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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ALDC Campaigner Awards 2018

The annual ALDC Campaigner Awards provide a way for us to recognise the outstanding work of local Liberal Democrat campaigners and campaign teams. And nominations for 2018 are now open (closing 26 August), sponsored by our print partners, Election Workshop. You don’t have to be an ALDC member to enter (but you can find out about membership here).

THE CATEGORIES:

Best local election campaign – We’re looking for local parties that have fought effective and strong 2018 local election campaigns – how did you win, what innovative new ideas did you use, …

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Fun holiday photo quiz: And the winner is…..

Thanks to everyone who took part in our fun quiz on Friday – and to those who thought about it but were stumped by it!

We showed the photo above, which I took on my recent holiday. We asked you to name the location of the photo, which was mentioned wittily in a distinguished Liberal MP’s auto-biography.

The answer was Bergen railway station in Norway, which Jo Grimond, Liberal party leader 1956-1967, mentioned in his auto-biography (see below).

The first person to give the correct answer in our comments threads was Charles Dundas. Charles receives the accolade of “LDV Super Anorak” and a “very good” condition copy of Jo Grimond’s said memoirs.

Posted in Photo feature | Tagged | 4 Comments

Why aren’t we doing much better?

This week’s damning editorial about current Lib Dem performance and prospects in The New Statesman will have struck a chord amongst many Liberal Democrat supporters and activists. I know that the world is unfair, and that we are mass-media-invisible, but nonetheless our lack of progress has to be a real present worry. Mucking up critical votes on what is supposed to be ‘our’ issue above all – opposition to Brexit – only compounds the sense of drift.

I’m glad that Caron Lindsay thought that Sir Vince Cable was ‘sparkling’ on Pienaar’s Politics recently but I fear that such appearances are not …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 66 Comments

An American solution to the second home problem?

Last month, campaigners near where I live won a by-election where the key issue was that of second home owners and their impact on local communities and services.

This weekend, I’m spending a few days in Rhode Island, home of the chicken, and enjoying the tranquility of the shoreline near the Massachusetts border. Whilst doing so, I’ve been discussing some of the issues surrounding how you maintain healthy rural communities, especially in places popular as holiday destinations. As you do, right?

One of the challenges is how you ensure that local workers, whose salaries are often far lower than those seeking to …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 15 Comments

Welcome to my day: 13 August 2018 – switching to a walrus-inspired diet

Welcome to Rhode Island, the Ocean State and the smallest in the Union. First to declare independence, and last of the original thirteen States to join the United States, it’s probably the least remarked upon part of New England. It is, having spent the weekend in a quiet corner near the Massachusetts border, rather pretty and, if you’re in the area, worth a peek.

So, why the steamed clams? They’re something of a delicacy in these parts, and thrive in the absence of walruses, whose diets consists largely of clams. And, despite my …

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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #528

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 528th weekly round-up from the Lib Dem blogosphere … Featuring the five most popular stories beyond Lib Dem Voice according to click-throughs from the Aggregator (5-11 August, 2018), together with a hand-picked seven you might otherwise have missed. The Golden Dozen will be taking its Summer break for the next two weeks, but will be back with a bumper edition on 2 September.

Don’t forget: you can sign up to receive the Golden Dozen direct to your email inbox — just click here — ensuring you never miss out on the best of Lib Dem blogging.

As ever, let’s start with the most popular post, and work our way down:

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When Laura Bates taught Nick Clegg a few things…

If I had known, 30 years ago, that there would be an annual Book Festival in Edinburgh in the last half of August, I’d have put my wedding back a week or two. My lack of foresight means that I’ll be away on a celebratory holiday when both Jo Swinson and Chelsea Clinton are speaking there. Jo is on 22nd August at 18:45 (buy tickets here) and her book, Equal Power, was on sale in the bookshop yesterday.

The tents in Charlotte Square have been my spiritual home in August for some time so yesterday it was great to be there on the first day, especially as Edinburgh Gin seemed to be taking their responsibilities as sponsors very seriously with several new gin bars around the place. For the record, their seaside gin is ok, but not as good as Isle of Harris, which has definitely cornered the market in things that taste like the sea.

I saw Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism project, talk about her new book, Misogynation, which aims to join the dots to highlight the systemic nature of sexism throughout our society. She told some shocking stories – highlighting, for example, evidence that there is the equivalent of one rape every day of term in a UK school.

A lot of the conversation centred around harassment of women in school, online and on the street. She talked about innovative ways of dealing with it. One man, for example, who had recently come to realise the effect of persistent street harassment on his female friends who were having to deal with it, couldn’t work out how to intervene when he saw a woman being crudely catcalled by men on a building site. When they called “Get your t**s out, love” he had a brainwave – and lifted up his t-shirt to make the point that they would never say that sort of thing to him so it wasn’t alright to say it to her.

She also told of a visit to a school where the girls got wind of a plot by the boys to be disruptive and generally unpleasant during her talk. So they left class a few minutes’ early and arranged themselves in every second seat in the hall. So every boy was sitting between two girls so it wasn’t so comfortable for them to heckle. In fact, they actually engaged with the talk.

One of the consequences of the Everyday Sexism project and the hundreds of thousands of examples it has collected over the years is that it has helped to shope policy. The examples of sexual harassment in schools has, finally, forced a change to more inclusive sex education in England – although the devils that will inevitably be in the detail of that are not yet apparent.

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

WATCH: Vince Cable at the #PeoplesVote Bristol rally – We can win this

Vince went to Bristol yesterday to speak to the People’s Vote rally. His message was one of confidence and optimism – that the tide was turning in our favour and we could win a People’s vote.

Watch highlights here:

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 6 Comments

Study says that a majority of UK constituencies now back staying in the EU

The Observer today suggests that as many as 112 seats may have changed from Leave to Remain.

In findings that could have a significant impact on the parliamentary battle of Brexit later this year, the study concludes that most seats in Britain now contain a majority of voters who want to stay in the EU.

The analysis, one of the most comprehensive assessments of Brexit sentiment since the referendum, suggests the shift has been driven by doubts among Labour voters who backed Leave.

As a result, the trend is starkest in the north of England and Wales – Labour heartlands in which Brexit sentiment appears to be changing. The development will heap further pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to soften the party’s opposition to reconsidering Britain’s EU departure.

What will Corbyn, a lifelong opponent of the EU, do now? Will he bow to the evidence that Labour voters are flocking to stay in the EU or will he hold firm in his opposition even to the customs union and single market.

And what will those in the Labour Party do if he refuses to budge his position? Especially those in Labour seats who are now backing Remain?

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged and | 52 Comments

Time to get your amendments ready for Conference

The deadline for amendments and emergency motions for Conference may seem like ages away but, believe me, 1pm on Monday 3rd September will be on us before we know it.

The Conference will be discussing a wide range of subjects, from the controversial migration paper to animal welfare to decriminalising abortion to foreign policy to housing to fairer distribution of wealth to Lib Dem “priorities for a better Britain.”

Your mission for this weekend, should you choose to accept it, is to read all the motions to see which you agree with, which you don’t like and which you think could be made better if it included a particular perspective. In reality, all of them will have some way they could be improved.

Part 2 of that mission is about thinking what our Brexit policy should be from now. Do you think that the People’s Vote thing is a bit mild and we should be going all-out for revoking Article 50? Do you think we should settle for single market and customs union membership? How should our MPs vote on the deal when it is presented? There is currently a Europe sized hole in the agenda because there was no point in submitting a motion in June that might be out of date by September, so you have the chance to craft your ideal Brexit policy.

If you think a motion would be the better for a change, you could draft the changes you think are necessary and then get drafting advice from a member of the Federal Conference Committee. The deadline for asking for that advice is 13:00 on Monday 20th August.

You don’t have to have asked for drafting advice to submit an amendment but it is useful to make sure that you get the format right or to ensure that you aren’t using any ambiguous language or that it’s competent. It doesn’t guarantee selection, of course, but it does make it more likely that it will meet the key criteria.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 1 Comment

Defence of Johnson amounts to a charter for the oppression of a vulnerable minority

Embed from Getty Images

In defence of Boris Johnson’s remarks about the wearing of the burqa and the niqab, his supporters have replied: “You need to read the full article to see the context”. I have now read Johnson’s full article. That is ten minutes of my life I won’t get back. It is remarkable that he gets paid a King’s ransom for such tosh. More galling, he has been doing it (certainly up to 26th July, three weeks after he resigned from the government) at our expense from 1 Carlton Gardens.

David Yelland, who was Editor of the Sun from 1998 to 2003, has tweeted:


Shrouded amidst a rather generalised and vaguely creepy paeon of praise to Denmark, cloaked in criticism of their Burqa ban, was some very nasty and unnecessary verbiage. I quote here his whole passage with the particularly egregious words in bold, so that I can’t be accused of quoting Johnson out of context:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 13 Comments

LibLink Christine Jardine: Hard Brexit makes these people fear for their lives

The headlines about the Government stockpiling medicines in the event of a hard Brexit will pass most people by. They’ll dismiss it as Project Fear.

For people with serious long term health conditions, it’s all pretty scary, though. They know that they could well pay the price of right wing Tory Brexiteers’ folly.

Christine Jardine has a friend with Diabetes, who tells her story in Christine’s Scotsman column, describing how she came close to death when he system got out of balance after a  stomach bug:

After 48 hours alone, dehydrated and struggling to breathe – with sky-high blood sugar – I called an ambulance. “I had become so dehydrated my body was no longer absorbing insulin. I lay in the back of an ambulance, unable to drink water unless it was lacing my lips from a sponge on the end of a stick. I was without insulin.

“Wheeled into high dependency, I grasped the consultant’s hand and asked her if I was going to die. “It was a real fear which I now feel again as I think about what crashing out of the EU might do for my health, and others.

“Every morning as I reach for the milk, I glimpse my insulin in the fridge door. “It used to mean nothing. Now, every morning, every evening, I consider how much I could go without. If I give up carbohydrates and sugar completely, how much Novorapid (the type I take to deal with carbs) would I really need? Could I possibly even change my diet so I needed nothing?

“But then there’s Lantus. That keeps me alive over the course of 24 hours. Latent. In the background. But always there. How little would I need? What could I survive on?”

Christine outlined what she intended to do about this:

Posted in LibLink | Tagged and | 32 Comments

Introducing the General Election 2017 Election Review

After the 2015 election disaster, a comprehensive post mortem led by James Gurling analysed what had gone wrong and made a huge number of detailed recommendations of what should be done differently next time.

However, the snap election of 2017, coming just two years later and out of left field, meant that we were still recovering from 2015 and had not had much chance to implement many of those changes.

Another disappointing result demanded further analysis, although a snap election was a very different challenge. So the Federal Board concluded that a review should be relatively ‘quick and dirty’ and sit alongside the 2015 review in informing future decisions.

Finding someone completely uninvolved in the election to lead the review proved an impossible task, and in the end Gerald Vernon-Jackson failed to dodge the bullet and was appointed just after the Bournemouth conference. Three months having already elapsed since polling day, Gerald was asked to produce something fast. He mustered a strong team and over a long weekend of intensive work they interviewed some 58 stakeholders from across the party.

Their report was produced quickly off the back of that evidence-taking and serves as a candid appraisal of the snap election campaign. It was formally received by the Federal Board and sent to the Federal Campaigns and Elections Committee and Federal Audit and Scrutiny Committee to inform ‘lessons learned’ exercises.

Some eyebrows were raised at the anecdotal character of the report, but in fairness to Gerald and his team it was exactly what it said on the tin: a coherent synopsis of the perceptions of 58 stakeholders and the panel itself, drawing together the common threads from the accounts they heard. It does not purport to be a comprehensive analysis of the sort conducted after 2015, and was always designed to sit alongside the earlier report in providing a route map for future campaigns.

Posted in News | Tagged | 30 Comments

Today’s fun quiz – an extra prize and some clues


It seems I have stumped the complete Liberal Democrat Voice readership with my fun photo quiz from this morning.

Here is a wider version of the scene pictured this morning. This should give you a clue as to the category of location that we are talking about…

I took this photo while on my holiday last week.

Can you guess where it was taken? It is a location mentioned wittily in a distinguished Liberal MP’s auto-biography.

Another clue is that the Liberal MP in question was a leader of the Liberal Party.

Please use the comments …

Posted in Photo feature | 10 Comments

Fun holiday snap quiz – can you recognise the location mentioned in a famous Liberal’s autobiography?


I took this photo while on my holiday last week.

Can you guess where it was taken? It is a location mentioned wittily in a distinguished Liberal MP’s auto-biography.

Please use the comments field below to have a stab at the answer.

Comments will be held in our “pending” file until 3pm and then released to reveal the winner.

Posted in Photo feature | 2 Comments

Disappointment in Cornwall

Disappointing news from Cornwall overnight – our excellent candidate Stephen Daniell didn’t make it in his attempt to hold the seat in a by-election caused by the sad death of Paul Summers. Paul had won the seat in a by-election in July 2016 from UKIP.

Even though this wasn’t a seat we had a long connection with, it is still sad to lose. Commiserations to the team. …

Posted in News | Tagged | 38 Comments

We should demand free speech but use it with kindness

Free speech is important to us as Liberals. So much so we made it a fundamental human right. The freedom to exchange ideas and challenge orthodoxy is what leads to new radical plans to make a better future. Without debate we have dictatorship, literally by dictation. 

And yet, often we choose to limit how freely we use our speech. Classically, this is put as the “Does free speech include demanding the right to shout ‘fire!’ in a crowded theatre?” question.

A modern way of putting that, which we seem to be seeing appear quite a lot, looks to be: “Does free speech include demanding the right to compare the government of Israel to the Nazis?”

To which my answer is: “I will not stop you saying that. But you could perhaps choose not to.”

Many members of the Jewish community in the UK are living in a state of increased fear caused in no small part by the actions of a tiny but noisy number of Labour Party members (and former members) and the inactions of the Labour leadership.

I would like to think we can do better than that.

For a lot of Jewish people the idea of “Israel” is so much deeper than merely a specific geographic place – it is an expression of Jewish and religious identity, and goes to the heart of their sense of self and family and community. It is impossible to describe just how hurtful, wounding and cruel it is to link that idea of self to the Nazi Holocaust that was in large part about exterminating that identity. We just should not do it.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 12 Comments

Christine Jardine challenges SNP to back People’s Vote

As everybody from Gary Lineker to the Independent is now backing the People’s Vote campaign for  a referendum on the final Brexit deal – which started out as a Lib Dem idea in the Summer two years ago – there is one notable exception.

The SNP is the third largest party in Parliament. It could make the difference. Yet it continues to sit on its hands on this most important question.

Nicola Sturgeon could have used her meeting with Theresa May to say that the SNP will block the deal and push for a People’s Vote, but she didn’t. It was all …

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 9 Comments

Scottish Conference to debate faith schools

The agenda for Scottish Conference in Dunfermline on 8th September has been published.

The party leadership will want the headlines to be about the motion on education which aims to improve teachers’ pay and working conditions and reward those who take on the most challenging jobs or go to the furthest flung areas of Scotland.

It may well be overshadowed by the debate on faith schools. Or rather a motion which calls for “a single, secular model of state-funded education.” We can expect some amendments for that one, which is the most controversial motion on the agenda. I hope that we can have as good a quality of debate as we had in York last year on the English motion.

Two motions ask for support for little understood and debilitating conditions, ADHD and ME.

Another motion calls for an overhaul of the way we finance public infrastructure projects but doesn’t really suggest a sustainable alternative.

Posted in News | Tagged | 24 Comments

LibLink: Layla Moran: The lessons that need learning so teachers are less stressed

Teachers in England are in the middle of their Summer holiday as the Scottish schools prepare to go back next week.

Former teacher and Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran has written for the Yorkshire Post about how to alleviate the stress that teachers are facing in their jobs:

She knows that being a teacher is absorbing and that you are often required to go above and beyond to excel at your job. However, there are extra stresses in the system that shouldn’t be there:

But it is something else altogether when the reasons you find yourself working later and later every night, arriving at work earlier each morning or coming in regularly during your holiday, has nothing to do with genuinely supporting pupils learning. When your work life balance is becoming more and more distorted, you start to have trouble sleeping (which many teachers report) and to top it all off, the public sector pay freeze means you have seen your wages effectively being cut year after year. Is it any wonder that more and more dedicated professionals are being pushed to breaking point, and that we have a crisis in teacher recruitment and retention?

So what would Layla do about it?

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 17 Comments

Boris Johnson, bypassing the social taboos

Normally I would say focus on the policy, not the presenter of the policy, but every rule should have its exceptions, and, in this case, Boris Johnson is very much an exception. His carefully constructed persona enables him to bypass the critical faculties and hit the base instincts that society is created to taboo.

When one thinks of Boris Johnson, it is very easy to think of the irreverent comedy of the Pythons, replacing the ministry of funny walks with the ministry for ruffled hair, or imagining Joe Johnson screaming ‘He’s not the messiah, he’s a very naughty boy.’. The problem is that Boris knows that and he plays to it. His character is equally well crafted as those created by the Pythons, honed over many years and designed to work on many levels.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged | 16 Comments

How to enter the LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League 2018/19

LDV FANTASY FOOTBALLThe English Premier League kicks off this Friday and LibDemVoice has revived its Fantasy Football League to mark the occasion. So if you fancy pitting your soccer selection skills against 150 fellow party supporters, here’s your chance.

To enter all you have to do is click on this link. Simply register your details, pick your team, and away you go. If you need the joining code at any point, it’s 1729103-394948.

And for those who don’t feel they have the insider knowledge to compete, you can always choose the ‘auto-complete’ option …

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The dangers of the ‘people’s vote’

As the Chequers agreement and White Paper evince, the details of the interim package on offer are highly complicated. Submitting the terms and conditions of the Article 50 negotiations to a popular vote would be fraudulent. A referendum would be unlikely to elucidate the pros and cons of the Facilitated Customs Arrangement, the future of the City of London or the Irish backstop protocol. Rather, the hapless voter would face the same dilemma as vacillating parliamentarians – namely, a crude and invidious choice between the government’s Brexit deal and the cliff edge.

Ms. Miller & co make two gigantic misjudgments. The first is that, in the event of a referendum rejecting the Barnier package, the EU would be prepared to open up a new negotiation under Article 50 or to suspend Article 50 until the Brits sort themselves out. Having offered Cameron one new settlement for Britain in 2016 and May another in 2018, toleration of the British will be at an end. There will be no third negotiation. So what would be the referendum question? Moreover, on which side would Lib Dems be campaigning?

The second big mistake is to assume that the Remainers would ‘win’ the second referendum no matter the question. Opinion polls suggest that the outcome would be just as close as the first: certainly the assumption that Remain would win handsomely and settle the business of Britain’s place in Europe is an arrogant one, not supported by the facts.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged and | 97 Comments

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The article which appeared here has been removed. Comment is free. Facts are sacred. There were factual inaccuracies in that piece which were pointed out in the comments and we have therefore decided that its removal is appropriate.

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Steve Bannon builds “Dad’s Army”-brigade for Farage-type Europhobes

The ever-valiant editors of Liberator magazine, who make the Lib Dem glee club sing from the same sheet, have just published a guide to discern all the opinionmakers, leaders and groups in the Brexiteer and Europhobe bubble. And according to the European edition of Politico Magazine, Steve Bannon, the beast from Breitbart, is assembling what could be called the “Dad’s Army” of Eurosceptics and Europhobes discarded by their own groups, or whose sell-by date has long expired.

Using Breitbart as his platform, Bannon had (in the years 2012-16) assembled an assortment of rightwing, libertarian, neonazi and other extremist splinters, and used frequent interviews with tycoon Donald Trump to attract Trumpian voters to get them in touch with those ideas, to solidify their prejudices and their hate of mainstream, fact-loving media. 

Now that Trump has fired him, and Robert  Mercer has banned him from Breitbart , Bannon is trying to repeat what he did to rightwing fringe America; but according to Politico he isn’t having as much luck as he had with Trump.

Like most political currents, Populism and Euroscepticism have to go through an initial phase of competing opinionmakers, theorists and loudmouth demagogues; but the jingoism and preference for “strongman politics” (a leader, statesman able to make sweeping structural changes in a national political culture an – debate), means that the phase of competing schools inside Populism and Euroscepticism endures longer. Populists in one country prefer homegrown leaders, not from neighboring countries, let alone the US.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 5 Comments

Could you be a local party officer?

The whirlwind of politics isn’t going to stop for very long this year, but you might want to take some time over the Summer to think about how you could become more involved in the Liberal Democrats.

One way you could do that is to stand for a role in your local party. This Autumn, every local party will hold its AGM and elect its committee for 2019. Now is the time to think about whether you could take on one of these roles.

You could choose to stand for one of the Officer roles – Chair, Secretary, Membership Secretary, Data Officer, Diversity Officer, Treasurer or take on a role on the Executive. If you are not sure about what these roles involve, why not have a look at the Members’ area of the website? 

They have some very handy guides to each of these roles and more in the Training section.

It would be really helpful if people who have done these roles would like to write about them for LDV, too, to encourage people to take them on.  Some people can be put off by the idea of being Treasurer, for example. I certainly was when I was asked to be Scottish Party Treasurer. I kind of had to be dragged kicking and screaming into doing it, but I stuck around for six years and enjoyed it much more than I thought I would – and that was with the challenges of two General Elections, a Holyrood election, two referenda and two Council elections. It wasn’t just about numbers, it’s about leading the discussion on how we use our all too scarce resources and making sure we get some more.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 2 Comments

Devolution to the English Regions is not just a good thing – it’s absolutely essential.

The problems of the UK will never be solved while the whole of the Country is dominated by Westminster and Whitehall. I have believed that for all the 51 years I have been a member of our Party (or its predecessor!) I believe it now and that is why I am more than a little disappointed with the policy paper and motion being sent from the FPC to Party Conference. It just isn’t strong enough, urgent enough or angry enough!

Whilst still a Liberal member I was asked on Radio 4 to respond to the parody often created then of the average Liberal member being a long-haired, real ale drinker in sandals. My parody is somewhat different. I said then and I say now of our Party we protest with a campaign song which goes:

“What do we want?”

“Gradual Change”

“When do we want it?”

“As soon as possible please if that’s all right with you old chap”.

I’m afraid that is just not good enough for me. For almost all political life I have been a campaigner in Liverpool. I have held all sorts of positions when we controlled the Council and for my first 22 years as a Councillor represented some of the poorest communities in the Country. I have always been aware during that time that the needs of the poorest of our communities have been held back by policies devised by nice people, often well meaning, in Whitehall and Westminster but who have absolutely no ideas what it is like to live in a ‘Toxteth’ or a ‘Sparkbrook’.

Policies are created to look at the needs of those who live in the London Evening Standard catchment area – and not even the poorest bits of that.

The centralisation of power in London has dragged many of the brightest, most capable and most articulate away from using their talents in the great Northern Cities and Towns. This has reduced our capacity to create good jobs in good businesses. The creative talents of the North fuel what has been an overheating economy of the South East. This is not good for the South-East. Staggering house prices; long commutes and a poor environment are the price paid for that overheating.

At Conference we will be debating a motion supported by a policy paper that I have had a hand in creating. The motion is looking at the way that the UK is governed with a particular look at the way England is governed. It’s not that there is anything in the paper that I disagree with. It’s just that it’s all a bit anaemic. It’s just not angry enough about the Stalinist control that Westminster and Whitehall have over ‘the provinces’.

Arguably, England is the most centralised state in Western Europe. Bureaucrats in Whitehall and politicians in Westminster micro manage communities throughout the country. They do it by the creation of laws and Statutory Instruments and enforce their rule through a series of inspectorates and regionally based bureaucrats such as Children’s Commissioners.

This is rigorously enforced by the financial controls that Westminster imposes. The theory of localism and do what you think is right is supplanted by ‘he who pays the piper calls the tune’.

Liberal Democrats think that this centralisation is wrong. Liberal Democrats believe that decisions over policies and spending should be made at the lowest possible and practical level. These levels will be different for different types of activity. 

A more muscular liberalism would want urgently to break the power of Westminster and Whitehall over issues of a domestic nature which should rightly be decided by those who have a clear understanding of the nature of problems and can devise local solutions.

  • The lowest level would be the neighbourhood perhaps 5,000 people
  • Then the district around 100,000 people
  • Then the Town or City – between 250,000 and 750,000 people
  • Then the County or Conurbation – between 750,000 and 2,500,000 people
  • Then the region which, following the devolved governmental system could be up to 5 million people.

I recognise that this will mean systems that look different in different parts of the Country. This is right. The way you provide services in a heavily rural area should look very different to the way they are provided in a heavily urban area.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 57 Comments

You can tell Boris has been hanging around with Steve Bannon…

So, Boris’s mask slips.

A couple of weeks after it was reported he was hanging around with racist populist Steve Bannon, he comes out with all sorts of racist guff about women wearing burkas and niqabs.

The worst of his comments is this:

If a constituent came to my MP’s surgery with her face obscured, I should feel fully entitled – like Jack Straw – to ask her to remove it so that I could talk to her properly.

If an MP can’t talk to a constituent who has come to make representations to them or who has come looking for their help, then, frankly, they should get better social skills.

Bragging about your sense of entitlement is not a good look.

Why is it always women that get this stuff? From “witches” who in the end of the day were just women whose beliefs strayed from the “norm”, to women who wear Islamic dress, we are considered fair game in a way that men aren’t. Why is it ok that Jack Straw and Boris should be able to tell women how to dress? Why can’t they just make up their own minds?

I find it hard to reconcile a world where women who choose to wear a veil are subjugated and women who come under pressure to be thin, cellulite free, perfectly groomed and available for sex at all times aren’t. Just look at any magazine marketed to women and you’ll see what I mean. Yes, progress has been made, but the world, all of it, is still very much run for men by men.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 10 Comments

Social care is in crisis – the Tories must face up to it

In the last six months, more than one hundred home-based and residential care providers have ceased trading, affecting more than 5,300 people, as providers hand back contracts to more than sixty councils, affecting thousands of people. Social care faces a £3.5bn funding gap by 2025. Social care is in crisis and we have a government which is turning a blind eye to it.

Obsessed with Brexit, they have repeatedly ignored the challenge of social care and kicked it into the long grass. A long-delayed green paper on social care that was promised for June has yet again failed to materialise, along …

Posted in Local government and Op-eds | Tagged | 19 Comments
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    I'm sure proposing an idea like Gross National Happiness would get us headlines, but if Lembit Opik's career has taught us something, it's surely that...
  • User AvatarRobin Grayson 14th Aug - 10:46am
    Less banging on so much about Brexit as "The Sky is Falling Down!" More in the style "What has tbe Roman Empire ever done for...