Author Archives: Mark Valladares

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 | 5 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 | 36 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 …

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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 …

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@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

Welcome to my day: 16 April 2018 – back to the grind…

Another week starts here, and today marks the 165th anniversary of the first passenger train in India, which ran from Bori Bunder (now the site of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, formerly Victoria Terminus) to Thane.

Closer to home, the Battle of Culloden was fought on this day in 1746, whilst in 1963, Martin Luther King penned his Letter from Birmingham Jail, whilst imprisoned in Birmingham, Alabama when campaigning against segregation.

For those of you who might be wondering, I’m at home in Suffolk today, which is a good link to our first item today, which comes from a near neighbour on …

Posted in News | 5 Comments

Moldova: on the edge of the Union, looking in…

The expansion of the European Union over the past two decades seems to have come to an end, at least for the time being, leaving the countries of the Western Balkans and the Black Sea region in a position of being accession candidates without much prospect of actual accession any time soon. It was with this in mind that I set off to find out about the situation in Moldova last week.

Moldova is a country with a unique set of challenges. First of these is its frozen conflict on the River Dnieper, where the predominantly Russian population fought, and won, …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

Welcome to my day: 9 April 2018 – I went to a marvellous Party…

Having managed to get into a country that doesn’t exist last week, it would be nice to be somewhere less absurd this week. Unfortunately, I’m in Brexit Britain… However, a responsibility is a responsibility, and so I take up the baton as LDV’s Monday Editor again.

Today sees the 480th anniversary of Christian III of Denmark entering his country into the Schmalkaldische Union, and the 153rd anniversary of the end of the American Civil War after the Battle of Appomattox Courthouse.

So, what do we have for you today?

Harry Samuels makes his debut in response to last week’s criticism of the sugar …

Posted in Site news | 3 Comments

Welcome to my day: 2 April 2018 – back in the USSR?

Do you know, I’d almost forgotten that I was today’s duty Editor. That’s what a four day weekend does for you. Well, that and the fact that today’s Liberal Democrat Voice is brought to you from Chisinau, the capital of Moldova!

I’m here in part to explore a little known corner of what some describe as New Europe, and also to meet some Moldovan liberals, which should be interesting given the local politics here.

So, moving on, what have we got for you today?

First up is Gordon Lishman, who offers us a report of …

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British exceptionalism – why even the Liberal Democrats need to get over themselves

One of the most dispiriting aspects of British politics over the past two years has been the often expressed view that Europe needs us more than we need them. We are the fifth (or sixth, maybe soon seventh) largest economy in the world, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, etc etc. And yes, we have influence, for good or ill. Other countries look to us for support, or for leadership, and we have some of the world’s leading operators in a range of fields.

But it is all too often what is seen to be good for Britain which …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 12 Comments

Welcome to my day: 26 March 2018 – everyone loves a parade…

So, the big weekend of pro-Remain parades is over, with a weekend of Liberal Democrat campaigning still to come. And whilst the Government continues to flounder in the face of all of the things it was warned about, there is still no apparent sign that they will do anything other than keep on going, in the hope that it will be alright on the night. Besides, with a Leader of the Opposition almost as committed to freeing the country from the supposed restrictions placed upon us as the Conservatives are, there is little risk of defeat.

Hope springs eternal though, and …

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Brexit: concessions to the left of us, concessions to the right of us…

So, a big announcement, with the outline of a transitional deal. The highlights;

  • The transition period will end on 31 December 2020, three months earlier than sought
  • EU citizens arriving during the transition period will have the same rights as those already in the U.K. at 29 March 2019
  • No veto on new EU legislation during the transition period – the “vassal state” clause
  • Gibraltar excluded unless Spain can be persuaded to reach an agreement
  • No repatriation of control over fishing quotas

So, what does this mean for the Conservatives or for the United Kingdom? Good deal, bad …

Posted in Europe / International and News | Tagged | 106 Comments

Welcome to my day: 19 March 2018 – the chilly breeze of reality…

Another difficult weekend of cold weather over, it’s time for me to return to my editorial duties for another week, on the 739th anniversary of the Mongolian victory at the naval Battle of Yamen, which ended the Song Dynasty in China. Also, on this day in 1628, the Massachusetts Bay Colony was granted land for settlement.

Admittedly, this isn’t quite as much of a challenge as it might be, because the stocks of submitted articles are close to non-existent. However, we do have a report from Chris Bowers on the “Reclaiming Liberalism” fringe at last weekend’s Federal Conference, challenging you all …

Posted in News | Tagged and | 3 Comments

Macdonald Report goes back for a rethink – a member of the English Appeals Panel reflects

The news that the Macdonald Report, and its allied recommendations, had been narrowly referred back came as something of a surprise, as least to this observer. The ground is normally pretty well prepared for changes like this, and whilst the debate about the Party’s internal disciplinary procedures has been going on for some time now, there appeared to be agreement that something needed to be done. And whilst that possibility isn’t ruled out – yet – there must be some doubt as to whether the proposals will, even if amended, be accepted by a Federal Conference at some future date.

Having …

Posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters | Tagged and | 7 Comments

Welcome to my day: 12 March 2018 – for those of you recovering from Conference, I salute you…

It’s a long way from Mid Suffolk to Southport. Actually, it’s a long way from Mid Suffolk to any of the Party’s usual Federal Conference venues, which may explain why I didn’t travel up. Conference isn’t, after all, everyone’s cup of warm beverage…

That does mean that I’ve had some time to prepare for today, so what do I have for you?

In light of the decision by Conference to refer back the Macdonald Report on the Party’s disciplinary procedures, I offer some thoughts from the perspective of someone who sits on Appeal Panels. I’ve tried to be reasonable…

For the benefit of …

Posted in Site news | 1 Comment

Welcome to my day: 5 March – thoughts turn towards a future…

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m glad that last week’s “Beast from the East” has passed. Whilst here in Mid Suffolk, the snow has now pretty much melted, there are still some of you digging yourselves out, and good luck to you.

But neither rain nor snow nor gloom of night prevents a Day Editor from performing their duties, so what have we got for you today?

We kick off with news of cross-party co-operation to oppose the impacts of Brexit, courtesy of the Party’s press team, and it will be interesting …

Posted in News | 1 Comment

From our Lords Correspondent: 20-23 February – you might want to think about this… and this… and that…

Yes, the Lords was back after its usual February recess (think half-term but without the need for childminders), and ready to do battle with the EU Withdrawal Bill. Bearing in mind the agreement on all sides of the House that the intention was not to reject the Bill but to improve it, the Committee Stage has become a marker of the likely problems that will get a thorough airing over the coming weeks.

With three hundred and seventy-one amendments already tabled at the beginning of the week, it was clear that the Government’s …

Posted in News and Parliament | Tagged and | 7 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJoeB 20th Jun - 12:19am
    Martin, I am sure you are aware of the internal pressures Angela Merkel and other European leaders are under. It is to close borders to...
  • User AvatarJoeB 20th Jun - 12:11am
    Deprivation in London is spread across the city in small pockets, sometimes a handful of streets on otherwise affluent areas https://www.theguardian.com/uk/datablog/2012/apr/12/deprivation-poverty-london. Seven of ten local...
  • User AvatarGlenn 19th Jun - 11:54pm
    Martin I dunno why that is. It depends how you define problem. The basic problem re-EU immigrants as far as I can tell is that...
  • User AvatarMartin 19th Jun - 11:37pm
    JoeB: That is the sort of nonsense I was referring to. Glib statements like "to close Germany's borders" - how do you think that could...
  • User AvatarJoeB 19th Jun - 11:20pm
    Migration pressure is going to continue to grow and countries around the world will seek to close borders. The USA is separating children from their...
  • User AvatarMartin 19th Jun - 11:00pm
    There is too much conflation between movement into the EU with movement within the EU in this discussion. Do people really think that people from...