Author Archives: Rebecca Hanson

In praise of being a by-election candidate

It’s 18 months since Jamie Reed resigned as the MP for Copeland, forcing a very unexpected by-election.

I’d never intended standing for parliament.  I was very content running my own business and being a local (lowest level – unpaid) Councillor, campaigning on a local issue I was passionate about (keeping our maternity services).

Copeland was not a winnable seat (we had no Lib Dem councillors there and all the Lib Dems were in Stoke fighting Nuttall) but by-elections command a lot of party and media attention, so being the candidate gave me the chance to do many things I couldn’t have done in an unwinnable seat in a general election for example:

– Copeland contains Sellafield – the hub of the nuclear industry.  Our nuclear experts were very worried about the consequences of the UK pulling out of the Euratom agreement as part of Brexit.  Lord Teverson and Baroness Featherstone helped me get this issue rapidly on the Westminster agenda.  Because I was raising it in Copeland, the main party candidates had to know about it so their parties had to help them and this issue quickly gained cross party attention.

– I was also very concerned about a particularly toxic academy issue we faced.  The other candidates didn’t properly understand it but by raising it again and again and explaining it in depth at hustings I was able to make sure they did.  To her credit, Trudy Harrison (the elected Conservative MP) has got herself onto the Education Select Committee and is working hard on this issue.

– I was able to drive forward my work on our maternity issues with the help of Norman Lamb, Baroness Brinton and the local media.

 – I was able to be a role model for the kind of evidence-based inclusive democracy I believe in, for example I was able to set up hustings in areas that felt neglected.

I got high level training on working with the media and plenty of experience.  I got the support of very experienced politicians and my fantastic agent Andy Sanger and so was able to learn a great deal very quickly.

The credibility I gained during the by-election meant that I was elected to Cumbria County Council last May.  From there I’ve been able to continue to protect maternity services and I’ve been able to have a positive impact on more issues than I can count.  

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , and | 6 Comments

Opinion: Education issues at conference?

student_ipad_school - 175What are your current concerns about education policy?  Please do raise them in the comments to this post.  I’ll be meeting with the Liberal Democrats Education Association (LDEA) committee on Sunday and will be able to quote them in discussions where appropriate.

Personally I’ll be focusing on two issues at conference.  I’m very disappointed to see that my policy for reform to public sector regulation and in particular to Ofsted is not in the pre-manifesto. I’ll be attempting to ensure that is addressed at the public sector reform debate on Sunday afternoon.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 20 Comments

Opinion: I sat on the fence for a long time

Alex Salmond - License Some rights reserved by Ewan McIntoshIn history independence (or partition) often leads to a rise in racism, disaffection, poverty, hatred and instability.  I was looking for evidence that Scottish independence wouldn’t do that.

I was looking for intelligent leadership with a coherent vision which would unite Scotland to reassure me that the positives of independence (which would include faster and more sensitive feedback loops for Scottish policy) would outweigh the negatives.  In the early stages of the campaign I saw signs of what I was looking for.

My first …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 58 Comments

Opinion: How the world has changed since the Orange Book was published

Earth Day 2007 - Atlantic ReflectionIt’s so commonplace for politicians to publish their thoughts on policy for public debate now that it’s hard to understand the furore which prevented the Orange Book having a public launch when it was first published in 2004.

Yesterday’s Orange Book – 10 years on  conference finally celebrated the way in which contributors to the Orange Book raised the standard of debate about liberalism by exposing their views to rigorous scrutiny and by doing so challenging others to do the same. Amongst a very tempting variety of …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 59 Comments

Opinion: Radioactive waste consultation – a loss of public trust

Sellafield - some rights reserved by dog on wheelsOn Wednesday 30th January Cumbria County Council voted not to proceed with a consultation to explore Cumbria being the host of a high level radioactive waste repository. This left Ed Davey with a problem.

The problem is very substantial and urgent as there are facilities at Sellafield full of decaying and highly toxic waste including B30 and B38, which are considered to be the most hazardous buildings in Western Europe. These structures are in a deteriorating condition

Posted in Op-eds | 50 Comments

Opinion: A serious blow to Gove’s Red Guard – How will the Lib Dems respond?

Michael Gove’s and Sir Michael Wilshaw’s plans to use Ofsted to drive up standards in schools have been much vaunted in the press recently.

Hit squads of inspectors started arriving in schools in January to force the ‘satisfactory’ schools into special measures and to force schools to rapidly rid themselves of their ‘satisfactory’ teachers. The fact that ‘satisfactory’ is a categorisation used for all qualities of service about which there is no cause for concern and which often includes highly regarded practices which don’t tick the boxes Ofsted has defined for higher classifications (especially in teaching) does not concern them.

But it is …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 44 Comments
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