Author Archives: Caron Lindsay

In full: Willie Rennie’s speech to Scottish Conference: Lib Dems will deliver better for the country

Here, in full, is Willie Rennie’s speech to Scottish Conference:

My elder son has left home and has started his career as a lighting engineer in concert halls and theatres.

So when I told him … I had a big part …. on stage … in Hamilton today … he was very excited.

I wasn’t going to miss my shot to make that joke.

This is the room where it happens.

That is the musical Hamilton. As the U.S. republic blinked into the light it was Alexander Hamilton who wrote a series of essays called The Federalist papers.

He recognised that for a country to thrive it needed institutions that shared power, allowing each part to thrive while having a care for the success of the whole.

What a message!

I believe our party is the proud flagbearer of that tradition.

I believe people can do great things with power in their hands.

Be aspirational for them and their family but caring about others whether they are around the corner, across the world or in the future.

I am a hopeful, optimistic person.

It’s why I am a liberal.

But even I am tested by what is happening.

I can understand why so many people are pained and troubled when they look around Britain today.

An endless loop of Brexit negotiations, where nothing ever really changes.

You know it’s not going well when the National Union of Groundhogs have gone on strike.

We live in a country where the political establishment in the two largest parties fails to provide any kind of vision or leadership at one of the most important periods in our country’s history.

Where the leader of the official opposition presides over a culture of bullying and anti-Semitism.

Jeremy Corbyn is turning his back on a people’s vote even when his own party backed it.

A man who offered so much hope to young people in 2017 has now driven even his most ardent supporters to despair.

Where the Prime Minister is incapable of explaining the point of her Brexit deal – and it’s the only job she has got to do.

Theresa May can’t even win over those who are paid to agree with her.

A woman who promised so much strength and stability but who is about as stable as Rab C Nesbitt after a night out in Govan.

Even the jam she promises for tomorrow is already mouldy.

What did this country do to deserve these two leaders?

This is a special kind of hell.

We deserve better than this.

Our country deserves better this.

We can deliver better than this.

So we need hope.

I am determined to provide that hope.

Posted in News | Tagged and | Leave a comment

Layla running for President and Norman to join TIG?

The Sunday Times has an article today (£) in which a highly worrying quote is attributed to Norman Lamb:

I want to be part of this movement. This is an opportunity that cannot be missed. We have to play our cards in giving it its best chance of succeeding.

Is he about to join TIG?

Well, I’d love to know what he was asked and in what context. By movement, he could mean the general prospect of this leading to a massive realignment of politics. He could be talking about the movement that this party’s strategy wants to drive.

Norman would be missed if he left us, but several senior sources have told me this weekend that they think it is unlikely that he will.

One said:

He is such a passionate Liberal and so loyal to the Party.

He has always been really good at working together across parties. I really wouldn’t want to lose him. However, his comments are not out of step with the feeling among our MPs generally. They think that the TIG project is just the start and that there are great opportunities for us from what may unfold in politics in the short to medium term.

The Sunday Times report has this to say about relationships between the two groups:

Meanwhile, a merger with the Liberal Democrats appears unlikely. Many of TIG’s founders believe the taint of the coalition years makes a formal alliance with the party politically toxic. What they instead want is for the party’s 11 MPs to join their new one, and they have been sounded out by Leslie and Berger about switching.

Lib Dems, on the other hand, feel protective of their party’s machinery, membership and history, and will not abandon it all for an upstart group with no official status and no formal policy platform. Some even feel uncomfortable about the prospect of joining forces with former Tories. “I worked with Anna Soubry during the coalition,” said one. “I like her, but she’s not a liberal. In many ways, she’s one of the last genuine Thatcherites left.”

I suspect that first paradoxical paragraph is an accurate reflection on what some members of TIG think of us. But it doesn’t make sense to say that  we’re toxic because of the coalition while accepting two MPs who were part of it, one of whom as a minister.  And then to say that we should join them. That’s about as all over the place as it gets. However, we have amongst our MPs three excellent and highly skilled former Cabinet ministers and two excellent and highly skilled former ministers. TIG is bound to be hoping that they can get someone to move across, but I see no indications that this will happen.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 88 Comments

“Those bloody Liberal Democrats are in town”

The main hall in the Town House in the South Lanarkshire Town of Hamilton was the room where it happened this weekend (see what I did there?). The song from the musical Hamilton tells us to “Talk less, smile more” but there was actually a lot of both this weekend as Scottish Liberal Democrats gathered for Conference.

I have to admit, I was sceptical about this new venue and the hour I spent dragging my suitcase round empty streets in the dark on Thursday night trying to find the hotel did not improve my mood.

One of our number overhead in the ASDA across the road from the conference hotel “Those bloody Liberal Democrats are in town this weekend.”

However, the Town House is a lovely building, even more so when lit up purple by LGBT Youth Scotland for Purple Friday, the last Friday of LGBT History Month. The staff there and in the Town House were so  friendly and helpful.

We had some intense debates over the weekend. I actually ended up making five speeches, which is unheard of. I had planned to do three – I was proposing a motion on providing better housing support for victims of domestic abuse, summating the Scottish Young Liberals’ motion on trans rights and I’d hoped to be called in the debate on sex work.

I ended up also speaking about the problems people face with housing and the social security system when they leave prison and proposing the constitutional amendment which would allow the implementation of the new disciplinary process in Scotland.

The latter struck true terror into my heart. It meant going up against Scotland’s wonderful constitutional guru, John Lawrie who had concerns that we were giving too much power to the Federal Party. Actually, Sheila had cannily drafted the amendment so that we retain the power and delegate the functions so covering all our bases.

As persistent troublemaker (in the best possible way) Richard Coxon said in his speech, two inalienable truths of the Scottish Party are that Sheila Ritchie (the convener who wrote the amendment) is always right. And John Lawrie is always right. The party dealt with the conflict in Sheila’s favour this time.

One of my best highlights was the look of utter surprise and mild irritation on Sheila’s face when she won the Scottish Lib Dem Women’s award for the person who had done most to advance diversity. She has become a real driving force for the implementation of the Alderdice Review, showing local parties how to engage more with BAME people and get them involved in the party. She absolutely deserved the accolade. The SLDW AGM, by the way, decided to name the award after Helen Watt, who devoted so much time to the organisation until her far too early death in 2016.

I shall tell you more about the weekend in the next few days, but the agenda was absolutely packed with things that actually provoked debate. An attempt to overturn our policy on decriminalising sex work and replace it with the controversial Nordic model was unsuccessful, but the summating speech in favour of the motion affected everyone, whichever side of the debate you were on.

Diane Martin, who experienced the most awful treatment by exploitative pimps and ended up being trafficked for sex work, described her horrendous experience in an incredibly moving way. There was shock as she told how she was raped by a man with a gun who told her he was having a “freebie.” Diane won the award for the best speech of the Conference.

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

TIG’s not it

When you are an active member of a political party, the amount of the infrastructure of your life that is embedded in it is colossal. My husband knows that we have a bird of liberty as well as a spaniel determinedly pushing its way between us when we try to grab some time together.

Our lives revolve round election cycles and meetings and protest marches. And this blog.

Most of my best friends are in the Liberal Democrats. To be honest, I think they would still be my best friends wherever our lives took us, but, still, I share stuff with them that if we were in different parties I wouldn’t be able to any more.

Making the decision to leave is difficult and painful and not at all easily taken.

So when I see people leaving the Labour Party when they have finally reached the end of their rope with Jeremy Corbyn, I know how hard it must have been for them. I respect them for having the courage to do so.

I like some of them a lot on a personal level and I have no problem with working with them on the areas where we share common aims.

However, I am underwhelmed by their statement of values on their website. Some of them are fine – just a bit motherhood and apple pie.However, parts of it made me cringe:

…the first duty of government must be to defend its people and do whatever it takes to safeguard Britain’s national security.

It’s a bit hawkish. I get that they are trying to get away from the spectre of Corbyn, but the first thing above all else, when 3 million of our citizens are about to have their rights massively downgraded and people have trouble putting food on the table? Really?

There are also some real deserving/undeserving poor undertones to it – and an echo of that awful phrase “hard working families.”

I think the thing that bothered me most, though, was:

We believe that our parliamentary democracy in which our elected representatives deliberate, decide and provide leadership, held accountable by their whole electorate is the best system of representing the views of the British people.

I get that they are restating the obvious that democracy is a good thing, but you can’t say that politics is broken and then say that our way of doing it is best. How much more powerful would it have been if they had said, as we do, that our political institutions need redesigning and rebuilding so that people get the Parliament that they ask for. If they did, the country would not be in its current disastrous pickle.

I lived through the birth of the SDP 40 years ago and it genuinely felt exciting. They used phrases like “breaking the mould” and talked about pursuing a reforming agenda in every area of life. This doesn’t have that coherent approach. It’s like TIG’s members can agree what they’re against – the various circles of Hell in Corbyn’s Labour – but writing a coherent vision statement has not come easy. In some ways their statement is more cry of pain than beacon lighting our path.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 18 Comments

Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #543

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 543rd 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 (10-16 February, 2019), 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

Just in case you thought the ERG was acting on principle…

So Jacob Rees-Mogg, Boris and the rest of the European Research Group of 100 or so Tory backbenchers have been making an almighty fuss about the backstop. They don’t like the part of the EU Withdrawal Agreement that would keep the UK in a temporary customs union in the (highly likely) event of a full trade deal not being agreed by the end of the transition period in December 2020.

It has alway been clear that the EU will, quite rightly, to be honest, not consider any watering down of that commitment. There is no solution to the Irish border problem that doesn’t involve some sort of customs union. It is obvious.

But an article in today’s Mirror suggests that the ERG might give in and vote for May’s deal just to get us out of the EU – on condition that Theresa May goes after the local elections on May 2nd so they have a chance of getting Boris as PM.

Political editor Nigel Nelson suggests:

As things stand at least 20 hardcore ERG backbenchers will not back Mrs May’s deal – either with or without changes to the backstop.

But if they think they can get Boris for PM, it is expected they will back down.

With the ERG on board, and 20 Labour rebels who Mrs May is trying to bribe with cash for their constituencies, the PM will have enough votes to get across the line.

In essence, this doesn’t really change anything because the idea of the ERG caving to get us out has always been a possibility.

But it does give us the chance to reflect on why the deal passing is far from the end of the issue.

As I said the other week, the Deal itself is bloody awful. It kicks so much down the road that we have no idea what sort of economy we will end up with.

Bad as it is, it is a million times worse with an ERG PM driving the trade negotiations. The chance of us welcoming in 2020 (or even before) by jumping off a no deal cliff is high.

But this lot have another agenda. Theresa May is going on about workers’ rights in a bid to appease Labour MPs. Jo Swinson called bullshit on those claims this week.

But the ERG are a whole world of right wing small-state extremism away from even May’s Conservatives. Jacob Rees-Mogg and co praise Singapore, a place where you get 12 weeks maternity leave rather than the 12 months shared parental leave (thanks, Jo), where you only get 2 weeks paid holiday a year and where redundancy protection is not mandatory.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 17 Comments

ICYMI: Jo tears into Theresa May for claiming credit for shared parental leave

Jo Swinson was on stellar form in the Commons this week. In her latest procrastination statement, the Prime Minister tried to claim credit for shared parental leave.

As we know, it was Jo who, as a Business Minister, delivered that against the wailing opposition of the Conservatives. So she naturally took exception to the PM’s claim.

And afterwards, with the help of some excellent gifs, she took to Twitter to rip the Tories to shreds on workers’ rights. She highlighted the times in the coalition when we fought against them. And there was a touch of humility as she said that we might not always have got it right, but we sure as hell battled every day. Here’s are the highlights:

This is my favourite:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 9 Comments

Changes to electoral law passed this week will help disabled candidates

An order passed by the House of Lords this week will mean that expenses reasonably attributable to a candidates’ disability will no longer count towards their election expenses.

The Minister, Lord Young of Cookham, told the Lords:

Examples of such expenses include, but are not limited to, British Sign Language interpretation for hearing-impaired candidates, the transcription of campaign material into braille for visually impaired candidates and specialist equipment. This order will also exclude expenses funded from grants provided through the Government’s interim EnAble Fund for Elected Office from electoral spending limits. This £250,000 interim fund will support disabled candidates and help cover disability-related expenses that people might face when seeking elected office, such as those I have listed

Our John Shipley welcomed the proposal:

I thank the Minister for explaining this order and I want to record that I agree with it. It is entirely appropriate that any disability-related expenses in elections should be exempt from spending limits, on principle. That is because it helps disabled candidates to stand for election on equal terms with others. I noted the Minister’s comments about some objections that may have been raised on some of the details—but none is more important than the overall principle of equality of opportunity.

This order is in force now for the May elections.

But it isn’t any use to disabled candidates unless we actually help them with the costs of getting elected. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 1 Comment

John Leech: Lib Dems will oppose Labour’s fines for homeless people till the end of time

Rough sleepers in Manchester are to be hit with fines of up to £1,000 as part of Labour’s latest social cleansing plans.

Former Lib Dem MP  John Leech who is now one of Manchester’s two Lib Dem councillors and the only opposition to Labour in City Hall, vowed that the party would ‘oppose it until the end of time’.

He said:

Richard Leese, the leader of Manchester Council, described Christmas as “peak begging season”, the council claimed soup kitchens organised by communities and outreach teams are a “bad idea” whilst fining and trying to sue the homeless, spending £10,000 on one-way tickets to get rid of rough sleepers, refusing to build affordable and social housing and claiming the only way to tackle “offenders” is to fine them.

Whilst this city experiences the worst homeless crisis in decades, rather than tackling the causes, Labour in Manchester is investing in fines, court orders and inane policies that are so broad and lacking in detail that it can only be seen as an attempt to clean up the streets.

If this isn’t social cleansing then I’ve got no idea what is and I want to make it absolutely crystal clear; Liberal Democrat councillors will oppose this until the end of time.

Manchester council has already taken out a number of injunctions against homeless people living in tents across the city. 

Posted in News | Tagged and | 3 Comments

Shamima Begum: The approval of the right wing press should not be part of what happens next

I read the interview with Shamima Begum in today’s Times (£) with mixed emotions. I have There is no doubt that she has made some utterly horrendous decisions in her young life which will take a lot to unravel. My instinctive reaction, though, is that rehabilitation must be at the heart of what happens next.

She is a British citizen. So is her soon-to-be-born baby. She cannot be denied access to this country. If she does make it back here, there will have to specialist intervention and risk assessment but the overarching aim should be to get her to a place where she can be re-integrated into society. That is not going to be easy for her, but nor should it be excessively punitive either.

She says some things in her interview that are undeniably hard to read. And even worse to listen to. But I guess you have to remember that in the last 3 months, she has lost two young children for want of decent health care. It’s early stages in the grieving process. You can maybe see where the denial and defiance comes from. We can only imagine the pain that lies beneath it.

As I write, her family’s lawyer is making the point on Channel 4 News that she is in a camp with 36000 others, some of whom remain ISIS supporters. If she were to speak out against ISIS to the press, she could find herself in even more danger.

We also have to remember that her own mother died a year before she left this country. How might that loss have rendered her more susceptible to targeted radicalisation? A huge amount of work needs to be done by her and others to combat the effects of that, but we should give her access to the programs can achieve that.

One thing that we shouldn’t do, though, is allow the approval of the right wing press to have any part in this. We should do what is right in terms of the law, human rights and due process. We have to take into account her age and vulnerability and circumstances at the time she made the extremely poor decision to travel to Syria.

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

Check out the York Spring Conference agenda – and two important deadlines

My Conference agenda arrived this morning. I know I can see it all online, but I like that I can write all over the paper copy and highlight things. It’s old-fashioned but it’s kind of like sitting down with a cup of tea and the Radio Times at Christmas and ticking off what you want to watch.

The agenda has details of all the debates, speeches and almost all the fringe events and exhibitors so you can at least try and plan out your weekend.

You might also want to know that Alistair Carmichael is having a whisky tasting on the Saturday night from 9:30-11:00 pm which is not advertised in the Directory. These are amazing events. Not only do you get seriously good and tastefully chosen whisky, but you get Alistair’s inimitable and very funny commentary on each whisky’s origins and manufacture. If you fancy it, email me on [email protected] and I’ll tell you how to try to get a place – but you will have to be quick. Tickets are like gold dust.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 3 Comments

Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #542

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 542nd 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 (3-9 February, 2019), 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

My contribution to the EU Budget – the best tenner I ever spent

My annual tax report for the year 2017-18 arrived the other day.

It outlined to me what I get for the relatively low tax I pay every month.

The last item on the breakdown broke my heart.

“Contribution to the EU Budget – £10”

That’s all it costs.

For that I get:

Freedom to work and travel and live in 28 countries

The prosperity that being in the customs union and single market brings, with the added advantage that showing up with 27 of your mates when you are trying to do business with the likes of Donald Trump and the Chinese Government brings.

This country’s universities getting access to research funding to carry out investigations which will help us to learn more about how the world works and develop ways to fix its problems.

My son having the chance to study anywhere across the EU via the Erasmus programme

Joint arrangements on radioactive isotopes and the like through Euratom

Co-operation on security across the 28 member states

Protection of my employment rights, keeping me safe from the right wing small state instincts of most of the politicians who campaigned for Brexit. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 15 Comments

WATCH: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s forensic deconstruction of US campaign finance laws

In case you missed it, the youngest member of the US House of Representatives showed why she managed to unseat a senior Congressman in the Democratic primary last year.

We think campaign finance in this country is unfair. It is. And neither Conservatives nor Labour are that bothered in changing a system that suits them and keeps others out.

In the US, it’s a whole other layer of awful.

This week Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave us all a lesson in how to take apart a system that gives massive power to large institutions and their interests. Enjoy.

Posted in News | 20 Comments

Vince: I have changed my mind on assisted dying

Vince Cable has become the first party leader to come out in favour of the legalisation of assisted dying.

We don’t often link to the Daily Mail, but will make an exception for Vince’s incredibly moving article. 

He talked about losing both his mother and his first wife and how he at that point was opposed to assisted dying becoming legal.

He says he has changed his mind after listening to the concerns of constituents.

And he describes how he and his wife Rachel have discussed the issue:

We both agreed that if ‘assisted dying’ were legal, we could not allow the other to suffer intolerable pain should they wish to bring it to an end.

Vince  has spoken before about his mother’s breakdown as a result of Post Natal Depression and how adult education played a huge part in her recovery. In later life, though, she suffered mental illl health again.

When I visited her towards the end of her life she sometimes begged to die, to be released from her unhappy state; but on other occasions she insisted on her love of life; simple pleasures like a walk in the park, and by the river.

Without self-worth, however, she was obsessed about being a ‘burden’. I could see all too clearly that, in a permissive regime for assisted dying, fragile and muddled people like my mother would easily be persuaded to sign up.

When his wife Olympia died from Breast Cancer in 2001, she would never have considered assisted dying:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 21 Comments

Norman Lamb’s message for Time to Talk Day

Today is Time to Talk Day.

Norman Lamb was probably the best Minister we had in the Coalition years. He did so much to try to change the culture of the NHS on mental health. And what I particularly liked was that there was no bullshit from him. If something wasn’t good enough, he owned it and tried to do something about it.

Today, for Time to Talk Day, he urged people to talk to each other about mental health.

I just wish that we had had a minister for mental health in Scotland who actually got it.

The reason Norman got it is because mental ill health has affected family members. His sister died by suicide in 2015 and his son Archie has OCD. 

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

Vince reshuffles Lib Dem spokespeople

Vince  has announced several changes to his top team of spokespeople.

Tim Farron will be taking over the Communities and Local Government  brief, which really suits him with his longstanding interest in housing. Wera Hobhouse moves from there to cover Energy and Climate Change.

Edinburgh West MP Christine Jardine will now cover issues relating to Work and Pensions, taking on the portfolio vacated by Stephen Lloyd when he resigned the Whip in December.  Jamie Stone becomes Scottish spokesperson. Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael will speak on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Vince said of his new team:

I am pleased to announce today our new spokespeople who will speak out on the most important issues we face in Britain today.

While Parliament is consumed by Brexit, we need to remember that people are also affected by a whole host of other challenges.

We will continue to speak up for them as we continue our fight for the public to have a say on the Brexit deal with a People’s Vote.

It’s disconcerting that Lynne Featherstone no longer seems to have a spokesperson role given that she is one of the party’s best performers. She used to do energy and climate change in the Lords but that role has now gone to Chris Fox.

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

Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #541

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 541st  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 (27 January – 2 February, 2019), 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

At what point do we call for Article 50 to be revoked?

At what point short of the cliff edge do Liberal Democrats say “Enough!” When in this utterly bonkers trashing of our economy do we call for the immediate revocation of Article 50?

We know that the UK can do that without requiring the consent of the other 27 EU member states.

We also have it as  part of our policy to call on the Government to suspend Article 50 to legislate for a People’s Vote or to avoid no deal and, if that suspension isn’t agreed, to call for the revocation of Article 50.  Here’s the motion we passed at Conference last year.

Conference reaffirms the Liberal Democrat commitment to:

Fight for an “exit from Brexit” referendum to be held once the outcome of the UK-EU negotiations is known, for the public to choose between “the deal” or Britain remaining a full member of the EU.

Campaign for Britain to remain a full and active member of the EU.

Enable all UK citizens living abroad to vote for MPs in separate overseas constituencies, and to participate in UK referendums.

Introduce votes at 16 for all elections and referendums across the UK.

Conference calls for:

The Government to release full impact assessments of all options, prior to any meaningful parliamentary vote, thereby demonstrating that there is no Brexit deal on offer that will deliver the promises of the Leave campaign.

The Government to seek to extend Article 50 if required to legislate for a referendum on the deal, or to provide enough negotiating time to avoid a catastrophic no-deal scenario, and if such extension is not agreed to withdraw the Article 50 notification.

The right to full participation in civic life, including the ability to stand for office or vote in UKreferendums and General Elections, to be extended to all EU citizens not already entitled tovote as Irish or Commonwealth citizens, who have lived in the UK for five years or longer.

The UK Government to guarantee unilaterally in law, including in a no-deal scenario, the rights of all EU citizens living in the UK, ringfencing the Withdrawal Agreements’ Chapter on citizens’ rights.

The bit about the revocation was put in as an amendment, but was not opposed by the leadership. It’s not as if Conference forced them into something that they didn’t want to do like we did over the immigration motion.

So the motion commits us to fighting for a People’s Vote and to campaign for Remain in that referendum. We are obliged to do that, therefore, until that becomes impossible.  I agree with Vince that there is a route to getting it, but the deal will have to be rejected by the Commons again first.

At that point, if the Government refuses to ask for the suspension of Article 50, or if that suspension was refused. then we should without doubt call for it to be revoked. 

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

Philip Hammond talks about second referendum while Corbyn approves “unholy alliance” to deliver Brexit

There’s some interesting nuggets in the Sunday Times reports on the Brexit chaos and ongoing shenanigans. It’s not the headlines, which are about the Royal Family being moved out of London if there are no deal riots, or the supposed new party to be formed on Valentine’s Day as Labour MPs resign the whip. It’s what else is in the article.

Earlier this week, Christine Jardine talked about the Labour Party became the “handmaids of Brexit” after their votes blocked Yvette Cooper’s amendment and helped pass Graham Brady’s time-wasting one calling for unicorns on the Irish border. Well maybe unicorns weren’t explicitly mentioned, but it all amounts to the same thing.

Labour’s role in facilitating Brexit was highlighted in an article in the Sunday Times today. Tim Shipman and Caroline Wheeler wrote(£) about how

An “unholy alliance” has formed to force through a deal consisting of May’s allies, a member of the shadow cabinet, the trade unions and Labour MPs, with Jeremy Corbyn’s tacit approval.

A recent poll suggested that Liberal Democrat support would go way up, even overtaking Labour, if Corbyn’s party helped deliver Brexit.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 18 Comments

Vince: Lib Dems will do well if Corbyn helps to deliver Brexit

Vince was on Sophy Ridge on Sky this morning. First on the agenda was Nissan’s reported decision to pull X-Trail production from Sunderland:

He then talked about what a blow this would be to the North East, bearing in mind that Margaret Thatcher had persuaded Nissan to come here to be at the gateway to the single market.

The Fail on Sunday is full of talk of an election on 6th June. Vince said that we would do well in an election and reminded Ridge of the poll that would see us overtake Labour and end up in the mid 20s if Labour continued on its present Brexit-enabling course.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 19 Comments

Lynne Featherstone: Lib Dems must fight oppression so no LGBT person has to live in fear

It’s LGBT History Month and to mark its start, Lynne Featherstone, who as Equalities Minister, kicked off the process that led to same sex marriage in England and Wales, wrote a blog on the party website:

We must fight oppression in every form so that no LGBT+ person has to live in fear.

Our members make our policies, and incredible LGBT activists and allies have written comprehensive policies that will make our society a kinder and more equal place than it is today.

Our MPs, Peers and members are fighting for these rights every day:

  • Trans people being able to change their legal gender and streamlining the Gender Recognition Act to make it easier.
  • Businesses with more than 250+ employees to monitor and publish data on BAME and LGBT employees, not just gender.
  • A standard curriculum addition for Sex and Relationship Education (SRE), which will include in SRE teaching about sexual consent, LGBT+ relationships, and issues surrounding explicit images and content.
  • Gender neutral bathrooms, gender-neutral school uniforms, and ‘X’ option on passports, official documents and forms for those who do not wish to identify as male or female.

Let us celebrate our identities and our freedom of expression. Let us embrace people from all communities and be proud of who we are.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 6 Comments

And this is why I spent 10 years trying to get this man elected to the Scottish Parliament

I  wanted Alex Cole-Hamilton to be elected to the Scottish Parliament for a decade for many reasons, but one took precedence over all the rest – that he would  be a fantastic voice for children and young people.

Yesterday he proved why, arguing in committee for his amendment for the Scottish Government to raise the age of criminal responsibility from a “medieval” 8 to a much more civilised 14. The SNP Government would only go as far as 12. He lost, 5-2, but listen to his passionate arguments.

After the vote, he said:

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

Your by-election result tonight brought to you by….

I’m doing a bit of moonlighting tonight.

ALDC is always first with the by-election results and they’ve decided to recruit a team of volunteers to report them.

It’s a great way to get involved and it’s something you can do on your sofa in your pyjamas while watching Question Time. Don’t worry, I won’t post a photo.

All you need to do is keep an eye on a couple of places on the internet and post the results in a few places.

If you fancy a shot at doing this, drop ALDC a message on Twitter. 

Tonight, there’s just the one by-election – Warlingham division on Surrey County Council. The Conservatives are defending and last time round we came second. Our candidate, Charles Lister, has fought the ward twice before, in 2017 and 2013.

So now, we wait.

And it was worth sitting up for – a really good increase in vote share. 

Posted in News | Tagged and | 5 Comments

Could Labour back May’s deal?

Jeremy Corbyn is about to run out of road. He has to pick a side now. Does he go with the majority of his party and back a People’s Vote or does he enable a Tory Prime Minister to inflict a hard Brexit on the country by backing her deal.

Theresa May’s tweet about her meeting with Corbyn yesterday was interesting:

The 29th March date now looks to be a bit fluid as senior Conservatives seem to be coalescing around a delay of a couple of weeks. But if May doesn’t deliver Brexit in short order, she’s toast. And Corbyn wants it over as quickly as possible so his party stops banging on about a People’s Vote.

And when May met Lib Dems, it was Vince, Tom Brake and Alistair Carmichael who were in those meetings. Because it makes sense to have your Brexit spokesperson involved.

But Corbyn didn’t take Kier Starmer for his meeting with the PM. He took two members of his inner circle. HIs direction of travel is clear – out of the EU. And his mindset in not punishing those who voted with the Government when pro single market shadow ministers had to resign in earlier votes shows where his heart lies.

Robert Peston seems to think Corbyn could whip Labour MPs into backing a Brexit deal:

For what it’s worth, my understanding is that Corbyn sees the failure to secure a majority yesterday of the Cooper and Grieve motions – and Labour’s own one, which explicitly mentions the possibility of a referendum – as proof that MPs really don’t want a People’s Vote.

Even more striking is that those close to Labour’s leader tell me they can indeed envisage a moment in the coming weeks when it will be official Labour policy to vote for a Brexit plan.

Those at the top of Labour, and in the grassroots, who want a referendum should fear they are being properly outmanoeuvred.

If Theresa May can’t get the ERG onside, she will need more than the 14 Labour MPs who voted with her on Tuesday night. The hard core of Corbyn loyalists might just pull her through, even if the moderate Labour MPs defied the whip.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 47 Comments

WATCH: Willie Rennie questions Nicola Sturgeon about restraint of vulnerable and disabled children

In December, Scotland’s Children’s Commissioner published a shocking report which stated that local authorities risked breaking the law and breaching vulnerable and disabled children’s human rights with the way they used restraint and seclusion.

Out of the 18 local authorities which record such incidents, almost 400 children were subjected to these procedures a total of 2764 times. And 14 local authorities gave no information at all so the overall figure may be higher.

The report made 22 recommendations to which the Scottish Government was to respond to by the end of January.

There was one particularly disturbing account of the seclusion of a child with the mental age of 3:

One time I was called and he was being kept in the cloakroom with the door shut on his own incredibly distressed and not allowed out until I arrived. He was 5 years old with the mental age of a three year old… X very traumatised re the holds and not sleeping well and screaming in his sleep, very reluctant to go into school…

The staff had even put him in a room on his own in a totally unregulated state and held the door handle from the other side and wouldn’t let him out. X. was Distraught.

Willie Rennie asked Nicola Sturgeon at First Minister’s Questions what the Government was going to say.

Watch the exchange here. The text is below:

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

“Apparently because of Brexit the supply of my tablets is low”

Yesterday, Brent Lib Dems’ chair Anton Georgiou got a text from his sister.

She has Epilepsy which is controlled by taking six tablets a day.

She had gone to the pharmacy to put in a prescription.

Here’s her text, reproduced with her’s and Anton’s permission:

This is the reality of what people are living with.

Problems with supply chains for medicines aren’t confined to Brexit and they are quite common. You can see some of the issues here on Epilepsy Action’s Drugwatch

Brexit, deal or not, puts added complications into the mix. This article cites problems coming from a weak pound against a strong Euro, so it is clear that Brexit is already having a detrimental impact.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 10 Comments

Brexit votes open thread

I’ve come home this evening with a very heavy heart. It’s more like the Spoilt Brat of Legislatures than the Mother of Parliaments, isn’t it? The debate this afternoon has been profoundly depressing, particularly the early stages which was more of a bunfight than anything else. Good job they weren’t debating anything absolutely essential to our existence, isn’t it?

There are only a few willing to talk about how the Emperor is stark naked.

While our lot are fighting the good fight inside, Welsh Lib Dem Leader Jane Dodds is in Parliament Square:

On Facebook, I discover that several of my friends have received literature from Wetherspooons spouting nonsense about Brexit. There is a bit of me that is pleased that Tim Martin’s money will be wasted in Edinburgh.

Anyway, I’ve opened a bottle of red and am watching the events of the evening unfold.

Key votes will be on Yvette Cooper’s amendment to extend Article 50 for 9 months and Graham Brady’s to find some unicorns to patrol the Irish border.

It’s going to be a long night evening of votes – but there is some hope at the end. Layla Moran’s bill to repeal the Vagrancy Act will be debated when it’s all over.

So this is the Government’s motion:

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 27 Comments

Catching up with Danny Alexander

Danny Alexander was probably best described as the marmite minister of Lib Dem coalition politics.

As Chief Secretary to the Treasury, he completed the “Quad”, the 4 ministers who decided the course of the coalition government. He, Nick Clegg, David Cameron and George Osborne fought out the major battles of those years.

It’s no secret that he and Osborne got on very well. After the Coalition, Danny ended up as Vice President of the Asian Infrastructure  Investment Bank, based in Beijing.

A BBC Scotland programme, Scots in China, caught up with Danny and his family recently. You see him at his work, talking about how he spends a lot of time focusing towards India. A sure sign of where the balance of power now lies in the world. We also see him trying to learn Chinese.

Neil Oliver caught up with his family, including their new dog, Rocky. Their older daughter has some really compelling insights to offer about life in city of 22 million people. Her liberal heritage is clear.

Obviously, in China, Danny is much closer to the natural habitat of the panda. Some of you might remember the 2011 Christmas song “Danny Alexander, feed him to the pandas.” I restrained myself from sharing this on any form of social media until I came across him laughing his head off at it at the Party’s Inverness Conference in 2012. And having mentioned it, it would be so rude of me not to let you see it.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 16 Comments

Another day’s Labour for the Government

Hot on the heels of failing to kill the Government’s truly egregious Immigration Bill, which rolls out the Hostile Environment on an industrial scale, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party approaches the Brexit votes tonight in disarray.

But first, a reminder of last night.

I mean, really. A reminder of that happened. Labour were originally down to abstain but after cries of disbelief from senior Labour figures on Twitter, they decided to make it a one-line whip on Twitter. Hardly a face-saving exercise.

You might remember that Mr Corbyn has been loudly refusing to meet Theresa May unless she takes No Deal off the table.

So, when one of his own side comes up with an idea that would prevent us from leaving without a deal on 29th March, you would think he would support it. That was certainly the mood music over the weekend.

But no. The Guardian reports this morning that they are growing cold on that idea.

Opposition? Not so much. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 4 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDavid Becket 20th Mar - 10:29pm
    She should be sectioned
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 20th Mar - 10:15pm
    The PM addressed the nation tonight. Why, oh why can’t she use an autocue? Her continually looking down at her notes smacks of insincerity. She...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 20th Mar - 9:56pm
    Time to revoke Article 50.
  • User AvatarTonyH 20th Mar - 9:40pm
    Shameful behaviour, but also very stupid. The TIGs have actually had very little media coverage since their launch, and their freshness was beginning to fade....
  • User AvatarRichard O'Neill 20th Mar - 9:38pm
    Corbyn seems much less bothered about the prospect of a No Deal than May is.
  • User AvatarDavid Warren 20th Mar - 9:19pm
    I have done a submission but have no way of knowing whether it has been received because I haven't received an acknowledgement. I did the...