Author Archives: Caron Lindsay

Lib Dems gain in Three Rivers and forge ahead in Sheffield

Some very promising Council by-election results overnight.

First of all, there was a gain from the Conservatives in the Lib Dem stronghold of Three Rivers. Good to see the majority of one being boosted.

Congratulations to Keith Martin and the fabulous team in the area.

In Sheffield there was a solid 21% increase in the vote, even though Labour held the seat.

Another interesting result was this from Ashfield:

We did put up a candidate here, which is a really good thing. It is so important that we continue to fly our flag there and try to recoup the ground lost in that area. The winning Ashfield Independents, though, were formed by the previous Council-dominating Liberal Democrat group. Their literature looks strikingly familiar.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 14 Comments

A couple of observations about Vince’s reshuffle

So Vince Cable reshuffled his top team today.

There’s a very interesting change of language. No longer are they called the Shadow Cabinet. That probably makes sense for a team of 12 MPs out of 650. They will henceforth be known as spokespeople.

So who has the top jobs? A full list is here.

The team is gender balanced. In fact there is a majority of women – 15 out of the 29. That includes long time Vince ally Dee Doocey who is coming in with a Spokesperson without Portfolio.  This would certainly enable her to obtain a profile over a wide range of subjects. I don’t even know if this has been thought of, but it crosses my mind that she could be a contender for party president when Sal Brinton comes to the end of her constitutionally allowed terms in 2019. If it happens, remember that you heard it here first.

As requested in the comments, for those of you who don’t know Dee, she’s had a very long history in the party and the Liberal Party before it. Back in the day she was the Finance Director of the Liberal Party. She has been a Richmond Councillor and Greater London Assembly Member who was appointed to the House of Lords back in 2010. She’s been running Vince Cable’s elections for 25 years. You can read more about her here. 

Vince has a job

The Leader doesn’t normally have a job in these circumstances but when you are the most credible voice on the economy in the House of Commons or not the country, it would be daft if he didn’t speak up on these issues. Susan Kramer will reprise her role on this in the Lords.

More experience than Corbyn’s front bench

While they may not be called the Shadow Cabinet any more, they are more entitled to call themselves that than the Labour front bench. There are no fewer than, by my reckoning, seven former ministers, including Vince, Alistair and Ed as former Cabinet ministers.

Where’s Norman?

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

Tim Farron explains how the Government’s cuts to supported accommodation will harm most vulnerable

One of the (many) hugely worrying things about the Government’s plans for Housing Benefit is the cap being applied to supported accommodation.

Across the country, people are given the chance to live as independent lives as possible in accommodation which comes with its own support network. Government cuts threaten this – and the human cost is appalling.

This was discussed in a  Westminster Hall debate yesterday in which Tim Farron took part.

From my experience of the supported housing provided for constituents with autism and learning difficulties, I know that the LHA rent cap will mean that they simply will not be able to afford the support that they get in their current setting. They will end up in institutions or hospitals, which will actually cost the taxpayer far more money.

On Facebook, he went into a bit more detail:

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WATCH: Liberal Democrat MPs slam Government’s contemptuous approach to Parliament

This afternoon, Alistair Carmichael led an emergency debate, which he had secured, to raise the many ways in which the Government is marginalising Parliament. From ignoring Opposition Day debates to curtailing debate on legislation to the Henry VIII powers.

His speech introducing the debate was excellent. Watch it here.

My favourite bits are this:

The best Governments—and if ever there was a time in our country’s history when we needed the best possible Government, this is surely it—are those that are tested by Parliament, by the Opposition parties and by their own Back Benchers. Time and again, our system fails when the Government and the Opposition agree and arguments remain untested. How different might the debates on the case for going to war in Iraq in 2002 and 2003 have been if the then Opposition had been prepared to take a more questioning approach to Tony Blair’s case? I am sad to say that this Government, however, do not welcome scrutiny by Parliament, but rather seek to avoid it.

and the bit where he challenged MPs to get assertive:

In one sense, the Government have done us a favour by bringing this issue to a head, because it forces us as a House to decide what our role in the future of this country is going to be. Is it to be an active participant, with a strong voice and a decisive say, or is it to be a supine bystander as the Government continue to do as they wish, regardless of their lack of a mandate and, as is increasingly obvious, their lack of authority.

I have been a member of many debating societies over the years. They have all been fine organisations that provided entertainment and mental stimulation in equal measure. I mean them therefore no disrespect when I say that I stood for Parliament believing I was doing something more significant than signing up for a debating society. The difference is that in Parliament—in this House—we can actually effect change. Whether we choose to do so is in our own hands.

I loved the fact that the Tories responded by slagging off the Liberal Democrats in the most immature way as they clearly had no defence.

Christine Jardine said that MPs were there to serve the electorate, not to play games. She talked about seeing Parliament as others see it and the impression it gives to people outside who were not involved in politics.

Posted in Op-eds and Parliament | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

Liberal Democrats mark World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day.

For me it’s a day to reflect on how far we have come since I started to suffer from mental ill health as a child. Forty years ago, nobody understood the desperate, isolating, all-engulfing Depression that I couldn’t shake off, that took every ounce of my energy just to get through the day. I remember trying to talk about it to a friend once, and she scared the living daylights out of me, telling me I’d be locked up in a hospital if anyone found out.

There was the exhausting anxiety which punctuated every day – not helped by the fact that round every corner there might be another bully lurking to shout “Yak” at me. That’s what they called me at school. I just wish I’d had Google then to reassure me that, whatever my tormentors meant, these beasts were actually kind of cute.

My teens were a struggle and because I didn’t get the help I needed, I either didn’t cope very well or developed some fairly unhelpful strategies to deal with it. Comfort eating for one.

We can perhaps be a little bit proud of ourselves as a society that four decades on, we are at least attempting to tackle the stigma around mental health, so that no young person need fear that they are going to be locked up.

However, we should also be ashamed that this new openness has not been accompanied by the provision of sufficient support services for people with mental ill health.

There is one area I want to focus on – the transition from child to adult mental health services. Once you get into the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, you can actually get some pretty reasonable support. It’s arranged in a fairly logical way with consultants, psychologists and nurses working together to support young people. Unfortunately not every young person who needs help can get it at all, and most have to wait far too long.  It is not uncommon to wait for more than a year to even see a specialist.

Mental health issues generally aren’t resolved overnight, so you have a year of turmoil while you are waiting to be seen and, maybe another couple of years of reasonably intensive support – and then you turn 18. All the effort put into helping you is now at risk as you are put into the virtually non-existent twilight world of adult mental health services which are disparate, insufficient and as suitable for the scale of the problem as  trying to surf the Atlantic on a My Little Pony lilo.

This country is being robbed of the talents of some wonderful individuals simply because it does not invest in the services they need to stay well.

Even the most cruel and heartless government should surely recognise that the cost of not supporting these people is enormous to both our economy and our society.

I’m incredibly proud that Nick Clegg and Norman Lamb have done so much to improve mental health services and tackle the stigma around mental health. One of the most horrible things about the run-up to the 2015 election was the almost certain knowledge that Norman wouldn’t be mental health minister any more.

Today, Liberal Democrats have been marking Mental Health Day in a variety of ways:

Kirsty Williams made this video highlighting mental ill health in the workplace:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , and | 1 Comment

Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #491

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 491st 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 (1-7 October, 2017), 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

No, Nick, you need to join the Rebel Alliance to stop Brexit, not the Imperial Stormtroopers

Nick Clegg is probably the country’s most knowledgable person on international trade, the EU and our relationship with it. Read his brilliant Brexit Challenge papers to see how true that is.

We should listen to whatever he says on Brexit because he is most often right.

However, for the former leader of a political party, he has shown a monumental amount of naivety in suggesting that people need to join Labour or the Conservatives to stop Brexit. He could not be more wrong.

You can maybe see where he gets the idea from. When he was leader of the Liberal Democrats, and, specifically, Deputy Prime Minister, the party was forever telling him in forms of motions passed by its Conference and various firestorms on the internet, that he was wrong. We sent him some pretty strong and unambiguous messages on things like the Bedroom Tax, secret courts and reforms to the social security system that disadvantaged people. Sure, we should take credit for what we stopped the Tories unleashing on the country, but we also did some stuff that we shouldn’t.

Yes, we sent him plenty messages. Sometimes he acted on what we told him, sometimes he didn’t, and sometimes he had to put a lot of effort into persuading the party to back his position.

Let’s compare and contrast with the Tories and Labour. They aren’t great about letting their members actually influence their policies. You didn’t actually see many actual votes on the issues of the day at their conferences. You didn’t see any at the Conservatives. They don’t do that sort of thing. They were shocked by the internal democracy in the Liberal Democrats and thought it very strange. Ordinary Labour members don’t get much of a chance to influence policy either. Even if they wanted to, remember that their Conference didn’t even get to discuss Brexit because they might disagree.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 70 Comments
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    Hi David, I pondered whether to go into models when writing it, but in the end I plumped for simply trying to raise the profile...
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    @ Katharine Pindar You made me laugh Katharine, which I enjoyed and needed.
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    Andrew McCaig - hi, Andrew, I must challenge the logic of your statement, 8.17 pm, that having 'gone on a lot about Brexit' in your...
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