Author Archives: NewsHound

How others see us: “Vince Cable leads the charge to reverse Brexit”

Vince makes Time magazine this week.

In the wake of the 700,000 strong People’s Vote march, he sat down with Time’s Billy Perrigo to discuss all things Brexit.

The article starts at that incredible march where Vince had the line of the day:

London has a reputation for bad weather, but on Oct. 20 at about midday, the sky was a perfect blue. That was good news for Vince Cable, the leader of the U.K.’s centrist Liberal Democrats party. Buoyed by the lack of rain, he and roughly 700,000 others marched on the Houses of Parliament to call for a “People’s Vote,” or second referendum, on Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

“We’re all here,” Cable told the assembled marchers, “because we can see that Brexit is a potential disaster and because we believe it can be stopped.” Although he spoke alongside politicians like London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Green Party former leader Caroline Lucas, it was his line that drew some of the wildest cheers: “It’s not inevitable.”

And the march itself helped make it more likely:

“Critics of the People’s Vote campaign thought there would be a token march with a few thousand people,” Cable says of the recent 700,000-strong protest. “But it was on a scale that far surpassed any realistic expectations.” That, he thinks, reflects a broader change in Britain — one that could simultaneously reverse Brexit and sweep the Liberal Democrats to relevance once again. It might sound like wishful thinking, but Cable is confident. “It’s very clear that there has been a change in the mood,” he says.

Sometimes it is interesting to see ourselves us others see us. Certainly liberal in a US sense is not quite as progressive as many of us in this party imagine ourselves to be:

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LibLink: Cllr Robert Aldridge: Whatever happened to joined up thinking?

This Budget has meant that local government is going to be taking even more of a hit in England. In Scotland, too, councils bear the brunt of SNP cuts.

A Lib Dem Councillor in Edinburgh, Robert Aldridge, who, for five years from 2007-12 was the city’s finance convener, has written an article for the Edinburgh Evening News about what a total mess the Labour/SNP coalition is making of running Scotland’s capital.

Their cuts have not been done in a  strategic way and, in fact, generate more costs in the future:

He set out the problems:

As the scale of council cuts grows we are seeing fewer and fewer staff struggling to try to provide the same level of service with smaller and smaller budgets. More and more we see staff having to focus on their part of a task rather than the best way of achieving the best service for the citizen.

And the impact they have on people’s lives:

For the want of a janitor in a community centre we are likely to see more people having to move to residential care, at enormous expense. We are focusing limited resources on those with highest needs, but at the expense of low-level support which prevents problems becoming acute. We are facing an obesity crisis amongst our young people. But we are increasing the costs for voluntary groups to use council facilities in the evening, making it likely that they will either have to increase charges (excluding young people from poorer families) or meet less frequently, or for a shorter period.

And what’s the solution?

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: EU remembers UK’s WWII stand and would take us back

In her Scotsman column this week, Christine Jardine tackled Brexit and, in particular, a speech by Dutch social liberal party D66’s new leader, Rob Jetten, in the UK Parliament. His words showed the bond between this country and our European family.

Listening to him reminded me of why I have always cherished what some dismiss as the ‘European Project’ as he likened our relationship with the EU to the biblical tale of the Prodigal Son.

Although I’m not religious, I do remember the story from school. A wrestless son demands his inheritance to leave his family and make his own way in

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: Trump turns hope of #MeToo movement into despair

Donald Trump’s foul rants about Christine Blasey Ford and his assertion that it’s a scary time for young men in America are not the random uttering of an unpredictable, mercurial leader. It’s much more calculating than that. It’s a carefully targeted message to the Republican Party’s white male base that they are under threat. He wants their votes in the midterms in 4 weeks’ time. Portraying Brett Kavanaugh as the victim of a nasty leftie Democrat plot is all part of that strategy.

It must be a lot scarier for young women thinking about coming forward with allegations of sexual assault …

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LibLink: Christine Jardine WASPI women stung as the social contract breaks down

We know that one of the issues Christine Jardine has really got the fire in her belly about is the injustice suffered by women born in the 1950s over their State Pension. Some have to wait as much as six extra years for their State Pension and only found out about it at the last minute.

She’s written for the Scotsman about how this is another example of the social contract breaking down.

Ironically one woman who’s affected is Theresa May but she’s shown no signs of wanting to help her fellow 1950s women:

She was born in the 1950s, she’s female, and she’s just past what would have been her expected retirement age.

But the Prime Minister is in a rather privileged situation, and unlike 6 thousand WASPI women in Edinburgh West, she doesn’t need to worry about when she’ll receive her state pension.

Which for many of us makes it all the more surprising, and frustrating that she is not part of the campaign to get justice for those who have been affected by the shambles caused when the state pension age was equalised for men and women.

Many of the women affected were only months from being 60 when they discovered they would have to wait up to six years longer for their state pension.

Their retirement plans have been shattered with devastating consequences.

One of the first people to visit me when I became an MP was one of these so called WASPI women – named after the inspirational group Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI)  which is campaigning for “fair transitional state pension arrangements.”

That woman – let’s call her Helen – had been 18 months from retirement when she took redundancy from the bank she worked in, thinking that her settlement would see her through to her retirement and her pension.

Then she learned she would have to wait almost a decade to get access to the pot she had been paying into all her working life.

Now she has two part time cleaning jobs and crippling arthritis in her knees.

It’s for women like her that myself and other MPs from all parties, are taking on Theresa May’s Government.

Each time I see her in the commons I have to resist the urge to point out to the Prime Minister: “That could have been you.”

She looks at how the Government could help the women who have been affected:

For example the WASPI group favours a ‘bridging pension’ paid from age 60 to the state retirement age. This would compensate those at risk of losing up to around £45,000.

But it’s not the only possible solution. I have also signed a Private Member’s Bill calling for a review of the best way of finding some sort of justice and compensation.

But Ministers refuse to budge.

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LibLink: Jo Swinson Parental pay transparency would do wonders for workplace equality – but the government need to take action

This week, Jo Swinson has persuaded 10 major firms to share their parental leave policies as a key element in the fight against maternity discrimination. Jo, who introduced shared parental leave as a Business Minister, now wants companies to go further to encourage employees and attract more people to work for them:

She wrote for the Independent about why this was so important:

A new mother forced to resign after being bombarded with texts and emails telling her she “obviously can’t work with two kids”. Another one who returns to work to find herself reapplying for her job after a company restructure.

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LibLink: Alex Cole-Hamilton: There is no such thing as “justifiable assault”

In his regular column for Edinburgh’s Evening News, Alex Cole-Hamilton outlines why he has sponsored a Bill to ban physical punishment of children:

People talk about it being a ban on smacking, but all it really seeks to do is to extend the same protections to children that adults currently enjoy – the fundamental right to live a life without fear of violence. There is no law in Scotland which states you have the right to hit your child, but parents are enabled to do through the legal defence of ‘justifiable assault’. People hit their kids and the law isn’t interested, only because they could claim the assault was justified on the grounds of punishment.

Seems ok? Not when I tell you that a similar defence used to apply to the hitting of women and of servants but we happily repealed those eons ago. This all boils down to the fact that children are now the only sentient creature in Scottish society you can strike in anger with legal impunity. That puts us out of kilter with international human rights treaties. We’re signatories to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which demands we protect children from physical punishment, and as such in every examination by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, it’s a big red cross on our report card.

And he looks at some of the arguments used by opponents:

“This is nanny state gone mad and will see legions of decent parents marched through the courts.” This isn’t about criminalising parents, it’s about culture change. There has been no detectable uptick in prosecutions of parents in the countries where this is operating already, parents just make different decisions as to how to discipline their kids.

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LibLink: Tom Brake: Parliament must be recalled to introduce People’s Vote legislation

Tom Brake has called for Parliament to be recalled in the wake of Theresa May’s statement yesterday.

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, published on Politics Home, he argued that a People’s Vote was the only safe exit to the chaos over Brexit.

The purpose of recalling Parliament would be to enable the Liberal Democrats, other parties and Parliamentarians from across the House to work with you to ensure that legislation for a final say on the deal or People’s Vote is drawn up immediately. A People’s Vote could then be held before the European Elections in May.

With the EU and your own MPs lined up against Chequers, Chequers has no future. No Deal, which you persist, wrongly, in claiming is the only alternative that could be offered to Parliament will not command a majority in the Commons.  In these circumstances, a final say on the deal, so that people can choose between any deal the Government do eventually secure or staying in the EU is the only safe exit from the chaos the Conservative and other Brexit supporters have inflicted on the UK. Such a final say on the deal will of course require an extension to Article 50 so the legislation can be drafted, the question considered and the election conducted, but our EU partners have indicated an extension would be granted for this purpose.

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LibLink: Stephen Lloyd: Universal Credit was meant to make work pay – it’s causing nothing but grief, pain and anger

Our social security spokesperson Stephen Lloyd has been talking about how badly the Government has cocked up the implementation of Universal Credit for a while. We supported it in coalition but as soon as we were consigned to the back benches, depleted, the Tories ripped loads of money out of it.

He’s now written for the Huffington Post about what a nightmare this new system is.

And a crucial part of this incentive was the Work Allowance. This is the maximum amount a UC claimant can earn through employment, before their benefit payments are reduced. However in the Summer 2015 budget, with the

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: The EU champions LGBT rights. Will Brexit Britain?

Christine Jardine has used her column in the Scotsman to highlight the difference that the EU has made in LGBT rights. Lest we get complacent and think that the work is done, she reminds us how Roe v Wade, the landmark decision on abortion in the US that everyone thought was settled could well unravel.

And we aren’t as far on as we thought we were, either:

As a society we have travelled a long way, but this is not the time to relax and assume the work is done. I have LGBT constituents who are still not comfortable holding their partners hand in public, or displaying any kind of affection, in case they draw attention to themselves.

She highlights how the EU and its human rights charter have been such a driver of rights:

It has been used by the Court of Justice to outlaw homophobia, and to make it clear that the sort of incidents we have seen particularly in eastern Europe are unacceptable. Yes, the UK has gone beyond what has been required by EU law, but without the measures adopted by the EU, the encouragement that offered and the legislative background it provided, would we be where we are now? While the Tory government seeks to argue that the protections enshrined in the Charter already exist in British law or will be incorporated through other EU directives, there is really no coherent argument for scrapping it. The Charter is the only international human rights document that contains a provision specifically outlawing discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

She went on to talk about Theresa May dancing her way round Africa but not bringing up the subject of human rights in countries where same sex relationships are punishable by lengthy prison terms or worse.

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WATCH: Jane Dodds speak to Welsh People’s Vote Rally

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds spoke to the Welsh People’s Vote rally yesterday.

A poll this week suggested that Wales, which had voted to leave in 2016 had now changed its mind and also backed a People’s Vote on the deal. This is pretty astonishing given that even 6 months ago, there was a substantial majority of people opposed to a vote.

Watch what Jane had to say here.

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LibLink: Norman Lamb Don’t let science suffer as the collateral damage in Brexit negotiations

Norman Lamb has written for Politics Home about the dangers to science from Brexit. He’s holding a debate today on the issue:

In today’s House of Commons debate, I want to get answers from the Science Minister on whether an accord on science and innovation is going to be struck, and whether the groundwork can be laid so that we can keep vital science collaboration afloat in a no-deal scenario. I also want to hear about whether he is making progress to strike a deal on participation in Horizon Europe—the 100 billion euro programme that will replace Horizon 2020. The Minister

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LibLink: Judith Jolly We must put the best interests of patients first and end the crisis in social care

100,000 people may be having their liberty unlawfully restricted,. That’s a big claim made by Lib Dem Health and Social Care spokesperson Judith Jolly in an article for Politics Home.

She writes about how cross party support is building for amendments to the Mental Capacity Act Amendment Bill aim to ensure that any Deprivation of Liberty Standards are implemented by trained individuals and only after a face to face assessment. It’s scary to think that that doesn’t happen as a matter of course.

I am pleased to see support for these new safeguards building. Indeed, there has been much criticism of the current DoLS system across parliament. The Joint Committee on Human Rights has said the system is broken and urgent action is needed to fix it. The process is overly bureaucratic and lacks the clarity over how DoLS should be implemented and who is responsible for their implementation.

The backlog of DoLS assessments means there are over 100,000 people who may be having their liberty unlawfully restricted, hundreds of care home managers and Mental Capacity Act (MCA) practitioners whose workloads are overwhelmed by process, and thousands of family members struggling to get the best care for their loved ones.

A key part of the reforms gives major responsibilities to care home managers. However, there are currently no provisions in place for how care home managers will manage this new responsibility or deal with any conflict of interests. What the amendments need to ensure is a focus on the resources and training that are necessary to implement a DoLS assessment and to ensure patients’ best interests are met.

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LibLink Christine Jardine: Hard Brexit makes these people fear for their lives

The headlines about the Government stockpiling medicines in the event of a hard Brexit will pass most people by. They’ll dismiss it as Project Fear.

For people with serious long term health conditions, it’s all pretty scary, though. They know that they could well pay the price of right wing Tory Brexiteers’ folly.

Christine Jardine has a friend with Diabetes, who tells her story in Christine’s Scotsman column, describing how she came close to death when he system got out of balance after a  stomach bug:

After 48 hours alone, dehydrated and struggling to breathe – with sky-high blood sugar – I called an ambulance. “I had become so dehydrated my body was no longer absorbing insulin. I lay in the back of an ambulance, unable to drink water unless it was lacing my lips from a sponge on the end of a stick. I was without insulin.

“Wheeled into high dependency, I grasped the consultant’s hand and asked her if I was going to die. “It was a real fear which I now feel again as I think about what crashing out of the EU might do for my health, and others.

“Every morning as I reach for the milk, I glimpse my insulin in the fridge door. “It used to mean nothing. Now, every morning, every evening, I consider how much I could go without. If I give up carbohydrates and sugar completely, how much Novorapid (the type I take to deal with carbs) would I really need? Could I possibly even change my diet so I needed nothing?

“But then there’s Lantus. That keeps me alive over the course of 24 hours. Latent. In the background. But always there. How little would I need? What could I survive on?”

Christine outlined what she intended to do about this:

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LibLink: Layla Moran: The lessons that need learning so teachers are less stressed

Teachers in England are in the middle of their Summer holiday as the Scottish schools prepare to go back next week.

Former teacher and Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran has written for the Yorkshire Post about how to alleviate the stress that teachers are facing in their jobs:

She knows that being a teacher is absorbing and that you are often required to go above and beyond to excel at your job. However, there are extra stresses in the system that shouldn’t be there:

But it is something else altogether when the reasons you find yourself working later and later every night, arriving at work earlier each morning or coming in regularly during your holiday, has nothing to do with genuinely supporting pupils learning. When your work life balance is becoming more and more distorted, you start to have trouble sleeping (which many teachers report) and to top it all off, the public sector pay freeze means you have seen your wages effectively being cut year after year. Is it any wonder that more and more dedicated professionals are being pushed to breaking point, and that we have a crisis in teacher recruitment and retention?

So what would Layla do about it?

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LibLink: Wera Hobhouse: Solving the housing crisis means using the empty houses we’ve already got

Housing spokesperson Wera Hobhouse has written for the Huffington Post about how a Liberal Democrat amendment passed in the Lords this week will help alleviate the housing crisis.

Politicians have a moral obligation to help solve this crisis, and one part of the process must be bringing empty properties back into use. Of course, we must build more homes – 300,000 per year to be precise – but bringing empty properties back into use is an excellent way in the short-term to help families in desperate need of a home, whilst saving valued green belt land from development. Equally, by bringing empty homes back into use, we can help regenerate struggling communities. After all, regions with the highest number of vacant dwellings are often also the areas that have been left behind in terms of economic growth.

Last year was the first year since the recession that the number of empty homes in England did not decrease. This is unsurprising. Tory Government cuts to local authorities hamper their enforcement capabilities. All dedicated empty homes investment programmes, programmes that my colleagues in Coalition fought tooth and nail for including my predecessor in Bath Don Foster, were severed in 2015. It was a 2010 Liberal Democrat manifesto promise to reduce the number of empty homes by 250,000, and that is something they delivered in Coalition and can be incredibly proud of.

t is clear something must be done. The Liberal Democrats strongly supported the calls to double the council tax on empty homes, but now we have gone one step further. Yesterday in the House of Lords, the Liberal Democrat amendment, which increases council tax the longer you leave it empty, has been adopted and passed by Parliament. There are of course exemptions, for example where a resident is in residential or nursing care or when a member of the armed forces serves overseas for long periods. These premiums on council tax are not statutory. Councils have the flexibility to apply them or not.

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LibLink: Layla Moran: Don’t be fooled: The Chequers Plan is economic suicide

You might be fooled into believing, because of the gnashing of teeth amongst the Tory Brexiteers, that the plan thrashed out at Chequers, on which today’s White Paper was based, is hardly any Brexit at all.

Don’t believe that fiction, says Layla Moran, writing for Politics.co.uk.

First, though, she compares and contrasts two holders of that high office of state of Foreign Secretary:

The contrast between Carrington and Johnson is striking. Carrington served in Churchill’s cabinet yet was the more modern figure, seeing the importance of nations working for the common good. Johnson, in contrast, invited a photographer to capture for posterity his

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LibLink: William Wallace Aggressive language from political extremes and media will spark violence against MPs

Our William Wallace writes for Politics Home about the dangers of the language used in political discourse.

Almost at the same time, the Telegraph tweeted this:

Tom Brake was quick to call them out:

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LibLink: Sal Brinton; The NHS can’t work without a sustainable social care system

As the NHS turned 70 this week, Sal Brinton looked back at the development of social care policy and outlined the Government’s failings:

… since 2015, the new Conservative Government has dithered and delayed, repeatedly promising that they would sort out the social care funding problem.

We still await the Green Paper promised in the Conservative 2017 Manifesto – with a side skirmish of the Dementia Tax, a form of inverse Dilnot, which so outraged voters it was dropped mid election.

Councils have faced massive cuts to all services, including making £6bn savings in adult social care since 2010. They are still being

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LibLink: Ed Davey: Terminally ill homeless people are dying on our streets. They deserve dignity like the rest of us

Here’s Ed Davey talking about the latest developments with his Bill to make sure that homeless people who are terminally ill are provided with appropriate accommodation and support. If you thought that this must automatically happen, then you are sadly mistaken.

In an article for …

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LibLink: Wera Hobhouse: Upskirting will prove to be a meteorite to Westminster’s political dinosaurs

Wera Hobhouse has written for the Huffington Post about how Christopher Chope’s objection to her bill to outlaw the awful practice of upskirting brought people together, cross party, to fight for change, giving the bill a new lease of life. She describes how, last week, working with the Justice Minister, the Bill was ready for presentation in the Commons. Then came a bombshell:

The following day we found out that none other than the honourable member for the Jurassic Coast, Sir Christopher Chope, was planning to object to the bill. I lobbied his peers, they lobbied him, I even cornered him and tried to change his mind, but all to no avail. The sad reality is that Chope is sitting on a majority of 25,000, and with no governmental ambitions, feels secure in doing whatever he pleases without fear of retribution. He will block any Private Members Bill on principle, regardless of the bill’s content and merit. On the same day as upskirting, he blocked a bill to make it illegal to stab police dogs, to give carers free parking at hospitals, and has previously blocked a pardon for Alan Turing. The list goes on. True to his word he objected and was subsequently vilified for exactly what he’s been doing for the last 20 years. For a long time he has deliberately restrained progress in this country, and my sympathy for him is limited at best.

Yesterday my bill, which has been adopted by the government, was passed by the House to proceed to the Second Reading Committee. This means the second reading will be much earlier than expected, Tuesday 2 July. This type of legislative journey is very rare and reserved for legislation that is deemed uncontroversial. The decision to move so quickly is testament to how widely the bill is supported, both in Westminster, and across the country. I was glad to see no-one objected yesterday and now that sufficient progress has been made by the government, I have withdrawn my own bill.

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LibLink: Jo Swinson: Seven steps you can take to fight Brexit

Jo Swinson has written for the New European on Brexit. In the style of her excellent book, Equal Power, she explains the problem and then gives you a whole list of things you can do about it.

We wake up to headlines every day which emphasise the many reasons why Brexit is a bad idea. As well as one of the key protagonists and funders of a Leave campaign having more contact with the authoritarian Russian Government than is seemly (for the avoidance of doubt, none would be seemly), the Government’s own papers suggesting we’d run out of

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Jamie Stone’s identity likely “stolen by a drug dealer in Manchester”

In a debate on cyber security this week, Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross MP Jamie Stone talked of his shock at receiving a letter threatening him with a fine and points on his licence for a traffic accident in Greater Manchester.

This is how it all unfolded. The Speaker started it off:

Order. The hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross (Jamie Stone) has just sent me a most gracious letter of apology in respect of a matter for which he has no reason whatsoever to apologise. I think we ought to hear the fella.

Jamie Stone (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross) (LD)

I received a letter last week from Greater Manchester police that informed me that on 18 April I was involved in a vehicle collision in Salford and that, if I am convicted, I will face a fine of £1,000 and get six points on my licence. As many Members will testify, I was in this place on 18 April. This is a clear example of identity theft. Greater Manchester police have been most helpful and told me that it is likely that a drug dealer in Manchester has stolen my identity. You will be interested to know, Mr Speaker, that he has put down my occupation as “cobbler”. I would be interested to know what the Minister has to say.

Mr Speaker

The hon. Gentleman has got his point on the record with considerable alacrity.

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LibLink: Dorothy Thornhill: Harry Potter and my spell as England’s longest serving woman mayor

This month, Dorothy Thornhill stepped down as Mayor of Watford after 16 years in tole. She was always very popular and left a great legacy for her successor, Peter Taylor.

She wrote for the Guardian this week about her years as Mayor, which included supporting the establishment of the Harry Potter Experience.

She looked at the advantages of towns having a directly elected Mayor:

At one level mayors have no more direct power than council leaders. But they have more soft power. You are the mayor of a place, not just the leader of a council. The mandate from the public gives you

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Labour discord over Lewisham East selection as Lib Dem Lucy Salek starts work

Lucy Salek is getting on with her campaign for Lewisham East after being selected by local Lib Dem members last night, just 3 days after the by-election was called.

Labour’s defence of the seat has not got off to the most harmonious start as there has been a row over …

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LibLink: Alex Cole-Hamilton: No such thing as a right to sex

Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton has written a powerful column in the Edinburgh Evening News in which he takes apart the awful “Incel” movement’s bizarre and misogynist arguments.

He lays bare some of the stuff these people believe.

A warped political ideology has germinated in the dark chatrooms of this scene. There are lengthy and rambling discourses which amount to a deranged manifesto, preaching the need for a “global redistribution of sex”. This involves a sexual caste system where women will be forced to have sex with incel men as a punishment for being promiscuous or if they use too much make-up.

There’s no such thing as a right to sex, he points out:

Because there’s a fundamental difference between needs and wants. You need shelter, clean drinking water and access to healthcare, these are your rights. You may want sex, but no human rights lawyer is going to take the fact you aren’t getting any to Strasbourg.

Put simply, if something you want requires the enthusiastic consent of another, then you don’t have a right to it

And education about this is vital:

Whether we’re considering rape or harassment, we need to change our culture and that starts with how we raise our young people. We need to equip our children with an understanding of what an appropriate, respectful relationship looks like. Teaching young people about birth control and STDs is second nature nowadays, but when, as parents or teachers, we awkwardly ask them to carry a condom, we need to have the confidence to, in the same breath, make it clear that obtaining enthusiastic consent is just as, if not more, important.

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Former Conservative Councillor joins Liberal Democrats

Former Torbay Conservative Councillor Mark King has joined the Liberal Democrats. He left the Conservative group on the Council 6 months ago and has now joined us. From Devon Live:

He said: “It is about the failures of the Conservatives to understand the impact of their policies on the bay and the fresh start the Liberal Democrats promise in Torbay and across the UK. I want to see them take control of the bay in 2019.

“I am very concerned about the increasing economic decline of the resort, the increased poverty and deprivation and the growing housing crisis I have tried hard to counter in an Executive role.

“The Liberal Democrats understand the need to generate business and build economic success from the grassroots while ensuring council services meet community needs with the protection of the vulnerable being paramount.

“Anyone who agrees that Torbay needs to see change will know that only the Liberal Democrats can beat the Conservatives under our electoral system. Votes for anyone else just help the Conservatives win.”

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: Creative industries face serious threat from Brexit

Edinburgh relies on the creative industries. For a month a year, the city is home to all sorts of weird and wonderful productions from all over the world during its iconic Festival and accompanying Fringe. It’s not surprising that the city’s Lib Dem MP is a massive supporter of the creative industries. Christine Jardine has written for the Scotsman about the damage Brexit stands to do to evens like the Festival.

She outlines the threat to the creative industries:

UK Music has warned that touring and live events will be at risk because of the potential loss of technical talent from the EU. And all events will lose a valuable stream of talent from the EU. Talent which is its life blood.

But it’s not just the impact on culture. It will have an impact on the tourism it supports. Tourism is worth around £127 billion a year to the UK. That’s about 9 per cent of GDP. Across the UK, it supports approximately 3.1 million jobs. It incorporates about quarter of a million small and medium-sized enterprises. Its growth is on a par with the digital sector we hear so much about.

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LibLink: Ed Davey: New Data Law could lead to more Windrush scandals

There’s a nasty little clause in the Data Protection Bill soon to be finalised by Parliament which means that the Home Office is under no obligation to tell people why they’ve made their decisions.

The Home Office has a fairly consistent record of showing that it needs much more accountability rather than less.

In an article for Politics Home, Ed Davey sets out the issues:

This “immigration exemption” clause would allow the Home Office to cover up its mistakes – indeed, not even find out when it had made a mistake. Because the applicant to the Home Office – or more likely their lawyer – wouldn’t be able to get access to their file, the very information used to make a decision on their future.

So, if the Home Office acts incorrectly, as they have done with Windrush documents, an individual wouldn’t be able to challenge the decision – because they won’t be allowed to know the reasons why they are being thrown out of the country. By using the new law to block the “Subject Access Requests” lawyers use to check the Home Office has got the right information on their client – and even the right person – the Home Office will become party to huge injustices. This could lead to hundreds of deportations of people who have the right to be here – people who are British citizens.

MPs who work week in, week out, know the sheer scale of the mistakes the Home Office make, every day. Latest figures from the Law Society revealed how the Home Office lose 50% of cases on appeal. And specialist lawyers have provided MPs with plenty of examples of gross Home Office errors, where the Home Office gets the wrong identity, reads their own files incorrectly and doesn’t even acknowledge the decisions it previously made about an individual.

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LibLink: Catherine Bearder: Brexit threatens the very fabric of the Good Friday Agreement

The Good Friday agreement works to keep the peace in Ireland and Brexit threatens it, says Catherine Bearder in an article for the New European. She illustrates the difference it has made to one community:

In the early days of the Troubles, the British Army opened a barracks in Forkhill to accommodate around 600 soldiers right next to a housing estate. Helicopters regularly took off and landed over the roofs of these homes, some even damaging them. The army controlled the television signals as well as the street lighting. It was one of the most dangerous places for British soldiers.

No one wants a return to those days.

The residents of Forkhill had been looking towards the future, not the past. On the site of the old barracks they are building a community garden and a wider project called the Peace Forest Ireland Initiative which aims to plant 4,000 trees on both sides of the border in memory of those who died during the Troubles. This is an ex-military site being redeveloped as a clear signal that the local community is moving forward, putting the past behind it.

Brexit puts all that at risk, she argues, so those who have to live with the consequences should get the chance to say if they agree with the Brexit deal:

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