Author Archives: Charles Lawley

If you thought our stance on tuition fees was controversial… – the case for Lifetime Education

 

Whether you are for or against our actions on tuition fees, we can’t pretend it’s not still an open wound for us. It’s an elephant in the room when talking to non-Lib Dems and when discussed between Lib Dems it leads to a row. The irony is that this all happened whilst higher and further education are in their death throes.

The current model of a child attending school, then choosing whether to enter the workforce until retirement at that point or to take a few years of higher education first, then never attending education for the rest of his/her life, will be archaic.

This week The Daily Mail took a break from bashing immigrants, judges or spinning the “What Can Give You Cancer” wheel and turned its attention on the threat posed by robots “ROBOTS TO STEAL 15M OF YOUR JOBS” their headline roared. Their headline isn’t wrong – whether it’s 15 million, 5 million or one in 11 jobs –many of the jobs humans do today will soon be automated by, for want of a less sci-fi description, “robots”. And, as the limitations of and the cost to produce these robots lowers, the more common they will become. We need to adapt to this.

Over the past 30-40 years the amount of careers available to people who enter the workforce without a higher education has reduced dramatically, with more people being accepted into universities and the ICT revolution of the 1990s seeing many low-skilled jobs move overseas – this, I would argue, has led to the rise of the anger against globalisation amongst the white working class. A generation ago you could leave school, find a decent career – working your way up the ladder until retirement.  This career narrative is now on the endangered list and robots will knock it into extinction.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 23 Comments

How a boxer fighting in Manchester tonight typifies the horrors of Fidel’s Cuba

Anyone with a slight interest in UK Boxing will probably be watching the unstoppable Anthony Joshua (17 wins, 0 losses, 17 KOs) defend his IBF heavyweight title tonight and almost certainly demolish Erik Molina. However, on the undercard is another heavyweight, Luis Ortiz, known as the “Real King Kong”, who has an equally impressive record (26 wins, 0 losses, 22 KOs). He’s quite interesting because Cuba has produced many great boxers, but no great heavyweights – Ortiz is considered the greatest ever Cuban heavyweight.

As you may know, despite producing legendary boxers, the Stalinist regime in Cuba forbids them from turning professional, so they have to stay amateurs for the rest of their lives – or defect.

Ortiz took the decision to defect to the USA in 2009, not to secure a lucrative professional contract, but to able to pay for his daughter’s illness. Despite the Cuban propaganda, the healthcare system in Cuba is terrible. Their answer to Ortiz’s little girl being born with necrosis in one of her fingers, despite everywhere else in the world being able to treat this, the only answer from Cuban doctors was to amputate. Ortiz was left with two choices, stay in Cuba, fight as an amateur for the rest of his life, stay in relative poverty and have his baby daughter go her life without a finger or risk his and his family’s life by making a perilous journey to America where he can make an incredible living for his world class talents and his daughter doesn’t have to have a finger cut off and face a lifetime of backwards medical practice. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 31 Comments

A New Year’s resolution: turning immigration from our weakness to our strength

January 1st 2013, I stepped on the scales. I had spent Christmas at my in-laws and they had 12 of us round for Christmas Day, so of course my mother did enough Christmas dinner for 36 people. Leftover food was in abundance. The untouched Turkey weighed more than my then 4-month-old son. I was having a full Christmas dinner for breakfast, lunch and tea (yes, “tea”, I’m Northern) from the 26th to that morning.

The scales hit 18 stone dead on. I was officially fatter than I had ever been before in my life. I decided enough was enough, my weight had bothered me too long. I made my first ever New Year’s resolution; “I’m going to get thin.” And I did. I started by eating a lot less food (just two Christmas dinners a day), and then I started exercising. I did those Insanity workout DVDs (they’re brutal, they really work). At my lightest I got myself down to 12 stone 3. I felt great. I felt like I looked great. I wasn’t embarrassed when trying to get ready. I wasn’t embarrassed when my appearance came up. I wasn’t just pretending to be confident anymore. I was confident. Everything felt better because of it. I made something that has always worried me, I worked on it and it felt amazing.

The Liberal Democrats need to do the same. As a Lib Dem who has spent a large portion of my life in Conservative-Labour marginals and with friends who live in areas of Manchester and Lancashire that are now UKIP facing Labour seats, what bothers me about us is our reputation on immigration.

Posted in Op-eds | 8 Comments

Boris’ Israel visit proves he is unsuitable to represent us on the world stage

 

Many can be forgiven for finding Boris Johnson’s manner affable and quite comical. However, his conduct during his visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories this week has been no laughing matter. A frontrunner to be our next Prime Minister has clumsily bounced around the region making an offensive remark here and reciting anti-Palestinian propaganda there.

The Mayor of London said:

I cannot think of anything more foolish than to say that you want to have any kind of divestment or sanctions or boycott against a country that, when all is said and done is the only democracy in the region. is the only place that has, in my view, a pluralist, open society…

…The supporters of this so-called boycott are really just a bunch of corduroy-jacketed academics from lefty, not that there’s anything wrong with wearing a corduroy jacket I hasten to say, but they are by and large lefty academics who have no real standing in the matter and I think are highly unlikely to be influential on Britain. And this is a very, very small minority in our country who are calling for this.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 12 Comments

The People’s Railway is a train crash – the people need more liberal rail routes

I need to be in Cardiff Bay next Thursday morning by 10:00. I don’t drive and I live in West London. You guessed it, I have to get the train. So I look on the National Rail website for train times and prices. The only route for me to go is from Paddington to Cardiff Central, then change at Cardiff Central. Only First Great Western operate the Paddington to Cardiff Central route, so I am at the mercy of their prices and service (I’m not picking on First Great Western, I’m from the North West originally and often get Virgin trains and they are just as bad). If I want to go Thursday I can either pay £26 for a train from Paddington at 05:19 (before the first Tube and I don’t drive remember) or any train later than that, but will still get me into Cardiff before 10:00, will cost £106. And that’s not to mention that I have to pay a minimum extra of £46 for a return if I fancy going home at some point, as well.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 60 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRob Parker 23rd Jun - 11:55pm
    I hate to break this to you Caron but it is absolutely a done deal and we cannot get out of it. The referendum result...
  • User AvatarDavid Evans 23rd Jun - 11:52pm
    I do think that once again some of us are looking with rose coloured spectacles at those we choose to look on as our personal...
  • User AvatarTim Hill 23rd Jun - 11:00pm
    And TonyH shows the other reason for standing. 9 votes by a paper candidate contributes 9 votes more to a national tally. Not standing, doesn't.
  • User AvatarTim Hill 23rd Jun - 10:58pm
    We should always stand a candidate. We have a duty as a party to give people the chance to vote Liberal Democrat. Those who argue...
  • User Avatarfrankie 23rd Jun - 10:45pm
    Bless are we playing be nice to Brexiteers again. Don't challenge there rants it upsets them.
  • User AvatarGlenn 23rd Jun - 8:33pm
    I don't think the country has become meaner. IMO, the version of Britain sold to the world from the Blair years up to the referendum...