Category Archives: Op-eds

Trade deal with Australia will hit our farmers

Tim Farron has warned that farmers are being “sold down the river” by the Conservatives, after it emerged the government’s own impact assessment found the Australia deal will cause a £94m hit to the farming, forestry and fishing industries. There is also an expected £225 million hit to the semi-processed food sector, such as tinned foods.

The Liberal Democrats are demanding that MPs are given a vote on the Australia deal so they can stand up for the interests of British farmers. It comes following the party’s by-election win in North Shropshire during which concerns over the impacts of government’s trade deals on local farmers were a significant issue. The deal is likely to hit small farmers, especially hill farmers hardest.

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The Christmas vaccine dilemma – what would you do?

Last night’s  Radio 4 PM had a discussion with a mother and son who were dealing with an issue that many families will be trying to resolve this Christmas. This particular family had members who are particularly vulnerable to Covid and the son had chosen not to get vaccinated.

The compromise they reached was that the son would have a PCR test before mixing with the rest of the family.

It made me think about what I would do in these circumstances. I am about as Covid cautious as they come and my household is being very careful about who we mix with. We are following the Scottish Government’s advice and doing a lateral flow test before seeing other family members and they are doing the same. I’m lucky that we don’t have the vaccine issue as we’ve all been vaccinated and boostered to the max. In fact, the last member of our household got his booster on Monday, rather than the previously earliest appointment he could get which was 17th January thanks in part to Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP. The vaccination centre at Ingliston had been going to be dismantled to make way for a rave the weekend before last. Alex raised the problem with Nicola Sturgeon and Health Secretary Humza Yousaf and the rave was cancelled and the vaccine centre reinstated.

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What a mess! The Brexit fiasco

Brexit has not been done. There never was an oven-ready deal. Whatever Johnson thought was ready for the oven is now burnt to a cinder.

It’s time to use ridicule to explain how this UKIP-Tory government has made such a mess of Brexit. Five and a half years since the Brexit referendum, and Liz Truss has just become the sixth minister in charge of getting Brexit done. The public are beginning to understand that Johnson did not have a clue what sort of Brexit he wanted when he was campaigning to leave and is now struggling to come to terms with the failure to deliver.

A succession of incompetent ministers have attempted to reconcile the Leave campaign’s contradictory objectives. We started with David Davis – who went to meetings with Michel Barnier without any briefing papers. He lasted nearly two years as Brexit secretary. Olly Robbins did most of the work, reporting to Theresa May, against a backdrop of hostile briefings from Tory MPs. Dominic Raab picked up the poisoned chalice when Davis and Johnson resigned over May’s Chequers package. He lasted four months, a period distinguished only by his admission that he had not understood how important the port of Dover was.

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ALDC by-election report: 16 December 2021

So here we have it our round of Super Thursday! Marginals galore, incumbents getting stuffed even before the turkeys have been carved and a whole host of gains, holds, flips and squeezes.

With the potent backdrop of North Shropshire in the atmosphere, you wouldn’t be forgiven for taking your gaze from this week’s by-elections but fear not we have all the details of all sixteen polls from Thursday night’s action.

Most notably then, the Lib Dems ushered in the close of the year with fantastic gains in Roffey South, West Lindsey and last but not least a Lib Dem gain from the Conservatives in Northumberland left the council with no overall control. Elsewhere then the Conservatives held on in Lomond North, Lichfield & Tilehurst South & Holybrook

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West Bank settlements, Liberal values, and our Israeli sister party: time for a realignment

Our Autumn Conference passed a motion entitled ‘Towards a lasting peace in Israel and Palestine’. Critically, the motion was amended, calling for legislation ‘to cease trade with illegal settlements, unless and until a negotiated peace settlement is reached’. Speaking for this amendment, I argued that the UK has obligations under international humanitarian law to refrain in any manner from supporting illegal settlements and must therefore cease trading with them; and that if we are to retain the hope of reaching a two-state solution, it is critical to reject a one-state reality and uphold the legal – and moral – distinction between pre-1967 Israel and the occupied territories.

The illegality of settlements is unequivocal: the International Court of Justice in its Wall Opinion held that the transfer of Israeli civilian population into the occupied territories through the construction of settlements breaches Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention. This legal position was endorsed by the UN Security Council in Resolution 2234, which the UK supported. The motion originally proposed merely to label settlement products, but that did not go far enough: while enabling consumers to make informed choices, labelling still allows products to be sold, despite being produced in illegal settlements. Only by refraining from trade will the UK be desisting from active cooperation with the settlement project, and thus fulfilling its obligation to ensure respect for the Geneva Conventions.

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Boris: “One wheel on my wagon and I’m still rolling along”

Embed from Getty Images

Note: To balance out the motifs presented in the song mentioned here, you may like to visit the websites of The Native American Rights Fund and/or Native Americans in Philantrophy

Following up on Andy’s great post this morning, readers of a certain age will recall a song called “Three wheels on my wagon” by the New Christy Minstrels. You can listen to it via YouTube below. It’s a cracker.

The singer, in the persona of an American “pioneer”, describes “singing a happy song” as a wheel comes off his wagon, while he is chased by a band of arrow-firing “Cherokees” who are intent on killing the singer and his fellow wagon passengers.

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After 271 days, the Dutch have a government

It has been nine long months since the last general election in the Netherlands, and this week, the Dutch finally got a new government. Once again, the two liberal parties are working together.

Mark Rutte, of the classical liberal VVD party, is Prime Minister for a fourth time after four parties finally agreed a deal on Monday (13th) night. The other parties in the coalition are the social liberal D66, the Christian Democrats, and the centre-right Christian Unity. This is the same make-up of the government from 2017-2021.

The news of the new coalition agreement was met with muted cheers – even from the leaders of the parties themselves. Rutte described it as a ‘good deal’, with Sigrid Kaag of the D66 saying, ‘it is a fine and balanced agreement’. Christian Unity leader, Gert Jan Segers said, ‘I am just glad we are done. It’s taken a long time’.

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Boris Johnson is sinking into pig manure. Has he had his day?

Is Johnson about to book the removal vans and move out of Downing Street? His stint as prime minister over? Yes please. Bring the vans in and bring the tenure of this increasingly hapless “leader” to an end.

At first thought, keeping Boris Johnson is good for us Lib Dems. His incompetence helped deliver the stunning North Shropshire result and get us our 13th MP. But his incompetence is now damaging our country. After Partygate, Peppagate, backbench rebellions and today, the resignation of Lord Frost, he increased looks as though he is up to his neck in Peppa poo.

As Oscar Wilde didn’t say: “To lose one by-election Mr Johnson, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.” And there is that sense about Boris Johnson. Carelessness. The sense of not having a grip on the public mood and on the mood within his own party.

Is it time for him to walk the plank?

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Observations of an Expat: Christmas Traditions

Tis the season. Eggnog, mulled wine, presents, Christmas trees, yule logs, Christmas cards, Midnight Mass, food, food and more food… The list goes on and on. The Holiday Season is one tradition after another.

In fact, you could call it the Tradition Season just as easily as the Christmas or Holiday Season. But when and where did the traditions start? Well, they came from all over the Western world and some of the Eastern. Some have deeply religious roots. Others tell a political story. Some are strictly secular money making operations.

There was a time when Christmas was banned. And then there is the controversy about the actual birthday. The Bible does not actually give a date for the birth of Jesus, but Biblical historians believe that references to shepherds sitting outdoors at night on hills indicates that it was in the spring.

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International Migrants Day

In no particular order, I am proud to call myself:

  • Immigrant
  • Migrant
  • Polish
  • European national
  • Global citizen
  • Citizen of the world
  • Resident of Welwyn Garden City

Each year, on the 18th December, we celebrate the International Migrants Day. A day like many others. However, it is a day which gives us an opportunity to recognise our contribution, reflect on our achievements and celebrate our uniqueness.

The International Migrants Day is a day when we can be truly proud of our own heritage, culture, upbringing, religious or ethnic background. Our faith affiliation, colour of our skin or country of our origin are only part of our story. It is our personal experiences and journey through life, which can help us to become better human beings, and which make us who we are.

We all “move around” for a number of different reasons; to better our lives, seek opportunities to work or study, or flee war of prosecution. We enhance our communities. We enrich our neighbourhoods. Life is at times challenging, hard and demanding. However, it has also plenty of happy and fulfilling moments. I believe that migration is strongly embedded in our DNA. Let’s not forget that we all have layers of identify and being a migrant is only one of them.

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North Shropshire: It wasn’t too good to be true after all!

A few minutes ago, I had that very satisfying feeling of adding Helen Morgan to my Twitter lists of Lib Dem MPs and Lib Dem Parliamentarians. A wee thing, but an immensely satisfying moment.

I am not at my best at the moment. It turns out that I’m not as good as I used to be at this staying up till 4:40 am then doing a day’s work malarkey. But I can’t stop smiling. This has been a very good day.

And that bursting of the Boris bubble made me smile. I enjoyed it much more than the Blue Wall bashing from June.

Exactly 6 months ago, hundreds of Lib Dems were wandering around Chesham and Amersham on a Summer’s evening trying to turn people out to vote. I was taking part in the phone knock-up. In a few hours’ time, we would welcome Sarah Green as our 12th MP. Even in our moment of glory after that, if you had told us that within 6 months, we’d be welcoming Helen Morgan as our 13th after winning North Shropshire, we’d have laughed.

When Owen Paterson announced his resignation on 4th November, the party had some decisions to take about how to approach this by-election. Within two days, we had leafletted half the constituency with a very clear message setting out that we were the challengers. Establishing yourself in that position is key. We knew that the local party was totally up for a fight and that was a key part of the decision to start looking for kitchen sinks.

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Ed Davey on historic North Shropshire win and Keir Starmer pact

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey spoke to BBC reporter Justin Webb earlier this morning. He said he was proud of our party and our campaigners. We have brought hope to the whole nation by proving the Conservatives can be beaten anywhere. Brexit was not an issue in the by-election. Voters were more concerned about ambulances and GPs.

Ed is cool on a pact with Keir Starmer for the next general election but confident that we can make more inroads into the Blue Wall.

Here is the transcript.

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Helen Morgan acceptance speech: “ Johnson you are no leader”

What a victory! Nearly six thousand majority. There are huge implications for the government and Boris Johnson. We’ll cover those in later articles.

In her speech, she told the prime minister, Helen said:

Our country is crying out for leadership. Mr Johnson, you are no leader.

She told the voters in North Shropshire:

Your amazing efforts have delivered a gift of hope to our country, just in time for Christmas… I promise I will work for you and only you. I will always put local people and our communities first.

Helen said the NHS in Shropshire is teetering on the brink. The rural economy is in a precarious state.

Below, we report Helen’s acceptance speech in full. Here is the recording.

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++++Helen Morgan wins North Shropshire!!!

March the brass bands. Beat the drums. Sound the trombones. Honk the horns. Dance through the streets. Silence the soothsayers, those that thought this by-election couldn’t be won.

We won this by-election and won it well. Turning a 22,949 “unassailable” vote for the Tories into a stonking win for us. A Tory majority of votes transformed into a stunning vote for the Lib Dems. A swing to us of 34%, giving us a majority of 5,925.

Helen Morgan won this by-election. The team supporting her won it. The hundreds of Lib Dem activists from around the country won it. Our national team won it. Ed Davey won it. Our MPs won it. Now they are 13 strong.

This was not just a bloody nose for Boris Johnson and the Conservatives. It was a bloody good win for the Lib Dems.

  • Lib Dems: 17,957
  • Conservatives: 12,032
  • Labour: 3,686
  • Green: 1,738
  • Reform: 1,127

We must now ensure that Chesham and Amersham and North Shropshire are just the beginning. We have taken some hard knocks as a party in recent years. But now we have picked ourselves up and dusted ourselves off. We have shown that we again can be winners. Winning here. Winning everywhere.

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We must oppose illiberal powers to strip British people of citizenship

Our illiberal Government is trying to strengthen its ability to deprive people of British citizenship. We must take action to worsen a two-tier system of citizenship for those who have been born British citizens.

How did this mess begin?

Originally, the Home Secretary could only deprive naturalised citizens of citizenship, and not if it would make someone stateless. This power wasn’t used until 2002. Then, Labour expanded the power to cover British-born citizens. We were the only major party to oppose. In 2006, Labour expanded the power once again, and again we were the only major party to oppose.

Unfortunately, the Coalition widened the power’s illiberality. In 2014, it expanded the deprivation powers to foreign-born British citizens without dual nationality, allowing them to be made stateless if the Government believed they could obtain citizenship elsewhere.

Under Javid, the Government used this power on a British-born citizen without dual citizenship, on the assumption that they could theoretically become a citizen of another country. The use of these powers also increased. Between 2006-2012, the power was used 21 times – but 104 times in 2017.

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Johnson’s nightmare Plan B debate – Lib Dem speeches (videos)

I used to look forward to a visit to the ice cream after school. “99”, I would cry out. Now 99 has a new meaning. It is the number of Conservative that rebelled against the prime minister on his Plan B yesterday evening. That vote has weakened his authority in his party, by which I mean the political party. A threat to his leadership now looks credible.

The North Shropshire by-election is tomorrow. It is neck and neck between Helen Morgan standing for us Lib Dems and Neil Shastri-Hurst for the Conservatives. If the Conservatives lose the seat, then surely Boris Johnson is finished.

During the debate, Layla Moran said that there is new evidence that Omicron affects children more than Delta has done. She asked: “Where is the plan for children?” She also called for more ventilation in public spaces and schools.

Daisy Cooper told MPs that the removal of restrictions on mask wearing in July was more a political move than health management. She said the UK Health Security Agency had warned that “stringent national measures” will need to be imposed by 18 December.

Wera Hobhouse supported mask wearing and warned sceptics of restrictions that our civil liberties do not include the liberty to harm others. She asked what was being done to ensure the housebound received their boosters.

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Ed Davey talks about prospects in North Shropshire

Interviewed by Joanne Gallagher, BBC Radio Shropshire’s political reporter earlier yesterday in Wem at the heart of the North Shropshire constituency, Ed Davey said:

It’s a two horse race. I think everyone knows that now.

It’s really exciting. It’s really close. Too close to call. The Lib Dem campaign has been really positive. Helen Morgan has gone down really well. She is a local candidate and that matters to a lot of people. She is taking up issues that people are really caring about. Ambulances. Access to GPs. I think people are thinking at long last someone is going to listen to them. Someone is going to represent them. They do feel that the Conservatives have taken them for granted for so long.

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Channel crossings and the Borders and Nationality Bill

In recent weeks, the UK government has been quite “busy” dealing with a number of national scandals. It is possible that many of us might have forgotten that at the moment, MPs are debating the Borders and Nationality Bill, which has previously received a lot of media and political attention.

In the last few days, I found a very interesting report produced by the Refugee Council. The latest official statistics show that in the year ending June 2021, 37,235 people applied for asylum in the UK, 4% decrease on the previous year. What has changed significantly is the method of traveling; from freight transit to Channel boat crossing.

So, what are the key findings of the report?

  • 70% of the total people number of people arriving to the UK via small boats, from January 2020 to May 2020, 12,195 people in total, came only from 5 countries of origin: Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria and Vietnam
  • Iranian nationals accounted for 26% of all arrivals
  • On average, 98% of people who arrive after crossing the channel in a small boat make a claim for asylum
  • Over 91% of the total small boat arrivals (11,123 people) came from just ten countries of origin including Afghanistan, the 7th highest nationality of all small boat arrivals.
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The title of Mr Putin’s article is a misnomer

Ukraine matters to Russia, and Russia – or Putin if you will as both are currently inseparable – means it.

This is in substance the message carried by the deployment of about 100.000 soldiers along the Ukrainian border. To make his message clearer Mr. Putin not only deployed some of its best trained units or nuclear, biological, and chemical reconnaissance vehicles but also its latest and very dangerous Iskander ballistic missile launchers – as Janes reports.

The alleged ‘historico-philosophical’ basis for this deployment is to be found in the long article entitled ‘On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians’ signed by President Putin himself. It is freely available in English on the Kremlin’s website and, having read it from top to bottom, I found it fascinating at multiple levels.

For a start because Mr. Putin, to justify Russian-Ukrainian ties, goes back to the princes of the Rurik dynasty. The latters named after the legendary Rurik, chief of the Rus, who reigned in 862 and whose current titled heirs includes one of my very good friends who was until a few months ago the Ambassador of Switzerland to the Republic of Latvia, Republic of Estonia and Republic of Lithuania. I wonder what, now back to Switzerland, he would make of this paragraph of the article:

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North Shropshire: Dogs, knees and a bouncy Davey – video

It’s been a great few weeks in North Shropshire, albeit a bit on the chilly side with some bad storms. Hundreds of supporters have turned out to support Helen Morgan in her campaign to storm a “true blue” bastion. This huge effort has turned the tide and the bookies are giving the Lib Dems better odds than the Tories.

There are just three days campaigning to go, plus polling day. We’ll be publishing the result on LDV just as soon as it is announced in the early hours of Friday morning. And through the day and weekend, we will be publishing commentary on the result.

We are clear favourites with the bookies even though the Tories are trying to fight back with a belated push. If you can get to North Shropshire or pick up the phone, please pitch in to help Helen Morgan win on Thursday. Day-to-day details are on the campaign Facebook page.

Volunteer to take part. Donate to the campaign.

Below, we publish a video highlighting just a selection of the images from the campaign.

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World Review: Begin Doctrine, Merkel exit, Macron boost and Biden democracy

It is called the Begin Doctrine. The main tenets are that Israel is the only country in the Middle East region allowed to have nuclear weapons and that it reserves the right to prevent by any means the possession of nuclear weapons by any other country in the region. The Begin Doctrine (named after Menahem Begin who introduced it) was used to justify its attack on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in June 1981. It is now being pulled out of the diplomatic cupboard and dusted off in preparation for a possible assault on Iran’s nuclear facilities. At the same time another final effort is being made In Vienna to revive the Iran Nuclear Accord that was torpedoed by Donald Trump. If it succeeds the Israelis may enforce the Begin Doctrine because they simply don’t trust the Iranians. If it fails the Israelis may enforce the Begin Doctrine because they don’t trust the Iranians. But there is a problem. Iran is not Iraq in 1981. It has a string of enrichment facilities spread throughout the country.

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Omicron: Daisy Cooper says emergency plan needed within 72 hours

There is a lot to be learnt about Omicron. We know it is spreading fast. Faster than the dominant variant Delta. We don’t yet know its health impacts, the risks of those with one, two or three doses of vaccine getting Covid-19. We don’t yet know the health impacts of Omicron, the extent it will increase hospitalisation, lead to long term health consequences and deaths.

It is very early days on Omicron. The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine study that triggered today’s media statement by Daisy Cooper has yet to be peer reviewed. But if there is a single lesson from this epidemic, is that earlier planning and earlier action can improve health outcomes and save lives. That is why she is calling for Boris Johnson’s government to set out its emergency plans to Parliament in the next 72 hours.

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ALDC by-election report 9 December 2021

The onset of the parliamentary recess is upon us. A hiatus in the by-election schedule is just around the corner. 2021 is drawing to a conclusion. Therefore, it wouldn’t be naïve to think that the Lib Dems had wound up the victories for 2021. Nevertheless, this week’s local by-elections proved that not only do Liberal Democrats canvass all year but we also win all year round.

Central to our continued success is the fantastic work all our councillors, candidates and ardent supporters carry out without exception week in week out.

Rotherham provided a tectonic shift in the political landscape with a huge gain for the Liberal Democrats. We were propelled into second place in Torridge. Whilst Labour achieved gains from the Conservatives at Aughton & Swallownest and Old Bracknell.

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Observations of an Expat: Ukraine and Geopolitics

Ukraine is now firmly on the East-West, US-Russian agenda. This is a victory for Vladimir Putin. He has proven that even though Russia’s GDP is $400 billion less than chaotic Italy it is still a Great Power who can flex its muscles and demand concessions from Super Power America.

But what are those concessions? Well the big one is, the US will not come to Ukraine’s aid with troops, missiles or drones if Russia attacks Ukraine.

That does not mean, however that President Joe Biden is giving Putin the green light to attack. No, he is threatening sanctions. And this time they appear to be more than the usual slap on the wrist.

The main threat is banning Russia from the Belgian-based SWIFT banking system which manages payments across international borders. This same sanction against Iran has resulted in a drop of 50 percent in their oil exports and 30 percent in their foreign trade.

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Nearly two-thirds of Shropshire ambulances delayed at A&E – second worst performance in country

I am a health assistant in a GP practice in south Shropshire. We are working flat out to get everyone jabbed and catch up with the backlog of patients who had not recognised or reported their conditions during the long periods of lockdown and shielding. Further north in the county, the situation is no different and the county is getting worse with the onset of winter pressures.

GPs are overstretched across Shropshire. Hospitals are at capacity with 93% of adult general and acute beds occupied. Ambulance arrival times and transfer times are growing. Nearly two-thirds of 999 ambulances must wait for 30 minutes or more to hand over patients outside the county’s two A&Es. On one day recently, there were no ambulances available in the county. This is much worse than elsewhere and much worse than last year.

I am getting frightened by the growing delays in ambulances picking up patients transferring them into A&E. People in Shropshire needing time critical treatment have died while waiting for an ambulance or hospital transfer. This is a major issue in the North Shropshire by-election.

The handover times at the Royal Shrewsbury and Princes Royal Hospital A&Es are the second longest in England. Sixty three per cent of ambulances must wait for more than thirty minutes outside our A&Es before they can handover their patients.

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Why waiting times matter in mental health

18 weeks. That’s the target waiting time, often missed, from referral to being seen.  From now in deepest darkest December to  Mid April, what an age that is. It’s hard on adults. Arguably harder when that’s how long some of our most distressed young people have to wait for support. 18 weeks or  4 months is a very long time if you are 13. If you are being bullied, if life is becoming more complex and you feel ill equipped to cope. It’s more than a school term, it’s too long and that’s the best on offer. Too often, currently for  1600  children,  the wait was over a year. Let’s be realistic, any child that has asked for help and waits over a year will undoubtedly experience that response as  No, there is no help.

The last 18 months has seen very few of us untouched by the pressures of the pandemic and the impact on the mental health of both adults and the young has been significant. From a self-reported rising anxiety across the population generally to increased rates of disordered eating and self harming amongst young people.  

In my work as Counsellor I have seen this in the increased waiting lists for our third sector services, parents seeking private services for children to avoid waiting times that seem to be never ending and referrals to online services. Even before Covid we were in trouble. One young person I worked with, told me what she’d learnt from 5 years bouncing between referrals from her GP  to the private sector, to CAMHS and to online services as she now transitioned to adult services.

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The Reform of The English Council

It is only occasionally that articles about the English Council appear in Lib Dem Voice. I am not a member of the English Council but an ordinary member of the party in Bromley.

Liz Leffman who was the Chair of the English Council wrote about proposals for reform of the English Party organisation in December 2017. There was also an article by Rob Davidson in May 2020 and Simon McGrath wrote an article in December 2020.

As mentioned, efforts have been made to make the English Council more democratic and accountable to members of the party in England.  The final proposals of the English Review Group under the Chairmanship of Sally Symington in 2017 were rejected by the English Council.

Federal Conference decided in 2014 that Federal Conference Reps should no longer be elected by local parties, so that every member is now entitled to attend the Federal Conference.  Since that time we have had reason to believe that a similar reform of the English Party might be imminent.

Some efforts are being made by some members of the English Council to communicate with ordinary party members, through social media, but not in a structured manner.

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Shropshire win in sight – Boris is party gift that keeps on giving

As the media remains saturated with stories of Christmas parties past, one party is unexpectedly struggling in North Shropshire with just seven days to go. That party is the Conservatives who have gone from being strong favourites to neck and neck with the Lib Dem’s Helen Morgan.

There has always been a sense that North Shropshire has been in the peripheral view of the Conservatives. If they thought about the constituency at all, they thought it was a safe out of way place. Rather than choosing a local person for the by-election, they selected a candidate from Birmingham with little knowledge of the constituency. And now Boris Johnson is adding to that error by proving he is the party gift that keeps on giving.

The other political parties have been fading away as hundreds of Lib Dem campaigners pick up their phones or travel to North Shropshire to leaflet and campaign. We are doing great. Helen Morgan is doing great. We are close to clinching this. A win will change the political landscape of Shropshire. A win will tell the world Lib Dems are winning here. A win will set us up for winning everywhere.

Join us for the final seven-day push.

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Do social networking sites support democracy and the Open Society? – revisited

I was reminded of a post that I wrote for Lib Dem Voice 12 years ago entitled “Do social networking sites support democracy and the Open Society?“, and thought it was worth revisiting in the light of current concerns about Facebook and others. I wrote then:

The obvious answer is, yes. But do they?

Let’s track this idea back.

In 1979 Christopher Evans published “The Mighty Micro”. His bold and prophetic book looked at the impact of the microchip on society over the next 10-15 years.

In the same year, 1979, I wrote my first computer program on a teletype terminal and stored it on paper tape. Some desk top computers had been built, but they were very uncommon.

The chapter that really inspired me when I first read it was the one on Political and Social Issues. He predicted that the 1980s and 1990s would be dominated by “virtually infinite data transmission”

This kind of development will encourage lateral communication – the spread of information from human being to human being across the base of the social pyramid. Characteristically this favours the kind of open society … the opposite effect on autocracies who like to make sure that all information is handled very firmly downwards.

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Vice President Election: “Is the role of Vice President required?”, asks Tahir Maher

Editor’s Note: Liberal Democrat Voice has invited all six candidates for Vice President to submit an article in support of their candidacy. They are allowed to include two photos and video content. You can find out more details about the candidates and election, including the hustings tonight (Wednesday 8 December), here. Votes must be cast by 12 pm on Friday 10th December.

This article is by Tahir Maher.

The simple answer is Yes. But I suspect this is what you would expect from someone standing for the role. So, the question is, why is this role required?

In 2001 Lord Dholakia was asked to report on how the party could work better with ethnic minorities; other than a fund to promote ethnic minority candidates, not much else was done. In 2007, Issan Ghazni was commissioned and produced another excellent report. Unfortunately, this didn’t get implemented, either. By 2018 the party, still not satisfied with their progress interacting with ethnic minorities internally and externally, commissioned yet another report by Lord Alderdice, who published his findings in 2018. This role seems to be the only actual implementation from that.

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