Author Archives: Andrew Wigley

Opinion: Badger cull delay is good news for Liberal Democrats

Owen Paterson’s announcement on the delay of the badger cull is good news for badgers and for the Liberal Democrats.

The ill-conceived policy may have had the backing of significant interest groups such as the NFU – Paterson repeatedly acknowledged their efforts in his speech – but it was always going to be difficult to present and ‘sell’ this policy to a nation with a strong affection to its environment and wildlife, especially after the debacle of the proposal to sell off the country’s forests.Combine public opinion with the …

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‘The devil gets all the best tunes’ – South West sentiment to the EU

We all know Britain’s relationship with Europe is a fault-line for the Conservative party.  Equally, we know that Labour has its own divisions. In both parties, the split is between pro-Europeans and anti-Europeans, between staying in Europe or getting out of Europe.

Affirmation of the Liberal Democrats’ pro-European position comes from the findings of a survey I conducted among 457 Liberal Democrat councillors in the South West region at the beginning of September, which delivers an unambiguous message of support for the Party’s Europe policy*.

However, one revealing division in …

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Kill the cull – it’s bad for badgers, science and the Government

A new term and the Government looks set to walk straight into a public relations disaster. In a bid to ‘manage’ the spread of bovine TB, Defra will commence a badger cull starting in two areas of the South West – West Somerset/Taunton Deane and in the Forest of Dean/Tewkesbury. It is not just the pictures of indiscriminate shooting and maiming of an icon of the British countryside which will be so damaging for the Government; it is the fact that the cull is based on flawed science.  This is an ill-conceived policy.

The decision by Defra, one of the few …

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Opinion: China and Hong Kong – a missed opportunity

Last weekend marked the 15th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong. On a torrentially wet evening on 30 June 1997, the UK relinquished control of a territory which was home to almost seven million people and one of Asia’s leading commercial centres.

It also marked the end of the most colossal missed opportunity to further Chinese democracy.

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Opinion: The Presidential elections – a French farce?

Today, France goes to the polls in the first of two ballots to select its next President; polls suggest that incumbent Nicholas Sarkozy and socialist Francois Hollande will go head to head in the run-off on Sunday 8 May.

The Presidental election and subsequent legislative elections are a real challenge for Liberals. Our sister party, the Mouvement Democrate (MoDem) led by Francois Bayrou has struggled during this campaign. Bayrou, a popular former Education Minister, has lost momentum in an environment where populism …

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Marking the 20th anniversary of the Siege of Sarajevo

This month marks a clutch of anniversaries ranging from the sinking of the Titanic 100 years ago to John Major’s astonishing election victory in 1992.

More tumultuous events were taking place in Europe that same year, notably the escalation of war in Yugoslavia. While a 6-week conflict had marred Slovenia’s break-away from Belgrade the previous year, Croatia’s bid for independence quickly became ugly. It was, arguably, the announcement of independence by Bosnia-Herzegovina in March 1992 which triggered the most vicious and intractable conflict since World War II. At its heart, was the cruel siege of Sarajevo which lasted almost four …

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Opinion: Politics in paradise – why the Maldives matters

As coup d’états go, the toppling last week of the Maldives’ first elected President, Mohamed Nasheed, appears an undramatic affair. Nasheed, a former political prisoner, announced suddenly he was standing down; his deputy would be taking over. This involved no tanks, few casualties and little shock and awe.

Should we care about politics in paradise? The answer is a resounding yes.

Politics in the Maldives has been a rough game over the past four years. In an article in the New York Times last week, Nasheed wrote of the corrupt legacy that 30 years of dictatorship had left the small Indian Ocean …

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Opinion: Water – time to see it as a national interest?

News that one of China’s leading wealth funds has taken a 9 percent stake in Thames Water is significant. The investment comes quick on the heels of a Gulf sovereign wealth fund taking a similar size stake in Thames Water’s parent company, Kemble.

It’s a measure of confidence in Britain’s infrastructure technology and role in the world as a safe haven for long term investment crows George Osborne. Liberal Democrats may be inclined to take a different view.

What Osborne fails to mention is that because of increased water-scarcity throughout the world – including the UK – water is set …

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