Author Archives: David Faggiani

Let’s give everyone a passport for free at 16

British citizens at present have visa-free access to 173 countries and territories around the World. But that comes at a cost – currently £72.50 for a new passport, or £82.25 if you use the checking service. But what if your passport came in the post, free of charge, on your 16th birthday, like your National Insurance card? This is my suggestion for a new, distinctive Liberal Democrat policy.

Unimpeded travel around the world is something we should encourage, as part of a holistic, internationalist education. I don’t doubt that the admin fee is a barrier for less well-off young people, or those less-supported by family members. British people are relatively well travelled, with only 8% of British adults, roughly, having never been abroad. However, I expect a disproportionate amount of those less-travelled individuals are from lower income groups. Like votes at 16, I believe a free passport would be a great message for young people. Be a part of British society, and the whole world is at your fingertips.

Posted in Op-eds | 24 Comments

Liberal heroes in pop culture Part 3: Mary Poppins

This is the third of a series of pieces that we will publish over the summer. Please do nominate further entries in the comments! This one was suggested by Cathy Thompson! See here for a link to Parts 1 and 2.

This latest liberal icon is different in several ways from our prior picks. She isn’t a military captain or commander, but she’s arguably a greater source of authority than that. She’s an educator. And she’s practically perfect, in every way. She is the one and only Mary Poppins.

As portrayed by Julie Andrews in the classic film, Mary Poppins is a shamanistic governess who enters the staid world of 1910 London, and turns it upside down. The political scene of 1910 is worth several articles in itself. For one thing, the plot of Mary Poppins takes place during a Hung Parliament, and just after a legitimate constitutional crisis. Of course, none of this is mentioned. But we do get the Suffragettes. Maybe Disney thought kids weren’t that interested in Herbert Asquith. Shame on them…

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Liberal heroes in pop culture Part 2: Captain Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation

This is the second of what will hopefully be a series of light-hearted pieces that we will publish over the summer. Please do nominate further entries in the comments! This one was suggested by Josh Kirk on Facebook!  For a link to Part 1, click here.

It is the 24th Century. Humans have explored nearly a quarter of the Galaxy. Energy and resources are almost limitless, all people are free to explore their full intellectual and emotional potential, and, for some reason, the French are now from Yorkshire. Not only that, but they drink Earl Grey (“hot”), play the flute, read detective stories, and make sexy baldness look effortless. Or maybe that’s just this particular Frenchman. I give you Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Captain of the USS Enterprise, NCC 1701-D.

Picard is a decisive, brilliant commander, whose own emotional reserve and professional detachment from his crew does not stop him from drawing on their suggestions and stratagems to help do the right thing, crack the problem of the week, and make the Federation a little wiser, and better. Aided by his Commander William Riker (“Number One”), Chief Engineer Geordi LaForge, Counsellor Deanna Troi and many others, the Enterprise crew is an example of collective discipline combined with useful, diverse ideological debate, and respectful divergence of opinion. The model, perhaps, for an effective liberal Party?   

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

Liberal heroes in pop culture Part 1: Jon Snow from Game of Thrones

This is the first of what will hopefully be a series of light-hearted pieces that we will publish over the summer. Please do nominate further entries in the comments. Part 2 is here.

It is fair to say that the brutal, feudal polity of Westeros, featured in Game of Thrones and the A Song of Ice and Fire book series by George R. R. Martin, beset as it is by civil war, turmoil and hardship, is not generally a hotbed of liberal thought and action. In fact, it’s hard to think of a less likely environment in which the tradition of Mill, Gladstone and Beveridge could bloom. However, like a flower growing out of the ice, there is one man in the Seven Kingdoms who could be said to be a consistent, striving liberal, in spirit and in deed. I refer to the brooding 998th Commander of the Night’s Watch, Jon Snow.

Jon Snow shows us how a character with a liberal spirit deals with immigration, reform of institutions, and issues of larger social integration. Despite many stresses and temptations, he fails to fall back on easy pettiness and fear, which has prolonged the conflict between both sides of humanity for millennia. Instead, he uses his personal admiration and compassion for both sides to break down barriers, to marshall and combine disparate forces, and to prepare his people for the inevitably-encroaching tide of White Walkers. For White Walkers, essentially insert Climate Change, world hunger, nuclear proliferation, or any existential threat to us you care to imagine. He is also one of the few characters in Westeros elected to his position, and his awareness of this responsibility is part of his virtue.

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

Opinion: Let’s write our new leader a two-year contract – and get rid of him if it doesn’t work out

NormanLambTim FarronThere’s been a lot of focus on the Labour Party’s new Leader being given a 2017 ‘break clause’, to ensure the freshness and efficacy of the Leader come 2020. Meanwhile, I saw a comment from a Lib Dem the other day to the effect of “we must give Farron or Lamb a good ten years, it’ll be a slow climb, etc.” I began thinking about the issue, and I have a proposal: why not give the new Leader of the Liberal Democrats a two-year contract, with rigidly-defined goals to meet, and either applaud them for meeting them, or get rid of them for not, on those criteria?

For too long, leadership challenges have been bloody, opportunistic, or subjectively triggered. Or, worse still, they haven’t happened, when they almost certainly should have done. We have recently seen the unreliability of opinion polls in measuring future performance. Will it be enough if, in 2017, we are polling back at, say, 20%? No. It will be success sculpted in the air, and prone to disassembly at a moment’s notice. What matters are solid, progressive results.

Here’s my proposal. We present the new Lib Dem Leader with a five-point contract, to cover the term August 2015 to July 2017. If they fulfil four or five criteria, astounding! If they fulfil three, that’s still a majority, they could carry on and improve. If they only manage two, one, or even none, they’re gone. We would have an automatic Leadership election.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 79 Comments

Opinion: Liberal Democrats should support abolishing the Monarchy – and it is the right time to do so

I am a keen student of history, and have no shortage of fascination with the British Monarchy, its colourful progress, and its chequered evolution. And I do believe it has evolved, as often with grace as with indignity. In that sense, I have a certain level of ‘respect’ for the Monarchy, and certainly for some of the figures who constitute it at present. Yet, as far back as I can remember, I have though it should be abolished. Why?

Rather than lay out all the old arguments, I will focus solely on one argument for Abolition. I will do this, because it is (I believe) a liberal principle, and because I think it is hugely persuasive, and rarely aired. It is this: for the fair treatment of the Royal Family themselves, current and yet unborn, that we must abolish the Monarchy.

The British Royal Family, whatever it may once have been, is now a captive family. The institution consists at its peak of a household who are held, for our perceived benefit, in the gaze of the public eye and a web of constitutional precedent.  The Windsor family consists of real individuals, and we should never forget that. I know many will sneer at my concern for a very rich household, with all life’s advantages… but is that really their position?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 62 Comments

Opinion: Why not limit MPs to four terms in Parliament?

 

I was thinking recently about how to increase opportunity and impact in UK politics for people, in a popular way. I came to an idea which I thought was worth floating, not because of its originality, but because of its obviousness: why not limit Westminster terms for MPs?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 38 Comments

Douglas Carswell: Free Liberal – How it might have been (pt. 3)

This is the concluding part of a trilogy of counterfactual pieces previously published on LDV.

For Part 1 and Part 2, including the full results of the by-elections in Clacton and Heywood & Middleton in this continuity, please click the links.

…while some on principles baptized/To strict party platforms ties/
Social clubs in drag disguise/Outsiders they can freely criticize/
Tell nothing except who to idolize….”

-‘It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)’, Bob Dylan

The dual results in in Clacton and Heywood & Middleton on 9th October threw UK Politics into complete disarray.

Posted in Humour | Tagged | 7 Comments

Carswell: Free Liberal. How it might have been (part 2)

This is the continuation of an article posted previously on Lib Dem Voice. New readers should read the earlier post before this one.

…Do you remember…… changing the mind of pretenders?…

‘September’, Earth, Wind and Fire

As September 2014 began, even the most complacent Westminster journalistic eyes were swiftly turned away from Douglas Carswell’s Liberal insurgency, and towards events North of the border. The Scottish Independence Referendum was approaching within a fortnight, and Salmond and his remarkable growing coalition of voters were coming up fast/ A shock Panelbase poll published on 2nd September put the ‘Yes’ camp ahead by 1 point in the Independence Referendum. The campaign was electrified. For many Westminster politicians, it seemed as though they were waking up suddenly. Waking up, and booking train tickets to Scotland…

Posted in Humour | Tagged | 38 Comments

Carswell: Free Liberal. How it might have been

The more time I spend with him (Carswell), the more bewildered I am. Why on earth did he join Ukip? Well, he says, he could hardly have moved over to Clegg’s lot. “If the Liberal Democrats hadn’t made 20 years of errors, yes. But they have made it very clear that they’re not liberal and that they’re on the side of the elites, not the people.” If Gladstone was such a hero, why didn’t he stand as an independent one-man Liberal party candidate? He laughs. “Well I toyed with the idea…

Interview with Douglas Carswell, The Guardian, 19th October 2014

28th August 2014

Before a packed room of journalists, all looking around eagerly for suspected impresario Nigel Farage to emerge, Douglas Carswell finally stepped out onto the stage, alone, having called a press conference only hours beforehand. He announced that, after a long struggle with his conscience, he had come to a decision:

“The main parties are not serious about real change. It’s above all the failure to deliver on the promise of political reform that has driven me to be here today. Europe’s the one continent on the globe that is not growing … yet who in Westminster, who among our so-called leaders, is prepared to envisage real change? The call for an independent, reformist, libertarian voice is a demand I feel I can no longer ignore.”

Posted in News | Tagged | 50 Comments
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  • User AvatarLaurence Cox 20th Nov - 11:34am
    @Cim Back when Charles Kennedy was leader, there was a debate on Trident replacement at party conference; I think it was a Spring Conference at...
  • User AvatarYeovil Yokel 20th Nov - 11:20am
    Layla was interrupted so many times in that interview that it was tantamount to persistent heckling or a heated pub argument - she did well...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 20th Nov - 10:48am
    A trade deal with the US doesn't necessarily mean drugs will be more expensive. Canada has a trade deal but the price of their "meds"...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 20th Nov - 10:20am
    Splendid stuff, Chris. It's heartening to see a member of a younger generation than mine speaking out so vigorously for our beliefs and values. With...
  • User AvatarPeter Hirst 20th Nov - 10:10am
    We do need a wider geographical spread of elected members to our committees. Perhaps at least reserved members for the north, midlands, Wales and Scotland....
  • User Avatarcim 20th Nov - 10:10am
    RossMcL - fair enough on Kennedy, but I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have been so terse about it even if told to. "Short questions, short...