Author Archives: Iain Donaldson

20 years on from the “Bolton Seven” case

On 12th January 1998 seven men from Bolton were convicted under sexual offences legislation that clearly discriminated between gay sex and heterosexual sex.

I phoned the office of Liberal Democrat MP, Dr Evan Harris, to alert him to the plight of these men and he agreed to help their cause. Evan tabled Early Day Motion 117 and questioned the Attorney General to raise the plight of these men in Parliament.

Early day motion 717
SEXUAL OFFENCES LAW
• Session: 1997-98
• Date tabled: 02.02.1998
• Primary sponsor: Harris, Evan
That this House notes with grave concern the case of the Bolton 7 who were convicted following private, consenting, victimless homosexual behaviour; notes that the prosecution was brought under the age of consent legislation found to be a breach of basic human rights by the European Commission of Human Rights and under the ban on homosexual relations involving the participation or presence of more than two persons (section 1 of the Sexual Offences Act 1967), which violates Article 8 of the ECHR – the right to privacy; notes that the 1956 and 1967 Sexual Offences Acts unfairly discriminate against homosexuals; calls for equalisation of treatment of homosexuals and heterosexuals under the criminal law; and, in the light of the Government’s decision to give the House a free vote on the age of consent and not to contest the ECHR ruling, calls for the police and Crown Prosecution Service to use their discretion and suspend prosecutions under the gay age of consent legislation until Parliament has reconsidered; and believes that custodial sentences in the case of the Bolton 7 and other such cases of consenting homosexual behaviour are not in the public interest nor in the interests of justice.

The Liberal Democrats were not alone in raising the plight of these men, Outrage ran a major national campaign and Amnesty International stated that were the men to be imprisoned they would be declared prisoners of conscience. These campaigns may well be the reason why the men did not receive custodial sentences, although three of them had their names added to the sexual offences register.

In 2000, six of the men appealed to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that the prosecutions against them had violated their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights by interfering with ‘the right to respect for a private family life’ enshrined in article 8 of the Convention. They were subsequently awarded compensation.

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Nuclear fudge on the Lib Dem stall

Bismark is quoted as having said that “politics is the art of the possible” and in perpetuating a nuclear defence policy that can never be realised, the Liberal Democrats  have succeeded in stepping out of the debate on nuclear weapons.  The policy of having a part time submarine which probably isn’t carrying any nuclear warheads is neither possible nor deterrent.
 
This position is the sort of contingency that is adopted by fence sitters who do not expect ever to have to implement the policy that they have adopted and quite frankly for a party that aspires to government it is an entirely unsustainable policy.
 
There are in fact on the nuclear debate only two main questions, do we want a nuclear based defence policy or not?  If the answer is yes then the policy of the Liberal Democrats is not that policy as it means in reality that we leave the warheads at home until after war has been declared.  If the answer is no then the policy of the Liberal Democrats is not that policy as it retains the warheads.

Fundamentally we are saying that we want to negotiate away warheads that we will never use and will never have the opportunity to use and so we have taken our warheads out of any possible multi-lateral agreement.
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Sir Gerald Kaufman R.I.P.

 

From Iain Donaldson, Chair of Manchester Gorton, Central and Blackley Liberal Democrats:

It is with great sadness that we heard of the death yesterday of Sir Gerald Kaufman, Member of Parliament for Manchester Gorton.

I first met Sir Gerald over 30 years ago when he visited (then) Wright Robinson High School whilst I was studying in the sixth-form.  I can honestly say that despite our having been political opponents for the many years I have known him he was a kind and gentle man whose acerbic wit was always used in good humour to promote the causes close to his heart.  He was also a devoted servant of the people of Manchester Gorton.

Over the years we have worked together where we agreed and opposed each other where we disagreed but on all occasions I found him to be as courteous as he was determined.

At this time I would like on behalf of the Manchester Gorton, Central and Blackley Liberal Democrats to convey our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Sir Gerald Kaufman and to his colleagues in the Labour Party.

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The human right to freedom of speech is now under threat!

“Ridiculous” you no doubt think, this is another of the Liberal elite trying to spread scare stories.

Well, if that is what you think then take a look at the Government Petitions website today.  A Conservative Councillor has launched a petition calling on the Government to amend the Treason Felony Act to make supporting UK membership of the EU a crime.

The petition states:

Amend the Treason Felony Act to make supporting UK membership of the EU a crime.

The Treason Felony Act be amended to include the following offences:
‘To imagine, devise, promote, work, or encourage others, to support UK becoming a member of the European Union;
– To conspire with foreign powers to make the UK, or part of the UK, become a member of the EU.’

It is becoming clear that many politicians and others are unwilling to accept the democratic decision of the British people to leave the EU. Brexit must not be put at risk in the years and decades ahead. For this reason we the undersigned request that the Treason Felony Act be amended as set out in this petition.

(These provisions to become law the day the United Kingdom leaves the EU).

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North West Liberal Democrats Conference Spring 2016

Members attend regional conference to debate policy, receive training, question the decision makers in the party, and, of course, to socialise with old friends over a cup of tea or an excellent lunch.

On Saturday, following the opening of North West Liberal Democrats Conference by the Deputy Leader of Stockport Council, we heard an upbeat presentation from Sir Vince Cable about the work the Liberal Democrats did in Government, and where we go from here.  This was followed by a presentation by former North West MEP Chris Davies on the progress of the #intogether campaign to keep Britain in the EU.  …

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Will North West Region choose to become a state party?

The Liberal Democrats are a growing party and week on week new colleagues join us in the battle to create a democratic and liberal nation in which success is founded on merit, policy is founded on evidence and citizens are treated equally.

This party has always championed the concept of subsidiarity, decisions being taken as close as possible to the people they affect. We were the party that pressed hardest for a North West Regional Parliament, and we are the party that in government delivered Devo-Manc and real prospect of Devo-Merseyside. It is not our preferred option of devolution and it does not devolve enough powers, but it is a beginning in the quest to achieve the Liberal Democrat ambition of a Federal United Kingdom within a Federal European Union.

The North West Region finds more General Election candidates than the Party in Scotland, the Party in Wales or the Party in any other region in England. We not only fill our own seats but we also export candidates to other regions and train candidates for other regions.

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All women shortlists

At Liberal Democrat Conference in York this weekend I have been told by a number of women that they would not want to be the candidate for a seat that selected from an all women shortlist.  I have some news for them, most of them won’t be.  The motion passed means that of the around 580 seats that the Liberal Democrats will contend 8 must have all women shortlists.

I will now issue a direct challenge to those women, don’t walk away from the party but instead as there are up to 572 seats not selecting on all women shortlists so choose one of those seats and get selected as a Parliamentary Candidate.  However, my challenge goes much further than that because right now we only have enough approved candidates who are women to fill a quarter of those seats so at the same time convince another woman who is capable of standing for parliament to do the same.

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