Author Archives: NewsHound

LibLink: Chuka Umunna: London’s young people know how to stop the knife crime epidemic – here’s what they told me

Chuka Umunna used his Independent column to talk about knife crime. He described how he visited at least one school in his constituency every week and discussed the issue with young people.

They identify a huge variety of things that need to happen in order to tackle a problem that is ruining so many lives:

Unsurprisingly, one of the boys told me his mum wanted his family to move as they did not feel safe on his estate – many parents come to my constituency surgery asking for help to do just that. Another described how he had found drugs and what he thought were bullets in the field where he and his mates play football. A little girl told me how she fears for the welfare of her teenage half-brother.

These children have had to witness things no one should have to see as an adult, never mind as a young person. Their understanding of why it is happening and what should be done about the violence is sophisticated and well thought through. They told me that they supported stop and search and believed it certainly helped reduce the numbers carrying knives but that it was important the power was used appropriately and sensitively by the police and not used to discriminate. They wanted to see tougher sanctions for possession and for those who stab others, with far more police on our streets to enforce our laws, but did not believe that would solve the issue.

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LibLink: Chuka Umunna: Boris as PM would tell world Britain brazenly tolerates prejudice and hatred

So, it’s Chuka Umunna’s LibLink debut.

And he’s used his Independent column to talk about Boris Johnson’s unsuitability to be Prime Minister.

Chuka contrasts the Tory membership with the population as a whole:

The average age of a UK citizen is 40, over-65s make up around 18 per cent of the population, and those aged between 18 and 24 make up 9 per cent of the population. On this measure, the Tory party is in no way representative. The project found that the average age of a Tory party member is 57, significantly older, with 38 per cent of Tory party members aged 66 and over, and 7 per cent between 18 and 25 years old.

And it doesn’t get better with other diversity characteristics:

The population is split more or less equally between the genders, yet three-quarters of Tory members are men. Whereas around 14 per cent of the population is of an ethnic minority background, just 3 per cent of Tory party members are non-white.

And then we get to Boris and his greatest transgressions:
He has described black people as “piccanninnies” with “watermelon smiles”. Last summer, he compared Muslim women wearing veils to “letterboxes” and “bank robbers”. And, this weekend, none other than Steve Bannon, right-wing populist and former campaign manager to Donald Trump, revealed that he worked with Johnson on his government resignation speech last year. I don’t know whether Johnson is a racist or not – only he can answer that question definitively. But there is no doubt that the aforementioned comments are racist and, at the very least, they reveal a complete disrespect and condescension towards those of a different ethnicity.

He describes how his fellow panellists on Politics Live last week dismissed Johnson’s remarks:

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: As I grieved my husband, internet trolls attacked

In her Scotsman column, Christine Jardine describes the pain of losing her husband during the election campaign in 2017 – which was then added to by attacks from internet trolls:

Two years ago, at the most difficult time in my personal life, a political activist who thought they were clever decided it was OK to launch a nasty, and untrue attack.

During the 2017 general election campaign, my husband had died from a sudden and unpredicted heart attack.

The circumstances were particularly difficult. We were separated, he was living on his own and, because my name on his list of next of kin was different from his, the police opted for the other person whose name was the same.

It was my daughter who took the call.

The next few days were a blizzard of emotional conversations until we received the results of a post-mortem which detailed how sudden and irretrievable his attack had been.

There were newspaper stories and obituaries to read from journalists and a media he had worked in for 30 years and who were keen to show their respect.

I struggled with the inevitable questions that come from a loved one’s death, exacerbated in this case by the guilt that came from decisions that had set us on different paths after 30 years together.

On the evening of the funeral, the attacks started:

I discovered I was accused on Twitter of breaking the cross-party agreement not to campaign as a mark of respect to the Manchester bombing.

At first I thought it was a mistake, and explained I had been at what I described as “a family funeral”.

Internet trolls started vying to see who could be nastiest about me, while others piled in to try and defend and one or two did send me an apology.

Next day it was all over the papers. There were demands for an apology aimed at the political party whose activist had started it all.

And at the centre of it all my daughter, who was trying to deal with the death of the father she adored, was now dealing with a vicious attack on her mother.

So what’s the way out of all of this?

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WATCH: Christine Jardine’s office flooding….

Flash floods hit Edinburgh this afternoon, and Christine Jardine paid the price of having a constituency office at the bottom of a hill on one of the busiest roads in Scotland.

That video now seems to have ended up on most outlets in Scotland and, once the waters had receded, Christine talked to the BBC, Forth, The Evening News, Heart FM and The Sun among other media outlets.

Her main message was to encourage people to look out for elderly neighbours.

The office sofa bed was sacrificed to stem the tide.

Part of the problem was that every time someone drove past the office, it made things worse:

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Sal speaks on the momentous steps forward for the Lib Dems

In her monthly column on the Lib Dem website, Sal Brinton talks about how far we’ve come in the last month!

One thing is evident: the high calibre of our councillors and MEPs. We are back with a campaigning zeal and will be able to fight for residents, our country and against Brexit. I certainly plan to keep campaigning until we stop Brexit so they can stay there for the full five years until 2024 and I know you will too!

And on Friday we welcomed Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham, to the Liberal Democrats. He has worked with us over the last three years to help fight Brexit, and defeat the Government. He recognises that we are the pro-European, liberal, centre-ground party and I am delighted he has made the decision to join us. He’s already working with his local Liberal Democrats!

I also want to welcome to the more than 20,000 new members of the Party this newsletter is going to for the first time!

She talked about our very clear message and how this has helped us cut though.

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Mistaken identity.

Oh dear.

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LISTEN: Alex Cole-Hamilton on Good Morning Scotland talking about medicinal cannabis

Karen Gray lives in the west of Edinburgh. Her six year old son, Murray, has a rare form of Epilepsy called Doose Syndrome which causes him to have multiple seizures every day. She has been battling to get Medicinal Cannabis for Murray.

The drug was licensed last year but Karen faces challenges trying to get it prescribed.

The BBC followed her to the Netherlands a couple of weeks ago, where she brought stocks of the drug back to this country, which is still technically illegal without an import licence.

You can see the difference the drug has made to Murray’s condition:

You can watch the whole documentary, which was broadcast last night, here.

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: The Women’s World Cup is a fantastic force for equality but it is only the start

The Women’s World Cup is on at the moment. Christine Jardine writes for the Independent about what this means for equality in sport.

As a child I loved playing football, and nagged my parents until they bought me my own football strip. But there were few people who didn’t find my girlish enthusiasm either amusing or something to frown upon.

This is why the knowledge that six million viewers thought it worthwhile to tune in to watch two teams enjoy a platform previous generations could only dream of filled my heart with joy.

But we are still far from equality – prize money, for example, is still much higher for men than for women:

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Follow Christine Jardine during Diabetes Week

Diabetes UK is highlighting the challenges faced by people with Diabetes this week by getting 3 MPs to learn about daily life with the condition. Our Christine Jardine is taking part.

Follow her on Twitter to find out how it is going.

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The words of Trump coming from Lib Dem MPs

A video has emerged of Lib Dem MPs reading the words of Donald Trump.

Ed Davey, Jo Swinson, Christine Jardine, Tom Brake and Alistair Carmichael repeat some of his most egregious quotes.

And some of them get scarily into character.

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Who’s that with Gerald Vernon-Jackson?

The City of Portsmouth hosted world leaders for today’s D-Day commemoration.

Its Lib Dem Council Leader, Gerald Vernon-Jackson, captured the solemnity of the occasion.

But he found time to invoke the jealousy of 100,000 Lib Dem members by grabbing a selfie with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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Kishan Devani: Lib Dems back in business

Kishan Devani joined the Liberal Democrats from the Conservatives 18 month sago and has since become a Vice President of the LIb Dem Campaign for Racial Equality.  He wrote for Asian Lite International about the fantastic results in the recent local and European elections.

Remain voters have surged to overtake anti-Brexit parties in the European elections in the UK last week, with us the Liberal Democrats achieving our best results ever! This is clearly an endorsement of our ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ & ‘Stop Brexit’ message. It is now evident that the British people want to end this madness & shambles of a process – putting an end to this entire undeliverable fantasy.

We came 1st in London and topped the poll in a number of councils where the Labour Party had won in the last European Parliament elections in 2014.

Our party which is unashamedly campaigning to cancel our exit from the European Union, came into the elections with just one representative in the European Parliament – we now have 16!

We also topped the polls in Remain-voting areas in the south east which we are targeting for the next general election, like Kingston upon Thames, Richmond Upon Thames, St Albans, Cambridge, Oxford, and Cheltenham.

Kishan says we are back in business

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LibLink: Jo Swinson Lib Dems reaped the rewards of unapologetically supporting a People’s Vote

Somewhere in the long night on Sunday, when she was dotting about between various media outlets, Jo Swinson found the time to write an article for the Times Red Box looking at the reasons for the spectacular Lib Dem success. Being clear about what we were about paid dividends.

Our message at the elections was crystal clear and it worked. Voters recognised the Liberal Democrats are the largest and strongest Remain party. For the past two and a half years we have been unapologetically making the case for a People’s Vote and we have successfully built a cross-party, cross-country movement in support of it.

But while Labour and the Tories lead the country to a disastrous Brexit, we have more to do:

Even as we celebrate these excellent results, we can’t ignore that the Brexit Party made significant gains, that the favourite in the Conservative leadership contest panders to the far right to advance his career (and is certainly not fit for public office), and that the leader of the opposition is yet to take a stance on the biggest issue of the day.

Brexit has turned us into a laughing stock internationally. It’s detracted attention for the real challenges we face, such as the climate emergency, widening inequality and struggling public services. And it’s preventing us from making the most of the technological revolution right ahead of us.

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LibLink: Ed Davey: Sajid Javid’s knife ASBOs won’t work. Here’s a better solution

In the New Statesman, Ed Davey writes that knife crime must be treated as a public health and education issue and that Sajid Javid’s punitive approach will not work.

First he outlines the problems with Javid’s Knife Crime Protection Orders:

I can’t imagine what it is about the experience of ASBOs makes Javid think they’ll work for knife crime. In some communities, ASBOs were seen as a “badge of honour”. Many young people openly flouted them. The threat of prison simply doesn’t work as a deterrent for a lot of young people.

Even worse, ASBOs consumed a lot of police time and resources, whether applying to the courts to get one or enforcing its conditions afterwards. And that was at a time when we had far more police.

If Javid doesn’t remember what a failure ASBOs were, he should just ask his boss. Theresa May, as Home Secretary, described them as “bureaucratic” and “gimmick-laden”. “They were too time consuming and expensive,” she said. “And they too often criminalised young people unnecessarily, acting as a conveyor belt to serious crime and prison.” She was right, and that’s why as Home Secretary, she abolished them.

He suggests a different approach:

I’m proposing knife ABCs: Anti-Blade Contracts.

They could be imposed the first time a young person is caught with a knife, but could also be used proactively for children involved in gangs or who might be considering carrying a knife. The young person would sign a contract saying “I will not carry a knife.” In return, they could be guaranteed services to help them feel safer: a police officer or social worker to call whenever they need them, for example.

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LibLink: Christine Jardine We all deserve the same quality of mental health care as my late husband

Christine Jardine’s column is a bit different this week. She writes about how her late husband, Calum, was affected by Bipolar Disorder. Calum Macdonald was a brilliant journalist, working for the Herald in Glasgow for many years. Although they were separated at the time of his death from a heart attack during the 2017 election campaign, they remained close.

Christine described how the quality of care Calum received helped him so much. Sadly, others aren’t so fortunate.

When we needed it, our GP was there straight away and offered daily support.

Calum had a consultation within 24 hours and the help he needed, from that moment for the next 22 years.

I will be forever grateful that we had that time, and that medical support allowed my daughter to know the affable, tolerant Calum.

But the fact that she also saw, at times, the problems her father faced has also, in some way, brought its own benefits. When I ask her, she says that she has learned to never make a concrete judgement on anyone. There may be a fuller story than the one we see.

What she argues is that the fragility of mental health can affect any of us and should be regarded with the same understanding as if it were a broken leg.

She recounted how it had first become apparent that Calum was ill:

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LibLink: Jo Swinson To secure our future, make climate change risk reporting mandatory

Jo Swinson has always been one to ask awkward questions. In an article in today’s City AM, she describes asking about corporate social responsibility during a seminar when she was a student:

…my classmates looked at me with puzzled expressions, as if I was rather off-topic.

Gone was the 1960s radicalism of the institution, and instead chasing the highest-paying banking internship was very much in vogue. When, after graduating, I chose a job placement with a small start-up company in Yorkshire on a £12,000 salary, the puzzled looks turned into disbelief.

She sets out three big changes to the way business should operate, putting responsibility to people and planet at their heart:

So, let’s start rewarding investors who are in it for the long-run and limit the powers of those who are in it just to make a quick buck. We can increase voting rights the longer an investor remains with a company, and we can taper the rate of tax for every year an investor keeps their share in the business.

Second, let’s put people at the heart of business. Let’s make it crystal clear that directors have fundamental responsibilities to their employees, their consumers, and the communities on which they depend.

Last, and by no means least, let’s get serious about the fact that we are the last generation that can stop irreversible harm to our planet. Any business that thinks it is immune to the threats we are facing is utterly deluded and is risking its own survival

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LibLink: Christine Jardine Your nationality won’t matter if we wreck the planet

Politicians must heed what young people, concerned about the future of our planet, are saying, writes Christine Jardine in her Scotsman column:

Too little time recently has been dedicated to looking at how we are damaging the planet, undermining the future of generations to come and destroying the natural world. More importantly we are letting the valuable and scarce time we have left to change things slip through our fingers.

That was also not my only encounter this week with a younger generation frustrated at the adult world’s lack of action to protect their environment. On Friday morning I visited a group of pupils at Cramond Primary School in my constituency to see their campaign to clean up the air they breathe every day.

Their presentation was impressive but so too was their commitment that their world is under threat and that we are all responsible. Everything they said echoed what I had heard earlier from Greta, and not just about climate change.

She  described the benefits of being part of the More United group of MPs working together where they agree.

She went on to talk about the distractions of Brexit, and, now, the prospect of another Scottish independence referendum and how those are overshadowing what’s important.

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LibLink: Vince Cable: May’s local elections should be about housing, social care and the environment. Not Brexit

In an article for Politics Home, Vince Cable sets out what should be the priorities for this year’s local elections:

The first is housing. The dearth of affordable housing for purchase or rent is an issue almost everywhere, and is felt by young people in particular. The depletion of the stock of council housing through ‘right to buy’ and the lack of social house building because of central government restrictions has contributed to extreme problems, including homelessness, at the bottom of the housing ladder. Yet good councils have used the planning system and their borrowing powers to get housing, especially social housing, built and have made sure that there is a safety net of hostel accommodation for the homeless (as I have recently seen in York, Watford and Somerset with Lib Dem-led councils).

A second is social care. It is now generally recognised that many of the pressures with in the NHS are caused by the inability of cash-strapped local councils to provide adequate social services support – through domiciliary care or residential homes – resulting in ‘delayed discharge’ (it used to be called ‘bed blocking’) for many sick and elderly people. The failure of central government to confront the social care issue is resulting in mounting problems, and local government is bearing much of the burden.

Thirdly, there is the environment. Those who are motivated by the big environmental issues of the day – climate change, plastics recycling and air quality – realise that local communities and individuals can and do make a contribution in either direction.  Environmentally aware local councils are rightly declaring climate emergencies; there is a race to install electric charging points for zero emission vehicles; and recycling rates and methods are under scrutiny.

But the b-word will get in the way – which will also be good for us.

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LibLink: Alistair Carminchael: The people of Hong Kong look to the UK to keep the promises we made to them

This week in Parliament, Alistair Carmichael asked an urgent question on the Foreign Office’s lack of action per the conviction of Hong King’s Umbrella Movements’s leaders. The Umbrella Movement had protested for 79 days for free and fair elections in 2015.

This week nine of the Umbrella Movement’s leaders were convicted of rarely used public order offences from the days of colonial rule. Chris Patten, the last British Governor of Hong Kong, described it as being “appallingly divisive to use anachronistic common law charges in a vengeful pursuit of political events which took place in 2014”.

The response of our own Foreign Office was a silence. How embarrassing, and not for the first time.

It was only 1997 that the UK handed Hong Kong back to China. It was a handover that allowed the UK to divest itself of another vestige of empire while entering into a treaty with China which sought to provide autonomy of the former colony and a continued progression towards democracy. It was Chris Patten’s not insubstantial legacy which gave both Britain and China obligations for fifty years until 2047.

He was quick to point out a former Lib Dem leader who had stood up so vociferously for the people of Hong Kong:

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: Brexit – two party system is held hostage by their extremes

In her Scotsman column this week, Christine Jardine looks at two events in Parliament last week that she said made the place look like a black comedy:

The first came as MPs gathered in the House of Commons’ chamber for the start of what was billed as, potentially, yet another defining moment for Brexit, only to see semi-naked protesters super-glue themselves to the perspex screen in front of the public gallery. Ironically, the screen has separated the public from politicians since protesters from Fathers for Justice threw flour bombs into the chamber in 2004. This time the protest was about global warming, yet another subject which has slipped down the agenda since the ‘Deal, No-Deal or No Brexit’ drama began to dominate parliamentary life.

We have, of course, debated global warming, and the profusion of plastic waste in our seas, but these have been at the behest of backbench MPs. The UK Government had other business.

The second was the leak into the Commons Chamber in the middle of a debate on HMRC loan charges.

I doubt even the most cynical of comedy writers would have thought it a believeable plot line, but there we were. In the Mother of Parliaments, it felt as if even the building was making a comment on proceedings and I couldn’t help but agree.

She then talked about MPs gripped by frustration and fear:

However in truth, at the moment, I don’t think I am alone amongst MPs in feeling that the dominant emotions at Westminster are frustration and fear. Frustration that so many of us are agreed that we need to find a way forward out of this morass and then put it to the people, but are unable to overcome the trench warfare that has come to dominate our two-party system.

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: All consuming Brexit is making this country a less caring place

Sarah Newton resigned as Disabilities Minister 3 weeks ago but she still hasn’t been replaced.

In her Scotsman column this week, Christine Jardine outlined why a new minister was needed and soon.

The Personal Independence Payments system is broken, she said, highlighting a local example:

Alexandra Mitchell from Cramond, has already highlighted the shortcomings. Born with a disability and entitled to a Motability car for years, she was mysteriously told she no longer qualified for the support, with no adequate reasoning behind the decision. Although we managed to have the decision overturned on appeal that, in itself, is not good enough. Nor is it an isolated, or even unusual, incident.

That wasn’t the end of the story, though, for Alexandra:

I again raised the case of Alexandra Mitchell who has now been told that there is an ‘end date’ of her lifelong disability. Wow, who knew the department had such powers? That they could end disability at the stroke of a pen. They can’t. And to get to the bottom of why the department thought it could, I was due to have a meeting with the Minister for Disabilities in the very week she decided that she could no longer stomach her own Government’s approach to Brexit. Since then, there has been nobody in Government tasked with addressing those issues, of which there are so many, that myself and other MPs have been keen to raise. Fortunately I had also arranged a meeting with Amber Rudd, the current Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, to ask if she would consider changes to a Universal Credit system that has proven not fit for purpose. Again Brexit, as ever, intervened and foreshortened our meeting, but not before I had grasped the opportunity to confront the Secretary of State with the problem. To be fair, she asked me to send details of Alexandra’s case directly to her and I have.

Christine highlighted the ridiculous amount of money that the Government spends on holding appeals, most of which are upheld:

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LibLink: Layla Moran: It’s time for the UK to recognise the state of Palestine

Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, the first MP of Palestinian descent, has written for Politics Home about why the UK should recognise the state of Palestine:

As things stand now the peace process is nowhere to be found. It is a fallacy to think that there is still an ongoing peace process and the international community are ignorant if they think anything else. The political agenda has been hijacked by extremists on both sides and I am very clear that as a part of that, Hamas must go: their presence is setting the dialogue back considerably.

With this breakdown of the peace process, and the US now missing from the international effort, it is more important than ever that the UK steps up and uses its influence and voice. The UK can help restore a sense of hope for Palestinians, we can help bring the parties back to the negotiating table, and we can help level the playing field. But we can only do that if we recognise the state of Palestine. Saying that we believe in a two-state solution without recognising one of those states ourselves would be laughably hypocritical if it weren’t so damaging.

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Christine Jardine: A tax on women just for being women is plain wrong

In her Scotsman column this week, Christine Jardine describes seeing an offer for deodorant for £1 in a pharmacy. Men could buy a full size can. Women got a travel size.

That encapsulates the problem that she is trying to sort out in a Bill aimed at tackling the so-called “Pink Tax” she is introducing today.

The women’s movement has come a long way. Parliament itself is an example. We don’t have a perfect gender balance yet, but we do have the largest number of women ever elected, and the green benches are beginning to look vaguely like the country we are there to represent. But discrimination is still there in everyday life in so many ways that often we simply don’t notice.

Next time you are shopping take a careful note of some of the prices on the shelves. You may not notice it at first but over time you may begin to see a trend.

I hadn’t really noticed that the so-called ‘Pink Tax’ was an issue until it was pointed out to me by a colleague, so I went into a high-street pharmaceutical store to see for myself.

It seems that women get hit with a double whammy: they make less for doing the same work, and then they pay more for the same product or service just because it’s ‘for’ women. Discrimination on gender grounds is illegal, and whether women are paying more for a pink razor, deodorant from the same brand, or for an identical piece of clothing, it’s time to say enough is enough. There is absolutely no reason why men and women should pay different prices for exactly the same products or services.

In an article that starts with a reference to her hero, Billie Jean King, and is crammed full of tennis metaphors, she goes on to talk about Caroline Criado Perez’s book, Invisible Women, which is being published this week. This describes the gender data gap:

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LibLink Jane Dodds: Why the Welsh Lib Dems want to trial Universal Basic Income in Wales

Welsh Lib Dem leader Jane Dodds supports the Universal Basic Income as a means to tackle poverty and inequality.

She explains why in an article for Nation Cymru:

In Wales, like the rest of the UK, we are seeing increasing homelessness and food bank use.

We need to look for progressive solutions and to continue to oppose government policies that demonise the poor.

One possible solution is Universal Basic Income (UBI), an idea that has been the subject of much debate across the political spectrum, including within my own party.

UBI is rooted in the idea that people seek purpose and, if given the opportunity and freedom to do so, will make the best decisions about their lives. As a Liberal I strongly believe everyone should be able to make decisions about their own lives and live a life they are proud of.

UBI would give people a guaranteed minimum income, giving them the freedom to live their lives and make decisions of their own free will, not on the basis of where their next paycheque comes from.

Opponents of UBI argue that it would damage economic growth and lead to fewer people in work, but I think this view underestimates people. Money is only one factor driving us to work and I suspect that most people would take the freedom UBI would give them to pursue the job they’ve always wanted to do, not quit work altogether.

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Lib Link: Shas Sheehan Government must defend DFID’s autonomy and expertise

Enshrining the 0.7% GDP for international aid provision in law was a brilliant Lib Dem achievement brought about by former Lib Dem Secretary of State Mike Moore.

Now it is coming under threat by Tories who have always opposed it. In an article for Politics Home, Lib Dem peer Shas Sheehan writes a blistering defence of it.

Enshrining in law the UK’s aid commitment was a hugely progressive step. But it has been haunted by years of attack from Conservative MPs such as former and current DFID Secretaries Priti Patel and Penny Mordaunt. The latest person to take aim at this life-saving budget is Boris Johnson.

Boris’ backing of the paper Global Britain: A Blueprint for the 21st Century is shameful. The paper calls for a severe, multi-billion-pound cut to UK’s Overseas Aid budget and closure of DFID. It shrugs off the fact that this budget has played a major role in the fight to eradicate poverty and promote sustainable development across the world. It dismisses the fact that it has helped to transform people’s lives and lift many out of inhumane conditions.

Far from positioning post-Brexit Britain as a global player regaining its place on the world stage, slashing the UK aid budget and threatening our place in the OECD’s forum of major international donors instead paints the UK as an inward-looking island no longer in step with the realities of the contemporary world. As Save the Children have said, the UK is an International Development superpower but these suggestions risk that. Brexit is already threatening our seat at the top table, we must not allow Conservative whims to threaten it further.

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“Playing chicken with the country” – and the possibility of revoking Article 50

Lib Dem MPs have been out and about in the media this week.

Christine Jardine took Labour to task for their abject failure to oppose the Government properly.

Layla took to Twitter to give a Valentine’s Day message – and she mentioned the possibility of revoking article 50 if we get to March 29th and there is still no deal. Like Christine before her she talked about May’s game of chicken with the country. Definitely a theme here. .

On Bloomberg, Jo Swinson took a coach and horses through Theresa May’s Brexit policy from the beginning, saying that public opinion had changed and the best way forward was a People’s Vote.

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LibLink: Vince Cable: Ministers must properly address the Special Educational Needs and Disability funding crisis

Vince Cable is holding a Westminster Hall debate on funding for special educational needs and disability this afternoon.

In an article for Politics Home, he outlines the impact on families when they don’t have the support that they need…

A single mum in a small flat with a child who needs constant attention while she tries to look after other children, and hold down a job to make ends meet; a couple who have sacrificed careers, holidays and a social life to care for a child with severe, complex needs, seeing the child growing up to an adulthood of continued dependence while they themselves are ageing and their own relationship is falling apart. There are numerous variations of these.

Of course, there are also happier stories.  Stories where support provided in school or via the local authority or health service makes all the difference.  But for every family who does not get the support they need, there is an unacceptable impact for parents and children alike.

Local authorities are under huge financial stress, however:

At a human level a painful conflict results between parents who want the best for their children (and have the law on their side) and local authorities who want to do their best but are under financial stress after years of painful cuts. More and more requests for EHCPs are being declined or delayed, and funding cuts have led to reductions in the specialist teachers and educational psychologists who provided expert advice to schools teaching SEND pupils. Rationing has taken the form of foot-dragging over ‘statements’, now ‘care plans’.  And attempts to mandate adequate local schooling rather than what parents consider to be superior specialist schools, often leading to tribunals, with additional cost, emotional stress and anger.

So is it just a question of more money?

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Lib Dems challenge use of civil servants to advise Tory compromise seekers

Politics Home’s Ross Kempsell reported today that eight of the eleven Lib Dem MPs have written to the Cabinet Secretary today. They want to know whether it’s ok for our impartial civil service to be diverted from their jobs to advise the group of Tory MPs who are trying to thrash out a Brexit compromise.

Surely our Civil Servants have something better to do than look for a sticking plaster that is going to keep the Tory Party together for the 15 minutes they have to spend in a voting lobby?

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LibLink: Vince Cable: Don’t let healthy scepticism about China become paranoia

A tasty breakfast

As Business Secretary, Vince Cable was responsible for global trade and had to deal with the growing economic might of China. He writes about this in an article for City AM.

He has a stark warning for those seeking a trade deal. It’s not going to be much fun without 27 of your mates to watch your back:

And while the EU with its combined heft is able to be both tough and constructive, Britain on its own will be a largely powerless supplicant. I suspect that the Chinese, seeing Britain desperate for a trade deal of its own, will

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4 February 2019 – today’s press releases

Welsh Liberal Democrats recommit to supporting children’s mental health and wellbeing

To mark the beginning of Children’s Mental Health Week (4th February – 10th February), the Welsh Liberal Democrats are recommitting to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of Wales’ children and young people.

The Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Minister has taken a number of steps intended to promote mental health and wellbeing in schools. This includes developing a whole-school approach to mental health, connecting schools with mental health expertise, and taking forward curriculum reform with a strong emphasis on mental health and wellbeing.

Jane Dodds, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, commented:

The

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPeter Martin 22nd Jul - 5:15pm
    @ Joe B, Anyone saving their money will end up saving it with Govt in one way or another. I could buy some shares but...
  • User Avatarfrankie 22nd Jul - 4:58pm
    The major policy that will help poverty is building affordable social housing. It would drive down rents and housing costs. The problem is it faces...
  • User AvatarRussell L Simpson 22nd Jul - 4:58pm
    Brilliant speech. Congrats Jo. And thanks Ed
  • User Avatartheakes 22nd Jul - 4:55pm
    Brilliant, what a speech. Who wrote it , credit where credit is due. Now for Gloucester on Thursday & Brecon next week. I noticed last...
  • User Avatarfrankie 22nd Jul - 4:48pm
    Enjoy the day, the hard work starts tomorrow. O remember nice seldom wins and it won't win against this set of delusionists.
  • User AvatarBill le Breton 22nd Jul - 4:48pm
    Stunning acceptance speech - simply stunning. Listen in full if you haven't had the chance to hear it live.
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