Tag Archives: politics home

LibLink: Vince Cable: May’s local elections should be about housing, social care and the environment. Not Brexit

In an article for Politics Home, Vince Cable sets out what should be the priorities for this year’s local elections:

The first is housing. The dearth of affordable housing for purchase or rent is an issue almost everywhere, and is felt by young people in particular. The depletion of the stock of council housing through ‘right to buy’ and the lack of social house building because of central government restrictions has contributed to extreme problems, including homelessness, at the bottom of the housing ladder. Yet good councils have used the planning system and their borrowing powers to get housing, especially social housing, built and have made sure that there is a safety net of hostel accommodation for the homeless (as I have recently seen in York, Watford and Somerset with Lib Dem-led councils).

A second is social care. It is now generally recognised that many of the pressures with in the NHS are caused by the inability of cash-strapped local councils to provide adequate social services support – through domiciliary care or residential homes – resulting in ‘delayed discharge’ (it used to be called ‘bed blocking’) for many sick and elderly people. The failure of central government to confront the social care issue is resulting in mounting problems, and local government is bearing much of the burden.

Thirdly, there is the environment. Those who are motivated by the big environmental issues of the day – climate change, plastics recycling and air quality – realise that local communities and individuals can and do make a contribution in either direction.  Environmentally aware local councils are rightly declaring climate emergencies; there is a race to install electric charging points for zero emission vehicles; and recycling rates and methods are under scrutiny.

But the b-word will get in the way – which will also be good for us.

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Lib Link: Shas Sheehan Government must defend DFID’s autonomy and expertise

Enshrining the 0.7% GDP for international aid provision in law was a brilliant Lib Dem achievement brought about by former Lib Dem Secretary of State Mike Moore.

Now it is coming under threat by Tories who have always opposed it. In an article for Politics Home, Lib Dem peer Shas Sheehan writes a blistering defence of it.

Enshrining in law the UK’s aid commitment was a hugely progressive step. But it has been haunted by years of attack from Conservative MPs such as former and current DFID Secretaries Priti Patel and Penny Mordaunt. The latest person to take aim at this life-saving budget is Boris Johnson.

Boris’ backing of the paper Global Britain: A Blueprint for the 21st Century is shameful. The paper calls for a severe, multi-billion-pound cut to UK’s Overseas Aid budget and closure of DFID. It shrugs off the fact that this budget has played a major role in the fight to eradicate poverty and promote sustainable development across the world. It dismisses the fact that it has helped to transform people’s lives and lift many out of inhumane conditions.

Far from positioning post-Brexit Britain as a global player regaining its place on the world stage, slashing the UK aid budget and threatening our place in the OECD’s forum of major international donors instead paints the UK as an inward-looking island no longer in step with the realities of the contemporary world. As Save the Children have said, the UK is an International Development superpower but these suggestions risk that. Brexit is already threatening our seat at the top table, we must not allow Conservative whims to threaten it further.

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LibLink: Tom Brake: Parliament must be recalled to introduce People’s Vote legislation

Tom Brake has called for Parliament to be recalled in the wake of Theresa May’s statement yesterday.

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, published on Politics Home, he argued that a People’s Vote was the only safe exit to the chaos over Brexit.

The purpose of recalling Parliament would be to enable the Liberal Democrats, other parties and Parliamentarians from across the House to work with you to ensure that legislation for a final say on the deal or People’s Vote is drawn up immediately. A People’s Vote could then be held before the European Elections in May.

With the EU and your own MPs lined up against Chequers, Chequers has no future. No Deal, which you persist, wrongly, in claiming is the only alternative that could be offered to Parliament will not command a majority in the Commons.  In these circumstances, a final say on the deal, so that people can choose between any deal the Government do eventually secure or staying in the EU is the only safe exit from the chaos the Conservative and other Brexit supporters have inflicted on the UK. Such a final say on the deal will of course require an extension to Article 50 so the legislation can be drafted, the question considered and the election conducted, but our EU partners have indicated an extension would be granted for this purpose.

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LibLink: William Wallace Aggressive language from political extremes and media will spark violence against MPs

Our William Wallace writes for Politics Home about the dangers of the language used in political discourse.

Almost at the same time, the Telegraph tweeted this:

Tom Brake was quick to call them out:

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LibLink: Sal Brinton; The NHS can’t work without a sustainable social care system

As the NHS turned 70 this week, Sal Brinton looked back at the development of social care policy and outlined the Government’s failings:

… since 2015, the new Conservative Government has dithered and delayed, repeatedly promising that they would sort out the social care funding problem.

We still await the Green Paper promised in the Conservative 2017 Manifesto – with a side skirmish of the Dementia Tax, a form of inverse Dilnot, which so outraged voters it was dropped mid election.

Councils have faced massive cuts to all services, including making £6bn savings in adult social care since 2010. They are still being

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LibLink: Robin Teverson: It is the fuel poor who are destined to feel the post Brexit chill

There are many ways in which Brexit will harm the poorest people in our society. The cost of heating their homes is one which Lib Dem Peer Robin Teverson highlighted in a article for Politics Home this week:

The good news is that excepting a major failure in replacing the Euratom regime that regulates our nuclear power sector, and if we manage to replicate Euratom’s nuclear cooperation agreements with our overseas nuclear equipment and fuel suppliers, Brexit blackouts are not the threat.

But even here there is little room for complacency. Our home-grown replacement for Euratom – the beefed-up Office for Nuclear

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LibLink: Liz Barker: We have a crisis in our charity sector

Writing for Politics Home about her Lords question on the issues facing charities at the moment, Liz Barker said that Oxfam did not deserve the “monitoring” it was getting at the moment as it had taken action to deal with the unacceptable and inexcusable behaviour of a small number of its members of staff.

The crisis to which she refers, though, isn’t the one you think.

She highlighted failings in the Charity Commission, most notably its senior people being too close to Government and without enough knowledge of the sector:

One might have expected the Charity Commission to know that a charity’s most valuable asset is its reputation and to understand that, whilst Oxfam reported that it was dealing with the matter, the organisation might have been advised by lawyers to keep public statements to a minimum. The events for which Oxfam is now being berated coincided with a period when the Charity Commission’s funding was greatly reduced and its Chair, who knew nothing about charities or regulation, was wont to please the politicians who appointed him, by making sweeping  statements about charities which were full of criticism and short on evidence.

The Charity Commission board is appointed by government and with the imminent appointment of Baroness Stowell, who like her predecessor has no knowledge of charities, it appears to be a grace and favour appointment for people close to government.  This is a worrying development.

She highlighted another problem with the Charity Commission’s plans:

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LibLink: Robin Teverson: We should clean up our own mess, not export it to China

Lib Dem Peer Robin Teverson has written for Politics Home about the effect of China’s ban on the importation of low grade waste should be a wake up call for us to sort out how we deal with this problem.

China’s import ban, at a stroke, destroys the business model of the UK waste industry, together with its supply chain. The knock-on effects are huge, impacting local authorities and business.

But the UK has been slow to react. Defra is working overtime on Brexit agricultural and fisheries reform, producing a two-years late 25-year environmental plan, getting thousands of EU environmental laws onto the post-Brexit UK statute book. Michael Gove, no less, admitted to the Environmental Audit Committee that he had been taken unawares.

Lack of progress in waste policy, especially in England, has been a contentious issue for some time, not least with a frustrated waste industry. Scotland and Wales have been more ambitious in finding solutions for the future. That lack of focus, in England especially, is no longer an option.

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LibLink: Roger Roberts: Forcing teenagers back to war zones another example of Tory inhumanity

“Inhumanity” is a word that you should use with caution, but when you are looking at a Government that has no compunction about sending child asylum seekers back to war zones the minute they turn 18, when they may have grown up here and have nothing left to go back to, then they’ve earned it.

Roger Roberts is laying down a marker for the future as this country prepares to take in some unaccompanied child refugees. What will become of them when they turn 18? Will they be sent back to a devastated Syria where they may have no connections, no …

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LIbLink: Cathy Bakewell: In the last days of the Housing Bill, peers will fight for equality

Liberal Democrat peer Cathy Bakewell has written an article for Politics Home in which she outlines the work that Lib Dem peers are doing to try to make the Government’s Housing Bill less bad.

Lib Dems have been leading the charge on many aspects of the fight, and three of the five remaining obstacles to the legislation passing are Lib Dem amendments. These are measures to make new homes more flood resilient and low carbon, and to give communities a Neighbourhood Right of Appeal when a council deviates from their local plan.

These things have become sticking points for us, because as we know from our local activism it’s not just the quantity of housing that desperately needs attention, but also the quality.

It’s no good ploughing ahead and building thousands of homes which make future homeowners liable to flooding and responsible for higher energy bills, when simple and cost effective changes could be made at the building stage to protect them. We need more homes, but they must be sustainable.

As well as the impact on individuals, it’s the impact on the environment that matters. If we are serious about making the Paris Agreement a reality and tackling climate change, then we absolutely have to reduce the carbon emissions from homes, which are huge contributors.

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LibLink: Lynne Featherstone: The Tories continue to attack the planet

Lynne Featherstone today tries to get the House of Lords to oppose Tory cuts to renewable obligations, which, as she points out in an article for Politics Home, is hardly consistent with the protocol they signed up to in Paris.

I do not have the space to list the full litany of destruction that has been wrought since the election by this government but it includes such worrying measures as privatising the Green Investment Bank, ending support for onshore wind power, weakening the zero carbon homes standard, and reducing the incentives to purchase low-emission cars.

Now to add to that list we have rooftop solar, a cornerstone of the Solar Strategy produced in April 2014. The tariff that has been set for the 1-5MW solar band is much too low to incentivise rooftop deployment in that size range, leaving larger rooftops with essentially no route to market. The large-scale rooftop market is potentially the most significant and cost-effective solar market. This market dominates across Europe and is expected to reach grid parity first, and yet the UK is not taking this market seriously.

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LibLink: Tim Farron: Give willing UK families a chance to foster refugee children

Tim Farron has written for Politics Home to explain why he’s put forward a Bill to ensure that this country takes 3000 unaccompanied refugee children:

But tens and thousands of children travel alone. They are without parents or relatives, and have made their way to Europe in the toughest of circumstances.

It is this particularly vulnerable group which our bill aims to support. The bill would award of asylum-seeker status in the United Kingdom to certain unaccompanied children from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Eritrea displaced by conflict and present within the European Union

I know that there are enough families willing to foster an unaccompanied child. For example, Home for Good has registered 10,000 prospective adoptive families. Although they will not be ready to step up immediately, if the Government supports local authorities and agencies to provide the requisite training the UK will be well equipped to support these children.

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LibLink: Norman Lamb MP: Government must fund equality for mental health

Writing for PoliticsHome, former Liberal Democrat Health Minister Norman Lamb argued that the Government must put its money where its mouth is when it comes to ensuring equality for mental health:

The Spending Review is a critical moment that will shape the Government’s spending for the duration of the Parliament, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer has an opportunity to make a bold statement on the importance of tackling mental illness. I will not be humoured by the warm words for mental health and my efforts as a minister – it’s about time that this Government put their money where their mouth is.

And it isn’t simply a case of investing to improve mental health services or leaving them the way they are. Mental health trusts are under severe financial strain, and last week’s report by the King’s Fund was the latest in a long line of warnings of the impact of neglecting mental health. There is no doubt that services will slip backwards if we do not take urgent action to provide stable funding for mental health, on a par with physical health.

One in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point during their lifetime, and a far greater number will know somebody who is affected.

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LibLink: Tim Farron: Cameron and Corbyn stance on Brexit “downright pathetic”

Tim Farron has put up a stonking case for Britain to remain in the EU over on Politics Home and denounced the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition for their stance on the issue:

On my mantelpiece there is an old black and white photo. It’s of my Uncle Morris at 14, the same age as my daughter is today.
It was taken in 1934 and in six years, he was dead, shot down over Beachy Head.

A generation ago there were nuclear weapons pointed at Britain on the soil of countries that today are our partners in the EU. Now we are sitting round a table together.

If these were the only reasons for staying in the EU they would pretty much clinch it for me.

What is the European Union? I’ll tell you – it is the most successful peace process in world history.

As such events show we toy with European disunity at our peril. Being a supporter of the European Union is not always easy. Some of the institutional structures and decision-making are hard to defend – indeed in many cases I wouldn’t want to.

But the case for Europe isn’t about institutions. It’s about partnership with our neighbours. It’s about a vision of how we address the great challenges of the 21st century: economic globalisation and protectionism, resource depletion and climate change, terrorism, crime and war.

After making the case that this is no world for isolationism to be a good idea, he then criticises David Cameron for effectively putting party before country:

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LibLink: Baroness Sally Hamwee: It is time to legalise Cannabis for medicinal purposes”

Sally Hamwee has been writing for Politics Home about her attempts to have Cannabis legalised for medicinal use.  She firstly outlined the need:

Medicinal herbal cannabis is very effective for many people (not all) suffering from some very severe and debilitating conditions, the spasms and cramps associated with multiple sclerosis and spinal cord damage, Parkinson’s Disease and some of the symptoms of cancer and of the treatment of cancer among them.

It is available in 23 states of the USA, Canada, Israel and Netherlands from where it is exported to several other countries of the EU.  But not – legally – the UK.  The Dutch have used genetic alteration to maximise the benign content and eliminate the dangerous, psychosis-inducing component.

No wonder that so many British people go to great lengths to go abroad to get hold of it.  The cannabis-based drug licensed in England is much more expensive and only prescribed on a “named basis” as NICE regards it as not cost-effective (it is approved in Wales).

And then she outlined how both Conservatives and Labour in the House of Lords wouldn’t accept her ideas:

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LibLink: Norman Lamb and Julian Huppert: Defeating radicalisation and extremism, a battle we must win

On the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 bombings, Norman Lamb and Julian Huppert looked at what should and should not be done in order to tackle the radicalisation and extremism that leads to such awful attacks. They wrote for Politics Home and outlined first the measures we should not take, because they don’t work and are just wrong in principle:

But the 7/7 bombings also presented an existential threat to the sort of liberal society we want to live in – raising questions that many will have asked again in light of last week’s terrorist attack in Tunisia.

Do we address these threats by giving government the power to snoop indiscriminately on every citizen, and the vast resources needed to sift through all that information?

Do we target “at risk” communities and faith groups with increasing scrutiny, limit their freedom of speech, and intervene aggressively in an attempt to clamp down on potential extremism?

Internationally, is it right to believe can we combat terrorism by bombing some of the most volatile regions in the Middle East, particularly if it may be contrary to international law?

To each of these, as Liberal Democrats our answer must be – emphatically, no.  Firstly, it doesn’t work.  In 2005 the Security Services were already faced with too much information, on too many threats, to see the wood from the trees. Remember that if we tread roughshod over disenfranchised faith communities we will earn ourselves more enemies than friends.  And if we spend the next year bombing Syria all we will have to show for it are craters, innocent casualties, and a rising defence bill.

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LibLink: Norman Lamb: We can build a new progressive, liberal movement of change across the country

Yes, I know, lots of leadership stuff today – but then, there’s a lot out there and it is a Very Big Thing for the party at the Norman Lamb badgesmoment.

Norman Lamb has outlined his vision for Politics Home. Trust the people, he says:

As liberals, we fundamentally believe that government can’t pick and choose which human rights are important, or who should have them.  We believe that powerful organisations – both public and private – must be open and accountable.  And we believe that, when people use the internet, they don’t surrender the right to privacy from government snooping.

And at the very heart of my liberalism is the idea that we must trust in people. That we must take power away from unaccountable institutions and give it to individuals – so that they can decide how to live their lives, rather than being told what to do by the state.

Nearly a decade ago, I won a long battle with the Labour government to force the then-Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to publish lists of the individuals he met.  That principle now extends across all government ministers – and is crucial in holding ministers to account for the way that decisions are made.

And it’s important to give those most vulnerable a proper say in what happens to them:

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LibLink: Sarah Teather – Asylum through a child’s eyes

Former Children’s Minister Sarah Teather was personally thanked by Citizens UK at Liberal Democrat Conference in September for her role, as Children’s Minister, in ending child detention for immigration purposes. She said then that there was much more to achieve on the way the UK Borders Agency operates.

This week she’s launched an enquiry into the support for families within the asylum system. She wrote about that enquiry and what she wants to achieve for Politics Home:

If you have never had a conversation with a young asylum seeker about their

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