Author Archives: Janice Turner

Joint statement from LDCRE, BLAC, Lib Dem Muslim Forum and Chinese Lib Dems

More than a year has passed since the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement stunned the world into vowing to take racism more seriously.

Tackling racism, however, always needs to begin at home, and both Liberal Democrat Campaign for Race Equality (LDCRE) and Liberal Democrats Black Lives Action Committee (BLAC) had hoped BLM would propel the party into making faster progress to increase membership and electoral support from ethnic minorities.

LDCRE made a major submission, duly accepted, to the Thornhill Review. The Review’s recommendations included that the party fulfil the recommendations of the earlier Alderdice Review “in full, with urgency”. It added the party should:

  • revise targeting strategy to include the BAME electorate particularly in the most diverse areas,
  • Change the culture of the party to embed at all levels the concerns and interests of BAME communities and issues in all its activities, reaches out to the BAME communities and actively plan how it will achieve real integration at all levels.
  • Ensure resources – paid staff and investment – are in place to implement this.
  • Help local parties reflect the demographic of the electorate they represent.

Alderdice made crystal clear that the party has to make ethnic diversity – not diversity in general – its top priority. Alderdice said: ”In the Liberal Democrats the commitment to diversity and the campaigns to make diversity happen have brought significant changes and improvements for women and LGBT+ members and representation, but not for BaME members and representation.” He stated that ethnic diversity now had to be a “Number 1” priority issue for the party. “The party has a tendency to try to be inclusive of all issues at all times and that has an intellectual appeal, but it has not worked for BaME communities, because addressing everything means focussing on nothing.”

He added: “Every local association needs to compare the make-up of the population in their area with the make-up of the local party, the make-up of the officers in the local party, and whether their activities, leaflets and preoccupations are reflective of the local community.”

So it is incomprehensible that the leadership, who were given responsibility for carrying out the recommendations, are doing precisely the opposite of what Alderdice recommended. It has embarked on a general equality, diversity and inclusion policy that does not prioritise ethnic minorities, and has no plans to lead a campaign to help local parties reach out to local communities.

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Opinion: Liberal Democrats’ principled decision gives civil servants continued workplace protection they need

PCS picketOne of the announcements at Nick Clegg’s press conference on Monday was his categorical rejection of Tory ministers’ attempts to abolish check-off across government.

What’s check-off? This isn’t a Michael Gove attempt to ban a celebrated Russian playwright, it’s a mundane administrative convenience which allows members of trade unions to pay their union subscription by getting their employer to deduct it from their wage packet and send it on for them.

Union members like check-off because it’s the easiest way to keep their subs up to date. Trade unions like it because …

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Opinion: The most positive change for private sector pensions in half a century

webb 01The announcement in the Queen’s Speech of a new ‘Collective Defined Contribution’ pension is an historic achievement on the part of Lib Dem Pensions Minister Steve Webb, which shows that pensions are only safe in Liberal hands. It will bring about better quality pensions for millions in the private sector workforce. It’s taken him four years to arrive at this historic moment which starts to rectify the damage the Tories and Labour wrought on the retirement hopes of ordinary private sector workers.

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Opinion: Pensions move could negate the whole point of pensions saving

George Osborne’s announcement that people with  defined contribution (money purchase) pensions could take the lot as a lump sum on retirement kills several birds with one stone. First, it most definitely attracts the grey vote because the idea of getting your hands on your whole pension pot on retirement is very appealing.

But this also looks like a reaction to mounting evidence, including from the Financial Conduct Authority no less, that annuities are not good value for money. Defined Contribution schemes allow retirees to buy an annuity (your pension) on the open market, but the schemes provide a default annuity which …

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Opinion: Time for a grown-up workplace partnership

The Tories hate trade unions. In the context of the Social Liberal Forum’s conference on 13 July in Manchester, with the theme “Ownership and Democracy – where does power lie?” the Tories’ policies regarding the unions have been to try to remove as much power and as many rights from them as possible, in order to free up company bosses to use their power as they see fit without the need to discuss their plans with the workforce.

The problem with strengthening corporate power while weakening trade union and individual rights is that it allows a return to working conditions …

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Race equality – a new Liberal Democrat approach: SLF/EMLD Conference takes place soon

Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, is the keynote speaker at one of the most important race equality events this party has held in recent years. Organised jointly by the Social Liberal Forum and Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats, it takes place from noon on Saturday 1st June at Amnesty International’s Human Rights Action Centre, 25 New Inn Yard London EC2A 3EA. The conference will be of immense help to all those who realise that, particularly in London, the ethnic minority vote will be key to whether we sink or swim in the next elections.

Race equality is …

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Opinion: both private and public sector pensions need improving

There are two fundamental problems with the analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies of the current negotiations on public sector pensions.

Firstly, the IFS compares public sector pension provision with that of the private sector and implies that the inevitable disparity has to be rebalanced by cutting the public sector rather than improving private sector provision.

Secondly, they choose to ignore the approximately £100 billion saved by moving from RPI to CPI and then says that if you exclude £100 billion and the fact that retired public sector workers’ pensions are going to have lower increases than before, they are better off.

But this …

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Recent Comments

  • Simon R
    Great to see the practical suggestions in this article, both for how to get more people and women from ethnic minorities involved in politics, and to get more p...
  • Simon R
    @Nonconformistradical: Sure, and you need to make sure the system being used is accurate. That's the responsibility of the developers of the system, working wit...
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