Review: The Yorkshire Yellow Book 2019

If Liberal success is to be more than transitory, it needs to be based on a clear vision that can easily be transmitted to and acclaimed by the electorate.  On this basis, Yorkshire’s Liberal heritage is about to be reborn. The Yorkshire Yellow Book 2019 is bursting with ideas about how a future Yorkshire should develop.  Importantly, these ideas are evidence-based and embedded in sound Liberal principles.

The theme of the book – a devolved Yorkshire administration – is set out clearly in an excellent Foreword by Chris Haskins (former chairman of Northern Foods).  Illuminating comparisons between Yorkshire, Scotland, and London are made by David (Lord) Shutt. Yorkshire, with a population almost identical to that of Scotland, has higher unemployment but a lower GVA per head.  Both have GVA figures far behind that of London. Despite its relative prosperity, though, London is to receive over 50% of planned future transport spending in England, even though its extensive transport system is already massively subsidised by the rest of us.  New ways of sharing are obviously needed.

In this context, the authors build a convincing case for devolution. They emphasise that Yorkshire is a strong “brand”, with a recent track record of sparkling achievement in areas as diverse as sport (the Tour de France) and culture (Hull’s successes as City of Culture in 2017).  Philip Knowles points out that the party constitution implies Yorkshire’s entitlement to local decision-making on matters including health, education, agriculture and transport. Other valuable essays examine how Yorkshire devolution could work as part of a broader federal structure, as well as avoiding over-dependence on Leeds.

I was pleased to note scepticism about proposals for elected mayors, because it is difficult for the public to hold them effectively to account.  Rather the authors show a preference for devolution more along Welsh or Scottish lines, which two decades show to have delivered local accountability and to have engendered self-belief (as if that were lacking in Yorkshire!)

Posted in News | Tagged and | Leave a comment
Advert

Johnson’s Proposed Brexit Deal: Chances and likely Impact on UK economy and public finances

Whist there is history of EU negotiations going to the wire and wee-hours of coffee-fuelled (now smokeless) last minute give-and-take, these events tend to be about intra EU matters such as the EU budget or the “musical chairs” argy-bargy of who agreeing who and which country gets which plum jobs within the European institutions. 

Can a modified deal therefore be agreed between the Johnson government and the Commission in time to put forward to the European Council on October 17-18? 

On a range of probabilities, yes, but it is a low-probability one. But it would essentially require the PM to essentially converge – if not fully cave in – to the EU demands.  The chances that the required sequence of steps: agreement, Council blessing, agreement by UK parliament (inc DUP and ERG), and before askance from the other EU27 plus the European Parliament can all be addressed remains unlikely. 

The baseline remains that there will be no FULL agreement in place although the PM could then go to the electorate with a partial agreement that allows him to argue that he has “delivered” pre October 31st  even if the Benn Act kicks in for an extension (which as I have argued could go on to June 2020).

Johnson v May Deal Basics

  • The Johnson deal is to effectively agree that Northern Ireland will continue to, in effect, remain in the status quo governed by EU rules for all goods AND with no border checks with the Republic of Ireland
  • The UK will want to exit from compliance with EU rules on labour and environmental standards where previously there was to be no divergence from EU law
  • The J-deal seeks full flexibility for free-trade deals with 3rd countries where previously it was for services only AND
  • A Good-only EU-UK trade deal akin or “Canada minus”

Implications

  1. Not completely addressed so far but Northern Ireland would in effect become something between the Isle of Man and a full Home Nation and may well set in train the move towards full Irish unification. Leaving aside parliamentary arithmetic and the DUP, put to a referendum, voters in Northern Ireland would likely agree to this.
  2. Both the Johnson and May deals represent a worse outcome economically for the UK vis-à-vis the REMAIN position. 
  3. Modelling undertaken by Professors Menon and Portes (and excluding spillover effects such as a more brutal potential Scottish Independence) have shown that living standards – as measured by per capita incomes –  would decline more under the Johnson deal than under May’s…and both are worse than the current status quo of REMAIN.
  4. That there would be an ouflow of EU workers by up to 600,000 over the coming years partly compensated by an inflow of non-EU workers – with the result of labour shortages in key sectors inc NHS, falling productivity 
  5. No fiscal savings from exiting (aka the £350m per week fallacy) because the UK would have to set up its own agencies where currently the work is delegated to EU bodies, raise its own aid financing currently carried out by the EU and lose access to funds returned through Structural funds and grants for R&D and education
  6. And A WORSENING short-term fiscal scenario relative to REMAIN: around 2% of GDP worse off or equivalent to between £40-60bn.
  7. Beyond the macro-fiscal, there should be alarm bells ringing at the implied roll-back of structural reforms (Competition Policy, State Aid, Consumer Rights, Labour rights et al). The current Johnson deal is arguably even worse from a macroeconomic context and potentially imply a roll-back of a basic framework of labour and consumer rights not seen for generations

Summary

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 4 Comments

The case for carbon fee and dividend in the UK

If we start from the position that in order to slow and halt the climate breakdown we need a root and branch systems change in the way our economy and society is structured and operates, we need to recognise that responses have the potential to negatively impact the least well off in our society.

We know that environmental harms caused by human activity, like air pollution, and that rising energy costs are issues that disproportionately hit the most vulnerable and those with least financial security. 

Every intervention or systems change aimed at slowing the climate breakdown therefore needs to satisfy these questions;

  1. Does this change recognise the magnitude of and respond sufficiently to the threat of climate breakdown?
  2. Does this change meet our obligations to protecting and safeguarding our planet for future generations?
  3. Does this help our economy move to a low or zero carbon footing?
  4. Does this help households adapt their practices and weather the changes in our economy?

Responding to the climate crisis should, fundamentally, be viewed through an economic and social justice lens.

Creating a low or zero carbon economy

Ending our dependence on fossil fuels is one of the biggest changes we could make to slow the climate breakdown.

  • Burning coal, oil, and natural gas is responsible for two-thirds of humanity’s emissions of greenhouse gases, and yet provides more than 20% of GDP in two dozen nation states.
  • Energy accounts for two-thirds of total greenhouse gas emissions and 80% of CO2. Global energy-related CO2 emissions grew by 1.4% in 2017, reaching a historic high of 32.5 gigatonnes (Gt), a resumption of growth after three years of global emissions remaining flat.
  • Emissions from the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) rose by 0.3% in 2017 – the first rise in 7 years.

Moving from dependence on fossil fuels and meaningfully driving rapid investment in renewable energy does have the potential however to leave many people in the UK behind.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 7 Comments

15 October 2019 – the overnight press release

Urgent action needed in mental health and learning disability services – Lib Dems

Today the publication of CQC’s ‘State of Care 2018/19’ report reveals a rise of inpatient services for people with learning disabilities and/or autism that were rated inadequate.

The report also shows a rise of child and adolescent mental health inpatient services rated inadequate.

Responding to the report, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Vince Cable said:

It is rare for a public body such as the Care Quality Commission to be so scathing of the effects of Government policy. Their honesty is to be

Posted in News | Tagged and | Leave a comment

14 October 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Jane Dodds: TV License changes detrimental to dementia sufferers
  • Swinson: Queen’s speech is a charade
  • Fifa and UEFA must take action against racist abuse of players

Jane Dodds: TV License changes detrimental to dementia sufferers

Jane Dodds, MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, is calling on the Government to restore BBC funding in order to protect free TV licenses.

The BBC recently announced that, due to budget cuts from the UK Government, they are moving to scrap the blanket free TV licenses for over-75s and instead only offering them to people claiming Pension Credit.

These licenses have been provided by the BBC since 2000 and approximately 4.5 …

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , and | 4 Comments

Jo: A politics of hope and inclusion, firmly set on a better future

Jo made us all look up today.

Wearing a dress the colour of sunshine, she showed the country a brighter future away from the relentless grind of Brexit.

Certainly, she told Boris Johnson in no uncertain terms how damaging Brexit would be for the country and exactly why the Liberal Democrats would not be supporting his Queen’s Speech. But she went beyond that and painted a picture of much more pleasant future once Brexit has been stopped.

She drew a parallel every woman in politics, or, for that matter, who ever goes to meetings, will recognise:

She had some special words for EU nationals – after she had cited some examples of the stress people had to go through to get settled status.

You can read her whole speech over on the party website. This is my favourite part:

Posted in News | 3 Comments

The Lib Dems have a new Chief Executive

Mike Dixon, currently Chief Executive of Addaction, a mental health, drug, alcohol and young persons charity, has been appointed Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats. He will start his new role next Monday, 21st October.

He was previously Assistant Chief Executive at Citizens’ Advice.

Mike said:

I’m delighted to take on this role. We’ve just had our best ever European election results and new members are joining all the time, taking us to record levels of membership. Millions of people want the country to stop Brexit and focus on things like the climate emergency, investing in schools and people’s mental health.

I’m looking forward to getting started next week. We’ve got a great team, inspirational political leadership and a thriving, inclusive party. If you want change, join us today.

Sal Brinton added:

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 11 Comments

Kurds, Turks, Syria and hypocrisy

I’ll begin by making two things clear. The first is that Trump’s sudden decision to pull US troops out of eastern Syria is self-evidently irresponsible and very foolish. The other is that Turkey’s invasion will cause yet further civilian suffering and I suspect it will ultimately solve nothing. But now I’ve made these two admissions, I want to share some uncomfortable thoughts about the way this new conflict taking place within the borders of Syria is being perceived.

While Turkey’s invasion has hit the headlines, the regime bombing of Idlib and attacks on the ground receive almost no attention by comparison, …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Tagged and | 8 Comments

Welcome to the Lib Dem Health and Care Association!

One of the great things about the Liberal Democrats is that whatever you’re interested in, there’s a group of like-minded people you can join to talk about it and exchange ideas with. Interested in the environment and climate change – join Green Lib Dems. Interested in Europe – join the Lib Dem European Group. Business your area? Join the Lib Dem Business and Entrepreneurs Network. From the Humanist & Secularist Lib Dems and the Lib Dem Christian Forum, all the way to the Lib Dem Friends of Vegans and Vegetarians, and the low-intensity Swiftian …

Posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters | Tagged | 3 Comments

We must put the case for Remain and do it repeatedly in the public domain

I sent our local newspaper a letter giving ten points for Remain; they published it on 1st October with the heading “Ten reasons for us to have a new vote”. That is because I prefaced it by saying “Let me express my joy should there be a public vote to remain.” My reasons were affected by my responding to Brexiteers’ previous letters expressing joy at leaving. I am showing this here because I think we need to be saying much more of this. So many people are unfortunately no longer interested in what goes on in Parliament but their reaction …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 4 Comments

14 October 2019 – the overnight press release

Labour’s renationalisition plans set to cost billions

Responding to the analysis by the CBI that the cost of Labour’s renationalisation plans is estimated to be £196 billion, Liberal Democrat MP Chuka Umunna said:

The Tories are pursuing an ideological hard Brexit, depriving the Exchequer of much needed revenue, whilst Labour plans to do the same with a Labour Brexit in addition to spending billions of pounds with no idea how they will pay for it.

The only sensible alternative to these two broken parties is to stop Brexit and use the resulting Remain bonus to invest in people and public services – the

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 45 Comments

12-13 October 2019 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Lib Dems: Compulsory voter ID is an attempt to rig our elections
  • Lib Dems: Govt must ban arms sales to Turkey

Lib Dems: Compulsory voter ID is an attempt to rig our elections

Responding to the reports that the Government are set to announce it will be compulsory for voters to show identification at the next election, Liberal Democrat shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, Tom Brake said:

The move by the Government to make voter ID compulsory is a thinly-veiled attempt to rig the results of future elections. We know from the pilot back in 2018 that voter fraud was inconsequential, whilst what

Posted in News | Tagged , , , and | 8 Comments

Isabelle Parasram on how she’s working with the English Party to improve diversity

Over on the party website, the Party’s Vice President BAME, Isabelle Parasram, writes about how she is working with the English Party to improve diversity and our party’s engagement with diverse communities.

For example, when I attend high profile events, wherever possible I also invite BAME members and supporters to attend with me.  One such event was the launch of the Commonwealth 8.7 Network at the Australian High Commission.

Through the Commonwealth 8.7 Network, over 60 civil society organisations will work together to push for greater action across the Commonwealth in eradicating modern slavery and achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7.

At my invitation, Michael Bukola, one of our London Assembly candidates, and Dr Victoria Shownmi, an academic specialising in race relations who has been supportive of the work that I am doing, both attended with me.

Not only did they support me that evening, but they built connections and represented the Liberal Democrat brand in a way that I could not achieve on my own.

In terms of community outreach, I met the outgoing Cypriot High Commissioner at an event hosted by the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK.  Stemming from the discussions I had that evening, I will be arranging an event that will build further links between the Cypriot community and our Party.  Recognising the unique needs of our fellow EU citizens and seeking to meet those needs through political policy is part of my broader goal of ensuring that our Party adequately reflects the communities we serve.

She described a visit to Hackney after the murder of a teenager:

I also work with key figures within the Party to raise issues, seek their help in pursuing the cause of race equality and ensure that diversity remains at the top of the agenda for our Party.

Jo Swinson, Pauline Pearce and I went to Hackney following the tragic murder of 15-year-old Tashaun Aird and met with some of his schoolfriends who were on study leave preparing for their GCSEs.  We also visited the local community, observing for ourselves the knife amnesty bin – inaccessible due to building work – the community buildings – either run down or closed down – and the high-rise buildings, with few open spaces or facilities for young people.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | Leave a comment

Jo on Ridge on Sunday: Lib Dems could win General Election

In a clear and confident interview on Ridge on Sunday this morning, Jo Swinson staked her claim to be Prime Minister.

Any Brexit deal, she said, would be as bad for the country as the financial crash in 2008. This is why Lib Dems would be supporting amendments to give the people the final say:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 21 Comments

Are you marching with the Lib Dems to stop Brexit next Saturday?

Next Saturday, as Parliament sits for the first time on a Saturday in 37 years to try and sort the Brexit mess, a massive People’s Vote march will be taking place. MPs will be able to hear the end of the rally in Parliament Square.

The Lib Dems will be marching in support of a People’s Vote with the very clear aim to stop Brexit.

We will be meeting at 11 am at the Duke of Wellington Memorial Statue at Hyde Park Corner.

In October last year, I made the 800 miles

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 5 Comments

Observations of an ex pat: Ashamed

I am ashamed to be an American. That has not always been the case. For most of my life I have been very proud of my heritage.  And hopefully, I will be again.  America is responsible for much good. Its historic stand for democracy and human rights has been inspiring. Its modern achievements in science and technology are staggering,  as are American contributions to world culture, support for the rule of law and the can-do Horatio Alger pioneer spirit.

That is not to say they are no black spots in its historical record: Slavery and the Jim Crow laws; a genocidal war against Native Americans; an iffy war in Cuba and the Philippines; the McCarthy witch hunts; the Vietnam War and the 2003 invasion of Iraq to name but a few. But overall, the American contribution over the past 243 years has been overwhelmingly positive—until now.

The United States has turned isolationist and unilateralist. It has imposed extra-territorial laws on the world while refusing to accept the legality of other nation’s laws. It undermines alliances and regional groups which have maintained the peace for nearly 85 years. Its president praises populist dictators and near-dictators while attacking democratic allies; rides roughshod over the rule of law and forcibly separates families. American foreign policy has been reduced to an interminable string of outrageous blustering threats while its domestic debate is little more than lies suffused with personal insults.

Posted in News | 8 Comments

11 October 2019 – today’s press release

New figures show prison overcrowding crisis getting worse

The Liberal Democrats are calling for an end to short prison sentences, as new figures show the number of overcrowded prisons is rising.

The latest prison population statistics, published today by the Ministry of Justice, show that 73 of the 117 prisons in England and Wales were overcapacity at the end of September – up from 69 at the end of August. Nine prisons are overcapacity by more than 50%.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Christine Jardine said:

Prisons are in crisis. They are stuffed full of people on short sentences, which we know don’t work

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 7 Comments

Layla about to be on Have I got News for You

And it looks like it’s going to be a treat.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 2 Comments

Why I am backing Mark Pack to be President of the Liberal Democrats

Mark has a wisdom, experience and detailed knowledge about the Party. He knows the party at all levels: federal, state, regional and local. He understands the different issues facing Wales, Scotland, England – he gets devolution and is hungry to support local government across the UK. I know Mark will understand the need to listen to members and not assume he knows best.

I’m am invariably involved running campaigns, advising on strategy, mentoring candidates as well as delivering leaflets and knocking on doors. In by-elections over ten, twenty years and in every General Election since 1992 Mark has also been involved offering advice, sharing knowledge, providing training.  His commitment to the success of the Party is total.  And I trust his judgement.

Mark is one of the people I ring for advice. I have been an activist for thirty years and have known Mark since 1992. I know that when I ring him, text him, email him he responds thoughtfully, honestly and helpfully. He teaches and leads – his leadership is faithful, genuine and sincere and I value that.

I have been a parliamentary candidate in a black hole seat, in a target seat, a councillor, a candidate, I have run and led parliamentary by-elections, been an agent – at every step of the way I have learnt from Mark, Sharing knowledge with him brings within it the energy and the spark of a new idea,  When I speak to Mark, work with Mark, ask for advice, I learn something new and explore a new avenue and am more successful and more innovative.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 7 Comments

Encouraging a four day working week

Years ago, I thought the idea of a four-day working week was an unrealistic socialist policy, however over the past 18 months I’ve come around to the idea. After work, most people would like to relax (or canvass for the Liberal Democrats!), but many of us find that there is scarcely the time, especially those who commute and have dependents. After housework and life administration, there is sometimes little time to do anything else besides get ready for bed. 

I still study for professional qualifications and a day off work to study, rather than trying to only squeeze it in on the evenings and weekends, would be useful. I imagine many others who would like to retrain or continue with their studies whilst working feel the same way. 

We shouldn’t force companies to give people an extra day off per week, but we can encourage the option by introducing an Employer National Insurance (NI) tax break for companies offering an extra day off per week. At the moment, the Employer NI rate is 13.8% on the value of salaries and benefits above £166.01 per week. The offer would have to be made to all employees if the individual company wishes to take advantage of the scheme – this would prevent discrimination as there would be no tax break for the company for employees earning below £166.01 per week. Companies would not be forced to offer the extra day off per week, but if they do, it must be offered to all employees. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 7 Comments

Why revoke!

Revoke and put a stop to itIn an ideal world a referendum result would be annulled by a subsequent referendum, the symmetry is undeniable. This is why it has been and is Liberal Democrat policy to support a referendum in which the electorate can choose between a realistic Brexit agreement and revoking Article 50 to remain in the EU. Unfortunately. there is little chance this can happen for the simple reason that there is no Brexit agreement that Brexiters agree upon, nor anything they are likely to agree upon. Nonetheless if Johnson and his inner circle settle on a particular Brexit, it should be put to the electorate.

Three years on from the referendum Brexiters have manifestly failed to find a plan to implement the result. Instead Brexiters have boxed themselves in.  Mrs May. seemingly ignorant of the difference between the Court of Justice of the EU and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, and with a nasty, obsessive fixation about immigrants, issued senseless red lines and quickly sunk herself into a hole. She vainly endeavoured to pander to the most fanatical Europhobes for whom she, nor anyone else, could ever be anti-EU enough.

This failure was unsurprising, the surprise is that anyone might have thought it possible to find agreement between Brexiters who dreamt of an unregulated global free market and Brexiters who dreamt of closed borders and protectionist policies.

May threw away a Conservative majority and Johnson’s purge of the moderates has rendered his putsch incapable of governing. An election beckons, but that too is in the hands of the opposition. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 51 Comments

Shas Sheehan: The unimaginable horror of climate change for marginalised communities

Yesterday, the Office of National Statistics held an event to discuss the social impact on climate change. Lib Dem Peer Shas Sheehan spoke at the event, comparing the Extinction Rebellion protesters to the Suffragettes.

She spoke about how the impact of climate change would be felt most acutely by the most marginalised. Here is her speech in full:

In 1989 I cut short my career in advertising to do a masters in Environmental Technology, at Imperial College.

I wanted to get back to my science roots and study for myself the evidence for environmental degradation. Climate change wasn’t a big thing then. What was exercising environmentalists then included depletion of the ozone layer, acid rain, species loss and of course the radioactive cloud that was the legacy of Chernobyl.

Governments took action on the ozone layer and acid rain, because the evidence that both were caused by man was there before our eyes.

We could see the ozone hole from space, we could see the dying forests and the lakes devoid of life.

Visuals that are quantifiable are important when it comes to carrying public opinion.

So, the cover of the Economist a few weeks ago will have a powerful and lasting effect.

It shows a stripey red, white and blue flag, which colour codes the average temperature for each year starting from the mid 1800s to the present day, as measured against the average temperature from 1971 to 2000.  Colours range from darkest blue to deep crimson.

It is, quite frankly, frightening to see the cumulative effect. Since the 2000s we have been in red territory. And two out of the last three years have been deep crimson.

No wonder people have taken to the streets. They, like the suffragettes a century ago, have right on their side.

Back in 1989 Gro Harlem Brundtland’s Report, “Our Common Future” was a sort of bible for everyone who wanted to make the world a better place.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 3 Comments

Vince, Luciana and Norman write about mental health

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day. Three of our MPs wrote articles on different aspects of mental health.

Vince Cable wrote for Times Red Box (£) about his mother’s post natal depression and the impact on their family.

When I was aged ten, shortly after my brother was born, my mother had a breakdown. She had to go into a mental health unit for the best part of a year. My brother was fostered. When she returned from hospital a year later, she was somewhat better, but her confidence had been shattered.

Today it is still young mothers, or children and young people, who because of the underlying problems in mental health services, are often those who are struggling to get help. Even generally, over half of adults with a diagnosed mental health problem have to wait four weeks to see a specialist. These long waiting times can only make the mental health crisis worse.

And what did he learn about what helps people to recover?

One of the things that really helped my mother improve, both in terms of her mental health and in terms of confidence, was adult education.

Engaging with others, having a supportive structure, did wonders for her wellbeing. That is why the Liberal Democrats will deliver mental health support, not just through the NHS but through communities and throughout society.

By creating a reward scheme for employers who invest in the mental wellbeing of their employees, restoring funding of ‘early help’ services that were cut by the Conservatives, and improving training for health professionals in spotting signs of postnatal depression, the Liberal Democrats will deliver better mental health support for everyone, and ensure help is there before problems becomes crises.

Luciana Berger has long campaigned on mental health issues. For Rethink Mental Illness, she wrote about suicide prevention at a strategic and an individual level:

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 1 Comment

Why we need #worldmentalhealthday

“I’ve got the headache from hell.”

“I’m full of the cold”

“I feel incredibly anxious today”

“My stomach is killing me.”

One of these is not like the others.

We are generally pretty comfortable about sharing when we’re feeling physically unwell, but not so if we are feeling mentally unwell.

I’m not going to lie, I have found these last few months really difficult. I’ve often felt overwhelmed and anxious. In fact, earlier in the Summer, I thought my mental health was going to collapse completely.

The last thing I was expecting from my campaigning trip to Brecon and Radnorshire was to come back feeling restored, refreshed and energised.

I’m not better, though. More days than not, I feel anxious.

And just like many people with physical ill health, I go to work and edit this site and go about my daily life.

The Winter months are generally more difficult than the Summer ones. A fall on ice quarter of a century ago has cast a very long shadow. Going outside when it’s snowy and icy is so exhausting that I’m often fit for nothing by the time I get where I’m going. I have to get used to operating on empty and living in a near permanent state of high anxiety.

And when people diminish what that is like, and laugh about it, it makes life so much more difficult. When people tell you to pull yourself together, they have absolutely no idea how much you are already doing that.

I also think that it is getting easier to talk about things like Anxiety and Depression. Try and say you are suffering from Psychosis and you will often realise very quickly that stigma is thriving.

So that’s my take on World Mental Health Day. This year’s theme is suicide prevention, in particular the acronym WAIT, as Christine Jardine describes:

Alex Cole-Hamilton mentions the importance of listening:

Jo talked of the importance of being able to talk openly:

Jane Dodds has long championed measures to end loneliness and social isolation:

Luisa Porritt and Layla Moran shared their struggles with Anxiety and Depression:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , and | 3 Comments

10 October 2019 – today’s press release

Govt threats to deport EU citizens are appalling – Jardine

Responding to comments by Branden Lewis that EU citizens living in the UK could face deportation, Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Christine Jardine said:

I am absolutely appalled. I have just been at a school where a Hungarian-born pupil told me she was scared about Brexit, and now I learn that the Conservative Government is threatening to deport people like her.

Brandon Lewis has finally confirmed what we’ve known all along: Boris Johnson has no intention of keeping his promise to automatically guarantee the rights of EU citizens living

Posted in News | Tagged , and | Leave a comment

Are the Tories still born to rule?

It would seem so at the moment. We are in an unprecedented, astonishing political crisis, where an alliance of Opposition politicians is trying to stop our Prime Minister from ruining the country by permitting a No Deal Brexit, if no deal can be reached with the EU by October 19.

How can this be? How is it that a man who has already committed an illegal act involving the Queen without accepting that he was wrong, who is universally known for unscrupulous behaviour in pursuit of personal ambition, is permitted to continue in the highest position in the land? His word is so distrusted that Opposition politicians are obliged to try to find additional safeguards to ensure that he keeps to the law. Truth is a stranger to Boris Johnson, yet his Cabinet obeys the directions of himself and his disreputable chief adviser, and his party conference feted him as expected. Unelected by any democratic means, without a majority, having cast out a score of more moderate Tory MPs, he still looks forward to winning a General Election in the near future, since his party is well ahead of Labour in the polls, How can this be?

It has surely more to do than the apparent fact that the country wants Brexit settled now. The Labour Party also wants it settled, and also supports Brexit, albeit after a revised deal is reached. Why does the country, Brexit-riven, not put Labour first now? 

So the question arises: maybe there is still deference in England towards people who appear to assume a right to rule? 

Long after the end of our Empire, perhaps there is still a grudging acceptance that men educated at Eton and Oxbridge, who have old-boy networks linking them to top people in the legal profession, to directors of top companies, financiers and media moguls, who mix easily with successful entertainers and sportsmen and other influential public figures – that maybe they do genuinely have the right to run the country.  Top Tories are a privileged elite, but with their self-confidence and their connections, their directorships and financial heft, who can deny their assumed right to hold power?

Posted in Op-eds | 29 Comments

The EU logic for an extension through to the summer of 2020 and implications for the UK

In a nutshell, the 7-year EU Financial Framework runs 2014-2020. More straightforward for the management of the EU budget for the European Commission and a neat end-point. Or is it?

The noise out of number 10 to be un-cooperative to our continental partners may prove to be temporary bellicose “humbug” to use the PM’s own recent rhetoric – not least if the UK’s common interest in avoiding further regional turbulence in the Levant: military, economic – should US President Trump’s threats to destroy the Turkish economy bear fruit, further potential conflagration into an already fragile middle east that could lead to further issues of migrants that Turkey itself has been in effect paid by the EU to keep in situ through the ‘EU-Turkey refugee agreement’ through a €6bn pledge of which half has already been disbursed.

From the EU’s perspective therefore, there is no other major big EU-wide decisions in the offing for another year that Britain could threaten to either derail or upon which to simply do a spoiler akin to Farage’s MEPs turning their backs in the European Parliament. For EU capitals and the new incoming Commission and European Parliament a year offers enough time for the UK to go through the political catharsis: post October 31st “do or die” deadline gone, an election, perhaps a referendum, who knows maybe yet another election still, a possible Scottish referendum..

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 6 Comments

YouGov’s poll of polls shows that the Government has no mandate for any Brexit, let alone catastrophic no deal

You know if you’re about to do make a really major change to your life, like, for example, get married or divorced, or leave your job, or pack up and move to run a bed and breakfast in the northern highlands (I wish), you should have a sense of certainty that it is the right thing to do. You might feel nervous, but you should also feel a bit excited about the opportunities of your choice.

This country is far from excited and optimistic about Brexit. In the face of overwhelming evidence that any form of Brexit is going to damage our economy, and that a no deal Brexit will put lives at risk from food and medicine shortages, polls suggest that the people have thought again.

A YouGov poll of polls conducted over the past two and  lib years provides conclusive evidence that most people want to remain in the EU.

From City AM:

So far this year, only one poll came out in support of Leave, compared to 74 for Remain.

“The polling evidence is concrete,” Anthony Wells, director of political research at Yougov, told the newspaper. “The overwhelming majority of questions asking people if Brexit is right or wrong, or if they would now vote Remain or Leave, show a lead for Remain, and have done for over two years.”

The results appear to fly in the face of the government’s strategy of framing the Brexit question as parliament versus the people.

“The characterisation of the situation as people vs parliament doesn’t really stand up when the public are split over Brexit. It is more a case of half the public vs half of Parliament,” Wells added.

The poll-of-polls showed that Leave began 2017 with a lead of 51 per cent to 49 per cent, a marginally narrower gap than the referendum result.

Britain Elects draws similar conclusions:

Posted in Op-eds | 26 Comments

LibLink: Luisa Porritt MEP: Britain’s Democracy Gap

In an article for Politico, Deputy Leader of Britain’s Lib Dem MEPs Luisa Porritt argues that the behaviour of the British Government is damaging democracy in this country.

A British government that is threatening to march the country out of the European Union because it claims its institutions are “undemocratic” shut down its own country’s parliament last month. Prime Minister Boris Johnson uses incendiary language and accuses those who disagree with his Brexit policy of “terrible collaboration” with the EU.

Britain today is increasingly out of step with the basic principles of democracy it once would have championed.

The Brexiteers, ironically, decry the EU as undemocratic. That’s simply not true:

Compare that with what’s happening in Brussels. While my British parliamentary colleagues were shut out of their chamber against their will, members of the European Parliament have been pressing on with urgent issues.

The European Parliament is scrutinizing the incoming Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s new team and has taken a strong stand against nominees with potential conflicts of interest. MEPs have also set an ambitious agenda to tackle the climate emergency and ensure that the EU’s member states uphold the rule of law — something our own government needs reminding of.

How far, she notes, we have fallen:

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , , and | 9 Comments

9 October 2019 – today’s press releases

  • New figures show 2.7 million EU citizens without Settled Status
  • Swinson: Millions in Britain value our place in the EU

New figures show 2.7 million EU citizens without Settled Status

The Liberal Democrats have warned that the Government is failing to guarantee the rights of all 3.6 million EU citizens in the UK, as new official figures show that fewer than 1 million people had been given Settled Status by the end of September.

The latest EU Settlement Scheme Statistics, published today by the Home Office, show that 929,600 people had been granted Settled Status by the end of September 2019 – meaning …

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 3 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPaul Barker 15th Oct - 8:14pm
    While I understand some of the concerns expressed in this thread I disagree about the threats facing us. Right now, it seems to be that...
  • User AvatarDavid Evans 15th Oct - 7:36pm
    TonyH - It's not tribal to expect senior appointments to be long standing Lib Dems with real knowledge of how the UK political system grinds...
  • User Avatarfrankie 15th Oct - 6:57pm
    They may indeed hang tough for awhile, but as a country we are unused to pain, especially the boomer generation. When bad things happen expect...
  • User AvatarCllr Fran Oborski MB 15th Oct - 6:52pm
    He appears to be a LibDem Member but Id like to know for how long and in which Constituency as I would then like to...
  • User AvatarGuinevere Barnes 15th Oct - 6:00pm
    While much electricity is generated from renewables and nuclear, much is still generated from CC gas turbine plants with an efficiency of around 50% -...
  • User AvatarTonyH 15th Oct - 5:41pm
    His CV is impressive, But it is certainly a concern that he was a Labour SPAD from 2006-9. https://uk.linkedin.com/in/mike-dixon-6252b138 Has he perhaps joined the party...