How would Parliament manage without employees from outside the UK?

If the new immigration regulations are forced through, Parliament itself could be very short of staff. That is why I’ve tabled questions to find out exactly how many of the present staff could on appointment have satisfied these regulations. A question that is not permitted is where new recruits will come from and how many meet the demand that they must earn £25,000!

Questions about parliamentary staff would be for the Senior Deputy Speaker. However, his remit only covers matters relating to the House of Lords so he could not answer about House of Commons staff, or staff employed by members …

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When the caveats within the definition of the IHRA are misused

I wanted to share my experience of submitting a motion defining the definitions of Antisemitism (IHRA) and Islamophobia (APPG). But I decided to not add the caveats (mentioned in this Liberal Democrat Voice article by John Kelly).

You can read my speeches and the motion here.

Firstly, the IHRA definition is clear that it is not anti-Semitic to criticise Israel and lastly, I did not want to single out the Jewish community over geopolitics that they have no link with, no control over, and are not responsible for. As we did adopt the APPG definition of Islamophobia without clarification …

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Siobhan Benita and team are working full-on in London

This weekend our London Mayoral candidate, Siobhan Benita and her team have been campaigning very hard all over the city:

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Andy Corkhill selected by LibDems to be Liverpool City regional mayor

Good luck to Councillor Andy Corkhill who has been selected as the Liberal Democrat candidate for the Liverpool City Region (LCR) Metro Mayor

Selected by party members for this May’s Metro Mayor contest, Andy Corkill stood in Wirral West at the 2019 general election and has been a councillor in Wirral since May 2019.

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Being homeless shouldn’t be a crime

The party is quite rightly campaigning to change the Vagrancy Act so that homelessness is not a crime. This is an initiative that has been spear-headed by Layla Moran:

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Whoever you are, the Liberal Democrats will stand up for you

The party’s latest party political broadcast provides a good summary of our aims as we move past “Stop Brexit”:

The accompanying blurb also gives a good statement of our priorities:

Posted in News | Tagged | 20 Comments

How you can help Liberal Democrat Voice

The Voice is only a success because of the interest and support from our readers. For many people just lurking and reading the site is all they want to do – and that’s fine, we’re grateful for people taking the time to read the site.

You can though help us continue to produce interesting content for a growing audience. Here are four simple ways:

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This week’s by-election

There was just one by-election this week. It was in a Conservative held seat in Coulby Newham ward in Middlesbrough.

Well done to the Lib Dem candidate, Tom Carney, who took 18.4% from Labour from a standing start.

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Observations of an ex pat: Stuck in a car

I have just spent two days in a cramped Vauxhall Astra chauffering my brother, his wife, her sister and her brother-in-law. It was an interesting experience. They are from the Bible Belt states of North Carolina and Georgia respectively and dyed-in-the-wool Republican Trump supporters. They regard me as a beyond redemption loony liberal.

The first day they were recovering from jet lag and weren’t up to political battle. But as we drove out to Oxford on the second day swords were crossed. The group’s champion was brother-in-law, Paul, a Christian missionary with a political science degree. We disagreed, but the disagreements were illuminating.

As expected, the discussion focused on Trump. Here are a couple of highlights:

Trump and the rule of law – I maintained that Trump is riding roughshod over the American constitution and the rule of law as evidenced by his refusal to allow White House staff to testify in the Senate Impeachment trial.

Paul’s response – The Democrats in the House of Representatives had their chance to call staff. They could have gone through the courts and forced the White House to respect the subpoenas. They chose not to, so they have lost the right to complain

Myself – If they had pursued the issue through the courts it would have taken months, perhaps even years.

Paul – That is the way the legal system works. You can’t complain that Trump is riding roughshod over the law and then deny him access to due process.

Myself – Hmm…

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 22 Comments

Assessing the Johnson Government’s new reform narrative

Over the last week the Johnson government’s narrative approach to reforms in the UK  has become more clear.

Johnson’s personal views on eugenics and poverty are a matter of record. ‘The poor being poor due to low IQ’ brings psychological comfort to those born into the luxuries of inherited wealth and private education. So blaming everything on Cummings might be unwise.

Policy more than personal views are however, our subject of concern. At last, the government’s underlying propositions can be clearly stated, as follows:

1. The UK’s low productivity problem is caused by a surfeit of unskilled migrant workers from Eastern Europe, enabling firms to avoid investment in new technology and avoid employee training.

2. UK poverty is the result of low IQ among sections of the population and of a self-perpetuating underclass, aided by single mums and teenage pregnancies.

3. Whilst UK unemployment is low, there are 8million ‘economically inactive’ citizens who, via further welfare reforms and eugenics, can be reduced in number and induced to take up the low paid jobs formerly taken by EU migrants, receiving training by employers who can no longer access low-skilled EU labour.

4. The core aim of a new immigration points system is thus to raise productivity and raise wage levels, and in the process reduce the cost of in-work benefits.

5. Increased national capital spending by the state will stimulate growth from construction contracts and compensate for the negative effects of EU tariffs and other barriers, creating demand for indigenous low skilled labour, (at least until such time as new global trade deals are in place)

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 27 Comments

Listening to people about immigration

When I wrote another Lib Dem Voice article a couple of months ago to share some thoughts following the General Election, I had one line in it that said we need to come up with Liberal answers to some people’s genuine concerns about how immigration has affected them, beyond calling them racist. Following that I was called racist myself and told that I shouldn’t be welcome in the Lib Dems.

So before this article I feel it necessary to say strongly, I support the free movement of people, and we should fight tooth and nail for it. In fact if anything, a freer and more open system that encompasses far more of the world would clearly be of great economic and social value to our country and our freedoms.

We cannot, however, deny that a large part of the electoral coalition the Conservatives have built, is around concerns about how migration has affected local communities. Many of these voters are undoubtedly people who in the past ten or twenty years, voted Lib Dem.

In many cases, particularly in rural communities where populations have increased by 20% over the last decade or so, there are very real issues. These stem from a lack of housing to take account of inward migration, a lack of investment in basic public services and a clash of culture and language in some cases, when previously entirely homogenous communities are changed so quickly. We should, of course, support the rights of individuals seeking to work and live in the UK. We should also work with communities to ensure that we invest to reduce the negative effects that some can see. Public service improvements should come alongside new migration, not in reaction to it twenty years later.

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Isabelle Parasram elected as Vice President of the Liberal Democrats

Late last year members elected the majority of members to our Federal Committees, included the Federal Board. More recently nominations were invited for a range of other positions, and the elected members of the Federal Board held a min-election to fill them. On Monday we reported the results.

One late announcement is that of the Vice-President of the party.

Congratulations to Isabelle Parasram! She was re-elected having previously been elected last March to that role when it was first created. Caron Lindsay shared that news with us then.

Isabelle is a PPC …

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged | 1 Comment

Why we should do more to support the Hong Kong protest movement

The 2019 General Election Liberal Democrats manifesto calls for standing to a peaceful world; not only because this is our value, but also everyone deserves a better world. When we jointly face challenges in our support for liberal democracies, stable partnerships are often fostered. One such alliance calls for “Honouring our legal and moral duty to the people of Hong Kong by reopening the British National Overseas Passport offer, extending the scheme to provide the right to abode to all holders”. Nonetheless, do words suffice in supporting the civilians in Hong Kong who are among those standing in defiance of brutal dictatorships?

Since the 2019 autumn conference, the situation in Hong Kong deteriorated substantially. By the end of December 2019, more than 7000 protesters had been arrested according to the figures from Hong Kong Police Force. For all that, it did not include those who disappeared after arrests, or those being transported to Mainland China. Two thirds of those arrested were between eleven to twenty five years old, and half of them were students. Some who were reported to have disappeared were later found dead under suspicious circumstances. New York Times investigations revealed police tactics on the day nearly caused a mass stampede as police deployed tear gas without warning, cornering civilians into a dead end. Demonstrators in that incident adverted mass injuries by shattering glass and forcibly entering an office building for refuge.

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Getting our finances right – report back from February Board meeting

At our latest meeting, the Federal Board welcomed our newest member, Lisa Smart, who has been elected the new chair of the Federal Communications and Elections Committee (FCEC), taking over from James Gurling. Welcome on Board, Lisa!

We also welcomed back to the Board Tony Harris as Registered Treasurer and Chair of the Federal Finance and Resources Committee (FFRC) and Mike German as Federal Treasurer.

Details of the outcome of elections for other key posts around the party are available on the party website. Congratulations to everyone elected and thank you also to everyone else who applied, helping to give us a strong set of names to choose from.

After our January Board meeting agreed the timings and got the ball rolling on key elements for our success this year, such as an independent elections review and our leadership election, the Board concentrated this time in particular on the Federal Party’s budget.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 3 Comments

What is our approach to Co-determination?

As a party, we have long advocated a cooperative relationship between labour and capital rather than an adversarial and hierarchical one, where the investor, the manager, and the worker are partners in the industry.
Such a vision was expressed in our 1964 manifesto, with the statement:
“Employees must be given a share in the decisions and profits of the companies in which they work. should be represented on the board of directors, or on a joint supervisory council”.

This vision has deeper roots in the Party’s history for in 1908, the Liberal government passed the Port of London Authority (PLA) Act, which mandated worker representation in the corporate governance of the PLA.
We should do more to revive this facet of ourselves, particularly with regards to co-determination.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 21 Comments

Fascinating stuff at York!

It’s not too late to register for the York Spring conference, which is happening on the weekend of March 13-15th. You can register here.

We’ve already covered the main policy motions which will be debated in the main hall.

But there will be oodles of other stuff going on – both in the main hall and in rooms around and about the conference venues of the York Barbican, the Novotel York Center and the Hilton York.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged and | 15 Comments

Death In The Afternoon

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Just before I was born my parents made the decision to move from their home town of Reading to an isolated South Oxfordshire village which is where I grew up.

My widowed grandmother also joined us which was great as I was very fond of her. I attended the local primary school which on the whole I enjoyed, reading was a passion.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 38 Comments

Comrade Dominic

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In the Soviet Union they had one in every ministry, factory, communal farm, university, school and military unit.

They were called commissars. Their job was to insure that workers stuck to the party line. They called it democratic centralism; a reversal of Western democracy.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 24 Comments

Rising above politics as usual

The decision to not rush the leadership election has allowed a welcome space for a discussion on the strategy and philosophy of being a Liberal Democrat in 2020. I am a new member having joined just last month. I do not pretend that my views carry any more weight than any other member, and probably less than those who have worked so hard for the party. Nonetheless, the opportunity to contribute ideas to the direction the party should now take was part of the reason I joined.

Post-Brexit we have a clean slate. The challenge is to apply the timeless principles …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 29 Comments

The spring conference motions explained

Over on the party website, Conference committee chair, Geoff Payne has provided a helpful rundown of the motions to be debated at the spring conference in York in the weekend of March 13th-15th.

Here are his summaries of the motions, which party members can access in full via this page on the party website:

F4 – Hong Kong
This motion introduces new party policy on the human rights situation in Hong Kong. It calls for:

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | 15 Comments

2020 Federal Committee election results

Back on January 20th, our President Mark Pack told us about opportunities for members to get involved in running the party. It seems there was a very good response to this, with many members putting themselves forward to be on federal party committees and such like.

Those nominated were put forward to the voting Federal Board members, and the following people have been elected to serve:

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged | 21 Comments

Mark Pack writes… Lisa Smart takes over as chair of the Lib Dem Communications and Elections Committee

Welcome to Cllr Lisa Smart (on the right in the photo), freshly elected as the new chair of the Federal Communications and Elections Committee (FCEC).

She’s written a piece for the party website introducing herself and her priorities:

Last week I received a call at home. I’d been fighting for a blue disabled parking badge for a local man with a hidden disability. He’d filled in all the forms, the reply came back, “Sorry, computer says no…” He’d complained, the reply still came back, “Sorry the computer still says no.” Then something

Posted in News | 17 Comments

Election Review team announced

A short while ago the Federal Board announced that Dorothy Thornhill would be leading the Review of the recent General Election.

Dorothy was the first directly elected Mayor of Watford, a post she held for 16 years until 2018. Since 2015 she has served as a Lib Dem peer in the House of Lords.

Dorothy has now announced the members of her Review team, and a wonderfully diverse bunch they are:

Carole Ford I joined in 2015 and since then have stood as a council, Scottish parliament and GE candidate.  I am the Scottish spokesperson on Children and Young People,

Posted in News | Tagged | 60 Comments

Rejoining the EU will be right… but it’s too soon to push for it

Nothing has emerged since the start of the referendum campaign to suggest that Brexit promises anything more than serious harm — to the British economy, British culture and Britain’s standing in the world. That didn’t change at 2300 on 31 January.

But the way forward is more complicated than switching from #RevokeArticle50 to #RejoinEU — and not just because the process for rejoining is not so simple.

Polling suggests that a majority have been opposed to Brexit for some time. Some of those will be relieved that the indecision is over, but many will not have changed their minds. But …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 29 Comments

Winning in local elections

 

Whilst the General Election results were disappointing, we have a set of local elections in May which present our party with an opportunity – to rebuild trust with the electorate ahead of future national elections.

It will most likely be 2024 at the earliest when the next election is, assuming the Government remove the Fixed Term Parliament Act, so that gives us four years to win in local elections across the country and show the electorate that we can be trusted to represent them well at a local level.

Historically, we have done well in parliamentary constituencies where we have done well locally, a point which Paddy drove home time and time again in his speeches and books. Perhaps this is not surprising, given how hard working our councillors are. The same hard-working nature cannot be said for Labour councillors.

In places like Sheffield, we have a real chance to deny Labour a majority. In May last year, we were able to win in the South East of the City, which we have not done for a long time. As well as this, we gained seats in the North of the City too. Hopefully, we can replicate that this year and continue to make gains which will prevent Labour’s control.

By winning seats and then doing the job we have the privilege to do, we can show residents that we will not take them for granted, we will listen to them and we will help to make their lives that little bit better. Whether it be cutting bushes back so that a wheelchair user can access a path, building a partnership between the local residents and police force or pointing residents in the right direction when they have a problem with housing or council tax. We can make a difference and it is this difference which will help to build a new alliance of Lib Dem voters.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 9 Comments

Anti-Semitism  and the IHRA Definition

In September 2018 the Federal Board of the Party adopted the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Association) definition of anti-Semitism.  It did so following the recommendation of the Home Affairs Select Committee in its report of 2016 that government and public bodies should adopt this definition, with certain caveats.  The definition has been adopted by many universities and local authorities and the UK Government has recently putting pressure on those public bodies that haven’t to do so in the near future.

The basic working definition reads:

Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

The definition is normally published with examples of manifestations of anti-Semitism – some of which refer to Israel.  The Home Affairs Select Committee was concerned that the definition might lead to charges of anti-Semitism being levelled against those who criticised the actions of the Israeli government and recommended the addition of two caveats to the definition if it was to be used by UK public bodies, as follows:

24. We broadly accept the IHRA definition, but propose two additional clarifications to ensure that freedom of speech is maintained in the context of discourse about Israel and Palestine, without allowing antisemitism to permeate any debate. The definition should include the following statements:
1. It is not antisemitic to criticise the Government of Israel, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent.
2. It is not antisemitic to hold the Israeli Government to the same standards as other liberal democracies, or to take a particular interest in the Israeli Government’s policies or actions, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 59 Comments

The best thing about the Green New Deal you never knew and why this could be our new superpower

Short of living under a rock since Greta Thurnberg started getting regular visits from her school attendance officer, everyone knows what the Green New Deal is; a government led transformation of our carbon intensive economy to a green one providing lots of well paid jobs in the process.

A few of you might have your suspicions about how it could be paid for ranging from:

  • hope (economic boom, so taxes!)
  • to panic (it’s the bees!  We need to ignore the cost and just get on with it!)
  • to cynicism (ahhh, I remember the first Green Deal).

You’d all be wrong.

The Green New Deal should be paid for in the same way we pay for Quantitative Easing (or to give it its proper name, Enriching The Rich Because Trickle Down).   At the stroke of a keyboard, money will appear in the government’s accounts, ready for spending into our hot little hands.

OMG!   But what about the money we’ll owe China?   Haven’t the boomers already screwed the planet?   Don’t let them add to the debt mountain!

Keep Calm and Read On.   Economics 101 has meant that you think about an economy like a household budget.   Money is earnt, then spent.   The difference every month is the deficit, the cumulative figure is debt.

Debt is bad.   Debt needs to be paid back.   Debt means higher taxes.   Too much debt means higher interest rates!   I don’t care what Ford Prefect says, PANIC!

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 54 Comments

By-election news

There were six local by-elections yesterday.

First the good (ish) news:

Milford, Waverley council, Surrey, caused by the death of an independent councillor. As you can see the winner was endorsed by the Lib Dems.

But I’m afraid it was not good news in the rest of them.

Posted in News | 26 Comments

Observations of an Expat: Ireland

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Ireland, we were told by Boris Johnson and his coterie of Leave campaigners, was not a problem. It was a non-issue dreamt up by the Remainers as part of their fear campaign. The Good Friday Agreement, they said, was secure along with the future of the union.

Then Boris drew the EU-UK border down the middle of the Irish Sea and threw Northern Ireland’s Protestants to the nationalist wolves. It was not the first time that a British Prime Minister was prepared to sacrifice Ulster for the benefit of England. During World War II, Winston Churchill, offered unification in return for Irish entry into the war on the side of the Allies. Eammon de Valera refused because he thought Churchill would be unable to deliver on the pledge.

This week Sinn Fein – the political wing of the IRA – emerged as one of the victors in a three-way tie in the Irish general election. A unified island was not a major part of their campaign. In fact, it was conspicuous by the virtual silence on the subject. Instead the nationalists focused on a left-wing agenda of increased spending on public services and housing in contrast to the long-established 100-year duopoly of the centrist parties Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.

But make no mistake it. A united Ireland free of British control remains the heart and soul of Sinn Fein. It is the reason that it was formed back in 1905. And pre-World War I support for the nationalist cause in the southern two-thirds of the Ireland was the reason that Sir Edward Carson was able to mobilise 100,000-plus members of the Ulster Volunteer Force to threaten a civil war unless the six Protestant-dominated counties of the north remained part of the United Kingdom.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 24 Comments

Siobhan Benita launches her campaign to be Mayor of London

Today Siobhan Benita has launched her campaign under the slogan “Love London Better”. And what a breath of fresh air she would be in the capital.

As she said:

London dares to be different. It has so far delivered three very different Mayors who have captured Londoner’s hearts and minds in different ways. What could be more different than a Liberal Democrat female mayor? It’s time.

Posted in London and News | Tagged , , and | 4 Comments
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    Perhaps the Liberal Democrats might want to consider to support a Starmer-led Labour Party in supporting a referendum on the UK rejoining EFTA? This returns...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 24th Feb - 10:33am
    @ David Raw, There is a sort of parallel between the two. Just as the cricketing ECB, (shouldn't it really be EWCB? ) can't ever...
  • User AvatarJohn Probert 24th Feb - 10:28am
    Isn't it the government the criminal for its long-term massive failure to provide affordable housing, forcing many people onto the streets?
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 24th Feb - 9:59am
    @ Peter Martin "It is only kept functioning by allowing the ECB to conduct market operations". Since when did the England and Wales Cricket Board...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 24th Feb - 9:04am
    @ John, I don't think you could call Emmanuel Macron a "Little Englander"! The old EEC wasn't perfect but it worked well enough and was...
  • User AvatarGary J 23rd Feb - 10:31pm
    An evocative surname for those who recall the TV soap Brookside. I hope Jimmy, Billy et al will be campaigning for Andy.