Category Archives: Europe / International

Anything to do with European / international issues

ALDE Congress preview: day 3 – it’s make your mind up time…

The final day of Congress is when the decisions get taken – electing Bureau members, determining policy, agreeing statute changes. Everything builds up to a frenzy of voting, as delegates are asked to vote for or against as many as twenty-five resolutions in one rather manic one hour session.

This is only possible because the big arguments take place in working group sessions on day 2, where compromises are reached and recommendations made to the plenary session the next day. For Liberal Democrats, this is a source of some wonderment, especially for those who have been to too many Federal Conferences. …

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ALDE Party Congress preview : Day 2 – an energised delegation hits the dance floor…

Another snowy dawn in Warsaw, made rather brighter by news from home, and whilst some of our delegation are paying the price for staying up to wait for the result from Richmond Park, there’s a definite spring in our step.

And so, what do we have to look forward to today?

It’s all about policy, with working groups looking at a range of resolutions, as well as the proposed reforms to the Party statutes (think constitutional amendments on steroids). Our delegation will be active participants, discussing Brexit, aspects of European democracy, economics, environmental issues and civil liberties.

In terms of the big, set-piece stuff, Congress is formally launched with speeches from the likes of Cecilia Malmström and Margrethe Vestager, two of the Liberal Commissioners, Guy Verhofstadt.

There is also a plenary debate on “Brexit and the Politics of Fear”, which includes our Willie Rennie, which may be slightly different in tone after last night’s success.

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ALDE Bureau elections: the runners and riders

alde-congress-2016Yes, it’s election time again, as the ALDE Party elects different positions in alternate years, the Presidency and some Vice-Presidents in odd-numbered years, the Treasurer and a few more Vice-Presidents in even-numbered years.

This year, there is no British interest, with Ros Scott having been safely elected as a Vice-President last year. As for the Treasurer, it looks as though there will be a intra-Slovene handover, with outgoing Treasurer, Roman Jakič, expected to be replaced by the sole candidate, Gašper Koprivsek from SMC (Modern Centre Party).

There are five candidates for three Vice-Presidential slots;

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ALDE Party Congress preview – day 1: a gentle warm-up before the drama commences

alde-congress-2016Welcome to Warsaw, where the cranes are busy bringing new skyscrapers to the city’s skyscape (don’t try to say that quickly…), and a thousand liberals from across Europe are meeting over the next three days.

To some extent, the event is dominated by Brexit – our sister parties are keen to adopt a common position on a European negotiating position, whilst simultaneously showing their support for pro-European forces in the United Kingdom (that would appear, given the Labour Party’s dithering on the subject, to be us). The welcome so far appears to be …

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ALDE Party Council preview – rewriting the rules, but not in triplicate…

Yes, it’s that time once again, when liberals gather from across Europe to renew old acquaintances, make policy and debate the burning issues of the day. Hang on, wrong introduction, that’s the one I meant to write for the Congress taking place alongside it.

It is fair to say that the Council meeting isn’t as exciting, focussing as it does on rule changes and membership applications.

First, the rule changes. There have been some concerns expressed that the way that individual parties are represented in the ALDE Party is not as fair as it might be. Accordingly, a small group of crack diplomats has been assigned the task of coming up with a new system. Needless to say, it combines a complexity that makes it hard to explain with a lack of salience to our readers that makes trying to do so fairly futile. I’ll give you a summary though…

The new system rewards successful parties and national influence, whilst rebalancing the membership dues system to ease the burden on small parties from small countries, something that, as a member of the Financial Advisory Committee, I had attempted to do a few years ago. Obviously, I support that. Whether or not the new allocations of Council and Congress delegates achieves the stated aim is another matter.

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Postcard from India – monumental bank note upheaval

cow-mini-market in Goa by Paul Walter
Paul Walter is now back at home. As is often the case, this postcard arrived after the sender returned to Blighty!

We’ve had an enrapturing holiday in Goa, India. The welcome from the Goan people was wonderful. The beauty of the place was breathtaking.

By coincidence, we arrived just a couple days after a major monetary change by the government. To wrong-foot terrorists and criminals, there has been a monumentally huge exercise called “demonetisation”, going on across this, the second most populous nation in the world. All the old 500 and 1000 rupee notes have been withdrawn from circulation at two hours’ notice.

In the Times of India, Santosh Desai wrote: “86% of the currency in circulation becomes illegal virtually overnight”. That relates to an estimated $210 billion worth of money notes. $210 billion! That is a mind-boggling figure.

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Liberal International’s African Reach

When Liberal International was founded in Oxford nearly 70 years ago it was very much a European affair. With the noble exception of Canada, Liberal parties and values were largely confined to northern Europe, but since then the picture has changed dramatically. As we in Britain lick our wounds from the double whammy of the Brexit vote and the triumph of Donald Trump in the United States let us take comfort from the fact that the Liberal family is growing worldwide. This was dramatically illustrated by the Liberal International (LI) Executive in Marrakesh, at which five new African parties – …

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Perhaps the world needs Donald Trump. But we will have to learn our lessons the hard way

Just how much of a shock was Donald Trump’s victory in the US Presidential election? As we had seen with the UK general election in 2015 and, to a lesser extent, this year’s EU referendum, the polls and last minute predictions were confounded. But, for this observer at least, the sense of shock has worn off.

Trump’s success not only corresponds with the widely documented social unrest of white Americans (working class or not – https://i.redd.it/dei5tr2kuatx.png), it fits into a far wider picture which we have seen develop across the western world in recent years. Trump’s use of Brexit to further his own campaign is, of course, no secret. But the trend goes beyond this. A world which has seen the rise of the Front National in France, Alternative für Deutschland in Germany, UKIP in the UK and the New Flemish Alliance in Belgium to name but a few, appears to have been hurtling towards this moment – towards what Trump would call the liberation of the white working classes, or the reclaiming of national identities.

As we witnessed in the aftermath of the EU referendum, such groups will be heartened by Trump’s triumph. They will perceive his presidency as an opportunity to further their own ambitions and to ride the wave of his success in their own countries. Indeed, we have already seen the triumphant response of members of the Klu Klux Klan to Trump’s win. Many comparable groups around the world will feel vindicated by the US public’s apparent acceptance and endorsement of Trump’s rhetoric on immigration and minority groups. It appears inevitable that their power and influence, in the US, the UK and beyond, will only increase over the course of Trump’s presidency. No one can say what the world will look like by the time of the next US election in 2021.

But the purpose of this article is not to scaremonger. Quite the reverse.

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Why oppose Brexit?

I was asked recently to come up with some points which might be helpful when campaigning against Brexit. I wrestle constantly with finding a compelling narrative which cuts through a mind set which seems to trap half the population. I hope nevertheless some of the following (probably familiar) wording why Brexit is bad for Britain may be of use:

To preserve and promote British prosperity: The pound’s 15% collapse since the referendum is forecast to result in 3-4% inflation next year affecting our living standards.

To preserve and promote British exports: Outside the EU, our access to our major export market will be impaired by tariff and non-tariff barriers. Foreign investment (and jobs) will gradually decline as profit margins are eroded. As part of the EU, we have the best trade deal. The Nissan ‘sweetheart deal’ must be extended to all firms. Alone the UK, now the world’s seventh largest economy with 2% of global GDP, will have less weight in international trade negotiations with our far larger partners.

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Tim Farron: ‘Unless the government agrees to a referendum on the final Brexit deal, the party will vote against Article 50’

Tim farron photo by liberal democrats dave radcliffe

This morning, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has laid out a red line on Article 50 and said unless the government agrees to a referendum on the final Brexit deal, the party will vote against Article 50 in the House of Commons.

Tim Farron said:

Millions of people are deeply worried by the government’s handling of Brexit.

So my position is very clear: the Liberal Democrats believe that the people are sovereign.

They must decide whether or not they agree with the deal that the government reaches with Brussels, which means

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Tim Farron responds to the election of Donald Trump

Commenting on the election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States of America, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has said:

Liberal values of moderation, freedom, respect for the rule of law, openness and concern for one another can no longer be taken for granted. In the United States last night, those values were defeated.

But those values are vital if we are to live together in peace, prosperity and freedom.

Those of us who care passionately for those liberal values need to fight for them, to win the arguments, to inspire new generations to the great and historic cause of

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ALDE MEP Charles Goerens proposes EU citizenship for members of former Member States

It looks as if it isn’t just the Liberal Democrats who are keen to remain within the European Union. Charles Goerens, a member of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament from Luxembourg, has suggested that there might be scope for those British citizens who wish to be part of the Union to obtain associate citizenship.

He has submitted an amendment to a draft report from Guy Verhofstadt on “Possible evolutions of and adjustments to the current institutional set-up of the European Union”, which reads;

Advocates to insert in the Treaties a European associate citizenship for those who feel and wish to

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European liberals to debate what comes after Brexit

alde-congress-2016Yesterday, members of the Party’s delegation to next month’s ALDE Party Congress in Warsaw, Poland, met to discuss the draft resolutions as submitted from liberal parties across the European Union and beyond.

Naturally, there will be much discussion on the future of the European Union post-Brexit, and resolutions on the subject have been submitted not only by the Liberal Democrats, but by our sister parties in Germany, the Czech Republic and Sweden, amongst others. It is noteworthy that Liberalerna (Sweden) call for;

a balanced deal for both the EU and the UK… which does

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Only liberals can stem the tide of ethnic nationalism in Bosnia

International Office_with textOn the surface of it, you couldn’t be blamed for feeling pretty grim about the results of the recent local elections which took place on 2 October in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In both semi-autonomous regions, the biggest winners were the large, ethno-nationalist parties who managed to maintain and entrench their positions as the major political force in their region. Perhaps most symbolically of all, the city of Srebrenica, where the infamous genocide of over 8,000 Muslim Bosniaks by the Bosnian Serb Army of Republika Srpska took place in 1995, has elected its first Serb mayor since the end of that conflict, triggering alarm amongst the Bosniak population and a resurgence in public expressions of Serbian nationalism.

Bosnians were voting for mayors and municipal councils in Bosnia’s two semi-autonomous regions – the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska and the Bosniak-Croat Federation. These regions have their own governments, presidents and parliaments, although they remained linked by shared federal institutions. The regions were empowered to largely run themselves after the end of the Bosnian War to maintain relative peace between the two largest ethnic groups in Bosnia.

In Republika Srpska, the Serbian nationalist party, the Independent Social Democrat’s Party (SNSD), successfully shored up their support through a nationalistic – and since declared illegal – referendum campaign for keeping the date of January 9th as the national day of the Republika, which took place just days before the election. The SNSD’s pro-Serb rhetoric has only strengthened, with incumbent President Milorad Dodik campaigning on a promise of Republika Srpska’s secession from Bosnia. The results show that such nationalistic rhetoric still holds a lot of power, with the SNSD winning 11 more mayoral posts and 30% more municipalities since the 2012 local elections.

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Is sovereignty just another source of likely disappointment for the Brexiteers?

Whilst there is a suspicion amongst the more ardent Remain supporter that Brexit was simply about immigration, there were those who claimed that, by voting to leave the European Union, we could reclaim our sovereignty, taking back control, as they put it.

Now, I’m in a sense relaxed about that, in that if that was their genuine wish, then it is at least philosophically consistent. Yes, the question of cost was never really discussed – like the Scottish independence campaign, the supposed benefits were in the headlines, the price in minuscule type, if it was ever mentioned at all. Fair enough, one might suppose – there is yet to be the political salesman that raises the relative drawbacks of their product.

But the problem is that sovereignty is a concept that, in a complex, inter-related world, is becoming increasingly blurred. Do nation states have the ability to “take back control” any more?

In his recent Ditchley Lecture, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer spoke of the increasingly complex nature of jurisdiction, noting that the United States has signed more than 800 international agreements, most of which defer supervision of some element of our lives to transnational, unelected, unaccountable bodies – the internet being the most universal of its type – yet which go virtually unnoticed by the general public.

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International Relations Committee report

Editor’s Note: This report was actually filed just after the meeting ended at Conference but we waited until we were all home to put it up.

Amidst the talk of Brexit and of our future place on the world as a nation, International Relations Committee met in a spirit of determination to do our part.

At the top of the agenda were opportunities to discuss the impact of Brexit beyond our shores, courtesy of Kerstin Lundgren, the Foreign Affairs spokesperson for Sweden’s Centerpartiet, and Joseph Garcia, Deputy Chief Minister of Gibraltar and Leader of the Gibraltar Liberal Party. It was apparent that, whilst our Government is attempting to work out what its negotiating stance might be, there are parallel processes going on already within other national governments.

Naturally, from the Gibraltarian perspective, concerns about the border with Spain, crossed by 12,000 Spanish workers onto the Rock each day, are uppermost, along with the implications for the flourishing financial services industry. Indeed, there has been talk of entry into Schengen for Gibraltar.

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Zambia: one too many close calls for democracy?

Zambia 1Democracies in the developing world must often overcome a number of hurdles on the road to maturity and development as a stable state. Peaceful elections, a vibrant civil society, regular transfer of power, and fair service delivery are all key indicators of democratic development. No doubt, differences in the maturing of democracies should be considered based on local realities, and a so-called Western roadmap must not be the only lens through which we view this development.

But has the southern African country of Zambia, rich in copper and with plentiful tourism potential, had one too many close calls in its democratic development? Does Zambia and its people need to rethink their political path?

The most recent August 11th elections certainly give that impression.

This year’s General Elections resulted in the incumbent Edgar Lungu (Patriotic Front – PF) winning the presidential race by just over 2.5%, enough to avoid a second-round run-off. The liberal opposition United Party for National Development (UPND), led by Hakainde Hichilema, also lost the last presidential by-election by a mere 27,757 votes. Those early presidential elections were called after the passing of former President Michael Sata in 2014. On the surface, these results appear to be a sign of political maturity, with an election called upon President Sata’s death and an apparently democratic process in place for political succession.

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What would you do if you were the Mayor of Calais?

IMG_1210

Inside the Jungle in Calais

I was part of a Local Government Association delegation last week to the ‘jungle’ in Calais.

The ‘camp’ is essentially a shanty town with tents and shacks (including ‘restaurants’) built from scrap materials. It is set in sand dunes next to an industrial estate and alongside one of the key roads heading towards the Channel Tunnel. Its occupants are mainly male and there are over 800 residents classed as children – including many teenagers. The bulk are Afghan, fleeing Taliban conscription and in places combat zones. There are some Syrians as well as Eritreans and Somalis.

The authorities are clearly hostile to the camp: residents feel that the inhabitants are responsible for nuisance and crime. The response to this in March was partial demolition –which meant that 127 children simply disappeared. Meanwhile the CRS (the riot police in other circumstances) harass the inhabitants – confiscating phones, destroying SIM cards – and using plastic bullets, which can cause life-changing injuries.

The camp does not officially exist. Nevertheless, provision has been made for some inhabitants to go into adjacent freight containers – adapted to provide a form of accommodation, aimed at women with younger children, because of the dangers posed by people traffickers in the main camp.

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Tom Brake calls for Turkey to be suspended from NATO

As the human rights situation in Turkey worsens, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesperson Tom Brake has called for Turkey to be suspended from NATO and for the refugee deal between Turkey and the EU to be scrapped.

He said:

Erdogan’s ongoing purge of newspapers, academics, teachers and judges has nothing to do with Turkey’s security and everything to do with blocking any opposition to his increasingly authoritarian rule. Today’s news that dozens more media outlets have been shut should send shivers down the spine of any person who believes in a free and open society.

The preamble to NATO’s founding treaty refers to it being “founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law”, all of which are under threat in Turkey currently.

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Tom Brake fights for the rights of EU citizens in the UK

The 3 million EU citizens currently resident in the UK must not be bartered over in this country’s exit negotiations with the EU. They must not be treated as political pawns, or like children caught up in their parents’ divorce. So said Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake as he introduced his “EU Citizens in the UK (Right to stay) Bill to the Commons this week. The Bill has support from MPs from Labour, SDLP, SNP and Greens.

I’m glad to see Lib Dems calling the Brexit vote for what it is – a disaster. Someone needs to point out that we are on the edge of a massive precipice and the tanking of the pound is just the start. Already business is starting to feel the pinch as investors delay investing in the UK. The collapse of the travel firm Lowcostravel is just one example of jobs being lost as a result of the Brexit vote. People haven’t yet even begun to experience the effects of Brexit and when they do, they need to see who was speaking out from the start.

I’m very proud that it is our lot who are working to preserve the rights of people who are already worrying about their future. It is only fair that those who have made their lives here are allowed to stay and not have the goalposts moved. Imagine if you have moved here, fallen in love, established a social network, a family, a career, in this country. Would you like to be treated that way?

Here is Tom’s speech in full:

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Season 2: The state of play in Spain ahead of the election on 26 June

It’s often said that we no longer have The Thick of It because politics can no longer be effectively satirised in Britain. You could say the same about Spain (although there is a Catalan programme that makes a valiant effort.)

After the last round of post-election negotiations failed, it sometimes seems like you’re watching a particularly dramatic TV show. The polls have remained fairly static, and where there are variations in the number of seats in the new election on  26th June they will be reasonably small.

However, there has been one large development – Podemos and Izquierda Unida (IU) have formed an electoral pact (the Pact of the Beer Bottles) for this round. Iglesias has made no secret of the fact that his goal is to overtake the PSOE (Socialists) in seats, but his party was starting to drop in the polls. Alberto Garzón’s IU was benefiting from that, so those two will likely make some form of gain there.

In Britain, we know all too well that when the election results are uncertain and the system very polarised, more moderate parties lose out. In the same way that the Tories and the SNP fed off each other, the PP and this new Unidos Podemos (Together We Can) formation happily do the same. The PP paint themselves as the sole force that can stop the Unidos Podemos (UP) threat, which plays into UP’s hands in the same way that Cameron’s fearmongering played into Sturgeon’s.

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‘Strategic patience’ in Tbilisi

For the first time ever, Liberal International has held its Executive Committee in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, at the invitation of the Republican Party of Georgia. Regional and global security were at the top of the agenda, with a strong presentation by Georgia’s Defence Minister, Tinatin ‘Tina’ Khidasheli on the challenges facing former Soviet republics now finding themselves on the periphery of an expansionist Russia.

To drive the point home, we participants were all bussed out of the city to the ‘occupation line’, which marks the current limit of Russian encroachment into Georgian territory just south of South Ossetia (which the Russians have already effectively annexed, as they did with Ukraine’s Crimea). Just days before, the Russians had rolled a giant barbed wire fence further into Georgian territory, leaving some Georgian farmers cut off from their land and families divided. Tens of thousands of Georgians have already fled South Ossetia and have been resettled or temporarily rehoused.

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The ALDE Party Celebrates 40th Birthday

The Easter weekend marked the 40th Anniversary of formation of the Alliance of Liberal Democrats in Europe (ALDE). ALDE is a political party is formed of an alliance many of the liberal and democrat parties in Europe.

BBG ALDE

The ALDE party was founded on 26 March 1976 in Stuttgart in Germany. It was the first cross border political family. More can be read on the Stuttgart declaration at the ALDE party site but suffice to say it is based on the Oxford Manifesto of 1947 and was was formed from fourteen parties from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom as well as the International Liberal Youth Organisation and the Liberal Group in the European Parliament.

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Keeping Britain in the EU: How reassuring the sceptics should mean more than talk of “sovereignty”

Over the last few months the political media has been transfixed by David Cameron’s efforts to “renegotiate” Britain’s relationship with the European Union. Whilst Tim Farron quite rightly describes Cameron’s demands as having much more to do with keeping the Conservative Party together than fixing anything more fundamental about the EU, the reasons for making this effort are obvious: reassuring nervous eurosceptics that Britain still has influence in Europe and neutralising fears (however unjustified) that the British voice will be somehow overpowered.

Nigel Farage responded by calling Cameron’s deal “a slap in the face for Britain”. So far, so predictable.  Yet right at the core of eurosceptic complaints is so often the insidious, sometimes devious suggestion that nothing we hear from Brussels can be trusted. When Blair got an opt-out from the Euro, the sceptics said we’d be forced in anyway. When Brown got an opt-out from the Fundamental Charter of Fundamental Rights, the sceptics claimed the European Court of Justice would simply ignore it. Cameron says we have protection from being overrun by the Eurozone? The sceptics claim it isn’t worth the paper it is written on.

In their deluded yet strangely persuasive form of paranoia, the Kippers argue that, even if it all seems reasonable on the surface, we can never trust the EU to keep their word and that our courts and our Parliament will be (supposedly) powerless to stop them.

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Political disconnect in Calais and Dunkirk

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 10.30.54It is not surprising that media reports focus on the appalling conditions in the Calais and Dunkirk camps. On a recent trip Lord Roberts’ team saw for themselves how men, women and children live in knee-high mud, and brave the winter weather with little more than flimsy tents to keep the wind and rain at bay. In response to accusations that the British government are neglecting their humanitarian responsibilities, the Prime Minister champions the fact that under the Dublin Regulations, the UK has to allow family members of British people to claim asylum in the UK.

Despite the Dublin Regulations, the reality is that virtually no one can access this legal route. Many asylum seekers do not fully understand the unnecessarily complex system, and are unaware of exactly what their rights are; there are even reports of British passport holders unable to enter the UK from the camps. Despite government claims that British officials are present in the camp, these visits are occasional at best and offer no means of beginning an asylum claim. So although many asylum seekers in Calais and Dunkirk (as well as across Europe) have a legitimate legal right to claim asylum in the UK, it is incredibly difficult to access in practice. 

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Africa Liberal Network becomes largest liberal network outside Europe

International Office_with textSupported by the Liberal Democrats International Office, the Africa Liberal Network (ALN) has grown to become the largest network of liberal parties outside Europe, with 47 member parties from across 30 African nations. Taking place from 27 – 31 January 2016, the ALN held its 12th General Assembly in Johannesburg, South Africa, hosted by South Africa’s largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA).

With the theme of “Winning elections: the strategies, policies and solutions for success”, the General Assembly brought together nearly 80 delegates from 30 countries across the continent to discuss strategies to win elections and champion liberalism in their home countries. Through sharing techniques and approaches to campaign strategy, policy development and youth mobilisation, the ALN focused its efforts on helping member parties to win elections, emerge out of opposition and make liberal government a reality across Africa. Olivier Kamitatu, the ALN President, said in his opening speech:

ALN GA 1

The ALN has grown because Africa is at a crossroads and needs a liberal offering now more than ever. Our goal now must be to win elections across Africa in 2016-17.

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Farron and Brake say that those who killed Alexander Litvinenko must be held to account

Tim Farron and Tom Brake have reacted to this morning’s publication of the report into the nurder of Alexander Litvinenko which concluded that Andrei Lugovoi, a key ally of Vladimir Putin, and Dmitri Kovtun killed Litvinenko and that Putin probably authorised it.

Tim Farron said that those responsible must be held to account:

A UK citizen was killed on the streets of London with polonium. It was an attack on the heart of Britain, our values and our society.

I call for EU travel bans, asset freezes and coordinated action to deal with those who committed this evil assassination. I have called for a new Magnitsky Law to make sure that these people are held to account for what they did.

These assassins trampled over British sovereignty and we cannot let this go unanswered.

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Postcard from Tblisi: Visiting our liberal colleagues in Georgia

International Office_with textLast month I travelled with the Liberal Democrat International Office to visit our liberal colleagues, the Republican Party of Georgia (RPG), in Tbilisi – nestled between Russia and Turkey. The occasion was the Republican Party’s bi-annual Party Congress, and the Liberal Democrats had been invited to send a speaker for their discussions on the economy.

Politics in Georgia is a difficult to sum up in a few words. It is East meets West both politically and geographically; a country with a strong European identity but with Soviet overhangs. The Patriarch can condemn homosexuality and hold an open-air mass for the EU in the same week.

The RPG are a junior party in the Georgian Dream coalition government, with relatively few seats but a good chunk of influence. The rest of Georgian Dream leans a bit more populist and at times socially conservative. Fellow liberals the Free Democrats fell out of the coalition in 2014 in a bitter and personal dispute that ended in dubious corruption charges, while former governing party the UNM remain tainted by their corruption and abuses of power during their final term. And in the wings perhaps lies the spectre of pro-Russian political elements – often feared, but rarely seen.

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Paddy on “moral duty” to save starving Syrians

Paddy Ashdown has teamed up with Labour MP and former Oxfam staffer Jo Cox to make the case for urgent action to help not just those people suffering in Madaya but the 1 million Syrians suffering the effects of sieges. They wrote in the Telegraph:

The UN estimates that 400,000 people have been systematically denied food, medicine and water in medieval siege conditions in Syria: the real figure is probably nearer to one million. Meanwhile the Syrian Government plays grandmothers footsteps with the international community: besiege a city, wait for the political pressure to build, make limited or phoney concessions, and then, when everyone has lost interest, continue as before. Last year the UN made 91 requests of the Syrian government to secure humanitarian access across conflict lines. Less than a third of those have been approved. In total, only 13 cross-line convoys were completed.

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EURef latest round-up: Putin, investment risks and some bar charts…

Recent days provided plenty of new developements about the EU Referendum.

Putin gains from exit

The person with most to gain from Brexit is Putin, writes Liberal European Leader Guy Verhofstadt MEP in the Guardian.

More expert concern that Brexit is bad for investment

If you prefer video to written news, see this discussion between senior investors Anne Richards and Simon Smiles on the pound risk of Brexit, from Bloomberg News.

Another investment CEO, Richard Buxton, has warned of the danger of Breixt is deterring investment.

Stronger IN video exposes Exit’s double-speak

The Stronger IN campaign have published a video mocking the contradictory statements of Exit campaigners.

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