn’t exist.

That isn’t to say there aren’t campaign game-changers – the advent of television or how some candidates have harnessed the internet, but in truth they are few and far between. Instead candidates and campaigns

Posted in Campaign Corner | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

Conference calls for our parliamentarians to reject Secret Courts

At most conferences there is at least one debate which proves how different we are from the other main parties. Different because we entrust Conference to decide party policy, in open debate, even where that may be at odds with the views of our parliamentarians.

Today’s debate on the ‘Secret Courts’ motion was a good example. The full title was F41: No Government Above the Law – The Justice and Security Bill.

This motion, submitted by two local parties, called on the Coalition to withdraw Part II of the Justice and Security Bill, which would empower Ministers to allow civil hearings …

Posted in Conference | Also tagged , , , , , , , , and | 5 Comments

Transfer deadline day: Laws, Brake, Foster & Swinson in, Burstow, Teather, Harvey & Stunell out, Clarke loan finishes

I love reshuffle days, they’re just like transfer deadline day. You sit there at your office computer pretending to work while secretly updating the Guardian live blog to see who your side has brought in and let go.

So, have we strengthened the side for the second half of the season or left gaping holes in our defence?

Well, we have managed to hold on to all our big players – Cable, Alexander, Davey and Moore – and, despite losing his place to Alexander after his suspension early in the season, we now have a fighting fit Laws back and ready …

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

Reshuffle thoughts: how does it score against my four criteria?

Ahead of the reshuffle, I posted four criteria against which the Liberal Democrat part of the shuffling should be judged. Now nearly all the details are in, how does it look?

 

Most importantly, have people been put in jobs they’ve got a decent chance of doing well? It’s hard enough being a minister in the smaller party in a coalition government without having lots of people thrown into policy areas they are completely new to.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , and | 18 Comments

Tom Brake MP writes… Politics is a profession of unrelenting pace

In politics, no sooner have you seen off one challenge, than another appears on the horizon. At least the triathlon I completed had a clearly defined finish line. Yet, in politics, no sooner has one election ended, than you have to refocus on the next.

As a result, it’s hard to find time to sit down and take stock. But during this recess, I’ve set myself the challenge of putting some time aside to refocus on the last election and look at the detail behind the detail.

I’ve spent election after election trying to learn the lessons of what went wrong. I’ve …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 4 Comments

The graph which shows how many Tory, Labour and LibDem voters support House of Lords reform

The London Evening Standard reported this week a new poll under the headline Even Lib-Dems say Lords reform is not a priority. Buried two-thirds of the way down, however, was this interesting data:

Posted in News and Polls | Also tagged , and | 18 Comments

Opinion: Conference votes again on access to justice, Parliamentarians should follow

For the third Party conference in a row, Liberal Democrats  voted for a policy motion covering legal aid and access to justice directly contrary to the Government’s legal aid reforms – in the Legal Aid, Sentencing Punishment of Offenders Bill (LASPO) – reaching their final stages in Parliament. Gateshead conference voted to ensure that “the scope of civil legal aid covers appropriate legal help and assistance in categories of law where the issues raised are of substantial importance.. and which cannot be settled by alternative dispute resolution” but night after night I see our Peers voting to remove category after …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 4 Comments

In praise of… Tom Brake

Before I was winning chocolate at the weekend, I was campaigning in Croydon and Sutton as part of the excellent Action Day organised by George Kendall and others. It is no secret that the reason Liberal Democrats from across London are now paying rather more attention to Croydon than before is because significant parts of it may be moved into Tom Brake’s constituency.

It is typical of Tom that in amongst all the heat and rhetoric of the Parliamentary boundary review process, he has been quietly getting on with thinking ahead and acting. Rather than just abstractly debating what his constituency boundaries might be, he and the Sutton team (including the excellent Ruth Dombey) have started working with colleagues in Croydon to build up the strength of the party there.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 4 Comments

Tom Brake writes… Free food and invigorating campaigning in Carshalton and Wallington

Following the boundary review, the current seat of Carshalton and Wallington will cease to exist, and will be replaced by two separate constituencies, Croydon Central & St Helier and Purley & Carshalton.

Last year we celebrated 25 years of political control of Sutton Council and these changes provide us with an opportunity to work with Croydon Lib Dems to spread the Lib Dem message into their borough. It is vital that we start to build up our presence and activity early in these new areas if we’re to win these seats in 2015. The run up to this year’s London elections …

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | 1 Comment

The Independent View: And then there was one… (Unmasked! The only backbench Lib Dem MP 100% loyal to the Coalition)

When a quarter of the parliamentary Conservative party rebels, everyone sits up and takes notice. On 24 October, 2011, 81 Conservative MPs defied a three-line whip to vote in favour of an EU referendum: cue a blaze of negative publicity for David Cameron and the Tory party whips.

But a week or so later one-quarter of Lib Dem MPs rebelled, and (almost) no one noticed. In nine separate votes on 1 and 2 November, a total of 14 Lib Dem MPs voted against various aspects of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill. The largest …

Posted in News, Parliament and The Independent View | Also tagged , , , , , and | 13 Comments

Opinion: Criminalising squatting

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offender Bill has returned to the House of Commons this week. The problems with the Government’s proposed Legal Aid reforms have been apparent for a while. Some people will see their access to justice seriously curtailed, while the courts are likely to silt up with inexpert litigants-in-person. The chances of any money being saved – when considered in the round – are limited. In this context it is good to see reports that Liberal Democrat MPs Tom Brake and Mike Crockart are tabling amendments to seek to address some of the most …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 4 Comments

PMQs: Nadine Dorries asks question. No-one dies.

Today was the fiftieth anniversary of Prime Minister’s Questions. And it was a fairly typical session. As always, it was in two parts.

Part one: Lots of jeering, cheering, knockabout, winding-up and prepared lines exchanged between the PM and opposition leader.

Part Two: Generally hum-drum but important questions from various back-benchers, largely heard in earnest silence.

The bit that most people will see will be the short bit on the telly, which will be a few seconds of ya-boo politics. In itself, that is a good piece of democracy in that it highlights the weaknesses of the government and the opposition. The longer …

Posted in Europe / International and PMQs | Also tagged , , , , and | 5 Comments

Opinion: Lib Dems need to wake up to drastic implications of legal aid cuts

Lib Dem Voice last week featured a brief post on the Coalition’s plans for legal aid reform. But this is an important change that’s been passed with barely a murmur from any Lib Dem MPs, when in fact it strikes at a principle at the heart of the party – civil liberties.

The bill in which this change is contained, the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, is currently making its way through the House of Commons. For something that will have fairly drastic effects on many people’s access to justice there has been relatively little talk …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 11 Comments

LibDem Conference passes drugs motion

From a party press release:

Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference passed Protecting Individuals and Communities from Drug Harms, which calls for an independent panel to review current drug laws.

Commenting, Co-Chair of the Home Affairs Parliamentary Party Committee, Tom Brake MP said:

“Drugs can have a devastating impact on individuals and families and can fuel organised crime. Evidence shows that our current drug policy is costly, ineffective and it is the poor and marginalised who suffer most.

“Today, Liberal Democrats reaffirmed our support for an evidenced based drugs policy, calling for an independent panel to review current drug laws.

“We want to ensure the Government …

Posted in Conference and News | Also tagged | 6 Comments

A little problem with police procurement…

From Tom Brake on Twitter:

 

Posted in News | 5 Comments

LibLink | Tom Brake MP: Yes, we are bringing an end to the detention of child refugees

One of the Lib Dems’ key 2010 election manifesto pledges was that child detention in immigration centres would be ended. A year after Tom Brake MP welcomed this Lib Dem policy being adopted by the Coalition government, he has written for The Guardian to highlight how the policy is improving the lives of those young and innocent victims who were treated so disgracefully by the Labour government:

The current practices with regard to children awaiting deportation cannot be – and should not be – in any way compared to the shameful past. Children are no longer held for weeks,

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 1 Comment

Opinion: Access to justice – why Liberal Democrats should not sit on the sidelines

Next week the Government will announce legislation to reform legal aid, following a Green Paper published last November to which the Ministry of Justice received an unprecedented 5,000 responses. Whilst “legal aid reform” was in the Coalition Agreement, the scale of proposed changes has taken many aback – in order to cut the legal aid budget by £350million, Justice Ministers propose taking whole categories of law related problems out legal aid entitlement – housing and debt problems, welfare benefit issues, employment law issues, immigration cases, consumer law problems, education cases and private family law issues (eg divorce and …

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

Two wins for the Lib Dems in government: human trafficking and visas

Two pieces of good news today where a combination of Liberal Democrat and some Conservatives in government have won out over the right of the Conservative Party.

First up, human trafficking – where the opposition of Conservative Euro-sceptics to Britain opting in to the new EU directive has been overcome. Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Committee on Home Affairs, Justice and Equality, Tom Brake said:

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 5 Comments

Freedoms Bill published: now you can marry at 6:01pm

Earlier today, the Protection of Freedoms Bill was published which, in the words of Lib Dem MP Tom Brake, “brings to fruition proposals which were first drawn up by Nick Clegg four years ago, and demonstrates our commitment to rolling back unnecessary and intrusive laws introduced by Labour”.

Key provisions of the Bill include the enactment of some previously announced decisions alongside some new, additional proposals:

  • an end to the routine monitoring of 9.3 million people under the radically reformed vetting and barring scheme
  • millions of householders protected from town hall snoopers checking their bins or school catchment area
  • the scrapping of Section 44

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 38 Comments

Liberal Democrat responses to anti-terrorism legislation review

Here’s a round-up of responses from Liberal Democrat figures and blogs:

Tom Brake MP (Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Committee on Home Affairs and Justice)

Sanity and justice have been restored to British life.

Today is a victory for those who have campaigned to restore the historic freedoms that Labour spent 13 years destroying.

Control orders are gone, 28 days detention without charge is gone, indiscriminate stop and search is gone and the abuse of anti-terror powers by councils to pursue petty offences is over.

There will always be a balance to be struck between freedom and security and these proposals

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , and | 10 Comments

ID cards to be scrapped at midnight tonight

From midnight tonight, ID cards may no longer be used to prove identity or to travel in Europe.

The documents are to be scrapped by the government under the Identity Documents Act 2010.

Tom Brake MP, Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Policy Committee on Home Affairs, Justice and Equalities told Lib Dem Voice,

After yesterday’s annoucement of the cut from 28 to 14 days pre-charge detention, this is the second really big step in restoring the balance between civil liberties and security concerns.

This delivers yet another Lib Dem commitment in Government.

All personal information supplied during the process of applying for an …

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 8 Comments

Detention without charge to be cut from 28-days to 14-days

It’s long been a Liberal Democrat demand, and it was in the party’s 2010 manifesto, so good news that detention without charge is set to fall back to 14-days. The current 28-days limit expires on Monday and today the government has confirmed that it will not be trying to renew the limit. The 28-day increase was brought in by the then Labour government in 2006.

The BBC adds:

Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake, who campaigned to reinstate the 14-day limit, said the move would speed up the justice system. “If the time frame is longer I’m afraid that there is less

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 17 Comments

The Royal Family, freedom of information and the rest of the story

At the weekend The Independent ran a piece very critical of the Liberal Democrats in government:

The Royal Family is to be granted absolute protection from public scrutiny in a controversial legal reform designed to draw a veil of secrecy over the affairs of the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William.

Letters, emails and documents relating to the monarch, her heir and the second in line to the throne will no longer be disclosed even if they are in the public interest…

The decision to push through the changes also raises questions about the sincerity of the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to government transparency.

And …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 14 Comments

Ending detention of children for immigration purposes: details and dates published

Today (as predicted) Nick Clegg is announcing the details of how the government will end detention of children for immigration purposes.

Since the government review started on 1 June, the number in detention has dropped sharply – 78 compared to 594 in the same period under Labour in 2009. Now the government is committed both to ensuring that no children are in detention over Christmas and that the policy is completely abolished by May. As previously announced, the family wing at Yarl’s Wood being shut. (More details here.)

Tom Brake (Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Committee on Home Affairs …

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 52 Comments
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