World Review: Tensions east, in NATO, in Facebook and in Boris’s Britain

In this weekend’s World Review, Tom Arms comments on the implications of a mutual defence pact between Greece and France for Turkey’s role in NATO. Heading for cooler climes, Covid-19 has reached Antarctica but for those who as destined to suffer or die from malaria in sub-Sharan Africa, a vaccine has been approved for to tackle the disease. Tension are building in the east and Taiwan, China, the US and other countries are in danger of falling into the trap of unintended consequences. Can Facebook be held to account? And how can Boris boast about Britain being one of the world’s wealthiest countries while branding it “broken”?

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Ed Davey: Lib Dems focus on the realities of people’s lives

This weekend Scotland and Wales have combined their Autumn Conferences. On Friday, Scotland held its Autumn Conference, yesterday there was a day of joint Scottish and Welsh panels, debates and keynote speeches and today there is a Welsh Conference.

Yesterday, Ed Davey gave his keynote speech, contrasting the Lib Dems as fighting for a fair deal for people with cruel, out of touch Conservatives.

He highlighted our fight against illiberal, impractical vaccine passports:

Friends, we show through our federal party the best of what a federal United Kingdom can be.

“Understanding that each nation, region and community must often respond to its own challenges in its own way.

“But also working together in close partnership, united by our shared principles and our shared values.

“Just look at how Liberal Democrats responded to vaccine passports – or Covid ID cards, to call them what they really are. And compare our principled response across the United Kingdom with the other parties’.

“Liberal Democrats have always been clear. Covid ID cards are unworkable, expensive and illiberal.

“They are not a real solution, and they would place an unfair extra burden on local businesses who’ve been through so much already.

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WATCH: Alex Cole-Hamilton’s first leader’s speech to Scottish Conference

Full of ideas, passion, sincerity – watch Alex Cole Hamilton’s first leader’s speech to Scottish  Conference:

He delivered it from his home to the online event.

There were a few more policy initiatives – a commission on a just economy led by Jeremy Purvis to report to next year’s Autumn Conference:

If that great liberal William Beveridge could see us now, he would think his transformational work at the end of the war had been for nothing. We are the inheritors of his legacy and we need to do something about it. That is why I am today announcing a Commission for a Just Economy, to re set our liberal vision for Scotland. This will be chaired by Jeremy Purvis and will present recommendations to our conference in a year’s time. This will be rooted in liberal values, like social justice, sustainability and above all human rights.

A railcard with a 50% discount to encourage people back on to public transport and a package of measures to tackle the climate emergency:
Dramatic cuts in rail prices to encourage rail usage.
Ripping up the SNP’s signed agreement with Heathrow airport
Using powers over air passenger duty to tackle people who fly more and fly further.

He also talked about his supported for Liam McArthur’s bill to introduce assisted dying:

if there is a movement in the political firmament that exists to safeguard human rights, then it is ours. But we live in country where legislation guarantees rights that cover every aspect of your life, apart from one and that is your departure from it. Too many Scots are denied a good death, wracked by pain and indignity.

I want to know that if I am terminally ill and in agony beyond the reach of palliative care that I could say “this far and no further” and be supported to end that suffering in comfort and dignity.

I am so proud that my good friend and colleague, Liam McArthur is stewarding the Assisted Dying Bill though parliament in his name. A Liberal parliamentarian, who may finally allow Scotland to join the ranks of other progressive nations that already offer their citizens this final act of compassion.

Some of you may disagree with me. And you know what, that’s fine. I only ask that if we disagree on this or on other things, that we disagree well. Because one of the things that I love about our party is its plurality.

He argued that the SNP’s proposed National Care Service is a really bad idea – you need to increase wages and improve conditions for workers instead:

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ALDC by-election report: 7 September 2021

The Lib Dems had a fantastic night in Thursday’s by-elections – defending four seats and winning all of them!

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Observations of an Expat: Too Big to Fail

The US Treasury is too big to fail. Failure, however, is a real possibility. In fact, Federal Reserve Bank Chairperson Janet Yellen warned earlier this week that the government would be forced to default on its loans on 18 October unless the self-imposed cap of $28 trillion was raised.

Reluctantly, the Senate voted 48-51 to push up the ceiling by $458 million and postponed decision day to 3 December when battle will be recommenced.

There is a string of dire warnings if the cap is not raised by trillions in the run-up to Christmas. Forty percent of financial aid would be affected which would possibly mean no housing benefits, child benefits, social security, Medicare or Medicaid payments. Federal employees pay would be jeopardised. America’s credit rating would be downgraded. Interest rates would rise affecting mortgages, business loans and credit card payments. Inflation would go up with the obvious impact on prices and pensioners on fixed incomes.

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Scottish Lib Dems call for measures to end the drug deaths emergency

In an emotional debate this afternoon, the Scottish Liberal Democrats passed a motion on ending Scotland’s drugs deaths emergency:

Speaker after speaker talked about the need to see the people not the numbers.

New leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, whose professional life before politics was helping disadvantaged young people, showed how important this issue was to him by proposing the motion. His speech was so effective, compassionate and caring.

Culture spokesperson Joe McCauley talked about the deaths of two of his family members.

It was a such a powerful and emotional speech.

I spoke about my friend Tracy, and her son, Nathan, who died in March at the age of 20 from an overdose of street valium.

It is so important that we reaffirm our commitment to treat drug use as a public health issue, and ensure that people caught in possession of drugs are referred for treatment and help, not put through a justice system that isn’t working.

If the justice system worked to deal with these issues, Nathan would have emerged from court and prison in better shape than he went in.

Just two days before he died, he was arrested. The day before he died, he appeared in court. He wasn’t offered any help with his issues.

Tracy told the Daily Record last month:

I begged police to make interventions with him when he was a teenager, to get him out of the way of drug dealers.
“But the bottom line with them was always the same.
“They never discussed diverting him to treatment or doing anything other than arrest people.”

“I just feel that if we had arrived at where we are today and there were proper professionals who understand trauma able to speak to him, he could have had a fighting chance.”

She feels that if the changes that Dorothy Bain announced last month had been in place a year ago, Nathan would be alive today.

After the motion passed, Alex said:

Scotland has the worst drug mortality in Europe. Nearly four times the rate of our neighbours in England and Wales. We cannot continue to witness this epidemic destroying lives.

“Despite the focus of an entire ministerial portfolio, additional investment and interventions like the rollout of naloxone, people are still dying at the same terrifying rate. That is the legacy of years of prior government inaction.

“Government must be open to learning from international best practice. It is why I have written to the Director General of the WHO to ask for a specialised taskforce, made up of leading experts in drug mortality, to analyse and mobilise against this particularly Scottish epidemic.”

And our spokesperson for the drugs death emergency Ben Lawrie said:

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MOVE – Shuffling Humanity

It is just possible to read Parag Khanna’s latest work and take comfort in our prospects here in Europe’s troubled offshore island – but that optimism (as learned when coding in the late 60’s) – is a Multiple IF statement.  The likelihood of a positive outcome is dependent on passing a series of successively dependent tests, each with its own probability of success.  IF this, IF that, and IF something else, THEN this may be.  Optimists may rejoice that the ELSE, and the timeframe, remains unstated.  Even the far-seeing Parag Khanna can only divine a favourable outcome for Britain ‘despite itself’.

As we all edge ever closer to COP26 in Glasgow, and media outlets and governments turn their talents towards analysing climatic challenges, Parag’s focus is humanity – how mass migration will reshape the entire world.  Those of us who were captivated by Bronowski’s ‘Ascent of Man’ back in 1973 may still vividly recall the migrating Lapps and their reindeer herds.  Their nomadic wanderings across the arctic in search of grazing and shelter may have only recently faded but will be as nothing to the emergent mass migrations in search of climatic sufficiency, sustainability, and survival.

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A new narrative for community democracy?

Have you noticed the hierarchical language that is often used by public service providers?

Local authorities, and others, are required to ‘engage’ with residents. ‘Citizen empowerment’ is offered as a gift by government.

Even those of us involved in politics fall into the trap and sometimes talk as though it is government that drives society; we talk as though it is government that is the main source of welfare for citizens; and we talk as though it is government that creates successful communities.

We need to turn this on its head. We need to talk instead of government dependent on, and subservient to, the dynamic communities they represent and serve.

As Liberal Democrats we are proud of our practice of community politics. We now need a new narrative of community democracy.

In our personal lives we all know that the things that have the greatest impact on us happen quite independently of local or national government. What matters to us most are our relationships with others, and our interactions with the localities where we live and work.

We must return to a concept of community that has, at its heart, individuals who are free to make and break relationships with each other, individuals who are free to develop roots, as deep or as shallow as they wish, in their local area, and individuals who are free to form local networks based on common interest and common interests. Community democracy grows organically from the natural relationships and networks that already exist in localities.

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Ed Davey: Boris speech was most out of touch display by a PM in decades

For me the week of the Conservative Party Conference is usually a week of low level nausea. Seeing Conservatives in their comfort zone is never going to be pleasant for any liberal. This week was particularly bad.  The bottom of the barrel was seeing Peter Bottomley whinging that 81 grand wasn’t enough for him to live on and using words such as “grim” and “desperate” to describe MPs’ financial circumstances.

I suspect the millions of people who are facing a £20 week cut in Universal Credit just at the same time as food and energy prices are going through the roof will be full of sympathy for him.

And then there was Boris Johnson’s bizarre stand-up routine in place of a speech. Unfortunately he and his team have learned over time that if you repeat an untruth often enough and loud enough, you win big.  It’s clear that the Conservatives want everyone to be talking about culture wars – if they can set us up to be kicking lumps out of each other, maybe we won’t notice the empty shelves in the supermarkets and the rising prices, all of which signify that his flagship Brexit project was the ultimate pig in a poke.<

His words might have been red meat to the Tory faithful in the hall today. We’ll have to see what the country feels like after a Winter that is not going to be funny.

Ed Davey was pretty scathing about Johnson’s speech:

Boris Johnson’s speech was the most out of touch display by a Prime Minister in decades, he has created a cost of living crisis which he refuses to fix.

The Conservative Party conference may as well be happening in a parallel universe. Johnson pretends that somehow long queues at the petrol station and empty shelves in the supermarket are all part of his cunning plan and blames anyone he can for the wreckage he is causing: UK businesses, journalists and the British public.

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In defence of Liberal principles

At the (virtual) Party Conference at the weekend, a large number of amendments will be proposed to the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ Constitution. Many of these are recommended by a Working Group (of which I was a member) appointed by the Executive. Others are proposed by the Executive themselves, mostly intended to improve or clarify the wording, and largely uncontentious. There is one, however, which was not recommended by the Working Group and which I believe should be strongly opposed.

Since the formation of the Party in 1988, the Constitution has set out the grounds on which a Party Member can be expelled from membership and the procedure by which this can be done. Until 2009, there was no provision for suspending a person’s membership while the grounds for expulsion were investigated or considered. A power to suspend was then inserted into the Constitution, largely because there could be occasions when the Party’s reputation might be at risk if it did not seem to be taking action about something unacceptable. The length of time for which a member can be suspended was limited to three months, after which it must lapse. The concept of “innocent until proved guilty” is an important one to anyone of liberal mind. Suspension, even for a short time, does deprive somebody of their rights and needs to be justified.

The Executive is proposing to Conference to increase the length of time for which a Party Member may be suspended to six months. I understand that the reason arises from our adoption of the Federal Party’s disciplinary process a few years ago. This process was a response to concern about the Party’s handling of complaints of inappropriate behaviour by Party Members, and it can be quite protracted, though cases now average about six weeks.

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How do you solve a problem like Dominic Raab?

This morning Dominic Raab, the Justice Secretary, exposed his own ignorance on live television:

Lib Dem Women and Equalities spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:

“It’s little wonder the Conservatives are failing to tackle misogyny when their Justice Secretary doesn’t even seem to know what it is.”

“These comments are an insult to the millions of women and girls impacted by misogyny and show just how out of touch the Conservatives are on this issue.

“Women and girls deserve better than these callous remarks. The Government must make misogyny a hate crime so that police forces take these crimes more seriously and support women and girls who are being so desperately let down.”

This is, of course, the very same Dominic Raab who, when Brexit Secretary, said the following:

“We are, and I hadn’t quite understood the full extent of this, but if you look at the UK and if you look at how we trade in goods, we are particularly reliant on the Dover-Calais crossing.

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William Wallace writes…Promises of tax cuts deny reality

Rishi Sunak reassured the Conservative Party conference on Monday: ‘Yes, I want tax cuts,’ though not until public finances have been ‘put back on a sustainable footing.’ That’s code for cutting public expenditure and public investment. The substantial proportion of Conservative MPs who believe in a small state repeatedly call for tax cuts without saying where they would cut spending. IN committing to balancing the budget Sunak is committing himself to cutting spending as well – or breaking the manifesto pledge not to raise taxes again. He will be well aware that Republican Administrations in the USA have repeatedly run rising deficits as they cut taxes but failed to cut spending.

Liberal Democrats should resist any temptation to criticise the Conservatives for raising taxes. We should condemn them vigorously for raising taxes unfairly – for hitting lower-paid workers through raising National Insurance while sparing higher earners. Fair taxation has to be progressive taxation, oriented to take more from those who have more. The UK is more sharply unequal in terms of both income and wealth than almost all other developed democracies except the USA. Repeating ‘give us tax cuts and a smaller state’ sweeps aside the social and economic challenges that the UK faces.

Like other developed democracies, we have a rising number of elderly people drawing pensions and using health and other public services. We have cut public spending on education and training well below comparable countries, with results that are apparent in our shortage of skills. We have invested too little in housing and public infrastructure for decades. Transition to a more sustainable economy, including moving toward net zero carbon emissions, will require major public as well as private investment. The UK has also invested much less in scientific research and development than other leading states. Boris Johnson has promised to make us ‘a scientific superpower’, but has not yet explained how that will be funded.

And then there is ‘Levelling Up’, which is becoming the defining measure of Johnsonian government – and the likeliest source of public disillusion at the gap between easy promises and poor delivery. Long-term reduction of regional inequalities cannot be achieved without higher investment in education, local as well as long-distance transport, the revival of local government and public services, housing and local enterprise. That’s a huge agenda, reversing decades of neglect by successive government, and requires a sustained increase in public spending.

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Sexism in the Police force goes way beyond the Met

The failings of the Metropolitan Police with regard to the murder of Sarah Everard have been well documented over the past few days. Our Wendy Chamberlain, the only woman in the Commons to have been a serving Police officer, has been absolutely brilliant in highlighting the need for change in the force.

But the institutional sexism goes way beyond the Police. Former Nottinghamshire Chief Constable Sue Fish described yesterday how she didn’t dare report sexual assault by a colleague for fear of the consequences for them and, even more disturbingly she recounted:

that she had a senior colleague that was arrested and jailed for having sex with a “vulnerable” woman during his shift.

She said she would be left, as a young probationary officer, driving a marked car around in circles while her older colleague – nicknamed ‘Pervert’ – would visit the house of a woman he met on the job.

And an employment tribunal has found “horrific” examples of a sexist culture in a Police Scotland armed policing unit. The BBC reports some of the indignities that women officers in that unit had to put up with.

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Wera Hobhouse blasts UK’s over-reliance on gas and inaction on renewables

Wera Hobhouse MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Climate Emergency and Energy, has taken aim at the Tory government’s energy policies:

The Conservatives have utterly neglected the UK renewables industry to the point where coal power stations are being fired up. They need to come clean on a firm end date to fossil fuel use in the energy sector, but Boris Johnson studiously avoids this topic.

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Sarah Olney calls for Morrisons’ workers to be protected ahead of the major takeover

Embed from Getty Images

In the Guardian, Sarah Olney is quoted calling for protection for workers in the forthcoming takeover of Morrisons:

It would be a great shame to see local teams lose their stake in the future direction of the business. With uncertain economic times ahead, the new owners must pass the key tests of not loading the business with debt, not cutting jobs, and critically, protecting existing working conditions.

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Six hours without Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp – is social media now vital infrastructure?

Social media is central to our lives. It is arguably essential to our lives. Many of us believe it is helpful to our lives, though some blame it for the evils of the world.

When Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp went offline for six hours yesterday, there was immediate outrage about the outage on Twitter but of course the other main social networks had been silenced.

The outage interrupted important council business for me. On the other hand, there were no distractions as I tucked into dinner and prepared for sleep. And I slept well.

Perhaps, we should shut down social media for a whole day a week to give us all a break from the continual stream of contacts. That’s a nice idea. But are we reaching the point that provision of social media has become such a part of our lives that it should be regarded as vital infrastructure? Perhaps it needs a regulator, Offsocial.

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LibLink: Wendy Chamberlain on need to tackle “serious and systemic” police failings

In an article for The House, Wendy Chamberlain, the only woman former Police officer in the Commons, says that the murder of Sarah Everard is a watershed moment to tackle serious and systemic failings at the heart of the Police. It’s a great follow-up to her interview on Sky News on Friday.

She describes how the abuse of power of Sarah’s murderer has led to a loss of trust in not just the Met, but Police across the country:

As a former police officer myself, I still carry the responsibility of my service with me long after I stopped wearing the uniform. Having served as a police officer does shape people’s opinions of you. At the time of my election in 2019, I viewed it as a way of demonstrating that I was someone to be trusted.

Couzens used and abused not only his position of power, but the notion of trust that Sarah placed in him as someone who wears the uniform with a duty to safeguard and protect.

That trust has been seriously eroded and damaged by this terrible crime. It is a shattering of trust that goes beyond the Metropolitan Police and applies to police services as a whole across the country.

So how is this to be fixed?

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Your bacon sarnie is at risk…

An item on Radio 4’s Broadcasting House yesterday morning put into sharp focus the labour crisis that the UK is currently experiencing. Thousands of piglets may have to be culled because there are not enough workers to process them; vegetables are going to rot in the fields because there insufficient pickers to harvest them (one Gloucestershire farmer has been working with his local Job Centre since July but has not managed to recruit a single person); and, horrors of horrors, a toy company says it may not be able to get its Harry Potter range into Aldi in time for Christmas because of labour shortages at ports and in the haulage industry.

Thinking about this, I came up with a few radical solutions. I don’t expect them to be popular, but then I will use one of the phrases that has been so overused in the last 18 months – extraordinary times call for extraordinary solutions.

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Brain pollution? Are you kidding me?

When you use the word ‘independence’ to a UK Liberal, you are liable to get a half-hearted reply.

This is a pity because we don’t usually mean the kind of rugged individualism they assume in the USA – the ‘I did it My Way’ approach to life.

Normally we mean something a little calmer: independence from threats – criminal, medical, governmental or economic – that can undermine so many of our lives, and our ability to live it to the fullest.

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The impact of staff shortages on the UK economy

I like my Sunday routine. I am not a coffee drinker, however I enjoy my morning walk to Welwyn Garden City Town Centre and getting my favourite vanilla latte.

In the last couple of weeks, I have noticed that one of my local coffee shops is opening later than usual. I thought that it might be a good idea to ask what causes this late opening. I was told that unfortunately; they are short staffed. This particular outlet recruited two new individuals, however one of them, I was told, resigned very quickly.

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Welcome to my day: 4 October 2021 – some days are diamonds, some days are rocks…

It’s the start of a new week here at Liberal Democrat Voice, although I am reminded that the week starts on a Sunday in Portuguese. And after the excitement of last week – who would have thought that so many of you are passionate about moderation? – I’m left with a challenge to follow that up. Luckily, I’m not alone…

Apparently, Chris Loder, the Conservative MP for West Dorset, believes that our supermarkets are at fault for the issues regarding supply of foodstuffs to shelves;

I know it might not feel like it in the immediate term. But it is in our mid and long-term interest that these logistics chains do break.

It will mean that the farmer down the street will be able to sell their milk in the village shop like they did decades ago. It is because these commercial predators – that is the supermarkets – have wiped that out and I’d like to see that come back.

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How to help others with heating costs this Winter

So my dogs got me out of bed at 7:34 this morning. By 7:46, I had joined all the people on social media who have been announcing that they had put their heating on. As an added bonus, the timer now shows the correct time and day for the first time in years after I finally figured out how to change the day.

This simple act is one which so many will have to put off for as long as possible because they simply can’t afford to.

People on the lowest incomes are facing a nightmare Winter of rising energy costs and the ending of the Universal Credit uplift. The end of the furlough scheme puts 110,000 jobs at risk, as Christine Jardine pointed out the other day in a last ditch attempt to get Rishi Sunak to see sense.

The rise in the energy price cap has a hidden extra for the poorest. Those on prepayment meters, usually the poorest in the least well insulated rented properties, pay even more. The BBC reports:

  • Those on standard tariffs, with typical household levels of energy use, will see an increase of £139 – from £1,138 to £1,277 a year – to their bill

  • People with prepayment meters, with average energy use, will see an annual increase of £153 – from £1,156 to £1,309

Local councillors, campaigners and MPs will likely be contacted by constituents who are really struggling, so I thought it might be useful to set out some of the sources of help and advice for them.

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World Review: Brexit, China, Korean famine and the French at large

In most China shops I have visited there has been a prominently displayed sign that reads: “If you broke it you own it.” The same sign needs to hang over the door of 10 Downing Street. Boris Johnson led the Brexit campaign. He was elected on a “Get Brexit done” platform. He and his Brexiteering cabinet have broken the British economy with shortages of food, gas, petrol, turkeys and even children’s toys; and yet they refuse to own responsibility for their actions. They blame it on the pandemic and international circumstances. To be fair, the pandemic and world conditions are major contributing factors, but Britain is suffering more than any other Western country and the reasons—as trade association after professional body keeps telling us—is Brexit. The fact is that Johnson and Co had no plan A, B or C beyond the exit door.

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ALDC by-election report: 30 September 2021

A very exciting set of by-elections this week with the Lib Dems making some spectacular gains, and coming within a whisker of even more, and sadly also suffering some very narrow losses.

We begin with an agonising near miss in Sunderland where Lib Dem candidate John Lennox was just 27 votes off a stunning win in Hetton ward. The Lib Dems finished 6th in the ward in May’s local elections with 63 votes. This time the Lib Dem team increased their vote to 634 with a 28% swing.

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Observations of an Expat: European Complacency

Political Complacency is dangerous. It stifles innovation and sweeps problems under the carpet because they involve difficult decisions that might rock the boat but end up sinking it if they are ignored too long.

Angela Merkel was in many ways a good German Chancellor. She was a good European leader. She was a consensus builder inside coalition structures. But her constant search for consensus led her to compromises on important issues which needed to be resolved. This was the downside of an otherwise upbeat chancellorship.

Political agreement resulted in economic prosperity for the Germans—and complacency about the unresolved issues, both in Germany and EU-wide. Her likely successor, Social Democrat Party (SPD) leader Olaf Scholz, appears to be heading the same way with a slight leftward bent.

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Wendy Chamberlain on how the Police can regain public trust

Wendy Chamberlain is the only female former Police Officer in Parliament. We are very lucky to have her. She gave a brilliant interview to Sky News yesterday about the murder of Sarah Everard and what the Police needs to do now to regain trust.

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The government is levelling down democracy: we must redouble our electoral reform efforts

The UK government’s Elections Bill and the repeal of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act are part of a clear strategy to entrench Conservative dominance and weaken our democratic foundations.

Rather than merely oppose calls for positive change – such as perpetual Conservative opposition to Proportional Representation and begrudgingly working within the framework of fixed-term parliaments – this government is on the offensive. We must push back against these regressive changes with our positive vision of a fairer, more inclusive and truly representative democracy.

The Fixed-term Parliaments Act isn’t perfect but fixing parliamentary term-lengths and election dates created an even playing field for elections. With fixed terms, all parties know when the next election will take place and can plan accordingly, while also allowing flexibility for early elections. The pre-coalition system gave an unfair advantage to the prime minister of the day. If presented with the opportunity, we must reverse this government’s decision to recreate that uneven playing field.

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Sarah Everard: How do we know if police are legit?

Labour MP Jess Phillips said today that she would have got into Police Officer Couzens’ car, just as Sarah Everard did. Phillips said “almost anybody would” and she is right. Most police officers are honest, dedicated public servants who deserve our trust. But the statements by the Met saying that if we feel scared we should ask “very searching questions” and then if we aren’t satisfied scream, run away, flag down vehicles are all missing the point. How should we know when to feel that something isn’t right with an arrest?

Warrant cards differ across the country, so there is no standard design to check for. Police officers can perform arrests when off duty if they feel it’s merited (they are just then classed as going on duty).The lack of uniform, or even what they were doing moments before they stopped you isn’t definitive.

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Ed Davey calls for Royal Commission to look at ways of ending men’s violence against women and girls

Following yesterday’s sentencing of Sarah Everard’s murderer and further revelations about the Metropolitan Police, Ed Davey, has called for a Royal Commission into male violence against women and girls and for misogyny to be immediately declared a hate crime.

Ed said:

Enough is enough. Since Sarah Everard’s tragic death, 80 women have allegedly been killed at the hands of men. It is time to treat this issue with the most serious response possible.

The undermining of the authority of the police around the safety of women means that only the most senior form of inquiry into this matter will do.

Alongside immediate action to make misogyny a hate crime, a Royal Commission is the best way to bring long lasting change.

The Conservatives promised a Royal Commission in their 2019 manifesto to look into the criminal justice system, in their first year in office. While they failed to deliver then, they should now establish a Commission with a more focused remit, specifically into men perpetrating violence against women and girls.

Violence by men against women and girls is like a pandemic and should be treated with the same attention and urgency. After so many heartbreaking events this year alone it beggars belief that too many women still feel unsafe just walking alone. We can’t live in a country where half of the people in it feel unsafe and under threat both in the street and for too many, tragically, in their own homes.

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Dismissing Dysmenorrhea

So, if you have never had bad period pain, how can I convince you that it really is horrible?

You know what bad toothache can be like?

That sort of immersive pain experience that completely consumes you.

There is very little you can do to get relief.  Painkillers barely take the edge off.

Concentrating on anything is virtually impossible.

Thankfully, bad toothache doesn’t come along too often.

But period pain, which is kind of like toothache in the abdomen comes along roughly once a month. I know people who are in absolute agony for a couple of days.

On the Hysteria podcast last week, former White House aide Alyssa Mastramonaco described her lifelong search for the optimum combination of methods of relief for her horrible monthly pain.

When I was a teenager, I used to get such bad pain that I would be sick and sometimes I was at the point of passing out.

This is seriously nasty. And research into alleviating Dysmenorrhea, to give it its medical name, has been relatively sparse and not very well funded.

I was once sent home from school because it was so bad, but I never did that again after getting warned within an inch of my life by my mother.

I was lucky that it got a bit better when I got into my twenties, but some people suffer all the way through their menstruating years.

If you are one of the unlucky ones, you can have 40 years of monthly hell. You have to go through that pain almost 500 times.

It is definitely frowned upon to take time off work for it, although 73% of people surveyed by Bloody Good Period, reported in Glamour Magazine said they had struggled at work because of their periods.

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  • Barry Lofty
    With regards to trust on negotiated agreements, Johnson has a history of unreliability and being economical with the truth, I would not blame anyone dealing wi...
  • Jason Connor
    I agree with Mohammed. It's not a denial of democracy, the murder of an MP is a denial of democracy. The constituents of Southend West had their elected MP take...