Tag Archives: gavin esler

Gavin Esler and Dominic Grieve at Unlock Democracy AGM

Unlock Democracy is an organisation which has many of the same aims on reforming our political system as we do. In fact there are some familiar faces in high positions in the organisation. Tom Brake, former Lib Dem MP for Carshalton and Wallington, is their Chief Executive and our former Director of Campaigns Shaun Roberts, is their Head of Campaigns and Digital.

Today they held their AGM which was opened with a session on the dire state of our democracy and the future of Britain with former Conservative MP Dominic Grieve and former BBC journalist Gavin Esler. IF you take nothing else away from this article, remember this from Dominic Grieve:

Lib Dems were an important moderating factor during the coalition. Civil servants were saying that this was the first time in years there had been evidence based decision making.

In his opening remarks, Dominic Grieve concentrated on how we had got to the mess we are in, saying that the fundamental irrationality of current state of politics is depressing.

In his day, he said, the Conservatives used to anchor on principles of rationality but have abandoned that over the past 6 years, leading to Liz Truss fantasy economics.

He looked back over the past three decades and argued that when things have gone wrong it’s when politicians have done things which in hindsight look irrational

Thatcher started to undermine our role in EU and opened door to brexiteers to persuade us to vote to leave – a massively irrational decision.

He said that the SNP’s commitment to independence is similarly irrational and will not deliver what they aim for.

Politicians, society, media engage in displacement activity rather than tackle the real issues. Neither Government nor opposition can properly articulate the underlying problems that need to be fixed, crucially around the mess of Brexit.

He now favours PR, but says that electoral reform needs a culture change. People accept that politics is about compromise and adjustment rather than delivering set out programmes

He concluded that the current situation is making us poorer, threatening our future and our ability to influence the world in a positive way

Gavin Esler broadly agreed with this analysis. He compared UK failure to face up to Brexit by using distraction to Trumpism.

He looked at how clearly incapable people thrived in our system How do you get to be Gavin Williamson, forced to resign by 3 Prime ministers in 4 years.

He quoted our Layla Moran, saying that Williamson was the 80th minister to resign or be sacked in 2022 and if this was a school it would be in special measures.

He argued for systemic change to stop the situation where in his home county of Kent it takes 33,000 votes to get a Conservative MP, and 250,000 to get a Labour one.

They were asked how to bring about change.

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

Midge Ure talks about the impact of Brexit on British creative industries

Embed from Getty Images

We were promised a real treat yesterday evening.

Those of us who remember the 80s will know that Midge Ure was the lead singer of Ultravox. Significantly he was also one of the organisers of Band Aid and Live Aid, as well as co-writer of Do they know it’s Christmas. And here he was ‘in conversation’ with the BBC’s Gavin Esler and Lib Dem peer Paul Strasburger at our own Conference.

Of course, he had an axe to grind. If you think Covid-19 has damaged the music industry – and that is certainly true –  it is also reeling from the impact of Brexit. Back in January LDV highlighted the Lib Dem campaign about the huge bureaucracy that will make it difficult, if not impossible, for British musicians to tour and perform across Europe.

Gavin Esler began by stating that the creative industries in the UK are admired across the world – “they are the UK’s soft power”.

All three speakers were keen to explain that the post-Brexit issues not only affect music, across all genres, but also theatre, dance and even trade shows. Touring is the lifeblood of many of the performing arts; and for musicians it is often the best or only way to generate an income, now that streaming has substantially reduced income from recordings. And it doesn’t just impact on the performers but also on the livelihoods of all the support staff.

The difficulties seem to coalesce around two main problems. The first is trucking. Performances given in Europe by orchestras or well-established theatre companies, or by bands playing to large venues, need to move their equipment, instruments, sets, lighting and sound systems in trucks. Under the Brexit deal the trucks are only allowed to do two drops before returning to the UK.  Of course, very many tours will go to more than two venues – indeed they need to do so to be profitable. On top of that a huge amount of documentation is required, listing every item carried by the trucks.

A couple of years ago I was chatting with the Transport Manager for one of the major orchestras in the UK, and was astonished (though I shouldn’t have been) at the complexity of organising a tour across several countries with 50+ musicians plus other staff. One of his aims was to reduce the stress on the artists, so they could perform well. The logistics were challenging then – now they would be almost impossible.

The second problem is obtaining the temporary work visas required by at least 10 European countries for everyone in the entourage – performers, sound engineers, roadies etc. This is a bureaucratic nightmare.

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