Author Archives: News Meerkat

Vince Cable speech: break-up the big tech monopolies

In a speech in London this morning entitled ‘Taming the Tech Titans’, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable has called for stronger international and domestic regulation of big tech companies. You can watch the speech here.

He has criticised the effective monopolies enjoyed by the likes of Google, Facebook, and Amazon, comparing their market dominance to that of big oil companies in the past, and suggests ways they can be broken up.

The speech also focussed on how start-ups and innovative small and medium-sized tech firms can thrive in a more competitive market.

The text released in advance of the speech has Vince arguing that

Data is the new oil. Data is the raw material which drives these firms and it is control of data which gives them an advantage over competitors. These companies have acquired their pivotal position by providing a service or platform through which data can be extracted, collected and used.

Just as Standard Oil once cornered 85% of the refined oil market, today Google drives 89% of internet search, 95% of young adults on the internet use a Facebook product, Amazon accounts for 75% of E-book sales, while Google and Apple combined provide 99% of mobile operating systems. “

National government and, even more so, supranational bodies like the EU can and should look to break up enterprises where size is detrimental to the economic wellbeing of the country, its citizens and its capacity for innovation.

There is a case for splitting Amazon into three separate businesses – one offering cloud computing, one acting as a general retailer and one offering a third-party marketplace. Other examples would be Facebook being forced to divest itself of Instagram and WhatsApp as a condition for operating in the EU, creating two new social media networks. Divesting Google of YouTube would be another.

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Layla Moran: Conservatives are abdicating their responsibilities on sex education

In interviews with The Sunday Times and Andrew Marr, new Education Secretary Damian Hinds signalled he would encourage restrictions to pupils’ rights to sex education. In the former interview, he is reported to have acknowledged he was reversing the policy of his predecessor, Justine Greening.

Hinds also failed to commit to the reintroduction of maintenance grants for students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds as part of a review of the university system.

Responding, Lib Dem Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said:

The sexual harassment and intimidation scandals – and the resulting need for the #metoo movement – and the shocking rise in homophobic and transphobic attacks are just some of the reasons why compulsory sex education is vital.

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LibDem Jobwatch

Fancy working as a Political Assistant?

Haringey Lib Dem council group are keen to find an assistant on a fixed-term basis until the end of the May, with the possibility the role could be renewed for a further 4 years pending election results, performance etc. The post is an official council role and is politically restricted.

Obviously Haringey Council is an interesting place to work!

Applications close on the 18th January. Further details here.

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Resolution Foundation Report on Autumn Budget

Britain is on course for the longest period of falling living standards since records began in the 1950s, according to a report by the Resolution Foundation.

The think tank found that under plans set out by Philip Hammond in the Budget yesterday, the poorest third of households are set for an average loss of £715 a year by the end of the Parliament, while the richest third will gain an average of £185.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable commented:

This analysis exposes the reality of Britain’s economic future under this Conservative government.

The squeeze on pay and living standards is set to carry

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Norman Lamb jointly leads cross-party call for long-term NHS and Care review

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Liberal Democrat MP and former health minister Norman Lamb has organised a cross-party group of 90 MPs, including select committee chairs and former cabinet ministers, to write to the prime minister urging the government to establish an NHS and Care Convention to find a sustainable long-term settlement for these services.

The call has been backed by a high-profile group of 15 committee chairs, 22 former ministers, six former secretaries of state, and several prominent ex-shadow ministers and select committee members. The Convention would work on a cross-party basis, engaging with the public and the health and care workforce, to confront the mounting pressures in the system arising from an older population and growing demand for healthcare.

Ahead of the Autumn Budget on Wednesday, the MPs are urging the government to address the short-term challenges in the system, as well as endorsing the proposal for a cross-party approach to put these services on a stable long-term footing.

The initiative has been led by former Liberal Democrat Care Minister Norman Lamb, the Conservative Chair of the Health Select Committee, Dr. Sarah Wollaston, and Labour’s former Shadow Care Minister Liz Kendall.

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Joy after “overwhelming” Australian vote for equal marriage


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The BBC reports:

Australians have overwhelmingly voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage in a historic poll.

The non-binding postal vote showed 61.6% of people favour allowing same-sex couples to wed, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said.

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News from the Liberal Democrats International Office

The Liberal Democrats took an active part in the 199th Liberal International Executive Committee meeting in Johannesburg in October. The theme of this year’s meeting was “Better Governance: Liberal Answers to Twenty-first Century Challenges”.

Delegates adopted resolutions on freedom of belief, tackling the persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya, and the rise of authoritarianism in Cambodia. The delegates elected a new Secretary General of LI, Gordon Mackay. He is a Member of the South African Assembly for Democratic Alliance.

Liberal Democrat Party President Sal Brinton held a number of meetings with key individuals at Liberal International, ALDE and …

Posted in Europe / International and News | Tagged and | 3 Comments

Cable: Comments from Goldman Sachs boss shows threat of Brexit to our financial sector

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Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs Group Inc, is turning out to be a bell-weather of the London banking community regarding Brexit. He doesn’t tweet very often, but when he does, his tweets cause quite a kerfuffle.

Recently he made interesting comments about Frankfurt:

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 12 Comments

Fun on the campaign trail #1: Willie Rennie and Jo Swinson as Di Caprio and Winslet – or Sergei and Aleksandr

Back in 2005, there was a very dignified photo-op during the election campaign that had then Scottish Lib Dem Leader and Jo Swinson during her first election on a canal barge. It was played time and time again on the news.

Yesterday, Willie Rennie and Jo Swinson launched her campaign to win back East Dunbartonshire on a boat in Kirkintilloch.

The image from that is a bit more fun and perhaps not quite as classy as the 2005 event.

That made it into the Times Red Box briefing.

And there are signs that the Scottish Lib Dem press office are rivalling their London counterparts in the sass department.

Here’s that Meerkat Moment.

And here’s the video that Willie and Jo made to launch her campaign:

At the same time, Theresa May was in Scotland at on of her tightly controlled events where she’s allegedly meeting ordinary people so that she doesn’t need to subject herself to the scrutiny of millions on a tv debate. Willie’s had this to say about her visit:

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Tony Blair advises voters to consider supporting the Lib Dems or Tories

The Independent reports:

Tony Blair has advised those going to the polls to consider voting for the Conservatives or Liberal Democrats in order to weaken the Prime Minister’s mandate for a hard Brexit.

The former Prime Minister said it was important to vote for candidates who had an “open mind” on the final deal and that people should not limit their votes to just Labour because the issue was “bigger than party allegiance”.

…Speaking on Sunday on the BBC’s The World This Weekend programme he said: “The absolutely central question at this general election is less who is the prime minister on 9 June, and more what is the nature of the mandate.

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Labour are trapped in a nightmare of two parties – Tim Farron on Corbyn’s speech

Here is Tim Farron’s response to Jeremy Corbyn’s speech at the Liverpool Labour conference today:

Corbyn’s speech shows Labour’s problem, the last time I saw ovations like that was Iain Duncan Smith’s Blackpool conference speech. Here was a quiet man turning down the volume, especially on Europe. He barely mentioned Brexit and said nothing on the importance of the Single Market. It is clear that the Liberal Democrats are the only pro-European party now.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 84 Comments

On Radio 4’s Today, Miriam González Durántez warns of the challenge of Brexit

Miriam González Durántez was interviewed by Nick Robinson on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning. As an international lawyer who has worked as a trade negotiator she was asked about Brexit.

Posted in News | Tagged | 10 Comments

+++Tim Farron calls for general election as Theresa May is set to become Prime Minister

Yet another dramatic turn of events. Theresa May is a drive up the Mall away from being Prime Minister as Andrea Leadsom withdrew from the Tory leadership race.

Tim Farron commented:

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‘I came from Bangladesh, the Government lost my passport and now I’m a Liberal Democrat’

The Plymouth Herald reports:

Voters in next month’s council election will be confronted by a host of new names – but none with a more fascinating story than the Liberal Democrat candidate for Efford.

Rafiqul Haque grew up in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, and came to the UK on a family holiday aged 14.

While they were here their home country elected a new government and their citizenship was revoked, rendering them effectively stateless.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 5 Comments

Landmark diversity change will make the Liberal Democrats look like the nation we want to represent – Sal Brinton

Liberal Democrats have embraced diversity today by voting in favour of all-women shortlists.

Building on earlier successes and designed to increase diversity amongst candidates and MPs, the motion was supported by Party Leader Tim Farron, and passed overwhelmingly at the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference in York.

In addition to introducing all-women shortlists, the motion ensures more spaces on constituency shortlists for BAME and LGBT+ members. It also means the Liberal Democrats will be the first political party in the country to implement all-disabled shortlists.

Party President Sal Brinton said: “”Over the last few months many party members have told us they think it is time we dealt comprehensively with the lack of diversity amongst our MPs, the wider party and parliament overall.

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Vince Cable on “decaying” relationship with “bloody-minded” Osborne in government

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Lembit on being able to afford a pint

We read the Daily Express, so you don’t have to you.

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Details of draft investigatory powers bill emerge

The Guardian reports:

Theresa May is to propose a major extension of the surveillance state when she publishes legislation requiring internet companies to store details of every website visited by customers over the previous year.

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Tim Farron warns against Syria vote

Warning against a parliamentary vote on UK air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria, Tim Farron has commented:

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Tories’ “obsession with selective schooling is damaging the educational chances of children” – Pugh

The BBC reports:

England is to get its first “new” grammar school for five decades after ministers allowed a grammar school to build an “annexe” in another town.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 134 Comments

Controversy over Glee Club Song Book, in connection with Charles Kennedy – the full story

PoliticsHome reports:

Campaigners have criticised the Liberal Democrats over songs mocking Charles Kennedy’s alcoholism just three months after his death.

Posted in Conference | Tagged and | 3 Comments

++Big conference decision: Amendment 1 to “Scrapping Trident” motion is carried after a card count

Conference voted in favour of amendment 1 to the “Scrapping Trident” motion this afternoon.

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Emails go out to start voting on our Greater London Authority candidates

The ever-energetic and helpful Dr Mark Pack, formerly of this parish, has published a very informative update this morning on the subject of the election of our Greater London Authority candidates:

Emails with online voting links have been landing in London Lib Dem members’ inboxes over the last day.

Posted in London, News and Party policy and internal matters | Tagged and | 4 Comments

The Lib Dem minister and the carefully annotated 500-page document that was shredded by mistake

It’s Friday, so it must be time to read Civil Service World, which sounds like one of those publications they feature at the end of “Have I got news for you?”. (Baroness) Lindsay Northover tells the magazine about her experiences of working with civil servants, while serving as a whip in the coalition government. Lindsay is very complimentary, in the main, about civil servants. She tells of one of the challenges of coalition government:

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 3 Comments

Jim Hume MSP: Scottish mental health units ‘struggling to cope’

From the Scotsman today:

More than 4,000 patients have been sent for mental health treatment outside their health board area in the past five years, according to latest figures.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats, who obtained the figures through parliamentary questions, have warned that mental health units across Scotland are struggling to cope with demand.

The figures show that, in 2013-14, a total of 799 patients were discharged from a psychiatric hospital in a different area from where they live. This compares with 793 in 2012-13 and 855 the year before that.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 4 Comments
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  • User AvatarJoeB 21st Jul - 9:58pm
    David Raw, collection of rents from use of the seabed has long been a prerogative of the Crown. The seabed from mean low water to...
  • User AvatarMichael 1 21st Jul - 8:18pm
    @Peter Watson It is of course useful to have the full figures - the problem being is that if you are reporting it very early...
  • User AvatarNick Collins 21st Jul - 7:59pm
    " and many still have memories of the last time the hard left were in power." When was that? I am the same age as...
  • User Avatardavid grundy 21st Jul - 7:43pm
    Speaking as a convert to the Lib Dems about 4 years ago, I don't feel as well-versed in all the issues as most of the...
  • User AvatarMike Read 21st Jul - 7:18pm
    Vince does not (and will probably never) make the rousing and passionate speeches Tim Farron made as leader. However, Tim's speeches were not shown to...
  • User AvatarLittle Jackie Paper 21st Jul - 6:10pm
    David Raw - True enough! I suppose when most politicians are lawyers....