Author Archives: Jo Hayes

A memorial to a lie

Happy New Year. I come on to a topic I’ve meant to blog about for ages.

In June 2020 Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol was pulled down, rolled down the street and dumped in the River Avon to huge controversy. Why was the statue there in the first place, though?

The statue was erected in 1895 to falsify history. A plaque on the plinth described him as “one of the most virtuous and wise sons of their city”. But he wasn’t. Bristol had been a major slave trading port, and Edward Colston had been at the heart of it.

I attempt to imagine that my skin pigmentation is black. The history I was taught at school was the history of the white-skinned people, omitting the history of the ancestors from whose DNA the hypothetical me’s skin pigmentation comes. Those ancestors, or kin of theirs, were kidnapped, enslaved, sold, classed as subhuman and as property, whipped, raped, exploited, even killed, with impunity under laws created by white-skinned people for profit.

Even Queen Elizabeth the First profited from slavery. How many people know that? I can’t recall a history lesson or popular depiction of Good Queen Bess mentioning that fact.

As this hypothetical me, I go to Bristol and I read that plaque. How can I not be indignant?

Other features of the hypothetical me are probably that:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 36 Comments

Party reform: why I wouldn’t set out from here

As Mary Regnier-Wilson has pointed out in a comment on David Murray’s article, the Liberal Democrats Party is meant to support proportional representation; yet the Scottish and Welsh state party representatives on every committee are there to represent only a small proportion of the party’s total membership while the English state reps are meant to represent the rest, which is not proportional at all. The practical effect is that the members in Scotland and Wales have built-in massive over-representation on federal committees.

It is a bit like the US electoral college which gives more say over the White House …

Posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters | Tagged | 29 Comments

On reforming the Liberal Democrat organisation

Last September I stood for election to the Federal Board because I was aware of things which had gone wrong and needed to be put right. I didn’t expect my term of office, if elected, to start with picking up the pieces after a catastrophic general election. But it did.

The Thornhill Review has called for change, including to the Federal Board: a huge, sprawling thing with 35 voting members, the influence of any one of whom is very dilute. The Board would be better if it were less than half its current size. But whose seats should go? It …

Posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters | Tagged | 17 Comments

It must be the right people who fall on their swords

Embed from Getty Images

In October 1805 Napoleon was in what is now the Czech Republic and desperate to engage the armies of Austria and Russia, which had converged, before they became too strong to overcome. The Russian commander-in-chief, Kutuzov, also realised that Napoleon needed to do battle, so he counselled retreat. But the Austrians and Tsar Alexander, buoyed by what they believed was reliable reconnaissance information, overruled Kutuzov, who was demoted. Napoleon, by various stratagems, lured the Austrians into a battle on terrain of his choosing, near Austerlitz.

You can see where this is going.

French reinforcements, of whom the Austrians were unaware, arrived unexpectedly. Napoleon won one of his greatest victories, and an awful lot of people got killed. The Holy Roman Empire effectively came to an end a year later.

This is what happens when the top command makes the wrong decision.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 60 Comments

Jo Hayes: more on why I am a candidate to be Federal President

I’m a Remainer and proud of it. I have fought tooth, nail and tweet against Brexit and will do to the end. I completely agree with Conference’s decision to revoke Article 50 if we win an election, just as I completely disagreed with Parliament invoking Article 50 without a plan, three years ago.

It’s interesting that those who say it’s undemocratic of us to tell the people what we’d do if we won a General Election are the same ones who doggedly defend our failing electoral system. I want an end to Brexit, I want electoral reform and I want …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 1 Comment

Jo Hayes – why I am a candidate for Federal Party President

I was a founding member of the Liberal Democrats and have worked for it as a volunteer ever since. Over 30 years, I have done everything from deliver leaflets to chairing the Women Liberal Democrats and serving on the Federal Policy Committee, the Federal Executive, the International Relations Committee and the ALDE Council delegation. I’ve been a Borough Councillor and stood in General and European elections. I am currently Chair of the East of England Region. I think you could say I’m a Liberal Democrat to my bones.

I am also a barrister, practising from the same chambers I shared with the late Lord Willie Goodhart, one of the main draftsmen of our Party constitution. I have spent my career and Lib Dem life fighting for people’s constitutional rights. I am a fighter who uses the law and rules the way they are designed to work, for the people. I used equality laws to force Tony Blair’s Attorney-General to abandon the system of patronage used to appoint barristers for government work, and adopt a fairer, more transparent system.

Some of you may know me for my Remainer’s Diary blog. If so, you’ll know of my tenacity and dedication to the Remain cause. I want to see our party in government and then help Jo Swinson rebuild our nation, both democratically and socially. That is why I’m throwing my hat into the Presidential ring now.

A President’s role is not, primarily, a campaigning one, but a strong President provides the governance that makes our campaigning more effective, governance that guides and protects the party from top to bottom. It is our proud boast that the Liberal Democrats Party belongs to its members, all of them. As President, I will work to ensure everyone in party feels they have a stake in our movement, that they are heard and that their talents are embraced.

As President, I want to safeguard our values in practice, seeking to make our Party organisation a happier place. For example, I want to:

  • Devolve decision-making to as near the grassroots level as practicable.
  • Ensure transparency over appointments, complaints, outcomes and Appeals Panel rulings.
  • Ensure each component body in the party carries out its responsibilities without interference.
  • Bring in the advice and expertise when we need it, to avoid mistakes.
Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged , and | 5 Comments

The ethics surrounding the nuclear weapons debate

Members of the Nuclear Weapons Working Group are presenting their personal views as part of a wider consultation process into the party’s future policy on nuclear weapons. The full consultation paper can be found at www.libdems.org.uk/autumn-conference-16-policypapers and the consultation window runs until 28 October. Party members are invited to attend the consultation session at party conference in Brighton, to be held on Saturday 17 September at 1pm in the Balmoral Room of the Hilton.

The UK’s options for the successor to Trident are (boiled down to essentials):

  1. Same as now – nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines, only new.
  2. Keep most or all of the kit but stop continuous nuclear armed submarine patrols, unless circumstances change.
  3. Shift from missiles in submarines to bombs dropped from aircraft.
  4. Don’t keep nuclear weapons but do keep the expertise and the radioactive materials needed to make them, just in case.
  5. No nuclear weapons. Unilateral disarmament. The zero option.

I have been invited to write about these options in the light of ethical and humanitarian concerns.

Nuclear weapons are not really weapons of war. They are beyond war. They are means of annihilating life as we know it on this planet. There are about 15,000 nuclear warheads in the world today, which in a full nuclear conflict could comfortably exterminate us all.

They are so destructive that their use in pursuit of a traditional victory is impossible. They are not made to be used, but to make threats with. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 11 Comments
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