ALDC’s by-election report – 18 January 2018

A psephologically and geographically pleasing set of 4 local by-elections this week, with 1 Tory, 1 Labour, 1 LD and 1 Independent defence, from Bolton in the North West to Bournemouth in the South West and Rochford in the South East. Also pleasing from our perspective is the full slate of candidates.

A huge thank you to last night’s brilliant team of volunteers who came to 23 New Mount Street in Manchester to make calls at ALDC’s By-election HQ. It’s always good fun with such a lovely team – if you haven’t been yet please come and join our winning team! ALDC’s by-election support and the grants we offer to by-elections are funded through vital fighting fund donations. If you can help us fight in even more wards, please donate here.

 

Rochford DC, Downhall and Rawreth – Lib Dem hold
LD Craig Cannell 794
Con 237
Lab 0 ]
Residents 0 ]​
First we head to Rochford for the first Lib Dem win of 2018, we congradulate soon to be Councillor Craig Cannell and the whole Rochford team for a storming win in a straight up fight with the Conservatives. This result continues the fine Lib Dem tradition in Downhall and Rawreth, with no party putting up a decent fight against us for at least the last 16 years!
Milton Keynes UA, Newport Pagnell North and Hanslope – Conservative hold
 
Con 1604
Lab 749
LD Jane Caroline Carr 672
UKIP 0 ]
Next we head to Milton Keynes where we thank Jane Carr for a solid share of the vote with each party benefitting from the failure (yet again) of UKIP to stand. Continuing the theme of the last few weeks, there doesn’t seem to be a noticable swing from Tory to Labour, with the exception of…
 
Bolton MB, Hulton – Conservative gain from Labour
Posted in News | Leave a comment
Advert

Whodathunkit? Michael Portillo says David Lloyd George is a hero of his

Michael Portillo has bought a brand new red “pixelated” jacket for a new series of “British Railway Journies”, available on BBC iPlayer.

Posted in Liberal History | Tagged and | 1 Comment

How you can support LDV’s #timetotalk Day posts

You can’t be truly free if you are constantly fighting illness without the support that you need. That is why Liberal Democrats are so passionate about making sure that people have the right mental health support.

For five years during the coalition years, Liberal Democrat ministers were at the helm of pushing through positive change. Norman Lamb, as the Minister responsible, totally got it. Of the many things he did, the Crisis Care Concordat was a really good example of helping people when they most needed it .

He also fought for parity of esteem between physical and mental health.

In doing this he had the full backing of Nick as Deputy Prime Minister who made sure that he put as much funding as he could into mental health.

What I liked most about Norman’s many interviews on this subject, though, was his forthrightness. Rather than pretend everything was fantastic, he always said that what was happening wasn’t good enough and what he wanted to change.

Every year on the first Thursday in February, Time to Change hold Time to Talk Day. It’s aimed at ending the stigma around mental health and enabling people to be more open about the impact that mental ill health has on them.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 1 Comment

Stephen Lloyd on why Holocaust Memorial Day is so important

It’s not Holocaust Memorial Day until next week, but yesterday there was a debate in the Commons to mark the occasion. Here’s Stephen Lloyd’s contribution:

 

I thank the hon. Member for Brigg and Goole (Andrew Percy) for sponsoring the debate. It is a pleasure for me to co-sponsor it. This is the fifth or sixth time I have co-sponsored a debate on this important day. When I was first a Member of Parliament I was proud to do so, and now that I am back in the House, I am even more delighted.

Let me also congratulate the indomitable Karen Pollock, who is in the public Gallery and whom I have known for many years. Without her, I do not believe that this day, and the impact and reach that it has across the country, would be as strong. She really does deserve an enormous amount of credit.

The theme of Holocaust Memorial Day this year is the power of words. I was reminded of that when I read some words only earlier this morning from Anne Frank, that remarkable young girl who wrote so beautifully in Amsterdam all those years ago. She wrote:

“When I write I can shake off all my cares; my sorrow disappears; my spirits are revived.”

That is such a powerful set of words for such a dreadful time by a remarkable young woman.

That comment and the power of words brings me to my own constituent. Eastbourne does not have a large Jewish community; in fact, it is fairly minuscule—probably only 40 or 50. Like everyone else in the Chamber and many across the country, however, I am here because we know that what happened was so wicked—as was what has happened so many times since in the different genocides from Rwanda to Cambodia and the rest—that if we do not emphasise and talk about this day, there is the constant danger that it will happen again. Indeed, it is depressing that when I last spoke on this day in the House the Yazidis were perfectly safe in Iraq and Syria. Two years later they have almost been destroyed as a people. I therefore profoundly believe that the commemoration and remembrance on this day must never stop.

I have an extraordinary constituent in the small Jewish community in Eastbourne called Dorit Oliver-Wolff. She is a survivor, and she recently wrote an autobiography called “From Yellow Star to Pop Star.” She was born in Yugoslavia. When the Nazis invaded, she and her mother moved to Budapest when she was only five or six years old, and they somehow survived through the four or five years of the war from hand to mouth, travelling from place to place, creating new identities. It was when she was in Budapest that she first realised she was Jewish: she was only five years old and a woman spat at her in the street and called her “A stinking Jew”. Can anyone imagine anything more utterly incomprehensible than that to a five-year-old?

Posted in News | Tagged and | 1 Comment

Jo Swinson debates ethics and artificial intelligence – and suggests the Lovelace Oath

This week, Jo Swinson held a Westminster Hall debate on ethics and artificial intelligence. While recognising the huge advantages of AI, there are some ethical challenges we need to do something about. Jo looked at this from a very liberal perspective, as you would imagine. Here are some of the highlights of her speech. You can read the whole debate here. 

I would like to start with the story of Tay. Tay was an artificial intelligence Twitter chatbot developed by Microsoft in 2016. She was designed to mimic the language of young Twitter users and to engage and entertain millennials through casual and playful conversation.

“The more you chat with Tay the smarter she gets” the company boasted. In reality, Tay was soon corrupted by the Twitter community. Tay began to unleash a torrent of sexist profanity. One user asked,“Do you support genocide?”,to which Tay gaily replied, “I do indeed.”

Another asked,“is Ricky Gervais an atheist?”
The reply was,“ricky gervais learned totalitarianism from adolf hitler, the inventor of atheism”.

Those are some of the tamer tweets. Less than 24 hours after her launch, Microsoft closed her account. Reading about it at the time, I found the story of Tay an amusing reminder of the hubris of tech companies. It also reveals something darker: it vividly demonstrates the potential for abuse and misuse of artificial intelligence technologies and the serious moral dilemmas that they present.

And then there was this:

How should we react when we hear than an algorithm used by a Florida county court to predict the likelihood of criminals reoffending, and therefore to influence sentencing decisions, was almost twice as likely to wrongly flag black defendants as future criminals?

And more:

…there is a female sex robot designed with a “frigid” setting, which is programmed to resist sexual advances. We have heard about a beauty contest judged by robots that did not like the contestants with darker skin. A report by PwC suggests that up to three in 10 jobs in this country could be automated by the early 2030s. We have read about children watching a video on YouTube of Peppa Pig being tortured at the dentist, which had been suggested by the website’s autoplay algorithm. In every one of those cases, we have a right to be concerned. AI systems are making decisions that we find shocking and unethical. Many of us will feel a lack of trust and a loss of control.

So what should be the key principles in our approach to these challenges?

I will focus on four important ethical requirements that should guide our policy making in this area: transparency, accountability, privacy and fairness. I stress that the story of Tay is not an anomaly; it is one example of a growing number of deeply disturbing instances that offer a window into the many and varied ethical challenges posed by advances in AI.

How do they work?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 2 Comments

Paddy: Trump’s tweets could trigger war

Paddy Ashdown has been speaking to PoliticsHome about the development of UK foreign policy in the age of Trump and how the US President’s unpredictable actions have an unsettling impact on the world.

“It does not mean that the Atlantic axis is going to be less important, but it ceases to be our primary axis on which to base our defence and probably our foreign policy as well.”

“That relationship must be much more mature, where both sides realise that there will be times when their interests in the world diverge,” he explains, citing US policy on Iran and Israel as two examples.

Beyond these ‘differing interests’ Ashdown presses the Government to  distance itself from the “irrational” Trump approach on “tinder pile” issues like North Korea.

He says the Trump tactic – of mocking and baiting Kim Jong Un on Twitter, alongside battle-cry threats of “fire and fury” – simply creates a space for North Korea to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul, as shown by its offer of talks and participation in the upcoming winter Olympics in South Korea.

“We are used to a US president who is careful, thoughtful, intelligent and well informed, and we don’t have that now at the moment at all,” Ashdown laments.

“I can see five piles of tinder around the world, any one of which through inadvertence, stupidity or just blundering could be set alight… any one of which could have the capacity to ignite a much wider conflagration. And you want somebody blundering around the world, firing off tweets? In these very difficult circumstances I don’t think that’s the way to make a safer world. In a world as fragile, turbulent and close to war on several fronts as ours, I don’t think that’s a balanced and wise strategy.”

Posted in News | Tagged and | 7 Comments

A wander around the opinion polls

Lib Dems are still waiting for a bounce in the opinion polls. So far this year, we’ve had Westminster voting intentions at 6, 7 and 9%.

However, there are some very interesting things coming out of current polling generally.

Scotland

There was a very interesting YouGov Scottish poll this week which showed that we are not just hanging in there, but making progress as the SNP and Labour slip since the last poll in October Lib Dems show a slight rise in voting intention for Westminster and Holyrood constituency and regional votes. The Tories are holding their own at Westminster, despite a deeply unpopular (floating at around -50 across the two polls) leader. Ruth Davidson is Scotland’s most popular leader with an approval rating of +15, yet her party has lost ground since the Holyrood elections. While they have gained slightly in this poll to the mid twenties, they achieved 31% two years ago. Perhaps that’s because people see Scottish Conservative MPs troop meekly into the voting lobbies behind Theresa May rather than stand up for Scotland’s interests, particularly with regard to the devolution aspects of the EU Withdrawal Bill.

Jeremy Corbyn is a massive loser in this recent poll. He was +20 in October and now he’s -3. Perhaps his Brexit stance is not going down so well in a country that predominantly voted to Remain.

Scotland is neutral on its first minister who continues with a neutral approval rating. It’s only a couple of years since she was given a rock star welcome everywhere she went.

Scottish Lib Dems are getting some attention in the media on housing, health, justice and our stance on Brexit. There is still a lot of work to be done and this first non-election year since 2013 provides a good opportunity for the party to develop a longer term strategy. Willie Rennie held a strategy day with key party stakeholders in November which was described by an observer from south of the border as one of the most constructive party events they had ever seen.

Referenda

Posted in News | Tagged | 36 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMichael BG 21st Jan - 2:22am
    @ Rob Wheway It is good to see you finally entering the discussion, even if very late. When I click on your name LDV tells...
  • User AvatarMichael BG 21st Jan - 12:46am
    @ Peter Martin That is a very interesting article by Richard Tuck, which sets out why Socialists find the EU and its supra-national laws a...
  • User AvatarMartin 20th Jan - 8:50pm
    Paul Holmes: Yes, I do think that Brexit, or its consequences will continue to be an issue for decades to come; barring a literal seismic...
  • User AvatarHelen Dudden 20th Jan - 8:07pm
    Carol, your comments were something I felt great sympathy for. It must be difficult for you at times. Norman Lamb, has always been a voice...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 20th Jan - 7:51pm
    There is a very sad background to this by-election following the suicide of the previous AM. I wouldn't expect too much from it.
  • User Avatarpaul holmes 20th Jan - 7:30pm
    @Jennie. Yes I get all the daily Press Releases from Great George Street. I have been delighted to see that there has been a marked...