Author Archives: The Voice

Donna Lalek goes from 5th to 3rd and increases vote share in Alyn and Deeside by-election

We don’t often see Tuesday by-elections, but the Welsh Assembly’s Alyn and Deeside by-election took place yesterday.

The result was a solid one for Liberal Democrat candidate Donna Lalek.

She moved the party from 5th to 3rd and put on 1.8% in vote share.

And the numbers:

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Sal Brinton’s call to action on women’s representation – and tales of BBC bad practice and great Liberal women

On Monday there was a debate in the House of Lords on Women in Public Life timed to celebrate the 100th anniversary of some women getting the vote. There were many Lib Dem contributions and we’ll be putting them all up over the next few days.

First up is Sal Brinton. Her wide ranging speech included tributes to fantastic Lib Dem women like Nancy Seear and Shirley Williams, horrifying stories of appalling employment practice at the BBC and fond memories of her family member who had been on the Mud March as a 16 year olds and was a passionate suffragist.

Enjoy!

The debate took place before she started her 24 hour fast for Hungry for Democracy:

My Lords, I declare my interest as a director of the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, which has given grants to, among others, WASPI, Make Votes Matter, and other organisations that have been mentioned already during the debate, as well as ​to many other political reform campaigns. I congratulate the noble Baronesses, Lady Williams and Lady Vere, for introducing this debate. We have had the most extraordinarily unified views about the success over the last 100 years, but also recognise that there are many problems.

I want to move back well over 100 years ago to John Stuart Mill. My favourite quotation from him is:

“The most important thing women have to do is to stir up the zeal of women themselves”.

He said that in a letter to Alexander Bain in 1869. A lot of the rest of his political life was spent helping women to be able to do that.

The woman who stirred up my own zeal was Baroness Stocks of Kensington and Chelsea, who started life as a Brinton and was referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Norton. She had an extraordinary life. I did not know that—I knew a doughty old lady who came to lunch on Sundays. She was principal of Westfield College, just around the corner from where I lived. My Conservative father, though not an MP at that time, won every argument at the dinner table, except when Mary was there. She taught me, by my watching the way in which she debated and engaged, that it was perfectly possible for women to do what they wanted. I can remember her saying to me on one occasion in the late 1960s, when I was still just at secondary school and so a bit behind the revolution that was going on around me, “You know, you can do exactly what you want to do. You just have to set your mind to it”. This woman did set her mind to it. She did an extraordinary range of things, as did many of the other women who were suffragists and suffragettes. They took that into other parts of their lives. But her passion and deeds started early. In 1907, aged 16, she was on the Mud March, one of the first big marches of the suffragist movements. I quote her voice at that time from her autobiography, My Commonplace Book:

“I carried a banner in the 1907 ‘mud march’ at the head of which walked Mrs Fawcett, Lady Strachey, Lady Frances Balfour, and that indomitable liberty boy, Keir Hardie. As we moved off through the arch of Hyde Park Corner we met a barrage of ridicule from hostile male onlookers. ‘Go home and do the washing,’ ‘Go home and mind the baby’ were the most frequent taunts flung at us. As we proceeded along Piccadilly it was observed by some of the marchers that the balcony of the Ladies’ Lyceum Club was crowded with members looking down from their safe vantage. Some of the marchers looked up and shouted: ‘Come down and join us.’ I do not know whether any of them did.

It was a great adventure for a sixteen-year-old; and on returning to school on the following Monday I was uncertain how my public exploit would be regarded by authority. I need not have worried. All the mistresses were suffragists, as indeed were all salary-earning professional women”.

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We might not be discussing mental health detention at our Conference, but we are trying to change things

The wonderful Ms Rigg wrote a very detailed piece on how the motions were selected for Spring Conference this week. As a member of the Party’s Federal Conference Committee, she knows all there is to know about such things and it’s great that she shares so much with us.

In her post,  she lamented that a motion on mental health detention, had not made it through.

The mental health detention motion would have highlighted an injustice that is not widely known and would have given us a distinctive policy platform which none of the other parties have – with all due respect to the submitters of the NHS at 70, there’s little in there that is distinctive.

I tend to see her point on this. We do need to show our distinctive perspective on all sorts of pieces so I’m glad that she voted the way she did.

We would have had no shortage of support for such a motion. In fact, we may even have got some parliamentarians speaking in favour. Alistair Carmichael held a debate in Parliament this week on this very issue.  He told the story of a constituent’s son, who’s based in England, and the ordeal he went through. The treatment he received and the failure of the authorities to realise what they had done wrong and apologise for it is pretty disgraceful. Here’s Alistair’s speech:

In recent years, as a community and a society, we have made remarkable progress on our attitudes to mental health. To talk about mental illness is no longer the taboo that it was when I was growing up, and as a consequence we have seen remarkable progress in recent years in relation to the treatment of people, especially in our national health service.

Today, I will focus attention on a slightly different aspect of this issue—one that does not get the same attention as the treatment of people with mental health problems in the NHS. I will talk about the experience of people who come into contact with the criminal justice system—initially, of course, with the police, then with the prosecution services and, possibly, the prison authorities. The purpose of this debate is to make clear to the Minister that within those agencies of the state, we need a change of attitude and culture similar to those we have seen in other aspects of our daily life.

It is surprising that this issue does not get more attention. Many of the people about whom we are speaking often exhibit in public or private what might euphemistically be called “challenging behaviour”, which is a symptom or consequence of their mental illness. It seems to me that at all levels—in the police, the prosecution services, the courts and the prisons—we need a greater level of understanding of their life experience and, as a consequence, better implementation of procedures. In fact, many procedures are pretty good but, as I will come on to explain, they are not followed in a way that is appropriate or that was intended when they were put in place.

I confess that I had rather thought that, within the criminal justice system, we had got beyond that point. Almost a quarter of a century ago, both as a trainee solicitor in Aberdeen and as a prosecutor, I railed against some police officers who, at that stage, still reported people who had attempted suicide, alleging that they had breached the peace. That attitude belonged in the 19th century, not the 20th, and I hope that such things would not happen today. However, it illustrates the underlying attitude that requires exposure.

My interest in this issue was first engaged as a result of a constituent—a lady resident in Orkney—who came to see me because she was concerned about the treatment of her son. This is not an isolated case. From discussions ​that I have had with people in the police, the criminal justice system and social work, I believe that it illustrates pretty well many of the ways in which the criminal justice system fails to meet the needs of people in our community, especially those who suffer from mental health problems.

I will not name these people; my constituent and her son want to retain their privacy, which is perfectly legitimate. However, the Minister should be acquainted with this case; last week, I forwarded him my correspondence file, which is fairly substantial, so that he would be aware of the background.

My constituent’s son is resident in Romford. He has a history of mental illness problems, but prior to the episode that I will discuss he had taken himself off some of the medication that he had been prescribed, because it had side effects that disagreed with him. He was reported missing by his partner on 27 April 2014. She contacted the police because she was concerned that he might kill himself. Eventually, he was traced by two police constables to a shopping centre in Romford. Questioned by the constables on the street, he told them that he was in possession of two kitchen knives, and at that stage he said that he did not intend to harm others; later in an interview, he said that he was considering harming some of those he loved.

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Vince: Dear Jeremy, Stop supporting Tory Brexit and give the people a say

Vince Cable has written to Jeremy Corbyn to ask him to put the Labour party in line with its own supporters and support a referendum on the final Brexit deal.

Here is the text n full:

Jeremy Corbyn
Leader of HM Opposition
House of Commons
London, SW1A 0AA

2nd February 2018

Dear Jeremy,

I am writing to you about Brexit, because I was dismayed by your interview with Andrew Marr last Sunday, when you reiterated your personal objection to letting the British people have their say on the Conservatives’ Brexit deal.

There is now significant momentum behind demands for the people to have the final say. Repeated polls show a substantial majority of people are in favour of a public vote. The most recent ICM survey showed a 16-point lead in favour.

Moreover, the vast majority of your own supporters want this referendum – 78% according to an authoritative study by Queen Mary University, London. We know most of your Parliamentary party feel similarly. Surely it is time for Labour to join the campaign rather than continue to support Theresa May’s pursuit of a damaging hard Brexit.

As the leak of the Department for Exiting the European Union’s impact assessment shows, there is no form of Brexit that will see British workers and their families better off than if we remain within the EU.

You will have noted that Yanis Varoufakis – among many others from your own democratic socialist tradition – endorsing a similar conclusion this week, with strong support for the Single Market.

You have energised young people to get engaged in politics, which is a significant achievement. But with three quarters of young people under the age of 25 opposed to leaving the EU, they will be left disillusioned if you do not help the fight to secure them the option of an exit from Brexit.

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Rennie warns of budget cuts to councils and health boards

Speaking ahead of the Scottish Parliament debate on the Budget, Willie Rennie set out the Liberal Democrat priorities of investment in education and mental health. The SNP Finance Minister has not made good on a promise to provide funding for inter-island ferries in the Northern Isles of Orkney and Shetland.

The Budget needs to do more to meet the long term needs of the economy.

It should invest in people through education and mental health. We have a fully costed plan to make that happen.

We have yet to hear how the SNP are going to change the Budget to make sure

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Dick Newby: Withdrawal Bill exhibits Government’s arrogance and incompetence

As the EU Withdrawal Bill hits the House of Lords, here is Dick Newby’s speech in full:

It is now a year since Your Lordships House began its debate on the Bill triggering Article 50 and 10 months since the Article was triggered.

It is generally agreed that both the withdrawal agreement and the agreement on our future relations with the EU have to be concluded before the end of the year and so we are approximately half way through the entire period available for our exit negotiations. What has been achieved so far?

My Lords, Virtually nothing.

The Government has formally agreed on the future rights of EU citizens living in the UK, but this was something which from day one it said was going to do. It has agreed on a divorce bill – but again the Prime Minister had long been clear the Government was going to do so, even if some members of her Cabinet were not.

And on the status of Northern Ireland it has agreed a form of words which, far from settling the matter, are interpreted in a completely different way in Ireland from the gloss put on them here in London, as I discovered in a range of discussions I had in Dublin last week.

On our future relationship with the EU, beyond bland and meaningless platitudes, we have nothing.

In December we were told that the Cabinet would have agreed on our future trading relationship with the EU during January. Well January has come and virtually gone and there is still no sign of such a decision, or anything approaching one.

And the Prime Minister is now so cowed by a fractious and disunited Cabinet that she daren’t even make a speech on the subject. My Lords there are many Noble Lords in Your Lordships House with longer experience of governments than me, but I doubt whether any of them will have seen a Prime Minister and a Government in such a state of paralysis.

And in the real world, our growth rate has fallen from the highest in the G7 to the lowest, the head of the OBR describes the economy as “weak and stable” and the Government’s own assessments of the impact of Brexit on the economy are uniformly negative.

It is against this background that we begin our consideration of the Withdrawal Bill.  Of course it was never intended to be the Withdrawal Bill. It was supposed to be the Great Repeal Bill. That is until the Commons Clerks object to the use of the word Great. They could equally have objected to the word repeal, because this bill is not a repeal bill. It is a transfer bill, taking the whole bulk of existing EU legislation and turning it into domestic legislation.

ML whilst it is easy to dismiss the kerfuffle about the Bill’s title with a smile, it is very revealing of the Government’s overall approach to the Brexit process. It can be characterised as a combination of arrogance and incompetence which is now threatening the future of our country. And the background ticking of the clock is getting louder by the day. 

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Labour “betraying members and parliamentary base” by opposing single market membership

Jeremy Corbyn told the Andrew Marr Show this morning that Labour did not favour the UK staying in the single market. Will Labour members, who overwhelmingly want to do so now realise that Corbyn is not going to deliver what they want? A Queen Mary University study showed that 85% of Labour members want to stay in the single market. There is even higher support, 87% for staying in the customs union. 78% want the public to have a final say on the Brexit deal. Corbyn ruled that out too.

Vince Cable had this to say:

As has long been suspected,

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRoland 18th Feb - 12:15am
    No Rob Parker, the referendum didn't mandate anything, however, various influential fringe elements of the Conservative party, being worried about UKIP and wanting to appear...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 17th Feb - 9:22pm
    "middle-class Remainers of the north of England to be given more attention?" Why only middle class remainers? I live in the North too and, from...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 17th Feb - 9:06pm
    As always it comes down to wanting more money for the NHS and social services. We are always asked "But where is the money going...
  • User AvatarRob Parker 17th Feb - 8:56pm
    "May’s speech shows that staying in the EU is best for Britain’s security" Right, but the referendum result, which politically speaking May HAS to implement,...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 17th Feb - 8:40pm
    @JoeB, To be fair to Ricardo, he did float the idea of Ricardian equivalence, he later backed away from the idea. His entry in Wiki...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 17th Feb - 8:27pm
    Can I put in a plea for the middle-class Remainers of the north of England to be given more attention? It is reported that the...