Category Archives: News

Kent County Council to debate “all options” on the Customs Union today

Kent is known as the Garden of England and the Gateway to Europe.

As a County Councillor, you will rightly expect me to be proud of the place. It’s England largest county authority with 1.82m people.  It has a significant economy (GDP about £37 billion in 2015).  We have everything from Blue Flag beaches (where you can quite often find a Lib Dem peer swimming…) to UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Our history has been shaped by being only 17 miles by sea from continental Europe. Today it’s just 75 minutes by ferry or …

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We Are More Unequal Than Ever

My dismay over inequality was one of the two main issues (the other poor mental health care provision) which drove me into politics in 2014. I jumped in with both feet, determined to be a voice for the voiceless and make the world a more equal place.

But here we are in 2017 and the IPPR report just out shows we are more unequal than ever. The report was commissioned by Channel 5 to mark the launch of the second series of Rich House, Poor House, which sees two families from opposite ends of the wealth divide switch places. The …

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John Leech slams Manchester Council on homelessness

Labour today have an opposition day debate on Universal Credit. They are rightly calling out the huge flaws in the system and the misery its botched implementation is causing.

What’s interesting is that they now accept that the principles behind Universal Credit – as an end to the poverty trap – were sound. It is the huge cuts post 2015 when the Tories were governing on their own, and the implementation which leaves people without money for six weeks as standard which must be stopped. They raise the issue of homelessness and evictions caused by Universal Credit, too.

Unfortunately, Labour’s council in …

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Post 2017 Northern Liberalism – Part 3

As promised, the last part  (Part 1 here, part 2 here) of my foray into political analysis will look at how we move forward in an area of the UK where we kept less than deposits in June of this year. Central to this is, I believe, the strategy suggested by Mark Pack and David Howarth of creating a core vote. However, this is clearly a long-term strategy, and I want to look at the more immediate future.

It is because of our current situation that I welcome the appointment of Tim Farron as our new spokesperson for the North of England. It’s a logical place for him to be, proud as he clearly is of his Preston upbringing. I also think it is a great opportunity for Tim to get back to what he does best, rallying the troops. With all the important local elections coming up, our members really do need that drive. A good first step would be for us to denounce the Northern Powerhouse for the complete fudge that it is, and to scream it from the rooftops. Fractional funding increases in real terms does not constitute a powerhouse anywhere. We should also continue to speak out on the pointlessness of the new City Region Mayors, whose only success that I can see is to get flip-flop Burnham out of the Commons. I was very happy to hear Carl Cashman say that the first thing he would do if elected in the Liverpool City Region would be to have a referendum on his new position – because why on earth does Liverpool need three mayors?

Having mentioned Tim, I feel it is worth reiterating what is for me the defining message of his leadership, pick a ward and win it. We used to run a dozen councils in the North, but now it’s just South Lakeland. If we are to gain Parliamentary seats, we must gain council seats, it’s a very simple and uncontroversial truth. Council elections are always effected by national opinion, there’s no way around that, so we fall back on a record of local delivery, on Labour’s incompetence and the cruelty of the Conservatives. It will be an uphill battle, in some places it’ll be impossible for now. So we must focus our resources on winnable areas, not fritter them in hopeless contests. A strong organisation is also central, such as that now delivering impressive results in Sheffield. The ability of the Sheffield party to co-ordinate and focus their efforts to specific areas across the city is what made the win in Mosborough and the solid swing in Beighton last week possible.

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My speech to the Nottingham Rally for Europe

This is the speech I gave on Saturday to the Nottingham Rally for Europe.

I’m Mathew Hulbert.

Proud Leicestershire lad.

Proud East Midlander.

Proud Brit.

Proud European.

Proud internationalist.

And, yes, Mrs May, a proud citizen of nowhere.

Also, a proud Liberal Democrat.

Proud that my party-alone of the major parties-has remained resolutely Remain; before, during and after last year’s Referendum.

A Referendum, let’s not forget, that was called by David Cameron not to determine a soaring point of principle, but to get him out of a political tight corner; to appease the europhobic Right-flank of his party and counter the then popularity of UKIP.

So, let’s just consider that for a moment.

People’s lives, their jobs, their homes, our whole economy, were put at risk because of the internal machinations of the Tory party.

Never have so many been likely to lose out because of the actions taken by such a cowardly few.

And now Mrs May, who was supposedly Remain but her rhetoric of late favours a Hard Brexit, wasn’t able to tell a radio interviewer this week how she’d vote if the Referendum was held again today.

Well, she may not have the courage of what remains of her convictions, but I do.

I was Remain on June 23rd last year and I’m still Remain today.

I’m Remain not because the European Union is perfect-no human institution ever is-but because the EU has been the greatest man-made force for peace and for progress in human history.

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WATCH: Alex Cole-Hamilton and Scottish Young Liberals President speak at Edinburgh Rally for Europe

On Saturday the Royal Mile erupted in a sea of dark blue and yellow stars as hundreds of people attended a rally at Edinburgh’s City Chambers run by the Scottish Young European Movement.

There were two Liberal Democrat speakers – Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton and new Co-President of the Scottish Young Liberals Christopher Wilson.

The videos below are brought to you courtesy of SYL’s Tristan Gray. I did try to film them but my phone threw a strop at the crucial moment, so thanks to Tristan for letting me use this.

But before all that, you need to see my new favourite thing.

Here’s Alex.

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Lib Dems should question detention of political activist under terror laws

The Sunday Herald carries a very disturbing story about the detention by Police Scotland of a political activist, Eleanor Jones, under the same controversial law that was used to detain David Miranda four years ago.

Ms Jones was heading to Germany from Edinburgh Airport in the Summer when she was detained. She had been in the city attending her grandad’s funeral.

She made her way through security and, after walking towards her gate, was met by two plain-clothed police officers.

She recalled: “It was clear they had expected me and came there to get me – they had a copy of my flight bookings.”

Jones said she was detained for several hours – missing her flight – and was “interrogated” about the political views of her and her family.

She said she was quizzed about her opinions on the UK Government, adding: “They asked about Hamburg as well.”

Jones also said the officers asked her to hand over her iPhone and laptop: “They scanned my data to see if there was anything to prove I was a terrorist. They were going through all my information.

“Once they had scanned and copied my phone’s data they gave it back to me. My laptop was posted back to me in Germany.”

While Ms Jones was released without charge, she missed her flight and has still not been reimbursed for the cost of its replacement by Police Scotland.

I think that there are questions here for both the Scottish and UK Governments. No doubt the Scottish Government will deny all knowledge and say that it is an operational matter for the Police because that’s what they always do, but Scottish Lib Dems should press them as they are accountable and it does seem that the Police have acted without any reasonable grounds. 

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