Author Archives: Caron Lindsay

Friendship, addiction and Brexit: Alastair Campbell’s poignant and frank Charles Kennedy Memorial Lecture

In the last 3.5 years, so many people have wondered what Charles Kennedy would have had to say about Brexit and our fight against it. A European to his core, he would have been such a strong and credible voice for Remain in the referendum.

Our politics is so much the poorer for his absence and in this party, his loss is particularly acute. People across politics and outside politics had so much time for him.

We didn’t find out until after he died how close he was to Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s Chief spin doctor. This was a relationship that transcended the fact that Charles was the leading opponent of the  Iraq war.

Last night Alastair Campbell travelled to Fort William to give the annual Charles Kennedy Memorial Lecture.

He recalled when Charles asked him to think about running for Rector of Glasgow University when he stood down:

As his second term as Glasgow University Rector neared its end, he sounded me out as a possible successor. He said listen, your Dad was at Glasgow, your brother is the principal’s official piper, your name and your bagpipes give you a bit of Scottish cred, you get on with young people, and, you would love it.’

‘But Charles, what about Iraq?’

‘Oh, Iraq. Huh huh, yes, Iraq. I forgot you were part of all that, weren’t you? Ach well, not to worry.’

He touched on Brexit and what Charles would have made of it all:

On the day of his funeral, we were driving up to Fort William from Glasgow airport listening to the tributes across Good Morning Scotland. A constituent recalled asking him whether he intended to support or oppose the bedroom tax, and Charles saying he would oppose it. His reasoning was very simple. ‘It’s just wrong.’

And I think he would argue very strongly that it is just wrong if the government and Parliament press ahead with a course of action that they know is going to make people poorer, our country weaker, our standing in the world lower. I believe too he would have had no difficulty arguing against this notion that somehow it is anti-democratic to put the outcome of these negotiations back to the people, given the Brexit now on offer bears next to no relation to the false prospectus on which it was sold. MPs are there to lead not follow, and Charles would have led the argument that that far from it being anti-democratic to have a People’s Vote, it would be anti-democratic – just wrong– not to. So we keep fighting.

That wasn’t the main topic of his lecture though. He wanted to talk about mental health and addiction. 

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 5 Comments

Vince: People’s Vote is now probable

Well, it’s been quite a day.

I don’t work Thursdays, so under normal circumstances, I would have been glued to the telly and social media bringing you a blow by blow account of everything as it happened.

As luck would have it, I was at a housing conference. It was excellent, I learned loads, I met lovely people and I wouldn’t have missed it for any political drama, even without the excellent scones, jam and cream at the afternoon tea break.

I will admit to the occasional glance at Twitter to see the drama unfold. Looks like my crystal ball was a bit wonky the other day when I said that ministers wouldn’t create a fuss to cling on to power. However, the way that Amber Rudd and Nicky Morgan have been shoring Theresa May up today makes me worry that some Tory Remainers are folding as they have done fairly regularly for the last 30 years or so. Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston are still flying the People’s Vote flag, though.

I was on a cold station platform when May held her press conference. I spent the journey home glued to Twitter. No, she wasn’t resigning, she was just spouting the same Brexity rubbish and clinging to her deal that only she really loves.

There is no way her deal is in anything like the national interest. David Lidington couldn’t say it would make us better off. We would end up abiding by rules we had no way in making. I think those rules are generally ok to be honest, but it’s better if we have some deal of ownership of them.

Not only that but a Sky News poll became the second major tv poll in a week to show a majority of support for remaining in the EU. 54% would choose Remain, while 55% want a People’s Vote.

The party hastily organised a rally for an exit from Brexit in Parliament Square tonight. Vince told the assembled crowd that a People’s Vote had moved from possible to probable. Here he is:

Earlier in the day, Christine Jardine talked about how the Liberal Democrats had led the way on campaigning for the People’s Vote and how it was now the only way out of this mess.

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

More than one person a minute joins Lib Dems since May’s statement

Theresa May’s statement in Downing Street tonight seems to have motivated a bunch of people to do something to stop Brexit. They’ve joined the Lib Dems.

Actually, now it’s over 300…..

They got a welcome from the leader:

 

And it must be pretty remarkable if the BBC notices:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 6 Comments

Brexit deal open thread….Lib Dems react

I predicted on Facebook this morning that there would be few if any resignations in the wake of the Brexit deal and it looks like, thus far at least, I’ve been proven right. The thing is, Tories love power. They feel entitled to power. When they have it, even if they are trashing the place, they are not going to give it up. So they grit their teeth and put up with a deal we know that they hate.

The deal is by its very nature worse than the deal we have at the moment. For sure, the EU needs its backside kicking in many ways, but then so does our own governance. Let’s face it, we have a whole house full of unelected people, with special places reserved for the leaders of one denomination of one religion.  We allow governments elected on barely a third of the vote virtually unchecked power.

We have been leaders in the EU. We have helped form the rules. We’re giving up all that to take what we’re given. In what universe is that taking back control? It’s like we’ve gone into a restaurant and ordered a roast beef with all the trimmings and been given a heap of tripe.

Lib Dems have been reacting to the news tonight. Vince picked up on two little words in the PM’s statement – no Brexit, which she said was a possibility.

The crucial change is that the Prime Minister and the Government have admitted for the first time that the choice for the country is not just between this bad deal or ‘no deal’.  Instead, ‘No Brexit’ is a very real possibility.

“It is time to return this issue to the country, and give people the option to Remain.

 

Willie Rennie pointed out the chaos in the Tory Party:

This Conservative Government is in total chaos. The veneer of unity in the cabinet will not secure unity in the country, parliament or even their own party.

This deal will not satisfy anyone regardless of whether they voted leave or remain. Instead Brexit will hurt the pockets of ordinary people and leave the UK weakened.

Theresa May has a chance to steer the UK away from the cliff edge. She should call a People’s Vote and give the public the power to choose what happens next.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 29 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 8 Comments

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

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

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

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

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 1 Comment

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

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 534th weekly round-up from the Lib Dem blogosphere … Featuring the five most popular stories beyond Lib Dem Voice according to click-throughs from the Aggregator (4-10 November, 2018), together with a hand-picked seven you might otherwise have missed.

Don’t forget: you can sign up to receive the Golden Dozen direct to your email inbox — just click here — ensuring you never miss out on the best of Lib Dem blogging.

As ever, let’s start with the most popular post, and work our way down:

Posted in Best of the blogs | Leave a comment

Senior Liberal Democrats mark 100th anniversary of the Armistice

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

Willie Rennie said:

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

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

Posted in News | Tagged and | 3 Comments

For Remembrance Sunday

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

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

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

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

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 4 Comments

Jo Swinson’s book nominated for an award

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

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

Best Memoir by a Parliamentarian

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

Best Non-Fiction by a Parliamentarian

  • Equal Power: Gender Equality and How to Achieve It by Jo Swinson (Atlantic)
  • Eve Was Shamed: How British Justice is Failing Women by Helena Kennedy (Random House)
  • Yes She Can: Why Women Own The Future by Ruth Davidson (Hodder)
  • Adam Smith: What He Thought, and Why it Matters by Jesse Norman (Penguin)
Posted in News | Tagged , and | Leave a comment

Jane Bonham Carter reviews biography of Marie Colvin

I always liked reading Marie Colvin’s reports from war zones. She brought the stories of people whose lives were constrained or ruined by war to our breakfast tables. She made you understand the dilemmas and dangers people faced just to get through the day.

Colvin died in Syria in 2012. Her friend, Lib Dem Peer Jane Bonham-Carter, reviewed a new biography of her written by Channel 4’s Lindsey Hillsum in this week’s Sunday Times.

She was extraordinarily brave. The stories of Marie’s courage are legion, but the one that stands out for me was East Timor. There, holed up in 1999 in a UN compound with 1,500 women and children, she and two other heroic female reporters, Minka Nijhuis and Irena Cristalis, refused to go when an evacuation of international and national staff and the press was announced. She stayed, reported on the plight of those left trapped via her satellite phone, and after four tense days was able to leave for safety. Not an outcome she expected — her sister Cat remembers her calling “to say goodbye as she was likely to be killed”. Marie later wrote that “staying in the East Timor compound was one of the moments in my life of which I am most proud”.

As Hilsum notes, Marie was hopeless with technology, frequently erasing stories by accident and needing help to send copy from her computer. But, as I saw countless times, she had an extraordinary ability to get people to open up to her. What she wanted to do was tell people’s stories, and relay their words to the outside world.

Despite her apparent addiction to danger, she did not court death. She loved life, absolutely loved it — loved young people, too, and was loved in return by them. But she had her own horrors to deal with, in particular in Sri Lanka in 2001, where, despite clearly identifying herself as a journalist, yelling it, in fact, she was fired on by a government soldier.

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

So Remain’s ahead – but is it enough?

Remaining in the EU has the support of a majority of those asked in a Channel 4 super-poll. Normally polls ask 1000 or so people what they think or who they would vote for. This one was more the size of your Exit Poll on election day.

The Survation poll had 54% of people say they wanted to remain in the EU. In addition to that, over a hundred areas that voted to leave the EU in 2016 would now choose to remain.

Whatever deal May comes back with within the next few weeks is going to be imperfect. A tonne of stuff will be kicked into the long grass. There will be no permanent solution to the Northern Ireland border because there isn’t one that doesn’t involve us staying in a customs union indefinitely. Brexiteer Tory extremists will not wear that for a minute.

It looks like British people are surveying the options available to them and saying “no, thanks.”

To proceed with Brexit without going back to them and asking them what they want to do would be undemocratic and irresponsible.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 40 Comments

Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #533

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 533rd 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 (28 October – 3 November, 2018), together with a hand-picked seven you might otherwise have missed from the last couple of weeks.

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

Looking ahead to the US mid-terms

Two years ago, I was a bit worried that everyone seemed to assume that Hillary Clinton would win the US Presidency. The lesson from the Brexit vote is that you can’t assume anything and that you need to fight for every vote in every seat right up till the last minute. I just wish Hillary’s campaign had done that.

Never again do I want to feel the sense of horror and grief I felt on both June 24th and November 9th 2016.

Trump’s election, though, wasn’t the scariest thing that happened to me that week. But then my husband having open heart surgery was, understandably, the most terrifying thing that has ever happened in my life – except that two hours in the middle of the night following the operation when he was rushed back into theatre to deal with a complication.

I do have something to thank Trump for, though. My husband’s blood pressure remained stubbornly low after all the drama, extending his stay in Intensive Care. It didn’t start to rise again until just after he had been told the election result. Coincidence? I think not.

The midterm elections happen this Tuesday. The 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for grabs along with a third of the seats in the Senate, both of which are controlled by Trump’s Republicans at the moment. All Trump has to offer is a platform of fear and lies about a mythical caravan of terrorists coming to take over the US or warnings to young men that they aren’t safe from false allegations of sexual harassment. But as we know, that sort of fear could turn his base out. Will the Democrats’ messages on bread and butter issues such as healthcare be sufficient?

Again, most pollsters agree that it’s likely that the Democrats will take back the House. It is vital that they do because if the Republicans retain it, Obama’s health reforms will be dead, leaving millions of poorer, sicker Americans without any health insurance.

A Democrat House will also be able to investigate the hell out of Trump and his associates.

The most likely outcome for the Senate is a hold for the Republicans who may even gain some seats from the Democrats. This is simply because 23/33 seats up this year are held by Democrats and some of them in quite tight races. Claire Macaskill in Missouri is one of them. Five Thirty Eight gives her a 5 in 8 chance of retaining her seat but that’s a bit close for comfort.

The one gain everyone of a liberal nature would like to see but is unlikely to happen is Beto O’Rourke beating the appalling Ted Cruz in Texas. Beto has got closer than most Democrats. His championing of key liberal issues like support for abortion and gun control has not held him back. A lesson, perhaps, for those who want to turn this party into some sort of centrist mush. It’s not impossible for Beto to win, so keep everything crossed.

In addition to this, governors are up for election in 36 states. Out of all the elections, the person I want to win most is Stacey Abrahams in Georgia. She is in a very tight race with a Republican whose attempts at suppressing voter registrations amongst likely Democrat voters have just been ruled against by a Judge.

I heard Stacey on Crooked Media’s Pod Save America podcast earlier this year and thought she was brilliant. She’s had Obama and Oprah Winfrey campaigning with her this week as the Guardian reports:

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

Report highlights barriers to women’s participation in politics at every level

This week, a report by the Fawcett Society highlighted barriers impeding women’s progress at every stage of the political proces.

Strategies for Success, Women’s experiences of selection and election in UK Parliament has details of things that work – most notably initiatives like the Ask her to stand campaign – and depressing experiences of discrimination at every level. The report concludes:

Significant challenges to increasing women’s representation remain at every stage of the process to becoming an MP. While a common argument is that political progression is based on merit, in practice, getting selected depends on a number of other factors which may inhibit diversity amongst political candidates and discourage women from standing for election. However, we have found indicators of possible strategies for success. In some cases, the simple act of a political leader making a call for more women to participate played an important part in individuals embarking on the process of selection. There is support too for party programmes intended to support women in this process. Importantly asking women to stand, encouraging them to see themselves as “MP material” and demonstrating that they are seen this way by their party makes a real difference. These interventions are likely to increase the number of women candidates and help equip them for the process. But a change in representation is likely to require tackling the underlying resistance to women in power, the processes that disadvantage them and other underrepresented groups, and our political culture more widely.

It contains experiences of council candidates being deselected while pregnant.

The first steps of getting involved in a political party can be difficult for women if there is no-one like them in their local party as one woman explained:

I do think it’s intimidating if you are a BME woman who isn’t very used to kind of establishment places to come into a room where there’s a lot of old white middle-class men, it can be quite intimidating.

That is why it is important for local parties to have a diverse executive – we need to walk the walk on diversity at every single level of the organisation.

This experience will be familiar to many women:

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

LibLink: Vince Cable: Brexit’s real life impacts are already hitting the UK hard

Vince was up in Edinburgh this week (not, contrary to some reports, flying business class and staying in luxury). After an early start to do budget media stuff, he voted on the budget at 6:30 or so and caught a flight an hour later. He and Christine Jardine got to the Edinburgh West dinner at about 9:45 and both were in sparkling form.

In fact, I think that the speech Vince gave was better than his Conference speech. There was none of the schoolboy, carry-on style humour, and just a very simple, effective liberal message. He talked about needing to be honest with people about the future funding of public services – we will need to pay more tax. He talked about Brexit and our desire to stop it too, but he had plenty of vision about helping those who need it most – putting more money into Universal Credit and stopping its rollout until the problems with it are sorted out. He talked of his surprise that Labour had abstained on he Tory tax cut for better off people as he led our MPs to oppose it.

Timed to coincide with his visit was an op-ed in the Scotsman which he used to describe the detrimental impact that Brexit is already having on us:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 16 Comments

Can you help John Barrett raise money to support an Ethiopian family?

I caught up with John Barrett, former Lib Dem MP for Edinburgh West, the other day. He told me about his recent trip to Ethiopia. He first visited the country as an MP 15 years ago and has had a particular interest in international development ever since.

He talked about how he and his wife Carol have been supporting a family in recent years. As a result of a conversation on their trip, he is now trying to raise £2000 to get them a fridge, a water purifier, a cooker and a washing machine.

He explains why on his Just Giving page:

Ten years ago I met Gimacho Ermias, a tailor, and his daughter Sarah in Ethiopia ,in the small town of Hosanna. Seeing how little they had of everyday things we take for granted, Carol and I have helped them out in a small way for the last 10 years and will continue to do so. Last month we visited them in their home town to see how they were.

He is still working as a tailor, earning a few pounds a day, and his wife, who suffers from asthma, has a full time job 25 miles away to make ends meet, so she can only return to be with her family at weekends. When I asked them what would change their lives, the answer came quickly. “Something to filter our drinking water, a fridge to keep food fresh, a cooker to replace their single electric ring and to make bread, and a washing machine.

I have decided to set up this page in the run up to Christmas to see what can be done to help them out. If you can help in any way, they would really appreciate it.

Why do we need to raise so much? These items, in Ethiopia, cost two to three times what we would pay for them here. I have contacted various places to see if we can get them at a more reasonable cost and if so we will be able to do more with any money we raise.

Two grand seemed like quite a lot for these items. John told me that this was because of massive import duties charged by the Ethiopian Government:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 1 Comment

Unlike Labour, Lib Dem MPs will oppose Budget tax cut for better off

As I said on Monday, the bit that annoyed me most about the Budget was that better off people were getting  a tax cut when the benefit freeze continued and only a third of what was needed was put back into Universal Credit. Add to that the people who have their much-needed disability benefits cut back for the most arbitrary of reasons after deeply flawed assessments and you can maybe see why I am so fuming.

Astonishingly, Labour is backing the Tory plansalthough some may revolt.

So it’s good to see that Vince Cable will lead Liberal Democrats in voting against the tax cuts and asking for the £1.3 billion to be spent on reversing the cuts to social security. The press release actually says welfare, but I really wish they wouldn’t call it that. Social security is important for everyone. There needs to be a safety net to help those in the most difficult situations at any time. It’s what a civilised society does. It should be enabling and freely given, not grudgingly given with unreasonable expectations written into its heart as it is at the moment.

Vince said:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 19 Comments

It’s Pumpkin Time….

No Hallowe’en could ever be complete without an Alex Cole-Hamilton pumpkin.

And he let us into some of the secrets of production:

Former Scottish Party Manager Linda Wilson came up with Death Star Pumpkin


Posted in News | Tagged , and | Leave a comment

WATCH: Christine Jardine’s response to the budget

On Monday night, Christine Jardine gave the Lib Dem response to the Budget in the House of Commons. Traditionally the leader does it, but it makes sense to have Vince going round the broadcast media rather than sitting in the chamber for hours on end waiting to be called.

Christine talked about the pain caused by Universal Credit, and mentioned the unfairness suffered by the WASPI women. You can watch her whole speech here and read it below:

Now we have heard it from the Chancellor and the Prime Minister: austerity is over. It is a nice thought, but it will be down to our constituents and those outwith this place to decide whether they have achieved it. Every week, I meet people whose lives have been and are still being damaged by austerity. Today, like us, they have been told exactly what this Government mean when they tell us that it is over. Right now, people up and down the country will be working out the impact of this Budget on their income, their food bills and whether it means that they have reached the light at the end of the dark tunnel that began with the financial crash more than a decade ago in 2008.

I suspect that they will be as disappointed as we are to be promised growth at less than 2% for five years. With Brexit weighing down the economy and the big issues that have not been tackled, today’s Budget does not fulfil even the minimum definition of ending austerity as laid out by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. That would cost £19 billion a year on top of the Government’s NHS commitment. Instead of that, we got more for potholes than for schools, nothing for women born in ​the 1950s and facing pension inequality, and a pathetic, inadequate sticking plaster for universal credit. So much more should, and could, be possible but for Brexit. Just think of the £500 million that the Chancellor added on today to the £3 billion that has previously been allocated for no-deal preparations—what could that have done for our public services?

What we needed today was vision, renewal and a way to reboot not just our beleaguered economy, but our damaged society. Instead, we got that sticking plaster. By March, if some of the Chancellor’s Brexiteer buddies have their way, this plan may have to be torn up and a fresh fag packet found to write a new one on.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 12 Comments

Stay with EU – a gorgeous pro EU song

One of the delights of editing this site is that I can be having a really crap day and then all of a sudden a wee gem lands in my inbox.

And so it was last night, when composer Amy Collins sent me this brilliant animated video of her song, Stay with EU. Her words have been brought to life by the BAFTA nominated animators Brothers McLeod.

I love it. I hope you enjoy it as much.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 12 Comments

The bit that annoys me most about the Budget…..

It’s not that there’s more for potholes than schools.

It really isn’t that I’m going to have to pay more for my wine.

It’s something that isn’t really being picked up in the responses I’ve heard so far.

Better off people, higher rate tax payers, are getting a much bigger tax cut than those on low incomes.

That’s right. If you are  a basic rate tax payer, your tax threshold rises from £11,850 to £12,500. And while we’re on the subject, this is the annual “Tories take credit for Lib Dem idea” day. Remember how David Cameron told Nick Clegg the idea wasn’t affordable? Every year during the coalition, the Tories used to whinge like anything about having to implement this Lib Dem tax cut for the poorest. Now they just take credit for it like we never happened.

If you are a higher rate taxpayer, you won’t start paying the 40% rate until you are earning £50k, up from £46,350.That is proportionately a significantly higher tax cut than those on low incomes are getting. Sp much for fairness and helping the Just About Managing.

This, of course, is not the case in Scotland where higher rate taxpayers didn’t get last year’s rise and we’ll have to wait and see if Finance Secretary Derek Mackay repeats that this year. The Tories will create merry hell if he doesn’t as they continue with their agenda of grievance. I’d actually rather the SNP sorted public services out, to be honest.

I don’t live in a terribly affluent household, but, even so, a budget that gives us £20 or so extra a month while people are really struggling to find even the most basic housing, or to put food on the table, has got its priorities well and truly wrong.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 11 Comments

Lib Dems could double Holyrood seats according to new poll

Well, this looks interesting…

I know, I know, it’s only a poll, but an almost doubling of support for us should encourage Scottish Lib Dems to get campaigning.

The Survation poll for the Daily Record shows what could be on offer for the Scottish Liberal Democrats and should give the party confidence. The findings echo what people are finding on the doorsteps.

For a few fraught years, …

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

Vince, Strictly and Brexit

The clocks have gone back and it’s going to be dark by 5pm tonight. I hate Winter and darkness with a passion. I therefore reserve the right to post things that cheer me up. One of those things is Vince’s appearance on the Strictly Christmas special back in 2010. If you want to see his graceful and elegant Foxtrot, it’s in the BBC post linked to below.

There’s a serious reason to refer to it, though. This week, Vince suggested that Strictly dancers like Aljaz, Giovanni, Grazziano and Gorka, who come from EU countries, could be affected by Brexit.

He told The Telegraph:

Afterwards at a meeting at the European Commission, he urged Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief negotiator, to make emergency plans to give Britain time to hold a second referendum before the Brexit deadline of March 29 2019.

“As British society falls apart it could pose a risk to Strictly,” he said, “If we have a cack handed immigration policy like what we have for non-EU citizens all kinds of perverse decisions could be made.”

Millions of people watch Strictly so he’s right to try and attract their attention by suggesting that there could be a threat to some of their favourite dancers. While the Government gave a predictably sneering retort, Vince makes a serious point. As Christine Jardine pointed out in an article earlier this year, Brexit poses a massive threat to the creative industries.

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

Brexiteers jump the shark again with high treason jibe

I was quite surprised by the newspapers on Friday. After Vince Cable along with representatives from Plaid Cymru, the SNP and Greens met Michel Barnier, I wouldn’t have been surprised if we’d had more “enemies of the people” nonsense from the more excitable right wing tabloids.

They were quiet, but this weekend, Leave EU jumped that particular shark, accusing Vince Cable of High Treason. Layla Moran retorted on Twitter that this was a badge of honour.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 25 Comments

What do you want to see in the Budget?

I learned pretty soon after Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979 that Conservative budgets were things to be feared. Tax cuts for the rich paid for by paring public services back to the bone was the order of the day.  I’ve never yet met a Tory budget that I liked. There were some mitigating factors during the coalition years, but we only managed to stop the cruellest of Tory policies. Some of the ones we let through, like the Bedroom Tax, should never have seen the light of day.

My expectations of Philip Hammond tomorrow are therefore pretty low. I’ve …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 25 Comments

In full: Vince Cable’s speech on universal credit – how the Lib Dems would tackle poverty

Yesterday Vince Cable gave a speech on tackling poverty to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. He addressed the growing poverty faced by working families and called for changes to Universal Credit – including putting back the £3 billion a year that George Osborne took out with indecent haste the minute we Lib Dems were out of the picture.

He said that the principles behind UC were right, but the implementation was wrong and called for its rollout to be halted until the problems were fixed.

Universal Credit hits Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen at the end of November. This means that thousands of people face a miserable Christmas as the first payments will be made (or not) the week before the holidays.To put people in the position where they can’t afford to pay their rent, heat their homes or put food on the table at the coldest time of the year is cruel.

Vince addressed the issue of a Universal Basic Income. He is sceptical although he can see the attractions. This is something I really want to believe in as so many people that I normally agree with are big fans of the idea. My worry is that it might entrench other forms of inequality as it doesn’t take into account needs of sick and disabled people and couldn’t be set at a high enough level to properly get everyone out of poverty. If someone can show me how that can be done, then I’d be really open to it.

Anyway, here is Vince’s speech in full:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 11 Comments

LibLink: Sally Hamwee: The UK should never be complicit with the death penalty anywhere in the world

Yesterday Sally Hamwee wrote about why she and Labour were going to have a good go at amending the Government’s Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill to ensure that

In an article for Politics Home, she set the scene:

The UK has long opposed the use of the death penalty in other countries, and we have committed ourselves to the goal of abolishing it everywhere. We can do this by using our diplomatic influence, and also by refusing to help foreign governments with prosecutions that will result in someone being executed.

That has been longstanding government policy: the UK must get assurances that the death penalty will not be used before providing security and justice assistance to countries that still retain it. This clear policy is an important statement of Britain’s values. It is vital not only for preventing the use of the death penalty in the individual cases where we provide assistance, but also for strengthening our efforts to persuade all countries to abolish it.

Yet in July, we discovered that the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, had offered to assist the United States government in prosecuting two British citizens accused of carrying out executions for ISIL in Syria and Iraq, without seeking assurances that the death penalty will not be used. Even worse, he made that decision in secret. We only found out because his letter to US Attorney General Jeff Sessions was leaked to the Telegraph.

There is no doubt that terrorists should face justice, but that could be achieved in this case either by prosecuting them here, under British law, or by assisting the US authorities with their prosecutions – if they guarantee that they will not seek the death penalty.

So what can this Bill do about it?

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | Leave a comment

95% done is not enough if you’re missing the stuff that keeps you alive

The party has put up this uplifting video of Saturday’s march. For those of us who were there it’s great to remember that time when you were in the same place as 700,000 like-minded people. For those who weren’t, and who either have always felt nervous or are starting to feel nervous about Brexit, it’s encouraging to see so many people out there winning the argument.

Since the march, we’ve seen Dominic Raab go on Marr and effectively say that the extremist wing of his party are more important than peace in Northern Ireland. I mean, how on earth can any minister abdicate his responsibility to the country quite so brazenly?

Then yesterday, Theresa May said we were 95% there as far as a deal was concerned. Well, your brain is only 3% or so of your bodyweight, your heart is less than half a percent and your eyes don’t weigh very much at all – but if you are missing all three, you’re pretty stuffed. What we do know about this deal so far is that it sells out our service based economy, it will kick a lot of stuff into the long grass, so we are effectively flying blind, and there is no agreement on the Northern Irish border which is pretty fundamental to the future of the UK.

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

Watch: Vince’s speech to Lib Dems before yesterday’s People’s Vote march

“We are a national movement and we’re here to stop Brexit.”

It couldn’t be clearer. Vince set out our mission for the next few months yesterday as Liberal Democrats gathered in Hyde Park ahead of the People’s Vote march. I’ve written about the day here.

Watch his full speech below:

Posted in News | Tagged and | Leave a comment
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDavid Raw 16th Nov - 10:45pm
    To be frank, Congressman Cherin, I'm getting pretty fed up with people putting a gloss on things and pretending that a cruel disaster (UC) is...
  • User AvatarChris Bertram 16th Nov - 10:19pm
    I have seen an explanation of possible reasons for the Dursley result. I have copied them to the private forum, so if you want to...
  • User AvatarDavid Walsh 16th Nov - 9:53pm
    Great to hear this is available. Anything that brings down barriers, making things equal for all, is a step in the right direction. There's so...
  • User Avatarmarcstevens 16th Nov - 9:52pm
    Good results in all 3 seats except for Stroud DC where there was a collapse in vote share from 24.1%. It would be good to...
  • User AvatarSean Hyland 16th Nov - 9:52pm
    The day Charles Kennedy was forced to step down was the day I left the party.
  • User AvatarGraham Evans 16th Nov - 9:21pm
    @ David Raw. Yes, indeed. Surely someone from LDV should find out what went wrong in Stroud.