Author Archives: Mark Valladares

Welcome to my day – 11 January 2021

Good morning, everyone!

You’ll have to bear with me this morning, as Creeting St Peter is running on emergency generators this morning following an underground cable failure, and this has had the apparent side effect of shutting down broadband service to the village until at least lunchtime.

Once I’ve dealt with the outstanding household matters, we’ll be bringing you Geoff Reid’s thoughts on an aspect of Englishness, whilst William Wallace has been provoked into comment by events in Washington and the domestic fallout here. We also have some reflections on the US elections from John Surie of Liberal Democrats Overseas.

So, stay tuned …

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Welcome to my day – 4 January 2021

Good grief, is it that year already?

And welcome to another week here at Liberal Democrat Voice. Whilst the Commons is away for another week, entirely thanks to Jacob Rees-Mogg and his fetishistic dislike of virtual working, the Lords is rather more efficient and sits on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The Domestic Abuse, Trade and Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bills are the core agenda, but there are Liberal Democrat Oral Questions from Dick Newby (the future of the Hull-Zeebrugge passenger ferry), Joan Walmsley (the prospects for obesity services) and Jonny Oates (the Green Homes Grant scheme).

Here on the website, we welcome back Geoff Reid, who writes about the importance of accuracy – a useful prompt for the busy Day Editor – and why it matters.

It’s always nice to welcome a new contributor, and today sees Ellen Nicholson’s debut, challenging the right-wing media. She was our candidate in South West Wiltshire (think Westbury) in 2019 and they’ve got all up Unitary elections in May.

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Sarah Ludford summarises our argument against the Future Relationships Bill

The task of summarising the Liberal Democrat argument against the Brexit deal fell to Sarah Ludford, former MEP for London and our frontbench Brexit spokesperson…

The wisest comment on the Johnson deal came from his Conservative Party colleague — if not friend — the noble Lord, Lord Heseltine, somewhat puncturing the bluster and self-congratulation. He said:

“We must welcome the news that Brexit does not end in the chaos of no deal, but only with the sense of relief of a condemned man informed that his execution has been commuted to a life sentence.”

What was promised in 2016 was “the exact same benefits” as EU membership and “frictionless” trade. That was a cruel deception then and it is a very bad joke now. No wonder Mrs Thatcher was so keen to promote the single market; this threadbare Tory deal betrays her legacy, and it is not — I have to say to the noble Lord, Lord Lamont — membership of the Common Market.

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Lords speeches against the Future Relationships Bill (part 4)

Here are the last group of excerpts from Liberal Democrat interventions during the debate on the European Union (Future Relationship) Bill…

Tim Clement-Jones

We have been assured by Ministers countless times of the value they place on the arts, but they have now abandoned one of our most successful sectors, already heavily battered by Covid lockdowns, to its own devices. The noble Baronesses, Lady Bull and Lady Bakewell, are absolutely right. In the trade and co-operation agreement, our hugely successful audio-visual sector is specifically excluded. They represent 30% of all Toggle showing location of Column 1881channels in the EU, but if they are not to be subject to the regulators of every single country, they will need to establish a new hub in a member state.

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Lords speeches against the Future Relationships Bill (part 3)

This morning, we bring you the third tranche of excerpts from Liberal Democrat speeches against the European Union (Future Relationship) Bill in the Lords…

Jenny Randerson

The automotive industry is also at the sharp end. Today’s vehicles comprise parts from many countries. Although there are some useful provisions on rules of origin, it will still require additional paperwork and data gathering, and that means additional costs. The timescale is hopelessly short; the industry believes that a phase-in period is critical, but we are not getting that. Of course, businesses are not ready.

There are huge uncertainties built into this deal, because it is based on today’s standards, and standards change, particularly in vehicle manufacture and aviation, as technology advances. Each change needs a complex approval process, with potential penalties. Of course, this is just a framework deal, subject to endless reviews and supplementary agreements.

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Lords speeches against the Future Relationships Bill (part 2)

We pick up where we left off earlier

William Wallace

This Bill, and the agreement it transposes into domestic law, commits us to continuing negotiations across a very wide range of issues, in which the UK will be the dependent partner. I mention two issues only out of the many that remain unresolved. The issues of data access, and the adequacy of data protection, are vital to the future of our economy. Three-quarters of UK data exchanges flow between here and the European continent. Sovereign independence on data regulation for the UK is not on offer; our choice is between closer alignment with American or European regulation. We will pursue the Government on this.

Mutual recognition for cultural professionals, musicians, actors and artists is left out of the agreement, as has already been mentioned. I declare an interest as a trustee of the VOCES8 Foundation. Many of us will seek written assurance from the Government that mutual recognition will be negotiated.

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Lords speeches against the Future Relationships Bill (part 1)

And, for completeness and, indeed, because they were excellent, we bring you excerpts from the speeches of our Parliamentary Party in the Lords during the debate on the Future Relationships Bill

Jeremy Purvis

Liberal forebears joined together to ensure the widest benefit of free, fair and open trade well over a century ago. We fought relentlessly against Conservative protectionism at the turn of the last century. We split from the Conservative and National Government over their imposition of tariffs all round. Now, a century on, we need to try to militate against the worst elements of this poor agreement. We will have to be in the vanguard of supporting women entrepreneurs in the service sector to tackle the new barriers, helping our businesses export against the new burdens and supporting those wishing to seek advantage not by moving out of the UK but by staying in it and working with others to reconnect with Europe. I never thought we would need to rejoin this fight, but we do—we must, and we will with vigour.

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Liberal Democrat Voice’s most read posts in 2020 (part 4)

Welcome to the final instalment of our most read posts of 2020. For those of you late to the “countdown”, the earlier posts can be found by following the following links;

It would be naive to suggest that the 2019 General Election campaign was a success and, for good or ill, much of the blame fell upon Jo Swinson and her advisors. In the fifth most read post of 2020, Paul Walter highlighted the views of the former Chief Executive of the Party, and former MP for North Devon, Sir Nick Harvey. He wasn’t particularly supportive

At number 4, we noted Jo’s response to defeat, looking back at what might be fairly said to have been an eventful decade. She suggested that she might not be finished either…

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Lord Newby explains why we have opposed the European Union (Future Relationship) Bill

And, to balance the red benches with the green, we bring you Dick Newby’s speech from the Lords. It is, fortunately, rather longer than that of our Leader in the Commons, thus allowing for a rather more complete exposition of our Party’s stance on the deal.

My Lords, some four and a half years after the referendum result, we can now see in the treaty that we are discussing today the outline shape of the UK’s future relationship with the EU, yet we have had no real opportunity to read it and no chance to consider its implications. It is the

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Ed Davey condemns the Future Relationship Bill

Just before noon today, Ed Davey spoke in the Second Reading debate on the European Union (Future Relationship) Bill, and we bring you his speech now. It should be noted that, due to the number of MPs wishing to speak, his intervention was limited to four minutes.

Watch here. The text is below:

Our country is gripped by two crises: Britain’s hospitals are overwhelmed and Britain’s economy is in the worst recession for 300 years. A responsible Government, faced with those crises for people’s health and jobs, would not pass this bad deal, for it will make British people poorer and British people less safe.

This is not really a trade deal at all; it is a loss of trade deal. It is the first trade deal in history to put up barriers to trade. Is that really the Government’s answer to British businesses fearing for their futures and British workers fearing for their jobs? We were told that leaving the EU would cut red tape, but the deal represents the biggest increase in red tape in British history, with 23 new committees to oversee this new trade bureaucracy, 50,000 new customs officials and 400 million new forms. Some analysts estimate the cost of this new red-tape burden for British business at over £20 billion every year. This is not the frictionless trade that the Prime Minister promised.

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Liberal Democrat Voice’s most read posts in 2020 (part 3)

Welcome back to the third of our four articles featuring the most read posts on the site in 2020. If you missed the earlier posts, posts 16-20 can be found here, and posts 11-15 here

June saw the tearing down and immersion of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol. At number 10, Chris Bowers wrote for us suggesting that supporting what was, in strictness, a criminal act, was a troubling step. It would be fair to say that opinions were split, and the debate about when, or if, it is appropriate to break the law in order to advance a cause ran on for three days.

Our ninth most read piece came from our Wednesday Day Editor, Tahir Maher, who may not have expected his piece in mid-April justifying lockdown to spin off into a debate on the economics of the national debt. It is one of the charms of LDV that the comments threads can occasionally stray quite a long way from the primary topic…

At number 8, Paul Walter reviewed the findings of the General Election Review and was as honest as the authors were. I’m not a campaigner, and I wondered about some of the strategy applied, but these things aren’t usually quite so blunt. Will we learn the lessons for next time, or will we fight the last war again?

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Liberal Democrat Voice’s most read posts in 2020 (part 2)

Welcome back to the second instalment of the most read posts on Liberal Democrat Voice this year, featuring the posts ranked at positions 11-15 (part 1, featuring posts 16-20, can be found here).

In September, our number 15 post saw us still debating what to do next in terms of Brexit, and ten of our former MEPs attempted to convince us that then was not the time to campaign to rejoin the European Union. Admittedly, that argument still rages to some extent, and there will be many Party members and supporters who are keen to start such a campaign as soon as possible, preferably yesterday.

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The curious tale of a 5G mast in Bath

There was a curious, and rather unlikely piece, in the Guardian on Boxing Day, courtesy of that well-known friend of Liberal Democrats, Nick Cohen, suggesting that Liberal Democrat councillors in Bath had opposed a new 5G phone mast for reasons linked to the theory that 5G was responsible for occurrences most politely described as conspiracy theories.

Naturally, proper research was not involved, nor did he actually speak to anyone linked to the decision to refuse planning permission.

It always puzzles me that so many people, including Liberal Democrats, claim to be sceptical about our media, yet seem willing to believe unreservedly anything …

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Liberal Democrat Voice’s most read posts in 2020 (part 1)

It’s the time of the year when a Day Editor is minded to look back at the year’s highlights and, given how interested some of our readers and contributors are in such things, I thought that I’d look at our data and see what drew most interest. Today, I start with numbers 16-20 (in reverse order, naturally)…

At number 20, the announcement of the findings of the General Election Review, courtesy of the Party President, Mark Pack. It was, in fairness, rather more hard hitting than some of its predecessors, but it was certainly time for some home truths…

There was a time when Liberal Democrat Voice was, how can I put it, a bit more edgy. At number 19, James Belchamber suggested that Nick Clegg be condemned for his work on behalf of Facebook. And, if truth be told, Facebook went on to have a less than entirely positive impact on international politics… Is the money really worth it, Nick?

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Welcome to my day – 28 December 2020

Welcome back, gentle readers, after our brief winter hibernation. On behalf of the team, I hope that you enjoyed the Christmas break as best you were able to, and that you’ve all kept well enough. And thank you for the kind comments that some of you have made whilst we’ve been away.

Of course, the big news is that a deal has been negotiated with the European Union and goes before both Houses of Parliament on Wednesday. Labour will support it, whilst the SNP and the Liberal Democrats will vote against, if the news reports are to be believed. It’s a pretty hopeless deal in many ways – the wilful giving up of Erasmus, the apparent lack of understanding as to what a non-tariff barrier actually is and the lop-sided nature of an agreement where goods (where the EU has a trade surplus) are tariff-free, whilst there are no corresponding benefits to the UK’s lucrative services sector being merely three obvious defects. And as for fishing…

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Welcome to my day – 21 December 2020

Well, this all sucks, doesn’t it?

Yes, Alexander Boris De Pfeffel Johnson, the man who has serially over-promised and under-delivered through nine months of pandemic has encouraged the populace to look forward to a window of near normality and then, at the last possible moment, snatched it away. So, to all those of you who have had your plans turned upside down, my deepest sympathies.

Out here in deepest Suffolk (tier 2), we are at least able to get out for a decent walk and, whilst there are restrictions, most things are still possible. However, most of the LDV team are now in tier 4, so please bear with us over the next few days. As Caron noted yesterday, we’ll be running a very limited operation from Thursday until Sunday, but I am hoping to have something for you to read each day. That said, moderation will be sporadic, so my advice would be to keep your comments courteous and respectful, unless you are happy to wait until someone checks in.

But, without further ado, let’s take a quick look at last week’s five most read posts…

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15 December 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Government’s failure to secure land at Holyhead for border checks is a shocking show of unpreparedness say Welsh Lib Dems
  • Labour’s failure to stand up for Wales and devolution in key amendment during Internal Market Bill is shocking say Welsh Lib Dems

Government’s failure to secure land at Holyhead for border checks is a shocking show of unpreparedness say Welsh Lib Dems

With just 16 days until the end of the transition period the UK Government has admitted it has failed to secure land at Holyhead to carry out the extra checks on vehicles entering the country leading to fears of gridlock in the area.

In answer to a question from Lib Dem Peer Roger Roberts the UK Government admitted that “No land has yet been purchased two potential sites have been identified in partnership with the Welsh Government and commercial discussions are under way.”

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Welcome to my day – 14 December 2020

Christmas draws closer and, it seems to me, has started in earnest a bit earlier than usual this year. Perhaps that’s because many of us need a bit of cheer at a particularly trying time. The prospects of a no-deal Brexit, combined with a long winter before the various vaccines are rolled out, are not likely to lift the soul, it has to be admitted.

This week theoretically sees Parliament go into recess for the Christmas break although, if some sort of deal is done, the session may run into “injury time”. All three major parties will be undergoing some soul searching in terms of how to vote in such circumstances, with some Conservatives unlikely to support any deal, Labour seemingly committed to support any deal despite serious misgivings and the Liberal Democrats torn between abstention and rejection. That may not matter in the Commons, but the Lords is different for so many reasons.

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Tales from a Small Parish – David vs Goliath…

Welcome back to Creeting St Peter, a small Parish in Suffolk’s Gipping Valley…

One of the more visible aspects of small parishes is the role of statutory consultee for any planning applications in, or affecting, the Parish. More often than not, councillors are asked to consider extensions, occasionally an outbuilding for a farm. They generally aren’t very controversial, and as planning controls have been relaxed in recent years, there are fewer of them it seems. And, as a councillor, you probably don’t need much in the way of technical skills to take a view on whether or not the Council should take a view.

There is training available if you’re lucky. In our case, the District Council offers the occasional half-day course, and the County Association of Local Councils also offers both support and seminars offering some basic awareness. But, for the most part, councillors in small parishes don’t take up the offer.

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7 December 2020 – welcome to my day…

Good morning, gentle readers, and welcome to another week here at Liberal Democrat Voice. I have to admit that it’s going to be a quiet start, as I’ll be attending a funeral later, so do bear with me if moderation isn’t as snappy as it usually is.

Following on from my plea a fortnight ago, we’ve had a few requests and/or comments, and so I ought to respond.

To Katharine Pindar, who raised the issue of press releases, we’re not receiving very many at all at the moment – we are receiving e-mails from the HQ Press Team, but not much …

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Has time been called on Local Government investments in commercial property?

One of the most troubling trends in local government finances in recent years is the move by councils into commercial property. Not actually building much, although it’s hardly unheard of, but buying it, using low interest rates to borrow large sums of money. The theory is that, with returns on commercial property higher than interest rates for borrowers, councils can earn a profit in the investments, using the funds to support local services.

It hasn’t gone unremarked, and I wrote about this in December 2018. Of course, since then, the pandemic has had some dramatic effects on commercial property, with the market slumping as retail outlets go under, shopping malls fail and white collar employers in particular pivot towards having staff work at home at least some of the time.

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30 November 2020 – welcome to my day…

I thought that I’d start the day with music, and this seemed to be perfect, the first of the Tunes for Archbishop Parker’s Psalter, written by Thomas Tallis in 1567. The words seem most appropriate for the joys of a Day Editor…

Man blest no doubt who walk’th not out
In wicked men’s affairs,
And stand’th no day in sinner’s ways
Not sit’th in scorner’s chairs;
But hath his will in God’s law still,
This law to love aright,
And will him use, on it to muse,
To keep it day and night.

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23 November 2020 – a brief reflection at the end of the day…

It’s been a somewhat reassuring day at Liberal Democrat Voice, at least for yours truly. I’ve had some interesting, and positive responses to my opening thoughts, and we’ve published the sort of articles which remind me why I do this. Better still, we have three articles ready for tomorrow which reflect my sense that LDV should inform, entertain and challenge its readers.

And so, in the slot I usually use for Party press releases, and in the absence of any to publish, perhaps readers won’t mind if I offer something slightly wistful, and quintessentially English (even as I acknowledge his Welsh …

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16 days of Activism against Gender-based Violence

25 November is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and 10 December is International Human Rights Day. The ALDE Party is marking the two days with a campaign running between them, focusing their efforts on the fight for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls. As Jacob Moroza-Rasmussen, the ALDE Party’s Secretary General, puts it;

Combatting violence against women is a priority for Europe’s Liberals (as stated in our 2019 electoral manifesto) and we continue to call for the European Union and all EU Member States to ratify the Istanbul Convention. As Liberals, we are also committed to promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls, and to working for the same rights and opportunities across all sectors of society, including economic participation and decision-making.

The campaign starts with a Liberal Breakfast at 8.30 a.m. GMT which will;

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23 November 2020 – welcome to my day…

Well, I’m back after a week off. The sun is shining, although the valley floor is shrouded in mist after a frosty night, so it’s not a day to linger unless you’re properly wrapped up.

In truth, I’d taken a week off because much of the joy of Liberal Democrat Voice has been rather lost of late. Attempts to disrupt the site by the use of fake e-mail addresses and, if I’m honest, the sheer grinding unpleasantness of some of our readers, made me wonder if the effort that I, and my fellow Editorial Team members, put in is really worthwhile.

I’ve always seen this site as an opportunity for Liberal Democrats, supporters of the Party and those who are “Lib Dem curious” to debate and discuss the issues of the day, propose new policy and campaigning ideas, and generally engage positively with each other in a respectful manner. It seems that there are too many out there who see it as an opportunity to settle old scores, browbeat or misrepresent those they disagree with or simply treat others with disrespect. It is, from an editorial perspective, wearing at best, deeply disheartening at worst. And, for the spirits of a volunteer Editorial Team, that can be a bit corrosive.

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4 November 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Attempts to undermine US democratic process must be condemned by UK Government
  • Fixing test and trace must be priority for Government during national lockdown
  • Tories have betrayed their promise to protect British farmers

Attempts to undermine US democratic process must be condemned by UK Government

The Liberal Democrats have warned any attempts to undermine the democratic process in the US must be condemned by the UK Government.

The call comes in response to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab failing to condemn Donald Trump’s incorrect claims of victory in the US election.

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Layla Moran said:

We must not come to any premature conclusion about the election result, regardless of what the President or his campaign are saying.

Now is the time for peace and patience in the US, and for trust in the democratic process.

Any attempt to undermine that must be condemned by the UK Government and the international community in the strongest terms.

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2 November 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Four nations meeting welcome “first step” – Liberal Democrats
  • Government urged to “lead by example” and restore hybrid Parliament

Four nations meeting welcome “first step” – Liberal Democrats

Responding to news that the four Governments of the UK have met to develop a UK-wide approach to restrictions for the festive period, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

People across our family of nations will be reassured to hear that efforts are at last underway to ensure everyone is subject to the same guidance as they plan for the festive period, as first called for by the Liberal Democrats.

But today’s meeting can

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PM must properly plan ahead to protect jobs and lives, warns Davey

Responding to the Prime Minister’s announcement that England will go into a second national lockdown until 2 December, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

Yet again, Boris Johnson dithered, delayed, and ignored expert advice. He was too slow in March and too slow again now, and his failure to lead has cost lives and jobs.

People across our country have sacrificed so much, waiting for Ministers to act and keep our families safe. Instead, the Government asks even more despite failing to deliver an effective test, trace and isolate system.

The priority must be keeping people safe and ensuring no

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Lord David Shutt (1942-2020)

It is with much sadness that Liberal Democrat Voice reports the death of David Shutt overnight. David was probably better known for his central role in the early years of the Coalition, as Chief Whip in the Lords, but he was a key figure in Yorkshire and beyond, a stalwart Quaker and a source of wisdom for those who needed it. Our condolences go to his wife, Margaret, and his family and friends.

Rather than running through a somewhat impersonal list of achievements, I thought that it would be more meaningful to publish his last contribution in the Lords, which perhaps is as good a way of marking his commitment to democracy and to liberalism. On 8 October, he moved an amendment to the Parliamentary Constituencies Bill, seeking to improve the accuracy and completeness of electoral registers…

My Lords, I beg to move Amendment 16 as an important enhancement of the Bill, which would improve the accuracy and completeness of the electoral registers for future reviews.

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30 October 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Government meetings must produce results for families over the festive season
  • Welsh Liberal Democrats welcome progress on Christmas Travel

Government meetings must produce results for families over the festive season

Responding to reports that the UK Government will hold meetings to try to develop a UK-wide approach to restrictions for the festive period, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

It is welcome that the governments of the four nations are listening to the Liberal Democrats’ calls. With so many families desperate to be back together this festive season, we simply cannot allow political bickering and fractured guidance to confuse and divide people.

These meetings must be more than just a publicity stunt. They must result in comprehensive uniform guidance for family gatherings, as well as a common approach to transport, student return and asymptomatic testing – and it must happen urgently.

Ultimately, if we are to both keep people safe and ensure families have any chance of spending holidays such as Diwali, Hanukkah and Christmas together, then Ministers across these isles must also get a grip on the failing test, trace and isolate trace system.

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