Author Archives: Lee Dargue

Mental Health is not a finished campaign – we need you more than ever.

I was excited to be speaking with many of our dedicated members, and many energised new members at the fantastic conference in Southport this past weekend. To my joy, I found that mental health is still very much a key focus for our Party.

In Coalition, thanks to Norman Lamb, Paul Burstow before him, and Nick Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister, government finally had a focus on Mental Health – something shamefully ignored by previous governments. We introduced the first ever waiting times for some areas of mental health, and enshrined “parity of esteem” in law – the requirement for the NHS to give equal consideration to mental and physical health when offering treatment.

Despite some light words from the Prime Minister, since the Lib Dems left office, mental health – as with the NHS and social care in general – has not had the proper funding it requires. This means the waiting times aren’t being met and the 2020 target is likely impossible to meet.

Daisy Cooper put forward a great motion to celebrate the NHS at 70 at Conference. Speakers followed with passionate stories about their call for the NHS to be protected and given the funding to fulfil its obligations. Indeed, only the LibDems are being honest about adding 1p to income tax in order to plug this funding gap, before seeking to introduce a dedicated Health and Care tax in the future.

Norman Lamb spoke with passion on how it’s an outrage for mental health to still be the Cinderella of our health service. Mohsin Khan talked about the horrors of people being sent hundreds of miles away from their homes just to gain a bed for treatment. Daisy then reminded us how the Lib Dems are the Party of the NHS.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 3 Comments

We must remember who we are fighting for

I’m a man. I’m cis. I’m gay. I’m middle-aged (oh come on…approaching!). I’m middle-class (yes, I can de-stone an Avocado without cutting myself).

I am also a liberal. I am also a Liberal Democrat.

We must, as liberals and LibDems, absolutely remember the most famous part of our oft-mentioned pre-amble to our constitution:

“…no one should be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.”

No one. No ONE person, shall be enslaved by any of those facets of liberalism.

Every time I’ve gone to quit the party, or cause an uproar with a fiery post, I keep coming back to these 3 areas, where we believe no ONE shall be enslaved.

I oppose libertarianism, because whilst it favours the individual, it does so without a social context.

I oppose socialism, because I don’t believe it’s right for a group of people to decide what’s right for society, and then pass laws so that the rest of us do what we’re told is right for us.

Posted in News | 20 Comments

If you thought we were having a #libdemfightback – you’ve seen nothing yet!

Like many people, both in our party and out of it, I felt a sense of numb devastation following the result on June 23, a date etched into our country’s storied history.

The resulting euphoria of the Leave campaign, pouring salt into the wound, has little consolation in that the Remain euphoria would have been as high. It doesn’t surprise many of us, however, that a Conservative election for a new leader has started (don’t be so sure that Boris is loved by everyone in that party).

What did come as a surprise to me, is how quickly the Leave team have started rowing back.

Controlled immigration at a lower level? No, they say no.

£350million a week to the EU? Oh, I never believed that, some say.

You’re now giving all that to the NHS? We aren’t the government; we can’t make spending commitments they now admit.

I’ve been keen to say the Leave team – implying the leaders of the Leave campaign. Please remember, there are liberals who did want to leave in our party. The ones I know personally, are not anti-LGBT, anti-NHS or any other badges we could give to the likes of Boris or Farage so please, be careful when directing your anger to the right places.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 12 Comments

Person X supports the legalisation of cannabis

 

“Person X supports the legalisation of cannabis” is quite a headline. For that person to be a sports star or celebrity generates some interest. For it to be a user of cannabis, it often generates derision.

If X is the leader of a political party, or a former government health minister, it surely is big news. This is why I joined, and have stayed a member, of the Liberal Democrats: to have radical, evidence-based policies which strike out as making us distinctive and pleased Norman Lamb has put a motion forward to conference for this policy, and please Tim Farron has supported it.

When it comes to policy-making, we are the party that prides itself most on having an evidence base. Some parties go for populism over evidence, whereas we often prefer radical policies. And some parties go on mainly grabbing headlines. These three elements are often at odds and one usually wins over the other.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 38 Comments

Why Luciana Berger was so wrong to attack Norman Lamb

When you start a fight, you should choose to fight the side who is damaging you or the cause the most. You should also make sure you have the right backing and tools at hand to win the fight.

Luciana Berger has decided to both ignore the current Government’s reneging on spending for mental Health, whilst also choosing to attack Norman Lamb who has done more to put mental health on the political radar than anyone, whilst she has…well…what, exactly?

The point-scoring attempt this week to blame Norman for the continuing crisis in mental health services finally broke the straw that I’ve been carefully balancing for a while now.

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Opinion: Why we can all be Charlie

I’ve often been moved to offer a rebuttal to comments made in the public sphere. Indeed, I’m known for taking a sharp intake of breath and squeezing my eyes shut in an anxious state when Michael Gove went to make a comment on education, before taking my big letter writing pen to an article asking what planet he inhabits.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 118 Comments

Launch of new Liberal Democrat group focussing on Mental Health

Mental Health is finally getting the focus it has long deserved. With stigma slowly dropping and support services being increasingly scrutinised for quality, we need to ensure that provision is improved in both quality and quantity to meet the growing need for support.

I’m pleased to announce the launch of a new group today, called the LibDem Mental Health Association (LMDHA).

You can visit the website and sign up to offer your support, guidance and, where able, your commitment to help grow the group to help form policy in our party and government. You can join at www.ldmha.co.uk/join

Commenting on their …

Posted in News | 4 Comments

Opinion: Part of the solution is that we need more male feminists

Some rights reserved by Leo ReynoldsI’ve had enough.

I’ve had enough of women being seen by far too many people in society as second class citizens. I’ve had enough of working in the private sector and seeing women patronised for their ideas with a “oh that’s a good idea, love” attitude. I’ve had enough of women having to fight for the right to be heard and then being granted a voice, because it’s time to ‘let the woman talk’. I’ve had enough of a pervasive society, which for centuries has degraded women to being the pretty ones who are meant to serve men. I’ve had enough of women being pressurised

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 9 Comments

Opinion: Liberal Youth has changed for the better and I see promise of more

Following Sean Davey’s thought-provoking post on the upcoming elections of new Liberal Youth officers, I wanted to offer support and some further thoughts. In agreement, Sean is right to point out that LY cannot allow its incoming officers, along with the existing ones, to indulge in coasting or long-winded bickering and risk over-shadowing the hugely important work of LY in campaigning.

Sean also raises the issue of LY’s lack of diversity as a problem. I totally agree that we can’t allow things to stay as they are, and after some initial concerns I back the Candidate Leadership Program. However, …

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Opinion: #KillTheBill – but not for a reason you may be aware of…

This weekend saw the LibDems argue both for and against the Health and Social Care Bill. It may be a cliché, but whilst I’m in the #KillTheBill camp, I am still proud of our democratic system that allows votes on both sides of the argument to be counted (interestingly, I had to explain to supporters of the bill that those of us arguing against don’t want NO bill, just not THIS bill – for some reason they seemed surprised at that).

I spoke to both Paul Burstow and Judith Jolly about some of the concerns I have, and I pay tribute …

Posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters | Tagged | 21 Comments

Opinion: Our party is a choir of many voices – Let’s not single out the sopranos

Our party is becoming one of a few, select voices.

Many members, which I include myself alongside, are quickly cementing our position as liberal radicals – those that choose not to define ourselves in the centre, nor on the left, but merely as those who wish to seek to form policies that will aid many in society. We will let history decide which end of the political spectrum we allegedly sit on.

Along the way, we may be asked for more radio or TV appearances, or be asked to write articles for certain websites or newspapers. This is good for …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 5 Comments

No, Stephen Tall, I’m certainly NOT Daily Mail!

In his latest blog, Stephen Tall argues that byseeing Jeremy Clarkson as un-beneficial to a modern society makes me somehow a right-wing *insert your own adjective for the Daily Mail here*.

Not in the slightest. I’m left-wing (so David Cameron doesn’t like me either, boo-hoo) and totally a liberal. I’ve never ever claimed Clarkson should not be allowed to speak, as that would be illiberal. I simply say that he is a loud-mouth oxygen thief (I use the same freedom of speech against him, that he should rightly be granted).

He’s claimed to be attention-seeking, I agree. And before you …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 14 Comments

Opinion: Muscular liberalism works, but only if you exercise the muscles

Nick Clegg had a visit to Birmingham on Wednesday, and members had the chance to question him in a private location. He invited the “vitriol” of people, as well as hopefully some positive questions, as he accepted, as leader, he has to take the flak.

He gave some interesting responses to questions ranging from the interventions in Libya, education policy and what people should do to help hold and increase support for the party.

It was this last point that struck a chord with me, because Nick espoused a view that I’ve held for months – we cannot allow …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 24 Comments

Opinion: The Social Liberal Conference was a major success

The SLF conference was a major success. Yes, it was “full” – David Hall-Mathews careful not to refer to the event as “sold out”. Yes, lots of people debated and tweeted like crazy on subjects ranging from NHS reforms to the history of the American fridge. But it wasn’t the numbers or amount of talking we did which was the most important. It was the fact that there is still a groundswell of progressives alive and well in the Liberal Democrats. In fact, since entering government with the Conservative party, and with a recent “win” (yet to see how it …

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Opinion: a reboot worked for Star Trek. It can work for the Lib Dems too

The BBC handed out more negative adjectives, including “collapsed”, “destroyed” and “drubbing”, to our losses (ignoring the gains and holds) on May 5th than Simon Cowell does on the X-Factor, so really we can leave other people to castigate the party and Nick Clegg, and we should get on with being honest about what happened and being focused on where to go next.

Whilst I’m going to present this piece in a positive manner, it in no way diminishes my understanding of how badly we were flushed on May 5th, just I feel there is no point wallowing in it continuously. …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 13 Comments
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