Category Archives: Op-eds

World Review: Oil, vigilantism in America, refugees, Swedish politics and Omicron

Prepare for an oil price war in 2022. The combatants are OPEC and a consortium of top energy consuming countries including the US, China, UK, Japan, India and South Korea. All of these countries have built up huge strategic oil reserves in case of emergency such as war or another 1973-style OPEC oil embargo. The US has the largest reserves with 638 million barrels tucked away in storage facilities in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. The last two times America’s oil reserves were used was after Hurricane Katrina and during the Gulf War. Biden is depleting them to combat the energy shortage which has pushed up prices to $81 a barrel and is threatening the US and world economic recovery from the pandemic.

The OPEC countries (and Russia), however, like the high prices and they are used to controlling the market to suit their needs by raising and lowering production. They fear that Biden’s move on economic rather than security grounds threatens their historic stranglehold on the market. An OPEC summit is planned for 2 December. The oil ministers were planning to announce a 100 million barrel increase in production from January; not enough to substantially reduce prices, but possibly enough to stabilise them. That is expected to be off next week’s agenda. President Biden also has internal problems in the form of the Republicans who advocate increasing domestic oil production and reinstating projects such as the Keystone XL oil pipeline to reduce reliance foreign sources. But that, of course, runs afoul of climate change promises.

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Observations of an Expat: Thanksgiving – Made in Britain

Thanksgiving is the most American of American holidays. Or is it?

Like so many other American traditions and customs, Thanksgiving’s origins have its roots on the eastern side of the Atlantic.

Let’s start with the Puritans. They were English. They were religious dissidents who arrived on the shores of New England mainly from East Anglia via an unhappy sojourn in the Netherlands.

The beliefs, history, philosophy, politics and social structures were English. In 1620 there was no such thing as an “American” other than the Native Americans that they eventually supplanted. In fact, they were as English as apple pie, which they also brought with them from Britain.

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Johnson twitters while migrants drown in the Channel

How did it come this? Tens of migrants drowning in the Channel. There is a sense of inhumanity about current events. A sense of unreality. A sense that the horrors of humanity at its worst is lapping up on the shores of the Channel. Alive. But often dead.

There is a sense of unreality about our government’s response. And that of the French leadership.

This is people’s lives. People escaping the horrors of conflict and political suppression. People who want their children to go to school. People who want to set up thriving businesses. People who want to pay their way.

Instead, some of them drown. Their dreams of a better life destroyed by exploitation of modern day smugglers. Not smuggling contraband but smuggling people. There are many echoes of this from our colonial past but this a current emergency, not something you can look up in the index of a history book.

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Postal votes: Shout out if you are helping in North Shropshire this weekend

There is the clatter of the letter box. Among the bills and magazines is a white envelope that contains the postal voting form. That is happening right now in North Shropshire. Postal votes are critical to us winning this by-election. And we can win this by-election. We have the right candidate. The right team. But in this huge constituency, we need people on the ground and on the phones to persuade people that this does not have to remain a true blue seat.

There is a lot of talk about the Lib Dems having to climb a mountain to win this by-election. A mountain is a challenge but not an impossibility. If we win this by-election, we will change the political dynamics of the Welsh Marches. We are a Tory leaning area with a huge streak of Lib Dem support. Winning here means that we can win so many other wards, councils and constituencies.

We need to tell the world that the Lib Dems are back.

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Blessed are the Place-makers

Whose place is it anyway?

I’ve long puzzled over the phrase, ‘knowing your place’ – most frequently deployed to (uh oh, here’s another) ‘put someone in their place’.

Both express a need to assume some authority over those who should be ‘put back in their box’ whilst those in command carry on being commanding despite inconvenient ‘un-called for’ reports.

Having long retired from what was then a deeply hierarchical organisation modelled on the military (and one that struggled with innovation), I now much prefer the delight of locally talented pools of people who really do know their places and appreciate their habitats in fine detail.  Between them, they also know a thing or three about almost any specialist topic you’d care to mention.  This Community Capacity – the resident energy source that sustains the places we inhabit – can be seen as a great asset or an annoyance, but either way it cannot be ignored.  Community Capacity plays a significant role in explaining why some places thrive whilst others decline.

There is no doubt that Council Officers are a dedicated bunch, loyally devoted to their chosen areas of expertise.  Nursing a community can be as much a vocation as, well, nursing.  There’s also no doubt that they labour under the constraints of dwindling resources and edicts handed down by higher command – moderated or amplified by the local governors, elected Councillors.  But the central high command sees only averages with little contextual awareness of the real place-makers or the expertise and wisdom embedded in each community.

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The dire situation in Afghanistan – governmental and individual action is needed

Embed from Getty Images

Earlier this Autumn, I had the privilege of talking with three women who had been trying to bring awareness to the dire situation developing in Afghanistan. Sitting outside the Palace of Westminster day after day, these dedicated women were not only inviting people to discuss the NATO withdrawal, but were also participating in a hunger strike to demonstrate their disdain towards the new Taliban regime. Since our initial meeting, I have met with these women multiple times, and I have begun to understand more deeply the feelings held by those in Afghanistan.

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The silence from the Government on the Winter Olympics in Beijing is eerie

When a person here at home comes forward to say they are sexually assaulted, we expect a criminal investigation. We also expect debates in our legislations and police funding why further crimes are not prevented. What we will not expect is for the victim to be disappeared and reappeared by a state media while there is neither investigation nor freedom for the person being sexually assaulted to be approached. In China, when tennis star Peng Shuai accused former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault, she is confined into further danger and injustice. Our Government has stayed eerily quiet when major sporting events are held in countries with tarnished human rights records. While sources say Downing Street is mulling the diplomatic boycott we call for, the continuous inaction is fuelling legitimacy for the autocratic regime.

The Chinese Communist Party loves to portray sports. While Hollywood sometimes glorify breaking the curse of the ‘Sick Man of Asia”, Beijing is just as fascinated pushing for strengthening physique with national figureheads. Chinese leaders are shown swimming against fierce waves in the Yellow River. When President Xi does not swim, he is demonstrated to enjoy football. Probably he may also think it is not worth ending his President for life title in the Yellow River. It is interesting David Cameron played along with the Chinese leader in his portrayal, giving him a visit to Manchester City during Xi’s state visit. It is another ignorance to the fact the Chinese leadership always has a hidden agenda. The Winter Olympics simply cannot improve human rights record in China. In fact, allowing Beijing 2022 to be held normally will contribute to the Chinese party’s narrative.

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Climate change and the real cost of travelling

Our planet needs our immediate attention. It is clear, at least to me, that there aren’t easy answers to some of the global environmental challenges.

Will actions of one individual make any difference? How can I change or improve the way I live my life to protect the planet? We have “mountains to climb” so why bother? I can decide to eat less meat, to recycle more or use other means of traveling.

The latter is an actual problem, especially when you live abroad. It would be great to travel to continental Europe by train, however it is almost impossible if you have a full or even part-time job with limited annual leave.

What about the cost? I find it quite staggering that it is still so much cheaper to fly than to travel by train. The return trip by train from London to Brussels was approximately £100 more expensive than a return trip by plane. This surely can’t be right, can it?

I am certain that many of us realise the severity of the current situation. Although the most recent climate summit (COP26) in Glasgow reached much needed compromise in a number of key areas, there is still some way to go. I just hope that one day, sooner rather than later, the cost of traveling by train will be made much more affordable.

P.S: I must admit that I lost a lot of faith in our leading politicians, who decided to fly to Scotland in private jets rather than travel like “ordinary’ members of the public. President Biden brought with him 22 cars. Why? What for? Mr Johnson returned to London by private plane. He was rushing to attend a dinner, which was apparently organised by a leading climate change sceptic. Are they leading by example? I don’t think so.

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Liberalism and Freedom of Speech in universities

As the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill moves slowly through Parliament, Liberal Democrats are having to grapple with contested assumptions about freedom of speech and its limits. This is a culture war bill. The polarization of American politics is seeping into Britain. Britain has become a far more liberal society over the past 50 years. We must resist attempts to push the clock back.

The Bill starts from the assertion that universities are incapable of defending free speech. It asserts that a new ‘free speech champion’ and a new right to sue universities are required to restore this freedom for those (staff, students, or visitors) who claim to have been denied the right to speak. It follows Policy Exchange papers, and articles in right-wing papers, that assert that university staff are now overwhelmingly left-wing, that they indoctrinate their students, and that academic culture has a chilling effect on staff who hold divergent views.

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World Review: America and China, Austrian vaccination and India’s farmers

It has been an interesting week for Sino-American relations and China in its own right. It started with the two countries agreeing to cooperate on climate change policies. There were no details in this proposed pact, but a start had been made. This was followed by a three-hour virtual summit between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping. Both sides basically re-stated long-held positions on trade, Taiwan, the South China Sea and human rights. But it was done in a friendly manner which meant another reasonable start. Then things started going downhill. The Americans are very upset about the new Chinese hypersonic missile and are being loud in their condemnation. Then Biden said he was considering refusing to send a diplomatic delegation to the Beijing Winter Olympics. The athletes can go, but the normal contingent of accompanying politicians are now expected to stay at home to protest Chinese human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

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Hell has no fury like an editor scorned

Paul Dacre, a doyen of the right and former long term editor of the Daily Mail, is raging. In a letter published in The Times this morning, he tells the world that he wants to set the record straight following “increasingly hysterical speculation from the left-wing media” on whether he would be applying again to be chair of Ofcom. He tells us he will not be submitting a new application while lambasting civil servants for working from home and “exercising on their Peloton bikes and polishing their political correctness”.

This episode arises from an attempt by Boris Johnson to stich up the Ofcom appointment. When the original selection panel did not appoint Dacre, Boris Johnson called for the selection panel and criteria to be changed, echoes of how he later tried to change the rules over the suspension of Owen Paterson. This debacle has only pumped more oxygen on the flames of sleaze that are engulfing Boris Johnson’s government.

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For Transgender Day of Remembrance

On 20th November each year, vigils take place across the world to remember those lost to anti transgender violence every year. This year the list stretches to more than one person for every single day. 375 trans people have been killed since November 20 2021. It’s grim reading. So many are in their 20s. These are not just names on a page. They are people with feelings, hopes, dreams whose lives were taken from them as a result of prejudice and discrimination.

Transgender Day of Remembrance started in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith to remember Rita Hester who had been killed the year before.

A good few years ago now, I was in London with some young people and, at their request,  spent a rainy Saturday evening that we could have spent in a warm theatre standing in Trafalgar Square in the freezing rain at a hate crime vigil.  Not long after that, one of those young people came out as transgender.  He was under no illusion about the prejudice he faced, yet he knew that the only way he could have a fulfilling life was to be open about his true self. That takes incredible courage and requires our sensitivity and support. Every time we open our mouths on this subject, or get ready to hit our keyboards, we need to think about the human cost of our words. If in doubt, be extra kind.

In the UK today, trans people face a barrage of prejudice and discrimination wherever they turn. Anti-trans activists dominate newspaper columns and broadcast interviews while complaining of being silenced. Helen Belcher wrote about the current climate on this site the other day.

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Observations of an Expat: Two Step… One Step

Russia’s Vladimir Putin is indulging in that well-known two step, one step diplomatic dance. That is two steps forward. One step back.

Sometimes he throws his fellow Europeans off balance by taking a third step and half a step back, or he may refuse to move from his new position.

He prods and pushes, establishing new boundaries both physical and political. Using strategies developed as a high-flying KGB agent, Putin simply denies everything. It is all Western “balderdash,” he claims.

Belarus is a Russian satellite. Its Soviet-style dictator Alexander Lukashenko would hardly dare breathe without first seeking the approval of his Moscow mentor.

One of Putin’s main aims is to destabilise the EU. And it is no secret that the issue of migrant refugees from the Islamic world is a divisive and destabilising issue. The East European Visegrad 4 (which include Poland) are especially against it. So Lukashenko sent agents off to Syria, Turkey and Iraq to recruit thousands of refugees to press against the Polish border fence.

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Fourteen candidates to stand in North Shropshire

Some people believe that 13 is an unlucky number. Let’s hope that is the case for the thirteen candidates standing against Helen Morgan in the North Shropshire by-election on 16 December.

The four main contenders are the Lib Dems, Conservatives, Labour and the Green Party. They are joined by a candidate based in Monaco, UKIP, Rejoin EU, Reclaim Party, Heritage Party, Freedom Alliance, Reform UK, an independent and of course the Monster Raving Loony Party. Just five of the candidates live in the constituency: Lib Dems, Labour, Green Party, UKIP and Reform UK. The Conservative candidate lives sixty miles away in Birmingham.

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Brexit preparations hindered a government unprepared for pandemic

A report from the National Audit Office published this morning reveals Brexit preparations hindered the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic how badly prepared the government was a major health emergency. :

This pandemic has exposed a vulnerability to whole-system emergencies – that is, emergencies that are so broad that they engage the entire system. Although the government had plans for an influenza pandemic, it did not have detailed plans for many non-health consequences and some health consequences of a pandemic like COVID-19. There were lessons from previous simulation exercises that were not fully implemented and would have helped prepare for a pandemic like COVID-19. There was limited oversight and assurance of plans in place, and many pre-pandemic plans were not adequate. In addition, there is variation in capacity, capability and maturity of risk management across government departments.

Ed Davey call on Boris Johnson to apologise: “That failure has cost many lives and contributed to an economic collapse the scale of which we are yet to understand. Most hurt of all will be a generation of school children left behind by the Conservatives.”

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DON’T PANIC: Responding to our Climate Emergency – The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty

Just when we reach for it, we realise The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy can only be found on the Fiction shelves. F – not SF – with barely a hint of science warped to suggest credibility. But, oh, how we chuckled at the patently preposterous existential crisis for a planet Earth where no-one had bothered to read the planning notices.

But today our self-inflicted existential crisis is no comedic platform. Novelists prefer the dystopian where borders blurred by reality are fading into climatic irrelevance. COP26 (or COPout26 as some insist) reduced COP President, Alok ‘down, but not out’ Sharma, to tears and moved manipulative mindsets to imagine novel ways of avoiding reality. But, as Jason Hickel writes, “If we accept the facts of climate change, we also have to accept the radical changes necessary to address it.”

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Liverpool is not cowering under the bed clothes

In my view much of the national coverage of Sunday’s explosion has been a heady of sensationalist nonsense and gossip. Why are they making such extensive coverage? Because sensation leads to purchase of papers and clicks on social media. The image that parts of the media portray is of a city that has been traumatised by the event and which is hunkering down against fear of further attacks. That just is not the case.

Of course, all of us in Liverpool were shocked by what had happened and even more so what might have happened. The death toll could have been huge if the bomb had actually entered the hospital or been taken to the Remembrance Sunday event at the Anglican Cathedral.

That shock has passed off. People are going about their business in the normal way. Liverpool is a great city that always takes things in its stride. It will shake itself down and get on with life after making known real concerns about what happened and a desire to ensure that the powers that be learn lessons from what occurred to try and ensure it doesn’t happen again.

The coverage has not in any way led to rational discussion about why this has happened and what we should do about it. In a way that does not disappoint. I am, however, disappointed in that it is leading to irrational debate which may well prejudice rational debate. I have seen:

  • ill-informed speculation about the way that the Anglican Church has been recklessly baptising people of other faiths who merely wished to guarantee that they could stay here.
  • extremist comment about the nature of the refuges who come to Liverpool
  • angry comments about the way that the Council and other authorities not controlling or supporting asylum seekers and refugees properly
  • thoughtless comments about the NHS being largely to blame because they didn’t properly aid or control someone who had been sectioned under mental health legislation.

All of these areas and organisations should be looked at but that proper review can only be undertaken when the Police have done their work and are able to provide all of us with a coherent report on what happened and the timeline against which it happened.

On a wider level there are some questions that we can begin to ask such as:

Are Liverpool and similar urban areas taking too great a share of refugees and asylum seekers for us to be able to deal with properly?  Liverpool and other Cities are keen to help but are we taking up to much of the strain when other areas stand aside?

What is the role of the housing strategy of the council? We have vast numbers of very cheap small terraces that unscrupulous private landlords can make a fortune from by packing people into with few concerns about the effects on the neighbours and entire communities.

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Evergrande and China’s controlled rosy picture hanging by a thread

China’s economy is heavily skewed towards property development and the policy derives from party factional wars to control wealth, power and influence. Evergrande is part of this vicious cycle. This resulted in property value accounting for 71.35% of household wealth (Li & Fan, 2020). Similarly, this out of proportion asset balance is reflected in the Chinese political system disproportionate logic of a balance of power. It is important to understand the complication of this economic model so one is not fooled by the rosy pictures when China’s economy is portrayed.

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For Transgender Awareness Week

This week has been coined Trans Visibility Week. It comes round each year, just before the annual Trans Day of Remembrance, when we honour those who lost their lives in the previous year just for being trans.

So, what’s happened in this Trans Visibility Week?

There’s been an almighty row at the BBC, and Vice has reported that LGBT+ staff are leaving in droves. There have been a couple of fiery meetings between the BBC Pride group and management, and in one of them, Tim Davie (the Director General) reportedly said he was worried about the perception that the BBC is transphobic. Well, Tim, I think it’s way beyond a perception.

We’ve had those opposed to trans equality appear on programmes like Wednesday’s Politics Live. We’ve had an appalling piece a couple of weeks ago, which framed trans women as predatory sex offenders – a piece which had to be amended when one of the three contributors not only admitted to predatory sexual behaviour herself but went on to call for the lynching of all trans women. Note – amended, not withdrawn – despite a letter with over 20,000 signatories being sent to the BBC. And we had a BBC podcast attempting to smear Stonewall, seemingly for no other reason that it campaigns for trans people.

When I appeared before a parliamentary inquiry into trans lives in 2015, I noted that certain BBC programmes couldn’t portray trans people without being slightly incredulous about them. In 2017 the BBC tried defending a documentary which was trying to rehabilitate a Canadian doctor who had been criticised for essentially carrying out conversion practices on trans people. Earlier this year, I complained that the Today programme was using the term “biological males” when it meant trans women – and was met with the response that, yes, the phrase did mean trans women and, no, it wasn’t transphobic and didn’t deny trans women their lived experience. Excuse me!

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Mark Pack’s November report: North Shropshire beckons…

Our campaign has already got off to a flying start in the by-election caused by Owen Paterson’s disgrace.

The local party had already made impressive progress in this May’s local elections. They secured a clear second place and created many marginal Conservative-Liberal Democrat wards.

Now we have a brilliant opportunity to turbo-charge that growth in our support and to see just how angry voters are about sleaze and sewage. Ed Davey is already on his third visit there.

Whether it’s by helping in person, on the phones or with your wallet, please do help too. You can donate online or sign up to volunteer. Thank you!

Thank you also to Simone Reynolds and Simon Drage, respectively our candidate and agent for the Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election. More details here.

Have your say in how the party is run

There are two musts for how our party is run. It must be run in a way that is true to our values, and it must be run in a way that helps us work together to be successful.

Sadly, our 2019 General Election Review (the Thornhill Review) found major flaws in how the party operated. That cost us votes and seats.

Since its publication, the Federal Party has been making many changes in response, as I’ve covered in previous reports. But there is still important work to do.

One of the Review’s key findings was about the Federal Board itself:

There is no clear ‘leadership team’ where the three pillars of the party – political, operational, federal – can make cohesive decisions, simply, quickly, and effectively. The Federal Board – 40+ members – is not, cannot, and should not be that team.

So the Board is consulting on options for Board reform, and will put one or more to Spring Conference for members to make a decision.

As part of this we are running a consultation survey. Please do give your views via the consultation survey here.

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One month to go in North Shropshire campaign – we need your help

Just four weeks today, voters will go to the polls across North Shropshire. More than 83,000 voters will have the chance to cast their vote. We can win that vote. Even the bookies think so – odds on Helen Morgan winning have shortened this week with William Hill now offering 2:1.

The previous incumbent, Owen Paterson, held a majority of 22,949. Despite that, the Tories are not invincible in North Shropshire. They have presided over the decline of local NHS services. Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust was rated as inadequate for the third time today. There are long waits for ambulances and long waits to be transferred into A&E. The reform of Shropshire’s health provision, known as Future Fit, has stalled after years of dithering. Farmers and small businesses are angry at the bureaucracy they must negotiate to export to the EU. People are concerned about climate change and the slow progress locally and nationally on tackling it. Underfunded schools. The lack of rural transport. Low wages. The state of the rural economy.

We have everything to win in North Shropshire. We have a great candidate in Helen Morgan and a great team backing her. We need as many feet on the ground, as many people stuffing envelopes and as many people on the phones as we can get. If you can’t do any of those, please donate. Campaigning details for Saturday are below.

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Helen Morgan says the Lib Dems are on the up in North Shropshire

Yesterday, the Lib Dems announced that Helen Morgan has been selected as our candidate for North Shropshire. This morning BBC Radio Shropshire broadcast an interview recorded with her in Wem yesterday.

Helen told Joanne Gallagher, the station’s political reporter, that the Lib Dems have already knocked around 1,000 doors. Problems with the NHS in Shropshire, where there are difficulties in getting GP appointments and people are sometimes waiting for several hours for an ambulance, are top of Helen’s agenda. The bad deal we got out of Brexit and the bureaucracy created are significant issues for farmers and small businesses. A referendum on rejoining the EU is not on the horizon. The trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand are adding to the pressures for farmers who will be undercut by meat and dairy produced to lower standards. The current political maelstrom about MP’s standards doesn’t feature strongly, despite the by-election being called after Owen Paterson resigned after being accused of lobbying for food companies who paid him £100,000 a year.

Can we win? Helen is clear we can: “The Lib Dems are on the up in North Shropshire.”

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Last chance to see start of Impeachment: American Crime Story

If, like me, you were waiting for life to calm down a bit before you binge watched the new drama about Bill Clinton’s impeachment and his appalling behaviour which led up to it, think again. The first episode disappears from iPlayer at 9:15 on Thursday (18th November) and the subsequent 4 every Thursday afterwards.

I watched the first two episodes on Sunday night and found it to be absolutely brilliant, made with sensitivity and understanding. That may well be because Monica Lewinsky is one of the producers and has the chance to tell her story in a way that she couldn’t at the time.  And it is very true to the way I remember it. Great care has been taken to make the scenes that took place in public, like the hug between Clinton and Lewinsky at a White House event after his 1996 victory look very authentic.

I remember Bill Clinton’s furious denial of sexual relations with “that woman”, I remember the fury I felt at the public shaming of Monica Lewinsky while Clinton basically got away relatively easily. It seemed to me that the women at the heart of this suffered so much more than the man. Hillary also came in for criticism for choosing to stay with him with little recognition of the agony she clearly went through. I could always feel her pain and understand why she would choose to stay, having been with him at that stage for almost 30 years.

As recently as last year, Clinton was trying to make excuses for his behaviour. The BBC reported his comments in a documentary:

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Helen Morgan stands for Lib Dems in North Shropshire

Helen Morgan has been selected as the Lib Dem candidate in the North Shropshire by-election, called after the resignation of Conservative Owen Paterson amid allegations of sleaze.

The campaign in North Shropshire has been underway for a week-and-a-half. Last Saturday Sarah Green, who was elected as MP for Chesham and Amersham in June, opened our campaign HQ near Wem in North Shropshire.

Helen said this morning her top campaigning priority will be to demand a better deal for the constituency’s local health services, which have been taken for granted by the Conservatives for years. It comes with the closure of both of North Shropshire’s ambulance stations, GP services in crisis and A&E wait times on the rise. Helen is also passionate about getting a fair deal for Shropshire’s farmers who are at risk as the Conservatives continue to let them down with disappointing trade deals.

You can donate to the campaign here.

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World Review: COP26, sleaze, Africa at war and Covid

COP26 negotiators have as of this writing (Friday) entered the final stages of a draft agreement. It’s not great news for Planet Earth. So far, the gathered pledges will reduce temperature rises from the current 2.5 degree level to 2.4 degrees centigrade—well short of the 1.5 degree limit which climatologists say is the maximum the planet can bear to avoid worldwide environmental disaster. There are, however, some streaks of silver in this dark cloud. One is that the negotiators have agreed to meet in Egypt next year in a bid to make further progress. Originally it was going be another five year gap. There has also been agreement to stop deforestation. Coal has for the first time been singled for as a main polluter and many countries have promised to end its production and use. Although the US and China, the two biggest users, are dragging their feet.

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COP26 didn’t save the world but it helps

Glasgow was not a disaster after all. Neither was it a ringing success. Hopes had been building that the Conference of Parties would have reached an agreement that would get us near to capping global warming at 1.5°C. That target has been missed. The promises needed will be delivered in Egypt next year at COP27 at the earliest, if at all. But the ambition to limit the temperature rise 1.5°C is still alive and that is an achievement.

There have been strides forward and the next COP has been brought forward to next year not the usual five year interval.

We need to act quickly.  Climate change is happening not just in developing countries, but here in Europe and in North America.

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Young people need leaders to end the environmental pandemic

The Covid pandemic gave us a temporary glimpse into apocalyptic living.

Day to day life as we knew it ended in March 2020 as we stared into the face of the most serious and scary public health crisis in living memory.

It forced unprecedented changes in our behaviour.

Yet global force delivered vaccinations as the solution.

The climate crisis is no less scary and necessitates similarly swift and robust measures to combat.

Unless we rapidly reduce carbon emissions, we risk not a temporary but permanent state of apocalyptic living.

Just like how Covid can be combatted by technological medical advancement, following the science, and innovation, so too can climate change.

The global health of the planet demands world leaders react with the same level of urgency posed by a pandemic virus. Climate change is indeed mother nature’s pandemic.

My generation’s security, prosperity and very existence rest on their shoulders.

95-year-old Sir David Attenborough’s impassioned plea to COP26 was not about the generation in the room, rather the young people watching at home or protesting outside.

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Observations of an Expat: Belarus and State Sponsored Human Trafficking

Up to 20,000 Middle Eastern refugees are stuck in a narrow strip of no-man’s land as winter descends upon them. To the west—the dreamed of destination—is a razor wire fence and armed Polish guards. To the east are tens of thousands of armed Belarussian troops to prevent them from going back into Belarus proper.

These refugees have paid thousands of dollars to the agents of Belarussian dictator Alexander Lukashenko who are scouring the Middle East in search of displaced persons in search of a better life in Europe.

They collect their money. Tell them they are going to the promised land of Germany. The refugees are then put on flights to Minsk from Damascus, Dubai or Istanbul. In the Belarussian capital they are met by armed guards who herd them into lorries that transport them to the border with Poland, Latvia or Lithuania. They are unloaded and told to march west. That is when the dream becomes a nightmare.

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ALDC by-election report: 11 November 2021

Thursday’s by-elections threw up some very interesting results. There was an excellent performance from the Lib Dems in Cardiff, while lots had to be drawn to decide a winner in North Kesteven in Lincolnshire!

Most of all this week we want to credit all Lib Dem candidates and local parties who stood for election and gave voters in their area the opportunity to support a Liberal Democrat on the ballot paper.

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North Shropshire campaign ramps up this weekend

The campaign to take the North Shropshire seat from the Conservatives got off to a flying start last weekend, including a visit from Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey. The North Shropshire team supported by campaigners across the country have been leafleting and talking to voters since last Saturday.

The betting odds on the Lib Dem candidates winning this seat have been slashed from 10:1 to 4:1. That’s good when we are trying to overturn a majority of nearly 23,000. I am not suggesting you gamble but if you can get to North Shropshire, please to so and help win the seat whatever the bookies’ odds. There are also other ways you can help if you can’t get there.

Ed Davey and Daisy Cooper are campaigning in Wem on Friday afternoon. Saturday lunch, Tim Farron and Sarah Green will officially launch the campaign just outside Wem at 1pm. Campaigners will also be out in Oswestry, Market Drayton and Whittington over the next few days.

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  • Peter Martin
    @ Joe Bourke, Do you mean the turn of the 21st century? The further you go back the closer the approximation. Warren Mosler is including government bonds ...
  • David Evans
    An interesting debate here, including two responses from William Wallace, which are to an extent appreciated. The problem is that neither response answered the...
  • Joe Bourke
    When Warren Mosler refers to the public debt being simply the net money supply, it is true to say that net money supply (i.e. excluding the money supply created...
  • Jeff
    Matt Wardman 28th Nov '21 - 8:17pm: The upshot is that the best we will get for the foreseeable is perhaps 10-20% of H2 mixed in with the natural gas...
  • Jeff
    John Marriott 28th Nov '21 - 4:02pm: Instead of pumping natural gas through the pipes, what about using hydrogen? Just a pipe-dream. A hydroge...