Tag Archives: Covid-19

LibLink: Siobhan Benita: We can’t afford to let today’s acts of kindness become tomorrow’s memories

Lib Dem London Mayoral Candidate Siobhan Benita writes for Mental Health Awareness Week on her website.

As we went into lockdown in March, the UN released its World Happiness Report. It ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be.  As in previous years, Nordic countries dominate the top slots, scoring strongly across all six measures: GDP per capita, social support, life expectancy, autonomy, generosity and absence of corruption.

Reflecting on the success of the Nordic countries, the report concludes that there is no “secret sauce” to their happiness. Instead, there is a “general recipe” that everyone can follow:  non-corrupt, high-quality state institutions able to deliver what is promised and generous in taking care of citizens.

The Covid19 pandemic is a tragedy.  Families and communities have lost loved ones to the virus and fear of contamination, financial uncertainty and social distancing are having a serious impact on the mental health of the nation. At the same time, the pandemic also creates a unique opportunity for us Brits to consider how we can create a better “recipe” for our citizens in the future.

The togetherness and community spirit we’ve seen during the pandemic must become permanent, she argues:

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 1 Comment

Ed Davey’s media blitz calling for Cummings to go

I have a friend who is not well. She had to spend lockdown away from her husband, who was working, being cared for by her parents.

She didn’t see her husband until restrictions were lifted, even though he was round the corner.

Another friend lost her husband. She’s had people at the end of a phone or video call, but not with her to help and hold her. We may all have watched the livestream of the funeral but we couldn’t be there to support her and pay tribute to her husband.

We’ll all know people who have made extraordinary sacrifices to keep to the rules, because it was the right thing to do.

Yet the person who helped write those rules pretty egregiously flouted them. And not only is he not sorry. He’s had a stream of government ministers backing him up. Straight out of the Trump playbook. If you’ve done something awful, just brazen it out.

The people who grabbed power by persuading people that anyone acting in their interest was some sort of elitist are now treating the same people with utter contempt.

Ed Davey has never been off the telly today, telling all the news outlets that Cummings should go and if he hasn’t gone by the morning then Boris Johnson would have to answer why.

Here he is doing various interviews as the story unfolded:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 61 Comments

LibLink: Daisy Cooper MP: Any contact tracing app must respect privacy and maintain public trust

In an article on Politics Home, Lib Dem Culture spokesperson Daisy Cooper sets out the flaws in the Government’s plans for a contact tracing app to slow the spread of Covid-19 and highlighted LIb Dem plans for a law which would underpin safety and privacy.

The public won’t use an app if they don’t trust it, she said as she highlighted criticisms of the government’s plans.

These problems stem from the Government’s decision to reject plans for a “decentralised” app – as recommended by the Information Commissioner and many technology experts, and being implemented in many other countries – and pursue a “centralised” one instead.

Under the first system, information about the other phones you “meet” is recorded on your smartphone and the contact matching happens on your device; under the centralised system, all of that information is uploaded to a central server owned and run by the Government.

Ministers must urgently explain why they have chosen a system that many are warning will make the app less effective and less safe.

What would the Lib Dems do about it?

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 3 Comments

Sal Brinton on Government “lie” on care homes and Covid-19

Lie is not a word anyone in politics uses lightly. But Lib Dems Lords Health and Social Care spokesperson Sal Brinton used it today in response to Michael Gove’s interview on the Andrew Marr Show .

On Friday, Ed Davey said that the Government had to “get a grip” on the crisis in our care homes:

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 8 Comments

Layla: We need reassurance and clarity before schools can re-open

Lib Dem Education spokesperson Layla Moran was on LBC this morning talking about getting children back to school.

Listen here:

Earlier on Sky News, she reiterated the importance of transparency in the Government’s communications:

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 3 Comments

LDV interviews: Bill Powell on surviving Covid-19, tackling inequality and plans for the future.

It was wonderful to catch up with Bill Powell on Friday. Bill, the former Welsh Assembly member for Mid and West Wales, recently spent 6 weeks in hospital, 3 of them in Intensive Care, after contracting Covid-19.

Our chat was his Zoom debut. Thanks to his friend Ann for making it possible.

Bill  talked about his time in hospital, how he was admitted to ICU within half an hour of arriving and was put in an induced coma. More than two weeks later, he had the disorientating experience of waking up, not knowing what had happened to him. Over the next week in intensive care, he suffered all sorts of dreams and delusions, at one point being convinced that the Queen and Prince Philip had died.

After that, he spent three weeks in rehab regaining his strength before leaving hospital to applause from staff and fellow patients. I had thought that, as everyone on the rehab ward would have had the virus, that they would be able to mix reasonably freely with each other, but Bill explained that it wasn’t like that at all and the people he saw most were the nurses and physiotherapists.

The support of those nurses, physios, occupational therapists and doctors was crucial to getting him well enough to go home. Since returning to his farm in Talgarth, he has given several media interviews expressing his profound gratitude to the teams who saved his life.

It was great to follow his recovery on social media. Once he’d left intensive care, I was first aware of him liking posts and comments on Facebook, and retweeting things. Then he started to comment and, eventually, to post things himself.

He really appreciated the avalanche of messages he received from party members, political opponents and constituents.

However, he is “haunted” by the thousands of people who weren’t as fortunate as he was and  feels an obligation to give something back.

He talked about how the current crisis has exacerbated existing inequalities and how we have to come up with new ways of tackling them.

Welsh Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams came in for particular praise for the calm and competent way she is dealing with the pandemic

There are two ways to catch up on our chat. Paul Walter very kindly uploaded the audio to Soundcloud, and I managed to figure out how to get it from Zoom to YouTube. At the start of the YouTube, it looks like the audio and visual are out of sync but it sorts itself out after a bit.

Below, some photos and news articles chart his path to recovery. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 1 Comment

Lib Dems bid to pave the way for safe street cafe culture in Scotland

Scottish Liberal Democrats have proposed an amendment to the latest coronavirus emergency legislation to help pave the way for more cafes, restaurants and bars to use closed roads to enable social distancing between customers, once they are permitted to re-open. Alex Cole-Hamilton will lead on this when the vote takes place on Tuesday.

The amendment confirms that it shall not be an offence to place tables and chairs in the road outside a premises, provided it is done with the local authority’s consent and doesn’t cause an obstruction to disabled people.

Scottish Liberal Democrats will also ask the Scottish Government to publish advice to alert businesses to these possibilities and help local authorities prepare their own plans for the reopening of these businesses when the time comes.
This comes as Lithuanian capital Vilnius is to be turned into an ‘open-air cafe’, with businesses allowed to use nearby plazas, squares and streets free of charge.

Australia this week allowed restaurants and cafes to open but have initially limited the number of people dining inside to 10, causing some to reportedly say it isn’t worth their while to re-open at this stage.

Alex said:

Once it is safe and they are permitted to reopen, it seems inevitable that cafes, restaurants and bars will need to operate at a much reduced capacity to enable social distancing.

Embracing a new street cafe culture with more covers outside could for many make the difference between their business being viable or not.

Temporarily allowing these businesses to use nearby streets and other open-air spaces would help them lift the shutters when the time is right, protecting jobs and keeping people safe.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | Leave a comment

We do know the answers: How we find our feet for 2024

It can almost be universally agreed that 2019 (until the end) was ‘the year’ to be a Liberal Democrat. We saw a Local Election renaissance and won seats hand over fist (sadly not mine in Lancaster), we walked the Euro Elections with a 1500% increase in seats and won over defectors galore. But by December, we lost our leader, many of our MPs and missed most of our target seats. I think we have to be frank about the state of British Liberalism; however, I believe solace can be found in our prior success and our ability as a Party to reflect on failure and adapt.

Posted in Op-eds | 12 Comments

We must learn to live with Covid-19

Covid-19 is a nasty disease, causing people to be seriously ill, even killing them.
I work for an Acute NHS Trust. Although my work isn’t clinical, I know just how dangerous caring for COVID patients can be, not only for our clinical staff but those who support them in the “COVID” areas but also those in care homes and elsewhere.
To stop its spread, the Government has imposed restrictions on the like of which we have never seen in this country and, for the most part, people have accepted them because they know that these restrictions will save lives.

Many are using the coincidence of the 75th anniversary of the VE day to draw an analogy between dealing with Covid-19 and the WWII, asking for sacrifices, talking about winning the fight against “the enemy”, saying that those who break the restrictions are “fighting for the enemy”.

However, this analogy is not just wrong; it is stopping us realising that Covid-19, not an “enemy” that can be defeated, Like other deadly viruses, we need to learn how to live with it, not “defeat” it, because this virus will be with us for a long time.

Posted in Op-eds | 7 Comments

Covid-19: We are long past the point where we should give the UK government the benefit of the doubt

Embed from Getty Images

Political conclusions drawn so far from the horrific tragedy of COVID-1,9 and the lamentable UK response, have often been hurriedly deployed in support of a range of political viewpoints.

Perhaps the most common is that the regrettable UK response has been due to the NHS being starved of funds due to ‘austerity’. Per person NHS budgets have been squeezed over a long period, and this almost certainly contributed to the NHS’s problems, and more money is needed, but it cannot be the whole story; or even perhaps the main story.

The UK spends the same or more on health, and a larger proportion on state health, than many other OECD countries, including Finland, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 6 Comments

And now for something completely different…

Embed from Getty Images

Every cloud has a silver lining. The coronavirus pandemic is no exception, and I don’t just mean a bump in profits for Amazon, Zoom and face mask manufacturers.

The health crisis has sparked a priority rethink. What is more important, seeing family and friends or the latest pair of Jimmy Choo shoes? Who is more important to society: bankers and lawyers or dustmen and nurses? Do lives come before the health of the economy or vice versa or are they inextricably tied? Do we prefer the roar and pollution from cars and planes or the sound of birdsong, the smell of clean air and a sustainable planet?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 12 Comments

Non-publication of SAGE minutes could mean that the government are taking decisions contrary to the scientific advice and we won’t know it until it is too late

Embed from Getty Images

Over on the Debated Podcast there is an excellent interview with Judith Bunting, a scientist by training, who was PPC for us in Newbury and West Berkshire in 2015 and 2017, and also MEP for the South-East of England from 2019-2020. Will Barber Taylor engages with Judith on the following topics:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 15 Comments

Lib Dems react to PM speech

As soon as Boris Johnson started speaking, I was infuriated.

Nicola Sturgeon manages to get a signer there for every briefing. And she does hers live.

Boris’s was pre-recorded. Why not have a signer in the room with him so that, whatever channel you watch, you can understand what is being said?

It’s not the first time I’ve been infuriated by his government over the past week. The misjudged, mixed messaging. One minute people were doing great for obeying the guidance, the next they were getting too lazy at home. Then the briefing that lockdown was going to be lifted on Monday leading to a whole clutch of “we’re being set free” headlines. It’s not what you need in the middle of the greatest crisis we  have faced in generations. People need to understand exactly what they need to do.

That’s why the new slogan is so terrible.  Nobody knows what “stay alert” means in practical terms. Everyone will tell you something different. If you had something like stay 2m apart, wash your hands, wear a mask in confined spaces, you know exactly what to do. Not only that, but when the other UK governments hear about it on in the press, it’s clearly not been well discussed.

So how have senior Liberal Democrats reacted to the PM’s speech?  So far we have been asking careful questions about issues like care homes, PPE and testing. I sense a more critical tone now.

Ed said that the PM’s statement had more confusion that clarity:


This is the first time we’ve seen divergence between England and the other nation states of the UK.

As liberals, we should welcome this, given that we get what devolution means. We should respect the devolution settlements that give different parts of the UK the powers to do what is right for them.

But that means that all the governments have to clearly show that the decisions they make are governed by the science.

Willie Rennie said tonight:

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 41 Comments

Lib Dem Councillor calls for gay and bi men to be allowed to participate in Covid-19 trials

“Discriminatory, arbitrary and regressive.” Those are the words used by Liberal Democrat Councillor Victor Chamberlain to describe the decision to exclude the plasma of gay and bi men being used in the trial to try to find a treatment for Covid-19.

Victor has written to the Health Secretary to ask him to reverse this ban. He cites a similar trial in the Netherlands which doesn’t mention sexuality at all.

It’s great to see a Liberal Democrat councillor taking a leading role in this.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | Leave a comment

Covid-19 five tests: By sleight of hand, the government seems to be trying to remove the spotlight from testing and PPE issues

Embed from Getty Images

You would have thought that the government’s five tests for moderating the lockdown have stayed the same, wouldn’t you?

Well, think again.

Comparing Dominic Raab’s reading of the five tests on Tuesday with his original announcement of them on April 16th, there is at least one significant difference:

Posted in Op-eds | 12 Comments

Civil Liberties and the NHS App

The NHS has launched a tracing App for trialling in the Isle of Wight. How does it measure up against the civil liberties checklist that I authored on Lib Dem Voice on 15th April, along with some excellent additions within the comments?

First, the positives:
I urged that opting in should be voluntary. It is. A liberal society works best by consent.
It is good news that this is an NHS App, rather than being owned by the central government or by a private company. Moreover, as the NHS has overwhelming public support, this makes it more likely that there will be significant uptake of the App.

It is to be welcomed that the App uses Bluetooth rather than GPS. It records only our phones’ proximity to other phones, rather than pinpointing our precise locations at the moment of proximity.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 12 Comments

How the pandemic exposed the stark inequalities of our society

High deaths within BME communities – CLICK TO SEE THE VIDEO

COVID-19 has devastated the lives of people of all faiths and nationalities. Yet, there are increasing indications that the Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community in the UK has been disproportionately affected. This bias towards those of BAME origin suffering most, and more acutely, is also reflected in the US Afro-American population.

Since the government’s delay in imposing lockdown, I have seen the tragic loss of people from BAME communities in London and across the UK, and how COVID-19 restrictions have exacerbated the respective families’ grief.  

Mohammed Rakib, who lost his aunt to COVID-19, said: “My aunt, a lifelong asthma sufferer, was admitted to hospital a few weeks ago where she was kept in for observation. Within hours of being sent home, she started displaying symptoms of COVID-19. On readmittance to hospital, she was diagnosed with COVID-19. We were not permitted to see her, so she died alone just four days later. Friends and neighbours have also lost relatives, and I now have another aunt in a hospital with COVID-19.”

Posted in Op-eds | 5 Comments

The covid tracking app is all wrong; I will use it anyway

Trialled this week on the Isle of Wight, and soon to be rolled out to us all: an app for our smartphones will record who we come into contact with, so that if either we or they are discovered to have covid-19, the other party can be informed and take action.

Embed from Getty Images

Don’t confuse this with the Covid Symptom Tracker app, which you should have already. This allows you to anonymously record your symptoms daily to assist in research on the spread of the disease and on how symptoms begin to manifest.

Posted in Op-eds | 10 Comments

Should we be taking population density into account when comparing countries on Covid-19?

Embed from Getty Images

May I first offer my sincere sympathy to all those who have been directly affected by Covid-19 through their own illness or through loss or illness of loved ones. This is a truly terrible illness and my heart goes out to all those who have suffered, as well as the many NHS, care and key workers who have put their life on the line to help others.

One of the horrible sides of the pandemic is that it is often reduced to slides of statistics. When reducing thousands of individual tragedies of people’s lives cut cruelly short to graphs, it is terribly superficial. So I apologise for writing a post about the numbers. Behind every fatality there is the story of a beloved human being leaving behind grieving loved ones.

I suspect it will be many years before the full picture of this pandemic and our (human beings’) handling of it becomes clear.

When comparing countries, it seems now that poor old Belgium is top of the list of Covid-19 death rates. (Originally it was the USA, based on sheer absolute figures, which was a bit bonkers given the size of the country).

However, even though it is many moons ago, I remember the odd school geography lesson telling us that the Low Countries have a very high population density. So, surely the disease is bound to spread more quickly when the population is much closer to each other.

Posted in Op-eds | 16 Comments

How the health crisis could help advance our society’s wellbeing

Everyone can recall the bitter divisions in our society last year. Families were split about Brexit; friends chose which friends to talk to, there was rage and blame ringing across the airwaves and on social media, while In the House of Commons, the MPs tried and tried again without success to reach agreement on whether, when or how to leave the EU.

But this spring the bitterness is gone. That isn’t because of general weary resignation that Brexit is settled. It’s because in facing the pandemic disease to which we are all susceptible millions of us are pulling together in facing up to it. We have surrendered civil liberties, altered our lifestyles, closed businesses, foregone sociable pleasures and knuckled down to hard work or to the new challenge of staying mostly at home. Nobody is pleased about it, but we are generally united in our feelings about its inevitability. Where will this newfound unity, which is so reminiscent of what we understand happened in the two World Wars, take us next?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 89 Comments

Forecasts for the end of the COVID-19 epidemics similar to Singapore lab’s

Between March 17th and 20th, using my former scientist’s PhD knowledge, I started making forecasts, with graphs, of when the COVID-19 would end for the main European countries and the UK. The shot was a long one, and the forecasts sent in a private email to colleagues. At the time the government announced a minimum ’12 weeks’ epidemic. Hence until at least June 17, with statements that it may last over six months to 2021.

With data consolidating from March 30, I took the risk to make my previsions public on LINKEDIN (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/update-previous-coronavirus-covid19-reports-analysis-de-vartavan/) forecasting the end of the UK epidemic between April 30 and May 6 +/-. In another April 21 report, I also calculated, among others, the end of the Italian epidemic around May 6 +/-.: (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/now-witnessing-end-coronavirus-epidemic-central-christian-de-vartavan/). The aim is to provide intelligence to UK companies of when to prepare to exit the costly lockdown and hence reduce at soon as possible its economic damages. I suggested May 1 to start preparing and still do. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 13 Comments

Are we being led by the science?

Well, that’s what we are told at the daily press conference, but is it true?

It’s becoming evident that the 2-metre social distancing rule is exceedingly problematic if it’s to be continued once businesses re-open, particularly for small cafes, restaurants and shops which are too small to implement it and will cease to be viable. So, the evidence to support it must be very strong, mustn’t it?

I have not been able to find that evidence anywhere, and significantly the WHO has settled on a much more pragmatic, achievable and sustainable one-metre distance. I made a few more discreet enquiries yesterday, and the answer came back that ‘there is no evidence’.

Does Chris Whitty, Patrick Vallance and SAGE know something we don’t?  – we certainly hope so, but if this secret society does not publish its membership and meeting minutes how can we trust the government to have taken their advice seriously, rather than manipulated it, particularly now we know who else attends these meetings.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 30 Comments

The name COVID-19 was deliberately chosen to avoid stigmatisation

On 11th March 2020, I delivered a speech at Tower Hamlets Council as part of my amendment to an emergency cross-party briefing to ensure that the way in which the council communicates does not marginalise people.

In preparation for this Roderick Lynch – Chair of Liberal Democrat Campaign for Racial Equality – and I had a meeting about how an “infodemic” of misinformation and rumours spreading about the outbreak of (the then new) coronavirus could potentially stoke fear and panic.

Facts, not fear, can stop the spread of COVID-19, so the way in which we talk about the virus and fact-check can shape how we engage and protect all our communities.

There has been a spike in bias and hate towards certain groups including Chinese, Italians, Spanish and the homeless, so it is crucial to challenge xenophobic speech, finger-pointing speech, and bigoted attitudes. The EU’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) reported a rise in racist attacks on people judged to be of Chinese or Asian descent and also stated that these demographics in Europe have faced discrimination when trying to access health services.

The reporting forum, Stop AAPI Hate, has been recording instances of anti-Asian harassment since it was set up in late March. These reports include anti-Asian racism on the streets of the UK, Australia and India. An analysis by Al Jazeera found more than 10,000 posts on Twitter that included the term “kung-flu” during March alone, along with offensive terms such as “chop fluey” and “rice rabies”.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 8 Comments

Three reasons for Lockdown

There are three main reasons for the lockdown. Firstly, to control and eventually reduce the spread of COVID-19, secondly, to build up stocks of PPE and thirdly, to get testing in place so the lockdown could be eased in a controlled manner. The government has partial succeed on the first objective but have failed miserably on the other two. The economic cost of this will be measured against: a £300 billion+ rescue plan, a likely (but hopefully short) world recession and later in the year whatever the outcome of Brexit trade negotiations. As they say in politics we are living in interesting times!

Statistics have started to show that the lockdown has had an impact and we are being told that the peak was reached around 8th April. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said that Care homes now report outbreaks, and have indicated that these outbreaks are difficult to control because of the lack of testing and protective equipment. ONS are capturing numbers from death certificates; they feel that since the start of the pandemic, more than 1,000 have died in care homes. The government figures are significantly understating the number of total deaths.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 14 Comments

Jane Dodds writes: No going back to business as usual

Covid-19 has caused the biggest economic shock of modern times. The Government has announced a range of measures to support businesses and the self-employed, in particular through putting in place strong incentives to keep staff on the payroll. Nearly a million people applied for Universal Credit in March – and the Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for the Government to scrap the five-week wait.  We need to get money into people’s pockets now. 

But we need to think beyond the emergency. Economic recovery could be slow and painful, and the most difficult time for families and businesses – especially the small businesses in the economic front line – may be when the lockdown is over and the short-term, time-limited measures announced by the Treasury fall away. Our family businesses are at the heart of our communities, and we need to ensure they bounce back stronger and more resilient than before. These shops and businesses will only recover if their customers have money to spend once the lockdown ends.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 32 Comments

Interview with Chair of Covid19 Anti-Racism Group (CARG)

Dr Yeow Poon

ME: Dr Yeow Poon, you have been the Chair of the Chinese Community Centre in Birmingham since 1995, founded the England China Business Forum in 2013 and are also a trustee of the Chinese Welfare Trust national charity. Why was it necessary to set up the Covid19 Anti-Racism Action Group (CARG)?

YP: The spread of COVID-19 in the UK has led to an increase in racism and hate crime towards British Chinese, East and Southeast Asians. Incidents ranged from children being taunted in schools to international students being violently attacked. The insistence of some political leaders and media commentators calling COVID-19 the Chinese virus, and attempts to deflect blame to China, has also further inflamed racism. CARG was set up to counter these negative narratives in the media.

ME: As of today, COVID-19 has infected nearly 2m people globally, and the UK is in lockdown with over 10,000 deaths. Why would the British public be concerned with the rise in hate crime against the Chinese and East Asian communities?

YP: Hate crime towards any community should never be tolerated. COVID-19 does not discriminate ethnically. On the frontline in the NHS, in care homes and the community, we are working together to combat and mitigate the effects of COVID-19. These selfless acts by individuals from diverse backgrounds should be applauded. Also, the many examples of mutual help and research collaboration between the UK and China should be encouraged and strengthened.

Posted in Interviews, News and Op-eds | Also tagged | 17 Comments

Five big ideas for the new post-COVID world

Although we are still in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, radical political parties like ours should be beginning to think about the brave new world that, hopefully, will emerge from this catastrophe.  I offer five policy suggestions, some of them familiar, some of them new, all of them more revolutionary than you think: –
– a citizen’s wage at £2,500 a month;
– a charge for using natural capital;
– ending the triple lock on pensions;
– bridging the divide between the NHS and the care sector; and
– re-empowering local government.

Support for the citizen’s wage is growing now that even the Conservatives have discovered it’s affordable. The idea is very Keynesian, to keep demand in the economy high so that jobs are sustained, and firms encouraged to invest. Moreover, please, can we remember that services form by far the largest part of our economy and consumer demand is key to creating jobs. A straight payment of, say £2,500 a month to everyone whose income is below that amount is a fair and simple replacement for Universal Credit.

Posted in Op-eds | 25 Comments

Civil Liberties and Ending the Lockdown

In the weeks ahead, as the government seeks to loosen the lockdown while containing the COVID-19 pandemic, it is likely to introduce measures that in ordinary times would constitute serious violations of our civil liberties. For example, the government is likely to introduce extensive COVID-19 testing, enforce quarantine for those who test positive and compulsory trace, everyone; they have come into contact with.

As Liberals, a fundamental test we apply to any state action that restricts civil liberties is the one set out by John Stuart Mill: a person should be free to behave as they choose as long as they do not infringe the freedoms of others. The COVID-19 pandemic is a situation where civil liberties can, in principle, legitimately be restricted because if a person spreads COVID-19, they clearly infringe the freedoms of others.

However, in practice, great care must be taken that our civil liberties are restricted to the smallest possible extent.
It is not yet clear exactly what the government intends to introduce. But there are some key issues that we should consider now, so we can scrutinise whatever measures the government proposes.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged | 52 Comments

Why this is the toughest post-war challenge to liberalism

The coronavirus holds a firm grip around the neck of liberty in this new world we have found for ourselves in. No longer can we shop, gather, meet family or friends, embrace those we love. We are living within the tight confines of the perfect dystopian novel.

Although these measures are paramount to people’s survival and the continuation of our public services, they must only serve short-term survival, not the long-term rule. Indeed, many of these global measures look to be the tools of authoritarianism, for example in China ( and Israel as well), who are using the location of one’s phone to monitor compliance to quarantine. Even within the EU, Viktor Orban of Hungary has been granted the right to rule indefinitely by decree, excusing it as a response to coronavirus.

Posted in News and Op-eds | 16 Comments

Liberal Democrats in local government responding to Covid-19

Last week I did two things that seemed unthinkable only a month ago. As Leader of the City of York Council, I took the painful decision to tell residents, tourists and shoppers to stay clear of our beautiful city and thriving city centre. Also, jarringly for me personally – although less widely reported – like so many other families, I’d missed my mother’s birthday for the first time!

These sacrifices are small when compared to those made by our healthcare workers and frontline staff, including our waste collection crews and social workers. It is for them that we must all stay at home, stay safe and help save lives. 

That’s why under our leadership City of York Council has taken swift and decisive action and made every effort to communicate with local residents. Our response to the crisis has five main components: to keep our residents informed; to prioritise essential services; support our businesses; protect the vulnerable, and empower citizens to help.

Posted in Op-eds | 2 Comments

Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 28th May - 12:42am
    Peter Martin, I think Jimmy Stewart's scriptwriter was probably quite prescient. Money circulates in a country as long as there is trust that it will...
  • User Avatarsuzanne fletcher 27th May - 9:28pm
    I've been listening since Adam was born, I was in hospital having Alex at the time. I rather like the lulling monologues, don't like exciting...
  • User AvatarSeethingWells Action 27th May - 9:15pm
    Thanks Liz. It’s an important site and thanks for publicising this vital cause. Lib Dem Voice readers can find out more of the history and...
  • User AvatarPeter 27th May - 9:09pm
    Forgive my ignorance, what is pansexual, if not bisexual?
  • User AvatarMohammed Amin 27th May - 8:56pm
    I am afraid that this is a type of "magical thinking" that is often seen. All tax is tax, and all taxes are eventually borne...
  • User AvatarGary J 27th May - 8:55pm
    I found Layla Moran's self-description as "pansexual" both amusing and pretentious. In general politicians talk too much about their private lives. If she felt the...