Author Archives: Callum Robertson

How liberals should be responding to the Uyghur Muslim genocide

The United Kingdom has, for years, taking a flexible approach to the importance of human rights. On the one hand, the UK has taken an impressive stance on the Magnitsky sanctions against human rights abusers, on the other, we often act far too slowly or not at all when it comes to our allies or powerful countries.

We as a party have always stood tall in our defence of human rights. The treatment of the Uyghur Muslim community has been no exception, and the work of Alistair Carmichael, Maajid Nawaz and the Young Liberals should be applauded.

The work, however, cannot stop with hunger strikes, words and motions at a conference. This is even more pertinent when the Chinese Ambassador has the nerve to go on the Andrew Marr show and lie about the situation in Xinjiang.

This comes to the point of this article, which is about what we as a party can and should be doing about this crisis.

Firstly, we have over 50 councils up and down the UK where the Liberal Democrats are in power or a power-sharing agreement. Our councils should be volunteering to house Uyghur refugees. South Cambridgeshire had a similar programme with Syrian refugees.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 13 Comments

The noble principle of policing by consent

In the UK there exists a principle, harking back to the days of Sir Robert Peel. This long held tradition and principle is called policing by consent. This is essentially the idea that police legitimacy is based on the consent of those it polices. This vital bond, between citizen and state is one that should be held with the upmost regard. When our nation is in crisis, as it arguably is now, the rule of law becomes more, not less, important. This vital principle has almost passed unnoticed in recent weeks as the UK government has brought in strict legislation to help mitigate Covid-19.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 9 Comments

LASPO, the worst piece of legislation you’ve probably never heard of

LASPO, unless you have some sort of involvement with the law, probably comes across as some sort of quango that doesn’t have much meaning. However, it is probably the most crucial piece of justice related legislation since the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (which established the Supreme Court).

The Government’s consultation on the effects of LASPO has just concluded and every organisation who has submitted evidence to the Ministry of Justice consultation has broadly said the same thing. It has not worked.

What the Legal Aid, Sentencing & Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) did was bring about a wide range of …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 9 Comments

A sector on its knees, but no one seems to notice

As a nation we are famous for a good number of things, fish and chips on a Friday, being a nation of dog lovers and a legal system that is the envy of civilised nations worldwide. So, the question is, when we talk about government cuts hurting poorest, why is justice never mentioned?

In the budget on Monday, there were new “efficiency savings” announced for government departments, including a further 300 million cut to the Ministry of Justice but people don’t seem to care that Conservative maladministration has brought an industry to its knees.

We can all find ourselves at the mercy of the English justice system, whether that be as a victim of a crime or being in rent arrears with your landlord and at risk of being evicted yet there is no help available because legal aid has disappeared.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged , and | 13 Comments

The day the arts took a swipe at cuts…

On March 31st my colleague Alex and I went to see the play “The day the arts took a swipe at cuts”.

My friend Alex and I actually went to see the play “Victim” which is currently playing at the Kings Head Theatre in Islington. We did this after being contacted through our roles with Liberal Democrats for Prison Reform and a brilliantly hard-hitting show it was too.

“Victim” is a play that perfectly demonstrates how broken our prison system is. It tells the harrowing tale of the power struggle between the inmate and the guard, and the roles they play in a system that has been brutally hit by harsher-than-necessary cuts. This blog is not so much a review (such a phenomenal performance has no shortage of positive reviews) as it is a cry out for support and an end to cuts in this frankly broken prison system.

The Prison Reform organisation, Liberal Democrats for Prison Reform have, since our launch, been looking for a way to exemplify how much reform is needed to our prison system to make it fit for the 21st century. This play does this in a way no article or speech has managed to do yet. Fydor Dovtoyevsky once said, “the degree of civilisation in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” I must say that the fact that this theatre company wrote and performed this moving piece is testament to the scale of the challenge we as a country face.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 8 Comments

Introducing Liberal Democrats for Prison Reform

Prisoners get a bad rap. They get pushed around by politicians because it is politically popular to beat them with a rolled-up copy of the daily.

Just because this happens doesn’t mean it is okay. In fact, it is a fundamental abdication of our moral duty not to stand up for the human rights of our fellow human beings.

As such I been conducting some informal polling within the Young Liberals and by a landslide of 92% in favour, 8% opposing, they backed prisoner voting. Further questioning of the group indicated a 96% …

Posted in News | Tagged and | 26 Comments

Speculate to accumulate – why we should support devolution

On the doorstep I have lost count of the number of people I’ve spoken to, from the chap who was voting remain because he preferred “white immigration” to the person who was telling me that he “wanted his country back”. These people all have one thing in common, they feel let down. If they feel their politicians aren’t listening to them and they want change they vote for reactionary parties.

This has been the case as long as representative democracy has been around. Capitalising on people’s fears is how Mussolini got in, the same can be said for the advance of UKIP, the Front National and Trump. Offering change with meaningless sound bites is how reactionaries get in.

We’ve seen the decline of UKIP in the past year, this, in my opinion, can be attributed to three things. Firstly UKIP’s job is done per se, their raison d’être has passed. Secondly the Tories have outplayed them by using the same meaningless sound bites and undermining their support base. Thirdly, this is the important one, if you look at the communities that voted in UKIP representatives, they want to be listened to and they want the country they know back. Most importantly they want their politicians to care.

Posted in Op-eds | 7 Comments

No Progressive Alliance please, we’re Liberals!

Recently there has been much talk of abandoning our principles and going in with the Greens and the Labour Party. Now my stance on this doesn’t come from some sort of archetypal hatred of them. In fact many of my friends belong to the Labour and Green movements. I have fond memories of standing side by side in Peterborough handing out leaflets and speaking to people about why we thought it was best to remain. I still keep cordial relations with the Greens and the Labour moderates. We campaign for Open Britain together and there is a lot to be said for cross party cooperation in this sense. Logic dictates when you believe in a common cause you should work as a team to achieve this.

However, the common cause on Europe is not a plan for government. We radically differ on policy with the Greens with regards to economic policy. With Labour, our Social Democratic wing undoubtedly has significant overlaps with the Labour moderate wing. However for every similarity there is a difference. I cannot honestly stand for election on a manifesto I disagree with, this is what would happen with the so called progressive alliance.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 89 Comments

Lib Dem members must all do their bit in this election

As I write this I am filled with pride as the party of rational thinking, the party of evidence based policy not knee-jerk reactions reaps the rewards of our stance on Brexit. Our membership is soaring, our poll ratings are creeping up and our results in by-elections both council and parliamentary are truly a sight to behold. However just beholding the wonders of our achievements since the General Election in 2015 isn’t enough. We have a General Election on the horizon!

While some may have the “Brenda “reaction of “not another one” we cannot be complacent. We must win as many seats as we can in order to show Mrs May we mean business! This means we have a number of Richmond Park campaigns to run.  We’ve got to win big in South London and return Sir Vince Cable and Sir Ed Davey to parliament. In Cambridge we’ve got to get the phenomenal campaigning machine who is Dr Julian Huppert back. But, we can only achieve this if we pull together and enthuse our newfound membership base.

To paraphrase Nelson, Tim expects every activist to do their duty! I am what we would call a “newbie” to the party. I joined during the local elections last year from Labour.They had a membership surge too  they they  haven’t motivated their new people. They obsess about internal matters and  not about who really matters, the public. We have so far engaged the membership, now we must motivate all of them into action.  Remember every vote counts. What this means is that we have target seats where we really must win. If you’re unsure where your nearest target seat is then bug your local party chair and they’ll let you know. We can only be an opposition truly worthy of the title if we take seats. Votes in all constituencies are needed but we won’t win them all (this time). Therefore targeting is key.

So remember:

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

  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 10th Aug - 9:11am
    I refer you to the Gospel of St John, Chapter 8 Verse 7. OK, who is going to be first?
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 10th Aug - 9:07am
    @ Peter Martin There you go again, jumping to conclusions. Blinkers off please. Just to assist you, I'm a Yorkshireman who's lived in Scotland for...
  • User AvatarMarco 10th Aug - 8:59am
    People who keep saying we’re only on 6% in the polls - In Paddy Ashdown’s first election which was the 1989 European Elections the Lib...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 10th Aug - 8:57am
    @ David Raw, I'm looking at the UK as a whole. Any party with a 6% or so lead would be relatively happy and those...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 10th Aug - 8:49am
    @ Paul Barker "No, we are not “on 6%”, that was a single Poll". "Oh no it wasn't". It was six different polls in July...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 10th Aug - 8:38am
    @ Peter Martin "Many are puzzled that the Govt is doing well while the two main opposition parties are languishing in the polls". Oh, dear,...