Author Archives: Leon Duveen

We must learn to live with Covid-19

Covid-19 is a nasty disease, causing people to be seriously ill, even killing them.
I work for an Acute NHS Trust. Although my work isn’t clinical, I know just how dangerous caring for COVID patients can be, not only for our clinical staff but those who support them in the “COVID” areas but also those in care homes and elsewhere.
To stop its spread, the Government has imposed restrictions on the like of which we have never seen in this country and, for the most part, people have accepted them because they know that these restrictions will save lives.

Many are using the coincidence of the 75th anniversary of the VE day to draw an analogy between dealing with Covid-19 and the WWII, asking for sacrifices, talking about winning the fight against “the enemy”, saying that those who break the restrictions are “fighting for the enemy”.

However, this analogy is not just wrong; it is stopping us realising that Covid-19, not an “enemy” that can be defeated, Like other deadly viruses, we need to learn how to live with it, not “defeat” it, because this virus will be with us for a long time.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 7 Comments

My first thoughts on the way forward

As I start writing this post, it is less than 24 hours since the polls closed and that dreadful Exit Poll was published so this is to some extent a first draft of what where I think we got it wrong and why we must not assume that we have 4 years to prepare for the next General Election. I am writing and publishing it to start a discussion rather than be dogmatic about what needs to be done, so please join in and give our new President and new Leader a start in working out how to move forward.  Also I haven’t focused on policy issues, more on processes as that is where I think we need to learn the lessons.

This was the third General Election since I joined the Lib Dems and I could not be as engaged this time as I had been in 2015 & 2017 for work and  personal reasons. This gave me a better opportunity to observe what was going on this time with the knowledge of having been a candidate myself before.

Firstly, I don’t think we should attach any blame to the incredibly hard-working teams up and down the county both in target seats and in “no hope” ones. From what I saw, many people went above and beyond what could be expected of volunteers. Yes, I am sure mistakes were made and I hope every seat holds a post-mortem in the new year to look at what they could do better. That said I am not sure, even if they did everything they could do and did it exceptionally well, it would have made a substantial difference.

This brings me to my second and main point. General Elections are decided by  what voters see on television, look at on social media, read in the newspaper and hear in the radio, probably in that order. Sadly for us, much of the access to these outlets, especially television & newspapers, is controlled by a media that since 2010 has been hostile to us and done its best to misrepresent us and exclude us. I don’t think this will change in the next few years. We can’t simply moan about it. We need to factor it into our plans for the next General Election. And, as we cannot be sure the next Election will not be until May 2nd 2014, we must start getting those plans ready in January.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 36 Comments

Johnson or Corbyn, who is the biggest danger?

The General Election we will be facing in the Autumn will be vital for the future of the UK.

I know, this is said every time we elect a Westminster Parliament but this time, it really is true.

Stopping a majority right wing Tory party under Boris Johnson (and his extremist backers) is paramount  to prevent the UK being dragged out of the EU with no deal and then left to the tender mercy of the vulture capitalists already circling to feast on its carcass, is a priority above all  other considerations.  Not only is this a threat to our economy but to every part of the way we live in the UK.

The Tories will continue to play down the very real dangers of Brexit and play up the potential threat of a Labour government, hoping to frighten people with the idea of a Venezuela or Cuban type “socialist” regime under Corbyn.

Whilst I disagree with much of what Corbyn (and the narrow clique running the Labour Party) stand for, there is little chance of a majority Labour Government at this election.  In addition, many Labour MPs, even after the cull Momentum are trying to impose on those MPs who are not “true believers”, also do not support Corbyn so would block his more extreme ideas.

So, what options are we left with to block Johnson?  Our best hope is that the Liberal Democrats & Greens, working together alongside others in a Unite To Remain Alliance can win enough seats to hold the balance of power, possible even be in power with the moderate parts of both the Labour & Tory parties, in the Commons to block Brexit and hold a People’s Vote on Remain / Leave as we now know the facts of what leaving the EU means.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 18 Comments

What do I want from our new Leader?

There will be those of our readers who have made a decision in favour of #EdForLeader or #JoinJo, but for many, especially the newer ones, they may still be deciding. Here’s one member’s criteria for making his mind up, which may give you some more things to think about…

So we are to have a contested Leadership election this time. Given that both (at the time of writing) declared Candidates come from similar parts of the party and there is not much to choose between them on major policy issues (and that in our Party Policy is not the sole preserve …

Posted in Leadership Election and Op-eds | Tagged | 22 Comments

In War: Resolution, In Defeat: Defiance, In Victory: Magnanimity, In Peace: Good Will.

As Remainers, we have lived by the first two parts of Churchill’s famous saying from World War Two in our fight against Brexit. We have been by turns both resolute and defiant.

Now, on the verge of victory (not yet certain I know but looking more likely) we need to start looking at how we can be magnanimous and promote, hopefully, good will. To do this, we need to look at the reasons why some many areas outside the main metropolitan areas voted to leave the EU.

The lack of affordable housing, the concentration of economic development in the Home Counties …

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A response to the Conference debate on the Balfour Declaration

Shalom alechum, alsalam ealaykum, peace be with you.

Peace, Peace in the land between the river & sea is what we should be working for.

And, to put it mildly, the motion we passed at Conference on Sunday does not do that. Indeed, by passing it, it means we probably won’t get another chance to debate the Palestine/Israel conflict again for some time.

I tried to get the motion referred back to the FPC and to ask them to bring back a better, more comprehensive motion next year as the one we passed today is the lowest common denominator that is acceptable (begrudgingly) to two interest groups in the Party, Lib Dem Friends of Palestine and Lib Dem Friends of Israel.

It does nothing to say what we, as a small political party far away from the area, can do to advance the cause of peace between Palestine & Israel and, believe me, there is much we can do.

We could be learning more from groups like “Solutions not Sides”, we could be inviting speakers from One Voice, YaLa Young Leaders, Ta’ayush and similar organisations, we could be listening to those who work every day to break down the barriers (both physical & mental) between the two nations.

The motion also contains factual errors, for example, line 35 refers to “pre-1967 borders” but no such borders existed as they were Armistice Lines that marked the end of conflict in 1949, they were never meant to be the final demarcation between Israel & its Arab neighbours.

What is worse, all amendments to correct errors and improve the motion have been rejected by FCC. No reason has been given for this rejection.

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How can Lib Dems support the movements for peace for the people of Palestine & Israel?

Israeli children visit Palestinian village of Tuwani and participate in bilingual activities together - Some rights reserved by delayed gratficationThe departure of Jenny Tonge from the party will not come as a surprise to many nor, if I am honest, will there be many tears shed over it. She has, at best, been semi-detached for some time after resigning the Party Whip in the House of Lords.

However, her departure has made me think about the best way forward for the Liberal Democrats to support a peaceful resolution of the Palestine/Israel conflict.

Posted in Op-eds | 68 Comments

Opinion: It is time for those who believe that violence doesn’t work to stand up

Banksy: DetailLast October, I wrote a piece for LDV called “Time to do away with LD Friends of Israel & Friends of Palestine” and other pieces on the subject on my own irregular blog.

After the tragic events of the last three weeks, with the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers being found murdered and now a Palestinian youth having been killed in Jerusalem, seemingly in “revenge”, I feel I need to speak out, even it is to “state the obvious”.

In addition to the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdair, the Israeli reaction to the kidnapping and killing of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach has cost at least six other deaths of Palestinians on the West Bank & yet unknown numbers of lives in Gaza. We here in the UK need to be strident in the commendation of the extremists on both sides who, through their rhetoric, have encouraged the violence.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 13 Comments

Time to do away with Lib Dem Friends of Israel and Friends of Palestine

Why, in a liberal and democratic party that “seeks to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community”, do we allow two groups to flourish in the party, when they should share a common aim? I refer of course the Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine and Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel.

Let me be clear and open. I have Israeli nationality and look back fondly on the ten years of my life spent living in Israel. That doesn’t mean I am uncritical of the Israeli governments, past and present, and of many of the actions and policies they have implemented over the years. I have been calling for a two state solution for nearly 40 years since I first saw at first hand the degradation and suffering in the refugee camps in Gaza. The occupation of Palestine harms both the occupied and the occupiers.

Posted in Op-eds | 41 Comments
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