The South East region: Increasing youth membership is essential for political survival.

Tilly Russell and I were elected as the new Young Liberals (YL) Regional Chairs for the South East; the first thing that we would like to say is a huge ‘thank you’ to everybody that voted for us.

For us both, the region is one of those places that is close to our hearts. Both Tilly and I have lived here for the whole of our lives, it is and always has been our home. We’ve both worked here, studied here and campaigned here. We are both truly honoured that we were chosen to represent it, increasing youth engagement is essential for political survival.

Like us, if you too live in the South East region, you will feel the same. However, this feeling alone is not enough. It is now time to put our feelings into action, we need to carry on fighting for what we believe in. We not only want to re-light a flame that has seemingly disappeared in some areas, but instead start a fire. I know that this is a bold statement to make but we truly believe that it is possible.

And we, as the South East Young Liberals, have started to do that already. The above picture shows some of the successes that we’ve had. These include candidates standing in by-elections, campaigning for a Peoples Vote and organising the biggest Fresher’s campaign yet. 

During the election campaign, Tilly and I created a manifesto explaining how we would go about doing just that. It centres around three core pledges: more events; increased online development and, most importantly, empowering the membership.

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How bullying ruined my teenage years and cast a long shadow on my whole life

I first wrote this eight years ago, and I share it every year during Anti-Bullying Week. I could write something else, but it took some emotional energy to write the first time and I’m not really up for putting myself through that again. 

Let’s not put up with anyone being treated like this, whether at school, in the workplace or within politics. It’s important that anyone in any sort of leadership role in any organisation has the skills to recognise and intervene to stop bullying and support those affected by it. It casts a very long shadow and destroys lives. Its costs are massive in terms of wellbeing. Also, if you are bothered about the money and the economy, happier people are more productive.  It’s entirely preventable and we should do all we can to eradicate it.

I’ve been procrastinating like anything to avoid writing this post because although I know the events I’m going to describe took place a long time ago, they cast a long shadow. Their stranglehold on my life is long gone, but the memories are not. I might have teased my sister for posting something inane on my Facebook wall a while ago when she has important work she needs to do, but how would I know if I hadn’t similarly been wasting time.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a very long time, but now is probably the right time. When Stephen wrote so movingly about how his experiences of homophobic bullying had almost led him to the brink of suicide, I thought about telling my story too. His account of standing on the breakwater as a 17 year old brought vividly to my mind those dark occasions I’d stood far above the sea and contemplated jumping as a young teenager myself. I wasn’t bullied for homophobic reasons. In fact, it was made very clear to me that no man, woman or even beast would ever find me attractive.

The bullying started in earnest when I went to secondary school. I was in a very dark place as a 12 year old. This isn’t the right place to explain why but when I experienced those feelings again in later life, the doctor called it Depression. To add to that, we’d moved so I was far away from the emotional bedrocks my wonderful grannies provided. I was vulnerable, alone and, let’s be honest, not very likeable. I certainly didn’t like myself much anyway.

During the first three years of high school, I was primarily known by two names, neither of which had been given to me by my parents. In English one day in first year, we were taking it in turns to read out a scene from a play. I couldn’t for the life of me tell you what it was but as fate would have it, the line I had to read was “I want a yak.” Quick as a flash, the boy in front of me yelled out “I always thought you were one……” Cue the entire class, including the teacher, to collapse in laughter. That spread like wildfire, and before long it became my name to the entire pupil body.

If we’d had Google images then, I might have discovered pretty quickly that yaks are really kind of cute, but I never really saw it that way at the time and I really don’t think that the name was an affectionate one.

The other name came from the fact that, yes, I do have weird eyes. For that reason, people would hiss like a cat when they saw me coming, and spit out “Cat’s Eyes” as I passed.

I’m sure that doesn’t sound like much, but when you hear one or other of those things round every corner every day, you do feel less than human.

I became adept at varying my route to and from school to try to avoid the bullies who were there to pull my hair, or steal my stuff or point, or laugh, or kick or trip me up. They liked to mix it up a bit so I never really knew what I was walking into. I know it’s all quite low level, but it wore me down. I lived in perpetual fear and carrying that around everywhere was exhausting.

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Alex Cole-Hamilton has called for age of criminal responsibility to be raised to 14

Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton, a former youth charity worker, has called for the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland to be raised to 14. The UN suggests that 12 should be an absolute minimum baseline. On both sides of the border, we fall short of this. In England and Wales, it’s 10 and in Scotland just 8.

The Scottish Government is putting forward legislation to raise it in line with the UN minimum guidelines, but Alex says that it doesn’t go far enough:

Scotland is the only country in the EU where children as young as eight can find themselves

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Liberal Democrats must lead in a new vision for Europe

Jo Johnson’s resignation underlines yet again the disaster that is Brexit.

But the repeated call for a second referendum puts a high level of responsibility on the Remain camp to flesh out details and consequences.

The Liberal Democrats, as the only party campaigning unequivocally for Britain’s membership of the European Union, must take a lead.

A second referendum would mark only the beginning of a momentum which must look far beyond the headlines and slogans of 2018.

Let us speculate, therefore, that there is a second vote and we win.

Then what?

Could Remain celebrations really light up Britain’s streets with political leaders mouthing off sound bites about healing divisions and the rest, while half the country feels cheated.

How can anyone think that will work?

Can a new government really tear up Article 50 and, tail between its legs, keep Britain in the European Union as if nothing has happened?

That will not do the business either.

There is one way out. But to take it on board we must accept that Brexit is symptomatic of a wider challenge. It accompanies an overall questioning of the European Project seen through the rise of the populist right, increased separatist demands and rebellion among the east and central European countries.

Brexit is the strand which has been put to the vote and the EU lost.

Any forward-looking institution would have reacted by looking publicly into what had gone wrong and how problems should be addressed. It would have allowed a formal debate on reform, ensuring that the discussion would be in the arc of our lives, just as the Brexit debate now is.

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12 November 2018 – today’s press releases

This feature is now back on UK time, and so, here’s what we’ve got for you this evening…

  • Welsh Lib Dems Investing in Teachers
  • Brexit can be stopped but Corbyn must get out of the way
  • Ed Davey: Hostile environment must be completely scrapped
  • Brake: Corbyn must listen to Brown

Welsh Lib Dems Investing in Teachers

Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Secretary Kirsty Williams has announced the single biggest investment in support for Wales’ teachers since devolution through a groundbreaking £24m package to help teachers deliver Wales’ new curriculum.

The National Approach to Professional Learning (NAPL), announced today by the Education Secretary, will focus on professional learning and …

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Sal Brinton writes…Join the Lib Dems in saying Trans rights are human rights

Across the Atlantic, Trump and his cronies are doing their very best to rewrite the definition of transgender out of existence. An agenda of social cleansing that feeds into his administration’s insular and antagonistic narrative. We may like to think that Trump’s views are in isolation, that his fear of difference does not seep to our shores, but it does.

The experience of many trans people is incredibly tough. A report from Thomas Reuters Foundation last week found that 20% of trans people still get pushed towards conversion therapy, even within our NHS; and another report from Stonewall showed that in the last year, 12% of trans people have attempted suicide.

With the Government’s consultation on the Gender Recognition Act having taken place this year, trans issues have been all over the mainstream media, with opponents viciously attacking some of society’s most vulnerable people. These attacks are shocking, and the perpetrators are often sat behind keyboards, unable or unwilling  to see the damage their words can cause.

But in Transgender Awareness Week, I want to focus on the positives, and what we can do to improve the lives of trans people going forward.

Our party, the Liberal Democrats, exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. Quite literally, that is our mantra, our values and we have always stood beside those facing inequality and attacks.

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Disability and the Liberal Democrats

Recently, a Party member campaigning to be elected as the local Liberal Democrat candidate invited  me to attend a coffee morning to meet him. Certainly, I said. I must check first though; I assume that the premises are wheelchair accessible? They were not. This is unacceptable.

Frankly, I am completely fed up. Over and over again, I find people campaigning for justice for survivors of sexual assault, the LGBT community, immigrants, and so on, but they do not consider disabled people. Nearly half of disabled people feel excluded from society, and one of the direct causes of this is architectural barriers. …

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European Liberals adopt 2019 manifesto, express regret over Brexit

Liberals from across Europe gathered in Madrid this week to debate and fine tune a document designed to be the focus for liberal campaigning in the run-up to next year’s European Parliamentary elections.

The document is divided into key themes as follows;

  • For a united Europe ready for the future
  • A Europe of innovation and opportunities for all
  • Opportunities and innovation through small and medium-sized enterprise and free trade
  • Digital innovation that benefits and unites us
  • A Europe that leads on the global stage
  • A responsible Europe that works better for you
  • Making every Euro count: investing wisely

It is a document which is ambitious for a liberal Europe, …

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11 November 2018 – today’s absence of press releases

Not surprisingly, there have been no press releases on Remembrance Sunday. Normal service will, I presume, resume tomorrow.

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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #534

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 534th 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 (4-10 November, 2018), together with a hand-picked seven you might otherwise have missed.

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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Senior Liberal Democrats mark 100th anniversary of the Armistice

As acts of remembrance take place in communities the length and breadth of the country, our senior people have said what the day means to them:

Willie Rennie said:

Today we mark a huge milestone of remembrance. We remember and honour those who fought for freedom and gave their lives to keep us safe, in the First World War and since.

100 years on it’s important to take time to reflect on the sacrifice of both those who fought bravely abroad and the men and women who kept life going on the home front.

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William Wallace writes….Britain’s security depends on our co-operation with others

Remembering the First World War is a very immediate emotion for me.  I was the youngest child of a late family.  My father had been born in 1899.  He joined up in mid-1917, and went out in a reinforcement draft to the Highland Division on the Western front in late March 1918, just as the great German attack got under way.  As others died and he survived he rapidly rose from lance-corporal to staff sergeant.  When at last in his 80s he began to talk about his experiences, he told me that at one point he was second in command of the remnants of his battalion, since only one officer was left.  When he told me what he had been through, I wondered if he was exaggerating.  Now that I have read the histories of the Highland Division and of the Gordon Highlanders in the First World War, and checked the place-names he gave me against these records, I know that it was as awful as he said.

But I want to focus on how well we have commemorated the centenary of the first global war, and what lessons we should take from this for the approach to future commemorations, including those for the centenary of the Second World War in 20 years’ time.  I was on the government’s Advisory Group for the Commemoration of World War One from the beginning.  I saw the early exchanges in Whitehall about the approach to take, and I was the first British minister to talk to the German foreign office about how we might work with them to remember together

History, as we all know, is a constant battle over preferred narratives.  As a nation, the British are deeply divided, even confused, about which historical narratives we prefer.  I recall seeing an early memorandum to the then-Prime Minister, in  – it must have been – 2012 which stated that ‘we must ensure, in our approach to the commemoration of World War One, that we do not give support to the myth that European integration is the outcome of the two world wars.’   

The stated purpose of the UK Government’s approach to commemoration of the centenary was educational.  We achieved that aim in engaging our younger generations in discovering the histories of their local communities, and the impact of the loss of life on families throughout Britain.  We have done very well in symbolizing reconciliation with Germany, from the 2014 shared ceremony in St. Symphorien and the shared concerts with the Bundestag Choir in Westminster Hall to the participation of President Steinmeier in the ceremonies of next weekend.  But we have failed in educating them about the wider context of the war, of the extent to which British forces depended on the contributions of allies and of imperial troops.

I recall entering a bookshop in the Yorkshire Dales two years ago, one as well-stocked with volumes on the two world wars as on steam trains and Yorkshire traditions, to find the owner arguing with a visitor about Brexit.  ‘After all, we beat the Germans in two world wars’, he said.  That is, after all, one of the widely-held counter-myths of British history, one propounded by Margaret Thatcher among many others: that Britain stood alone, in two world wars.   I tentatively answered that we’d had a lot of help from others, most of all from the Americans, in both wars – to be challenged that so far as he knew the Americans had not been involved in World War One.

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For Remembrance Sunday

Charles Homer Bosworth was my great grandfather. He lived in Codford in Wiltshire. Born in 1888, he served in the First World War and gets a mention in the Codford Roll of Honour:

Charles Homer Bosworth served in the British Army during World War 1 and spent time in Russia as part of his service.

Until a couple of months ago, that was as much as my sister and I and our cousins knew about his first World War Service. Then we got in touch with our Dad’s cousin in the US and he was able to tell us some more details. Apparently, Charles’ time in Russia involved being captured by the Bolsheviks and held in a cattle train car. Thankfully, he and his colleagues managed to escape, otherwise I would not be here today.

Charles Homer Bosworth continued to serve this country, joining the RAF. By the time World War 2 broke out, he was 51 years old and could have retired. Just two weeks in, he was one of 519 people killed after HMS Courageous was torpedoed off the course of Ireland.

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10 November 2018 – today’s press releases

Never let it be said that we at Liberal Democrat Voice ignore the wishes of our readers. Yesterday, Tony H. suggested that I include a list of the press release headlines at the beginning of the article. It seemed like a good idea to me, so I’ll model this today…

In other news, I’m expanding the range of press releases we publish, including those from the ALDE Party, as you may find them of interest.

  • European liberals adopt manifesto for the 2019 elections
  • No deal Brexit could lead to food shortages in hospitals

European liberals adopt manifesto for the 2019 elections

After a very successful …

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WATCH: Vince Cable tell Europe’s Liberals that Brexit can be reversed

Here’s Vince Cable’s speech to the ALDE Congress in Madrid.

The text follows:

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Baroness Celia Thomas writes….The disabled man in the airport

A few days ago, it was reported that last year a paraplegic athlete, Justin Levene, shuffled through Luton Airport on his bottom because his own self-propelled wheelchair was stuck on the plane. He didn’t want to accept Luton Airport’s offer of a different non-self-propelled wheelchair, not least because of the danger of pressure sores, but also the indignity of losing his independence that had been so hard-won.

I have seen various accusations; that it was churlish, offensive, arrogant, publicity seeking – the list goes on.  However others, notably disabled people themselves, have applauded him for drawing attention to the difficulties people with disabilities face if they travel, particularly the inadequate facilities at airports. Some people have accused him of making a fuss but, until you have experienced how little people seem to consider accessibility issues, making a fuss often becomes the only thing you can do to ensure people take notice. The news coverage of Justin Levene is case in point.

This comes at the end of a week when I attended a meeting about disabled access and inclusion, with two Ministers, civil servants and disabled Peers. We were told about the new cross-departmental committee on disability, and its consultation with the Disability Charities Committee – a group I’d barely heard of.  After a bit, one of the Government-supporting Peers let fly.  He told about attending a VIP dinner at a high-end hotel in central London, only to discover that there was no accessible toilet there, but that he could be led to a bedroom some way away which had an accessible bathroom attached to it. He said he felt worthless and demeaned by that, and made sure he was dehydrated.

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9 November 2018 – today’s press releases

Today’s press releases are running on Spanish time today, which perhaps explains why I’ve missed my usual pre-midnight slot. Regardless, do enjoy today’s press releases…

Another Johnson joins the campaign for a People’s Vote

Responding as Jo Johnson resigns from the Government to campaign for a People’s Vote Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable, said:

We warmly welcome Jo Johnson’s support of the campaign to give the people the final say on the deal and a chance to exit from Brexit.

This is a fascinating situation in which Jo and his sister are united in opposing their brother Boris and his Brexit plans.

Meanwhile

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ALDC by-election report – 8 November 2018

There were four seats up for grabs this week in what was a tricky week for the party. Lib Dem candidates stood in all four elections however faced some tough tests in relatively safe seats. We’d like to thank our candidates Nigel Bakhai, Lesley Rideout, Christopher Styles-Power and Robert Thurston for all their hard work campaigning and for representing the party in some difficult battles.

Ealing LB, Dormers Wells

Lab 1868
Con 429
LD Nigel Bakhai 188
Green 106

Turnout 26%
Lab Hold
Percentage change from 2018

Harlow DC, Bush Fair 

Labour 543
Con 460
UKIP …

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The invisible women

Women have always played a significant role in the life of our villages, towns and cities. The shame is, that their role is largely forgotten and consigned to history.

As a Liverpool councillor, I had the opportunity to redress the balance a little and give ordinary women, who had made a real difference, both a face and a place in our lives.

In Liverpool, the Blitz Memorial Statue depicted a woman and a child. It was based on the true story of a survivor of the Durning Road shelter bombing in the Blitz. Women worked in munitions factories, as nurses, taking the place of men who were called up for service. They kept going when bombs dropped around them and often, as in the case of this survivor, when war robbed them of their children.

Kitty Wilkinson was a woman who landed as a child on the Liverpool shoreline. Her story was passed down from mother to daughter, from generation to generation. She was a working class women whose ideas changed her world, and ours.

Kitty believed that cleanliness was essential to being healthy. During the great cholera epidemic that killed thousands in the city, not one person in her street died. Kitty allowed them to use her copper to keep bedding and clothing clean.

Doctors thought she was mad, but then some realised what was happening. That she was right. Eventually they supported her and Liverpool Corporation, as it then was, built public launderies and provided clean water. Even Queen Victoria knew of her and sent her a silver tea service.

She saved thousands of lives and affected public health and medicine across the globe. But, as a lowly working class woman, didn’t deserve a piece of commemorative art.

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Jo Swinson’s book nominated for an award

Jo Swinson’s Equal Power was one of my best reads of this year. I have now bought or won four copies of the thing – one on my Kindle, one real one and two to give away. Last weekend, I spent a small fortune on yet another at the Edinburgh West dinner. It is a book that everyone should read. It’s not just a book, it’s an action plan. Jo is never one to underestimate anyone’s capacity for work, so she shows us how we can be the change we want to see.

So I’m chuffed to see that Equal Power has made the shortlist in the “Best Non Fiction by a Parliamentarian” category in the Parliamentary Book Awards 2018. The awards ceremony will be held on 4th December and the winners will be chosen by parliamentarians themselves.  The 11 shortlisted books are as follows:

Best Memoir by a Parliamentarian

  • The Power of Politicians by Tessa Jowell, and Frances D’ Souza, edited and with an introduction by Claire Foster-Gilbert (Haus Publishing (published with the Westminster Abbey Institute))
  • In My Life: A Music Memoir by Alan Johnson (Transworld)
  • Confession of a Recovering MP by Nick de Bois (Biteback)
  • Confessions of a Political Maverick by Austin Mitchell (Biteback)

Best Non-Fiction by a Parliamentarian

  • Equal Power: Gender Equality and How to Achieve It by Jo Swinson (Atlantic)
  • Eve Was Shamed: How British Justice is Failing Women by Helena Kennedy (Random House)
  • Yes She Can: Why Women Own The Future by Ruth Davidson (Hodder)
  • Adam Smith: What He Thought, and Why it Matters by Jesse Norman (Penguin)
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Observations of an ex pat: Stones v Avalanche

In the wake of the victory in the House of Representatives, Democrats are preparing to hurl stones at President Trump. The Donald—flushed with Senate victory– has responded by setting loose a pre-emptive avalanche.

The cheers had yet to subside when presumptive Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that Democratic victory in the lower house meant the restoration of legislative oversight and the constitutional system of checks, balances.

In practical terms this means the House withholding funds for Trump’s wall and immigration programmes and launching corruption investigations into cabinet members. Of course, there is also the number one target—Trump and his family. This involves inquiries into sexual misconduct, obstruction of justice, violation of campaign funding laws, possible tax evasion, ethics violations, Russian collusion and, support for the Mueller investigation.

Impeachment is lurking about in the political background. A Democratic majority in the House means they could quickly pass a resolution. But it would hit the brick wall of Trump acolytes in the Senate where a two-thirds majority is required to remover the president from the White House.

Nancy Pelosi also extended the traditional olive branch in her victory press conference. Donald Trump initially responded with a corresponding show of traditional bipartisanship. It lasted—at the most—five minutes. The suspension of White House credentials for CNN reporter Jim Acosta and the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions insured that the political chasm that divides America has only widened.

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8 November 2018 – today’s press releases

High Court rules Government must reverse cuts to modern slavery victims

Responding to today’s High Court ruling that the Government acted unlawfully when it cut payments to modern slavery victims, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

Theresa May once rightly called modern slavery the great human rights issue of our time, but her Government cut support for victims by 40%, leaving them vulnerable to further exploitation.

Now that the court has ruled those cuts unlawful, the Government must reverse them and ensure that victims receive the help they need to escape the terrible bonds of slavery.

You can’t fight

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God Speed The Plough

One of the pleasures of being a PPC is the opportunity to visit many venues in the run up to Remembrance Day on Sunday.

Last week I had a look around the Flower Festival at St Sabinus’ Church, Woolacombe. Many of the exhibits struck a chord – I, after all, grew up on military bases and appreciate from the inside out the sacrifices women, men and children make in service to their country. The embroidered cards with faded handwritten messages, sent back and forth (yes, some French ones sent home to girlfriends from the front line) were especially poignant.

However, one flower display stood out, and that was the tribute to the Women’s Land Army. “God Speed the Plough” honoured the vital work of women undertaken whilst the nation was at war.

The Women’s Land Army was originally set up in 1917 but then dissolved after the First World War. It was reinstated in 1939 as a voluntary service, and then conscripted women from December 1941. “Land girls” did a variety of jobs on grain, stock and dairy farms, including deployment in an anti-vermin squad (‘rat-catchers’).

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I don’t think we’ve heard the last from this guy….

Beto O’Rourke gave Ted Cruz a run for his money in the recent race for the Texan US Senate seat. He comes from the border town of El Paso.



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A fresh new voice in Washington DC

Ilhan Omar has just been elected as US Representative for the 5th district of Minnesota. Along with Rashida Tlaib, elected for Michigan’s 13th district, she is one of the first two Muslim women to be elected to the US Congress.



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Open Energy: information and the market

Information comes in many forms with various claims to ownership. The volume of data and the variety of contexts that transform it into information and knowledge has evolved beyond recognition since Hayek’s seminal work on “The use of knowledge in society”.  However, the importance of the availability of knowledge to the individual, whether person or business, has, if anything, increased and reinforced Hayek’s point that free but informed decisions and economic effectiveness go hand in hand. It is therefore important for policy to address the ownership and access to information to tackle the ensuing asymmetries in decision making and power as exemplified by the energy market.

This topic relates to the important work done by Jo Swinson and Ed Davey during the Coalition to make getting a better utilities deal easier. The current energy market in the UK is a morass of poorly thought out regulation, awkward implementation and skewed market mechanisms.  A move towards nationalisation is not the answer. The situation and elements of a solution have recently been set out clearly in a report sponsored by the Federation of Small Businesses. The report, “Open Energy: Using Data to create a smarter, cheaper and fairer energy market”, compiled by Fingleton Associates, covers the needs of individuals and service providers as well as businesses.

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7 November 2018 – (the rest of) today’s press releases

Tonight’s press releases are brought to you from Madrid, where hundreds of liberals from across Europe are gathering for the ALDE Party Congress. This feature might be rather more erratically timed than usual until Sunday…

Brexit legal advice must be published

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake has called on the Government to end their “murky games” and publish all legal advice on Brexit plans for the Irish border.

Mr Brake said:

Refusing to publish legal advice on Brexit makes a mockery of the discredited mantra ‘Take Back Control’. Choosing to withhold this information from the public raises serious questions about what

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Press Release – 7th November 2018

Pharma leaders call for urgent action to protect medicine supply

A group including representatives of major pharmaceutical companies have written a joint letter to the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, to state that if urgent action is not taken the UK will not have a medicine supply that will suffice in a no deal Brexit.

A letter has been sent to the Health Secretary from organisations including the ABPI, the Brexit Health Alliance, and the ABHI urging the Government to raise the warning level to ‘red’ in regards widespread shortages of medicines and device supply in no deal Brexit.

In the joint …

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HS2 – Is it worth it?

I have been ambivalent about HS2 and working in the rail industry was somewhat biased towards the idea of building a high-speed rail link. I am not always convinced with the arguments when people say we can spend funds better elsewhere as I find such arguments lack a follow through or a wider perspective (yet I propose to do precisely that in this article). However, the astronomical costs of HS2 are making me question if there is a viable business plan anymore. The drive for its build now seems to be political rather than economic.

The Department for Transport (DfT) says there will be almost 15,000 seats an hour on trains between London and the cities of Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds, trebling the current capacity. The plan was HS2 would connect London to Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, and the East Midlands.

The first phase timing was considered ambitious by the Public Accounts Committee which is due to be opened by the end of 2026 for high-speed travel between London and Birmingham. Subsequent phase to Manchester and Leeds could start being built in the middle of the next decade, with the line to be opened by 2032-33. The cost of phase one (London to Birmingham) has already increased from £16bn to £22bn (an increase of 38 percent) due to the amount of tunneling required and purchase of land. The total cost of HS2 at the moment is expected to be £52bn. Although an article in the Sunday Times quoted one of the people who work at DfT, who made the estimates, who now says that the full cost could be well over £100bn.

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Press Release for 7th November

Tory Minister slammed for accusing police of exaggerating pressures

A lot of Tories seem to have taken an approach that when their backs are against the wall say what you need to get away and deal with the consequence later. This is just another example.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey has today slammed Policing Minister Nick Hurd for accusing police chiefs of routinely exaggerating the pressures they face.

Speaking in Parliament today, Ed Davey warned “Police chiefs say the pension deficit, if it’s filled, could cost up to 10,000 police officers.” He asked the Minister “Does he agree with them?”

Responding to Ed Davey, the Minister said: “No I don’t. I think the number is exaggerated, which is not unusual for the police.”

Following the exchange, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

Police chiefs are warning of huge further cuts to police numbers, and the Conservatives’ response is simply to accuse them of exaggerating. It’s deeply alarming.

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  • User AvatarDavid Warren 13th Nov - 6:27pm
    Great for us older liberals to see such enthusiasm. The South East should be fertile territory for the Lib Dems in next years elections where...
  • User Avatarpaul barker 13th Nov - 6:19pm
    The agreement goes befor The Cabinet tomorrow afternoon & then to an EU meeting in 2 weeks. The "Meaningful Vote" will presumably happen in mid...
  • User AvatarRichard C 13th Nov - 4:49pm
    I do not have a disability, so my observations come from working with a number of people with disabilities over many years. Access to public...
  • User Avatarexpats 13th Nov - 4:44pm
    4.30 pm....It seems a withdrawal deal has just been agreed...How, when, what is not specified....So talks of a ;done deal' may well be premature,
  • User AvatarPeter Hirst 13th Nov - 4:31pm
    If a confirmatory referendum was won and we remained in the eu, it would be to improve the institution form inside. We need a detailed...
  • User AvatarPeter Hirst 13th Nov - 3:12pm
    We can't win this battle on our own, we need more people like Jo Johnson to show their dismay at the negotiations and insist on...