Author Archives: NewsHound

Swinson: EU nationals won’t be convinced by Labour

Buzzfeed has done an analysis of our prospects in this May’s elections. They talked to former LDV co-editor Mark Pack and the party’s Deputy Leader Jo Swinson.

The Party is going after EU Nationals’ votes and has invested in a series of social media adverts targeted at various nationalities.

Swinson said EU nationals would not be convinced by Labour’s stance. “They are pretty furious at the current government and also not too impressed with Labour’s position because Labour are really letting the government off the hook when it comes to Brexit,” she said.

“In terms of the front benches and the direction

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Jess Insall’s clarion call for gender-neutral school uniforms

Given that there has been some comment about this policy proposal in the media and in some Liberal Democrat circles, it seemed like a good idea to publish Jess’s speech to Party Conference this weekend by way of answering some of the sceptics…

Thank you Chair, thank you Conference.

I am bursting for positive change. As a feminist, as an LGBTQ+ rights activist, and as a liberal democrat.

And we are making so many positive changes, but our schools are being caught short. There is one problem that causes so much harm, but is so

Posted in Conference and Party policy and internal matters | Tagged and | 11 Comments

Liberal Democrats call for new housing revolution

The Liberal Democrats are calling for a major overhaul of the powers of local councils to meet the goal of ensuring that everyone in Britain has a home.

The package, passed by the party at its Spring Conference in Southport, calls for new powers that will see local authorities able to build and invest in more affordable and social housing. This includes greater access to borrowing for local authorities, strengthened powers to bring empty homes back into use and the power to direct the use of otherwise unwanted public land. Alongside measures to allow local government to abandon Right to Buy …

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LibLink: Vince Cable: Tories must ditch red lines for the Rock

In this week’s New European, Vince Cable says that the British citizens on Gibraltar must not be sacrificed in the Brexit negotiations.

Clause 24 of the EU 27’s joint negotiating position, published in April last year, included a Spanish veto over the application of any deal between the EU and UK over Gibraltar. Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, said it was “plainly obvious” that such a veto would be part of the EU’s negotiating guidelines. Gibraltar’s chief minister, Fabian Picardo, described clause 24 as “discriminatory and unfair”.

A footnote to the draft legal text of the Withdrawal Agreement published last month confirmed that this veto would also apply to the transitional period. The Gibraltarian government has rightly pointed out that “by its very definition, transition is a continuation of the existing European Union legal border” and therefore this veto cannot apply.

Spain’s claim to Gibraltar is fatally undermined by the statistic that 98% of Gibraltarians want to remain British and there is no sign of that view changing. The Conservatives’ first act in response to the publication of the joint negotiating position should have been to insist on the removal of clause 24 – instead they gave us a general election that further weakened the Prime Minister’s bargaining power in Europe, because she ended up losing her Parliamentary majority.

Fortunately, Spain’s hard-line stance has slightly softened. Foreign minister Alfonso Dastis has been clear that he doesn’t want a border closure, which last occurred under General Franco in 1969. Such a move would be mutually damaging: disastrous for the 13,000 people who live in Spain and work in Gibraltar and leave the Rock with a staff shortage.

But the veto remains and Gibraltar’s politicians have sounded out legal opinions that would see them take the European Commission to court over clause 24.

Moreover, Spain continues to demand joint control of the Rock’s airport, which is, after all, British infrastructure on British soil. This might seem a reasonable suggestion for a post-Brexit relationship, but this should be seen in the context of even the seemingly reasonable Dastis pointing out that “sovereignty is something we aspire to, that we are not renouncing”.

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Lib Dem Councillor Suzy Horton mentioned on Amnesty’s Suffragette Spirit map

Portsmouth Lib Dem Councillor has been named one of Amnesty’s Suffragette Spirit human rights defenders.

Suzy represents the city’s Central Southsea ward. From The News:

While over in Southsea, Councillor Suzy Horton’s dedication to inspiring people to think differently on issues from homelessness to equality.

She recently tabled a motion to commemorate the centenaries of both women’s suffrage in the UK and the election of Portsmouth’s first female councillor.

From an earlier News article:

Liberal Democrat Councillor Suzy Horton has proposed a motion to have a blue plaque installed at number 2 Kent Road,

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WATCH: Layla Moran talk about gender neutral school uniforms

The quality of education only improves if people feel comfortable in what they are wearing

So said Layla Moran on yesterday’s Daily Politics in a discussion about gender neutral school uniforms.

Watch the whole thing here:

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“Cook along with Miriam”

Spotted in Saturday’s Guardian, an article in a series of celebrity cooking with a difference, where Stephen Bush attempts to cook meals suggested by celebrities and comments on how he got on. It would be fair to say that he wasn’t impressed with Paul Newman…

Miriam González Durántez, on the other hand, seems to have been rather more convincing;

On Wednesday I make meatballs. Because González Durántez – or “Notorious MGD” as I have taken to referring to her – is a badass, her recipe for her children’s meatballs includes a glass of white

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TUC General Secretary to meet with cross-party leaders to set out Brexit concerns

The TUC’s General Secretary has accepted an invitation to speak to a group of cross-party opposition leaders about the TUC’s position on Brexit.

Frances O’Grady will meet with the Westminster leaders of the Liberal Democrats, SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party to discuss the need for a Brexit that protects workers’ rights, jobs and livelihoods of millions of people across the UK.

The General Secretary will also set out why the TUC believes that single market membership and customs union should be on the table for the next phase of Brexit negotiations.

The meeting is set …

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: A shadow over the Edinburgh Festival

In an article for the New European, Christine Jardine highlights the threats to our cultural events, most notably the Edinburgh Festival, posed by Brexit:

 

But sadly if our creative industries are not protected world class events like the Festival, Glastonbury, and many others may find that musicians used to touring Europe freely with no issues over EU crew or equipment licenses could find the whole process becomes slower, more expensive and just downright difficult.

They might opt to take up other opportunities on the continent or elsewhere.

Music development organisations and other cultural groups might also find themselves without the vital funding stream previously provided by the EU.

But that is the immediate effect. There could also be collateral damage for one of our other most important industries if they cease to be the cash cows the tourist industry has come to depend on.

And the scale of visitor numbers attracted by the Edinburgh Festival every year demands a huge hospitality sector in which an estimated 50 per cent of the workforce come from other EU states.

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LibLink: Tom Brake: Boris and Davis aren’t the only ones suffering from “Delusionitis”

In an article for the Huffington Post, Lib Dem Brexit Spokesperson forensically takes apart six arguments made by the Tory MP for Sutton and Cheam in a letter to his constituents.

Tom tackled the assertion that the thought of a referendum on the deal would encourage the EU to give us a bad deal.

So far, the negotiations have clearly demonstrated that the EU is in a much stronger negotiating position, with our Government capitulating at every turn. In fact, when asked in December to name a concession that the EU had made, the only thing EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier could think of was that he did not “at this stage insist that the UK should pay the removal costs” for EU agencies. This should come as no surprise as the EU’s GDP is five times larger than ours. In other words, Brexit will damage our economy much more than theirs.

The EU’s position has been clear from the very beginning; The integrity of the Single Market must be protected and is non-negotiable. This does not mean punishing Britain by giving it a bad deal. It simply means that a country that does not accept the four freedoms, the jurisdiction of the ECJ, and contributing to the EU budget, will not enjoy the exact same benefits of the Single Market membership. Neither a Hard Brexit nor a second referendum is going to change the EU’s position. We know what is on offer, and the ball is thus in the Government’s court to decide what type of future relationship with the EU it wants.

He also poured scorn on the idea that the Tories could be trusted to maintain the workers’ rights that the EU currently guarantees:

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Brake: Major is right on Brexit

So, John Major is the latest figure to suggest that a referendum on the Brexit deal might not be a bad idea. 

While he did not enjoy being “out of step” with his party, the stakes were so high than he felt obliged to speak out at such a crucial moment in the negotiations.

“Leaving Europe is an issue so far-reaching, so permanent, so over-arching that it will have an impact on all our lives – most especially on the young and the future,” he said.

“With only 12 months to go, we need answers, not aspirations.”

While he was not actively calling for a further referendum, he said the “option” must remain open to a “sovereign” Parliament to insist upon.

It will not be a surprise that Tom Brake our Brexit spokesperson thinks he’s right:

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LibLink: Jenny Randerson: The drone market is a bit like the Wild West. It needs some rules to make it safe

Lib Dem Transport Spokesperson Jenny Randerson has written for Politics Home about the need for regulation of drones for safety reasons.

So why are they a problem? Apart from the obvious terrorism and defence related issues, there are some more ordinary dangers:

In 2016 the police dealt with 3,456 incidents involving drones; that was 12 times the number of incidents logged in 2014, so the problems – like drone ownership – are growing rapidly.

Possibly the greatest risk is to aircraft. Drones can smash the windscreen or break the rotor blades in the case of helicopters, which would bring the aircraft down. Research

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LibLink : Floella Benjamin : Ministers should seize the baton and get serious on child obesity

As noted this morning, Floella Benjamin had an Oral Question in the House of Lords today on the subject of childhood obesity. On a day when Simon Jenkins is suggesting that obesity is a greater threat for millennials than cannabis (add your own comment there, I suggest), the question of the health of our children is a live one.

In a piece for The House Magazine, Floella, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for a Fit and Healthy Childhood, notes;

From day one, we’ve said that if we are to defeat the obesity

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LibLink: Dick Taverne: The MP who beat Eurosceptics to hang on to his seat

A passionately pro European MP faces deselection by an anti-European local party. What happens then?

You could imagine this scenario unfolding for a fair few MPs today, but one person actually had this happen to him  and he survived. In 1972, Dick Taverne’s local Labour Party in Lincoln deselected him or voting for us to join the then Common Market.

It wasn’t the end of the world for him. He resigned as an MP and fought the subsequent by-election as an Independent and won.

He writes about his experience in this week’s New European to give moral support to any MPs in a similar situation today.

What also swayed a lot of votes was my appeal that politicians should put country first, constituency second and party third.

Burke proved popular. Indeed Roy Jenkins, not a natural populist, temporarily became a popular hero and told me that taxi drivers would wind down their windows if they passed him and shout: “You stick to your guns, mate.”

Are circumstances less favourable for a deselected dissident today? They are probably more favourable. At that time, party loyalties were much stronger than now. When I announced I would stand as an independent, the general view in the media was that I had committed political suicide.

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Layla Moran: I almost left the Lib Dems over tuition fees

Yesterday, Layla Moran talked to Julia Hartley-Brewer about that difficult issue of tuition fees.

Referring to the Lib Dem nightmare on the subject, she said that it was horrible and that she had almost left the party over the failure of our MPs to keep the pledge not to vote for any increase in tuition fees that they had signed during the 2010 election.

Looking to the future, Layla spoke of the importance of maintenance grants for poorer students in improving social mobility.

You can listen to her whole interview on the Talk Radio website here.

She added that the system is “broken” but the idea that university should be free for everyone – and that tuition fees should be abolished, an idea propounded by Jeremy Corbyn – is unsustainable.

When asked by Julia why it is sustainable in other countries, Moran said that those countries cap the number of students who go to university, a comment which brought agreement from Julia, who said the idea that 50% of students are suitable for university education is “laughable.”

In terms of specific ways to improve the education system, Moran says we must restore maintenance grants, the means-tested funding provided to poorer students to cover living costs. She also said that we must take greater care of the 50% who don’t go to university, and offer children more information to help them choose their GCSEs.

Posted in News | 141 Comments

Cable on Davis speech: Brexit Secretary Secretary makes strong case for staying in the EU

In a speech tomorrow, Brexit Secretary David Davis will demand that the UK’s regulatory standards are accepted across the EU post-Brexit. He will ask for “mutual recognition” and “close, even-handed co-operation”.

Responding, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said:

David Davis might as well be making the case for staying in the EU. He appears to be acknowledging the great achievements of the Single Market – a British idea introduced by a British government – yet the Conservatives want to leave that and the Customs Union.

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No love lost on the road to Brexit

Vince’s Valentine’s Day column for Times Red Box contrasted the consistency of the Liberal Democrats on Brexit with the split Labour and Conservative parties. He said that our party was “open to refugees.”

For some MPs, I do anticipate that the myopia of the Labour and Conservative parties could drive them away from their folds. Liberal Democrats, unsurprisingly, have a liberal policy on refugees and will welcome with open arms and an open mind anyone from a different political tradition who wants to join our party. However, many aghast rebels will retain old tribal loyalties but nonetheless choose to vote with the Liberal Democrats on Brexit issues. I welcome that too.

Beyond Westminster, we need an effort in the country to mobilise public opinion on three key points: firstly, that Brexit is not inevitable; secondly, that the best and only democratic way to stop Brexit is through a vote on the final deal; and finally, that the Government’s deal will not be better than staying in the EU. It is in this respect that Liberal Democrats are critical. None of the many groupings springing up to take on the pro-European mantle have what we can bring to the table: a young, enthused membership of 100,000 troops to campaign on the ground.

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Expert health panel calls for ringfenced health and care tax to replace National Insurance

A new tax earmarked solely for the NHS and social care is among the recommendations from a panel of 10 experts in a report on healthcare funding in England commissioned by the Liberal Democrats. This heavyweight report, Health and Social Care: Delivering a Secure Funding Future, will form the blueprint of the Liberal Democrats’ ongoing healthcare policy.

The panel, which includes former chief executives of NHS England, the Royal College of Nursing, and the Patients Association, concluded that the NHS in England needs a real terms funding increase of £4bn in 2018-19 and further real terms increases of £2.5bn in …

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LibLink: Layla Moran: There are no winners from Brexit’s nuclear option

Layla Moran has been writing for the New European on the problems that exiting Euratom, the organisation founded in 1957 to create a specialist market for nuclear power in Europe.

She said:

The government has said it wants a “close association” with the Euratom Research and Training Programme and will seek open trade arrangements for nuclear goods. Both laudable ambitions – but this could all be best resolved by remaining in Euratom instead of creating uncertainty and seeking to negotiate what will certainly be a second rate option. In the meantime, the brilliant nuclear scientists from the EU, working together with their UK colleagues at places like Culham in Oxfordshire, on vital nuclear fusion research, are left in limbo. Some of these people, taking their precious skills with them, have already begun to drift away from the UK.

Then there is the issue of medical radioisotopes. As Mike Galsworthy explained in theNew European last week, these nuclear materials are used in cancer treatments and have very short half-lives, so any delays at borders would diminish the number of doses available. Those in the medical industry are deeply concerned.

What could be more pressing than making sure cancer patients still get treated? Well, it seems that, once again, keeping the fractious Tory party together through insistence on delivering a hard Brexit trumps the national interest.

The Government is keen to play this down, and accuses those who raise it as scaremongers, but the industry needs more than just assurances from the Government that a ‘close relationship’ will be achievable. Industry experts suggest it could take up to seven years to negotiate a treaty as wide-ranging as Euratom so I fail to see how we are going to get this finished in time.

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LibLink: Vince Cable: With 100 Lib Dem peers, Brexiters are coming on to our turf

Vince Cable has written for Politics Home about what the Lib Dem peers hope to achieve with the EU Withdrawal Bill:

He summarises where we are. As public opinion turns against Brexit, Labour just wants to make it more extreme:

This is why Jeremy Corbyn’s announcement this weekend that the “ship has sailed” on staying in the EU is so bizarre. At best, this shows he does not have the stomach for the fight; at worst, it reveals what many of us have long suspected given his decades of Parliamentary opposition to the EU – that he wanted out all along.

Either way,

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Lib Dems “most sweary peers in House of Lords”

Something to amuse you on a dark January evening from iNews:

Our Lib Dem Lords make six out of the top ten profane peers

Six of the top 10 “sweary peers” are Lib Dems, with Baroness Sarah Ludford leading the pack with 51 profanities in 2017. It’s a pretty admirable feat given that peers only managed to score 287 swears between them across the whole year.

They have been joking about it on Twitter:

The Leader of the our Lords group was perhaps upset that he didn’t make the list:

Sarah Ludford was modest:

Liz Barker is such a diplomat:

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Vince talks about his attitude to money

Vince has been talking to occasional LDV contributor York Membery for the Sunday Times. The interview focused on personal finances.

He says he is definitely better off than his parents:

Undoubtedly, although they were pretty comfortable by the end of their working lives. My parents, Len and Edith, were factory workers and left school at 15, like most people of their generation. But my father was strong on self-improvement. He became a lecturer at a technical college and through a combination of hard work and savings we progressed from a terraced house with an outside loo to a detached house.

This is not something that younger generations can expect.

His first job was in Kenya:

Working as a finance officer for the Kenyan treasury. I was there for two years from 1966 and was paid as a Kenyan civil servant, so my salary was quite modest. It was a fantastic job and I got married while I was out there but never planned to stay. My eldest son now runs a social enterprise that is doing some great work starting up schools in Kenya, so we’ve maintained the family connection with the country.

Vince says he’s a spender rather than a saver:

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Paddy: Trump’s tweets could trigger war

Paddy Ashdown has been speaking to PoliticsHome about the development of UK foreign policy in the age of Trump and how the US President’s unpredictable actions have an unsettling impact on the world.

“It does not mean that the Atlantic axis is going to be less important, but it ceases to be our primary axis on which to base our defence and probably our foreign policy as well.”

“That relationship must be much more mature, where both sides realise that there will be times when their interests in the world diverge,” he explains, citing US policy on Iran and Israel as two examples.

Beyond these ‘differing interests’ Ashdown presses the Government to  distance itself from the “irrational” Trump approach on “tinder pile” issues like North Korea.

He says the Trump tactic – of mocking and baiting Kim Jong Un on Twitter, alongside battle-cry threats of “fire and fury” – simply creates a space for North Korea to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul, as shown by its offer of talks and participation in the upcoming winter Olympics in South Korea.

“We are used to a US president who is careful, thoughtful, intelligent and well informed, and we don’t have that now at the moment at all,” Ashdown laments.

“I can see five piles of tinder around the world, any one of which through inadvertence, stupidity or just blundering could be set alight… any one of which could have the capacity to ignite a much wider conflagration. And you want somebody blundering around the world, firing off tweets? In these very difficult circumstances I don’t think that’s the way to make a safer world. In a world as fragile, turbulent and close to war on several fronts as ours, I don’t think that’s a balanced and wise strategy.”

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Inquiry needed into questionable decisions around Carillion – Cable

Responding to reports that Carillion is to go into liquidation, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

In the light of today’s announcement that Carillion plc has gone into liquidation, Vince Cable has called for urgent action;

The government must now take responsibility for the big contracts run by Carillion, or re-tender them, to keep the supply chain going and protect thousands of jobs. Ministers must minimise the damage to the capacity of the construction industry.

We also urgently need a parliamentary inquiry into some of the very questionable decisions made in the past few months, not least the award of

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Vince, Christine, Jo and Layla marked out as politicians to watch in 2018

Over at HITC, Richard Wood has produced a list of politicians to watch this year.

Vince Cable, Layla Moran and Christine Jardine get mentions:

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has failed to make much of an impact this year. But with the Brexit drum beating louder than ever before, and the UK just one year away from exiting the EU, Brexit anxiety will likely increase, thus resulting in Cable rising to prominence. Cable and his party will likely capitalise on remain sentiment, but can he expand on that and turn the Liberal Democrats into more than just the anti-Brexit party?

Keep an …

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LISTEN: Willie Rennie: My mission this year is to stop Brexit

Listen to Willie Rennie’s start of year interview with BBC Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland.

He said that public opinion was shifting in favour of a referendum on the final deal.

The Liberal Democrats’ fortunes were improving too, with more MPs, more members and running more councils.

We have constantly raised concerns about the running of Police Scotland and the way the Scottish Police Authority works and he said it was time for a root and branch review of the Authority after it invited the under-investigation chief constable to return to work before the conclusion of the enquiry into his conduct.

Listen to the whole thing here.

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LibLink: Robin Teverson: We should clean up our own mess, not export it to China

Lib Dem Peer Robin Teverson has written for Politics Home about the effect of China’s ban on the importation of low grade waste should be a wake up call for us to sort out how we deal with this problem.

China’s import ban, at a stroke, destroys the business model of the UK waste industry, together with its supply chain. The knock-on effects are huge, impacting local authorities and business.

But the UK has been slow to react. Defra is working overtime on Brexit agricultural and fisheries reform, producing a two-years late 25-year environmental plan, getting thousands of EU environmental laws onto the post-Brexit UK statute book. Michael Gove, no less, admitted to the Environmental Audit Committee that he had been taken unawares.

Lack of progress in waste policy, especially in England, has been a contentious issue for some time, not least with a frustrated waste industry. Scotland and Wales have been more ambitious in finding solutions for the future. That lack of focus, in England especially, is no longer an option.

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LibLink: Vince Cable What can be done to help street sleepers?

Some people were concerned that when Vince became leader, the high priority given to housing and homelessness during Tim Farron’s tenure in the top job might be lost.

Tim famously got involved in politics after watching Cathy Come Home.

However, those concerns were allayed at Christmas when helping homeless people was the focus of his Christmas Message and he has written further about those experiences in his regular column for his local paper, the Richmond and Twickenham Times.

He wrote about the various circumstances that had forced people he had met to sleep on the streets.

One man I talked to, who had lived for ten years under the arches of Waterloo Bridge, had never recovered from violence he experienced at home as a child from an alcoholic mother; he survives by selling “The Big Issue”.

But others have been forced onto the streets by the vagaries of unstable employment, expensive rents and inadequate or unavailable benefits.

I met a young man sleeping out in Covent Garden who was a chef, looking for work, who couldn’t afford the rent until his next job. Another had fallen through the cracks of Universal Credit, forced out of his home by lack of cash for the landlord.

He highlighted the aspects of welfare reform which caused so many problems.

So what can be done?

We need more emergency hostels – currently facing funding cuts which will hit provision by the Salvation Army and the YMCA.

There has to be a rethink of some of the brutal welfare cuts. The warm words about building affordable housing have to be supported by government action.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged and | 28 Comments

Former Conservative Camden Council Deputy Leader joins Liberal Democrats

Welcome, Andrew Marshall.

Andrew, who is still a Councillor in Camden but who resigned from the Tories last year, explained his reasons to the Ham and High

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Vince reflects on 2017, looks forward to an exit from Brexit and expresses Strictly anger.

This time last year, Vince Cable was looking forward to potentially winning the bad sex award for his novel Open Arms. He certainly wouldn’t have thought that by the end of 2017, he’d not only be re-elected as MP for Twickenham but would be leading the Liberal Democrats.

That his failure to pick up the said bad sex award was his low point of the year shows how spectacular 2017 has been for him.

He talked to Politico about his hopes for 2018. It’s simple, really.

To secure referendum on stopping Brexit. And winning it.

His lesson learned in 2017, “never to give up,” may help him to that goal.

His high point of 2017 wasn’t winning back his seat or the leadership, but something much closer to his heart.

My younger son happily married.

He was asked about his favourite tv show or movie from the year and he didn’t shy away from the controversy over the treatment of Alexandra Burke during Strictly.

Strictly Come Dancing.” Dancing addict. But got very cross over final.

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    When was our country last well led?
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  • User AvatarPeter Martin 25th Sep - 7:38am
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  • User AvatarPeter Watson 25th Sep - 12:21am
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