Category Archives: News

Observations of an ex pat: Patriotism vs Nationalism

Patriotism: Good. Nationalism: Bad. At least that is how it reads in my political lexicon.

Patriots  love  their country. They love the land and the sky, the people, the culture, the history and the values.  If necessary, they are prepared to die for their country.

Nationalists feel all the above, but then take it a step too far. Sometimes several steps. And therein lies the problem.  Nationalists (in my political lexicon) believe that their country is better than other countries.  That it and their fellow citizens are superior to other countries and their citizens.

Sometimes that sense of superiority is applied not to national identities but to race or religion, such as White nationalists, Black nationalists or Islamic nationalists.  But whichever vehicle they use, nationalists  carry a strong sense of entitlement based on their nationality, colour or beliefs. And, if they are superior to others,  than it must follow that whomever the others are, they must be inferior.

That is why nationalism is bad.

European colonialism was bad because it was at least partly based on the belief that Europe was bringing a superior civilisation to a barbarian world. Colonialism was a form of European-wide nationalism.  In fact, much of the world that Europe viewed as barbaric had enjoyed the fruits of civilisation centuries before anything approaching civilised structures were even thought of in France, Britain or Spain.

Nazi Germany was the ultimate expression of nationalism. It encompassed race, language and culture, It claimed ultimate superiority for the German state and German race and used that assumed superiority to wage genocide and set out to subjugate the rest of the world.

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Vince Cable’s message for Diwali

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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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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDean Crofts 20th Oct - 9:14am
    MPs have themselves to blame for the situation with UC. When the tax credit reductions were voted down in Parliament everyone forgot that the reductions...
  • User Avatartheakes 20th Oct - 9:10am
    Yesterdays local election results make very grim reading, very grim indeed. This is the reality we have to deal with.
  • User AvatarPalehorse 20th Oct - 8:47am
    Michael, GDP is just turn over. We have a very large economy which we operate at a huge loss rather than a profit. I do...
  • User AvatarJOHN INNES 20th Oct - 8:43am
    Excellent article. "Our current tax system, by focusing on income rather than wealth, facilitates the accumulation of unearned assets while punishing productive activity by individuals...
  • User AvatarGeoff Payne 20th Oct - 8:01am
    Well spotted, Mick- that should say 2017! I must have been stuck in a timewarp.
  • User AvatarCatherine Jane Crosland 20th Oct - 7:22am
    Lorenzo, thank you for your comments :) Katharine, my suggestion about a motion for conference was only a suggestion. You have already done a great...