Tag Archives: france

Vulnerable people are being oppressed on our doorstep – by the British and French Governments

I’ve come back from the greatest emotional rollercoaster I’ve ever dealt with.

I spent three weeks in Northern France volunteering with an educational charity working in the refugee camps surrounding the channel ports.

It’s incredibly hard to believe but in Western Europe, merely a stone’s throw from the British coast, thousands of people are barely managing to survive, deprived of their basic rights, harassed by a supposedly progressive government and all for the crime of fleeing the most harrowing situations on the planet and trying to build a better life. And worse of all we’re paying for it.

Yes, really. British taxpayers’ money is being ploughed into the French riot police, the CRS, all in the name of ‘border security. They are using that money to make life a living hell for some of the most vulnerable people on the planet. Whilst I was in France, volunteers were witnessing so called evictions on a daily basis.

This meant destruction of the little possessions that the refugees posses, rounding families up and abandoning them miles away from settlements in the middle of nowhere and often involved the use of tear gas against defenceless peaceful people.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

Macron’s victory speech in English

There was joy in the hearts of liberals across Europe on Sunday night when the French results came through. It was certainly worrying that more than a third of voters chose a far-right extremist, but it shows that populism can be beaten.

Tim Farron was quick to congratulate Emmanuel Macron and said that his values could win the day here too:

I would like to congratulate Emmanuel Macron on his election as France’s new President. This is not just a victory for France, but a victory for Britain and the liberal values we hold dear.

A National Front win would have posed a grave threat to our national interest.

Emmanuel Macron has kept the wolves from our door, but we must never be complacent in the fight against racism, fascism and the far-right.

The liberal values of tolerance, openness and free trade that triumphed in France today can triumph in Britain too.

Together we can change Britain’s future, stand up to Theresa May’s hard Brexit agenda and keep our country open, tolerant and united.

Ambafrance has an English translation of Macron’s victory speech. Here’s an extract.

Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged , , and | 9 Comments

What would you do if you were Mayor of Nice?

Nice is still in shock. It’s just about a month and a half since the appalling attack which killed 84 people. That sort of carnage happening on your doorstep takes some getting over. People experience a huge range of emotions from anger to fear. What should the authorities be doing to help people through this time?

They should be reassuring people. They should be helping the whole community stand together in solidarity.

Instead, their headline response has been to pick on innocent women because of their attire on a beach. I have rarely been more annoyed by anything than the sight of a sleeping woman on a beach being surrounded by armed police and being forced to remove clothing. All this in the name of protecting women from oppression. I’m not quite sure how that works as a logical explanation.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 21 Comments

Political disconnect in Calais and Dunkirk

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 10.30.54It is not surprising that media reports focus on the appalling conditions in the Calais and Dunkirk camps. On a recent trip Lord Roberts’ team saw for themselves how men, women and children live in knee-high mud, and brave the winter weather with little more than flimsy tents to keep the wind and rain at bay. In response to accusations that the British government are neglecting their humanitarian responsibilities, the Prime Minister champions the fact that under the Dublin Regulations, the UK has to allow family members of British people to claim asylum in the UK.

Despite the Dublin Regulations, the reality is that virtually no one can access this legal route. Many asylum seekers do not fully understand the unnecessarily complex system, and are unaware of exactly what their rights are; there are even reports of British passport holders unable to enter the UK from the camps. Despite government claims that British officials are present in the camp, these visits are occasional at best and offer no means of beginning an asylum claim. So although many asylum seekers in Calais and Dunkirk (as well as across Europe) have a legitimate legal right to claim asylum in the UK, it is incredibly difficult to access in practice. 

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 2 Comments

Charlie Hebdo – in sympathy and solidarity

The news from Paris today is deeply shocking. There are twelve people who are reported dead and four reported injured by the attack at the offices of satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. Four cartoonists and the editor-in-chief of the magazine are reported to be among the dead. We express our sincere sympathy to those who have lost loved ones and those affected by the tragedy. We also express our solidarity with the French people and Charlie Hebdo magazine in standing for free speech and against such mindless acts.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 29 Comments

Opinion: Where now on Electoral Reform? (France!)

Electoral reform is off the public agenda for now whether we like it or not, but campaigners should be planning the future.

Some argue that the deceptions of the “No” campaign means that a re-run could be won if only the honest arguments are put and/or full PR was offered. But idea that we should have “another go” at similar arguments for AV+ or STV and expect a different outcome is wrong. All the arguments against AV are even stronger so for AV+ and STV. They will be defeated by an alliance of Tory and Labour tribalists, just as AV and House of Lords reform were.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 70 Comments

Avant le déluge: If you want to follow the French presidential elections…

The UK is approximately 3687 miles from the United States of America, and separated by an ocean. The UK is approximately 22 miles away from France, and separated by a channel.

Yet there has already been more coverage expended on the race for the Republican nomination than there has been on the battle to become President of France. The White House trumps the Élysée Palace every time in the mind of the media even though France is closer and the result is more likely to impact directly on the UK.

However, …

Posted in Europe / International | Also tagged , , and | 7 Comments

Opinion: The French battle for London

The forthcoming Mayoral election is certainly the contest that London is currently focusing on; however, scratch beneath the surface and there is a quiet but equally fiercely fought election taking place. June sees the French Parliamentary Elections which for the first time include eleven overseas parliamentary seats; the 3rd constituency is a whopping 1.5 million square miles area, from Greenland to Lithuania, encompassing every Nordic & Baltic countries, Ireland and the UK. London is however where most of the French expats in this constituency reside and therefore the epicentre of this election.

I am standing for the Mouvement Democratique (MoDem) Party, …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 8 Comments

Spain turns to the right – but are the voters rejecting ‘the left’ or incumbents?

As the polls had predicted, Spain has a new government: Rajoy’s right-wing Partido Popular (PP) defeated Zapatero’s left-of-centre Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE). The only surprise was the large margin of victory, 16%, the worst defeat for Spain’s socialists in their electoral history.

So yet another right-wing government takes power in a European nation. On the face of it, it seems almost perverse that at a time when confidence in the deregulated capitalist system associated with the right is at its lowest ebb that those parties which champion it are winning elections. As I noted here on LibDemVoice back in …

Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged , , , , and | 9 Comments

How awful do events have to be in a country before they get attention?

Here’s a simple question: how bad do events have to get in a country before it appears on the mainstream political agenda in this country?

Is having the UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimate that up to half a million people have had to flee their homes as a result of violence enough?

Or is having the UN High Commissioner for Refugees double its estimate in the last few days to a million people having fled (out of a population of 22 million)?

Or is having credible reports of sexual violence, summary execution and people being burnt alive?

Or is the UN saying 400 people …

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 22 Comments

Opinion: Burqa ban splits the liberal minded

As a long time liberal, I was shocked, but perhaps not surprised, when I listened to the Today programme on my iPlayer earlier this week (I’m spending the summer in the US), and heard that the French parliament had voted to support legislation that would outlaw the wearing of the burqa and niqab in public places, including on the street, in France. Yet, many of my liberally-minded friends (well Liberal Democrat and Labour members) on Facebook were celebrating this action.

I know why people would argue that this is a positive action. As a young graduate, I started my first …

Posted in Op-eds | 56 Comments

Daily View 2×2: 14 March – featuring exciting bollards and Mandelson saying “Vote Lib Dem”

It’s Sunday. It’s 9am. It’s time for photographs of bollards, but first the news.

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Here are two posts that have caught the eye from the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator:

Spotted any other great posts in the last day from blogs that aren’t on the aggregator? Do post up a comment sharing them with us all.

2 Big Stories

Sarkozy faces heavy loss in French regional poll

Posted in Daily View | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

Opinion: Another Greek tragedy? Time for Europhiles to admit the dream is over

In case you wouldn’t have noticed, another crisis has come on top of the big one.

For those who understand French, read carefully this article in the March 5 edition of French daily “Le Monde” . A former German finance vice-minister buries the euro as it is now and advises all Southern-Europe economies (including France) to get out of the Eurozone if they don’t clean up their act, behave more like Germany and adopt many unacceptable social measures. Some German backbenchers have suggested these might include selling off some islands (who would buy these? You guess).

That doesn’t yet …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 56 Comments

The Saturday debate: Burkas – to ban or not to ban?

Here’s your starter for ten for our Saturday slot posing a view for debate:

Although it is estimated that no more than 2,000 people in France wear a burka, it has become a hot topic of political debate:

A parliamentary commission proposed a ban on the garment in all public services facilities, including transport.

The commission’s report stops short of recommending a complete public ban on the head-to-toe covering, which conceals the face, wanted by many politicians. Instead, it calls for those wearing the garment to be denied access to hospitals, buses, welfare offices and all other public facilities. (FT)

As the

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 51 Comments

Opinion: Once again, the French show a little bit more imagination…

The reduction in VAT from 17.5% to 15% quickly condemned and rightly so, by Vince Cable, as expensive and ineffective is one of this government’s more costly errors. The one year only cut will cost us the incredible sum of £12.5 billion pounds and has done little to stimulate consumer spending, simply because despite the enormous cost it still seems so meaningless at the till.

Indeed, it may will come with a sting in the tail, as when it comes to an end and VAT goes back to 17.5% it will come with a sharp inflationary jolt which may well trim back some of those ‘green shoots’ that Labour will being telling us about this winter.

The French, as usual, have shown a little bit more imagination.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 4 Comments

Scientology goes on trial in France

From France 24:

A high profile trial against the Church of Scientology opens in Paris Monday amid questions about whether the latest legal battle could threaten Scientology’s operations in France.

This time, the organisation faces a fine of up to 5 million euros and even the prospect of dissolution.

The latest case centres on a complaint made by a 43-year-old Parisian woman, who claims the organisation persuaded her to spend at least 20,000 euros for various fraudulent cases including medication for “self-purification”, books and an “electrometer”, a device used to measure galvanic skin response in patients…

The Church of Scientology says money can

Posted in News | Also tagged | 21 Comments

PMQs: France rejoining NATO

The mood at PMQs today was subdued owing to both the killings in Northern Ireland and the recently bereaved Cameron’s return to the fray. No economic points were touched on by Clegg or Cameron, and even the incendiary subject of Binyam Mohammed’s torture allegations was discussed at speaking volume.

The mood was such that Clegg was able to ask quite a nuanced question about France’s re-entry into NATO and what possibilities for co-operation in Afghanistan it might result in. It was all so grown up that poor Tom Harris was really rather bored.

Now,

Posted in Parliament and PMQs | 6 Comments
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  • User AvatarMalcolm Todd 24th Oct - 1:07am
    Peter Martin Yes, you should stick to this sort of thing rather than peddling Europhobe myths! Because I'm afraid you're right about EZ governance, and...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 23rd Oct - 11:45pm
    Agree with the really useful press info we see here now, a welcome move,yet the party must not be so overtly dramatic only on Brexit,...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 23rd Oct - 11:01pm
    'it’s not a “so-called People’s Vote”.' Wasn't there, going back a few months, a Lib Dem directive that its shouldn't be referred to as a...
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    The Tories did not have any debates as far as I could see. Just speeches by "important people". And Labour seemed to be back to...
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    Uncertainty kills economies and even after Brexit day the uncertainty will continue nay it will increase. Brexit needs to be stopped because if it isn't...
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    I hope we will move forward on the 'supporter' details via webinars and surveys - and agree as much as possible within those. Please bring...