Author Archives: Maria Pretzler

Opinion: Mental health problems in the workplace: prevention is better than cure #timetotalk

Time to talk 2015It is good to see that increased openness about mental health issues is leading employers to become more accommodating towards people who have such issues. However, there is one policy issue which needs more consideration, and that is the question of how we prevent working conditions and management practices which cause mental health issues in the first place.

Stress and anxiety are some of the most common triggers of mental health problems: the demands of many jobs and detrimental management practices, sometimes combined with an unhealthy work-life (im-)balance, are often a trigger for such problems. What always amazes me is that we can have health and safety regimes concerning physical health which have now gone so far that people joke about them – (but which really have made the world of work much safer), while many employers still seem to take little notice of working conditions which have a detrimental impact on workers’ mental wellbeing.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 8 Comments

Opinion: Devolved Power and the Problem of Accountability

In my recent article on devolution policy, I highlighted the problem with accountability in the context of devolved power. This is an issue which needs to be pursued further, particularly because our ‘devolution on demand’ policy (F14 on pp.54-56; lines 70-76) appears to have been drafted without considering the necessary conditions for effective scrutiny.

LibDems often take it for granted that devolving power to the most local level will automatically make politics more relevant, and more democratic. But why should this be? Democracy is at its most effective if voters are able to hold politicians to account, and increased …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 38 Comments

Opinion: We urgently need a new policy on devolution and federalism

While Scotland is engaged in a vigorous discussion about its own future, it is becoming increasingly clear that the referendum, whatever its outcome, is likely to trigger major soul-searching about constitutional arrangements in the rest of the UK as well, and particularly about the devolution of power within England (e.g. see this letter to the Times, 11th September 2014).

Posted in Op-eds | 59 Comments

Opinion: The new tuition fees argument – having your cake and eating it

tuition fees voteOn Friday, the Guardian published an article pointing out that a lot more public money than expected will have to be contributed to tuition fees loans.

This has been greeted with a certain amount of glee by the usual suspects. On some level, I can understand the excitement, but nevertheless, it looks like a case of trying hard to have this particular cake and keep eating it.

People who used to shout about fees are now upset that after all, the state is putting more money into the system than …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 117 Comments

A new start: Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform

On Saturday, 10th March, at Spring Conference in Gateshead, we launched a new organisation – Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform. At the moment, LDER has over 70 members and is aiming to gain the status of an Accredited Organisation (AO) at the earliest possible opportunity.

Electoral reform is not exactly a new cause, you might think, and the voters have told us exactly what they think about it. As I went around the conference centre asking Liberal Democrats to sign up for LDER, I was asked repeatedly: ‘Why electoral reform?’ ‘Why …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 11 Comments

Opinion: Lost a guru? Try democracy instead

Reports suggest that Steve Hilton’s departure from Downing Street will leave the Conservatives desperately short of ideas. This seems astonishing: Liberal Democrats surely don’t need to turn to expensive advisers for creative ideas, new initiatives and the odd quirky example of tangerine sky thinking! Party members present and debate ideas at conference, and the party does not usually suffer from a shortage of novel suggestions. But these debates also produce serious policies, something which was perhaps beneath Steve Hilton’s pay grade.

 These differences in how the two coalition parties handle policy making have a direct impact

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 5 Comments

Recent Comments

  • Simon R
    Banning cigarettes outright is not going to push the (entire) trade underground. It will directly end much of the trade, while a small proportion of the trade w...
  • Steve Trevethan
    Might ideas, policies, promotions, publicity, researches etc that are likely to better inform our citizenry also be part of a successful campaign...
  • Martin Bennett
    Marco: Restrictions on sales of products that contain nicotine do not have to be counterproductive. There would be no need for important penalties for users, t...
  • David Raw
    @ Martin Bennett "We are not a right wing libertarian party, we are not the party of Liz Truss, we are a modern social Liberal party that considers maximisatio...
  • Nigel Quinton
    This is a wrong headed response and totally ridiculous once the age limit reaches 20+. If there is to be a raising of the age when one can legally purchase a ci...