Author Archives: Tahir Maher

Miscellaneous Announcements

I wanted to take the opportunity on a Wednesday to make some small and varied points/announcements that I feel will be of interest. My announcement for this week is about the:

Autumn Conference

The Agenda for the autumn conference launched online today. HO staff should be thanked for the hard work they have done to get this ready. The Agenda and the Directory can be found at https://www.libdems.org.uk/autumn_conference_2018

To help promote the autumn conference there is a Local Party Conference Challenge

Challenge Criteria:– Between the dates of 1 August and 31 August FCC would like to challenge all local

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Lib Dem warns democracy is at risk

The digital, culture, media, and sport (DCMS) committee has spent 18 months conducting an investigation from disinformation to the influence of social networks to targeted adverts during the Brexit referendum that played on people fears and prejudices. MPs rightly point out that this abuse is a threat to democracy.

The DCMS committee report is based on 20 oral evidence sessions, during which 3,500 questions were asked of 61 witnesses, and included a trip to Washington DC. The committee received more than 150 written submissions and numerous pieces of background evidence.

Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine has warned “democracy is at risk” if the report by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee into disinformation and fake news is ignored.

Ms Jardine said:

Posted in News and Op-eds | 4 Comments

Report Back on the Federal Conference Committee (FCC) Held on 14th July 2018

As a member of the FCC, I attended the meeting held last Saturday (14th July). My comments follow the more informative article by Zoe.

The main purpose of the meeting was to go through all the motions that had been selected for FCC to review for possible inclusion at the Autumn conference. Subject area split the motions (54 in all):  Business Innovation and Skills, Communities and Local Government through to Work, Social Security and Pensions (14 different policy areas, in all).

Each member of the committee was given a policy area(s) with internal party contacts (mine was, for example, a member of …

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Time to Start the Blame Game

The plan presented by Theresa May at Chequers and the subsequent resignations by two of her senior cabinet ministers (Brexit and Foreign Secretaries) is more to do with them running for cover than resigning in exasperation. What Theresa May agreed with her cabinet was not in any way a soft Brexit option, it doesn’t resolve the Irish border issue and from all accounts will be rejected by the EU. The proposal will still involve the UK leaving the single market, ending free movement and limiting the role of the European courts.

The proposal is that we will accept part of the four principles set out by the EU. We want to stay in the single market for goods but not services, capital or labour. The plan is we will collect the EU tariffs until we get a system in place to set our tariffs, and until we do that we stay part of the customs union. The proposal for Ireland is still the software option that took the US a decade to develop costing over $10 billion and is used by a very small number of companies. As we run a surplus on services and not on goods, this will be further impetus for companies to move to Europe.

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Rees-Mogg: Back Seat Driver

Jacob Rees-Mogg Jacob Rees-Mogg

I remember the first time I heard about Rees-Mogg, it was on Have I Got News For You where they were joking about Rees-Mogg taking his nanny with him when he went out canvassing. I was a PPC during the last election, and I remember when the results were coming in through the night when North-East Somerset results came in Rees-Mogg was standing there with a huge Tory ribbon. Even the Tories were disappointed when the BBC announced he had won. So how did a man who is a backbencher, considered eccentric and not particularly popular come to be in a position that he can threaten the Prime Minister?

Rees-Mogg was a minor player during the referendum but now as Michael Gove, and Boris Johnson (who has recently left government) are/were restricted to what they can say (believe it or not), It created a vacuum for Rees-Mogg to step into. Nigel Farage seems to be busy cultivating his relationship with the American President after failing (seven times) to get into parliament and is not seen on television commenting on Brexit as he once was.

The European Research Group (ERG) was set up In July 1993 by Sir Michael Spicer, in response to growing concern about Britain’s continued integration into the European Community through the Maastricht Treaty and its members include David Davies, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Andrea Leadsom, Iain Duncan Smith and Sajid Javid among others. Jacob Rees-Mogg took over from Suella Fernandes as the Chair this year (Suella Fernandes resigned as a junior minister on 9th July as she was not happy with the Chequers agreement reached by the Cabinet on 6th July).

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged | 24 Comments

YouGov Polls

Since the Brexit referendum media and politics seems to have turned anti-European but it seems that the public opinion is slowing starting to shift towards being more pro-European. There is increasingly despair among the public about the lack of leadership and success with the Brexit negotiations. Two years on from the referendum vote and we really don’t know where we will be and what will be agreed over the next 5 months. A YouGov poll has consistently found that about two thirds of those polled feel the negotiations are going badly.

Below I have collected a number of YouGov polls around Brexit. They make for interesting reading.

Surprisingly, a recent YouGov poll found that 31 percent of Tories say the government’s Brexit decision is wrong. This compares with 73 percent of Labour voters and 83 percent of Lib Dem voters. Because some voters think that the government now has a duty to implement the referendum 30 percent of Remainers want the government to go ahead with Brexit. Although, those who were undecided, during the referendum, are beginning to gradually favour staying in the EU.

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

Cabinet Playing Whiff-Whaff with Theresa May

The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians passed on through generations, says that “When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.”

Ministers are under pressure to spell out the type of relationship we should have with the European Union. The crunch summit at Chequers is for the Tories to settle their differences although they are strong views on both sides, this Tory summit is supposed to provide an agreed way forward. Michael Gove has alleged ripped up a document that explained the customs partnership proposed by Number 10. The Defence Secretary has told his department that if he doesn’t get the £20 billion he is asking for he will remove the Prime Minister (PM) as he made her, he can break her. The MoD budget for 2016/17 was £35.3bn, and because of the weak position of the PM we now have the US Defence Secretary, James Mattis, warning us that France would replace the UK as America’s closest ally in Europe if we don’t increase our defence spending. Moreover, then there is Boris with his bog roll comment and even worse his inflammatory private and a rather coarse dismissal of business concerns about Brexit.

The PM is getting bullied. How can we have a deal when groups within Cabinet are pulling in a different direction and believe they will achieve their objectives without any fear of consequence. Power is perceived and not something that’s tangible, a loss of that perception leaves the PM in a very vulnerable position and makes it very difficult for her to pursue an agenda and therefore lead. Talk about being pushed from pillar to post.

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US needs a birthday present 

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine has called on the Conservative Government to give the American people a “proper birthday present” by standing up to President Trump on human rights.

Ms Jardine made her plea as the US celebrates Independence Day on the 4th of July. The Liberal Democrat MP wants the Conservative Government to use President Trump’s visit to the UK next Friday to “promote the shared values between British and American people” and “condemn Trump’s treatment of migrant families and his comments on torture.”

Ms Jardine said: 

“The British and American people have a long history of shared values. Among the

Posted in LDVUSA, News and Op-eds | Tagged | 12 Comments

Knife Crime

Tories cheered when a reduction in Police budget was announced. Conservatives were going to cut funding, and the Police were going to keep their coverage and levels of activities by better utilisation of their resources. Even when the Police warned that crime would go up with the proposed cuts, the budgets were reduced. The consequence has been an increase in crime. Eventually, the Tories will have an epiphany that if they provide more funding to the Police, they will have more resources to fight crime. They never learn.

Knife crime went down from 2011 to 2015. But in 2017 alone it went up by 22% from 2016, and this was across the country, the 22% equates to just under 40,000 offences. There are many suggestions as to why there has been an increase in knife crime. Government critics have sited reduction in stop and search, closing down of children centres and cuts in the number of Police officers. In England and Wales, there are 21,000 fewer police officers now than there were in 2010 and in that same period council spending on Youth services has fallen by more than £750 million.

Others suggestions relate to drug and gang wars being the reason why youngsters carry knife. Social media is another reason given because these youngsters can have a massive following on platforms like Facebook and with significant followers backing down is not seen as an option.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged | 5 Comments

Telling Tales

The government is keen to play up the supposed benefits of Brexit. We are now getting to the ‘business end’ of the negotiations and as expected all is not as it seems. The government is talking up walking away with no deal instead of an accepting a bad deal (a bad deal would be an admission of its failure to negotiate with the EU) with the Brexit dividend that will be used to provide the NHS with a birthday present. Regarding the dividend, the Institute of Fiscal Studies made it clear that this was twaddle.

Just over a year ago the Office for Budget Responsibility (the governments’ official forecaster) estimated that as a result of lower economic growth because of Brexit tax revenue would fall by 2020/21 by £15 billion. It should also be noted that UK’s growth has gone from the faster-growing economy in G7 to the lowest other than Italy’s. This fall in revenue significantly surpasses our net contribution to the EU. The Institute of Fiscal Studies notes that there will be less rather than more money for the NHS and other services.

If we take our commitment to pay the agreed £45 billion plus a long-term obligation to pay pensions identified (until the need is exhausted), government’s commitment to support agricultural and the scientific research in universities – where then is the dividend for the NHS?

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged | 17 Comments

Radical Drugs Reform Needed

“The case of Billy Caldwell who needed cannabis oil for his severe epilepsy again highlights legalising cannabis not only for medical but recreational use. Although the Home Secretary (Sajid Javid) made an exception for Billy (by allowing cannabis oil use for 20 days) cannabis is still banned for recreational use. Sajid Javid said this week in the commons the position “We find ourselves in currently is not satisfactory”. Cannabis contains active ingredients called cannabinoids. These are used to relieve the pain of muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis or used to relieve sickness in people having chemotherapy for cancer. Other ingredients from cannabis help children with epilepsy. Cannabis does have medical benefits.

Some countries have regulated legal markets for the non-medical use of cannabis. There are Cannabis Social Club, sometimes called a Teapad, that control the cannabis market as non-profit organisations for the purpose of relaxing or for social communion that are only accessible to members. These can be found in Spain and also in the US. There are also cannabis coffee shops that are operating as coffee shops where cannabis is openly sold. These are usually found in the Netherlands.

Also in the US to regulate cannabis they have cannabis enterprise set up like businesses that are tightly controlled and sell cannabis. Uruguay’s has the government-controlled system for cannabis regulation. These are some examples of models for regulating non-medical cannabis being used around the world.

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

Artificial Intelligence and Liberty

Last year a computer program used by a US court for risk assessment was biased against African/Caribbean prisoners. The program was much more prone to label these defendants to re-offend.  Again in 2016 Microsoft released its Chatbot Tay in Twitter to engage in conversation.  In less than a day Chatboy Tay began uttering racist and sexist comments. Facebook last year experimented by allowing two AIs to interact freely. They had to shut them down as they very quickly developed their own version of the English language.

Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) is coming. We are moving from automation to intelligent application to eventually super intelligent A.I. There seems to be no clear plan or any real risk assessment of super-intelligent A.I. and how we will, in the long run, interact with such A.I.

Computers will not become biased on their own. They will learn from us. Up to now, computer science algorithms have focused on machine learning, often having programs performing work we would do, collecting and analysing data, identifying patterns and automating processes. However, as A.I. is built by human beings who have implicit biases, even if you could design an A.I. algorithm to be entirely agnostic for a race, gender, and religion, they will, through interaction, learn from our experience and the world we live in.

Posted in News and Op-eds | 21 Comments

Interview with the new Chair of FCC – Geoff Payne – Part 3 of 3

 

Do we need to have more radical fringe meetings – i.e. Invite more thought provoking / radical guests to fringe meetings;

Yes! I would love to see more radical fringe meetings.  Without wishing to be seen to cop out though, I should add that FCC is not directly responsible for running the fringe.  We make the rooms available and promote the opportunities to book but we are dependent on party members and other bodies coming forward with radical ideas.  I would like to see more fringe meetings focussed around controversial items on the agenda.

 

Do you feel the different number and variety of …

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Interview with the new Chair of FCC – Geoff Payne – Part 2 of 3

Geoff Payne

Repeatedly I hear from members that they want more policy motions to be discussed at the conference and to hear directly from more of the senior figures in the party

Given that we only have a finite amount of agenda time, there can be a tension between those two things!  I agree that those are the priorities of many of our members though.  People do enjoy speeches from spokespeople but they also attend to debate policy.  I am committed to wringing as many minutes as we can from the agenda.  That said, there are other important aspects of a conference such as the fringe and training.  The challenge we have is to balance the competing demands of them all

What will you do to encourage more AO’s and SAO’s to be at the party conferences especially as a lot of them are tight for funds

I completely understand the pressure on funds having chaired an SAO.  When I was Vice-Chair of FCC, I developed an agreement with many party bodies to enable more of them to take advantage of the concessionary party body rate for the exhibition and fringe.  We are going to continue that and are always interesting in hearing ideas about how we can make the experience better for them.  Many of them hold their Annual General Meetings at the conference and I really want to encourage that.  SAOs and AOs are part of the lifeblood of the party and they belong at the conference.

Do you have any plans to assist new members or members who have not attend a conference to attend?

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Interview with the new Chair of Federal Conference Committee – Geoff Payne – Part 1 of 3

Members at a conference
Congratulations on being elected the new FCC Chair

Thank you! It is a really exciting job to have; one of the very best in the party.

 

What changes do you think that Andrew Wiseman brought to the FCC as Chair?

Andrew was a great chair.  He steered us through the immediate pre-coalition period, though the years we were in government and then the period of re-building afterwards.  He oversaw increases in attendance, vast increases in commercial revenue from 2010 and more recently the attendance of huge numbers of new members at conference.  One of the most significant changes that he successfully navigated us through was the abolition of conference representatives and the move to one member, one vote.  He will be a very hard act to follow.

 

What attracted you to put yourself forward to be Chair of FCC as compared to another representative body of the LD?

The simple answer is that I love party conference.  We are unique in having a conference that actually makes the policy of the party.

Any member, from a person who joined just a few weeks ago, to the Leader can submit a motion to the conference and make a case for it being passed. All votes are equal.  Success depends on the power of argument and the strength of the idea.  The same goes for individual motions on particular issues, wide-ranging policy papers and indeed election manifestos.

The FCC plays an incredibly important role in refereeing conference, ensuring debates are fair and selecting an agenda that is interesting, varied and which contains things that members actually want to talk about.

We have a great committee comprised of members elected from across the party.  It is a real privilege to be its chair

 

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Brexit causes UK to lose £3.5bn in science and research

Currently, the UK ranks 3rd in the world for the scientific research behind the USA and China. For the period 2007/13, the UK received €8.8 billion out of a total of €107 billion expenditure on research, development and innovation. In the same period over 3,000 UK-based researchers received funding to work overseas (mainly in Germany and Italy).

EU’s flagship research and innovation programme are Horizon 2020. Since 2014 we have received about €3.6 billion in new grants, and over 10 per cent of research income for top UK’s university comes from the EU. By leaving the collaborative research community in the EU, the UK may well be isolated, and because of the international standing of UK in scientific research, it will also affect Europe’s overall standing in the world. In the UK, there is concern that if we no longer part of Horizon 2020 and implement a strict immigration regime, the UK will find it harder to attract the best scientists from around the world. University College London stated that 30% of the applicants for their research fellowship were from EU countries and this year there have been no applications.

Research Councils UK highlights that we benefit significantly from the investment and growth resulting from the EU scientific grant. The grant has already leveraged an additional £229 millions of funding from other partners. The government has so far stated that they will continue to fund scientific research to 2020, but there is no firm funding plan after that.

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Lib Dems demand new money to fund pay rise for teachers

Leading Liberal Democrats have written to the Chancellor calling for new, dedicated money from the Treasury to fund teachers’ future pay rises and are seeking cross-party support. 

The call comes amid fears that the Government will accept a pay rise for teachers, but won’t provide schools extra money to fund for it.

The Liberal Democrats MP argues that schools are “under huge financial pressures” and it is the responsibility of the Chancellor to “save them and their pupils from the inevitable consequences of a further erosion in the funding.”

The School Teachers Pay Review body has been looking into the issue of teachers pay and has made recommendations to the Government, which Education Ministers are due to respond to shortly.

The party’s Education Spokesperson Layla Moran has written to MPs seeking cross-party support for the campaign.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said: 

Posted in education, News and Op-eds | 19 Comments

Brexit will devastate food and farming standards

For the £110bn-a-year agriculture and food sector in the UK, the EU accounts for 60 percent of exports and 70 percent of imports. As there is likely to be no trading or customs agreement with the EU, it will mean that we will have to trade with the EU on World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs. The WTO tariffs will increase the price of goods coming into the UK, and this will have a significant adverse impact on the agricultural industry and consumers.

Although we will be able to agree on trade deals with other parts of the world (if we leave the EU), we should not compromise on our high standards for animal welfare, environmental and food standards. The government also needs to ensure that whatever border agreement they finally settle on, that movement of food perishable goods is not at risk.

Posted in News and Op-eds | 22 Comments

Childhood obesity a “time bomb”

Public Health England estimates that a quarter of children between two and ten years old are overweight or obese. There is a strong relationship between obese children and adults who have grown up and are overweight. Records show that obesity among children starting their first year of primary school has risen for the second year in a row and results from a survey of more than 1 million pupils across England, show 32.4% of girls and 36.1% of boys in the final primary school year are overweight or obese. Unfortunately, the children in deprived areas are much likely to be obese than those from affluent areas.

As the children grow obesity increases the risk of many health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, cancers, depression and anxiety.  Estimates suggest obesity cost the NHS over £5 billion a year.

There is no single solution to obesity, and sustained actions are required to change poor diets. The government says that obesity is a priority and they have made efforts to introduce a soft drinks levy and sugar reduction programme. The government, however, needs to act on adverts for unhealthy foods and junk food.

Posted in News and Op-eds | 15 Comments

Potholes, Potholes, Potholes…

I remember when the World cup was held in Mexico (1986) a TV commentator remarked his taxi, that was taking him to the TV studios, swerved from one side of the road to the other to avoid the potholes. In fact, the only people who drove straight were those who were drunk. The statistics for potholes are staggering:

  • Potholes cost British motorists an estimated £2.8 billion every year;
  • Over £30 million is paid out in compensation claims;
  • It is estimated that road maintenance is underfunded by £1 billion every year. If local authorities were given the funds required to maintain the roads it would take English local authorities 12 years to catch up on the current backlog;
  • RAC call-outs resulting from cars hitting potholes was up to 5,540 incidents in the first three months of this year;
  • February 2018 alone and in a 2016 survey, 39% of the AA’s members claimed potholes had damaged their cars;
  • The average amount allowed for each repair is £53. A Department for Transport spokesman couldn’t explain how the figure was broken down.

Potholes result from water trickling into cracks in the road surface and freezing. When the ice expands, it cracks the tarmac. The weather is usually blamed for the state of the roads.

Posted in News and Op-eds | 7 Comments

Water Shortage Predictions are Deeply Disturbing

So why is water shortage predicted by 2050?  Each person on average uses 137 litres per day, and with the current UK population, the water companies supply, daily, at least 1.2 billion litres of water. The water supply is managed by 27 different companies and by law, they must produce a Water Resource Management Plan that forecasts supply and demand and has a plan to describe how they will deliver water to the public for at least the next 25 years. Water companies across the UK collect, treat and pump water to users.

The water companies need to curb water leaks and of the 9,500 billion litres of freshwater extracted in 2016 (in England), three billion litres a day was lost through leaks from pipes, (although this represents levels down by a third since the peaking in 1994/95). The water that leaking through pipes is equivalent to about a fifth of the water in the system and is equivalent to the amount of water used by more than 20 million people on an average day. Households also waste vast amounts of water. In total, a third of water taken from the natural environment is wasted through leaks, treatment losses, and in the home.

Posted in Op-eds | 5 Comments

The trouble with World Trade Organisation (WTO)

With Americas’ announcement of tariffs on steel and aluminium, there are fears of a global trade war. If a trade war starts is WTO strong enough to intervene and stop it?

Over the last decade, numerous stalled negotiations have beset WTO credibility. The Ministerial Conference in Kenya in 2015 for the first time failed to support the Doha mandate. An ineffectual WTO will hurt everyone, but the most significant impact will be felt by the poor. In 2010 the Millennium Development Goals achieved one of its objectives, and that was to cut extreme poverty by half. Achieving this objective was aided by economic growth in poorer countries that took advantage of low tariffs and open markets where WTO played an essential role in overseeing trade rules are appropriately negotiated, implemented and monitored.

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To Brexit or Not to Brexit – That is the Question

There is a lot of concern whether UK will be able to complete the Brexit process even though the Tories continue to push, somewhat aimlessly, for the March 2019 date to end our European Union (EU) membership. From the beginning, it was evident that the government was poorly prepared for the negotiations. There was some hope that a more pragmatic approach would prevail when they realised the enormity of the task and its impact on the economy. However, an ambitious yet weak Prime Minister who wants to stay in power at all cost with an ideology cabinet that she cannot control results in her obstinately pursuing a Brexit agenda that she doesn’t believe. May’s reckless government is making a bad situation worse.

There are circumstances in which Brexit could fail. First one is Europe itself. At the moment, the EU 27 countries have to all agree on the deal. No matter what the deal is, the Tories will sell it as a win-win for the UK. However, EU 27 won’t see it that way. They will consider the deal in the cold light of day and judge if it’s good for them (Spain, for example, is worried about the ramifications of any proposed deals for Ireland and Scotland re Catalonia and what happens to Gibraltar).

Posted in Op-eds | 12 Comments

Evening with Vince Cable

Wokingham Borough local party invited Vince Cable to a question and answer session on Saturday 12th May 2018. It was good to see members from Wokingham, Reading, Newbury, Maidenhead, and Bracknell who came to meet and listen to Vince. Councillor Clive Jones asked wide-ranging questions with supplementary questions from the audience.

Some of the main points addressed by Vince were: –

  • Vince mentioned his meeting with the head of National Union of Students (NUS) and how the NUS talked about the neglect of further education (FE);
  • Vince highlighted the importance of vocational education and giving people a second chance;
  • FE education was different to University education as you pay cash up front for FE unlike for university courses when you start to pay after you start earning money. Vince also said that he was looking at how to reform both further education funding and university education funding and he hopes to have a proposal ready for the September conference;
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Fantasy Frontbench – University College London (UCL)

University College London has started a Fantasy Frontbench to debate major current issues. The first in their series was “Should Climate Change be UK’s Top Policy Priority?”. The guest speakers were Natalie Bennett (previous leader of the Green party), Ahir Shah (a comedian), Professor Mark Maslin (Geography professor at UCL) and Dr. Emily Shuckburgh (climate scientist at the British Antarctic Survey). About 120 people attended including children from local schools.

Before the discussion started, the audience was asked the question, and the result was 52% for Yes and 48% for No (to which Ahir commented that this was considered an overwhelming majority these days).

Each member of the panel had two minutes to put their case: for or against the motion. Interestingly Natalie started with “Climate change should not be the dominant policy priority but be one in a combination of high priority policies” – after a gasp, the indicator went to 43% for Yes and 57% for No.

Posted in Events and Op-eds | 1 Comment

Playing Games While Telling

I find telling at a polling station quite fun. The fun is trying to determine how residents are going to vote or how they have voted. In Wokingham, we targeted two Borough wards (which we won): both were gains. We are developing two other wards in Earley for next year. My ward is one of the development wards.

There are two polling stations in my ward, and on polling day I spent most of the day knocking people up, but I also spent some time at the polling stations. The polling station in the west of the ward was inside a library (the status of the library was a matter of some concern during the elections). When residents came in to vote I tried to guess who they would vote for:

Posted in Humour, Local government and Op-eds | 2 Comments

The Tories are failing vulnerable children

Children entering the care system every day is at a record high of 90 young people a day. The increase has been put down to such factors as substance misuse, inadequate housing, poverty and problems in the household. To March 2017 children that were being looked after in England and Wales was over 72,000.

With so many cuts to Children Services, the services are at a breaking point. Funding pressures leading to gaps in services are putting children and families at risk. Figures show that three-quarters of English councils exceeded their budgets, by over £600 million for children’s services last year. Now, increasingly, vulnerable children are being moved away from their hometowns. 

Posted in Op-eds | 6 Comments

Student Contract with Their Universities

For at least some of the courses all but three English higher education institutions will charge tuition fees of £9,250. The average tuition fee at English higher education institutions will increase to £9,110 in 2017-18, up from £8,905 the year before (source: The World university ranking).

A leaked government document in 2016 revealed that our universities were not providing good quality teaching despite the increased fees. The leaked report goes on to say that even the Russel Group universities cannot justify the £9,000 fees for courses. A further disclosure suggests that the target of doubling the number of young people going to university will not be achieved. Open Democracy UK has calculated that the actual cost to teach an undergraduate for a year is about £4,500.

Posted in education and Op-eds | 5 Comments

Lords defeat a victory for common-sense

The Government have received their eleventh defeat in the House of Lords during the Report stage of the EU Withdrawal Bill. The vote on an amendment to ensure our future interaction with EU law and agencies was passed by a cross-bench majority of 298 to 227

Commenting on the victory, Liberal Democrat Leader in the House of Lords, Lord Newby said:
This vote was a victory for common-sense. Of course if the UK wishes to remain in specific agencies, such as Euratom, it should be able to. This allows us to replicate EU law and means that we can continue our role in

Posted in News and Op-eds | 1 Comment

Will Brexit Affect the NHS

We all remember Boris’s epitaph on the side of the Out-campaign bus saying “Let’s fund our NHS instead”. This related to the £350 million a week that we supposedly pay to the Europe Union (the net figure was of course significantly less). The question is, is the NHS going to be worse off because of Brexit?

Currently, we don’t know how the negotiations are going to end. The government talks about leaving without a deal suggests that they can start trading with the EU on World Trade Organisation tariffs or the complicated agreement implied by May’s Florence speech. With no overall …

Posted in News | 14 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRob Parsons 19th Dec - 12:21pm
    The sentence that reads "However, it has its" should read "However, it has its own food bank".
  • User AvatarP.J. 19th Dec - 11:55am
    @Mark Argent @John King I agree entirely. Problem is that we have to be realistic. Given the human condition, it is unfortunately, quicker and easier...
  • User AvatarWilliam Le Breton 19th Dec - 11:33am
    Of course I welcome the fact that we have finally come round to the obvious course of tabling (almost) our own vote of no confidence...
  • User AvatarMichael 1 19th Dec - 11:26am
    @David Raw ! I am not as you know saying that PCSOs are equivalent to full-time police officers. To say that is to completely and...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 19th Dec - 10:32am
    On second thoughts, perhaps that sentence should have read ‘Intellect 1 Common Sense 0’. And no, I’m not going to name the MP, although I...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 19th Dec - 10:13am
    @Jayne Mansfield The trouble with all Representatives, from Parliament down (or should it be ‘up’) to Parish Council, is that you don’t need any qualification...