Category Archives: LibLink

For highlighting articles by Lib Dems that have appeared elsewhere in the media.

Jane Dodds: Welsh Farmers feel sold down the river by the Conservatives

Jane Dodds has said that the Welsh Council elections in May offer an opportunity for voters who feel let down by the Conservatives to send them a message by electing hard-working Liberal Democrats, just like they did in North Shropshire.

Writing in the County Times, she highlighted the failure of the Conservative Government to meet the needs of farmers and highlights growing support for the Liberal Democrats.

Time and time again on the doorstep we heard the sheer anger of voters, many of whom had voted Conservative for decades, that the Government simply doesn’t care about rural areas.

In contrast to the Government’s ‘levelling up’ mantra, many of these communities feel they are being levelled down.

This feeling was particularly strong among North Shropshire’s farming community and their concerns echo that I’ve heard across Powys.

Whether it’s on their failure to engage with the industry over concerns over the Australian and New Zealand trade deals, a failure to solve problems on the UK-EU veterinary agreement or a failure to help address labour shortages, the Conservatives are repeatedly failing to address the problems faced by our farmers.

Many feel as if they have been sold down the river for quick trade deals designed to benefit big bankers in the City with little regard for rural communities.

In contrast, the Liberal Democrats have a lot to offer the rural communities they have always understood and served:

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LibLink: Christine Jardine Government looks heartless and out of ideas as migrants keep dying

In her Scotsman column this week, Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine accuses the Government of trashing our country’s long tradition of providing sanctuary to those who need it.

It is as if the Government does not know that the word and concept of refugees was created by this country.

Its origins are in the creation of a safe haven, a refuge in London for Huguenots fleeing persecution in 17th century France.

They became known as refugees.

That was the start of a long, proud tradition of this country providing sanctuary for those fleeing persecution or poverty and willing to contribute to our society.

Perhaps the proudest episode was the kinder transports of the second world war which allowed so many youngsters who might otherwise have perished in Hitler’s death camps to build happy, prosperous lives in this country.

She outlined how this current Government is failing in its obligations:

I know individual members of the cabinet will be as shocked and upset as any of us at the horror of what has happened this past few days.

But collectively their response to the issue to date looks heartless and devoid of any compassion.

At best it is incompetence that has led the Home Secretary to announce hopeless policies like the dangerous ‘push-back’ of refugee boats to French waters or the ludicrous proposal to process arrivals in Albania.

There seems to be little if any understanding of what the problem is or any creativity in addressing it.

The cruel and counterproductive Anti-Refugee Bill serves as proof of that and is a nasty piece of legislation that only makes problems worse.

She highlighted the awful conditions of refugees around Calais:

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: Days before COP26, Tories and SNP let us down on climate change

In her Scotsman column this week, Christine Jardine looks forward to COP26, but highlights how both Scotland’s governments have mucked up on climate change:

First there was the mic drop moment when the SNP at Holyrood teamed up with the Tories at Westminster to back a third runway at Heathrow Airport. A move which will increase carbon dioxide emissions over that part of the country by a mind-boggling 183 billion kilograms by 2050, once you take into account not just the flights but the construction.

I am no expert but that’s a lot of CO2.

And this must be uncomfortable for the SNP’s new partner in Government:

What was particularly curious was that while my own party – the Scottish Liberal Democrats – introduced an amendment to scrap support for the runway, the Scottish Greens are content to continue in government with the party which backs that Heathrow expansion.

The Tories added insult to injury by cutting Air Passenger Duty:

It is accepted that aircraft on routes of 700 kilometres or less emit more carbon dioxide per person for every kilometre travelled than long-haul flights do. The actual figures are 251 grams per km for short haul compared to 195g per km for long haul.

The reason is that take-off and landing use the most fuel, while level flight over longer distance is cleaner in comparison.

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LibLink: Ed Davey: China will dictate the success of COP 26

When it comes to major global climate change talks, Lib Dem leader Ed Davey has way more experience than Boris Johnson. As Climate Change Secretary, he knows how to bring people across the world together and make progress.

He has written in the Standard about the challenges facing those who want to reach a binding agreement to limit carbon emissions and therefore temperature rises.

China is key. Unless they come on board, it will be very difficult to make the necessary changes. Ed says how he did it the last time:

Having led the UK’s negotiations at three previous COPs, I know the Chinese are tough. In my time we used air pollution to reel China into the fold. Smog is a national crisis in China, killing hundreds of thousands every year, if not millions.

When I appeared on China’s equivalent of BBC’s Question Time, solving air pollution was the only question. How had we eradicated London’s smogs? So we made the link: tackle local air pollution and, at the same time, global air pollution. China was won over for the Paris Treaty. But what we need this time is far, far bigger. For Glasgow to succeed, the UK must lead the task to persuade China to go much further — to reduce and end coal usage far earlier and far faster than it currently plans.

He says that there are carrots as well as sticks:

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LibLink: Christine Jardine on MPs’ safety

In the Scotsman, Christine Jardine MP has written about MPs’ safety in the light of the murder of Sir David Amess:

It is a risk which we must minimise, but continue to take for the sake of our democracy.

(Last Friday) was one of those days that you hope never to see, or that anyone you know will have to endure.

Christine goes on to write:

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LibLink: Alistair Carmichael – Liberalism is the most effective counter to competing nationalisms

writing in the Scotsman, Alistair Carmichael challenges both the SNP’s view that independence is inevitable because so many young people support it and the older voters will die off and the Conservative view that those young people will become more conservative and risk averse as they grow older.

Both of these views are blinkered – and, frankly, complacent. We should have higher ambitions than some kind of “demographic destiny”. When we are talking about no less than the future of Scotland, our people deserve a little more by way of ideas and ideals, and a little less talk of inevitability.

Partisans on both sides of the constitutional divide are kidding themselves if they think they have a lock on our country’s future. The case for independence has not been made – but the stability of our shared community with the rest of the United Kingdom cannot be treated as an afterthought either. In a liberal democracy, we have to respect one another enough to make the case for the values of interdependence and shared prosperity, year on year and day by day.

He cited the experience of Quebec, where support for independence that once seemed inevitable is now much reduced. How did this happen?

What changed was not the demographic “inevitability” of Quebec, but the democratic debate and exchange of ideas. In the aftermath of the 1995 referendum, Liberal leaders and academics alike took on the issues raised by nationalism and independence and responded.

They challenged nationalist narratives head-on and reinvigorated discussions on the federal make-up of Canada. They changed minds – and made the case for a Canadian society of both diversity and shared common interest

And we have to keep winning the arguments to preserve our liberal values:

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LibLink: Wendy Chamberlain on need to tackle “serious and systemic” police failings

In an article for The House, Wendy Chamberlain, the only woman former Police officer in the Commons, says that the murder of Sarah Everard is a watershed moment to tackle serious and systemic failings at the heart of the Police. It’s a great follow-up to her interview on Sky News on Friday.

She describes how the abuse of power of Sarah’s murderer has led to a loss of trust in not just the Met, but Police across the country:

As a former police officer myself, I still carry the responsibility of my service with me long after I stopped wearing the uniform. Having served as a police officer does shape people’s opinions of you. At the time of my election in 2019, I viewed it as a way of demonstrating that I was someone to be trusted.

Couzens used and abused not only his position of power, but the notion of trust that Sarah placed in him as someone who wears the uniform with a duty to safeguard and protect.

That trust has been seriously eroded and damaged by this terrible crime. It is a shattering of trust that goes beyond the Metropolitan Police and applies to police services as a whole across the country.

So how is this to be fixed?

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LibLInk: Christine Jardine on the perfect storm that shows up our bad Governments

In her Scotsman column this week, Christine Jardine looks at the “perfect storm” of food and fuel shortages, health service crisis, Covid and high energy prices we are facing at the moment. She argues that the show how bad both UK and Scottish Governments are – and we shouldn’t let them away with blaming Covid and Brexit for our current travails. They were failing long before then:

It must be tempting for those responsible for the well-being of the NHS to blame its current predicament on all the other elements of the storm. That somehow the crisis which has necessitated calling in the Armed Forces to support our ambulance service is purely the result of the circumstances we find ourselves in. That they can look to the example of our energy industry which is defending itself with evidence of an unusual lack of wind and solar resources and a fire on an interconnector.

But that would be to ignore the reality which we have all experienced in different ways over recent, pre-pandemic years. The damage done by the increasing centralisation of public services and decision-making in Scotland.

On top of everything else, the FLu jag programme has been a nightmare this year.

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LibLink – Vince Cable: Keir Starmer needs a miracle – he has nothing to lose by being brave

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Over on the Independent, Vince Cable argues that Labour needs to “turn around the oil tanker of negative public opinion about Starmer, and to erode the remorseless Tory lead, which seems to persist no matter how many errors Boris Johnson presides over”:

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LibLink: Rabina Khan: Life as a British Muslim changed forever on 9/11

Writing in the Independent, Lib Dem Tower Hamlets Councillor Rabina Khan reflects on how 9/11 changed things for British Muslims.

She described her reaction on the day. Like our editor Caron Lindsay, she was cradling her baby as she watched events unfold on the television:

She described her sadness, and anger at that the perpetrators had done but also fear about what was coming for Muslims as a result of the actions of a few extremists who would be held to represent an entire religion:

At the same time, I felt anxious, knowing that some people would assume that all Muslims harboured the same views as the terrorists. Extremists are not Muslims and have deliberately skewed the texts to fit their homicidal agenda. They are murderers.

America’s response to that fateful day rewrote not just its own democracy but reshaped our world and the way we live. Our world witnessed the invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq, secret surveillance, increased dawn raids on Muslim homes, the way our children and young people were monitored at school. It became an era of fear and mistrust.

And it was that fear which had a profound effect on her daily life:

How can I forget the countless times I saw the look of dread and panic on people’s faces when I reached for my phone from my bag on the tube or the time when my rosary fell out of my bag during Ramadan? I remember a little after the terror attack my elderly gran’s beloved Adhan clock (the call to prayer) went off in her bag and people in the queue in a shop ran for the door.

Oblivious to the lingering, uncomfortable and judgmental stares in the shop from staff, my gran dressed in her crisp cotton white sari and head covered with a shawl, turned off the alarm, picked up the toy a parent had dropped and handed it back to the cashier. Recently, I was travelling on the tube in London when I was called a “f****** Muslim whore” by another passenger, but there were people who stood up for me.

Things have got worse in the meantime and she’s not optimistic for the future:

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LibLink: Ed Davey says private capital must switch from dirty to clean

Now here’s an interesting thought. Why not ban any new listings of fossil fuel companies on the London Stock Exchange?

Ed Davey flags up this idea in an interview with The Guardian today to mark his first year as Party Leader.

Under the plan outlined to the Guardian by the Lib Dem leader, Ed Davey, another immediate policy would be to stop new bonds being issued in London to finance oil, coal or gas exploration.

Fossil fuel firms already listed in the UK would then have two years to produce a coherent plan about how they would reach net zero emissions by 2045, or risk being struck off the LSE.

In the longer term, pension funds would have to disinvest from fossil fuels by 2035, with all companies with fossil fuel assets removed from the exchange by 2045.

Ed said:

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: Hydrogen has huge potential for decarbonisation

In her Scotsman column this week, Christine Jardine looks at Hydrogen as a weapon in our arsenal against climate change.

She looks at many potential uses – from fuelling planes to heating homes and highlights the work of the European Marine Energy Centre on Orkney:

EMEC is supporting a project known as HyFlyer which has already achieved the world’s first flight of a commercial-grade hydrogen electric aircraft in September of last year.

ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric Piper Malibu Mirage successfully achieved a 20-minute flight from Cranfield airfield in the UK in which the only fumes it produced were water vapour.

The next phase of the project is targeting a successful commercial-grade flight of a 19-seater craft, potentially in 2023. The green hydrogen fuelling systems required for flight tests will be delivered by EMEC.

Perhaps the best indicator of the potential for hydrogen-powered flight is that the project is backed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK.

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: Football racism shows why those who oppose taking the knee are wrong

In her column for the Scotsman this week, Christine Jardine tackled the racism we saw against the three England footballers after the Euro 2020 final.

A young colleague told me that some black friends had abuse shouted at them while making their way home from the England-Italy game. “It’s always your kind that lets us down.” We all knew it was there, simmering amongst those who booed any team taking the knee this summer.

But watching it boil over against fans, footballers and someone who has made a real and determined difference to the well-being of vulnerable children should be a wake-up call for all of us.

She expressed her admiration for Marcus Rashford and the other players:

A young man, hugely successful, who doesn’t just remember where he came from but carries it with pride and channels his success into making a difference.

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: A sinister sign our human rights are in peril?

In her Scotsman column this week, Christine Jardine described something worrying that took place while she took part in a protest for Hong Kong democracy in Edinburgh:

A drone. Hovering a couple of feet above the heads of the group was a small grey machine, the single eye of its mounted camera recording the event and everyone there.

This was, it is important to stress, a Covid-compliant, socially distanced, perfectly legal outdoor gathering of a small number of people in Edinburgh’s High Street. Unremarkable even in these times, save for one thing. It was about the threat to democracy in Hong Kong

She asks if we take our civil liberties for granted:

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LibLink: Mark Pack’s June report

Party President Mark Pack has written on a number of topics in his monthly report to members for June. Here are some extracts:

Chesham and Amersham

I’m writing this month’s report before we know the result. But we do already know that we’ve had the best candidate in Sarah Green, run the best campaign and had an awesome amount of help from people all around the country.

Westminster selections are up and running

New Parliament, new name: this time around we are ‘tiering’ our seats, so the most winnable seats (aka target seats, aka key seats) are now called Tier 1 seats. Selections have started up, with advertisements going out to people on the approved list and appearing on the members-only section of the main party website.

One of the new things for this Parliament is Project Stellar: a support package for our top candidates from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. Anyone selected in a Tier 1 seat from such a background can automatically qualify for this support, and depending on the numbers, we may also be able support candidates in Tier 2 seats in this way too.

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LibLink: Christine Jardine – Biden has changed the narrative

Writing in the Scotsman as the G7 summit takes place in St Ives, Christine Jardine breathes a sigh of relief that we have a grown-up in the White House again and looks at how Joe Biden has been a good friend to the UK. Sometimes, she says, your best friends tell you the truth.

She compared this summit to the Atlantic Charter, Churchill and Roosevelt’s vision for the post war world:

Eighty years later, Biden referenced that moment as he cast the other leaders in his shadow to declare that the United States will donate half a billion dozes of Pfizer vaccines to 92 low and middle income countries.

“America will be the arsenal of vaccines in our fight against COVID-19, just as America was the arsenal of democracy during World War Two”, he promised.

This was the statement of intent that the world needed.

A commitment from a US President to those who had begun to doubt his country’s engagement with foreign affairs. Leadership.

The UK and others have made similar vaccine commitments but this was America’s moment to step forward and begin to lay the foundations of a post-Covid international order.

Christine also sees hope in the fact that we now have Joe Biden in power after four years of someone who inspired contempt, protests and blimps.

America got rid of Trump, and maybe we can get rid of our equivalent:

Three years ago, every utterance of the then President brought fresh waves of disillusionment bordering on despair.

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Tim Farron on the “historic betrayal” of British farmers by Australia trade deal

Tim Farron slates the proposed trade deal with Australia in an article in The House:

So often we see Conservative MPs and ministers take to social media to tell us how much they love British farming and how they think it’s the best in the world.

But their plans for a free trade deal with Australia show that when push comes to shove they seem to have no problem whatsoever with throwing British farmers under a bus.

As a liberal I am firm believer in free trade – but only as long as it’s fair trade.

Australian animal welfare standards are lower than the UK’s which makes for lower production costs and cheaper produce. Therefore, the only way that small British family farms could compete would be to lower their own standards – which nobody except the government wants them to do.

A trade deal on these terms would be a historic betrayal of British farming and will set a dangerous precedent. If Australian farmers are given the green light to undercut British farmers then surely it’s inevitable that the government will allow Canadian, New Zealand and American farmers to do the same.

And not only is the Government betraying farmers, but going against the public’s wishes too:

A survey from the consumer watchdog Which? found that 94% of people think it’s important to maintain existing food standards, while 81% were uncomfortable eating beef reared using growth hormones – a practice which is widespread in Australian farming.

So why is the Government doing this?

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LibLink: Alistair Carmichael: Independence would do even more damage than Brexit

In an article in the Scotsman, Alistair Carmichael has pointed out the similarities between Scottish independence and Brexit. He said a hard border between Scotland and England would be inevitable:

Just as it is uncontested that ursine mammals defecate in forested areas, it is not a matter of debate that, under SNP plans, an independent Scotland would have a hard border with the rest of the United Kingdom.

He points out the harsh realties of independence:

The reality is that if Scotland separates from the rest of the UK and cuts itself off from its “single market” then there will have to be customs posts and officials, checks and barriers between Scots, our businesses and our biggest trading partners.

It is a simple matter of common sense – and for those lacking in common sense it is also a fact affirmed by experts in international trade and economics, the same experts who voiced the same concerns about Brexit and are in the process of being proven correct.

He compares Sturgeon’s language to that of Farage and Johnson over Brexit:

It speaks volumes that Nicola Sturgeon’s statements around independence and trade barriers mimic almost to the word the arguments of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson – that we would somehow be re-engaging with the wider world by building yet another hard border.

And an SNP candidate’s claims that a hard border would create jobs was no barrier to a campaign visit from Sturgeon:

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Win for women’s pensions after Steve Webb and media campaign

After a campaign by the former Lib Dem pensions minister Steve Webb, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has agreed to investigate underpayments of state pensions over the last 20 years. That could lead to back-payments averaging about £13,500. The problem is thought to affect 200,000 women who retired before 6 April 2016 and received the old state pension.

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LibLink – Ed Davey: LGBT+ history month is a time to celebrate the lives and experiences of the entire LGBT+ community.

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Over on the party website, Ed Davey has written about LGBT+ history month, which has started:

The fight towards equality is a long one and we all owe a huge debt to the activists and campaigners who have fought tirelessly for the freedoms so many are able to enjoy today. Let us celebrate historical figures like Alan Turing and Marsha P Johnson, as well as modern day activists such as Lady Phyll, founder of UK Black Pride.

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LibLink: Alistair Carmichael Scotland’s fishermen have been used by opportunists

In a hard-hitting and justifiably furious article in the Sunday Herald, Alistair Carmichael highlights the betrayal of those working in the seafood industry whose livelihood has been ruined by Brexit enhnced by the incompetence of UK Government ministers.

He sets out what is wrong with the deal:

Having made a great pantomime of holding out to get the best deal for fishermen, Johnson folded. Instead we found a deal that the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation described this week as “desperately poor” and “the worst of both worlds”.

On close scrutiny the deal leaves our fishermen able to catch fewer fish in most key species, “wins” us shoals of “paper fish” (which we have no economic interest in catching) and leaves us locked into a deal that we barely control and will only be able to leave in 2026 if we are prepared to pay a heavy political and economic price.

It’s already having a devastating impact:

Traditionally, the first week of the new year is a bumper one for exports before trade quietens down for a couple of months.

This year, red-faced Scottish traders were unable to meet their orders as the lorries carrying their slowly deteriorating stock sat idling in Larkhall – unable to penetrate the new fog of bureaucracy in Johnson’s deal.

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LibLink: Vince Cable asks “What if the vaccine isn’t enough?”

Vince Cable has written in the Independent today asking that rather worrying question.

Most of us, including the government, are assuming that if the mass vaccination goes ahead speedily we shall see relaxation of the Covid restrictions in March and be largely free of them in the summer. The economy will bounce back and we can begin to enjoy the Roaring Twenties with a good holiday in the sun. My own sense of optimism is fuelled by the fact that I am in line to get my first vaccine jab this week and I already feel safer and freer.

But maybe that is wishful thinking? What if the vaccination rollout is slower than we hope (and impeded by idiotic NHS bureaucracy, such as the requirement that volunteers should have a level 2 “safeguarding” qualification in case they encounter children)? What if another variant of the virus arrives that requires new vaccines and repeat vaccination programmes? What if there are sufficient numbers who fail to get vaccinated – because of ignorance, groundless prejudice or fear – as to keep the pandemic alive?

He says that we need to plan for these eventualities to avoid restrictions through 2021 and beyond. Several actions are required.

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LibLink: Young Liberal calls on Cheltenham’s MP to take action to end period poverty

Over on the Cheltenham Liberal Democrats website, Young Liberal Jessica Jeffries writes to her local MP, calling on him to take action to end period poverty:

The negative impact of period poverty can affect women in many different ways. Physically, there is a high risk of infection due to the repeated use of old sanitary products, and the use of dirty rags/pieces of cloth which many have to use as an alternative. Psychologically, as a result of the stigma, many women feel embarrassment/shame when discussing menstruation and those who struggle financially will face much stress as they choose between feeding themselves and their family or buying period products.

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LibLink: William Wallace on the House of Lords

Last week The Yorkshire Post published an article by William Wallace on “House of Lords plays vital role in democracy but needs reform“.  William is our spokesperson for the Cabinet in the House of Lords.

In the article he writes:

The House of Lords is indefensible in its current form.  But it plays a vital role in our executive-dominated democracy.

Formally, the UK has parliamentary sovereignty.  But when one party has a secure parliamentary majority, government proposals usually sail through the Commons without careful examination. A former Conservative Lord Chancellor once described British democracy as ‘elective dictatorship’ – when his own party was in government.  The Lords is the chamber that examines bills and regulations in detail, forces ministers to justify them clause by clause, and quietly wins concessions before they become law.

He lays down this challenge:

Are you a democrat or a supporter of strong government?

If you are a democrat, you have to support reform of the Commons as well as the Lords, and tackle the weakness of local and regional representation as well.  If you believe in strong government, beware that governments without parliamentary challenge become authoritarian and corrupt, and take note that billions of pounds have been handed out to large consultancies and outsourcing companies this year without open contracts, that many of these companies contribute to Conservative funds, and that retiring ministers are offered large sums to advise them.

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LibLink: Vince Cable on Biden and Trump post election

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Vince Cable has just published an article on The Independent: “Biden faces a war on many fronts – Trump has the tools to make the presidency a poisoned chalice“.  He considers the worrying consequences of Trump losing but still able to call upon substantial support.

Trump’s career in the New York property market owed much to the deployment of batteries of lawyers to intimidate and out-manoeuvre his competitors. Every legal argument in the book will be deployed to block or invalidate the postal ballots which have tipped the balance in key states. If he can get a case in front of the Supreme Court, he calculates that the justices will forget their oath of impartiality and remember their political debt to the president who appointed them.

It is rumoured he then plans to challenge the make-up of the electoral college. There is also the possible scenario I described in this column three weeks ago, where uncertainty generated by the legal challenges leads to people taking the law into their own hands, leading to a state of emergency and – in effect – a coup d’etat.

However, Republicans like Mitch McConnell …

… will have no truck with legal chicanery designed to frustrate the election result.

Even if Trump’s attempts to reverse the result fail, and he reluctantly agrees to leave the White House, he has plenty of options to make life for the new president somewhere between very difficult and impossible.

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LibLink: Jamie Stone on the digital revolution

Jamie Stone is the Lib Dem spokesperson for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and he has written an article “Ministers must ensure no one is left behind by the digital revolution” in The House magazine.

Talking of his constituents in Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, he writes:

Many still do not have access to any broadband, let alone high-speed broadband. With such poor infrastructure, it is virtually impossible to conceive of how communities like mine can avoid being left behind as this digital revolution continues apace.

But I beg the Government to do more to invest in those communities that are currently not well-served by digital technologies to make sure we do not fall through the net of progress.

To date, in my patch, we have seen post offices, banks and other services disappear at a rate of knots, leaving my constituents strapped for cash (not that anyone is taking cash these days), and unable to access basic financial services without – in many cases – driving for miles and miles. For those who are not mobile, the growing isolation they face is extremely alarming.

He refers to the ways in which jobs are changing as technology evolves:

Many of the millions of people who may face redundancy as a result of Covid-19 will be terrified that they will not be able to find new work, because they simply don’t have the relevant skills to break through.

That is why I am joining my colleague Daisy Cooper, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson, in calling on the Government to back our party’s plan for ‘Skills Wallets’, which would give everyone £10,000 to spend on life-long education and training.

This would be made up of an initial £4,000 Government investment when people turn 25, a further £3,000 when they turn 40 and, finally, another £3,000 at the age of 55.

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LibLink – Vince Cable: Is Rishi Sunak about to go from hero to zero?

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Writing in the Independent, Vince Cable says that ‘the chancellor’s rapid transition from spendthrift to Scrooge has not yet been noticed by the admiring public but a change has undoubtedly occurred’:

One of the hot stocks of 2020, British chancellor Rishi Sunak, is starting to look seriously overvalued. His political allies, having talked up Sunak earlier in the year, tipping him for the top job, are now hedging their bets. The hero of the spring offensive may be on the brink of becoming the zero of the autumn retreat.

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LibLink: Jane Dodds We must fulfil our moral duty and embrace refugees who seek safety and sanctuary

Jane Dodds makes a compelling case for a compassionate and welcoming approach to seekers of sanctuary in a column for Nation Cymru this week.

She challenges the “invasion’ narrative put out by the right:

With Nigel Farage decrying an “invasion” of our shores and Sarah Atherton, Conservative MP for Wrexham, calling for the Royal Navy to stop “huge scale” crossings, you could easily be led to believe we were seeing hundreds of thousands of people coming to the UK every day.

But the numbers of people seeking asylum are not increasing; despite the rhetoric which wants us to believe we are being invaded.

By allowing this dangerous narrative, which tells us we are under attack, we are directly putting lives at risk.

This is far from hyperbole – earlier in the summer Abdulfatah Hamdallah, a refugee from Sudan, tragically lost his life trying to cross the channel in an unsafe makeshift vessel.

When did we become so heartless and cruel, she asks:

Five years ago I travelled to Calais to donate tents, tarpaulin sleeping bags collected from across concerned people in Powys and saw first hand the living conditions these people were in and heard about the horrors they were escaping from. Just like Abdulfatah they weren’t coming to the UK to “scrounge” or to “take our jobs” they were doing what anyone of us would do if we found ourselves I n that situation – striving to make life better and safer for them and their loved ones.

I am a child protection social worker by profession. I have spent years supporting vulnerable people all around the world, particularly children seeking refuge and do you know what? I have never met a single family who does not have a heart breaking story for why they’re making the journey.

We hear a lot of talk about how “we’re full”, that we should “look after our own” and “have enough problems already to deal with”. Since when did we become so heartless and cruel?

These are people’s lives we are talking about, people who have nothing and are risking their lives to travel to a place where they feel is safe.

And she points out that those who come here seeking asylum contribute to our country too:

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LibLink: Vince Cable – Were the political ‘bad guys’ right all along?

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Vince Cable has written an article in the Independent with the clickbait headline: “When it comes to handling coronavirus, were the political ‘bad guys’ right all along?

He writes:

As the UK contemplates yet again a change in direction, with more restrictions on activity to curb Covid-19, we should reflect on what is happening elsewhere in the world. Only a few months ago, Sweden was the heart of darkness: a country which, for unaccountable reasons, had gone off the rails, embracing weird theories about the pandemic, disdaining lockdown, resulting in the slaughter of its elderly population and ostracism from the club of civilised social democratic countries in Scandinavia. Now it emerges that they may have been on to something, with a consistent – and apparently successful – approach.

The most recent (very preliminary) economic data also suggests that the United States, under a president regarded by most progressive folk as a malign, Covid-denying buffoon, has suffered less economic damage than most of the rest of the developed world. And Brazil, presided over by another malign, Covid-denying buffoon, has got away with much less damage, and less impact on its poor, than its Latin American neighbours, like Peru, Chile and Argentina who took the pandemic seriously.

So, were the Bad Guys right?

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LibLink: Vince Cable: Labour and Lib Dems have to work together to beat Tories

In his Independent column this week, Vince Cable talked about the need for Liberal Democrats and Labour to set aside their differences and work together to oust the Tories in 2024.

He didn’t call for a formal pact, but for the sort of non aggression agreement struck up by Paddy and Blair pre 1997.

He waded into the broad appeal vs ideology argument:

The two centre-left parties are currently at very different levels. But they face essentially the same two problems: how to connect with a public which is confused, frightened and divided; and how to translate support into seats in parliament to effect a change in government.

As to the first, both parties have the same destructive tendency, in different ways: each gets hung up on abstract debates on values and principles. Labour has a long history of sectarian feuding over the relative merits of “social democracy” or “socialism” (now represented respectively by the Blairites and Corbynites). Starmer is smart enough to realise that the public has little interest in “isms”, is impressed by people who seem both practical and optimistic, and doesn’t like extremes. The Lib Dems, by contrast, don’t have ideological feuds but love talking to themselves about “liberal values”, which are either very vague or targeted at microscopically small groups. The tough lesson for both is that Britain’s most successful centre-left leaders – Wilson, Blair and, long ago, Lloyd George – were pragmatic to a fault.

He had a couple of ideas on economic policy:

Aligning capital gains and income tax, removing generous tax reliefs on pension pots, and removing perks for well-off pensioners. All this sounds like Lib Dem “alternative budgets” proposed over the years, and certainly too much to swallow for the Tory backwoodsmen. Ed Davey, in particular, with a strong economics background, has an opening to occupy the centre-ground while the right of the Conservative Party squabbles.

Then there is the wider issue of the direction of the British economy once it is cut loose from the EU. As it happens there is an immediate challenge: what to do about Britain’s only major global tech company, ARM, designer and maker of advanced microchips. Opposition leaders should be shouting from the rooftops to save it. Without a clamour, it is likely to be gobbled up by a predatory American company and then spat out in Trump’s new cold war with China. One of the successes of the coalition was seeing off a (Pfizer) takeover for Astra-Zeneca, now key to the work on a Covid-19 vaccine, and the wider revival of industrial strategy. Keeping ARM British is a campaign that could create a popular front page for both left- and right-wing press.

And a warning on how we should save the union:

And all the unionist parties risk a failure to appreciate that Scottish nationalism is rooted in emotion, and will not be vanquished by talk of pounds and pennies alone. One respect in which the Lib Dems can make a major contribution is to refresh its thinking about home rule within a federal UK. This would be welcome north and south of the border since many English people also reject our horribly over-centralised, London-dominated, system of government.

He warns that we leave the Tories to govern if we don’t work together:

A serious agreement could be done with a lot of self-discipline, but to be credible with the electorate it would need a common “offer”, as well as common candidates. The risk of such an approach is that it looks like a “stitch-up”, which could turn voters off. There should be serious discussion about how to cooperate, but where I suspect we shall finish up is a tacit understanding about priority constituencies, as in 1997, when Blair and Ashdown made a breakthrough for both parties.

The growing numbers who are angry and disillusioned with this government will expect no less than intelligent cooperation between “progressive” opposition parties. Both need to remember that pragmatism is the path to power, while continued self-righteous airing of differing “values” and “principles” will gift the Tories another decade in office.

You can read the whole article here (£).

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