Author Archives: Mark Valladares

Welcome to my day: 20 August 2018 – a change of house style…

Time for the start of a new week, for those of us with weekday, nine to five jobs. Of course, with the rise of the gig economy, zero hour contracts, flexible working hours and self-employment, that represents fewer of us, and why is Monday seen as the start of a new week anyway?

Since I returned to the frontline of Liberal Democrat Voice, I’ve started most days with an opening piece, putting the day into context, but increasingly sense that it isn’t really working. So, I’m going to try something more… editorial, I guess. See what you think.

It’s been an interesting …

Posted in News | 6 Comments

An American solution to the second home problem?

Last month, campaigners near where I live won a by-election where the key issue was that of second home owners and their impact on local communities and services.

This weekend, I’m spending a few days in Rhode Island, home of the chicken, and enjoying the tranquility of the shoreline near the Massachusetts border. Whilst doing so, I’ve been discussing some of the issues surrounding how you maintain healthy rural communities, especially in places popular as holiday destinations. As you do, right?

One of the challenges is how you ensure that local workers, whose salaries are often far lower than those seeking to …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 18 Comments

Welcome to my day: 13 August 2018 – switching to a walrus-inspired diet

Welcome to Rhode Island, the Ocean State and the smallest in the Union. First to declare independence, and last of the original thirteen States to join the United States, it’s probably the least remarked upon part of New England. It is, having spent the weekend in a quiet corner near the Massachusetts border, rather pretty and, if you’re in the area, worth a peek.

So, why the steamed clams? They’re something of a delicacy in these parts, and thrive in the absence of walruses, whose diets consists largely of clams. And, despite my …

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From our Lords Correspondent: another step towards the restoration of the Palace of Westminster

Six months ago, in my increasingly erratic reporting of events in the House of Lords, I touched upon the debate on the restoration and refurbishment of the Palace of Westminster.

So, what happened next?

There was agreement that, as bits of the building were either falling on people or were in danger of burning down or filling with sewage (or both at the same time), that it was really high time that Parliament vacated the building so that it could be modernised for the new age, with technology built in and new services …

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Immigration and Asylum: some thoughts from the house bureaucrat…

I note that the latest proposals for debate at Autumn Conference on migration policy have come in for some stick from my editorial colleague. And with good cause, for apologising for what is necessary and appropriate is never a good way to convince people that what you need is, indeed, necessary and appropriate.

But I come bearing something rather more practical, in that I want to talk about what underpins any immigration and asylum policy, regardless of how liberal it is, or otherwise.

For, no matter what your starting point is, you have to administer it properly. So, without actually outlining …

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Welcome to my day: 6 August 2018 – the land of the free, the home of the brave?

Today, Liberal Democrat Voice is brought to you from Boston, Massachusetts, home of the mighty(ish) Red Sox, and the heartland of the American forces in the 1776 Rebellion against all that was good and decent. Or, in other words, where plucky freedom fighters liberated their nation from the colonial oppressors. You pays your money, you takes your choice…

The United States is an odd place. For all the talk of freedom, you often need to present proof of age to buy beer at a ballpark or in a supermarket, albeit that this depends …

Posted in News | 6 Comments

Welcome to my day: 30 July 2018 – stockpiling words for a future shortage?

It’s been a very pleasant weekend in mid-Suffolk, with a Branch garden party to attend in Needham Market, a fascinating lunch with a new friend talking about Brexit and wider geopolitics and an intriguing dinner party, but it’s now time to return to work, as the week begins anew. And what have we for you today, I hear you ask?

It hardly seems like two years since the last London Assembly elections, but it really is, and as a sign of how seriously the Regional Party are taking 2020, we today can announce the schedule for the selection of the Party’s …

Posted in News | 16 Comments

Welcome to my day: 23 July 2018 – the heat is, apparently, on…

The grass in my garden is looking a bit distressed, and the oasis of a new centrist party is looking like a bit of a mirage. But life goes on, and so does Liberal Democrat Voice. So, what have we got for you today?

Ben Andrew kicks us off with some suggestions that would help the young amongst us. And yes, he does touch upon student finance, but his focus is on earlier years too.

We have news on proposals for Horizon Europe. “What’s that?”, I hear you ask. Well, it’s a major funding programme, supporting collaborative research and development across the …

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Welcome to my day: 16 July 2018 – are the tectonic plates of British politics shifting?

An opinion poll this weekend showed a significant shift from the Conservatives to UKIP, which perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise given the reaction to Theresa May’s proposals for Brexit. If, and one cannot be too cautious here, it is an early sign that Brexit supporters will desert the Conservatives if she proceeds as outlined, the beneficiaries are likely to be Labour and the Liberal Democrats. Of course, it might also cause Theresa May to revert to a more hardline approach…

But, whilst the experts and the commentariat pick through the entrails, we’ve got a website to run. And we start …

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Davis, Baker and Braverman quit, welcome to my day: 9 July 2018 – the day the Conservative Party breaks?

The overnight news that David Davis has resigned as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, and that his junior Ministers, Steve Baker and Suella Braverman have gone with him, is the first public sign that the Chequers Accord is not the panacea that it was first thought to be.

I’ll be trying to keep up with developments here, but it may be that we are in a state of chaos. What larks, eh?

But seriously, what does this mean for the Government and for Brexit? And how should Liberal Democrat’s respond? Is it, as I would suggest, time to call …

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Welcome to my day: 2 July 2018 – hot, sexy liberalism?

I’ll be honest, I’m struggling today. Despite being half-Indian, I really rather prefer temperatures in the lower twenties Celsius. But as the burning sun beats down on most of us, Liberal Democrat Voice does not rest.

As the Government staggers from one attack from within to the next, and as senior Ministers overtly start their campaigns to replace Theresa May, what are Liberal Democrats to do? We’ve got a contribution which offers an interesting perspective on that from James Porter.

If there is a people’s vote, what should we want to see on the ballot paper? John King has been thinking about …

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Welcome to my day: Monday 25 June – it’s not the despair, it’s the hope that gets you…

England win 6-1, a huge march against Brexit. Anyone would think that we might be entitled to good stuff for a change. We’ll see if anything comes of either event, but it is nice to have something that offers hope, rather than the despair that has been so wearing of late.

There’s been a lot of hope in the past week for supporters of the NHS, but the Conservative proposal of an extra £20 billion for health spending turned to dust pretty quickly when it became clear that there wasn’t much actual money, and that what there was would be coming …

Posted in News | Tagged | 5 Comments

The decline of local journalism may mean more than just a lack of transparency…

Amidst the drama of Brexit, the Guardian covered a report from the US which may well have gone unnoticed by many. “Financing Dies in Darkness? The Impact of Local Newspaper Closures on Public Finance.”, published by academics from the University of Notre Dame and the University of Illinois at Chicago on 8 May, might not, on the face of it, seem of great import, but I would suggest that it gives those of us who care about local government some cause for concern.

The authors summarise their report as follows;

The loss of monitoring that results from newspaper closures is associated

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 6 Comments

A gentle ramble through Mrs May’s arithmetic…

I’m a mathematician by training, and work professionally with numbers. And, because I find testing arithmetic projections entertaining, I thought that I might play with the proposed “£20 billion for the NHS”. See what you think.

Firstly, I should note that that £20 billion isn’t for you, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, although the Barnett Formula might mean that there is more money available for you too.

I’ll assume that the BBC’s figure of £114 billion for NHS England’s budget is accurate, and note that the Office for Budget Responsibility is predicting that inflation will be fairly constant at 2% per annum …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 43 Comments

Welcome to my day: 18 June 2018 – now you see it, now you don’t?

I was told on Saturday that there was going to be an announcement of £20 billion for the NHS, and my first response was incredulity. “Where does that come from?”, was my question.
But sure enough, the announcement has come, and whilst the proposal for finding this sum is, how can I put it, less than entirely concrete still, it has complicated the arithmetic of opposition to Brexit. I’ll take an initial look at the numbers later.

It’s expected that the Lords could be sitting as late as midnight, as the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill returns for consideration of Commons amendments. Will …

Posted in News | 4 Comments

How would you like to find out more about Federal International Relations Committee?

Last week, I was less than entirely complimentary about FIRC. This week, perhaps I should try to be more… helpful. So, having raised the question of communication, and being fairly confident that the Committee’s Chair and Secretary may look in on the comments, here’s an opportunity for you to make some suggestions as to how we, as a Committee, might engage with you all.

First, though, here’s an excerpt from the Federal Constitution, just to make it clear what we do, and what we do not…

There shall be a Federal International Relations Committee (“FIRC”) which shall be responsible to the Federal

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged and | 4 Comments

Welcome to my day: 4 June 2018 – as you near your destination, the more Brexit’s slip, sliding away?

So, it’s apparently possible that we’ll be reduced to hunting and grazing off of the land within weeks of Brexit, if the Sunday Times is to be believed. I suppose that, as Chair of my Parish Council, I’ll be organising bands of villagers, armed to the teeth, to keep you away from our food supplies… But seriously, whilst the scenario supposedly outlined may be exaggerated for effect, it is a reminder that, in a world of interdependencies, no country is an island, even when it consists of nothing else.

But, of course, no …

Posted in News | 1 Comment

Mayor Dave slates East Midlands Trains

Dave Hodgson, Mayor of Bedford since 2009, has this week condemned the new timetable changes on East Midlands Trains;

“‘It sucks’. That was the verdict of a commuter I spoke to at 7:30 this morning getting off a delayed rail replacement bus, on the first day of the loss of peak-time intercity trains from Bedford. These buses are a testament to the Government’s utter betrayal of Bedford over the new rail timetables.

While the Government boasts of ‘modernisation’, commuters I spoke to this morning are dreading theprospect of at least two and a

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The totally unofficial Federal International Relations Committee report – May 2018

There is a certain irony in that, having written the Committee’s communication plan before I resigned as its Secretary, that the Committee leadership has evidently forgotten that it exists. Thus, this report is wholly my own work. You’ll remember that if I run for re-election next year, right?

The key areas for discussion this time were the workplan and our response to the Alderdice Report on BAME participation within the Party.

The workplan is, I sense, a work of obligation rather than commitment, in that it looks to have been put together because one is required, rather than desired. Federal Board not …

Posted in Europe / International and Party policy and internal matters | Tagged | 24 Comments

A bit more about Parish Councils…

Last week, I wrote in these pages about becoming a Parish Councillor as, perhaps, a stepping stone to other things, although it can be, and often is, worthwhile in itself. I then went home to my Annual Parish Council Meeting and, rather unexpectedly, became Chair. That will teach me…

On explaining a bit about my particular Parish Council, a friend noted that it seemed to be one of the common models, an anarcho-syndicalist collective, whereby someone is notional in charge (a bit like the Constitutional Peasant scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail), as opposed to the Stalinist school of …

Posted in Local government | Tagged , , and | 13 Comments

Welcome to my day: 28 May 2018 – our friends in the North…

Today’s Liberal Democrat Voice is brought to you from sunny West Yorkshire, starting in Brighouse and ending… probably in mid-Suffolk, which isn’t very Northern, I’ll admit.

No promises about today’s content, I’m afraid, although there might be something about Parish Councils again, given what happened last week.

So, sit back with the light refreshment of your choice, as we set off on this Bank Holiday Monday…

* Mark Valladares is Monday Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice. Sometimes, it’s much easier than it looks…

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Have you ever thought of becoming a Parish councillor?

Now I fully accept that, for many of our readers, the idea of Parish Councils is all a bit redolent of “The Vicar of Dibley” (albeit the cause of confusion between Parish Councils and Parochial Church Councils), but they can be a key element of rural campaigning.

I ought to declare an interest first, in that I’m a Parish councillor in mid-Suffolk, and have been for about six years. Mine is a small Parish, population about 270, with an annual precept of less than £6,000. But this tier of local government is widely varied, ranging from the likes of Hereford City …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 7 Comments

Welcome to my day: 7 May 2018 – the future’s bright?

I don’t know about you, but it was nice this week to wake up to a set of election results that didn’t make you think, “Oh no, not again…”. And so, thank you to all of you, whether you won or lost, for doing so much to lift the spirits of Liberal Democrats up and down the country.

Here in the Creetings, we’ve got rogue peacocks, and you’d be amazed just how noisy they can be. Luckily, if all else fails, one of my fellow Parish councillors is a pretty good shot…

And so …

Posted in Site news | 2 Comments

@ALDEParty Council Report: and now, the end is near?…

The sun was beating down in Sofia, the sky was blue, there wasn’t a cloud to spoil the view. But there was Brexit in our hearts…

Yes, it was time for the Spring Council meeting of the ALDE Party, hosted by our Bulgarian sister party, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms. The key items of business were the continuing work towards the 2019 European Parliamentary election manifesto and the adoption of the 2017 audit. In truth, the latter was never going to be an issue – finances are healthy, and likely to become …

Posted in Europe / International and News | Tagged , , and | 1 Comment

Welcome to my day: 30 April 2018 – all for you, Sofia…

Good morning, once again, and welcome to Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. You might never guess that I’m a member of the Federal International Relations Committee…

I’ve been here to attend the ALDE Party Council meeting that took place on Saturday, and I’ll be reporting on the mood at that meeting later in the day. Also, I’ll be covering progress towards a European Liberal manifesto for the 2019 European Parliamentary elections, and the selection of a Spitzenkandidat for the Presidency of the European Commission.

It was another punishing week for the Government in the …

Posted in Site news | 4 Comments

LibLink: Derek Laud on the Windrush debacle

The investigative work of Amelia Gentleman in the Guardian has uncovered the implications of Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’, and let us not kid ourselves with talk of Amber Rudd’s resignation, responsibility for this falls squarely upon the head of our Prime Minister.

Former Conservative speechwriter, and now a member of the Liberal Democrats, Derek Laud wrote for the Guardian over the weekend. In his powerful piece, he highlights that the impact of Government policy on Windrush pensioners is not an isolated error;

It cannot be incidental that some of the most important issues facing us today are about matters of freedom,

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 16 Comments

So, what does being an English Liberal mean?

One of the things about being an Englishman by birth, but not by parentage, is that your perspective of what it means to be English can be slightly different from that of those whose English heritage can be traced back through generations.

For me, at least, with an Indian father and a Scots mother, there is a desire to fit in to some extent, and that manifests itself in a generalised belief that people are broadly reasonable, given the opportunity to be so, and that the eccentricities of life here – queuing, cricket, …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 22 Comments

Welcome to my day: 23 April 2018 – there’s never a dragon around when you want one…

It’s St George’s Day today, the anniversary of Queen Anne being crowned at Westminster Abbey (1702), and of the chartering of Connecticut as an English colony in 1662. And, coincidentally, on this day in 1516, Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria endorsed “The German Beer Purity Law”, which I think we could all support.

I’ve been spending the weekend celebrating a significant anniversary, and clearly you’ve all been outside enjoying the fine weather (except our Scottish colleagues, who’ve been at their Conference), or campaigning for elections, as we’ve got precious little in the kitty …

Posted in News | 2 Comments

Brexit from afar: a Caribbean perspective…

I thought that it might be interesting to find out how Brexit looks from beyond the European Union, and this week’s commentary comes courtesy of the Barbados Advocate, and its columnist, David Jessop.

He starts by summarising what he sees as the current imponderables – the Irish border, the role of the UK Parliament in terms of the final position and, interestingly, the fault lines in both the Conservative and Labour Parties. And then, he turns to the likely impact on the Caribbean Commonwealth;

None of this helps remove the continuing uncertainty for the Caribbean about the possible shape of its future

Posted in Europe / International and News | Tagged , and | 14 Comments

From our Lords Correspondent: 18 April – Brexit rears its ugly head again…

The Lords return after their Easter Recess, and one can only hope that they’re well rested, because this week sees the debate on the EU Withdrawal Bill become properly serious, with Day 1 of the Report Stage scheduled for Wednesday.

And the battle will be joined immediately, with the very first amendment sponsored by four peers from each of the main groups in the Lords, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard (Crossbenchers), Lord Patten of Barnes (Chris, not John, from the Conservatives), Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (Labour) and our own Sarah Ludford.

The amendment is …

Posted in News and Parliament | Tagged | 3 Comments
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  • User AvatarOnceALibDem 21st Aug - 6:50pm
    "Agreed Joe. What’s more shocking is the complete absence of any bold statement of the party standing for civil liberties and free speech. " Not...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 21st Aug - 5:59pm
    Don’t worry folks. After Brexit the U.K. is going to become an exporting “Super Power”. Who says so? Why, none other than a certain Dr...
  • User AvatarNeil Sandison 21st Aug - 5:24pm
    Having been through a few recessions with governments of different political hues all have put the brakes on at times of fiscal crisis .The only...
  • User AvatarDavid Evershed 21st Aug - 5:10pm
    In order to bring in the freedom theme and the logo how about "Lib Dems - Free as a bird"
  • User AvatarDavid Evershed 21st Aug - 4:52pm
    I strongly agree with Joe Otten. Plus it's worth pointing out that Lib Dems were in office from 2010-2015, not just the Conservatives. We should...
  • User AvatarJohn Barrett 21st Aug - 4:29pm
    Paul - That was a quote from Roland that I was commenting on. I just assumed that was correct. Maybe that's a dangerous thing to...