Author Archives: NewsHound

LibLink: Guy Verhofstadt writes about the need for a new politics in Britain

We seldom consider the view of British politics from beyond our shores, something even Liberal Democrats are poor at. So, here’s a perspective from someone whose view matters, regardless of what his opponents might say…

Guy Verhofstadt has written for Project Syndicate on what he sees as being necessary for Britain to move beyond Brexit. He starts with a précis of the current position;

The populist revolts in the United States and the United Kingdom have each reached a critical juncture. At the start of his third year in office, US President Donald

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Vince Cable tells Theresa May, “the votes may be there for a People’s Vote”

Yesterday, Vince Cable wrote to Theresa May, offering her a way to solve her Brexit crisis…

Prime Minister

I appreciate the opportunity to have had a proper conversation with you about our views on the way forward on Brexit and my colleagues have had a useful discussion with yours about the practicalities of a referendum and its timing. We have followed up the discussions with a note to David Liddington setting out our views on how a People’s Vote could be organised quickly.

Our positions are, at first sight, far apart. But I reiterate the point that, as it currently stands, your plan

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LibLink: Alistair Carmichael: A People’s Vote is the only way for our country to move forward

Alistair Carmichael emerges from the shadows of his Chief Whip’s role to make the case for a People’s Vote in the Herald in his own inimitable style. First he sets the scene.

Instead of trotting out platitudes (“Brexit means Brexit” – remember that one?) and promising the undeliverable to the insatiable on her own right wing and the DUP (we shall leave the Customs Union AND have no hard border between the North and the South AND we shall have no border in the Irish Sea) she could have built a consensus in the House of Commons.

There are two obstacles to sorting this out – one is May’s intransigence. The other is Jeremy Corbyn:

Challenged in yesterday’s confidence debate the self-styled Leader of The Opposition was unable to say whether, in the event of winning his general election he would press ahead with Brexit or not. That apparently would be up to his party.

When I asked him then if he would follow the policy endorsed by his party members at their conference in September and back a people’s vote after the confidence motion had failed his answer was also less than unequivocal.

As they might have said aboard the Starship Enterprise, “It’s leadership, Jim, but not as we know it”.

The Lib Dems first came up with the idea of a People’s Vote two years ago and it didn’t exactly catch on:

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WATCH: Jo Swinson argue with Labour’s Richard Burgon

It’s not the wisest thing in the world to take down someone who agrees with you and is instinctively going to do what you want.

Shadow Labour Justice Spokesperson Richard Burgon was excessively grumpy with Jo Swinson this evening.

Having gone on about how the big enemy was the Conservatives, he chose to then go on the attack about the Coalition. You’d never think that Labour had been propping up the Conservatives and enabling their Brexit shambles. Any half competent main opposition party would have made sure that Theresa May was coming back from Buckingham Palace in a taxi within an hour of tonight’s vote.

Jo handled it really well.

Jon Snow intervened to tell Richard hew as being “awfully beastly.”

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Don’t leave it to someone else

At the end of last year, the local party in Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk chose Jenny Marr to fight the seat at the next General Election.

She’s written about the importance of getting involved in the political process by voting and beyond for the Scot Women Stand website.

It’s another thing to add to the to do list, isn’t it?

And of course first you have to register to do it.

Then there’s the wading through of manifestos, trying to understand policies, which are not exactly the work of Shakespeare. Then there’s the appeal of Love Island or similar which are just too all-consuming to consider anything else.

Been there, got the t-shirt. Trust me, I understand.

But what is the alternative? Be left out? Let your voice go unheard?

I know its certainly true that many politicians need to be better at keeping in touch. But don’t allow the laziness of some to block your participation.

Your voice is worth so much more than that.

Women have the right to tell their story, and have fought for that right – some are still fighting. And part of that is through putting a cross on a ballot paper in the privacy of the polling booth.

It’s your school, it’s your health centre, it’s your money. And it goes deeper than that. It’s your grandma who can’t get her flu jab this year, it’s your child whose classroom is too small, or their resources too few. It’s your hard-earned taxes.

Don’t exclude yourself from the narrative. Don’t overthink it. Don’t leave it to someone else.

Sometimes someone in your life is a bigger influence than they were ever able to know.

My Grandad, who died when I was just eight, was a Cllr in the North of England.

He was an advocate for, and passionate defender of, local democracy and local government.

He believed in “parish pump politics”, of chewing the fat in the Market Square and fixing problems as a community. Before local government was reorganised, and Councils became much bigger, he said “We have our grumbles and grouses, but at least the system had a soul.”

More than that, the community had a voice, and used it.

They used it by voting.

Politicians are like everyone else. They have their strengths and weaknesses and certainly none of them are perfect.

And if you want to make sure the right ones are hired and fired coming polling day, you can.

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Generosity, compassion, 3am phone calls and no watching rugby – David Laws’ heartfelt tribute to Paddy

It’s still hard to get our heads round the fact that Paddy is no longer with us.

So many tributes have been paid to him. One particularly touching one was published on Somerset Live at the weekend. David Laws, who worked for Paddy and who succeeded him as MP for Yeovil, talked about life with this great character. Here’s an extract:

But those who knew Paddy best, most valued his personal qualities, not the titles or impressive CV.

He was a voracious worker, a natural leader, a person of great courage and conviction, and of a generous, compassionate and progressive spirit. He was, also, a deeply loyal friend and loving family man.

Politics is generally a profession of long hours and hard work, in spite of its reputation. But even in this field, Paddy was exceptional. Work was completed swiftly, with ruthless efficiency.

Party conference speeches had reached draft number 20, a month before they were needed. No holiday of his was ever truly a rest. No hour in the morning was too early for an urgent call, no time at night too late.

Indeed, Paddy once asked me to keep my pager to hand after 2am, in case he needed to be in touch “around 3am”!

And he never, ever, stopped. I remember telling him, after we had completed one lengthy five-hour Advice Centre in Yeovil on a Saturday, that I was going home to see a rugby match on TV.

“What!”, he said, “Spend over two hours doing nothing but watching sport?”

He was genuinely mystified that anyone could want to stop productive work for so long.

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LibLink: Olly Grender Paddy Ashdown leaves behind a legacy of profound decency and kindness

Olly Grender, who for so long was one of Paddy Ashdown’s closest colleagues, has written a lovely tribute to him in the New Statesman.

She highlights how he was willing to say things that weren’t popular but showed his commitment to liberal and humanitarian values:

“As Liberal Democrat leader (from 1988-1999) he “banged on about Bosnia” every week in parliament, to the groans of most MPs, but he was vindicated: a humanitarian atrocity was happening on Europe’s doorstep. He fought for the Hong Kong Chinese to obtain British citizenship, a deeply unpopular position

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LibLink: Christine Jardine Death at Westminster shames world’s fifth largest economy

In her Scotsman column this week, Christine Jardine has what she calls a “proper pointy-fingered rant” about homelessness:

“I won’t use the word I’m thinking, it’s what you might term unparliamentary language. Let’s just leave it at I am disappointed. Yes, there are often social, medical or family issues responsible for people sleeping rough, and most people who are homeless are not on the street. I also agree that we need to tackle those issues in very different and specific ways. Building more houses will not help those who need social care, perhaps because they got into a spiral

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LibLink: Layla Moran: MPs should not get Christmas off in the middle of this Brexit crisis

MPs should be in Parliament sorting out the Brexit crisis, argues Lib Dem MP Layla Moran in an article for Times Red Box (£). She put up the text on her Facebook page:

It’s time to cancel Christmas. Well, for MPs at least.

I’ve been struggling to put into words my anger and frustration at this clustershambles of a government and this inept official opposition over the past few days.

In the real world outside this Westminster bubble, any company facing such an existential crisis would not allow its executives time off. Let’s not forget that we are less than 100 days away from an event so theoretically cataclysmic in the case of no deal that soldiers have been put on standby to prepare for it.

People understandably expect us to be in the office and sorting things out — Christmas or no Christmas. It is time for MPs to step up and get this national crisis sorted.

Leaving this crisis unresolved until January makes parliament look so inept and out of touch to the voters who rightly expect better. Billions of pounds is being spent by the government on preparing for a no deal and as businesses, the NHS and other public services start to put in place no-deal contingencies, parliament could not look any more out of touch — taking weeks off for Christmas while the fire burns all around us.

Liberal Democrats demand better — by having these debates and the meaningful vote now. If that means we have to vote between Christmas and new year, or even on Christmas Day itself, then so be it.

It is worth saying that claims that the choice is between Theresa May’s deal or no deal are a lie. A no-deal scenario can and will be stopped. We can move to a public vote on the deal at any time and moreover parliament can revoke article 50 if necessary. The government needs to stop trying to hoodwink us into believing that no deal is still on the table.

But to get to that point there are hoops we need to jump through first. Let’s get the inevitable defeat out the way so we can move on and find a way forward.

Let’s get on with the vote of no confidence (if Jeremy ever decides to do some opposing). Lib Dems, SNP, Plaid and the Greens have put down a proper confidence motion compliant with the rules of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. All it takes is for Jeremy to add his signature.

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LibLink: Olly Grender: The sooner the Renters’ Rights Bill becomes law, the sooner tenants get a fair deal

A bill going through its final parliamentary stages cuts letting agents’ fees for tenants. This is down to the hard work of Lib Dem Peers, mainly Olly Grender. She writes for Politics Home about what this will mean for people:

When I first proposed this change in 2016 through a Private Member’s Bill, it was a flat “no” from the Conservative Government.  However, they could not keep ignoring the overwhelming evidence that people on low incomes or benefits who were renting privately were being ripped off with shocking admin fees.

The worst part is that families who are evicted or cannot afford a rent rise are pushed into homelessness by the astronomical up-front admin fees.  The option to move is not feasible, as even when they try to move to a cheaper home, agents were charging both landlord and tenant these up-front fees. With homelessness continuing to rise, and the leading cause being the end of a private rented sector tenancy, it is clear reform is needed – and fast. This is why this Bill is so vitally important. The double dip with both landlord and tenant being charged these extortionate fees will soon be a thing of the past and this change in the law cannot come soon enough.

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LibLink: William Wallace: Tories will have to spend to build a better Britain

Lib Dem Peer William Wallace has been writing for the Yorkshire Post about how building a fairer society doesn’t come cheap.

Theresa May ended her statement to the Commons last Monday, postponing the intended Brexit vote, ‘on a personal note.’   She spoke of her commitment to improve public services, to tackle social injustices, ‘to make this a country that truly works for everyone, a country where nowhere and nobody is left behind.’

She might have a problem with that, though, however right she might be:

But any serious attempt to address them is likely to be opposed as vigorously by her right-wing as her plans for a soft Brexit.  A major effort to revive Britain’s poorer towns and regions, to redress the visible injustices in our society, and to restore the quality of our public services, means raising and spending public money on a large scale.  And the Conservative Party is committed to shrinking state spending further.

Although it’s an ideological thing for the Conservatives, all parties have to understand that better public services need higher taxes.

The Conservative Party is as deeply divided over taxation and public spending as over the EU. Moderate Conservatives recognise that the role of the state includes investment in education and welfare, research and development, roads, railways and other key public goods. But the Conservative Right has been much influenced (and financially supported) by American Republicans, ‘Libertarians’ who believe that governments should intervene and spend as little as possible.They believe as passionately in lower taxes as in hard Brexit.

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Lib Link: Vince Cable Human rights day: Demand better for freedom and dignity

Vince Cable has written an article for Human Rights Day over on the party website. It’s 70 years today since the International Declaration on Human Rights was signed.

On 10th December 1948, history was made. The United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In the shadow of the Second World War, the nations of the world came together to declare that everyone – no matter who they are and where they live – has the same fundamental rights.

With one voice, we pledged to “strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance.”

That was a mission statement for the world. But it equally serves as a mission statement for the Liberal Democrats today.

We are committed to promoting and protecting human rights, here in the UK and around the world.

And, as we celebrate the momentous step that was taken 70 years ago today, we must also rededicate ourselves to that mission.

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LibLink:: Christine Jardine: Refugees like Alan Kurdi are still dying in the Med

In her Scotsman column, Christine Jardine highlighted the plight of asylum seekers.

According to the group Medecins Sans Frontieres, there is now no search and rescue taking place in the Mediterranean. Only the Libyan coastguard is picking up people in its waters and taking them to detention centres. So far this year, it is estimated that 1,277 lives have been lost, many of them children. It’s only a little over three years since public opinion in this country and across the globe was outraged by the image of a toddler – three-year-old Alan Kurdi – lying dead in the breaking waves on a Mediterranean beach.

But when those hopeless faces of refugees off the Kent coast appeared on my TV screen this week, I had a moment of doubt. I’m not convinced we are currently living up to the reputation of those previous generations.

She also highlighted the plight of those who do make it here:

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Lib Link: Willie Rennie Brexit’s promises have fallen through so a People’s Vote must be held

In the Scotsman, Willie Rennie sets out the case for a People’s Vote in the wake of a woefully inadequate Brexit Deal that satisfies nobody.

Do we sit by as Rees-Mogg’s band of Brexit followers try to force us out of Europe with no deal? No. This is the time to rally for a People’s Vote. When Parliament is so divided it’s time to return it to the people. Growing numbers of people support the move to a People’s Vote. People are signing up every day. This deal satisfies no one, regardless of whether they voted leave or remain. Brexit will

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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:

Posted in LibLink | Tagged and | 32 Comments

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?

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 18 Comments

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.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged and | 9 Comments
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