Author Archives: Richard Kilpatrick

Champion the North of England

The Devolution agenda looks almost dead in the water to the eagle-eyed journalist looking for the first hint of a Government U-turn on the once flagship Conservative Party policy. 6 months on from the metro-mayor elections the big tests of devolution look to be too hard for its students.

The Northern Powerhouse, once the standard bearer for a new, devolved relationship which will finally bring the capital investment and foreign investment the region so desperately needs, is just a name. Like a flash in the pan celebrity it is now resigned to the history books or to the occasional nostalgic op-ed. Infrastructure investment withdrawal was the last in a list of governmental disappointments.

In the dark, cold corners of the Northern Cities however, things may not seem all lost. Sure, political leadership may be dead in these bastions of ex-industry and trade, but then there was not much of it in the first place. 6 months of political leadership in the hands of a Mayor with devolved budgets and more responsibilities than ever before has left me feeling… nothing.

No mayor policy leads, no new initiatives and certainly nothing to score a single political point in either the town hall or Westminster. Not even my own Manchester, home of science and industry, symbol of human endeavour, birthplace of the alternative can champion devolution under its leader Andy Burnham. That maybe unfair – he did announce the “oyster card for Manchester”, which though promised during the election has failed to live up to billing.

Manchester is the poster-boy of devolution. Its combined authority doesn’t just accept the economic geography of the region, it champions it. The increasing service industry and investment has weathered the financial storm and come out the other side. Cranes and girders litter the skyline. In South Manchester house prices have recovered and booming.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 9 Comments

Opinion: It is the end of the two-state solution that will bring peace to Gaza

Israeli children visit Palestinian village of Tuwani and participate in bilingual activities together - Some rights reserved by delayed gratficationThere are many times throughout history where man has stood by and allowed inhumanity to win the day. One of few positives that can be taken from these days is that human behaviour can be observed, patterns emerge and those that are left can begin to understand, to learn. But there are times when lessons are forgotten. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is humanity’s greatest forgotten lesson. It is time to face up to hard truths and if we fail to do so we legitimise the deaths of thousands more men, women, children, Israeli and Palestinian. Liberal Democrats were strong advocates for a two-state solution, long ago when the facts was shrugged off by Labour and Conservative administrations. We should not succumb to the same mistake.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 20 Comments

Opinion: Defining ourselves will heal the fractions

preambleUnderstanding the European and local elections is important to how we heal as a party. It has been the hardest election defeat to take for various reasons. Firstly that the Liberal Democrat MEP team were truly incredible; hard working and respected across Europe for delivering the most they can for their regions. Secondly because of how the grass roots reacted to the results. Finally, and most lamentably, we lost our MEPs to the politics of fear, hatred and blame.

I am unapologetically pro-coalition and a strong supporter of Clegg’s leadership. He has …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 48 Comments

Opinion: Emerging markets could mean the end of the elephant, but it’s not too late

For some years I have been sponsoring an African Elephant called Grace. It was a birthday present that I have never had the heart to cancel. She is fortunate enough to live in a conservation area in Kenya. Grace is one of approximately 400,000 African Elephants still alive in the world, their population having been slashed by 50% since 1989, driven predominantly by the ivory trade. Despite an increasing shift in western attitudes very little has changed. Ever expanding globalisation and the economic crisis has resulted in several fluctuations in ivory demand, perpetuated by international ivory trade deals that have …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 2 Comments

Opinion: We need zero tolerance for zero hours contracts

Lego WorkersThis week Labour began to move the economic debate away from deficit reduction to living standards. It really is a shame that the party elected in 1997 to tackle social mobility and subsequently failed to shorten the gap between the richest and poorest in our society now seem to stand up for working families in hard economic times. Wednesday saw Ed Miliband’s dismal attempt to rekindle his relationship with the TUC but for me he did touch on an issue close to my heart; he committed to legislating to curb the use of zero hour contracts.

I have to admit a special interest, I have worked for a company that uses zero hour contracts for about a year. I myself am not on a zero hour contract. I am also a student and understand the level of flexibility that is required by some people. However I refuse to accept that flexibility cannot be achieved while providing income stability, holiday pay and a safety net for when you fall ill. It is also not constructive for a company to build a relationship with its staff using zero hour contracts resulting in a large staff turnover and an unhealthy competition for hours.

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Tagged , and | 4 Comments
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