Tag Archives: northern ireland

Tom Arms’ World Review

China

We will probably never know the reason for the removal of Hu Jintao from the recent Chinese People’s Party Congress. Was it the result of the medical problems of a confused old man? Or was it a crude attempt by Xi Jinping to emphasise that he is now totally in charge?

79-year-old Hu was Xi’s immediate predecessor. His administration was known for corruption, market reforms and greater political freedom; all of which are being suppressed by Xi. There must have been some discomfort among the party grandees about Xi amending the constitution to allow himself to serve a third (and probably fourth, fifth…) term as party leader and president.

Publicly humiliating Hu could have been his way of warning off potential critics. There aren’t many left in the upper reaches of the Chinese Communist Party. Xi has used the party congress to eliminate rivals and confirm acolytes. Good for Xi but bad for the world. Having the world’s most powerful dictator surrounded by Yes Men is not good news.

Franco-German Alliance

The Franco-German Alliance has been at the heart of peace in Europe since 1962 when Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle buried a century of brutal animosity in a service at Reims Cathedral.  But what has been termed the “engine room of the EU” is now showing signs of stalling in the face of the energy crisis, the Ukraine War and relations with America.

French President Emmanuel Macron is pushing for an EU-wide agreement to cap gas prices and share resources. Such a move was approved in principle at a recent EU summit but Germany’s Olof Scholz is dragging German feet on agreeing the details. At the same time, the Germans have been using their buying power to secure gas supplies at the expense of less well-off EU members. So far the Germans have filled about 90 percent of their storage capacity while countries such as Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic are struggling.

There are also differences over defense and how military and economic aid should be directed towards Ukraine. The Germans are keen to use Ukraine to tie Washington closer to the defense of Europe. France sees the war as an opportunity to increase European defense cooperation and are angry at the Germans’ cancellation of Franco-German projects involving a new generation of fighter aircraft and battle tanks. Scholz and Macron were keen to smile for the cameras and minimise their differences at their most recent meeting, but they also postponed a 26 October regular Franco-German ministerial conference until “sometime in January.”

US and Ukraine

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

Carmichael: Threat to leave ECHR risks breaking Good Friday Agreement

Writing in The House yesterday, Alistair Carmichael, Lib Dem Home Affairs and Northern Ireland spokesperson, said:

In less than 24 hours Boris Johnson has gone from pretending to be a defender of the Good Friday Agreement, to threatening to remove the legal underpinnings of peace in Northern Ireland altogether.

Carmichael’s comment came as the prime minister and ministers dropped heavy hints that if the law were to get in the way of Rwanda deportation flights, the government could withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The Good Friday Agreement expressly requires the United Kingdom to have the Convention directly enforceable in Northern Ireland.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 3 Comments

Tom Arms’ World Review

The Irish question has bedevilled British, European and American politics since… well, forever. It played a role in the Council of Whitby in 664. In 1169 England’s Norman rulers invaded and started centuries of direct conflict.

All this was supposed to end with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. Well two events this week have brought it back from a shallow grave: The emergence of Sinn Fein as the largest party on both sides of the border and British refusal to accept the Northern Ireland protocol. The two political incidents have also brought the possibility of a united Ireland a giant step closer. Sinn Fein is totally committed to a referendum in the north on a united Ireland. The long-term stranglehold of the Protestants on the politics of the six northern counties has been a major stumbling block. That has ended.

The Northern Ireland Protocol is also pushing the two halves together. It has tied Northern Ireland economically to the EU and the southern part of the island and weakened trading ties with Britain. The Protestants are, of course, opposed to the protocol. The conservative Boris Johnson government is trying to reverse it because of their traditional links to Protestant parties and commitment to a divided island.  But the Protestant establishment – in the form of the Democratic Unionist Party – is no longer in the majority. And the majority of Northern Irish voters see their future in Europe and that means linked with the Republic of Ireland. But they still have to contend with die-hard Protestants, who, if they cannot win at the ballot box, could easily turn to the terrorist tactics of their IRA counterparts.

Britain was the driving force behind the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in 1949. It pushed for the alliance to quickly admit former Warsaw Pact members in the 1990s and has taken the lead in arming Ukraine. This week British PM Boris Johnson was in Sweden and Finland to sign “mutual assistance” treaties with Sweden and Finland. The three countries are now pledged to come to each other’s aid in the event of a crisis. The treaties are a symbolic first step towards full-fledged Swedish and Finnish membership of NATO which is expected to be finalised at next month’s heads of government summit.

Vladimir Putin is furious and has promised retaliation. NATO expansion, Putin has repeatedly asserted, is one of the main reasons for his invasion of Ukraine.  But for Sweden and Finland, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is THE reason for their decision to end 200 years of neutrality for the Swedes and 67 years for the Finns.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 9 Comments

Tom Arms’ World Review

Elon Musk is a brilliant entrepreneur and the world’s richest man. He also has a gargantuan ego, mercurial personality and thinks big. Tesla was developed to create a carbon-free planet. Space X is designed to give humanity a Martian bolthole in case we fail on Earth. His takeover of Twitter is, in his words, the result of a “strong intuitive sense that having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important for the future of civilisation.”

Musk is a free speech absolutist. He is opposed to Twitter’s banning of Donald Trump but would be likely to countenance suspension. This brings the mercurial Musk into conflict with most of the EU governments, Britain and India. They have either introduced or are planning legislation to force social media to police their sites to prevent hate speech, conspiracy theories and outright lies such as Trump’s claim that he won the 2020 presidential election.  How this will resolve itself will be watched very carefully by all the other social media players because, based on past performance, Musk is not the sort of person to quietly accept government interference.

With the French presidential elections and the war of Ukraine grabbing the headlines you might have missed an important election result in the Balkan state of Slovenia. It was billed as a “referendum on democracy” and democracy won. On one side of the political ring was incumbent Prime Minister Janez Jansa. He is a Trump-loving ally of Hungary’s right-wing populist leader Viktor Orban. According to Freedom House his latest two-year tenure (he had been elected PM twice before), has been marked by Slovenia suffering the sharpest decline in Democratic institutions and values of any country in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Jansa repeatedly attacked the judiciary and the media whom he called “liars” and “presstitutes”.

Facing Jansa was 55-year-old former Fulbright scholar Robert Golob.  He is businessman who created the state-owned energy company GEN-1 and has limited political experience as a city councillor and former State Secretary at the Ministry of Economics. In January he created the Freedom Party to contest the April elections. The result was a resounding victory. The Freedom Party won 34.5 percent of the vote compared to 23.6 percent for Jansa’s Slovenian Democratic Party. The turnout was also encouraging. 71 percent of Slovenia’s 1.7m voters cast their ballots compared to 51 percent in elections two years ago. The increase in voter turnout has been attributed to Golob persuading young people to vote – a possible lesson for other politicians seeking to remove far right populists from elected office.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 13 Comments

World Review: Biden bombing, lawyers circle Trump, trade deals, vaccination and Suma

In this weekend’s review, Tom Arms looks at the dilemmas that faced Joe Biden as he ordered an attack on pro-Iranian militia in Iraq. In another dilemma, Biden could hold up any talk of a UK-US trade deal if he thinks that the Good Friday Agreement is threatened or damaged by Boris Johnson’s tactics on Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, prosecutors are getting closer to Donald Trump. The charging of a Trump Organisation employee could provide more information about Trump’s financial dealing. The organisations’ assets will also be frozen and banks are likely to call in their loans. former South African President Jacob Zuma has been jailed for contempt of court. And Israel is providing an object lesson in Covid complacency.

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

Tom Arms World Review – 11 April 2021

Northern Ireland was a key part of Britain’s Brexit referendum. Remainers claimed that withdrawal from the EU risked undermining the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and a return to The Troubles which raged through the province for 30 years. “Fear Factor” retorted the Brexiteers. “It won’t happen.” But after a week of sectarian violence it looks as if there was something to fear. The Troubles began in 1968 because the Protestant-controlled Stormont government insisted on anti-Catholic legislation. The Catholics saw their only hope in unification with the Republic of Ireland in the South. The Good Friday Agreement kept the dream alive for the Catholics and kicked it into the long grass for the Protestants. The north/south border was to stay open. Why not? Both countries were members of the EU. The aspiration of Irish unification was allowed to remain on the table, but no date or form was agreed. Perhaps the two EU members would gradually move towards some sort of federation under the auspices of an overarching European Union. After all, the EU was a guarantor of the peace along with the US, Britain and Ireland. Then came Boris Johnson’s easy-peasy-oven-ready-you-can-have-your-cake-and-eat-too deal. In a major concession to Brussels, Washington and Dublin, Johnson stabbed the Protestant Union Democratic Party in the back and agreed to keep open the north/south border and draw a new customs border down the Irish Sea, separating mainland Britain and Northern Ireland. This is the Northern Ireland Protocol. It immediately complicated trade between the Ulster provinces and Britain and it moved the aspiration of Irish unification from the long to the short grass. The result is that this time the Protestants are taking the lead in violence and they can be even more stubborn than and just as nasty as the IRA.

Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged , and | 92 Comments

Boris’s Brexit Deal – Dragging Business Backwards

The Liberal Democrats are committed to the inter-connectedness and prosperity of all peoples across our United Kingdom, which is why we were shocked and dismayed when a local businessperson contacted us to share their new experience of post-Brexit trading.

Not one of the fishing companies that seem to have stolen all the recent headlines, nor a company trying to send parcels to France or Italy. This is a company that only sells in the United Kingdom.

So what’s the problem?

Well, for over four decades this company has expanded throughout the United Kingdom. Since Brexit was implemented on 1st January, they have been hit with massive extra costs which will impact negatively on their customers.

But it’s the United Kingdom?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 14 Comments

Lib Dems pass motion calling for constitutional reform and a Federal UK

On Lib Dem Voice: Reportage | Contribute
On the official party website: Conference home


The UK is in danger, said Wendy Chamberlain in her proposing speech for today’s motion calling for a federal UK. We’ve already seen one union disintegrate on the basis of divisive nationalism, she said, and we need a liberal offer to fix the union and give power back not just to state governments but to communities. The motion was about building a collaborative, constructive and consultative relationships between the nations of the UK and we will end the current structural inequalities of the Union.

Federalism has been a key part of our constitutional reform plans for as long as I have been involved in the party, but we haven’t been very good at showing how this would work in practice.

One of the biggest issues has been about how England would fit into a federal structure. The motion before Conference didn’t address this and it led to calls for it to be referred back for that to be resolved. They certainly do need to be resolved and the people who raised concerns were justified in doing so. The issue is that time is not on our side. WIth elections in Scotland and Wales less than 8 months away, we have to have something to counter the pro-independence argument.

In the end, Conference chose to pass the motion today by an overwhelming majority of 681-96 on the understanding that the Federal Policy Committee does the work on sorting out how this would work for England.

It was a very good debate, but only two women were called. Session Chair Geoff Payne said that reflected the balance of the cards submitted. So what is it about constitutional issues that causes that sort of imbalance and how do we talk about them in a more inclusive way?

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 17 Comments

Observations of an expat: Rogue Britain

Embed from Getty Images

Britain is becoming a rogue state. In fact, it may already be one. The Johnson government’s threat to jettison the EU Withdrawal Bill negotiated last year and an alarming philosophy of “creative destruction” threatens to leave the UK dangerously isolated on the world stage.

This is bad for Britain and bad for the world.

The UK is one of the chief pillars of the post-war rule of international law which has underwritten the world’s longest period of relative peace and prosperity. Without these legal structures dictators are emboldened to embark without fear of serious reprisal on genocide, murder of political opponents, theft and even war.

The specific issue at stake is Boris Johnson’s Internal Market Bill which will be debated in Parliament on Monday.  Under the terms of the EU Withdrawal Bill which Johnson negotiated a year ago, there would be pretty much an open border between Northern Ireland and Eire, with a de facto customs border in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

The terms were unpopular and a major British concession a year ago. But they were agreed and became a legally-binding building block on which to construct a UK-EU trade deal. Talks for that deal are now deadlocked over fishing rights, legal jurisdiction and competition rules; and Boris fans say that the only way to overcome the impasse is by threatening to break the previous agreement.

The government is fully aware of that such a move is a breach of international law. Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis admitted as much. It was confirmed by the protest resignation of Sir Jonathan Jones, the government’s top legal adviser. But they don’t care. Boris Johnson is fixated on British withdrawal from the European Union on his terms. This blinkered policy put him in 10 Downing Street and he is quite happy to sacrifice the rule of law to protect his political legacy and emerging brand of radical conservatism.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 44 Comments

20 May 2020 – today’s press releases (part 1)

So many press re;leases today…

  • Lib Dems announce digital conference and fresh timetable to elect next leader
  • Govt must drop ‘dog ate my homework’ approach to Prevent review
  • PM backs Lib Dem calls for COVID hero honours round
  • Govt has no answers for Brexit border issues for Northern Ireland

Lib Dems announce digital conference and fresh timetable to elect next leader

The Liberal Democrats have announced a fresh leadership election timetable and plans to hold an online Autumn Conference – the first for any major political party – in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

At a meeting of the party’s Federal Board last night, the party agreed to holding their leadership election from June through to August. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the contest will make use of online hustings and online voting.

President of the Liberal Democrats Mark Pack, who chairs the Federal Board, also confirmed the Liberal Democrats decision to hold a digital conference in the Autumn follows “careful consideration of the latest expert advice.”

Liberal Democrat Party President Mark Pack said:

Following careful consideration of the latest public health advice concerning the coronavirus pandemic, the Liberal Democrats are planning to run the biggest online conference in British politics.

Conference plays a key role in our democratic party as well as being an important training and information exchange event. I am therefore pleased we will host an online alternative, the first for any major political party.

Posted in News and Press releases | Also tagged , , , , , , , and | 4 Comments

14 May 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Aerospace industry needs support to avoid mass redundancies in Wales
  • Govt misled businesses over post-Brexit customs checks
  • Lib Dems oppose Govt’s Immigration Bill
  • EU Commission launch legal action against UK government’s failings over citizens’ rights
  • Govt must continue to help businesses and families

Aerospace industry needs support to avoid mass redundancies in Wales

A dire assessment of the aerospace industry’s current situation by Aerospace Wales Chief Executive John Whalley has prompted the Welsh Liberal Democrats to call for the Welsh Government to give the industry a much-needed financial lifeline.

Aerospace Wales is the umbrella organisation which represent aerospace companies in Wales. Collectively it employs around 21,000 people, …

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

9 December 2019 – today’s press releases

Apologies to our regular readers for the temporary disappearance of this regular feature – I was away and had some surprisingly poor internet access. Anyway, on with the show…

  • Liberal Democrats set out ambitious spending plans to tackle the climate emergency
  • Lib Dems: Brexit leak on Northern Ireland checks shows Johnson is lying to the public
  • Lib Dems: Johnson refusing to look at picture of sick child shows mask has slipped
  • Question Time debate shows Jo Swinson is a next generation leader

Liberal Democrats set out ambitious spending plans to tackle the climate emergency

The Liberal Democrats have …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 3 Comments

8 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems: If the PM thinks NI deal is so good – why doesn’t the rest of the UK have it?
  • Lib Dems: BBC now complicit in establishment stitch-up to exclude Remain voice

Lib Dems: If the PM thinks NI deal is so good – why doesn’t the rest of the UK have it?

Responding to comments made by Boris Johnson that Northern Ireland has got a great deal by keeping access to the Single Market and free movement, Liberal Democrat Shadow Brexit Secretary Tom Brake said:

The Single Market and freedom of movement are a great deal – even Boris Johnson

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 4 Comments

Sign Sheila’s petition on Northern Ireland and Brexit

The UK Government must not risk a return to ‘the Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. That’s what’s inspired Sheila Ritchie, our Lib Dem MEP for Scotland to launch a UK Parliamentary petition calling on the Government not to impose any additional border restrictions between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Ms Ritchie’s petition comes as the Good Friday Agreement approaches the 20th anniversary of it taking effect and is sponsored by fellow Liberal Democrat MEPs.

Sheila Ritchie said:

For almost 20 years now, the Good Friday Agreement has kept the peace between communities. 

Freedom to move across the Irish border without restrictions has been a key contributor to this peace and should not be up for negotiation simply for Boris Johnson’s political convenience.

The UK Government must not threaten this agreement, or risk a return to ‘the Troubles’, by imposing any additional border restrictions between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The petition says:

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

The Government’s Brexit plan is dangerous for Ireland

The wheeze the Johnson government has come up with to salvage the “complete UK exit from the EU Customs Union”, having customs controls on companies’ premises, may look clever.  But in a Northern Ireland with every so often bomb and mortar attacks by dissident, extremist Republican outfits like the “Continuity IRA {CIRA}” and/or “Real IRA {RIRA}”on policemen doing their job (or standing at a petrol station in a street), it carries obvious and serious risks, dangers. 

And trying to reconvene the Northern Ireland Assembly, where DUP and Sinn Féin deeply distrust each other about things like green energy projects and use of the Irish language, to have them decide by any procedure about starting, continuing or stopping Johnson’s border policies, where Republicans suspect the DUP could get an advantage or veto, only increases the provocation to dissident Republicans; and could increase their support base.

The first and obvious danger is that, as the Real IRA has already attacked the homes and cars of Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers (as happened on 21 February 2017 so the homes and vehicles of HMCE officers also could be attacked. And that also increases the risk that neighbours and shops near such homes get hurt, are damaged; even more homes and shops are at risk as a result.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 46 Comments

Learn about Northern Ireland’s only Liberal MP – event tomorrow in Belfast

A book has just been published by the Ulster Historical Federation telling the story of Sheelagh Murnaghan, Ireland’s only Liberal MP.

‘In Northern Ireland politics, I don’t know which is the greatest obstacle: to be a WOMAN, a CATHOLIC or a LIBERAL. I am all three.’

Sheelagh Murnaghan was a remarkable person. She was the first female barrister to practise in Northern Ireland; a talented sportswoman who played hockey for Ulster and Ireland; the only Liberal Party MP 1961-9) in the 50-year history of the Northern Ireland Parliament.

In a country riven by sectarianism, she was consistently a voice of reason and humanity, endlessly challenging the widely-held assumption that it was normal and right to ‘look after one’s own people’ and ‘do down the other side’. A patriot in the most genuine meaning of the word she tried to save her country from its demons. Her efforts were spurned and Northern Ireland paid a terrible price for that rejection.

However, time would prove Sheelagh to be right, as a torchbearer for human rights, non-violence and respect for the dignity of others, she proved herself to be decades ahead of other politicians and political parties, as many of her original ideas have come to be enshrined in law in Northern Ireland.

I know that this is very late notice, but if any of you find yourselves in Belfast at a loose end tomorrow, there will be a talk on Sheelagh’s life between 1 and 2 pm. The details are here.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 7 Comments

3 October 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Jane Dodds: Politicians must right WASPI Injustice
  • Jane Dodds: Irish border plan designed to fail

Jane Dodds: Politicians must right WASPI Injustice

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds has responded to the WASPI campaign’s defeat in the High Court, claiming it is the responsibility of politicians to right the injustice suffered by WASPI Women.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MP commented:

This ruling will undoubtedly be disappointing for all those women affected. Women who have campaigned tirelessly to reverse the unfair change to their pensions. My thoughts are with all these women today.

This ruling must remind us politicians that it is our responsibility to

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 5 Comments

The speeches that got away: Any form of Brexit would damage Ireland, north and south

“With the benefit of historical hindsight we can all see things which we would wish had been done differently or not at all.”

With that carefully crafted phrase in Dublin in 2011 the Queen set the seal on the unprecedented rapprochement between the UK and Ireland embodied in the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) of 1998. In 30 years of violence over 3000 people perished, many of whom, to use one of the clumsy phrases from our hapless Prime Minister, “died in a ditch”.

A good friend of mine died in a ditch.

The GFA guaranteed Northern Ireland’s place in the UK unless its people by majority decide otherwise. The quid pro quo was absolute equality for all in the North and all-island co-operation to the maximum degree achievable without breaking that constitutional guarantee. This goes far beyond an open border for goods and people. The process is still going on as we speak.

Before David Cameron offered the people of the UK the unilateral right to leave the EU if a majority so wished, he did nothing to consult the government or people of Ireland. Is this not one of her Majesty’s “things we would wish had been done differently”?

And make no mistake – EU membership and the GFA are interlinked. One of the sections of the GFA speaks of “close co-operation between the countries as friendly neighbours and partners in the European Union.” A clause in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 implementing the GFA even outlaws any act or legislation by the Stormont Assembly which conflicts with any EU rule. So this talk of the GFA and EU membership being two separate issues is yet another of so many lies.

While the famous backstop is better than nothing and would be welcomed by virtually all businesses in Northern Ireland the truth is that any form of brexit would seriously damage Ireland North and South. That is one of the reasons why on reflection I support the motion before us now. We must constantly make it clear that

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 3 Comments

Jo Swinson visits Irish Border

Back in 2017, LDV held a fringe meeting at the Bournemouth Conference where we talked about the areas that could be most harmed by Brexit – the Irish Border and Gibraltar. We heard that the manufacturing process for some products could involve crossing that border five times. You can just imagine the chaos Brexit brings to that process.

Today, Jo Swinson, who has barely had a break since being elected leader 3 weeks ago, headed to the Irish Border to hear from the people who would be amongst the worst affected by any Brexit.

She went one better than Boris Johnson who has never bothered himself to actually go and find out what havoc he is so cavalier about wreaking. Here is the interview she gave to BBC News.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 9 Comments

9 July 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Labour are still a party of Brexit
  • Prisons inspector reveals Tory neglect
  • Northern Ireland votes mark historic step towards equality
  • Cable: We must continue the fight to stop no deal

Labour are still a party of Brexit

Responding to the reports that Jeremy Corbyn has finally agreed that the next PM must put their Brexit deal or a no deal exit to a People’s Vote, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

Labour are still a party of Brexit.

Jeremy Corbyn can pretend all he likes that the Labour Party are finally moving towards backing the Liberal Democrat policy of a People’s Vote, but it is clear

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , , , and | 5 Comments

Many congratulations to Naomi Long and the Alliance party in Northern Ireland – elected by STV!


Many congratulations to Naomi Long on a stunning win in Northern Ireland for our sister party, the Alliance. Naomi, who is the leader of the Alliance party, a former MP and Lord Mayor of Belfast, becomes the Alliance party’s first MEP.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 7 Comments

17 May 2019 – the overnight press release

Lib Dems demand same-sex marriage for Northern Ireland on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

Today on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, Liberal Democrats have demanded that the Government legislate for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

Responding to reports that the Conservative Government, propped up by the anti-equal marriage party the DUP, is considering legislating to allow longer licensing hours for the Open Golf Championship taking place in Northern Ireland this July, Alistair Carmichael said:

It is ridiculous that the Conservatives would even consider legislating for the British Open to have slightly longer licensing hours while they are

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

The Brexit Myth

The recent success of the Liberal Democrats at the 2019 Local Elections is something which, undoubtedly, has brought a great amount of joy to all of us who have weathered this five year storm. However, a narrative has already taken shape, one that threatens future momentum and growth – that this is attributable only to Brexit and Brexit related issues. This is a reading that is surface level. A little thought and a cursory digging dispels this myth.

First of all, we must look at who benefited most from the Conservative and Labour defeat. Of course, at a gain of 704 we have come first, with independents taking second, Greens third, and Residents Associations taking fourth, with smaller parties making up the rest. This break down is important. Surely, if this was an affect only of a Brexit backlash then RA’s would not have done as well? Indeed, the SDP came second in the wards they ran in, and independents fly under a myriad of different banners. Even the Brexit supporting Liberal Party gained a councillor in Liverpool and regained prominence on Pickering Town Council. The question, then, is this – what do these groups have in common? The trend seems to be one of a yearning for community, with each grouping possessing a strong communitarian streak. The Liberal Democrats were the forerunners of community politics, independent candidates tend toward community issues, and RA’s are based in this kind of thought. The SDP also describe themselves as “nation state communitarians”.

The second important indicator is the local election results in Northern Ireland, with the performance of the non-sectarian Alliance and Green parties. Though the DUP and Sinn Fein still retained the majority of councillors, both experienced a drop in seat share. The UUP experienced a drop that was more akin to the Tories, with Alliance being the main beneficiary. That non-sectarian parties are finally expanding their influence on the local level, even if the hegemony has not been broken, is indicative of the same trend seen in England – people are looking for community-centric alternatives who act in the interests of all who are living in the immediate area.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 18 Comments

19 April 2019 – today’s press releases

Lib Dems: We must reject violence in Northern Ireland

Responding to reports that journalist Lyra McKee has been killed during violence in Londonderry, Liberal Democrat Northern Ireland spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

I never met Lyra McKee but by all accounts she was a young woman of great talent, courage and humanity. These are all talents that we need now more than ever so we should all mourn her passing.

My condolences go to all her family and friends who are having to come to terms with their loss today. Unlike Lyra, those who bring violence to the streets of Northern Ireland have nothing

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

26 February 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems join Amnesty International UK in fight against NI abortion laws
  • Cable: Housebuilders must not pinch their profits from the public purse
  • PM in the process of creating a double cliff-edge
  • Govt’s no deal papers shows PM driving UK to a cliff edge
  • Labour fail to oppose Govt’s controversial knife crime orders

Lib Dems join Amnesty International UK in fight against NI abortion laws

Today, Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine will join women impacted by NI abortion law along with Amnesty International UK, other MPs, and other service providers and activists to hand in a petition to …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , , , , and | 25 Comments

4 February 2019 – today’s press releases

Welsh Liberal Democrats recommit to supporting children’s mental health and wellbeing

To mark the beginning of Children’s Mental Health Week (4th February – 10th February), the Welsh Liberal Democrats are recommitting to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of Wales’ children and young people.

The Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Minister has taken a number of steps intended to promote mental health and wellbeing in schools. This includes developing a whole-school approach to mental health, connecting schools with mental health expertise, and taking forward curriculum reform with a strong emphasis on mental health and wellbeing.

Jane Dodds, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, commented:

The

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

25 January 2019 – today’s press releases

Brake: Lavery’s comments show Labour figures still ignoring party members

Responding to Ian Lavery’s comments that a People’s Vote would be divisive, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

I am sure many Labour voters will see these comments by their Party Chair as the real divisiveness.

He side steps the fact that campaigning for a public vote is Labour policy after last year’s conference.

Labour can either join the Conservatives and push this deeply unpopular Brexit through, or act in the interests of the country and on the wishes of their supporters and join the Liberal Democrat campaign for a

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 1 Comment

31 December 2018 – 6 January 2019 – the week’s press releases

Right, the holiday season is over, and it’s back to something resembling normalcy tomorrow, what with Parliament resuming and all. So, here’s the press releases that you missed…

  • Govt must provide answers over forced marriage scandal
  • Javid comments on asylum seekers ‘completely unacceptable’
  • Corbyn cosies up to the Conservatives on Brexit
  • All Gove is offering farmers is uncertainty
  • Cable: PM’s publicity campaign is scaremongering
  • Cable: Govt must end brinkmanship over security in Northern Ireland
  • Lib Dems: Govt must follow airports and invest in drone protection

Govt must provide answers over forced marriage scandal

Liberal Democrats today condemned reports that the Government is charging victims of illegal forced marriages to …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , and | 7 Comments

14 November 2018 – today’s press releases

It’s been a long day today, with the last press release issued after 10 p.m….

  • Tories “unacceptably risky” on impact of Brexit food shortages
  • Number Ten bows to pressure on FOBT stakes
  • Failures on women’s health becoming the norm
  • DUP “punishment beating” comments unacceptable and dangerous
  • ‘No Brexit’ still a very real possibility
  • Country still none the wiser on PM’s blindfold Brexit
  • Brexit will rob UK of crucial cross-border crime-fighting tools

Tories “unacceptably risky” on impact of Brexit food shortages

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has warned the Tories are being “unacceptably risky” as a House of Commons committee finds that failures in preparing for Brexit mean food shortages …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , and | 2 Comments

26 October 2018 – today’s press releases

A very diverse range of press releases today, it must be said…

Universal Credit causing unacceptable hardship

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has slammed the Conservative Government for refusing to listen to problems experienced by those on Universal Credit as the Public Accounts Committee urges Ministers to make fundamental changes to the scheme.

The Public Accounts Committee has today (26th October) published its report into the implementation of Universal Credit. The committee concludes that:

  • The DWP’s dismissive attitude to real-world experience is failing claimants
  • The recent announcement of delayed roll-out is not a solution
  • The Government must work with third-party organisations to shape programme

Liberal Democrat MP …

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



Recent Comments

  • Charley HastedCharley Hasted
    @Fiona thanks for the constructive comments. I have to say I think there is a massive difference between a little inconvenience and some of what I'm talking abo...
  • Fiona
    Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are not No Traffic Neighbourhoods, so sensible design should allow those who need to drive to keep that option. Not only that, but wi...
  • Russell
    The Sunday Times reported BoE numbers of 80% Ukraine, 10% covid, 10% brexit. But don't forget that inflation (as reported) is prices movement over the previous ...
  • John Waller
    Tom, I always find your articles informative. My next and 8th book mentions the Corfu Channel Incident which is considered an early episode of the Cold War. Co...
  • Nonconformistradical
    "And what about all the Remainers who might now be thinking we have abdicated our responsibilities? We are in danger of appearing gutless and representing littl...