Tag Archives: vince cable

Liberal Democrats for Free Trade

Vince Cable at Social Liberal Forum conference 19th July 2014 - photo by Paul Walter

In my view, trade benefits all countries. It spreads technology and good practice; it stimulates competition and rejuvenates economies.

Vince Cable, less than six months after being appointed Business Secretary, said that back in 2010 as he welcomed the EU-South Korea trade agreement.

Liberal Democrats should loud and proud make the case for Free Trade.

It ought to be inconceivable that we have to have this argument again.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 69 Comments

GCHQ apologises to gay people

 

The boss of GCHQ has apologised for banning gay people from working for the organisation right up until the 90s. Robert Hannigan was speaking at a conference run by Stonewall, when he referred to a spy called Ian who was sacked in the 1960s for being gay.

After seven years of exemplary service, with very strong prospects for the future, he was interrogated on suspicion of being homosexual, he was summarily dismissed and escorted out of the building. He got no support from anyone in authority at all, even his union, and no-one ever followed up to check on his well-being or to show any compassion. Not surprisingly, his health suffered and the psychological effects of that humiliation were long-lasting.

… Their suffering was our loss and it was the nation’s loss too because we cannot know what Ian and others who were dismissed would have gone on to do and achieve.

Whenever a group of people are excluded from areas of employment and expertise for reasons that have nothing to do with their competence, then we have to ask what could have been achieved if they had been included in the pool of talent. There is always the question about ‘what might have been’ if the organisation had been completely free to choose the best candidates for a job.

What caught my eye, though, were the references to Alan Turing in Hannigan’s speech:

But in our building he is revered as a genius, as a problem-solver who was not afraid to think differently and radically – an example to others. And in the horrifying story of his treatment, a small ray of light is that he was not abandoned by all of his colleagues at GCHQ – many stood by him and our then Head of Cryptanalysis – chief code breaker – testified at his trial.

… We did not learn our lesson from Turing.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 6 Comments

LibLink: Vince Cable makes the case for TTIP and free trade

Vince Cable, who was involved in negotiations over the proposed EU-US trade deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, in his role as business secretary, has been writing about the issue, and that of free trade more generally.

Vince first summarises the rationale for TTIP:

The European Commission has prioritised a bilateral agreement with the USA: TTIP, which is proving a source of unexpected controversy, although negotiations are still at an early stage. The underlying objective is to apply, on a transatlantic basis, the same approach that helped to create the EU Single Market. Since, as within the EU, tariffs and quotas are no longer a major issue the emphasis has been on preventing differences in standards, mainly technical, acting as a barrier to trade. There are, for example, different specifications for seatbelt design and testing that make it difficult to export in both directions. In effect, a different production line is required to sell into the USA, which can be prohibitive, especially for low volume manufacturers.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 41 Comments

Tim Farron on tax: “We must not miss this opportunity to change the system”

Tim Farron by Paul WalterTim Farron has written a note about tax on his Facebook page. As party leaders publish their tax returns, (including Willie Rennie, that’s 5 minutes of your life you won’t get back if you choose to read this unremarkable document), he says that it’s actually the system you need to change. He’ll publish his in the next few days, but that is not really the point. Here are his comments in full:

The politics of envy helps no-one, but trust in politics does.

I have no desire to poke around in the Prime Minister’s private wealth, and definitely have no desire to force him to relive the pain of losing his father, having to confront that time all over again through the pages of national newspapers.

It is absolutely essential that British people have full confidence in our leaders, and that when decisions are made and Budgets are written there is not even a slightest hint of a conflict of interest or personal gain. But we are now in a position where people no longer have complete faith in this Government’s decisions.

Trust in politics and our ability to get things done is taking another hammering. It’s an poor indictment of our political system that the demand is now so great for the public to see politicians’ tax affairs. Are we now in a world where there is an assumption that a politician is doing wrong, or is playing the system?

Posted in LibLink and News | Also tagged , , and | 17 Comments

Is it Game Over for Cameron?

A few years ago, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives had to resign effectively because he’d taken a few taxi journeys that he shouldn’t on parliamentary expenses. This was the result of the much stronger freedom of information rules in Scotland and was part of our own expenses scandal in 2005.

If those are the standards which merit resignation, David Cameron should perhaps have been a little more careful over the statements he made earlier in the week over his personal financial dealings. He might have told us that he didn’t have any shares now, but holding back the information that he had held shares in his father’s offshore trust for 13 years before selling them just before he became Prime Minister demonstrates a lack of candour. Why couldn’t he just have been up front about it at the beginning of the week? We should expect more from our political leaders.

Tim Farron agrees, telling the Mirror:

The Prime Minister has for days denied that he had offshore funds but has been dragged to the truth.

For ordinary taxpayers to have faith in the system they have to be able to have faith in their leaders. They deserve better than half truths and qualified statements.

It might be an idea for the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to review the matter to make sure that Cameron always kept to the rules on registering these shares. At first glance, it looks as though he did. The rules for registering shareholdings are as follows:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 40 Comments

What Cameron and Osborne said about Vince Cable’s proposals on corporate transparency

Given this week’s coverage of the so-called Panama Papers — the cache of 11.5m confidential files from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca — this week, it was interesting to come across this account in David Laws’s book, Coalition, from a meeting in 2013:

Posted in News | Also tagged | 26 Comments

What do you think will happen to the Centre-Left?

At conference, this Saturday, Vince Cable and Roger Liddle will respond to the question, “where now for the centre-left?” It is a good question.

Around the September conference of last year, Vince Cable wrote “progressive centre-left politicians from Labour and the Liberal Democrats need to ‘come together’ to stop the Conservatives monopolising power in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s victory.”

That sounds to me like a repeat of the 1980s, with either an Alliance, or a new merged party.

Shortly after, Tim Farron pointed to a possible future where disaffected Labour MPs would switch directly to our party.

He made an open pitch to Labour’s members and elected politicians to jump ship to the Liberal Democrats, and he also invited disaffected Tories. In his leader’s speech, he said “if you are in your heart a liberal or a social democrat, you have a home in the Liberal Democrats.”

Posted in News | Also tagged | 26 Comments
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