Category Archives: LibLink

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

LibLink: Chuka Umunna: What are ITV playing at excluding Jo Swinson from its Leaders’ Debate?

Chuka Umunna has been meeting senior executives at ITV to try to persuade them to include Jo Swinson in their Leaders’ Debate.

And he used this week’s Independent column to take them to task for not inviting her to take part:

He first highlights ITV Chief Executive Carolyn McCall’s positive record on diversity issues:

Dame Carolyn is widely regarded as a role model for many women in leadership and has said “we need to inspire the next generation of women leaders”. She clearly takes this seriously and, with regard to ITV’s own record on equality and diversity on and off screen, has said ITV is “focused on on-screen … but we have more to do”. In ITV’s latest annual report the company declares: “We want to increase social mobility, while also improving and promoting better representation across gender.”

He looks at the reasons why Jo should be allowed to take part:

The decision sends a terrible message when it comes to equality.

“Surely you are not arguing Jo Swinson should be included in the debate simply because she is a woman?” is a question I was ironically asked by an ITV news outlet yesterday. Of course not. Under section 6.2 of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code “due weight must be given to the coverage of parties and independent candidates during the election period” and “broadcasters must take into account evidence of past electoral support and/or current support”. Crucially, candidates with “significant views and perspectives” should receive appropriate coverage.
And Jo has a better claim to a place in the debate than Nick Clegg did back in 2010:
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LibLink: Chuka Umunna: Dark and dangerous threats against MPs like me are a sign that No 10 and Cummings are getting utterly brazen

The Government is reportedly investigating MPs who have had dialogue with representatives of foreign governments. It also intends to introduce legislation to stop MPs talking to foreign governments. In an article for the Independent, Chuka Umunna said that this had a whiff of the 1930s about it.

However, the right-wing nationalists running the government are now taking things to an altogether different level – this is quite frightening, particularly if they were to get a majority at the general election whenever it comes. They are seeking to persecute and harass MPs by falsely accusing them of colluding with EU governments over Brexit. It is an absurd proposition given that the EU27 and the UK government are all working to ensure the withdrawal agreement Johnson has negotiated with the EU is delivered, and he himself wrote to them over the weekend urging them to ignore parliament’s desire for article 50 to be extended.

This, he said, was a brazen attempt to suppress dissent.

These accusations are made to call into question our loyalty and patriotism. Former Conservative backbenchers and ministers Oliver Letwin and Dominic Grieve, and Brexit Select Committee chair and former Labour minister Hilary Benn are reportedly under investigation.

This has a strong whiff of the 1930s about it – it is a brazen attempt to suppress dissent and persecute political opponents in parliament by this right wing, nationalist government.

One foreign office official put it well today when they said: “Threatening MPs with investigation is something you would expect the government to be stopping abroad, not encouraging at home.”

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Isabelle Parasram on how she’s working with the English Party to improve diversity

Over on the party website, the Party’s Vice President BAME, Isabelle Parasram, writes about how she is working with the English Party to improve diversity and our party’s engagement with diverse communities.

For example, when I attend high profile events, wherever possible I also invite BAME members and supporters to attend with me.  One such event was the launch of the Commonwealth 8.7 Network at the Australian High Commission.

Through the Commonwealth 8.7 Network, over 60 civil society organisations will work together to push for greater action across the Commonwealth in eradicating modern slavery and achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7.

At my invitation, Michael Bukola, one of our London Assembly candidates, and Dr Victoria Shownmi, an academic specialising in race relations who has been supportive of the work that I am doing, both attended with me.

Not only did they support me that evening, but they built connections and represented the Liberal Democrat brand in a way that I could not achieve on my own.

In terms of community outreach, I met the outgoing Cypriot High Commissioner at an event hosted by the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK.  Stemming from the discussions I had that evening, I will be arranging an event that will build further links between the Cypriot community and our Party.  Recognising the unique needs of our fellow EU citizens and seeking to meet those needs through political policy is part of my broader goal of ensuring that our Party adequately reflects the communities we serve.

She described a visit to Hackney after the murder of a teenager:

I also work with key figures within the Party to raise issues, seek their help in pursuing the cause of race equality and ensure that diversity remains at the top of the agenda for our Party.

Jo Swinson, Pauline Pearce and I went to Hackney following the tragic murder of 15-year-old Tashaun Aird and met with some of his schoolfriends who were on study leave preparing for their GCSEs.  We also visited the local community, observing for ourselves the knife amnesty bin – inaccessible due to building work – the community buildings – either run down or closed down – and the high-rise buildings, with few open spaces or facilities for young people.

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LibLink: Luisa Porritt MEP: Britain’s Democracy Gap

In an article for Politico, Deputy Leader of Britain’s Lib Dem MEPs Luisa Porritt argues that the behaviour of the British Government is damaging democracy in this country.

A British government that is threatening to march the country out of the European Union because it claims its institutions are “undemocratic” shut down its own country’s parliament last month. Prime Minister Boris Johnson uses incendiary language and accuses those who disagree with his Brexit policy of “terrible collaboration” with the EU.

Britain today is increasingly out of step with the basic principles of democracy it once would have championed.

The Brexiteers, ironically, decry the EU as undemocratic. That’s simply not true:

Compare that with what’s happening in Brussels. While my British parliamentary colleagues were shut out of their chamber against their will, members of the European Parliament have been pressing on with urgent issues.

The European Parliament is scrutinizing the incoming Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s new team and has taken a strong stand against nominees with potential conflicts of interest. MEPs have also set an ambitious agenda to tackle the climate emergency and ensure that the EU’s member states uphold the rule of law — something our own government needs reminding of.

How far, she notes, we have fallen:

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Heidi Allen: I joined the Lib Dems to stop Brexit, heal the rifts and rebuild the UK

A very big welcome to Heidi Allen, our 19th MP.

Over on the Lib Dem website, she has written about why she took the decision to join, saying that Jo Swinson’s party was the only one in Britain offering to stop Brexit, heal the rifts in society and stop Brexit.

When I became an MP in 2015, I could never have imagined we would find ourselves in this position. Through the prudent and practical decisions taken during the coalition years, the economy was recovering and our country was on the up.

Coming from business, joining the Conservative Party seemed the logical thing to do. But two general elections and an EU referendum later, the landscape has shifted beyond all recognition.

In February 2019, I resigned from the Conservatives to sit as an Independent MP, because I recognised the Party had drifted irreversibly to the right and was more concerned with its own survival than the national interest.

The party had become utterly unrecognisable, uncompassionate and willing to wreck the economy and peace in Ireland by not just contemplating, but actively courting a No Deal Brexit.

The European Elections in May 2019 highlighted the need for MPs to work together in the national interest, putting aside party interests. Voters were crying out for a Remain Alliance to offer an alternative to the future portrayed by Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage.

Believing that if you get the right people around a table anything is possible, I have always been comfortable with cross party working. So through the Summer and into the Autumn, as an independent broker, I have worked with the Liberal Democrats, Green Party, Plaid Cymru and the Independents to build that Remain Alliance across England and Wales through the organisation I formed, Unite to Remain

Confident that good progress has now been made on building that Remain Alliance, I recognise that as with most things in life, I am stronger and more effective when I am part of a team.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I know that the best way to serve my constituents and country is to join the Liberal Democrats.

Now is the time to stand shoulder to shoulder with, not just alongside, those I have collaborated and found shared values with.

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Teachers’ voting intention switching to Lib Dems

Check out this link to a recent survey of teachers. When asked how they would vote if a general election were held now, 30% of those surveyed said Lib Dem!

This is remarkable, as 60% in a previous survey said they voted Labour in the 2017 election. The move towards Lib Dems shows we are getting our education policy right – calling for increased funding and reversing school cuts; increased teachers’ pay and allowing teachers to teach rather than being put under unnecessary pressure from inspections; and supporting SEND pupils with increased provision.

You can read more of the Liberal Democrats plan for education here, Demand Better for our Schools.

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LibLink: Willie Rennie We can change the course of the UK with Jo Swinson

Willie Rennie writes for the Herald, saying that the Liberal Democrats can win big in the coming election because we have the solutions to the current chaos.

He explains why we have to wait a few weeks to have that election:

So we want an election before the end of the year but I’m afraid we can’t trust the Prime Minister to abide by the law of the land and request an extension to negotiations with Europe. So we need to hold his feet to the fire until he does and until we have seen an end to the no deal aspirations of this reckless Prime Minister. That means waiting until November before we choose a new Parliament.

Jo offers fresh leadership at a time of crisis and we can stop Brexit.

It’s not necessary or desirable to break up the UK in response to the possible break from the European Union because we have another way. We can stop Brexit together across the UK.

I draw hope from millions who marched in London to stop Brexit or the six million who signed up to revoke Article 50, or the hundreds of thousands of people who backed the Liberal Democrats in the European Elections.

And we are absolutely going for it:

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LibLInk Kishan Devani: Jo Swinson, our future Prime Minister

Just over a year and a half ago, Kishan Devani joined us from the Conservatives.He writes for AsianLite International about Jo’s election as leader and what that means for the Liberal Democrats and the country:

It was evident to me and all those present we were not looking at the leader of a UK political party, but in fact, we were witnessing the making of an international leader who can take on world issues and still care for the injustices felt by people domestically. Her courage to call out Trump so openly shows that she is not scared to take on

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LibLink: Jo Swinson: The Lib Dems represent modern Britain and we’re aiming for the top

It’s been a busy first week as leader for Jo Swinson.

She’s questioned two Prime Ministers, been all over the media, headed to Brecon and Radnorshire to campaign with Jane Dodds ahead of the by-election next Thursday and has found time to write for the Evening Standard as well.

She contrasted the hype and the reality of our new Prime Minister:

Earlier this week, when Boris Johnson, London’s former Mayor, finally got the keys to No 10, he promised a Cabinet that represents modern Britain. But as all Londoners know, promises made by Johnson tend to be less impressive in reality than they are in rhetoric. In his reshuffle this week, he gave jobs to people who have supported the death penalty, who have bragged about not being a feminist, and who are completely opposed to abortion even in cases of rape. He has also sacked the only LGBT+ member of the Cabinet.

It shouldn’t surprise us that these are the people Johnson picked. Just look at him and what he has said. He has compared Muslim women to letterboxes and described elite women athletes as “glistening like wet otters”. He is determined, despite all the evidence on how damaging it will be to our economy, to pursue a no-deal Brexit. And yesterday, when I asked him to fulfil his reassurances that the three million EU citizens — our friends, family and neighbours — would retain their rights after Brexit, and to back a Lib Dem Bill to that effect, he was all talk and no trousers.

It’s enough to make anyone cry -but there is hope.

From Aberdeen to Cornwall, and everywhere in between, I’ve met so many people who believe that Britain should celebrate our differences, not just tolerate them; who believe that we should embrace the cultural diversity that has made Britain great, and who believe that we are at our strongest when we work with our European neighbours, not when we turn our back on them.

Those fundamentally liberal values — openness, inclusion, internationalism — are what truly represent the best of Britain, and it’s those values that I’m determined to fight for as leader of the Liberal Democrats.

And when she fights both Johnson and Corbyn, she is doing it as their equal.

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LibLink: Layla Moran – We must talk about Palestine, without being antisemitic


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Over on the Guardian website, Layla Moran has written an opinion piece which says that the anti-semitism scandal in Labour is creating a fear among MPs of speaking out for the Palestinian right to equality, justice and statehood. Layla writes:

My mother is Palestinian. These issues are deeply personal; we still have family in the West Bank. I am very worried that, at this critical juncture in the history of the region, activists, parliamentarians and journalists feel that they cannot speak out for fear of being branded as antisemitic. My plea is that we must speak more about Palestine, not less, and in this current climate it is something members of both houses of parliament have confided that they are more fearful than ever to do.

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Lib Link: Christine Jardine MP on the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing

Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine has written in the Scotsman of her memories on the first moon landing fifty years ago. She writes,

For many of my parents’ generation, it was the ultimate fulfilment of John F Kennedy’s promise to explore the stars and send a man safely to the moon and back by the end of the decade. That generation had lived through World War II as children, endured the fear and tension of the Cuban missile crisis as young parents and the grief of lost opportunities with the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King.

And she recognises that the science developed in the course of space exploration benefits us all:

Those missions ultimately brought CAT scans, water purification, memory foam, equipment used to cut victims out of vehicles, and so many other things.

But even more importantly, Christine argues that the lunar missions gave people

confirmation that humans have an almost infinite capacity for invention and achievement.

She concludes that

Our planet currently faces a challenge that will demand all the passion, experimental science and technological advance we can find to save it from the damage we have done. Fifty years on, Neil Armstrong’s small step onto the moon should give us the belief that if we have the will, we can.

You can read the full article here.

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LibLink: Chuka Umunna: London’s young people know how to stop the knife crime epidemic – here’s what they told me

Chuka Umunna used his Independent column to talk about knife crime. He described how he visited at least one school in his constituency every week and discussed the issue with young people.

They identify a huge variety of things that need to happen in order to tackle a problem that is ruining so many lives:

Unsurprisingly, one of the boys told me his mum wanted his family to move as they did not feel safe on his estate – many parents come to my constituency surgery asking for help to do just that. Another described how he had found drugs and what he thought were bullets in the field where he and his mates play football. A little girl told me how she fears for the welfare of her teenage half-brother.

These children have had to witness things no one should have to see as an adult, never mind as a young person. Their understanding of why it is happening and what should be done about the violence is sophisticated and well thought through. They told me that they supported stop and search and believed it certainly helped reduce the numbers carrying knives but that it was important the power was used appropriately and sensitively by the police and not used to discriminate. They wanted to see tougher sanctions for possession and for those who stab others, with far more police on our streets to enforce our laws, but did not believe that would solve the issue.

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LibLink: Chuka Umunna: Boris as PM would tell world Britain brazenly tolerates prejudice and hatred

So, it’s Chuka Umunna’s LibLink debut.

And he’s used his Independent column to talk about Boris Johnson’s unsuitability to be Prime Minister.

Chuka contrasts the Tory membership with the population as a whole:

The average age of a UK citizen is 40, over-65s make up around 18 per cent of the population, and those aged between 18 and 24 make up 9 per cent of the population. On this measure, the Tory party is in no way representative. The project found that the average age of a Tory party member is 57, significantly older, with 38 per cent of Tory party members aged 66 and over, and 7 per cent between 18 and 25 years old.

And it doesn’t get better with other diversity characteristics:

The population is split more or less equally between the genders, yet three-quarters of Tory members are men. Whereas around 14 per cent of the population is of an ethnic minority background, just 3 per cent of Tory party members are non-white.

And then we get to Boris and his greatest transgressions:
He has described black people as “piccanninnies” with “watermelon smiles”. Last summer, he compared Muslim women wearing veils to “letterboxes” and “bank robbers”. And, this weekend, none other than Steve Bannon, right-wing populist and former campaign manager to Donald Trump, revealed that he worked with Johnson on his government resignation speech last year. I don’t know whether Johnson is a racist or not – only he can answer that question definitively. But there is no doubt that the aforementioned comments are racist and, at the very least, they reveal a complete disrespect and condescension towards those of a different ethnicity.

He describes how his fellow panellists on Politics Live last week dismissed Johnson’s remarks:

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: As I grieved my husband, internet trolls attacked

In her Scotsman column, Christine Jardine describes the pain of losing her husband during the election campaign in 2017 – which was then added to by attacks from internet trolls:

Two years ago, at the most difficult time in my personal life, a political activist who thought they were clever decided it was OK to launch a nasty, and untrue attack.

During the 2017 general election campaign, my husband had died from a sudden and unpredicted heart attack.

The circumstances were particularly difficult. We were separated, he was living on his own and, because my name on his list of next of kin was different from his, the police opted for the other person whose name was the same.

It was my daughter who took the call.

The next few days were a blizzard of emotional conversations until we received the results of a post-mortem which detailed how sudden and irretrievable his attack had been.

There were newspaper stories and obituaries to read from journalists and a media he had worked in for 30 years and who were keen to show their respect.

I struggled with the inevitable questions that come from a loved one’s death, exacerbated in this case by the guilt that came from decisions that had set us on different paths after 30 years together.

On the evening of the funeral, the attacks started:

I discovered I was accused on Twitter of breaking the cross-party agreement not to campaign as a mark of respect to the Manchester bombing.

At first I thought it was a mistake, and explained I had been at what I described as “a family funeral”.

Internet trolls started vying to see who could be nastiest about me, while others piled in to try and defend and one or two did send me an apology.

Next day it was all over the papers. There were demands for an apology aimed at the political party whose activist had started it all.

And at the centre of it all my daughter, who was trying to deal with the death of the father she adored, was now dealing with a vicious attack on her mother.

So what’s the way out of all of this?

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New Issue of Liberator Out

Issue 396 of Liberator will soon be on its way to subscribers and the free sample article for this issue is Ed Davey and Jo Swinson giving their answers to Liberator’s questionnaire to Lib Dem leadership candidates.

The topics here are intended to get both to think about what the party is for and what it should do now that it has unexpectedly and suddenly recovered its political standing from the post-coalition doldrums.

Here’s what we asked the two candidates. For their answers see: www.liberatormagazine.org.uk

  1. Were the European election results a one-off or can the support gained be kept and what other issues would you raise?
  2. Should the party seek to establish a core vote and if so from which parts of the electorate should this be drawn, and not?
  3. If you were in the same position as Nick Clegg was over tuition fees (a pledge made then broken) how would you handle the problem?
  4. Can the Liberal Democrats really ‘win everywhere’ or does this approach necessarily mean they can lose everywhere too?
  5. Would you regard your election as leader as a mandate to take the party in a particular political direction, and if so what?
  6. What policies should the party put forward to address climate change?
  7. If Brexit does take place should we become the party of ‘back in’ the EU?
  8. How are we to raise the resources to fix crumbling public services?
  9. Do you regret the Coalition’s austerity policies and what should be done to address the dismantling of the welfare state?
  10. Who is your current political hero?

Also in this issue:

IN – OUT – PENDING Whoever becomes the next Liberal Democrat leader, they can look forward to an overflowing in-tray. Sarah Green takes a look inside

WHAT THE BBC WON’T TELL YOULiberals saw a renaissance in the European Parliament elections, despite the media emphasis on the populist right, says David Grace

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Sal speaks on the momentous steps forward for the Lib Dems

In her monthly column on the Lib Dem website, Sal Brinton talks about how far we’ve come in the last month!

One thing is evident: the high calibre of our councillors and MEPs. We are back with a campaigning zeal and will be able to fight for residents, our country and against Brexit. I certainly plan to keep campaigning until we stop Brexit so they can stay there for the full five years until 2024 and I know you will too!

And on Friday we welcomed Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham, to the Liberal Democrats. He has worked with us over the last three years to help fight Brexit, and defeat the Government. He recognises that we are the pro-European, liberal, centre-ground party and I am delighted he has made the decision to join us. He’s already working with his local Liberal Democrats!

I also want to welcome to the more than 20,000 new members of the Party this newsletter is going to for the first time!

She talked about our very clear message and how this has helped us cut though.

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: The Women’s World Cup is a fantastic force for equality but it is only the start

The Women’s World Cup is on at the moment. Christine Jardine writes for the Independent about what this means for equality in sport.

As a child I loved playing football, and nagged my parents until they bought me my own football strip. But there were few people who didn’t find my girlish enthusiasm either amusing or something to frown upon.

This is why the knowledge that six million viewers thought it worthwhile to tune in to watch two teams enjoy a platform previous generations could only dream of filled my heart with joy.

But we are still far from equality – prize money, for example, is still much higher for men than for women:

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Lib Link: Wera Hobhouse MP on banning exports of plastics

Wera Hobhouse had a piece published on Politics Home yesterday on banning the export of plastics.

It goes without saying that the wealthiest countries, like us, who have the privilege of the means to be able to sustainably deal with waste, need to accept responsibility instead of shipping plastic waste around the world for poorer countries to deal with.

This begins with increasing and developing our recycling facilities. If we cannot recycle it, we shouldn’t be using it. 

In the article, Wera also discusses the Plastic Pollution Bill, presented to Parliament in February by Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael. It sets out to

  • ensure that by 2042 no plastic which is not capable of being recycled is
    produced or used
  • eliminate the use of non-essential plastics by 2025; and
  • progressively reduce plastic pollution.

Just as Lib Dems led on the 5p plastic bag charge, we are leading the fight against plastic pollution and fighting for measures to protect our environment.

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Kishan Devani: Lib Dems back in business

Kishan Devani joined the Liberal Democrats from the Conservatives 18 month sago and has since become a Vice President of the LIb Dem Campaign for Racial Equality.  He wrote for Asian Lite International about the fantastic results in the recent local and European elections.

Remain voters have surged to overtake anti-Brexit parties in the European elections in the UK last week, with us the Liberal Democrats achieving our best results ever! This is clearly an endorsement of our ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ & ‘Stop Brexit’ message. It is now evident that the British people want to end this madness & shambles of a process – putting an end to this entire undeliverable fantasy.

We came 1st in London and topped the poll in a number of councils where the Labour Party had won in the last European Parliament elections in 2014.

Our party which is unashamedly campaigning to cancel our exit from the European Union, came into the elections with just one representative in the European Parliament – we now have 16!

We also topped the polls in Remain-voting areas in the south east which we are targeting for the next general election, like Kingston upon Thames, Richmond Upon Thames, St Albans, Cambridge, Oxford, and Cheltenham.

Kishan says we are back in business

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LibLink: Jo Swinson Lib Dems reaped the rewards of unapologetically supporting a People’s Vote

Somewhere in the long night on Sunday, when she was dotting about between various media outlets, Jo Swinson found the time to write an article for the Times Red Box looking at the reasons for the spectacular Lib Dem success. Being clear about what we were about paid dividends.

Our message at the elections was crystal clear and it worked. Voters recognised the Liberal Democrats are the largest and strongest Remain party. For the past two and a half years we have been unapologetically making the case for a People’s Vote and we have successfully built a cross-party, cross-country movement in support of it.

But while Labour and the Tories lead the country to a disastrous Brexit, we have more to do:

Even as we celebrate these excellent results, we can’t ignore that the Brexit Party made significant gains, that the favourite in the Conservative leadership contest panders to the far right to advance his career (and is certainly not fit for public office), and that the leader of the opposition is yet to take a stance on the biggest issue of the day.

Brexit has turned us into a laughing stock internationally. It’s detracted attention for the real challenges we face, such as the climate emergency, widening inequality and struggling public services. And it’s preventing us from making the most of the technological revolution right ahead of us.

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LibLink: Ed Davey: Sajid Javid’s knife ASBOs won’t work. Here’s a better solution

In the New Statesman, Ed Davey writes that knife crime must be treated as a public health and education issue and that Sajid Javid’s punitive approach will not work.

First he outlines the problems with Javid’s Knife Crime Protection Orders:

I can’t imagine what it is about the experience of ASBOs makes Javid think they’ll work for knife crime. In some communities, ASBOs were seen as a “badge of honour”. Many young people openly flouted them. The threat of prison simply doesn’t work as a deterrent for a lot of young people.

Even worse, ASBOs consumed a lot of police time and resources, whether applying to the courts to get one or enforcing its conditions afterwards. And that was at a time when we had far more police.

If Javid doesn’t remember what a failure ASBOs were, he should just ask his boss. Theresa May, as Home Secretary, described them as “bureaucratic” and “gimmick-laden”. “They were too time consuming and expensive,” she said. “And they too often criminalised young people unnecessarily, acting as a conveyor belt to serious crime and prison.” She was right, and that’s why as Home Secretary, she abolished them.

He suggests a different approach:

I’m proposing knife ABCs: Anti-Blade Contracts.

They could be imposed the first time a young person is caught with a knife, but could also be used proactively for children involved in gangs or who might be considering carrying a knife. The young person would sign a contract saying “I will not carry a knife.” In return, they could be guaranteed services to help them feel safer: a police officer or social worker to call whenever they need them, for example.

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Listen: Alistair Carmichael MP is first guest of new podcast series

Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael took some time to speak to the new team behind Debated, Will Barber Taylor and Conrad Lewandowski .

Alistair talks about the resurgence of the Lib Dems, the success of the local elections, the impact of Brexit on that vote, and what is next.

Have a listen!

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LibLink: Vince Cable: May’s local elections should be about housing, social care and the environment. Not Brexit

In an article for Politics Home, Vince Cable sets out what should be the priorities for this year’s local elections:

The first is housing. The dearth of affordable housing for purchase or rent is an issue almost everywhere, and is felt by young people in particular. The depletion of the stock of council housing through ‘right to buy’ and the lack of social house building because of central government restrictions has contributed to extreme problems, including homelessness, at the bottom of the housing ladder. Yet good councils have used the planning system and their borrowing powers to get housing, especially social housing, built and have made sure that there is a safety net of hostel accommodation for the homeless (as I have recently seen in York, Watford and Somerset with Lib Dem-led councils).

A second is social care. It is now generally recognised that many of the pressures with in the NHS are caused by the inability of cash-strapped local councils to provide adequate social services support – through domiciliary care or residential homes – resulting in ‘delayed discharge’ (it used to be called ‘bed blocking’) for many sick and elderly people. The failure of central government to confront the social care issue is resulting in mounting problems, and local government is bearing much of the burden.

Thirdly, there is the environment. Those who are motivated by the big environmental issues of the day – climate change, plastics recycling and air quality – realise that local communities and individuals can and do make a contribution in either direction.  Environmentally aware local councils are rightly declaring climate emergencies; there is a race to install electric charging points for zero emission vehicles; and recycling rates and methods are under scrutiny.

But the b-word will get in the way – which will also be good for us.

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LibLink: Jo Swinson: 100 years after the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, will the UK Government do the right thing and apologise?

Yesterday marked 100 years since the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in Amritsar, India.

A British General ordered his troops to open fire on crowds gathered in a park to celebrate a Spring harvest festival and at the very least estimates, hundreds of people were killed.

In the Independent this week, Lib Dem Deputy Leader Jo Swinson called on the UK Government to apologise for this atrocity:

This centenary year falls at a time when the term ‘Global Britain’ is increasingly being touted by the Conservative Government as they point to the Commonwealth in the wake of the Brexit shambles. But what weight does that term carry if Britain refuses to comprehensively repudiate and recognise its responsibility for such atrocities? Refusal to help heal the wound left by the Amritsar Massacre by not issuing an apology only serves to demonstrate a pig-headed stubbornness that harks of an inward facing island, not a progressive, outward-looking country.

The massacre is a shameful stain on the history of British foreign policy. It is a wrong that continues to mark our foreign policy for as long as the Conservative Government refuse to apologise. Acknowledging what happened, the gross abuse of human rights and the rule of law, and issuing a formal apology is long overdue.

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LibLink: Alistair Carminchael: The people of Hong Kong look to the UK to keep the promises we made to them

This week in Parliament, Alistair Carmichael asked an urgent question on the Foreign Office’s lack of action per the conviction of Hong King’s Umbrella Movements’s leaders. The Umbrella Movement had protested for 79 days for free and fair elections in 2015.

This week nine of the Umbrella Movement’s leaders were convicted of rarely used public order offences from the days of colonial rule. Chris Patten, the last British Governor of Hong Kong, described it as being “appallingly divisive to use anachronistic common law charges in a vengeful pursuit of political events which took place in 2014”.

The response of our own Foreign Office was a silence. How embarrassing, and not for the first time.

It was only 1997 that the UK handed Hong Kong back to China. It was a handover that allowed the UK to divest itself of another vestige of empire while entering into a treaty with China which sought to provide autonomy of the former colony and a continued progression towards democracy. It was Chris Patten’s not insubstantial legacy which gave both Britain and China obligations for fifty years until 2047.

He was quick to point out a former Lib Dem leader who had stood up so vociferously for the people of Hong Kong:

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LibLink: Layla Moran: It’s time for the UK to recognise the state of Palestine

Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, the first MP of Palestinian descent, has written for Politics Home about why the UK should recognise the state of Palestine:

As things stand now the peace process is nowhere to be found. It is a fallacy to think that there is still an ongoing peace process and the international community are ignorant if they think anything else. The political agenda has been hijacked by extremists on both sides and I am very clear that as a part of that, Hamas must go: their presence is setting the dialogue back considerably.

With this breakdown of the peace process, and the US now missing from the international effort, it is more important than ever that the UK steps up and uses its influence and voice. The UK can help restore a sense of hope for Palestinians, we can help bring the parties back to the negotiating table, and we can help level the playing field. But we can only do that if we recognise the state of Palestine. Saying that we believe in a two-state solution without recognising one of those states ourselves would be laughably hypocritical if it weren’t so damaging.

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Christine Jardine: A tax on women just for being women is plain wrong

In her Scotsman column this week, Christine Jardine describes seeing an offer for deodorant for £1 in a pharmacy. Men could buy a full size can. Women got a travel size.

That encapsulates the problem that she is trying to sort out in a Bill aimed at tackling the so-called “Pink Tax” she is introducing today.

The women’s movement has come a long way. Parliament itself is an example. We don’t have a perfect gender balance yet, but we do have the largest number of women ever elected, and the green benches are beginning to look vaguely like the country we are there to represent. But discrimination is still there in everyday life in so many ways that often we simply don’t notice.

Next time you are shopping take a careful note of some of the prices on the shelves. You may not notice it at first but over time you may begin to see a trend.

I hadn’t really noticed that the so-called ‘Pink Tax’ was an issue until it was pointed out to me by a colleague, so I went into a high-street pharmaceutical store to see for myself.

It seems that women get hit with a double whammy: they make less for doing the same work, and then they pay more for the same product or service just because it’s ‘for’ women. Discrimination on gender grounds is illegal, and whether women are paying more for a pink razor, deodorant from the same brand, or for an identical piece of clothing, it’s time to say enough is enough. There is absolutely no reason why men and women should pay different prices for exactly the same products or services.

In an article that starts with a reference to her hero, Billie Jean King, and is crammed full of tennis metaphors, she goes on to talk about Caroline Criado Perez’s book, Invisible Women, which is being published this week. This describes the gender data gap:

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Lib Dem led Sutton Council trials On Demand bus service

ALDC flagged a story this week here, telling us about how Lib Dem-led Sutton Council has decided to trial an On Demand bus service.

Users will be able to use an app to request a bus to stop for them. The benefits are not just for the user – getting more people out of cars and onto buses and public transport reduces congestion and will improve air quality. Sutton Council is working with Transport for London on this trial, with more info on that partnership here.

Lack of bus services, and cuts to bus services, concern many communities up and down the country. Well done to Lib Dem Cllr Manuel Abellan and the team for leading by example. We’ll be keen to know how it all works out!

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LibLink: David Boyle – The Lib Dems should act decisively – and join the Independent Group now

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Over on the Guardian’s Comment is Free, David Boyle uses his first-hand experience of the Liberal party/SDP merger to reflect on the new situation with the Independent Group of MPs:

…this is what I believe Vince Cable should do. As soon as possible, the Lib Dems should join the Independent Group in parliament. I suggest this partly for the good of the independents. Joining the 11 Lib Dems (plus Stephen Lloyd, who resigned the whip recently, but who would surely then follow suit) would double their size and give them momentum. The new group would then be almost two-thirds of the way to becoming the third largest party (currently the SNP with 35 seats), and closer to the public funding attached for policymaking.

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Lib Link: Shas Sheehan Government must defend DFID’s autonomy and expertise

Enshrining the 0.7% GDP for international aid provision in law was a brilliant Lib Dem achievement brought about by former Lib Dem Secretary of State Mike Moore.

Now it is coming under threat by Tories who have always opposed it. In an article for Politics Home, Lib Dem peer Shas Sheehan writes a blistering defence of it.

Enshrining in law the UK’s aid commitment was a hugely progressive step. But it has been haunted by years of attack from Conservative MPs such as former and current DFID Secretaries Priti Patel and Penny Mordaunt. The latest person to take aim at this life-saving budget is Boris Johnson.

Boris’ backing of the paper Global Britain: A Blueprint for the 21st Century is shameful. The paper calls for a severe, multi-billion-pound cut to UK’s Overseas Aid budget and closure of DFID. It shrugs off the fact that this budget has played a major role in the fight to eradicate poverty and promote sustainable development across the world. It dismisses the fact that it has helped to transform people’s lives and lift many out of inhumane conditions.

Far from positioning post-Brexit Britain as a global player regaining its place on the world stage, slashing the UK aid budget and threatening our place in the OECD’s forum of major international donors instead paints the UK as an inward-looking island no longer in step with the realities of the contemporary world. As Save the Children have said, the UK is an International Development superpower but these suggestions risk that. Brexit is already threatening our seat at the top table, we must not allow Conservative whims to threaten it further.

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