Author Archives: Tahir Maher

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.

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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 …

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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.

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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.

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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…

  

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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?

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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

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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

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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);
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Has the PM Really Completed a Brexit Deal?

On hearing that a technical deal had been done for Brexit Jacob Rees-Mogg said that “it is a failure of the government’s negotiation position, it is a failure to deliver on Brexit…”

The news is that the technical deal has been done and the document is over 200 pages long. It is reported that there will be a meeting on Wednesday (14th March 2018) at 2:00 pm with the Cabinet to discuss the proposed technical deal and at the same time ambassadors of the 27 EU countries will also get copies of the deal. It is being speculated that the government …

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HS2 – Is it worth it?

I have been ambivalent about HS2 and working in the rail industry was somewhat biased towards the idea of building a high-speed rail link. I am not always convinced with the arguments when people say we can spend funds better elsewhere as I find such arguments lack a follow through or a wider perspective (yet I propose to do precisely that in this article). However, the astronomical costs of HS2 are making me question if there is a viable business plan anymore. The drive for its build now seems to be political rather than economic.

The Department for Transport (DfT) says there will be almost 15,000 seats an hour on trains between London and the cities of Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds, trebling the current capacity. The plan was HS2 would connect London to Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, and the East Midlands.

The first phase timing was considered ambitious by the Public Accounts Committee which is due to be opened by the end of 2026 for high-speed travel between London and Birmingham. Subsequent phase to Manchester and Leeds could start being built in the middle of the next decade, with the line to be opened by 2032-33. The cost of phase one (London to Birmingham) has already increased from £16bn to £22bn (an increase of 38 percent) due to the amount of tunneling required and purchase of land. The total cost of HS2 at the moment is expected to be £52bn. Although an article in the Sunday Times quoted one of the people who work at DfT, who made the estimates, who now says that the full cost could be well over £100bn.

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Theresa May – Austerity is Over

Austerity wasn’t because of economic necessity but a political choice. The economic argument was that if you save your money/reduce your spend, you can clear your debt otherwise we were told we would end up like Greece. This view was accepted by Osborne resulting in this long period of austerity. It should be noted that in 2012 a report by IMF said that austerity had been a mistake. A better approach would have been to reflate the economy which would have left it in a better place to pay off the deficit. The report also said that the UK couldn’t end up like Greece because the debt was in its currency. The UK could raise loans through UK bonds (the problem with Greece is that they are in the Eurozone and share their currency with a number of countries, but there isn’t a euro bond. Each of the Eurozone countries still uses their own market to raise loans from bonds. External institutions who want to buy eurozone currency bonds are attracted to countries like Germany (although the interest rates are very low) while Greece has to significantly increase their interest rates to attract investors to buy their bonds, although it’s for the same currency.  The consequence of this is that Greece has youth unemployment near 50 per cent and Germany has youth unemployment close to 3 per cent because the bonds have to be serviced and interest paid on them).

This has been the most prolonged period of austerity post-war. The UK’s deficit peaked at 10% of GDP and Osborne in 2010 unveiled cuts of  £110 billions of fiscal cuts – public service cuts and tax increases (VAT). It wasn’t wholly a success as growth stagnated and unemployment rose. The Bank of England couldn’t reduce interest rates any further to stimulate the economy. Austerity measures did what austerity does, it contracted the economy, and this was the choice accepted by Osborne.

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London Brexit March Voice of the People – Heard

Brexit March in LondonI remember before the Sunderland result on the night of 23rd June 2016 (Brexit referendum) Nigel Farage was being interviewed, and he thought Leavers had lost. During the interview, he stated that because the results were so close and even though his side had lost he would continue to call for another referendum to leave the EU.  Ever since our entry into the EU in 1973 there have been increasing calls from Tories (in the main) to leave the EU regardless of election manifesto’s and commitments from party leaders to stay in the EU. What gets me is the mantra of the Leavers who repeatedly say that they won the referendum, the people have spoken, and now we have no right to dispute the will of the people. They forget their hypnotical stand, when they stood against the will of the people, on the issue over the decades.

On Saturday the will of the people was on display (see photo above right). Leavers had a march, on Saturday, where at best about a 1000 people attended, on the same day Remainers had a demonstration in London where about 700,000 people participated from all parties and people from all walks of life.

So, what are the facts at the moment and why did so many people come out on a march. The simple answer is that Brexit negotiations are a shamble. After the failure of Theresa May to put a deal together for the EU to vote on by 24th October she hinted at an increase to the transition period; whether it’s 18 months or a year. However, before that, we need to get a withdrawal agreement. We need to get a technical separation of the UK from the EU which involves:

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Backstop to the Backstop

Monday afternoon Theresa May in parliament looked like a rabbit caught in headlights because it became clear she had no answers. There was plenty of blusters, but it was also clear that she was very unsure of herself. Taking stock on some of the comments made reveals the misdirection by Tory politicians. Do you remember Liam Fox claiming that a free trade deal with the EU would be “the easiest in human history?” Alternatively, David Davis who envisaged that we would by now have signed dozens of free trade deals with many countries, in fact, they were queuing up to sign trade deals with us. The Tories have employed the tactics of smoke and mirrors while concealing how hapless they have been.

I remember May’s speech outside No. 10 after she lost the last election, I thought the tone of her speech rather than being conciliatory was aggressive and quite inappropriate for someone who had just lost the general election. I went back to look at it again, and I note this extract:

“If we don’t get the negotiation right, your economic security and prosperity will be put at risk, and the opportunities you seek for your families will simply not happen. If we do not stand up and get this negotiation right we risk the secure and well-paid jobs we want for our children and our children’s children too.”

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Train Delays

I must have done something wrong in my previous life because for the last 15 years or, so I have been (it feels like I have been condemned) to travel to work by train. Firstly, it was from Solihull and now from Wokingham to London. My local train from Earley (which comes from Waterloo) to Reading arrives on time no more than 8 to 9 times a year. Approximately 60 per cent of the trains to London are late getting into Reading. However, coming home the trains do leave Paddington on time and get to Reading more or less on time – I can’t complain about my journey back.

I live about 30 miles from London. My trains going to work are invariably late, I often don’t get a seat, and the cost for the national rail ticket is more than £4000. I will no doubt start dreaming “We are sorry for the inconvenience caused to your journey!!”.

Nearly one in three trains across Britain are late, and delays on some routes affect more than half of journeys.  So why are trains delayed? The reasons seem to be because the infrastructure like track, signals, tunnels, overhead lines, trains etc., have been poorly invested in and that has resulted in worn out trains running on crumbling infrastructure. Although the rail companies are modernising and buying some new trains it doesn’t seem to be well managed and often results in further delays.

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Plastic Pollution

Liberal Democrat environment spokesperson Tim Farron said about the “latte levy”:

“We’ve been calling for this for years and the Conservatives have continued to do nothing – each year over 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away and I now hope a small levy will finally be introduced to slash this waste.”

There is public support for using tax to reduce waste for single-use plastics. Firms that use unrecyclable plastic should be taxed to drive them to use other forms of packaging. This is part of the government target to abolish all plastic waste by 2042. The proposal is to use the funds raised to research into new recyclable/degradable plastics.

As Tim suggested, we need a tax on coffee cups that are very difficult to recycle. This is to deter the massive waste of plastic use that is having such a detrimental effect on our environment. This call follows the successful introduction of the 5 pence tax on plastic bags, by the Lib Dem, that has dramatically reduced their use.

From 2005 firms have had to buy a packaging recovery note (PRN), those firms who manufacture packing waste, to help offset the cost of dealing with the packaging. The PRN was to drive firms to more greener packaging. We, as a party, should push the government to increase the PRN to drive manufacturers to develop and use recyclable plastics.

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Robert Adamson – A Remembrance

The Liberal Democrats can hold their head high on the progress we have made to support women in the party and LGBTQ; I am now getting more positive with the party’s commitment to supporting ethnic minorities. However, the poor relation in all this is the support for disabled members. I don’t believe that there is the focus on disability issues as there is for other groups. Few in the party made it their mission to raise the issues that disabled people face, more than Robert Adamson.

A small tribute to Robert by Gemma Roulston the current Chair of Lib Dem Disability Association (LDDA):

Robert Moray Adamson was a carer who himself was diagnosed with MS. Robert never let the disease stop him taking a very active role in the party not only as Joint Chair of LDDA but with other party bodies like the English Party. Robert worked arduously to help and improve the lives of anyone with or without disabilities.

Robert and I worked well over these last two years together on LDDA business. When Robert was approached by Your Liberal Britain, about how to make their sessions at conference accessible, Roberts comments were taken up not only by them but by FCC too. With all the issues that Robert was going through he didn’t, however, agree with the right to die.

Robert has been Chair, Secretary, as well as newsletter editor of LDDA. He was always there for anyone with a kind word, good advice and was supportive. This year the Autumn conference in Brighton didn’t feel the same without him. Robert made a difference to people.

I recall that Robert wrote an article on being a candidate at Darlington entitled “The sitting candidate”, Robert was a kind, thoughtful and a humorous man. Robert’s one wish for LDDA was for it to be a SAO.

God bless Robert, rest up and enjoy not having to deliver leaflets, or have to herd cats.

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Labour, Tory Leadership Vacuum

Thresa May is leading a divided party not wishing to be led and is heading in the opposite direction to anywhere she wants to go. Jeremy Corbyn is trying not to lead his party on Europe when his party is calling out for leadership. Vince is trying to get the party ready to take opportunities from a perceived moderate move from voters who are fed up by the dogmatic and squabbling Tories and leaderless Labour. Voters are moving away from the Tories because they have no agreed Brexit strategy, the can’t go to Labour as their 1970’s socialist tentacles have reappeared, and they won’t come to the Lib Dems as they perceive, wrongly, we are too small to make a difference. What a horrid dilemma. The country is being led by a Tory piped piper who is perilously taking us closer to the cliff edge.

YouGov polled in July asked voters what their top three priorities for the EU negotiators were:

  • Allow British companies to trade with EU without tariffs/restrictions – 42%
  • Allow the UK to make its own deals with other countries outside the EU                   – 40%
  • Maintaining co-operation with EU on anti-terrorism / security                                     – 38%

(Immigration came in fourth with 29%).

For Brits abroad, 31% of Remain voters thought it was an essential requirement to agree a solution for them for those who voted for Brexit it was 8%. Labour supporters (28%) were more concerned about this than Lib Dem (25%).

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2018 Brighton Conference – Affordable Housing

This was my second conference as a member of the Federal Conference Committee (FCC). I had just joined FCC for the Spring conference and was really an observer. For the Autumn conference, I was involved from the start. The whole thing was well organised, and the team work well together (you have to give credit where credit is due). There were approximately 2400 members – more or less in line with previous year.

One note of sadness, I learned about, was the passing of Robert Adamson (Chair of the Liberal Democrat Disability Association).  My Condolences to the bereaved family. Rest in Peace Robert.

Other than the sad news about Robert I enjoyed the conference. I enjoyed the interaction with the members, late-night meals and the different parts of the conference I was involved in. Outside the hall, I did see a lot of homeless people which I found distressing. Listening to a journalist on the TV talking about the Lib Dems he speculated that our policies need to reflect the concerns people talk about in pubs. One of the examples he gave was affordable housing, interesting he didn’t mention Brexit. I had the opportunity to speak to Gina Miller, we discussed why she had launched her new website “end the chaos”, she said she did this after listening to thousands of people and was surprised to learn that majority of them didn’t even know what Brexit was. The website was set up to provide core facts.

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Coalition Years – The Good, The Bad and What of the Future

I wanted to do an article on the coalition years by looking at what we did well, what we could have done better and the consequence post-coalition. I want to make it clear that I was not in favour of an alliance with the Tories and would have preferred to have supported the Tories on a case-by-case basis (a bit like the DUP) with the main proviso that we get PR (and not a billion pounds) first before offering support. I would not have advocated joining the government because it’s difficult to critically question your partner in government and take credit for your policies. I wouldn’t quite go as far as holding up furry handcuffs as Linda did (I believe) in Birmingham but I felt it was a mistake to go into coalition with the Tories simply because they cannot be trusted.

Liberal Democrat cabinet ministers and other senior ministry proved their high calibre in government. They did a great job and were easily equal to any Tory minister. Our party brought forward some excellent initiatives that have benefited this country: the Green bank, pupil premium, increased support for mental health patients, same-sex marriage legislation and reducing the threshold where you start to pay tax to name but a few achievements.

Thirteen years of Labour government marginally increased pensions whereas we, led by Steve Webb, introduced the triple lock on the state pension. In the five years we were in government we built more homes than labour had done in the last thirteen years. Other achievements can be seen in an article written for LDV by Robin Bennett dated Friday 19th May 2017: https://www.libdemvoice.org/achievements-of-the-libdems-in-coalition-20102015-54382.htm

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Payday Loans

I feel quite pleased that Wonga went into liquidation. I am sad for their employees (as we all have families to support) but I am sure the directors will walk away with their egos bruised and millions from ill-gotten gains. Companies like Wonga are effectively no more than legalised loan sharks.

Looking at a quick comparison between payday loans for short-term loans the APR varies from 500 per cent to just under 1600 per cent a year. A survey by the Royal Society for Public Health ranked payday loans as having the most detrimental effect on mental health well-being. There are nightmare stories of people who have up to 8 payday loans to service their debts. On average people hold three payday loans at a time. Agencies that support and assist people with payday loans relates to loans that are over 100 million pounds for well over one hundred thousand people. Those in poverty already pay a poverty premium (the poverty premium is calculated to cost a low-income family on average £490 a year) therefore reducing costs from any spend is crucial for them as it allows more cash in their pockets. Increased inflation and low wage increases hurt low-paid families disproportionately and they are the ones most likely to use payday loans.

We can learn from the US here; fifteen states have banned payday loans. Although, in the UK, we have capped loans I for one would be in favour of a similar ban. However, we need to tackle payday loans, excessive credit card rates and charges from unauthorised bank overdrafts (I remember that at one time a large high street bank was changing equivalent to 4,500 per cent APR for an unauthorised increase to an overdraft). Limiting the harm payday loans can do is now even more important because of increased wealth inequality and a shrinking welfare state.

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OPINION – Poverty in the UK

Below are some troubling facts:

  • Over any ten-year period, there have only been two periods of worse wage growth (compared to the last ten years), and that was during the wars;
  • Currently, in the UK people persistently in poverty is equivalent to about 4.6 million;
  • The trussell trust has identified over 1 million people who are given three-day emergency food supplies;
  • The average FTSE chief executive earns 386 times more than a worker on the national living wage (UK living wage is £7.83 per hour);
  • More than 20 per cent of the UK’s working population earn a salary below the living wage;
  • The austerity program has reduced welfare spending, school building programs, spending in local government and increase VAT.

Furthermore, there are many people trapped in the “gig economy” and are working very hard for little reward. As unemployment goes down in the UK, the actual wage earned is also falling. The usual justification for CEO’s earning so much is that only such entrepreneurs create wealth. I believe that they are many who can do and this is not as unique as it is stated (I can think of more examples where CEO’s have raided or destroyed a company that created a world-class enterprise). I do agree that CEO’s should be paid and paid well but for FTSE companies 386 times more than a worker on the national living wage is irresponsible.

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Conference Message – Exit Brexit

Its conference season and the one time in the year when the Lib Dems get reasonably good news coverage. Our conference is first, followed by Labour and then the Tories. We need to get our message across about Brexit and not lose or have our message diluted by Vince’s announcement that he may or may not step down or lose the message to a difficult policy debate such as the one on immigration.

The focus for this conference should be on Brexit and how can we stop the UK leaving the EU. Lord Kerr believes that we can still withdraw the Article 50 letter without consequences especially if both sides agree.  The referendum was advisory, and therefore Parliament has the option to vote it down or reject Brexit. This is unlikely because the Tories on the right-wing of the party won’t allow this to happen plus they have the support of Democratic Unionist party and some Labour MP’s who support Brexit. The math is not there, especially if they fear a public outcry. Unfortunately, even as project lies unravels there are still many who still agree with the sentiment for leaving the EU no matter what the cost.

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Aung San Suu Kyi Nobel laureate

Aung San Suu Kyi received her Nobel Prize in 1991 for her “non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights.” No one at the time, other than some in Myanmar, would have disagreed with that. It was also a welcome achievement when she became the head of state in 2015. There was hope that someone, like her who had suffered so much, showed such determination to fight for freedom, would be a champion to improve the human rights in Myanmar. In her Nobel lecture, Aung San remarked: “Wherever suffering is ignored, there will be the seeds of conflict, for suffering degrades and embitters and enrages.”

The treatment of the Rohingya people has been nothing short of genocide; according to a recent UN report. What makes it more shocking is that Aung San has been the state leader during these killing sprees. I understand that her power is limited because the Generals still retain substantial influence in the country but she still has legal recourse, and more importantly she has a powerful voice in the nation that could oppose these atrocities. Unfortunately, some of her recent comments have been supportive if not misleading for example saying that ‘terrorists’ are misinforming the world about what is happening in Myanmar or asking the US ambassador not to use the word Rohingya (this is denying their identity as an ethnic group although they have lived in Myanmar for centuries).

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Pick ‘n’ Politics

Supercool for Superdry

A co-founder of Superdry has donated £1m to the campaign for the People’s Vote. Julian Dunkerton said “we have a genuine chance to turn this around”. He went on to say that: “I will be paying for one of the most detailed polling exercises ever undertaken by a campaign so that more and more people have the confidence to demand the democratic right for their voice to be heard.”

The people’s Vote is being called for by members from all the political parties. They vote is being called for

prior to us making a final decision to leave on 29th March 2019.

F-F-F-F- Farage is back

Well he couldn’t keep away. Nigel Farage says he is coming back into front line politics because Brexit does not mean Brexit and Theresa May is selling the country out. It will be interesting if Farage again employs his successful scare tactics of East Europeans and 80 million Turkish citizens rushing across Europe to make their way to the UK. Such comments from project lies did us much harm but unfortunately worked. Farage in his deluded mind has come back to save the Brexit day. I just hope politicians, especially the media are a lot more robust in questioning Farage and not let him get away as a rent a quote but take his comments more seriously as there are many who take him to his word. His xenophobic comments have already cost this country gravely.

It should be noted that we currently stand at 8% in the yougov polls with UKIP at 6%. It will be interesting to see where the polls are by the end of the year.

Posted in Op-eds | 6 Comments
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