Author Archives: Tahir Maher

Welcome to Jo

As everyone will have heard by now, Jo Swinson is our new Party leader. I want to congratulate her and also congratulate Ed Davey for a spirited campaign that he ran. I had several opportunities to watch both of them in hustings and to be honest both were impressive.

In her acceptance speech, the two points that struck home was when she said (I paraphrase) that “She had limitless ambition for the party” and “she would fight the next election to be the Prime Minister”.  I like such ambition as it gives focus.

This got me thinking, what values does the average …

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged | 39 Comments

Cable: Shifting centre of gravity signals People’s Vote is option MPs can’t put down

This evening’s Indicative Votes in the House of Commons have shown that significant support has shifted towards giving the people the final say on Brexit.

The confirmatory referendum received more support than Theresa May’s deal and was the most popular option on the order paper.

Commenting, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said: 

“As anticipated, the Commons has not produced an absolutely clear way forward, but it is clearer where the centre of gravity now is.

“What is essential is that whichever Brexit option the government pursues, it is put to the public in a confirmatory referendum. We have led calls for a People’s Vote for

Posted in News and Op-eds | 32 Comments

Press Briefings and Top Lines – 27th March 2019

Press Briefing:

Lib Dems: DWP is without a plan

Responding to the National Audit Office report revealing that two years into the strategy, ministers have not yet developed detailed proposals for their goal of getting one million more disabled people into work by 2027, Liberal Democrat DWP Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

“Quite frankly I’m unsurprised by these findings, which simply add to the mounting stack of evidence showing that the DWP is not fit for purpose.

“It’s shameful that the department responsible for monitoring work capability is incapable of producing a plan so they can reach their own targets. They boast about how many disabled people are now in work, but this figure is completely useless if it can’t be matched to a reduction in the number out of work.

“Disabled people deserve more from this shambolic Tory government. Liberal Democrats demand better.”

ENDS

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Indicative Votes – An alternative to the Meaningful Vote, Three

There is an old saying that goes “You couldn’t make it up” the drama of the last few weeks in parliament where Theresa May has been trying to get her deal passed has, in my opinion, been scandalous. May in her first attempt suffered the largest defeat in parliamentary history, followed by a second attempt when she faced the fourth largest defeat in history. Theresa May has not changed any of her red lines and then went on national television to blame MPs (how to win friends and influence people, Theresa May style). The only reason some of the MPs …

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Daily Press Releases – 13th March 2019

Cable: Spring Statement a predictable ‘non-event’

Responding to the Chancellor’s Spring Statement in the House of Commons this afternoon, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said: 

 

“Brexit has crowded the usually significant Spring Statement out on to the margins of relevance, and the Chancellor has managed to make it even more of a non-event.

“Despite continuing austerity for most government departments and a violence epidemic on our streets, the Chancellor announced no meaningful new funding and failed to even confirm a date for the crucial upcoming Spending Review.

“There is little good news in Brexit Britain’s growth record either. While the Coalition Government left the UK one of the best performers among the world’s advanced economies, the OBR’s growth downgrade for this year confirms we are now one of the weakest.

“With interest rates already at rock-bottom, these will not be available to fight any future Brexit recession. The Chancellor is right to warn about the economic damage a no-deal Brexit would cause, but wrong to present his government’s deal as the only alternative.

“In truth the only real “dividend” on offer is that from remaining in the EU, by giving the public a People’s Vote on Brexit.”

ENDS

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Tory Confidence or Arrogance

One thing I have always noted is that some of the Tories are arrogant. This is not just their politicians in parliament but at the local level and some of their members. I don’t feel that is the case with members of other parties, but I have often thought that some of the Tories tend towards being guilty of their own inflated self-importance. I came across a small piece that dealt with this issue about the Tories.

For the Tories apparently, it isn’t about going to the right school or even education it’s about confidence. Confidence is perceived to come from a good education and success in a chosen profession. A confident person is what impresses them. A case in point is David Davies who didn’t go to a private school (or rather not a school like Eton) but was picked out for possibly high office, by his colleagues, because he was considered to be so confident. The article goes on to discuss that the one thing boarding schools embed in their pupils (It may not necessarily be good education) but it is confidence, and this is what they admire.

How does this Tory mentality reflect in their approach to negotiations with the EU?

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6th March 2019 – Daily Press Releases and Top Lines

Press Releases

Cable: Catastrophic no-deal would push the economy into recession 

Commenting on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s report into the implications for economic growth as a consequence of Brexit, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

“The economy has been bumping along the bottom in the wake of Brexit uncertainty. This analysis by the OECD, while focused on a slowing global economy, picks out the UK as one of the worst performers among developed countries due to our weakening economic growth and falling business investment.

“Not only have our growth forecasts for 2019 and 2020 been severely downgraded, but the OECD

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The Art of a deal

Theresa May has finally backed down to allow the extension of Brexit leaving date if her deal is, again, rejected by the Commons. This is against the backdrop of MPs leaving the Tory party and some ministers threatening to resign to ensure there isn’t an exit with no deal.

May has never read the Art of the deal (co-written by Trump but confirmed by his co-author and the publisher he had no real input in writing the book). Over the last few months, she has cut a forlorn figure traipsing back and forth from Brussels with no new proposals other than trying to persuade the EU to change their minds on the backstop to appease her party and the DUP. Let’s have a whimsical look at the 11 steps in the Art of the deal against what is perceived how these negotiations have gone with the EU.

1. Think Big
Well, the Tories certainly did. One thing you can rely on the Tories is their belief in their self-importance. Taking that to a group who are also aware of their self-worth makes compromise difficult, especially, when the other party is in a much stronger position.

2. Protect the downside, and the upside will take care of itself
Planning for the worst was walking away from the EU without a deal or believing that at 11:55 pm on 29th March 2019 somehow the EU will cave into our demands. They didn’t flinch, and their resolve is clear they will, unwillingly, allow us to walk away without a deal. This is a downsize we as a country can’t afford or want.

Posted in News and Op-eds | 3 Comments

20th February 2019 – Briefings

Radical changes are afoot in UK politics
– Cable

Responding to news that three Conservative MPs have left the party to sit with the Independent Group, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

“There is clearly some very radical changes now afoot as both the Conservatives and Labour have being taken over by militant groups, driving out more moderate MPs.

“We will hold out the hand of friendship to the independent MPs with whom we already have a good working relationship.

“In the short term we will be concentrating on securing a People’s Vote, with an option to stay in the EU.”

ENDS

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30th March 2019

I was in a meeting the other day, and someone (I forget who it was) asked an interesting question “What is the party’s message on 30th March” – a day after we leave the EU (if it happens). The answer seems to be we don’t have a message.

Potentially, what message can we have? I suppose that will depend on the situation we face on 29th March 2019. Below, I speculate regarding the focus of the message for the different scenarios we may encounter.

Scenario 1 – We call and get an extension before we leave the EU

We get a short extension where we don’t need to elect MEPs, or we get an extension, but we have to elect MEPs. If an election happens then it is likely a Brexit party will win significantly as will a remain party. The Tories may well suffer a significant blow to their MEP base.

What would Lib Dem message be around:

The inability of this government to agree on a deal. Following the result of the European elections will be a good indicator of what the public now think about Brexit. This in effect is an indicator for a people vote. Could the government ignore the results if it faced a crushing defeat? We would have a strong message not to leave.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged | 23 Comments

Honda Job Losses

It is not easy to contemplate the loss of jobs and hardship to families from that or enormous outflow of capital because of an ideological stance by one party about leaving the EU. I was listening to the radio today and Terry Christian was saying that if bosses have to sack people after Brexit then they should start with Leavers

The manufacturer of Honda cars at Swindon is equivalent to 10% of all cars manufactured/assembled in the UK. In 2018 the UK made 1.5 million cars (down from 2016 when they produced 1.7 million). Similarly, investment in the car industry in …

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(Lucky) 13th February 2019 – Press Releases

Cuts that expose police officers to risk should shame Home Sec

A report published today by the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) has warned Conservative Government cuts are exposing police officers to public risk.

Police officers may be trained to put themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe, but Ministers must ensure they have the essential protection of a police colleague working alongside them.

This report should shame the Home Secretary for his failure to give our police any real increase in their budgets. The Liberal Democrats demand far better for our police. The Government must give local forces the funding …

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Just About Managing (JAM)

Nick Clegg referred to such a group as “alarm clock Britain – the bleary-eyed grafters struggling to raise families, while getting out to work, with little money left over to pay for luxuries.”

Resolution Foundation thinks tank suggest there are six million working-age households on low to middle incomes spread across the country. Such households will have at least one person in work, but they are not always low-income families. They may, for example, have an annual income of £50,000 but have a large family to support with high housing cost and very little disposable income at the end of the month.

Although most of the income for JAM families comes from work, it is, in many cases, topped up by welfare support. Two-thirds of all families receiving children tax credit are JAM families. Home ownership for people in this group fell from 59 per cent to 26 per cent last year pushing many of them into long term rental tenancy. The reason for this fall was that they were using 25 per cent of their income for housing over a decade where we had little or no income growth. The cap on benefits has also adversely affected housing benefits up to £100 a week. Since 2010 housing benefits have not risen in line with private rents and current benefits will remain frozen at 2016 levels until 2020. On top of all this is the increases in living costs and the very low if any pay rises – to stay as they are JAM families have to find hundreds of pounds extra for rents.

Many families like these fall back on payday loans and credit card and end up trapping themselves in loans they effectively can’t pay off.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged | 34 Comments

Opinion: Truth Hurts

So, the EU couldn’t hold it in any longer after bearing Farage’s taunts, and the mess with the negotiations by the prime minister the EU eventually lost their cool and the European Council President Donald Tusk wondered if there was a “special place in hell for those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan of how to carry it out safely”. Not sure whether to be shocked that he is offending the UK or say Bravo … I think Bravo, wish he would have said this a bit earlier.

The usual dross of right-wingers has come out with predictable counter comments: “arrogance of the EU…”; “this is what you would expect from unelected bureaucrats…”, “17 million people voted to leave…”, “The man has no manners,” said Leadsom, and it goes on.

I personally liked Guy Verhofstadt (EUs chief Brexit negotiator) who tweeted “Well, I doubt Lucifer would welcome them, as after what they did to Britain, they would even manage to divide hell.”

Amusing as this is, it’s just a storm in a teacup alongside the disastrous negotiation stance that the prime minister is taking. After losing the vote in parliament (one of the worst, if not the worst defeat for a government in history), she has not in any way changed her red lines. The prime minister’s plan B was to try to persuade everyone else that her Plan A was right. The government’s approach hinges on one thing, and that is some sort of a deal on the backstop which will appease the DUP. If this is achieved the European Research Group (wonder if they will change their name if we leave the EU) will vote grudging with the government; the alternative being an early general election that Labour has a chance of winning. The prime minister knows this, and therefore all she is focused on is trying to get a backstop acceptable to the DUP.

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Todays Updates – 30th January

Updates:

  1. Contradictory amendments show only way forward is a people’s vote

 

Press Release:

1     Labour MPs who sided with the Tories have become handmaids to Brexit

2.   The only compromise that the PM should consider is a people’s vote

   Tory cuts have made it easy for ‘county lines’ drug traffickers

4.   Time to scrap cruel Vagrancy Act

 

Updates:

Contradictory amendments show only way forward is a people’s vote

Following both Sir Graham Brady’s and Dame Caroline Spelman’s amendments passing last night in the House of Commons, note following comments:

  • Liberal Democrats have been fighting for over two years to give the people the final say

Posted in News | 15 Comments

23 January – Todays Press Releases and Updates

Updates:

1.  Home Office EU Settled Status Scheme

2.  National Audit Office report on children’s social care

 

Todays Press Release:

1   Sony’s move symbolic of Brexit uncertainty 

2.  Liberal Democrats move to prevent May from holding Parliament hostage on Brexit

3  Moran: PAC report highlights the increasing fragmentation of schools system

 

Home Office EU Settled Status Scheme – 

It is all very well to say that in the modern world, relying on a reference number that would give prospective employers or landlords access to the Home Office computer is enough. But in the wake of the Windrush, nobody trusts Home Office record-keeping.

Everyone knows that many eligible EU citizens won’t get their settled status in time from this incompetent Home Office by the end of the application period.

EU citizens living here in the UK are rightly worried what will happen after Brexit – especially in the event of a disastrous crash-out Brexit – and the Home Secretary should not dismiss those fears.

Thousands of EU citizens are being left at risk of being effectively undocumented and subject to Theresa May’s hostile environment.

Liberal Democrats demand better for the Europeans who’ve made their lives here and contribute so much to our economy, our public services and our society.

 

National Audit Office report on children’s social care – 

We thought the days of Oliver Twist were long behind us, but this report shows otherwise. The Department for Education must listen to the NAO’s recommendations to ensure children’s lives are not at stake.

It absolutely beggars belief that Conservative Ministers don’t understand what has caused the increase in demand for children’s services. They should look in the mirror. They have consistently stripped away support in communities that need it the most.

Liberal Democrats demand better. Nothing is more important than making sure the most vulnerable children are looked after in society. Ministers must stop posturing and start understanding the real issues we face.

Posted in News | 12 Comments

9th January – today’s press releases

Parliament ‘takes back control’ from a failing Govt

Responding to the Conservative Government defeat on the business motion in the House of Commons, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

“Parliament has rejected the Prime Minister’s vain attempt to once again kick the Brexit can down the road and run down the clock.

It is right Parliament has ‘taken back control’ from a wayward Prime Minister and this failing Conservative Government.

Liberal Democrats want to go much further and give the power back to the public with a people’s vote and the option to remain in the EU.

PM shamefully sides with Putin, not people

Today, during PMQs, …

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Intolerant democracy

We seem to be living in an age of ever-increasing fanatics, people who believe that they are always right and are intolerant of other views. I am talking about the abusive treatment of Anna Soubry. This government is ridiculously split over Brexit, and the referendum which many thought (wrongly, in my opinion) would put an end to the debate over Europe has actually fanned the flames of a possible bitter split. Views have been further polarised by this incompetent government and their mismanagement of Brexit. In general, the printed press has supported the case to leave Europe and they continue to make their crude case to leave. The printed press has been reluctant to objectively understand or discuss any opposing view, resulting in opinions being sharply divided. We are right; You are wrong – fanatics.

But why the abuse or violence from people who otherwise are educated and usually quite rational. This trait isn’t only being displayed against politicians but is also manifest in sports and social media. We seem to have acquired common values to a cause, opinion or a team and shut the world out to the rest. The real danger is the reluctance to consider other views, to ponder opportunities and respectfully acknowledge differing opinions.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged | 21 Comments

No Deal Brexit

It is now just over 11 weeks left before we leave the EU. We should have been a lot further with the negotiations that we are at the moment i.e. a deal agreed with the UK now in the process of negotiating a trade deal, this is what the Tories called a  ‘good deal’. But the bickering among the Tories that led us to a referendum almost sealed their fate in that they were never going to agree on what they considered was a good deal. Their bluster about how the EU would bend to their needs because BMW and …

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged | 22 Comments

CCTV – What of Liberty

The UK has approximately 1 per cent of the world population and well over 10 per cent of the world’s CCTV cameras. London alone has around 422,000 CCTV cameras, and it is estimated that on an average day an individual, in London, will be captured on a camera at least 30 times. Third in line with the most CCTV cameras is Chicago, with at least 17,000. However, according to a recent report in the Chinese state media, People’s Daily, the city of Beijing now has a CCTV network that covers ‘every corner’ of the city. The total number of cameras is around 470,000. Without any obvious trace of irony, the system’s official name is ‘Sky Net’.

In George Orwell’s novel, 1984 one of the things that the protagonist Winston Smith hated was the surveillance by cameras and how the Thought Police could remotely talk to you. Someone mentioned to me that as he was coming out of Reading Station, about a year ago, someone dropped an empty packet of crisp on the floor, only to be told via a speaker to pick up the litter he discarded that had been spotted by CCTV.

We now learn that Christmas shoppers have had their faces scanned in central London as part of a police trial. The Metropolitan Police says it invited people to take part in testing the technology rather than scanning people covertly. Privacy campaigner Big Brother Watch has described the use of such technology as “authoritarian, dangerous and lawless”.  In a statement, the group said that “monitoring innocent people in public is a breach of fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of speech and assembly”. Investigations by them also revealed that the system at the moment is not fully functioning as it identified a large number of innocent people as potential suspects.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged and | 13 Comments

Snippets

I read an interesting article and came across a YouGov poll, the gist of which I thought would be worth passing on. The first was an article by pollster Peter Kellner in The New European.

Based on an analysis of demographic change, Kellner concludes that the Leave majority will disappear in January 2019. His analysis points out that approximately 600,000 die each year and a further 700,000 reach voting age. Allowing for the fact that most of those passing on are the elderly and who in the main did vote and voted to leave against the young who on the whole voted in the main for remain.

Kellner in his article concludes that because of the demography the leave majority is shrinking by 500,000 a year. As the leave majority was 1,269,501 that means they lose their majority (everything else being equal) by January 2019.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 37 Comments

Christmas Competition

I wanted to give an update on the 2018 Christmas Competition. We had twelve good submissions by 17th December. The articles have now been judged, and three were very close. I want to thank everyone who submitted an article. It was a shame that we didn’t have more submissions from ladies.

I want to thank David Warren for his articles, and I particularly liked the poem by Tony Harris, but the winner was … Andrew Toye. A Waitrose hamper will be on its way to Andrew.

Thank you again for all those who submitted an article and hopefully next year you too …

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Reminder: Christmas Competition – deadline Monday

To celebrate and get in the mood for the festive season I thought that we could have a writing competition.  As many of you (on average at least 4,500 members visit the Lib Dem Voice site every day) write articles, read them or comment I propose a Christmas Article Competition.

The proposed Competition Rules are:

  • An Article should not be more than 550 words;
  • The article in each of the specified areas will be jointly judged by representatives identified as experts in that area by Lib Dem Voice and Lib Dem editors;
  • The starting date for the competition starts as of 28th November to 17th December;
  • The title of your article for the competition should start with the words “Competition: … followed by the title of your article”

Basic criteria when assessing each article will be:

  • The originality of the article;
  • That the article is within the stipulated maximise length required (550 words);
  • Generally, how well has the article presented its argument on the subject matter;
  • We will only accept one submission for each subject area per person (as stated below);
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December 12th: Today’s Announcements

 

Announcements as at 12th December

  • Lib Dems demand more action on ‘dangerous’ short prison sentences
  • ‘Gold-plated’ visa chaos shows Home Office can’t take back control
  • Cable: Conservative spat won’t resolve deepening divisions

 

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Reminder: Christmas Competition

To celebrate and get in the mood for the festive season I thought that we could have a writing competition.  As many of you (on average at least 4,500 members visit the Lib Dem Voice site every day) write articles, read them or comment I propose a Christmas Article Competition.

The proposed Competition Rules are:

  • An Article should not be more than 550 words;
  • The article in each of the specified areas will be jointly judged by representatives identified as experts in that area by Lib Dem Voice and Lib Dem editors;
  • The starting date for the competition starts as of 28th November to 17th December;
  • The title of your article for the competition should start with the words “Competition: … followed by the title of your article”

Basic criteria when assessing each article will be:

  • The originality of the article;
  • That the article is within the stipulated maximise length required (550 words);
  • Generally, how well has the article presented its argument on the subject matter;
  • We will only accept one submission for each subject area per person (as stated below);
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5th December 2018

Todays Press releases (so far):

  • Govt plan to trap Britain on a never-ending Brexit hamster wheel
  • Brexit TV debate

Three defeats for the government yesterday and the truth about legal advice given, which adds to how the Brexit deal is unraveling. Labour has effectively pulled out of the debate with the BBC. Below are the communiqué received today from the party…

  

Posted in News | 1 Comment

Who will Succeed Theresa May?

December 11th is when the government will present the Brexit deal that they have been negotiating for the last eighteen months to parliament. The EU has said that it’s this deal or no deal. The boasting of Tory ministers on TV programmes about six months ago that a no deal would be better than a bad deal may be a reality, and most sane politicians are more than worried regarding this outcome. If the deal is rejected on 11th December, there is no time to renegotiate another deal. There is effectively now no time to have a referendum, before we leave on March 29th, as a minimum of 10 weeks is required for any referendum and that’s after getting the legislation through parliament. If Theresa May does not get the Brexit deal through parliament, there is no time to ask the EU for an extension as that agreement needs to be accepted by the other 27 nations. To even have a general election if there is a vote of no confidence, parliament will have to alter the Fixed Term parliament act and the general election will not be before we have to leave the EU. The position we find ourselves in is perilous and the chance of automatically leaving the EU on 29th March 2019 (cliff edge Brexit) is becoming a dangerous possibility.

I can’t see how May is going to square the circle under these circumstances. It is more than likely that May will fail on 11th December to get her deal accepted by parliament. It’s then very possible that Graham Brady (Chair of the 1922 committee) will get the 48 letters from MP’s to trigger a leadership election. Alternatively, May could face a vote of no confidence. Even if she wins that but it’s close, she may well feel obliged to step down.

So, who would succeed Theresa May?

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged | 41 Comments

Cable: PM must stop threatening the country with no-deal Brexit

The leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable has slammed the Prime Minister for refusing to end the uncertainty and rule out a no-deal Brexit, despite her assertions that her deal is the only option. 

Challenging the Prime Minister at PMQs today, Vince Cable said there was “absolutely no reason why the public should be alarmed by continuing discussions about a chaotic no-deal.”

He added: “It is entirely within the power of the House and the Government to stop it. So will she reassure the public that under no circumstances this will happen?”

In response, the Prime Minister refused to rule out a no-deal Brexit.

Following the

Posted in News | Tagged | 54 Comments

Chancellor’s comments show May’s cabinet in chaos

Responding to the Chancellor Philip Hammond’s comments this morning that the UK will be poorer if MPs back Theresa May’s deal, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

 

“For the second time in a week the Chancellor has openly admitted that the UK will suffer economically because of Theresa May’s deal. He first stated that the UK will have less money and now he is saying that we will also be poorer and suffer job losses.

 

“Yet, we are expecting the PM to stand up this afternoon and say this deal is in the best interests of the country. The Government cannot

Posted in News | 8 Comments

Christmas Competition

To celebrate and get in the mood for the festive season I thought that we could have a writing competition.  As many of you (on average at least 4,500 members visit the Lib Dem Voice site every day) write articles, read them or comment I propose a Christmas Article Competition.

The proposed Competition Rules are:

  • An Article should not be more than 550 words;
  • The article in each of the specified areas will be jointly judged by representatives identified as experts in that area by Lib Dem Voice and Lib Dem editors;
  • The starting date for the competition starts as of today to 17th December;
  • The title of your article for the competition should start with the words “Competition: … followed by the title of your article”

Basic criteria when assessing each article will be:

  • The originality of the article;
  • That the article is within the stipulated maximise length required (550 words);
  • Generally, how well has the article presented its argument on the subject matter;
  • We will only accept one submission for each subject area per person (as stated below);
Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged and | 5 Comments
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