Tag Archives: christine jardine

Whip issues apology over Trade Bill vote

Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael has issued a statement following yesterday’s vote on the Taxation (Cross-border trade) Bill:

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WATCH: Christine Jardine speaks to anti Trump demo

It was a fine day at the Trump protest yesterday. The photo shows some of the Scottish Lib Dem contingent before we went to the pub to watch sports and drank ridiculous amounts of Prosecco.

My favourite banner was so rude that I definitely can’trepeat it here. To paraphrase, it suggested a name we might like to call the President if only he had warmth and depth.

Our speaker at the demo was Christine Jardine, MP for Edinburgh West. Here she is quoting Bobby Kennedy saying that we don’t need division and hatred but wisdom, compassion and love.

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Jardine: Hunt faces an impossible challenge

Lib Dem Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine clearly doesn’t envy Jeremy Hunt’s task – even if he can’t do any worse than his predecessor:

Jeremy Hunt has been set a devastatingly low bar by his predecessor when it comes to basic competency, with him leaving a litany of errors in his wake. Hunt does, however, also face an impossible challenge when it comes to advocating for Britain around the world at a time when his Conservative government are doing huge damage to our economy and influence in their pursuit of Brexit.

The public demand better from their government than the farce that

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Trump’s awful, but we need to put our own house in order

We expect President Trump to turn our long-held values on their head. Whether it’s banning Muslims or building a wall against Mexican migrants, withdrawing from the world’s agreement on limiting climate change, cosying up to Russia’s President Putin and doubting if NATO is still valuable, Trump’s Presidency seems like a bad dream from which we, and America, will only awake when his term ends.

But that will be years hence, Meantime he will visiting Britain next week. Has America changed so much that this presidency is not an aberration but a consistency?

Britain has to stand strong against that fear with Europe, with the EU and with our NATO allies. Our rocky, deplorable government has to be made by the progressive forces to stand up for our national values and our continued security.

So, when we hear that the government is to give ‘careful consideration’ to calls for a renewed judge-led inquiry into our country’s involvement in human rights abuses after the Iraq invasion, Liberal Democrats must assert the necessity for that enquiry until it is granted.

The necessity arises from the two reports published by Parliament’s intelligence and security committee. They show a shameful slippage of our own intelligence services’ values when assisting American operations in Iraq after the 9/11 attacks. It is reported that the UK had planned, agreed or financed 31 rendition operations. In addition, on 15 occasions, British intelligence consented to or witnessed torture, and there  were 232 occasions when the intelligence agencies supplied questions to be put to detainees whom they knew or suspected were being mistreated.

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How Lib Dems have made the news this week – Gosport, upskirting, trains and cannabis oil

It’s worth noting that Lib Dem MPs have featured in some of the top headlines this week.

What does that tell us about the kind of things we do and the people we are?

Well, Norman Lamb spoke about how he ordered the review into the deaths of elderly people at Gosport War Memorial Hospital after the NHS closed ranks.

Lamb told BBC Newsnight: “I just think it’s horrific and there has been a real systemic failure here, a closing of ranks in my view and a sense that ordinary people just weren’t being listened to at all, and an unwillingness by

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Christine Jardine: Make medical cannabis available for all who need it

The Home Secretary should make medicinal cannabis available to all who need it, says Christine Jardine, after Sajid Javid granted an emergency licence for Billy Caldwell to be treated with the drug. His supply had been confiscated by customs earlier this week.

Christine is supporting her constituentKaren Gray, whose son Murray has Epilepsy and needs the drug to control his seizures:

Sajid Javid has done the right thing for a young boy enduring unimaginable pain.

These treatments can have enormous benefits for patients like Billy Caldwell and my constituent Murray Gray.

The Home Secretary should now take common sense steps to ensure

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Christine Jardine on why medical cannabis should be legalised

In Christine Jardine’s Edinburgh West constituency, there’s a little boy called Murray. He has severe Epilepsy. Medical Cannabis could make a huge difference to his life, alleviating the seizures he suffered on a daily basis.

Christine has been helping Murray’s mum, Karen, campaign for a change in the law. She writes in the Edinburgh Reporter about why this is so important:

In my constituency a little boy called Murray Gray has won the hearts of the public through his very similar plight. A rare form of epilepsy which could be eased if the law were changed.

“I went to Downing Street with his Mum, Karen, to hand in a petition of more than 150,000 signatures calling for medical cannabis to be made legal.

“If it, or cannabidoil were available on license then Murray would not have to go through the multiple seizures which have interrupted his schooling.

“For Murray it could be life changing.

“And he is not alone.

“How many of us know someone who suffers from chronic pain?

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Christine Jardine to cover foreign affairs during Jo Swinson’s maternity leave

Christine Jardine will be covering the Foreign Affairs brief during Jo Swinson’s imminent maternity leave and said she was glad of the chance to continue Jo’s work:

I am delighted to be trusted with this important role. It is an area in which I have always been interested in and I look forward to continuing Jo’s good work.

Jo knows her job is in good hands:

I’m delighted that Christine will be keeping my desk warm and I’m sure she will do a brilliant job making thoughtful interventions on foreign policy.

The forthcoming visit of Donald Trump will give Christine many opportunities to put …

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Friday fun: Can you tell what Christine Jardine thinks of Scottish Labour’s stance on Brexit?

This week, Christine Jardine appeared on Politics Scotland. She didn’t seem that impressed with what Labour MP Paul Sweeney had to say. And she didn’t even say a word:

She took apart the Tories on their Brexit shambles though

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Lib Dem MPs support abortion rights for women in Northern Ireland

Three Liberal Democrat MPs took part in yesterday’s Commons debate on giving women in Northern Ireland access to legal and safe abortions without having to travel. The recent vote to repeal the 8th amendment to the Irish constitution, paving the way for legislation allowing abortion up to 12 weeks in Ireland and the provisions of the 1967 Act in the rest of the UK. The issue has been devolved to the Northern Ireland assembly since 2003, but that Assembly is not currently sitting. The Irish referendum and a UN report from earlier this year which stated that:

the situation in

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Christine Jardine: We cannot rest until LGBT people across the globe can live freely

Yesterday was the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. In a Commons debate, Christine Jardine talked about the progress made over the last 40 years and the work still to do to rid us of discrimination against LGBT people. She particularly mentioned the prevalence of transphobia at the moment Here’s her speech in full.

This is an unusual situation because it is an important debate to have, and yet one that we probably all wish was not necessary. My right hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Justine Greening), who is no longer in her place, talked about many countries being on a journey. Regardless of the progress that we have made in this country and what we might think of that progress, and while we have travelled further than many countries, we have not yet completed our journey.

One of the things about being a Liberal is that when it comes to protecting and standing up for LGBTI rights, one has a lot to live up to. As far back as 1975, we committed to a gay rights policy with a resolution in favour of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality’s proposed law reform Bill. What sticks out for me about that is that it was 1975—just over 40 years ago. As my hon. Friend the Member for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East (Stuart C. McDonald) said, it is unimaginable that it was only 40 years ago that we were first talking of a campaign about full equality for homosexuals and equalising the age of consent for gay sex. If we fast-forward 40 years, at our 2015 conference we overwhelmingly opposed conversion therapy for all LGBT+ people—imagine that in 2015. We have travelled a considerable way, but we should not pat ourselves on the back quite yet, because we have a long way to go.

One of the most significant things for me—so far—was a statement made by Nick Clegg before the 2010 general election. When speaking about equal marriage, he said simply:

“All couples”—

I emphasise, all couples—

“should be able to make that commitment to one another”,

and now they can. Under the equal marriage legislation championed by Lynne Featherstone, of which I am particularly proud, we now live in a society where everyone is able to love equally.

I remember being asked just before the Scottish elections in 2011 whether I would support equal marriage. To me, that was a ridiculous question. What struck me was that if I had two children, one of whom was gay while the other was not, would I not want them to have the same rights, the same protection and the same respect from the law? What a ludicrous question.

Only today, my hon. Friend the Member for Ribble Valley (Mr Evans) has raised the issue of not being able to get married in church. I would like to make him an offer. Not that sort of offer. One of my friends is a Church of Scotland minister, who is gay. If I had a word with him, I am sure that he would be more than happy to oblige when it came to the ceremony.

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WATCH: Christine Jardine’s speech supporting Leveson 2

Sadly, MPs narrowly rejected the chance to hold the media to account by completing the second stage of the Leveson Inquiry. Christine Jardine made a very powerful speech supporting the amendment for which she was attacked in The Sun, something we’re sure she’ll wear as a badge of honour. As a former journalist, she obviously enthusiastically supports a free press.

There is quite an amusing moment where she praises Ed Miliband and the camera cuts to him.

The text of the speech is below.

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: Creative industries face serious threat from Brexit

Edinburgh relies on the creative industries. For a month a year, the city is home to all sorts of weird and wonderful productions from all over the world during its iconic Festival and accompanying Fringe. It’s not surprising that the city’s Lib Dem MP is a massive supporter of the creative industries. Christine Jardine has written for the Scotsman about the damage Brexit stands to do to evens like the Festival.

She outlines the threat to the creative industries:

UK Music has warned that touring and live events will be at risk because of the potential loss of technical talent from the EU. And all events will lose a valuable stream of talent from the EU. Talent which is its life blood.

But it’s not just the impact on culture. It will have an impact on the tourism it supports. Tourism is worth around £127 billion a year to the UK. That’s about 9 per cent of GDP. Across the UK, it supports approximately 3.1 million jobs. It incorporates about quarter of a million small and medium-sized enterprises. Its growth is on a par with the digital sector we hear so much about.

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Liblink: Christine Jardine: My shock at Islamophobia wrapped up in Union flag

Twice recently, Christine Jardine has visited a Mosque in her constituency.

When she’s posted the pictures on social media, the nasty, racist comments started to flow. She wrote about that experience in the Scotsman this week:

I was brought up in Glasgow where sectarianism is almost commonplace. But I had never experienced anything like this. After removing a string of offensive and abusive comments from my page, I posted another comment asking people to be more respectful. That was a waste of time. It seems my offence was to cover my head, something my Church of Scotland-going grandmother long ago taught me

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WATCH: What’s Christine Jardine’s hidden talent?

Those nice people at Core TV have been interviewing MPs so we can find out more about them.

Remember Jamie Stone, the ferret and the pantomime dame?

Christine Jardine’s interview was very different. There was some light-hearted stuff about her hidden talents, but also some very personal reflections on the death of her husband during last year’s general election campaign which will resonate with anyone who has suffered that sort of loss.

Find out, too, what motivates her in politics, who she’s there for.

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Lib Dems respond to the Spring Statement – Hammond ignores the Heffalump in the room

You know, I actually wrote Autumn Statement in the headline and had to change it. Old habits die hard. I’m so used to the Big Budget being in March and that ritual of having to go and fill up with petrol the night before in case the prices went up…

Anyway, here’s what Lib Dems have been saying about Philip Hammond’s statement, starting with Vince:

The Spring Statement was a non-event. The OECD gave us the clearer picture – that the economy is bumping along the bottom of the G20, well behind the likes of Australia, Canada and the Euro area.

The OBR’s fresh forecasts are still a long way behind the figures estimated in March 2016 before the EU referendum.

It is time the government was honest with the public: there will need to be tax increases to pay for the NHS and social care, police and schools.

This is why the Liberal Democrats have advocated a penny in the pound income tax increase for health and care and why we must scrap cuts in Capital Gains Tax and Inheritance Tax introduced since 2015.

Christine Jardine got a bit carried away with Winnie the Pooh metaphors:

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Christine Jardine introduces Bill to rename House of Lords on International Women’s Day

If Lib Dems had our way, the House of Lords would be reformed into an elected House. Nick Clegg had plans to do this but they didn’t survive the vested interests in the Tory and Labour parties.

There’s no immediate chance of it becoming elected, but a small but significant reform could be enacted.

Today Christine Jardine presented a Bill to change the name of the House of Lords to the House of Peers to better reflect the contribution of women in the chamber.

The current gender-specific House of Lords title is no longer appropriate. It feeds into an outdated and unacceptable narrative that political decision-making is a man’s job.

In this centenary year of female voting and election rights, it is surely time to recognise that our upper chamber is not a male preserve.

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Christine Jardine on how a liking for curly fries can influence the ads you see

The Data Protection Bill is going through the House of Commons at the moment. Christine Jardine and Ed Davey were leading for the Liberal Democrats.

The best speeches in the Commons are those where rather than stick to their carefully prepared and researched notes, the MP gets incensed by the twaddle being spouted by the other side and just goes for them.

Christine had intended to concentrate on personal data, but the former journalist was so annoyed by the Tories’ abandonment of Leveson 2 and their lame justifications thereof that she just went for them. She understands perfectly well that it is possible to do both good investigative journalism and follow good practice.

She then touched on how use of our personal data impacts on us. I’m slightly alarmed by what she said because I loathe and detest curly fries, yet, apparently, those who like them apparently have higher IQs and, if they express a preference for them could end up with being bombarded with adverts for MENSA. She used this and a deeply personal one to illustrate the extent to which our innocently expressed preferences can be used.

Here’s the whole speech.

It is fair to say that my party broadly supports much of this Bill, which is a vital component in our continued and smooth co-operation with the EU, should Brexit go ahead, but that support is not without qualification, which I shall come to shortly. As an EU member, we are assumed to be compliant with the requirements of the Union, but as a third party we will be required to demonstrate a suitable standard of protections. Failure to do this would jeopardise the co-operation that even the most zealous Brexiteers, I should imagine, want to maintain in defence and security.

The Data Protection Bill and the general data protection regulation bring existing best practice into law. This is not an onerous burden; it is a natural progression for information rights in the digital age. However, we have reservations about some aspects that we will discuss later. My right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Sir Edward Davey) intends to speak about the proposed immigration exemptions. I had ​intended to concentrate on areas that deal with our personal data and the help that industry and charity organisations will need to cope with this regulation, but as the debate has progressed, I have become increasingly concerned about the Government’s intention to overthrow the amendment by the House of Lords. The Data Protection Bill is an important vehicle through which to bring forward recommendations from the Leveson inquiry, as this House promised to do. Data processing for investigative journalism purposes must strike a balance between press freedom and the individual’s right to privacy.

As a journalist, I value freedom of speech and freedom of the press as much as any other person. As a journalist, I was always impressed by and proud of colleagues who uncovered miscarriages of justice, political corruption or malpractice in India, for example. The freedom of the press to scrutinise and hold to account those in power—as the hon. Member for Dudley South said, the relationship between journalists and politicians should not be an easy one—is vital in a democracy. It must not, however, be at the cost of the individual—to their privacy in times of grief or hardship, to their hard-won personal and professional reputations—or mean chasing them when they have done nothing wrong other than perhaps disagree with the stance of a newspaper. That cannot be the way.

Newspapers in this country are not free of regulation. Broadcasting has to apply the standards set by Ofcom. Newspapers have to abide by the law of libel, contempt of court and the criminal code. All those things are necessary, but in an increasingly digital age it is necessary to ensure that all publications abide by data protection regulations. It is more than 20 years since Calcutt warned the press that they were drinking in the last chance saloon. Well, they have had their drink and frankly they have been thrown out. The Press Council failed, the Press Complaints Commission failed, and this House promised to bring forward a statutorily underpinned body. Self-regulation with statutory underpinning—it is good enough for every other industry, it is good enough for the Law Society, so why are we not prepared to follow through for the press? The vast majority of journalists are honourable. As the hon. Member for South Dorset (Richard Drax) said, we are talking about a small minority, but that small minority can do immense damage to individual’s lives—we saw it with the McCanns, with Milly Dowler and with the Hillsborough inquiry—and it is not good enough for us to say they are doing a good enough job; they patently are not, which is why I hope the House will uphold the amendments passed in the other place.

I turn now to what I had intended to speak about: the rights of individuals and the problem many have in talking about data and regulation. It sounds like a technical issue—something that does not affect them directly in their everyday lives. Algorithms are a mystery that many of us have no desire to investigate, never mind solve, yet they are a major influence in our increasingly technology-driven and social media-driven lives. Data harvesting can sneak into every corner of our existence, undertaken by public and private organisations—those we deal with and many that just want to deal with us, or use what they know about us. The information we provide tells them how to sell us everything from cars and mortgages to life insurance and funerals. As more and more information about our daily lives is digitally recorded, ​it is important that individuals have more control. With the passing of the Bill we should all be able to rest assured that the information is being used both ethically and responsibly, including by the national and regional press, and that we have access to ensure that it is accurate, whether it is available to individuals or public or private bodies.

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: A shadow over the Edinburgh Festival

In an article for the New European, Christine Jardine highlights the threats to our cultural events, most notably the Edinburgh Festival, posed by Brexit:

 

But sadly if our creative industries are not protected world class events like the Festival, Glastonbury, and many others may find that musicians used to touring Europe freely with no issues over EU crew or equipment licenses could find the whole process becomes slower, more expensive and just downright difficult.

They might opt to take up other opportunities on the continent or elsewhere.

Music development organisations and other cultural groups might also find themselves without the vital funding stream previously provided by the EU.

But that is the immediate effect. There could also be collateral damage for one of our other most important industries if they cease to be the cash cows the tourist industry has come to depend on.

And the scale of visitor numbers attracted by the Edinburgh Festival every year demands a huge hospitality sector in which an estimated 50 per cent of the workforce come from other EU states.

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Christine Jardine “utterly dismayed” by Leveson statement

Christine Jardine responded for the Liberal Democrats to the Government’s statement that they will not proceed with

Her question is posted below:

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What did Christine Jardine choose for her first question to the Prime Minister?

Being a good, local MP, a pressing constituency issue, of course, concerning the airport in her area which has just launched a consultation on noise.

Here she is in action:

And here is the text:

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Christine Jardine: What happened to our humanity, our open arms and our desire to give children the best start in life?

Christine Jardine spoke movingly in a parliamentary debate this week about the plight of refugee children separated from their families. She called on the UK Government to make it easier for refugee children to find their families and to reunite these families.

Here’s her speech in full.

Imagine having to say goodbye to your child, or finding yourself suddenly separated from them without knowing what will happen to them, whether anyone will look after them or whether they will find the rest of your family, if you still have one. That is the situation facing parents among the 22 million refugees across the world. Families are fleeing war or persecution, looking for nothing more than safety and somewhere to live together in peace. Recently, I visited the Red Cross in Scotland and met families who came to this country looking for that very peace and sanctuary. They are now living together in Scotland and making a valuable contribution to their communities. However, we know that it is not the same for all families; for many, things have become impossible.

As a nation, we have been moved by photographs such as the one mentioned by the hon. Member for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill (Hugh Gaffney)—pictures of children who have lost their lives or been orphaned because of the conflict in Syria. In the Holocaust Memorial Day debate, we heard moving stories from hon. Members about the flight of their families from Nazi persecution and the sanctuary they found here, yet our approach to reuniting refugee families and immigration procedures is one that I, for one, find depressing. What happened to our humanity, our open arms and our desire to give children the best start in life, regardless of geography?

As we have heard, the EU’s Dublin III regulation determines which EU state decides a person’s asylum application. In 2016, under the regulation’s criteria, 700 children were transferred from other European countries to join family members in the UK, but none of us knows what the situation will be after Brexit. We need the UK Government to improve the system to make it easier for children to find their families. They need to amend the immigration rules on refugee family reunions to make it easier for close family members—siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles—with refugee or humanitarian protection status to sponsor children in their family to join them in the UK. They also need to lessen the conditions that must be met by non-refugee sponsors, and help with legal aid for refugee family reunions.

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Christine Jardine’s speech for Holocaust Memorial Day

Ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day tomorrow, here’s Christine Jardine’s speech from the Commons debate last week.

It is an honour to take part in this debate in remembrance of an event that, in its own way, challenges the power of words adequately to express the horror and sorrow of the holocaust.

Three years ago I visited the Yad Vashem memorial in Israel. As I was taken around that remarkable monument, the experience was at times emotional, as well as inspiring and thought-provoking throughout. It is a dark, oppressive space—a tunnel in a hillside—and as we travelled through it, guided as we were by a holocaust survivor, the personal testimonies we heard and the things we saw represented to me one of the bleakest periods in modern history—indeed, human history.

When our tour focused on the concentration camps, my mind was flooded with thoughts of the survivors I have been privileged to meet as we heard the testimonies of the suffering. I also thought about the young people I know who have visited what remains of the concentration camps across Europe, and about their reactions.

My daughter, who was born more than half a century after the war ended, visited because she felt she had to but, unlike other places of historical importance she has visited, it is something she rarely talks about. Like many, we took her as a child to Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam, and she was fascinated. When we came home she fell in love with the words of that youngster who lived her life hidden because it was the only life she was allowed. Hers were informative, moving words.

When my daughter has visited other memorials she has talked about them, but not when she came home from visiting Theresienstadt, which represented something more. She faced up to the fact that it was all real; that this was where so many stories, like that of the little girl living in a loft whose powerful words she had fallen in love with, had ended; and that if that horror were ever to return, many of the people she loved would meet the same fate. Perhaps it was a similar feeling that moved Andrew Dismore on his visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and we should thank that visit for enabling us to dedicate a day to holocaust remembrance, but how do we adequately remember an event when its sheer horror challenges everything we want to believe about humanity and ourselves? How?

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Vince, Christine, Jo and Layla marked out as politicians to watch in 2018

Over at HITC, Richard Wood has produced a list of politicians to watch this year.

Vince Cable, Layla Moran and Christine Jardine get mentions:

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has failed to make much of an impact this year. But with the Brexit drum beating louder than ever before, and the UK just one year away from exiting the EU, Brexit anxiety will likely increase, thus resulting in Cable rising to prominence. Cable and his party will likely capitalise on remain sentiment, but can he expand on that and turn the Liberal Democrats into more than just the anti-Brexit party?

Keep an …

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Christine Jardine stands up for WASPI women

Women born in the 1950s face an unexpected wait of the best part of a decade before they can get their State Pension. When they started their working lives they would have expected to be able to retire at 60. Now they have to wait until they are 67. The principle of the age going up and being equal with men is not in question. That women have had such a steep and disproportionate rise without being properly informed by the Government is an issue that needs to be addressed.

These women were at the sharp end of the gender pay gap for their working lives so any occupational pension they have is likely to be less than a man in the same job. Now they are being disadvantaged in their retirement years too.

Liberal Democrat MPs Christine Jardine and Stephen Lloyd are co-sponsors of a Bill that aims to look at ways of putting this right. It’s due to get its second reading early next year.

In a Commons debate this week, Christine explained the impact of the changes on the 6000 women affected in her constituency and pointed out that failure to get this right may mean that MPs may have their retirement dates chosen for them earlier than they expected.

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Christine Jardine remembers Dr Elsie Inglis

It’s 100 years this week since Dr Elsie Inglis, doctor, pioneer of women’s hospitals and suffragist died. During the first world war, her offer to establish a medical unit staffed by female professionals was rebuffed by the War Office who told her to go home and sit still. She didn’t give up and instead the French government took up her offer and set her unit up in Serbia.

Dr Inglis was remembered yesterday in a Westminster Hall debate. Here’s our Christine Jardine’s contribution:

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Christine Jardine: Politicians must live up to their honourable titles

Here’s Christine Jardine MP talking on Politics Scotland about the need for all parties to take action to protect staff and volunteers from harassment.

An independent body is all very well, she says, but political parties can’t abrogate responsibility and say it’s nothing to do with them.

Then in Friday’s Scotmsn she said that the current harassment scandal might be the “lightning rod” for “cultural change”

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Lib Dems step up attack on Universal Credit

Liberal Democrats have played their part in making sure that the inadequacies of Universal Credit have been highlighted. In the debate on Wednesday,  Christine Jardine said:

We hear that, instead of it helping, as many as 1 million children could be pushed into poverty by 2020. That surely cannot be the legacy that my Conservative colleagues would want to leave for future generations. They surely cannot be content with what they are hearing in this Chamber from constituents and even their own Back Benchers: that families are facing rent arrears and the threat of losing their homes; that there is anxiety about missed payments; and that people are choosing between making those payments or feeding their families.

Citizens Advice Scotland has already seen more than 100,000 people, one in five of whom have waited more than six weeks for payments—and only 14 areas in Scotland have UC. We stand at an important crossroads: the Government have the opportunity to pause UC, address its many flaws and say to those coping with the cruel reality of this botched benefit reform, “We hear you. We recognise the problem and we will fix it.”

Stephen Lloyd caught Iain Duncan Smith out one of those economic with the truth moments:

Secondly, the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr Duncan Smith), a former Secretary of State, said that the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has supported universal credit. I was a bit surprised by that, so I did a quick check. The JRF actually said that it would support universal credit if it was properly funded—I just mentioned the £3 billion—and if payment and waiting times were reduced, which is exactly what many people have been saying today.

The media reports yesterday that the Government is ready to make changes on the amount of time people are waiting for money, but that isn’t the only problem with Universal Credit. It’s interesting that Labour now accepts the principles behind Universal Credit – that it should end the poverty trap. Until the Tories got a majority, that’s exactly what it would have done. There was enough money in there to ensure that people could move into work and not lose their benefits. Then May 2015 happened and George Osborne took billions out of the system.

So, our Work and Pensions Spokesperson Stephen Lloyd and Leader Vince Cable have written to the the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to ask him to sort this out in the budget. They said:

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WATCH: Liberal Democrat MPs slam Government’s contemptuous approach to Parliament

This afternoon, Alistair Carmichael led an emergency debate, which he had secured, to raise the many ways in which the Government is marginalising Parliament. From ignoring Opposition Day debates to curtailing debate on legislation to the Henry VIII powers.

His speech introducing the debate was excellent. Watch it here.

My favourite bits are this:

The best Governments—and if ever there was a time in our country’s history when we needed the best possible Government, this is surely it—are those that are tested by Parliament, by the Opposition parties and by their own Back Benchers. Time and again, our system fails when the Government and the Opposition agree and arguments remain untested. How different might the debates on the case for going to war in Iraq in 2002 and 2003 have been if the then Opposition had been prepared to take a more questioning approach to Tony Blair’s case? I am sad to say that this Government, however, do not welcome scrutiny by Parliament, but rather seek to avoid it.

and the bit where he challenged MPs to get assertive:

In one sense, the Government have done us a favour by bringing this issue to a head, because it forces us as a House to decide what our role in the future of this country is going to be. Is it to be an active participant, with a strong voice and a decisive say, or is it to be a supine bystander as the Government continue to do as they wish, regardless of their lack of a mandate and, as is increasingly obvious, their lack of authority.

I have been a member of many debating societies over the years. They have all been fine organisations that provided entertainment and mental stimulation in equal measure. I mean them therefore no disrespect when I say that I stood for Parliament believing I was doing something more significant than signing up for a debating society. The difference is that in Parliament—in this House—we can actually effect change. Whether we choose to do so is in our own hands.

I loved the fact that the Tories responded by slagging off the Liberal Democrats in the most immature way as they clearly had no defence.

Christine Jardine said that MPs were there to serve the electorate, not to play games. She talked about seeing Parliament as others see it and the impression it gives to people outside who were not involved in politics.

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Liberal Democrats mark World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day.

For me it’s a day to reflect on how far we have come since I started to suffer from mental ill health as a child. Forty years ago, nobody understood the desperate, isolating, all-engulfing Depression that I couldn’t shake off, that took every ounce of my energy just to get through the day. I remember trying to talk about it to a friend once, and she scared the living daylights out of me, telling me I’d be locked up in a hospital if anyone found out.

There was the exhausting anxiety which punctuated every day – not helped by the fact that round every corner there might be another bully lurking to shout “Yak” at me. That’s what they called me at school. I just wish I’d had Google then to reassure me that, whatever my tormentors meant, these beasts were actually kind of cute.

My teens were a struggle and because I didn’t get the help I needed, I either didn’t cope very well or developed some fairly unhelpful strategies to deal with it. Comfort eating for one.

We can perhaps be a little bit proud of ourselves as a society that four decades on, we are at least attempting to tackle the stigma around mental health, so that no young person need fear that they are going to be locked up.

However, we should also be ashamed that this new openness has not been accompanied by the provision of sufficient support services for people with mental ill health.

There is one area I want to focus on – the transition from child to adult mental health services. Once you get into the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, you can actually get some pretty reasonable support. It’s arranged in a fairly logical way with consultants, psychologists and nurses working together to support young people. Unfortunately not every young person who needs help can get it at all, and most have to wait far too long.  It is not uncommon to wait for more than a year to even see a specialist.

Mental health issues generally aren’t resolved overnight, so you have a year of turmoil while you are waiting to be seen and, maybe another couple of years of reasonably intensive support – and then you turn 18. All the effort put into helping you is now at risk as you are put into the virtually non-existent twilight world of adult mental health services which are disparate, insufficient and as suitable for the scale of the problem as  trying to surf the Atlantic on a My Little Pony lilo.

This country is being robbed of the talents of some wonderful individuals simply because it does not invest in the services they need to stay well.

Even the most cruel and heartless government should surely recognise that the cost of not supporting these people is enormous to both our economy and our society.

I’m incredibly proud that Nick Clegg and Norman Lamb have done so much to improve mental health services and tackle the stigma around mental health. One of the most horrible things about the run-up to the 2015 election was the almost certain knowledge that Norman wouldn’t be mental health minister any more.

Today, Liberal Democrats have been marking Mental Health Day in a variety of ways:

Kirsty Williams made this video highlighting mental ill health in the workplace:

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