Category Archives: Op-eds

Cable causes controversy over Uyghurs comments

Our beloved former leader Sir Vince Cable took to a new right wing tv news channel last night to have a pint with Nigel Farage.

During that interview he basically said that we shouldn’t call the brutality that the Chinese authorities are inflicting on to the Uyghur population genocide. He said:

“The use of the word genocide is not right here. There is terrible human rights abuse in many countries of minorities and China is one of them and they have abused those minorities for sure but calling it genocide is hyping the language.”

I wonder if he would consider that Amnesty International were “hyping the language” in their report last month in which they described China’s treatment of the Uyghurs as “crimes against humanity.” Over 160 pages, they outlined horrific human rights abuses:

Agnes Callanard, Amnesty’s Secretary General said:

Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities face crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations that threaten to erase their religious and cultural identities.

“It should shock the conscience of humanity that massive numbers of people have been subjected to brainwashing, torture and other degrading treatment in internment camps, while millions more live in fear amid a vast surveillance apparatus.”

In February, the BBC reported on allegations of systematic rape in detention camps:

Tursunay Ziawudun, who fled Xinjiang after her release and is now in the US, said women were removed from the cells “every night” and raped by one or more masked Chinese men. She said she was tortured and later gang-raped on three occasions, each time by two or three men.

Earlier this year, the US Government described the treatment of the Uyghurs as genocide in its annual report on global human rights practices:

Genocide and crimes against humanity occurred during the year against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang. These crimes were continuing and include: the arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians; forced sterilization, coerced abortions, and more restrictive application of China’s birth control policies; rape; torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained; forced labor; and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement.

With that sort of evidence, it’s not hard to see why Vince’s comments have provoked some controversy in the party, even from a senior MP.

Alistair Carmichael said on Twitter that while Vince was a long standing colleague whose views he valued, on this he was wrong:

Other members and party bodies criticised his comment too:

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The necessity of satire

Over the last decade or so I have regularly asked myself what forms of resistance are appropriate in the face of populist/authoritarian/power grabbing regimes. Ultimately they have to be removed at the ballot box so some of us doggedly carry on organising and campaigning in spite of outdated electoral systems and huge amounts of money being fed into elections and pre-election PR machines. In the UK we can throw in a very lopsided set of national newspapers and the future for our politically diminished country does not look bright.

I keep coming back to satire. When I was in the former Czechoslovakia a year after the Prague Spring of 1967, our hosts were distributing clandestine leaflets criticising the puppet government reimposed by the Soviet Union. Quite a bit of this “samizdat” material was satirical and cartoons had a significant part to play. Democracy was not established until decades later but the satire and accompanying laughter provided hope in dark days.

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Wera Hobhouse: Democracy is failing us – Day of Action Saturday 31 July

Attacks on our fragile democracy are ramping up. The evidence comes in a raft of recent Government proposals that include voter ID cards, curbs on peaceful protest and plans to introduce more elections by First Past the Post (FPTP).

Take the controversial plan to introduce voter ID cards, proposed as part of the Elections Bill. This would actually disenfranchise millions more voters. Ministers say asking voters to prove their identities will safeguard against potential voter fraud in polling stations. They also claim that ‘showing identification is something people of all backgrounds do every day’. But I’m not convinced there is any evidence that voter fraud is even an issue. You could be forgiven for thinking this is a tactic put forward by a Tory Government fearful that its ‘blue wall’ will come crashing down at the next general election. Their crushing defeat at the Chesham and Amersham by-election certainly goes to show how a well-fought campaign at grassroots level can do so much to bring communities together.

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World Review: Israeli spyware, Cummins, Tokyo Olympics and Haiti

In this weekend’s review, Tom Arms asks, who you believe, Cummins or Johnson?

Spyware produced by an Israeli company and sold to right-wing governments for spying on domestic and foreign opponents. The Israeli government’s denials of not being involved is fooling no one. The arrest and imprisonment of Jacob Zuma whom many Zulus see as their leader despite his flaws, has led to riots but his arrest was only the spark. Some are claiming that the Florida-based Haitian Pastor Christian Emmanuel Sanon was the man behind the murder of Haitian President Jovenel Moisie.

On more cheerful news, it is a minor miracle that the Tokyo Olympic Games are happening.

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By-election report from ADLC: 22nd July 2021

A very mixed picture this week in the world of local council by-elections. From the highs of the phenomenal hold in Camden, to the lows of not even standing in a Liberal Democrat held seat. Of the eight principal authority contests across England and Wales this week, we only stood in four. It’s essential that we, as a political party that takes local government and community seriously, give voters a Liberal Democrat to vote for at every available opportunity. Nevertheless, we also saw some good performances in some town and parish councils this week, managing to gain two seats, and seeing a narrow miss in another.

The headline story is of course winning the Fortune Green by-election in Camden.

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Observations of an Expat: The Filipino Monster and Justice

Rodrigo Duterte steps down as President of the Philippines in June 2022. He will be 77 and is planning for a quiet, non-eventful retirement—unlikely.

Nipping at his heels are the prosecutors at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. They want Duterte to stand trial for the thousands of extra-judicial killings that took place first in the city of Davao while he was Mayor, and then across the Philippines during his presidential tenure. However, the ICC faces formidable hurdles in placing Duterte in the dock. But first why do they want him there?

Apart from being a foul-mouthed, rude, socially unacceptable, misogynistic, populist politician, Rodrigo Duterte is the man behind thousands of extra-judicial murders. First during his 22 years as Mayor of Davao and then as President. He does not deny the accusation. He revels in it.

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Real recovery starts with local government

I’m sure that some of you may see my name and the title of this article and think: “There he is, banging on about local government yet again”. Guilty as charged, Your Honour. The reason for my ‘banging on’ again has been prompted by an article in today’s Guardian by one of its leader writers, entitled ‘Local Politics is cutting a path for Labour’. Being the Guardian, the answer would of course be Labour. Wouldn’t it? However, the writer’s sudden discovery that there IS political life outside the Westminster bubble is welcome. However, some of us have been well ahead of him down the road to Damascus and, having served as councillors for many years – in my case thirty – we know most of the pitfalls.

What I have discovered is that you can succeed in local government by dint of your personality rather than the colour of the rosette you wear. If Labour is waking up to the potential of local government, why isn’t the party that turned community politics into an art form?

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Human rights campaigning wins in Ireland in the end

At the All Party Parliamentary Group for refugees Nick Henderson from the Irish Refugee Council told us about the “Direct Provision” Accommodation Centres in the Irish Republic.

Asylum Seekers live in these privately run Accommodation Centres whilst their case is being assessed.  They were originally meant for short stays when started in 2001, but are now used for much longer one’s and the median stay is 27 months.  Around 7,000 people are currently housed like this.

Those housed there have little privacy, no cooking facilities, and they are excluded from any community life.  Nearly 2,000 are sharing bedrooms with people they are not related to.  Guardians who manage it appear to have oversight of children from families in there, which causes a lot of problems for the future as well as present.

The Centres are very expensive to run and there has been a lot of opposition to them from Human Rights groups since they were started in 2001.  The system could not be amended to be done better, but needed to be replaced.  One woman said that dignity, independence and freedom had been taken from her and her children had lost their self-confidence.

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Welcoming Hong Kong residents

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This week, the US State Department issued an advisory note to US companies operating in Hong Kong highlighting risks that emerge from the implementation of the Chinese government’s National Security Law. US Secretary of State, Anthony J Blinken, has highlighted the “…persistent and politically motivated campaign against the free press, imprisoned Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai, and forced the closure of that publication – a bastion of independent reporting. Beijing has chipped away at Hong Kong’s reputation of accountable, transparent governance and respect for individual freedoms, and has broken its promise to leave Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy unchanged for 50 years.”

Many Hong Kongers will feel that they are pawns in a looming showdown between China and the United States. Many are deciding that now is the time to emigrate including to the United Kingdom. Conscious that many former citizens of Hong Kong are settling in our community, I tabled a motion at last week’s meeting of Richmond Council welcoming Hong Kong citizens to our area. I was gratified the motion was passed unanimously.

I would encourage councillors (Liberal Democrat or otherwise) to look at the numbers of Hong Kongers arriving in their areas and consider bringing similar motions to their local authorities. Here is an edited version of what I had to say:

I would argue that, just as murder on the streets of Minneapolis impacts on us, so does the imposition of Chinese state authoritarianism in Hong Kong. Many residents will have close ties to Hong Kong through family, business interests or pre-1997 postings in the territory. The last governor of Hong Kong is, of course, resident in Barnes. We have unique, historical, and moral duties to the people of Hong Kong.

My wife is British Born Chinese, but her family are originally from Yuen Long, a town in the New Territories. It is a fairly workaday place close to the Chinese border. It is a place I have visited frequently with my family. The metro station is normally a peaceful but bustling place.

In June 2019 that changed. Dozens of men in white shirts carrying sticks, faces obscured by balaclavas, beat groups of commuters taking part in a peaceful protest.

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Tackling our dangerous train stations

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At around 19:05 hrs on Wednesday 26 February 2020, a passenger train struck and fatally injured a person who had just fallen from platform 1 of Eden Park station.

The person, who had impaired vision, moved near to, and fell from, the platform edge probably because his visual impairment meant he was unaware that he was close to this edge. The platform edge was not fitted with markings intended to assist visually impaired people.

The above words are not my own, or some emotive media report of a horrific fatality, but the words from the investigation report carried out by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch.

The death of Cleveland Gervais would almost certainly have been avoided, if the platform at this train station in south London had (at this time) the basic safety measure of tactile paving.

Since February of last year I have been investigating the wider issue of rail safety throughout the whole rail network.   A Freedom of Information request that was made to Network Rail revealed that across the whole railway network more than a third (35%) of train platforms by length did not have tactile paving in 2020. A further concern was that at some stations there is tactile paving at some platforms, but not all of them, creating a totally confusing situation for people who rely on tactile paving.

Working with RNIB and Guide Dogs I have also discovered that for too long tactile paving was considered by the railway industry to be an “access” measure, which was considered only necessary to install when a station was facing wider upgrades, and not a vital safety measure of its own, which must be urgently provided at every train platform.

That attitude has, thank goodness, been finally dropped, but even now the current Network Rail plan for ensuring that tactile paving is installed on 100% of platforms has a deadline of 2029. Yes that is correct – at present blind and visually impaired people are being told they will have to wait eight years before every train station is safe and independent travel is far less frightening.

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Visiting your local mosque

Eid Mubarak everyone. Muslims will be celebrating another Eid with certain restrictions still continuing in places of worship. But it’s wonderful to see that many worshippers are returning to pray at their local mosques. This is why I invited Ed Davey to witness the hundreds praying outside in the court yard of Regents Park Mosque on the last Jumma (Arabic for Friday prayer) before Eid Al Adha. It was a touching moment for me as I have many beautiful memories of coming to the mosque, praying in the gardens at night during Ramadan and playing with friends in between Arabic lessons. My father was influential in supporting an Islamic studies school that still runs to this day every weekend for children. My father also held our regular Muslim Teachers’ Association meetings at the mosque and we attended every Eid here as a family, meeting many relatives and friends. So when I asked Ed Davey to visit the mosque, this wasn’t just a historical moment, it was personal. This mosque means a lot to me and thousands of Muslim families in London.

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Another “Alston Report” – why some of you may not be using buses any more…

It is just over two years ago that a Liberal Democrat Peer, made the following intervention;

My Lords, the reality on the ground is that rural bus services have been in decline for some years now, to the extent that there are many quite large villages which no longer have any kind of bus service at all. Have the Government made any assessment of the impact this is having on residents’ ability to access essential public services such as health and education?

As it turned out, the Government rather hadn’t. But now, Philip Alston, along with colleagues Rebecca Riddell and Bassam Khawaja, has published “Public Transport, Private Profit – the Human Cost of Privatizing Buses in the United Kingdom”. And, as someone who lives in a village which lost its last scheduled bus service a decade or so ago, you might not be surprised that I took rather more interest than might otherwise be the case.

But, of course, it’s not just small, rural villages that are now cut off from the bus network. As the authors note, some 3.34 million people could not reach any food stores within fifteen minutes by public transport. That adds costs for the rural poor, adds traffic to the roads and leads to those who can’t drive for whatever reason to be forced towards larger communities in order to function more easily.

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Pandemic restrictions are over… sort of… Where do we go from here?

You might find yourself wondering why, when the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Health are all self-isolating, and new cases have reached the peak levels seen last over the New Year, today is a good day to declare as “Freedom Day”. And yet, for all of the bombast that the Prime Minister offered in the days leading up to today, even he is now quoted as saying;

So please, please, please be cautious. Go forward tomorrow into the next step with all the right prudence and respect for other people and the risks that the disease continues to present.

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Sunak and Johnson in “Barnard Castle on steroids” escape from self-isolation

You couldn’t make it up. It’s like reading the cover of Private Eye. Health secretary Sajid Javid gets a positive Covid-19 result. If the Prime Minister and Chancellor, who met with him on Friday,  were ordinary mortals, they would have been banished into the self-isolation wilderness for 10 days.

But those at the heart of government live more privileged lives. Driving to Barnard’s Castle to test eyesight. Sneaking a clinch with a mistress, though forgetting to smile for the CCTV. And now Johnson and Sunak, who must not to be confused with the comedy act Laurel and Hardy no matter how tempting that is, are on a trial. They are piloting a stop at work with Covid scheme and testing daily.

 

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World Review: Cuba, climate change, the Taliban and foreign aid

Cuba may be reaching the end of its search for Utopian Socialism – shop shelves are empty and people are hungry. Ten years from now 2021 will be known as the year that the world was dragged kicking and screaming to the reality of climate change. The Taliban continues its march to victory with the capture of a key border crossing in the southeast corner on the Afghan-Pakistan border. Boris Johnson’s win on foreign aid this week was the world’s loss.

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By-election report from ALDC: 15th July….and 13th?

When we were looking at this week of by-elections coming up, we thought it’d be a bit of a lull. In fact, it’s been one of the most exciting by-election weeks we’ve had in a while! A Tuesday by-election, flying the flag for the first time in 15 years in Sandwell, and an outstanding Parish Council win by just one vote. It’s been a great week for us by-election nerds!

We had quite the pleasant surprise here at ALDC towers when someone reported a by-election happening on Tuesday night, even more so when it ended up being another Lib Dem win. Whilst there’s long standing statutory requirements for local elections to be held on the first Thursday of May, and the same for general elections since the Fixed-Terms Parliament Act, no such regulations exist for by-elections, and is merely convention. Why this one bucked convention no one quite knows…

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Observations of an Expat: America’s Original Sin

America has developed its own version of Original Sin. It is called the Critical Race Theory and is proving to be yet another toxic debate topic dividing Black and White and the growing chasm separating America’s right and left.

Original Sin was propagated by St Augustine in the 4th century. It maintained that every human was born sinful and spent a lifetime fighting against it. The Augustinian philosophy was a major tenet of the medieval church and proved especially with the breakaway Protestant sects. Gradually, however, first the Catholics, and then most of the Protestants revised their thinking. Sin was washed away with sacrament of baptism and replaced with personal responsibility.

Critical Race Theory maintains that all Americans—or at least all White Americans—are born racist.

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Ending profit making from the care of vulnerable children in Wales

Before my election to the Senedd I was a child protection social worker. I worked with some of the most vulnerable children and young people in society and those staff dedicated to giving them every chance to thrive.

That is why I jumped at the chance to table a debate on legislative proposal in the Senedd on Wednesday, just weeks into the first term. I used the opportunity to shine a light on the work that we must do here in Wales to create a genuine care system based on the needs, hopes, and aspirations of children and young people.

I used my voice in our national parliament, to speak up for the children, young people, and staff who are waiting for the Welsh Labour Government to act.

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Levelling Up – Revolution not Evolution

The Prime Minister gave his big speech on “Levelling Up” and as we discovered it is still a slogan in search of policies. The only positive was a half-formed idea around further devolution. If the pandemic has taught us anything from the separate policies of devolved First Ministers, Track and Trace to the spotlight on Metro Mayors, it is that effective policy can only be delivered at a local level.

Our current constitutional settlement is obviously lopsided between Nations and the English Regions. What’s worse, government fiat often dictates spending. It is time to recast our country and develop a model that works for the whole country. Every company knows that the closer a service is to the people it serves the more responsive it is. And yet the dominance of the Treasury and Whitehall means the government pays lip service to this idea. Local government is given responsibility but starved of funding. There is another way.

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Report from Federal Policy Committee, 14th July

We held the last of our summer meetings this week and now that the deadlines for motions for autumn conference have passed, we were able to focus squarely on thinking about our future plans. So there were fewer decisions, and mindful of FPC Meetings Reports Fatigue, I’ll try and be briefer than usual!

We’ve carried out Equalities Impact Assessments on all our recent policy papers. We now want to develop and strengthen this approach further and agreed a plan for doing this. Many thanks to Helen Cross, Lizzie Jewkes, Mohsin Khan and Tara Copeland for driving this forward.

We have started our programme of work developing policies on strengthening the UK’s relationship with the EU, with the long term goal of membership. Our first motion on this territory is coming to this conference and this week we discussed our longer term plans for this work. We plan to develop proposals on joining the EU’s free trade area, the Single Market, to bring to spring conference, with more to follow. Thanks to Duncan Brack who is working closely with staff in bringing this forward.

Finally we discussed our plans for future policy working groups. We kicked around various ideas on this, prior to taking some firm decisions in the autumn. Early priority areas here are likely to include prominently work on creating a fairer and more caring society (linking up to the party’s commitment to UBI, which we will be consulting party members about further at this autumn conference). This is likely to be a mixture of drawing together existing policy to present it in the right way, and developing new policy, with a firm focus on appealing to target voters. Supporting child development in the early years and housing and planning policy are also areas we are currently thinking a lot about. There will be further discussions on this, and work on others, in the autumn, which we’ll report about then.

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Federal Conference Committee Report – setting the preliminary agenda for Autumn Conference

Federal Conference Committee met via Zoom call on Saturday, 10 July for the agenda selection for our Autumn Conference 2021. The meeting was a lengthy one, which was in part due to the large selection of motions received. 

A few announcements before the report; as you may be aware Geoff Payne, departed the FCC in early May, and I am delighted to have been elected the new Chair of FCC. All of us wish Geoff the very best for the future. A recount was held for the vacant place on the Committee, and I am delighted that Keith Melton has joined as our new member of the Federal Conference Committee. Chris Adams has also been elected in the vacant Vice-Chair position and will take responsibility for the General Purposes Sub Committee. 

This Autumn conference will be held online, via our third-party provider, Hopin. You will be able to find more information about the virtual conference. If you are planning to attend conference, we highly recommend taking part in the interactive exhibitions and the fringes.

If you haven’t yet registered for Conference, I would recommend to do so here.

The FCC wants to pay its thanks to the continued amazing efforts of the Conference Office team and members who have worked so incredibly hard. You will see from the timings of Conference that it is slightly different to the usual format, and we hope that this will give more people an opportunity to attend virtually, but also it has meant that we have been able to increase the number of motions selected, we have allowed short breaks between sessions but have also worked hard to include as many of the motions submitted as possible. The agenda for Conference will be published very shortly.

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Carmichael: Why is the fishing industry having to fight its own government for survival?

Alistair Carmichael knows more about fishing than most, as you would expect for someone representing an island constituency.

He knows how our fishermen have been completely sold down the river by the Brexit deal.

Yesterday, he stood up for fishermen and those in related industries in a Parliamentary debate which you can watch here.

He outlined some of the eye-watering losses suffered by the industry as a result of the Government failing to deliver on its promises.

Here is his speech in the debate:

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Dick Newby writes: Are progressive alliances needed to win?

Ever since Boris won the 2019 General Election, there has been growing talk of the need for a “progressive alliance” to stop the Tories winning the next election.

Quite what this might involve is unclear. Some would like a national pact between Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and the Greens so only one party would stand in each seat, and others want simply to promote greater tactical voting and other parties to scale back their campaigning where another party is the main challenger.

Helpfully, the by-elections in both Batley and Spen and Chesham & Amersham give us some insight into how this could work and how voters might react.

Chesham & Amersham: a victory for tactical voting

Let’s take Chesham & Amersham first, where the Liberal Democrats started in firm second place. We fought a vigorous campaign and proved early Green party claims that they were going to be the main challenger wrong. People who were traditionally Labour voters, realising that their vote could make a difference, decided to tactically lend their vote to the Lib Dems – including some Party members and activists.

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Willie Rennie stands aside as Scottish Lib Dem leader

After more than a decade in the role, Willie Rennie announced this evening that he is standing aside as leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

Watch his statement here:

He leaves while he is still incredibly popular within the party – and the tributes he has received from outside it show how valued he is across politics.

When he took over in 2011, he inherited a party that had been given the hoofing of its life in the Scottish Parliament elections, reduced from 16 MSPs to just 5.

The small group he led had a big voice, though. Over the years, the Scottish Lib Dems have been the go-to people on issues like education and mental health. Willie’s dogged persistence, challenging Scottish Ministers week in and week out on issues like police centralisation, college places, mental health waiting times, childcare and free school meals shifted government policy on many occasions.

He stared wipeout in the eye in the Scottish Parliamentary elections of 2016. If you had told me we would emerge with 5 MSPs from that election after the disaster of 2015, I would not have dared to believe it. But he showed what he could do with a bright and optimistic campaign which include him launching the manifesto while running down a soft-play volcano and being interviewed on a slide. When his photocall at a city farm was overshadowed by two amorous pigs, journalists were given a packet of Percy Pigs each at the next big event.

His commitment to improving the party’s diversity saw him ensure that we had all women shortlists for both 2017 and 2021 elections, a gender balanced team of spokespeople and serious money invested in diversity projects in each year’s Scottish budget. He put his own neck on the line to get these measures approved by Conference. He needed a two thirds majority and he got it by basically ringing everyone who had registered and talking them round.

And he has travelled the length and breadth of the country so many times supporting candidates at every possible level of election. He’s encouraged people to stand who have now been elected. He has led campaigning with boundless energy, enthusiasm and a huge smile.

I am incredibly sad to see him go, but I can understand that after 10 years of unrelenting graft, he relishes the chance to do something a bit different. He’ll stay on as MSP for North East Fife, of course – but don’t expect him to stop speaking out on th issues he has championed.

And as a campaigner who has been responsible for many of the party’s successes over the past three decades, his skills in that direction will be in demand.

So what now?

The Scottish Executive will set a timetable for a leadership election in which any of the party’s other three MSPs will be eligible to stand.

But for now, let’s look at some of the lovely things people are saying about Willie:

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“Invest in people and their communities”

This is the call of the Health Foundation charity in its final report this month from a long-running enquiry into the impact of COVID-19. Calling on the Government to address the root causes of poor health, the report makes clear that the investment required into people and communities will involve jobs, housing, and education, plus action to ‘level up’ health.

In the report, they say;

The pandemic has revealed stark differences in the health of the working age population – those younger than 65 in the poorest 10% of areas in England were almost four times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those in the wealthiest. Recovery needs to prioritise creating opportunities for good health – a vital asset needed to ‘level up’ and rebuild the UK recovery.

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Remembering Srebrenica

Imagine, just for a moment, that you don’t eat for a month.

Imagine that for months, if you are lucky, you have one “meal” a day; meal meaning a watery soup.

Imagine that when or if you are lucky enough to board the plane, you have no idea where and when you will land.

Imagine that you have no choice, none whatsoever.

Imagine that you are taken, against your will, to a concentration camp, without knowing whether you will walk free again.

Imagine that you are unable, for months, to contact your loved ones.

Imagine that if you are lucky to survive, your traumatic experience lives with you forever.

Imagine that you have NO choice or freedom.

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World Review: A president assassinated, a president suing, a president withdrawing and Covid soaring

In this weekend’s review, LDV’s foreign correspondent Tom Arms talks of events in Haiti, a basket case of a country whose presidents tend to come to an untimely end, including this week President Moise.

Joe Biden is continuing to withdraw from Afghanistan. Donald Trump is suing Facebook. Both difficult strategies.

The delta variant of Covid-19 is causing cases to rise rapidly around the world, especially in countries with low levels of vaccination. Vaccinating Africa must become a priority to save lives in the Southern and Northern Hemispheres.

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Is Boris Johnson gambling on tonight’s Euro final to boost herd immunity?

Crowding together. Shouting. Singing. Welcome to the excitement of football. As England and Italy prepare for the Euro final, scientists are concerned that football is helping drive up Covid-19 infection rates by allowing potentially super spreader events such as the finals at Wembley and Wimbledon. It is predicted that seven million pints will be served during the Euro final tonight in pubs across the land. Health secretary Sajid Javid has suggested we might be heading towards 100,000 new cases a day. Did he take sporting events into account?

It’s coming home but could coronavirus also be coming home with the fans? Maybe Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid want that. Could the Euro final be a booster jab that gets us closer to herd immunity.

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York leads the way and becomes the first Good Business Charter city

York has become the first city in the UK to sign up to the Good Business Charter – a pioneering imitative that puts fairness, representation, diversity and a shared commitment to our environmental responsibilities at the heart of our economic strategy.

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, City of York Council has had a clear focus on working closely with the business community, supporting small and micro businesses, and promoting our unique approach to economic development – the ‘York Way’.

Recently an independent evaluation of the Council’s £1.14m micro grant scheme revealed that since its introduction in March 2020, 294 local businesses were saved from closure and over 500 families and employees from falling into personal and financial hardship.

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By-election report from ALDC – Thursday 8 July 2021

This week’s by-elections present a very mixed picture, along with some crucial lessons in defending our held seats. With eight vacancies to fight, we stood in six, succeeding in one. We lost our one defence in East Devon, in what was a disappointing result. Nevertheless, good campaigns were fought elsewhere, and we can celebrate a good town council gain.

There two Green gains on Thursday, we stood in one and not the other. The lesson is it’s always better to stand for the sake of giving voters a real choice, rather than getting any misplaced ideas about deals and pacts.

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