Author Archives: Siobhan Mathers

What can we learn from the Danish referendum?

Lying Eurosceptics and grey drizzle; close polls and an air of dread amongst Liberals fearing a No vote; and political elites pitted against voters who don’t trust them. Sound like a British Euro Referendum campaign? Well no, that was Denmark last week.

Now that we know that there was a narrow victory for the No side, let’s look at why and what it might mean for the forthcoming UK Euro referendum. And what we can learn from it as Liberal Democrats.

I’ll start with the differences. First, the proposition was unclear to many in Denmark. A November 3rd poll indicated that almost two-thirds of the population didn’t really understand what they were voting about. This absence of clarity has allowed the No campaign to reframe the debate as an airing of grievances against the EU in general.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 8 Comments

What we can learn from Corbyn and Boris….and Sanders and Trump

We’ve all noticed that Jeremy Corbyn has jumped dramatically from rank outsider to Labour leadership  favourite. An old school leftie, in sandals and a beard (bear with me Liberals, I’m not against sandals and beards!) seems set to tap into a Labour rank and file zeitgeist not many thought was there a few weeks ago. Whilst the Boris star may have been dampened a little with water canon etc since he arrived in Westminster, he still electrifies any campaign he’s involved in.  And a mop-haired loon with a habit of putting his foot in his mouth, and a track record of scandalous romantic dalliances, is more of a campaign weapon for the Tories than almost any Saville Row suited safe choice braying about elimination of the fiscal deficit and family values.

Across the pond, maverick Independent Bernie Sanders is giving the establishment candidate for the Democratic nomination a run for her money (yes, a woman can be the safe establishment choice too). On the Republican side “The Donald”, with his mirth-inducing hair piece and boundless self belief in his eccentric world view, is posing a headache for the more mainstream Bush, Cruz etc.

What binds these politicians together apart from the fact that they’re enjoying surprisingly good poll ratings? It’s all about authenticity, stupid. Electorates have switched off from the usual platitudes. They want character. There’s a real yearning for authenticity, for voices and views we can identify with.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 45 Comments

Opinion: Time to address our “Woman Problem”

Two out of four candidates for the UK Labour leadership are women. This remarkable fact has arisen with little comment. It seems normal and there is no suggestion that either Yvette Cooper or Liz Kendall’s names on the ballot are tokenistic.

In contrast, no women are eligible to stand for leadership of the Lib Dems as we have no female MPs. We have two strong candidates for leader in Tim Farron and Norman Lamb. I feel, however, that it’s unacceptable to have got ourselves into a position where there is no possibility of voting for a woman leader.

The front-runner to be next Labour leader in Scotland is a woman. The Scottish First Minister is a woman, as is the leader of the Scottish Conservatives. The Scottish Greens have Co-Convenors with a man and a woman jointly holding the post. So it is likely that in Scotland we will soon be the only party not to have a woman leader. Indeed, unless there is a considerable change in our fortunes  before the Holyrood elections next year we will soon have no women in the Scottish Parliament either. Our current sole female MSP, Alison McInnes, has been voted number 2 on the North East list and there is only 1 region, out of 8, where we have a woman at the top of the list.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 50 Comments
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