Author Archives: Mark Valladares

Want to fly the Liberal Democrat banner in 2022 (or maybe sooner)?

It is easy to forget sometimes that a majority of Liberal Democrat members have joined since the 2015 General Election. Even in my rural corner of England that is Mid Suffolk, membership numbers have increased by more than 150%. What that means is a huge infusion of new blood, potentially willing to hold aloft the Party banner in elections, if only they could find out how. Perhaps I can help…

It may surprise some readers to hear that the process of selecting Parliamentary candidates is already underway in some constituencies. In some cases, they might represent potential target seats for 2022, …

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged | 6 Comments

Uber – a country dweller responds…

So, Uber, a company whose business practices have been, thus far, somewhat suspect, have been told by Transport for London that, unless they sharpen up their act, they’ll lose their licence. Cue the more libertarian tendency, who have claimed that millions of people use them and that 40,000 people will lose their jobs.

Time for some perspective.

According to Uber, and let’s assume that their figure is accurate here, 52 million journeys were made in London using their service last year, and that they had 3.4 million users in that time.

That works out as being just over six journeys per Londoner during …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 21 Comments

Federal International Relations Committee – the unofficial official report…

A little while ago, I described FIRC as being “the Cinderella committee of the Party, erratically mentioned in the Constitution, in need of rapid evolution in terms of its relationships with other Federal Committees and generally overlooked by the Federal Board, who haven’t yet commented on our work, engaged with our reports or provided any guidance as to its desired strategy”.

I stand by that, and there is a sense that there are elements on the Committee whose skills and talents are not best utilised by a structure which doesn’t exactly reach out to include them, let alone our wider …

Posted in News | 1 Comment

Venezuela – a failure wrought by paranoia and a cause without much principle

It is noticeable that Venezuela is prominent in the British media at the moment. To be honest, the chaos of a typical Latin American banana republic seldom causes such interest, but given the links between the Venezuelan Government and Jeremy Corbyn, its failure is a convenient stick to beat him with.

And let’s be honest, things are bad there. I had the opportunity to go to Caracas in December 2015, when things were already falling apart, inflation was spiralling and the bolivar was on its way to toilet paper status. At that point, the government had stopped publishing most economic data – it was pretty meaningless anyway – and had acknowledged its exchange rate difficulties by offering an alternative exchange rate for tourists.

The official rate was six bolivars to the dollar. As a tourist, you could legally get two hundred bolivars to the dollar. The black market, usually a fair judge of reality, was offering eight hundred bolivars to the dollar. And, as the largest bank note in circulation was a one hundred bolivar note, you can easily imagine what that meant in terms of carrying money.

So, why are things so bad in Venezuela? Firstly, the economy is almost entirely underpinned by oil exports (which represented 96% of total exports) and when the price of crude fell, GDP fell catastrophically. A market economy can adjust to that, albeit painfully. Sadly for the Venezuelan people, they have a government which not only doesn’t believe in markets, it doesn’t appear to understand them either.

Posted in Europe / International, News and Op-eds | Tagged and | 31 Comments

Here, there and everywhere – a report back from Federal International Relations Committee…

So, (some of) you very kindly voted for me last year to serve for three years as a member of Federal International Relations Committee. And, as promised, I am reporting back on what I’ve done, as well as making a few comments on our recent meeting on 13 July.

I’ve spent much of the first half of 2017 bringing the Committee up to constitutional speed. I produced our first Standing Orders in January, and have since amended them to create some formal process for selecting our candidates for positions on the Bureaux of Liberal International and the ALDE Party, following …

Posted in Europe / International, News and Party policy and internal matters | Tagged | Leave a comment

ALDE Party Council review: meanwhile, in Europe…

On Saturday, the European liberal family gathered in the Slovene capital, Ljubljana, to compare notes and to start the process of preparation for the 2019 European Parliamentary elections. It offers your correspondent an opportunity for reflection and, if you’ll excuse me, more than a hint of regret.

But first, what will be happening? The ALDE Party Bureau have appointed Taavi Roivas, the former Prime Minister of Estonia, to chair a ten member Manifesto Committee, whose task it will be to gather evidence and ideas from across Europe and beyond the narrow confines of …

Posted in Europe / International and News | Tagged and | 4 Comments

Liberal International: meanwhile, in a small country far away…

Good morning, and welcome to Liberal Democrat Voice’s coverage of the 70th Anniversary Congress of Liberal International from sunny Andorra.

Liberals from around the world have gathered in the Co-Principality to talk about human rights, debate the big global issues of the day, elect a new Bureau and, most importantly, formally adopt a newly-updated “Liberal Manifesto” which aims to express how liberal values and ideas are relevant in a rapidly changing world. For, whilst policies are forever evolving in the face of events, values offer insight into the types of solutions on offer.

The …

Posted in Europe / International and News | Tagged | 2 Comments
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  • User AvatarPeter Watson 17th Oct - 7:33pm
    @Andrew McCaig "We have been doing surveys in a 3 way marginal target ward in Kirklees." It is important to ensure that there is no...
  • User AvatarPaul Walter 17th Oct - 7:04pm
    Thanks for making that point, Richard. One of the things I noticed on my trip is the intensity of focus on American history in the...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 17th Oct - 6:55pm
    @ Paul Barker "Paper Candidates are the first step". Sorry, Paul, no, they're not. As is frequently said about the stable crop in Wakefield, -...
  • User AvatarDave Orbison 17th Oct - 6:30pm
    Paul Barker - "To be fair to The Tories the biggest messes, in Merseyside & The North East are more the fault of unimaginative Labour...
  • User AvatarAndrew McCaig 17th Oct - 6:29pm
    We have been doing surveys in a 3 way marginal target ward in Kirklees. There is definitely a shift in opinion and a sample of...
  • User AvatarPeter Watson 17th Oct - 6:02pm
    @Katharine Pindar "the important polls are like the YouGov one of last week which began to show a majority shift of opinion in favour of...