Author Archives: Rosina Robson

Bitter sweet: ALDE Congress in Amsterdam

I have mixed feelings as I come back from my third ALDE Congress (Alliance of Liberal and Democratic parties across Europe), this time in Amsterdam, one of the most liberal cities in the world. It’s energising to spend time with liberals from across Europe, and the largest Congress yet of 1500 people, knowing that we share values of openness, internationalism and environmentalism. Some countries are so liberal like the Netherlands and Finland, that they even have two liberal parties!

There was sad news that the UK representative on the ALDE party bureau, Baroness Ros Scott was not reelected to her position as Vice Chair. Colleagues from other parties like the FDP (Free Democratic Party) in Germany commiserated and said ALDE should look for ways to continue to collaborate with the UK. This is wise considering a sizeable proportion of the resolutions for voting and discussion by the congress were well-informed and well-drafted by the UK delegation on a range of issues from Iran and Myanmar to LGBT rights, and the Balfour Declaration.

The reoccurring theme in the conference debates focused on how we, as liberals, can combat populism and illiberal voices. Xavier Bettel, PM of Luxembourg (one of 5 liberal PMs in the EU and my favourite) said that we need to fight for our values every day. We should speak to the majority, engage with people who hold different views from us, talking about real issues that matter to people and think in dreams not fear.

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Tagged | 6 Comments

ALDE Congress in Warsaw: A Europe for everyone

Hotfoot from the Richmond Park by-election, I arrived at ALDE Congress in Warsaw on Friday. This was my second trip to this annual event, which sees the Alliance of Liberal and Democratic parties across Europe get together to discuss the hot topics of the day. I was part of a 40-strong Lib Dem UK delegation. I wondered how welcome the UK delegation would be in light of Brexit – but I was pleased to find a buzz around our recent by-election win.

The annual meeting showed the obvious benefits in the current climate of sharing campaign ideas and tactics on countering the rise of far right parties – a prevalent theme across Europe. Some good practice and tips included the need to have a positive vision (the Remain campaign struggled with this), to communicate in primary colours, and tap into feelings and identities which matter to the electorate.

A reoccurring topic for debate was the rise of technology and the associated rise in unemployment, an issue that Trump took advantage of, without putting forward any obvious solutions. Technology does not have a neutral impact, so how do we encourage politicians to debate and influence so that there are more winners than losers in the future? The same applies to distributing the benefits of free movement and markets more fairly. The response is in part a continual skills revolution, ensuring that young people are skilled as they move from education into employment, and that experienced workers have access to lifelong learning.

Posted in News | Tagged | 9 Comments

What I learned when I cycled through Palestine

Rosina Credit Rugfoot PhotographyJust as tensions began to rise in Israel and the West Bank, I undertook a cycle and study tour of Palestine organised by Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP). We covered around 200km in five days in 40oC heat – at the time if it felt like the cycling version of the Sahara’s ‘marathon des sables’. I’ve read a lot about the situation in Palestine over the years but nothing could really prepare me for what I saw and experienced in that single week.

Over five days, the sponsored ride took us from Nablus in the North to the enclave town of Qalquilya then on to Ramallah. We then swept down into the Jordan Valley to Jericho and the Dead Sea, 300m below sea level to then climb the next day up to Hebron and back on the final day through Bethlehem to Jerusalem. We were never far from the tensions with Ramallah city going into ‘lock down’ with roads closed not long after we left and one of our group getting trapped in the Al-Aqsa mosque as violence grew in Jerusalem.

What we saw was the suffocating pressure faced by Palestinians in every part of their existence and the resolve needed just to do the day-to-day things we take for granted. The general sense of unease was apparent walking around Jerusalem where there was a heavy military presence and the Jewish civilian settlers were openly carrying hand guns in the street.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 3 Comments
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