‘How should the UK change its refugee family reunification policies’: LD4SOS at Brighton Fringe meeting

There were plenty there to hear our panel of speakers and enjoy the refreshments provided courtesy of Lib Dem Voice despite us clashing  with a big consultation on the supporters scheme.

Tim Farron MP started off with a review of the overall position and welcomed the approval earlier in the day of policy motion F16 with all 5 amendments, most notably amendment #1 (LD4SOS). He reminded us that in debates we are not just talking about policies but real people who are affected. He talked about the experience of visiting  Calais, where it was clear that what people were looking for was safety, not a nice life on benefits.

Posted in Conference | Tagged and | 5 Comments
Advert

‘Best local election campaign’

Campaigners in Kingston upon Thames are rightly proud of receiving the ALDC award for the Best Local Election Campaign in 2018, especially given the high quality campaigns in many other areas including our neighbours in Richmond.

We’d love to share our story with you and maybe offer some hope and inspiration.

In May this year we increased the number of Lib Dem councillors on Kingston Council from 18 to 39, out of a total of 48. Of those,

  • 26 were new Councillors, all of whom stood for the first time
  • the majority (22) were female, with at least one woman standing in every ward, two with newborns!
  • the age range is 22 to 74 years old, with every decade represented
  • 23% are BAME (matching the Borough as a whole) and include the first Councillor of Korean heritage
  • between them they speak 10 different languages
  • we have strong LGBTQ and disability representation.

We are fortunate to have gained a significant number of new members after the general election in 2015, and again after the referendum in 2016. However, we did not sit on our laurels and we actively looked for local community activists who support Liberal Democrat principles as potential candidates.

Posted in Campaign Corner | Tagged and | 10 Comments

The ‘Stay In Offer’: the big Liberal Democrat Brexit initiative

As the doomed ‘Chequers’ fantasy proposal bites the dust and the Labour Party moves towards a ‘vote on the deal’, mainstream public opinion is moving away from a hard Brexit and very slowly away from Brexit itself.

But there is something missing. A gap. A chasm. A canyon.

The rabid Brexiters have already started their defence against anyone suggesting Brexit might cancelled, as if we have already left and as if reversing the Article 50 process or nixing the ‘transition’ period would already be both cumbersome and painful. Their new Mendacity Mark 2 vehicle has its engine running even now.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 14 Comments

Desperate times call for despairing PR measures

As the UK stares down the barrel of Brexit, and after a Liberal Democrat conference which didn’t inspire any anticipation of an impending poll surge, the Liberal Democrats need to present a truly radical offering.

The state of UK politics is desperate. The Conservatives are incompetently led, and with eccentric right-wingers lying in wait to add their own special layers of incompetence when May eventually falls.

The Labour party are likewise incompetently led, with no immediate prospect of that situation being resolved either.

What should fill us all with foreboding is that these parties’ internal democracies have evolved to a point where they …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 50 Comments

Whither or wither moderation after Party Conference

I’ve been a bit busy since I left Brighton. Two health conferences; a meeting with a Minister; full Council and picketing the Labour Conference have kept me fairly occupied!

But the inevitable train journeys and waiting times have given me the time to reflect on what I saw and heard in Brighton.

Firstly, I heard no-one who described themselves as a moderate. Good, because neither am I! The fact that we are neither loony left or loony right does not make us moderates. We are a Party with fundamental principles that would cause a much greater upheaval in our society and in …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 11 Comments

Three ways Brexit is hitting London

At May’s council elections in Sutton, I was proud to defeat the Tories’ deputy leader, not least because he proudly backs Brexit. I’m a born-Londoner who’s lived in four different boroughs, and I’m not sure how you can claim to have London’s best interests at heart when you back a major event that will hit our city.

Here’s how Brexit is already hitting London. You may find these useful talking points when you’re on the doorstep making the case for a People’s Vote:

1. Risking our NHS: London is twice as reliant as the rest of the country on EU nationals …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 4 Comments

Welcome to my day: 24 September 2018 – Unicorns R’Us

Look, Theresa, I really don’t understand this. The European Union have told you that you can’t have this. You keep telling them that it’s what you want. When are you going to understand that, when you choose to leave, you get what they want you to have, especially when you have no status quo to revert to?

One assumes that someone has tried to explain this to our Prime Minister, but given that she has rather painted herself into a corner, it probably wouldn’t make any difference. In fairness though, even without her ludicrously self-harming red lines, her platform is being demolished by the ERG on one side, and the Democratic Unionists on the other.

And yes, there are signs that more thoughtful senior colleagues are looking for a way out, but between a Canada+++ option, which doesn’t solve the Irish border issue, and a Norway (—?) option, which doesn’t really exist, it does appear that we’re heading for either a snap election or no deal. And whilst Liberal Democrats might benefit from the former, is it likely to resolve anything, or would another even more painfully hung Parliament be the outcome? I was, at least, impressed by Jeremy Hunt’s spoken Japanese…

So, where are we now? Labour are meeting in Liverpool, with creative ambiguity the order of the day over Brexit.

The Party’s membership, having been described as a middle-class elite by Iain Dale (who should really know better), appears to be overwhelmingly in favour of a “people’s vote” – it’s called internal Party democracy, Iain – with a leader who, frankly, isn’t. Can. or will, Jeremy and his mate Len deny their supporters the vote that they seem to want? And if they do, what do those who joined Labour to fight Brexit do?

Elsewhere, the Prime Ministers of Malta and the Czech Republic have suggested that a referendum wouldn’t be unwelcome. In other words, if a referendum took place, European leaders would be minded to give us an extension to the deadline in order to complete it. Unsurprisingly, this was seen by the Brexiteers as being an unwarranted interference. It’s called “giving you more options”, but these are Conservatives against choice, it seems. As is always the case, Conservatives only believe in freedom and choice when the freedoms and choices on offer are ones they approve of.

But I sound angry this morning, and it’s too nice a day for that. We’ve got a full slate of articles on Brexit, on party reform, on electoral reform and campaigning, so there’s plenty for you to get your teeth into.

And, if you need a laugh, here’s a video of men in penguin suits attempting to fill buckets of water on a revolving turntable (TW: Stuart Hall is doing the commentary)…

Posted in News | Tagged | 6 Comments

Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #529

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 529th 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 (16-22 September, 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:

Posted in Best of the blogs | Leave a comment

WATCH: The moment Tim Farron was pwned at Conference

Tim Farron made a barnstormer of a speech in the migration debate at Conference last week, and was largely credited with fending off the threat of a Reference Back.

However, the Chair of Lib Dem Immigrants, Lisa Maria Bornemann, pointed out a flaw in his argument, to the great amusement of everyone in the hall except Vince. Watch our Leader’s face. And contrast with Tim’s realisation that he had been well and truly pwned. I was sitting right behind him and just after this he turned to me, still laughing, and said something along the lines of “Well, that’s me done.”

Posted in News | 7 Comments

Why bi-visibility day is important

Today is Bisexual Visibility Day. Even now, bisexuals come in for a fair bit of prejudice even from other parts of the LGBT community. LGBT+ Lib Dems have put out a statement to mark the day:

Today we are marking the twentieth annual Bi Visibility day, which aims to raise the profile and visibility of bisexual people within our society – a society which so often overlooks them. Whilst great progress has been made in advancing rights and acceptance for gay and lesbian people (although of course, there is more to be done), bisexual people often suffer from assumptions based on the gender of their current (or last) partner and the prejudices of their peers. Media portrayals can trivialise their experiences, treat them as curiosities, or suggest that their sexual appetites are greedy and promiscuous. In such a climate, young bisexuals can feel pressured to “pick a side” and this is part of the reason why bi people suffer from far worse rates of mental illness than either gay or straight people. On top of this, the needs of bisexuals are often overlooked in the provision of health and social services.

Their chair Jennie Rigg added:

As Liberals, we stand against conformity and judging people based on their gender or the gender of their sexual or romantic partners. As a bisexual woman, I refuse to be put into a box by others because of the gender of the person, or people, I form relationships with. Today I celebrate Bi Visibility day by being even more visible than I normally am, and stand up for my bi siblings who do not yet feel able to be as visible as I am. My fellow bis are valuable and valid whether they are out or closeted, and I will continue to fight for their rights.

Follow the LGBT+ Lib Dems Twitter account for useful resources throughout the day. Here are some other Lib Dems marking the occasion on Twitter:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 1 Comment

LibLink: Tom Brake: Parliament must be recalled to introduce People’s Vote legislation

Tom Brake has called for Parliament to be recalled in the wake of Theresa May’s statement yesterday.

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, published on Politics Home, he argued that a People’s Vote was the only safe exit to the chaos over Brexit.

The purpose of recalling Parliament would be to enable the Liberal Democrats, other parties and Parliamentarians from across the House to work with you to ensure that legislation for a final say on the deal or People’s Vote is drawn up immediately. A People’s Vote could then be held before the European Elections in May.

With the EU and your own MPs lined up against Chequers, Chequers has no future. No Deal, which you persist, wrongly, in claiming is the only alternative that could be offered to Parliament will not command a majority in the Commons.  In these circumstances, a final say on the deal, so that people can choose between any deal the Government do eventually secure or staying in the EU is the only safe exit from the chaos the Conservative and other Brexit supporters have inflicted on the UK. Such a final say on the deal will of course require an extension to Article 50 so the legislation can be drafted, the question considered and the election conducted, but our EU partners have indicated an extension would be granted for this purpose.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , , and | 4 Comments

Checking my underwear

Dateline: Brighton, September 2018

Wandering into Conference a leaflet is thrust into my hands. It touches on current Government consultation on the Gender Recognition Act.

One paragraph of the leaflet sets the tone “sex self-ID that would allow any man to get his birth certificate reissues in the opposite sex. Just like that. On demand. With no change to his body and no medical supervision.”

The rest of the leaflet is a list of scenarios each more prurient than the last. None of these scenarios are evidenced as ever having happened, no evidence that a trans woman has ever abused the trust of other women in these sensationalist and inflammatory ways. Just a list of “what if”.

Leaving aside the paucity of the author’s hypothesis there is another consideration, if not sex self-ID then what?

The author suggests “changes to his body” and “medical supervision”.

While this article is not a treatise on the NHS most people recognise that for anything beyond measles that means triage, waiting times, a postcode lottery, financial limits and gatekeepers.

In the context of the current gender recognition process (leading to a Gender Recognition Certificate and a new Birth Certificate) that means two medical practitioners from suitable disciplines with experience in treating gender dysphoria.

Let me tell you about my gatekeepers.

My third psychiatrist was a sincere doctor from Iran. They cared about their patients, understood the genuine and immediate health care implications of gender dysphoria – depression, stress, frustration, anger, self-harm, self-loathing and suicide. They wanted to help not just by treating the symptoms, but the root cause as well. Everything a good doctor should be.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 5 Comments

Why a “Movement for Moderates” needs radical Lib Dems at its heart

Moderation is in crisis in Britain. Extremists have taken over our politics, while those who aim to speak up for the moderate majority find themselves with little influence over the levers of power. 

The problem for moderates today is that there can be no return to the old post-war consensus, built on the notion that ever-increasing prosperity would gradually trickle down to everyone. That theory died in the financial crisis 10 years ago. No one today can drum up any enthusiasm for ‘third way’ centrism, even when tempered with a solemn promise that it’ll be kinder and more sensible than the alternatives. 

Today, Britain can only be healed by a new social contract, one that leaves no one behind and gives hope to every individual and community. This requires a huge shake-up in how we organise the affairs of our country, but the only plans on offer so far are founded on extremist dogma. Those of us who want moderation to thrive again must put forward our own compelling vision for change. That’s what Lib Dems can offer — a radical, progressive plan to reshape Britain. 

So don’t be misled about the nature of this Movement for Moderates. Lib Dems propose real change, inspired by our almost maniacal devotion to the dispersal of power and privilege, in both the private and public sectors. Our programme sets out to disempower the autocrats and extremists — and to unleash the forces of moderation — by giving communities and citizens the means to control their own destiny. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 7 Comments

Could we be facing a November General Election?

The Sunday Times today has a report that Tory strategists are starting to think about a General Election in November. I would be very surprised if they were only just starting to think about it now.

The chances were always that there would have to be some recourse to the country if Theresa May couldn’t get whatever deal she managed to get through Parliament.

How on earth, though, could Anna Soubry and Jacob Rees-Mogg fight an election on the same manifesto? If, as is being suggested, the Tory manifesto goes for a hard Brexit basic Canada style trade deal, how could the likes of Sarah Wollaston, Nicky Morgan and Justine Greening back that? I mean the Chequers (Dis)agreement sells our predominantly service based economy down the river and the Canada deal is worse than that. We also have to remember that Canada is already part of a major free trade alliance in America. The EU deal provides them with new opportunities but they don’t need it to survive. In contrast, we would be isolated, forced to accept terms that would be injurious to us from the likes of Donald Trump and trading on a much worse basis with our closest neighbours than we are at the moment. There is no upside to this at all.

How on earth could David Lammy, Stella Creasy, Hilary Benn and the bulk of the Labour Parliamentary Party fight an election on a manifesto written by Corbyn’s team. We know he is a Brexiteer. We know that he put absolutely no effort into the Remain campaign during the referendum. There is no way he would run on a stop Brexit platform. We need the Labour leadership to go out there and win the arguments among its voters and, just like in the referendum, they won’t. And we know that in any snap election, the Tories will, to distract from their own divisions, go after Corbyn’s character and record  in a way they didn’t manage in 2017.

So we could be the only party across the UK going into this with a clear and coherent policy – Stop Brexit Chaos with the Lib Dems. And we would really have to articulate that message with clarity and purpose.

In Scotland, we would be the only party going into this with the eminently consistent position of supporting remaining in both the EU and the UK. That puts us on the side of most people in the country.

We have to recognise, though, that we would be fighting in a First Past the Post system. Conversations would, I think, have to be had with people of a similar mindset to us. There is no point in splitting the vote. We have to stand pretty much everywhere because that is critical for Short funding, but all of us of who want to stop Brexit across all parties would have to make some pragmatic decisions on an informal basis about how we campaign in individual seats.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 22 Comments

Lib Dems call for recall of Parliament, Jane Dodds calls for PM to go and Rennie challenges Scottish Tories on People’s Vote

Here’s a quick summary of the Lib Dems’ reaction to Theresa May’s statement on the Brexit negotiations yesterday:

Tom Brake called for Parliament to be recalled:

The Prime Minister has had the most humiliating European summit in recent memory and returned with a tattered Chequers deal, making a no deal Brexit more likely than ever.

Two years down the line and the only consensus the PM has made across Parliament and the EU is that Chequers is unworkable.

Instead of pontificating to television cameras, May must now recall Parliament to explain how she got the country into this terrible mess, what her plan is to get us out of it, and when we can have a people’s vote and an exit from Brexit.

Welsh Leader Jane Dodds reckons we need a change of PM:

Theresa May pledged to the country to get the best deal possible but her unwillingness to compromise has left her isolated and now she’s doubling down on her fantasy Chequers deal. You cannot simply keep trying negotiate a deal which has already been ruled out by almost everyone involved and expect an eventual success, politics does not give marks for effort.

Brexit did not, and should not, mean whatever the PM decides it means. It took us 18 months to get the Chequers paper and her religious support of it shows the PM has no realistic plan for Brexit, that’s why she must resign. She has failed to listen to the people, failed to listen to the EU and never quite accepted she lost the General Election. I fully understand the difficulties she faces within her own party, but the buck must stop with her as PM and party leader.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 23 Comments

Winning in London in 2020

It’s little over 18 months before the Greater London Authority and London mayoral elections. Doesn’t time fly? This time they are more important than ever. Not only are these critical elections for London, they also garner national media attention, so a good showing will help deliver a stronger national performance for the Liberal Democrats at the next general election.

That means now is the time to do some serious research so we can devise our strategy on how we can win in London in 2020.

This is why I have helped commission and fund a full professional, programme of polling. I brought in Populus to undertake both qualitative and quantitative research in London to identify potential switchers, who they are, where they are coming from, where they live, and what issues are important to them.

Without giving away too many secrets the research confirms the recent surge in Liberal Democrat support, and demonstrates that pushing the Tories into third place in the capital is an achievable if challenging goal.

The Tories in London will undoubtedly have a pro-Brexit candidate. As they retreat having a relevant offer for the majority of the cosmopolitan, culturally diverse and tolerant voters of London – who voted heavily to Remain – it seems likely that the Conservative candidate’s votes will be restricted to the party’s core of right-wing supporters.

In line with other recent research the polling also revealed a large group of unaligned voters, with high intention to vote and open to considering the Liberal Democrats.

All of this indicates that a strong strategy focussed on the switchers, their concerns and priorities will gain a strong positive response. The challenge as always will be to demonstrate our values through relevant and distinctive policies (not the other way around) on crime, housing and the environment.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 5 Comments

How Israel frustrates Palestine’s education

In the current issue of Times Higher Education (13 September), you’ll find a piece by Palestine’s Raja Shehadeh, about the way Israel discourages foreign faculty from teaching in Palestine.  Precisely half of the 64 foreign academics working in Palestine, have been adversely affected by denial or restriction in their permission to work, over the past two academic years. 

Once a university has invited a foreign academic to join its faculty, Israel uses an opaque two-tier system of control, through the Civil Administration in the occupied territory and, if an application clears that hurdle, the power of veto by Israel’s Interior Ministry.  The process is uncertain, Kafkaesque and has every appearance of being discriminatory, to impair the fundamental purpose of education, the dissemination of knowledge and the deepening of understanding. Unable to plan their future, such applicants give up, seeking employment elsewhere. Some Palestinian-born faculty educated in the US or Europe have also been denied residency. 

Israel’s handling of these applications seems tainted with illegality. In his ground-breaking book, Occupier’s Law, published in 1985, Shehadeh showed how the Civil Administration in the West Bank, which issues (or withholds) work permits, was created as part and parcel of ‘solutions for the legal problems encountered in achieving the goal of annexing the West Bank without its inhabitants,’ itself a profoundly illegal process. 

The second tier of Israeli control, however, lies within Israel’s Ministry of the Interior, which issues (or withholds) entry visas for residence in the Occupied Territory. Even where visas are issued, visa extensions may be denied on the grounds that foreigners may not reside in Israel for more than five years. But they are, of course, residing in the Palestinian territory, not in Israel. Under the Laws of Occupation, it may be debatable whether this illegally transfers powers that should remain within occupied territory. Yet it clearly transgresses operative clause 5 of the recent UN Security Council Resolution 2334 (December 2016), which requires all Member States, and that of course includes Israel itself, ‘to distinguish in all their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.’  

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

Lib Dem fury at Windrush betrayal

So, under cover of an incendiary and irresponsible statement by the Prime Minister on Brexit, the Home Office slips out a statement announcing that it is betraying the Windrush Generation by denying some of them the citizenship that it rightfully theirs.

From the Independent:

In a statement issued late on Friday afternoon, the Home Secretary said a number of Caribbean nationals who came to Britain between 1948 and 1971 would not qualify for citizenship because they failed to meet the “necessary good character requirement” due to committing criminal offences.

Windrush citizens are supposed to be afforded the same rights as British citizens, so the announcement is likely to prompt renewed accusations that they are effectively awarded second-class status.

You have to bear in mind that the criminal justice system has at times been institutionally racist and a black person going through it would have got a much rougher deal than a white person.

And the “good character requirement” has come under fire this week as, separately, it was revealed that children as young as 10 had been failed on character grounds.

Liberal Democrats have reacted with anger to this news:

The Lib Dem Campaign for Racial Equality said:

Ed Davey said:

The Windrush scandal was caused by Home Office hostility and inflexibility.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , and | 5 Comments

Tim Farron writes: Corbyn is handing the incompetent Tories the next election

The guilty pleasure of my political life is the years I spent involved in student politics. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, I attended no fewer than 10 conferences of the National Union of Students – as a result I accidentally became a connoisseur of the various factions of theLabour party. Even as a Liberal, if one spends much time in student politics you are bound to make friends with folks in Labour. To me, Labour is like a fascinating enemy country. We are at conflict with them, but I am somehow fond of their natives and traditions.

Those who today are running Her Majesty’s Opposition, were – back then- selling newspapers outside the Student Union building. Who’d have thought it?

I don’t know Jeremy Corbyn very well but quite like him on a personal level having had the occasional chat over the years. WhenLabour were in power, he was always in the Lib Dem lobby…

Jeremy and his former newspaper selling mates have a problem. They don’t know how to talk to people who aren’t already converted. Jeremy Corbyn has a 40 year history of talking only to friendly audiences on left-leaning causes. He speaks in favour of Palestine to pro-Palestine meetings, speaking up for Irish Republicanism to pro-Republican audiences, promotes unilateral nuclear disarmament to crowds who already agree with him.

The Labour leader is a master of preaching to the converted. I’m not sure how principled this is, but it is neither brave nor wise. If all you do is to go with the grain of the earnest and like-minded people around you, you will ruffle no feathers, win no converts and never get to test the effectiveness of your arguments.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 25 Comments

Reflections on Brighton

After a short period at the Lib Dem conference I am still in Brighton for a couple of days. Brighton is quite a good place to reflect on the state of the UK.

Thinking back, Brighton used to be in much better nick than it is now. Many pavements are cracked and broken, many of the houses and hotels look run down and in need of repair and renovation. The seafront is not particularly special and the West Pier is still a burned out shell. Here, in one of the UKs premier resorts, there are many homeless people on the streets and many beggars as well. Hardly the sort of Britain that we Liberal Democrats want to see!

Recycing largely takes place by means of unsightly bins strewn around the streets and the former green-run council’s recycling policies made a mockery of recycling anyway.

I suspect that much of this is the result of austerity, especially the massive cuts to the finances of the local council that no longer enable it to respond to the needs of the Brighton and Hove Community.

Brexit will hardly improve matters, because hotels and restaurants here rely heavily on European workers and they may not be available after March 2019.

Although I have no direct information, I suspect that housing is expensive and that many people, especially the young, have no hope of getting on the housing ladder and live in the private rented sector with its high prices and insecurity of tenure.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 11 Comments

Conference Success for Radical Association

Members of the Radical Association Executive have had a significant impact at this year’s Autumn Conference. I’m extremely pleased with the work that the Executive and our supporters have put into this Conference and thankful for all the time that you have given. Thanks to those efforts we managed to pass a significant policy amendment on each day of the Conference.

Our Director, April Preston, managed to significantly strengthen the party’s new disciplinary processes, with the addition of a proposed AIR (Anonymised Incident Reporting) system. This will allow encrypted initial reports to be made in which both the complainant and accused would be anonymous. The party can then inform the anonymous complainant what actions would be needed and who would need to be de-anonymised in order to turn the report into a formal complaint, and what support might be available to the complainant.

Similar systems in the US have greatly increased reporting rates and we’re proud to say that this will make the Liberal Democrats a forward-looking beacon of best practice when it comes to building a welcoming movement that can take effective action against those who drag our movement down. We are extremely grateful to Becca Plenderleith, Chair of Scottish Young Liberals, for bravely sharing her own experience of being let down by the current system and making a strong case for AIR.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 1 Comment

Some Brexiteers do not play the democratic game

Democracy, in a civilised society, has its rules. One of them is, if not the respect, at least the polite tolerance of others. Humility and caution are two additional requisites, I would suggest, for whoever wishes to express political opinions.

A number of Brexiters, learning of a growing desire among many to see another people’s vote take place are, like bad sports players, now sliding into disrespectful and even injurious behaviours. The Spectator for example, published a few days ago an article entitled ‘The People vs Brexit‘. Its author, Mr Rod Liddle, writing:

The People’s Vote monkeys now buttress their demands for

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 32 Comments

Observations of an ex pat: development bonds

Every now and then you have to blow your own horn. This is one of those occasions when I am going to do just that.

Last week I won a commendation from the award committee of Britain’s Ashdown Prize for Radical Thought. It would have been nice to win first prize and the cash that went with it, but the commendation provides me with a modicum of credibility and the hook to promote it.

The commendation was for my proposal for “Development Bonds.”  What, you may ask are Development Bonds? Well, I think they are a multi-level win/win solution for a transfer of capital from the developed to the developing world.

It works like this: Developing World governments  propose projects for consideration. Developed World governments approve or disapprove the projects using an agreed criteria. Financial institutions raise the capital through bond issues. Developed countries encourage investment in the bonds  by offering taxpayers relief on the repayments.

The template for the development bonds are America’s municipal bonds.  Contrary, to public opinion, municipal bonds did not originate in the US. They were common during the Renaissance when the Italian city states regularly used them to raise money for public building projects. But they came of age in the US in 1812 with a New York City bond issue to build the 327-mile Erie Canal which linked the nascent potential of the American West to the port of New York and through it the markets of the world.

Thousands of cities and local authorities around the globe raise money through bond issues. But America’s municipal bonds stand out by offering income tax relief on the repayments. This means that they attract not only institutional investors but also high-wealth private individuals. American municipal bonds are one of the chief financial instruments that have transformed the United States from a resource-rich, backward, often corrupt, virgin territory—not unlike Sub-Saharan Africa today—into the world’s only super power.

Development Bonds would achieve the following:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 2 Comments

Some thoughts on Vince’s party reforms

I have kept reasonably quiet about Vince’s reforms since his announcement on 7th September because I wanted to let others have their say.

My sense at Conference is that people were interested in what he had to say. Everyone had things they liked and things they didn’t. They were all going to respond to the consultation with varying degrees of pleasure and pain. This is how it is supposed to be.

I do want to slightly disagree with my fellow Federal Board members who have been talking to Politics Home about the process, though. They complained about being “bounced.”

Now, I don’t think that’s fair. Certainly, back in June, there was an attempt to slip in something about a Supporters’ Scheme into the motion of the Federal Levy and Subscriptions to be discussed at Conference. The Federal Board then said “Hang on a wee minute, here.” The Federal People Development Committee was given the job of looking at this in more detail. The Committee’s amazing chair, Miranda Roberts, one of the most competent and patient people I know, has written about that process here and here. The process of holding the leadership back had thus worked.

In between times, after articles had started to appear in the press over the Summer, Vince spoke to a special meeting of the Federal Board in July about what he was thinking about. At the end of August, Federal Board members were asked to contribute their views about his ideas. He hadn’t told us fully what they were, but given that his 7th September speech reflected most of the press coverage, well, you didn’t need to be a rocket scientist.

So, on the last day of my holiday, I had to drag myself out of bed at the crack of bloody dawn to write down my views for Vince. I actually forgive him, because I was able to take this amazingly atmospheric photo of the bay outside the holiday cottage as the sun rose.

By this point the only bit he hadn’t told us was what he was going to say about the future of his leadership. But then that didn’t take a rocket scientist to work out either.

I wrote him an essay of epic proportions which I might actually post on here one day.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 22 Comments

Extremist moderates, now is the time for us to lead!

This was a title that just grew at the Brighton Conference. Paddy Ashdown started it by remarking at one of the huge Consultation sessions on Vince’s new ideas,“You’re all extremists! Or you wouldn’t be here!” By the end of Conference, extremism had attached itself to the formerly scorned idea that we activists are moderates, adherents of the Centre ground where the majority of the British public live. So, we are happy to admit a connection to the moderate majority, so long as it is known that we are extremists too!

Of course, we are not THAT sort of extremist – a rabid Brexiteer of the Right, or fanatical Corbynite of the Left. But we are pretty extreme in our demands from the leadership, not least to be consulted before ideas leak out to the voters we want to attract. Vince admitted in the Saturday Consultative session to being himself “a bit of a Stalinist”, but added wryly that this party would quickly have seen off Stalin.

There will surely always be a conflict between an open-minded, Liberal and democratic party and its leader, when the leader chooses to put forward radical new ideas in ways that attract the media’s attention but annoy the party faithful. For Vince to start talking about stepping down seemed a crazy distraction at first, given his security compared with that of either May or Corbyn, but it got some publicity, especially as the date remained vague. Then his proposing the extraordinary idea that his successor might not be a Lib Dem MP, or even possibly an MP at all, naturally aroused the media while infuriating the non-consulted party. That Gina Miller had been booked to address the Conference also titillated the media to speculate on a possible connection.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 36 Comments

A view from conference: the Party disciplinary processes debate

Around April 2015, I was seriously considering not voting for the Liberal Democrats in the upcoming general election. It wasn’t the mistakes of the coalition that worried me, it was something about the values of the party around that time that gave me pause to wonder if it was the right thing to do. I read about the scandals about complaints in the party, and it seemed that attitudes were not as progressive or inclusive as I expected. Complaints against members appeared to be inadequate and chaotic, leaving victims (especially women), feeling unsafe in the party. I wondered if I …

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Tagged and | Leave a comment

Let’s scrap external exams

When it comes to education policy, we need blue sky thinking. And I think that scrapping external exams would be a fantastic example of this.

Let’s remind ourselves of some of the negative consequences of our exam system:

  1. Stress – Student wellbeing is considered collateral damage. Having yearly exams which have such a huge impact on your life is incredibly stressful, and I doubt that adults would cope any better than teenagers do. We are sacrificing our young people to a system which we know is harming their mental health, but which we

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 21 Comments

Liberal Democrat Voice fringe meeting: Trans rights are human rights

The panel at our fringe: from left to right: Back row: Caron Lindsay, Liberal Democrat Voice editor (Chair), Sarah Brown, LGBT+ Lib Dems, James Morton, Scottish Transgender Alliance, Emma Ritch, Engender and, front row, Sal Brinton, Liberal Democrat President.

Most of you may notice the odd advert on Liberal Democrat Voice. These help LDV to contribute to the Conference Access Fund, making it easier for those of modest means to attend Lib Dem conferences. With the advert funds, we also sponsor or host fringe meetings at conference.

At Brighton on Saturday, we hosted a fringe meeting in the Hilton hotel entitled: “Transgender and intersex rights – spotlight on the media”. This fringe meeting reflected something we feel very strongly about at LDV Towers: that when people come to our fringe meetings they should be well fed and have good drinks! There were some very good nibbles and drinks at the back of the room.

Posted in Conference | Tagged and | Leave a comment

Conference motion: Reforming our party’s disciplinary processes

Embed from Getty Images

There is now a superb summary of all the conference motions on the Liberal Democrat website. This allows you to see, at a glance, the final passed motions, incorporating any passed amendments.

One really important motion was that on the party disciplinary process.

This process was initiated by a motion at 2016 conference to review the party’s disciplinary processes. There have been reviews conducted by Helena Morrissey, Ken MacDonald and Isabelle Parasram. The review was delayed by the 2017 general election. The process was debated at the 2018 Spring Conference, where it was referred back for further work.

The Federal Board has appointed a steering group on Sexual Impropriety Complaints, as recommended by Isabelle Parasram.

The motion at the Brighton conference seeks to set up an independent disciplinary mechanism with trained adjudicators and investigators. There will be a strict logging process for complaints, with time limits for resolution.

Posted in Conference | Tagged , , and | 2 Comments

Watch: Ian Kearns tell Conference why he joined the Lib Dems from Labour




On Saturday, Ian Kearns electrified the Conference rally with a brilliant speech explaining why, in June, he left the Labour Party and joined the Liberal Democrats.

You can watch his speech above and the text is below.

Posted in News | 6 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User Avatarfrankie 25th Sep - 11:06pm
    They must be improvers Glenn they wish to improve things. Unlike most Brexiteers who wish things to return to a by gone age. One set...
  • User AvatarAlex Macfie 25th Sep - 8:32pm
    Yes, take away the areas we gained and we made no gains at all. Funny that.
  • User AvatarIan 25th Sep - 8:15pm
    Take away Remain-central SW London and South Cambs and we made no gains in the local elections at all. It was right that made the...
  • User AvatarAlex Macfie 25th Sep - 8:14pm
    Michael 1: You write "[Clegg] had a very good 2010 election campaign" I disagree. We should NOT have lost seats to Labour in 2010. Simple...
  • User AvatarTonyH 25th Sep - 7:31pm
    @OnceaLibDem, I'm sure people worked very hard in lots of areas, and I don't know why some didn't get the results they wanted. I do...
  • User AvatarOnceALibDem 25th Sep - 7:27pm
    @Paul Holmes "Others have already made the point that policies such as PR and Votes at 16 will not win elections. I agree with both...