Tag Archives: theresa may

Tim Farron writes…Theresa, put your country first

The largely confected outrage at the EU rejecting the Chequers deal has made me reconsider my view of Theresa May. It seems she is more canny than I had thought, and not in a good way.

I often stick up for the PM, at least on a personal level. I go back a long way with her. In the 1992 general election, we toured the working men’s clubs of North West Durham together as we each cruised to a heavy defeat at the hands of Labour’s Hilary Armstrong. Theresa and I didn’t become best mates or anything but I learnt to admire her for her determination and unfussy straightforward approach. She was a Conservative, but she seemed to put duty before party politics.

Chequers has made me question my opinion of the PM’s approach and here is why:

The EU very clearly stated two years ago, and consistently restated, that they would not accept a proposal of the Chequers sort, so who seriously thought that the EU was ever going to accept Chequers? Was the PM hopelessly deluded? I don’t think so.

Chequers would have only given us a single-market type deal for goods, not services. Services make up 80% of our economy, so Chequers would only have been marginally better than no deal.

Nevertheless the proposal was presented as a kind of ‘soft Brexit’ and dressed up to be a reasonable compromise.

Isn’t it obvious now that the Prime Minister drew up Chequers fully expecting it to be rejected by the EU? In fact, they were more than just expecting to be rebuffed, Theresa May and her advisors were clearly banking on it. It was all part of the plan. Not part of the plan to secure any kind of deal with the EU you understand, but the plan to shift the blame and have a shallow political win.

Canny and disgraceful.

Chequers was a deliberately crafted Aunt Sally ready to be knocked down in order to give the Government the opportunity to make a disastrous no deal Brexit someone else’s fault. And the best kind of someone else: the nasty foreigners!

Which begs the question: Surely Boris Johnson, David Davis et al knew that Chequers was never actually going to happen? Surely they knew that it was only a ruse to make the UK government look reasonable and the EU look nasty? I assume that the thinking behind this strategy was discussed at Chequers? Isn’t that why Boris Johnson toasted the PM after the deal was agreed by ministers? So, why did they break ranks – why on earth did we get the flurry of resignations starting with David Davis and culminating in some little-known PPSs?

I can only assume that David Davis had an attack of vanity, and spied an opportunity for some welcome publicity. What fun to have the chance to be vaunted by the right wing press as some kind of Tory Robin Cook!

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Welcome to my day: 3 September 2018 – dancing for loose change?

I’m not one to criticise Theresa May’s dancing. You don’t want to see me on a dance floor, if truth be told. And, regardless of her prospects in “Strictly Come Dancing”, she was trying.

And on that thought, welcome to another week, with the schools going back and, indeed, Parliament. The behaviour is likely to be rather more dignified in schools though, with the weekend papers featuring supposed coup preparations against both Corbyn and May. We Liberal Democrats have Vince’s speech to look forward to at the end of the week, when he may, or may not, be talking about his …

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Good weather to bury bad news?

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Whilst enjoying listening to the county cricket commentaries I watched the news yesterday with half an eye.

Hello – did they really just do that?….

…I thought.

Yes, the government dumped out a plethora of inconvenient announcements just as MPs packed their sandals and beach balls for the summer recess. (What West Wing viewers will know as “Take out the trash day”)

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The D66 version of Priestley’s “An Inspector Calls” in Brexit Days

Today, Dutch VVD (NatLib; car driver-liberal) prime minister Mark Rutte, the only statesman who while visiting Donald Trump in his Oval Office dared interrupt a Trump rant against the EU during the press & photo-op moment, is receiving British Prime Minister Theresa May in the garden of the Catshuis, the The Hague meeting point and residence of Dutch coalition cabinets.

At the same time, D66, the Dutch version of the Lib Dem Social Liberals, is publishing a Facebook video of the visit Kees Verhoeven MP, our EU/Brexit and ICT/Privacy parliamentary spokesman, recently made to the doorstep of Downing Street 10; another coalition residence (since 2010 and 2017…).

Like a famous Bob Dylan video, Kees has a stack of large pieces of paper in his hands, which while he peels away one paper at a time, form a clear message from Dutch Remain supporters of al hues (but most of all: us D66 activists) to Mrs May, her squabbling Cabinet (including Heathrow Commons vote deserters), and Brexiteers everywhere, including those being investigated by the FBI Special Counsel for illegal Putin-Trump connections and Cambridge Analytica Fake News manipulation.

Like the bookseller said to Saint Augustine: “Tolle, Lege”; read and take on board, take with you as you continue on your way…

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Theresa May – the Tories’ Harold Wilson?

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Mark Pack recently tweeted:


It is a very interesting parallel.

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Compassion and Trust in Politics

What is the matter with Theresa May?  Is she really the untrustworthy and uncompassionate minister she has been portrayed, or does she just surround herself with advisers who are like that?

This morning on the Today programme Dominic Grieve spoke with barely veiled anger at the way he and others were let down by the PM last week over Europe amendments.  Well, that’s politics you may say.  But this interview followed soon after John Humphreys interviewed a mother who had been trying to get special cannabis oil for her epileptic child.  Not the mother who was interviewed by him yesterday who had just got Sajid Javid to relent and let her keep the cannabis oil she had brought back from Canada. Both families had spent tens of thousands of pounds having their children treated abroad and met uncompassionate and callous resistance from ministers and officials – especially in the Home Office.

Coming back to Theresa May – she apparently met the mother interviewed this morning, in March, and promised her that she would sort it so that her child could use the oil.  Her officials have still not approved the special licence and been deeply unhelpful to the mother concerned.  Theresa May’s flash of compassion has not been followed through – again showing she can’t be trusted.

Who presided over the Home Office and is responsible for the Windrush debacle: the families split up, the heartbreak of so many mistreated people?  This was no isolated case as readers of the I newspaper, and the Guardian know from reading week in and week out of bad uncompassionate decisions being made by Home Office ministers and civil servants.  The Law Society recently published a report that didn’t get nearly enough attention, in which it highlighted that the Home Office loses over 50% of immigration appeals.  This is a scandalous waste of public money.  Meanwhile, so many individuals and families are put through while uncompassionate civil servants mount ridiculous challenges to the most deserving asylum seekers for example.  The Law Society suggested that there might be institutional racism at the Home Office. That has been rather obvious to me for a long time.

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Amber Rudd resigns – what does this mean for the Home Office, Brexit…and the PM?

So Amber Rudd resigns tonight.

In some ways it’s remarkable that she didn’t go sooner. I mean, I’ve seen ministers resign because of a snow storm or be sacked for eating a pie. Here was a Minster staying in office when her department had ruined the lives of British citizens.

She couldn’t survive the leak of a letter from her to the Prime Minister outlining an “aim” of increasing the number of enforced removals by 10%. An aim is sufficiently within the ball park of a target to constitute the most serious offence a minister can commit – misleading Parliament so she’s gone before she had to face the opposition tomorrow.

However, unless the immigration system is going to be completely dismantled and rebuilt from scratch to make it treat people with dignity and respect, it doesn’t really matter who the Home Secretary is.

If I were Theresa May, I’d split the Home Office up into one department that deals with nationality, citizenship, asylum and immigration and another that deals with crime and security. The culture of those two parts needs to be very different.

I thought much better of Amber Rudd before she made that awful Conference speech in which she talked about companies having to report how many immigrants they employed. I had hoped that she would quietly roll back some of the hostile environment nonsense that has been so damaging. I’d like to think that she is a better person than her inability to sort out the mess she inherited at the Home Office would suggest.

I am slightly worried about the balance in the Cabinet. Rudd was the strongest pro-Remain voice in the high level Committee that deals with Brexit and would no doubt have been sticking up for staying in the Customs Union. Whether she will take up that cause on the back benches remains to be seen.

I just about choked on my hot chocolate when the BBC’s Clive Myrie referred to her resignation as a “devastating personal tragedy.” I rather think that the lives of the Windrush generation British Citizens and others that have been ruined by the “hostile environment” policy more closely fit that description. That said, this presumably takes Rudd out of the running to replace Theresa May when the time comes.

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Cable: May allowing Brexit extremists to neuter any chance of acceptable deal for UK

Vince Cable had this to say  about Theresa May’s speech:

Theresa May has once again prevaricated from making serious decisions about our future. Her speech outlined all the reasons why we should stay in the single market and customs union, but she will carry on regardless, driving us out to placate brexiters in the cabinet.

May’s diminished authority is allowing Brexit extremists to neuter any chance she has at getting an acceptable deal for the UK.

With a listless government beholden to hard-line Tories the only way to protect our future is ensure a referendum on the final deal. Surely, If May believes in her strategy,

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Do we fancy jumping off a cliff like lemmings?……now let me see…..it’s a tough one…..


PSM V11 D400 Lemmings in migration

I sympathise with Theresa May. She has a very difficult decision to make for the country.

The two options are:

Option 1: The Mass Lemming option

We are hold hands – that is all 65.64 million of us, minus two, and jump over a very high cliff into economic contraction/uncertainty and a return to ghastly sectarian murder in Northern Ireland. But the good news is that the press will love it and John Redwood and Jacob Rees-Mogg (the minus two) will be at the bottom of the cliff to catch us.

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Theresa May

I have been struggling for a while to work out Theresa May’s mentality. I have read, as we all have, something of her origins – the vicar’s daughter who ran through a field of wheat. I am aware of her time at the Home Office where she adopted regressive policies in a pusillanimously oppressive way. I am aware of her stance on the referendum – I find it interesting now that people describe her as a remainer, when it seems to me that the most important thing about her stance at the time was its invisibility.

Then a single word popped into my head which seemed to have a great deal of traction, the word “provincial”. It comes straight from the pages of Trollope, and describes the mindset, which he sometimes satirised to great effect, of the solidly conservative yeoman class which ran the shires of England in the mid nineteenth century. There is much in common between then and now, times of turbulence when the world is changing, power can move with quicksilver speed, the very ground under our feet seems to be shifting, and those determined to hold what they have must work very hard to ensure that things stay the same. There is a concern about standards, loyalty, patriotism (though never stridently stated). There is a feeling that everything will be better if people know their place and stick to it. And there is a feeling that one must never question too closely or demand an account of the people who claim to rule on our behalf. The refusal to publish the Brexit impact papers comes to mind.

Above all these, the key component is a lack of imagination. Or, rather, more than that, there is a refusal to have an imagination. If you have an imagination, then you can imagine things being different, and then you can imagine the status quo being different, and, in the mind of the provincial, who knows what might happen then?

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The human element and the political reality – Vince on Theresa May’s speech

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Well, that speech probably contained everyone’s worst nightmares.

In April this year, just after the election was called, I was one of those recording a podcast made by the excellent Engender Scotland. I ended up having the mother of all coughing fits. Of course, there were half a dozen other wonderful women to hold the fort while I left the room until the spasms subsided.

So I really felt for poor Theresa May today. She was up there on her own at the keynote occasion of the year and the germs took control. I don’t mean Boris and the rest of the Cabinet.

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Lib Dems react to Theresa May’s Florence speech

Vince said that it was no wonder the Brexiteers were terrified of giving the people a say on the deal:

Both the Conservatives and Labour have now essentially converged on the same position, which is to kick the can down the road and simply delay the economic pain caused by an extreme Brexit.

Neither are prepared to fight to keep Britain in the single market and customs union or to offer people a chance to exit from Brexit

Voters were promised £350m a week for the NHS, instead Theresa May is admitting the UK will have to pay a hefty Brexit bill worth billions of pounds.

No wonder the Brexiteers are terrified of giving the British people the final say through a referendum on the facts.

Willie Rennie said the “delinquent’ May was trashing our relationship with Europe.

Theresa May is kicking the can down the road. Sixteen months on from the Brexit referendum this delinquent Prime Minister is trashing our relationship with Europe.

She seems incapable of deciding what kind of relationship she wants with Europe and that prolonged uncertainty is causing economic damage.

We were promised Brexit would be an easy negotiation and that £350 million each week would be invested in the NHS. Neither are true.

This makes the compelling case for a Brexit deal referendum even stronger.

Yesterday, the Lib Dems laid out seven tests for Theresa May’s speech. Tom Brake said that only one of them was even slightly met. 

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Vince Cable, the next PM?

 

As a fan of Mrs Thatcher it might seem odd that I have just joined the Liberal Democrats. However times change, hard right policies are more likely to drive the large number of people depending on in-work benefits or working in the government into the hands of Mr Corbyn.  Labour, who shout loudly about democratic mandates, are likely to have another go at bankrupting the country as well as bring democracy into disrepute by promising endless giveaways.

The worst possible case for the UK is to have a Labour government and be outside the EU. Labour want out of EU because they can then rape and pillage the slightly rich – anyone who cannot bite back. Given the pasting that the EU gets from our press it is actually surprising that, as far as citizens’ rights go, it actually does work – and seems to be improving in many areas. It would be ironical if Brexit forces them to reform further in the interests of its citizens rather than its bureaucrats.

I would probably have not joined up had not Vince Cable become leader; he at least talks some reasonable sense – most of the time. Now he has the amusing task of saving the country from itself. The current fickleness of the British voting public means just about anything is possible but it will mean swallowing some liberal pride to get there. Looking from the outside, there is one little trick that might placate half the Brexiteers and that is a very strict residence test before there is any access to benefits, social housing, in-work benefits and possibly the personal tax allowance. By strict I mean at least five years…

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This lady is for turning

Our lovely friends in the Lib Dem Press Office have been keeping tally. They have found twenty policies that the Government has U-turned on in the last year.  And here they are:

  1. Northern Powerhouse: It was reported last August that Theresa May had decided to ditch the Northern Powerhouse from her plans for an industrial strategy, she later back-tracked and made clear she was fully behind it. 
  2. EU nationals: Theresa May reversed her stance towards EU citizens living in Britain (£), after her rivals accused her of treating them as “bargaining chips” in exit negotiations.
  3. Hinkley Point: The PM

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Is this why there is no rush to make Boris Johnson Prime Minister?

Theresa v Boris: How May became PM is highly recommended viewing. It’s available for the next ten days on BBC iPlayer. Made for BBC2, it is an attractive mix of key player interviews, contemporaneous news footage and dramatised scenes.

Theresa May is played very well indeed by Jacqueline King (who I might gratuitously point out is well known to the legions of Lib Dem Doctor Who fans!) and Boris is captured brilliantly by Will Barton, even though his hair and nose make him look more like Michael Fabricant.

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What is the government’s exact majority?

Since June 9th, I’ve been keeping a little spreadsheet to show the exact majority of the government.

First of all, the question arose: ‘What is the working majority of the government?’ That is, if the DUP don’t vote with the government but simply abstain (because they don’t want Jeremy Corbyn to become Prime Minister). My calculations suggest this working majority is four, based on the following assumptions:

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Tim Farron on the Conservative/DUP deal

Tim Farron has responded to the deal between the DUP and the Conservatives. He said:

The public will not be DUPed by this shoddy little deal. The nasty party is back, propped up by the DUP.

While our schools are crumbling and our NHS is in crisis, Theresa May chooses to throw cash at ten MPs in a grubby attempt to keep her Cabinet squatting in No 10.

It would be better for the people of Northern Ireland for the DUP to buckle down and focus on the talks process to restore devolved Executive at Stormont, to bring the political stability that is needed for inward investment and growth, rather than demanding cash injections from the Treasury.

Theresa May must make all the details of this agreement public immediately, so we can judge for ourselves if she is acting in the best interests of the country or of her own party.

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The narrow-mindedness of Theresa May as prime minister in a transforming world

While watching the Theresa May profile by Tory and newspaper “sketch” writer Matthew Parris on BBC Newsnight on the eve of the General Election  I was alarmed by hearing various people interviewed by Parris repeating objections to May’s breath of knowledge and policy interest I had earlier encountered in the Economist editorial and Bagehot column about her.

In his column in The Economist of 27th May,  Bagehot writes that in the social care U-turn fiasco, two worrying trends in May’s approach of being (prime) minister and politician came together with an aspect of her policy interests and knowledge.

Firstly, he says it is an “established impression” that May knows “precious little about business and economics”, and doesn’t mind that omission, doesn’t try to remedy it.  In the Economist editorial endorsing not the Tories or Labour but us Lib Dems  the paper also mentions her ignoring the economic aspect (“starving the economy of the skills it needs to prosper”) of a purely numbers-based restriction of immigration.

In the Newsnight profile, the point about economics was brought forward both by her former Cabinet colleague Nick Clegg, and by baroness Camilla Cavendish, ex-McKinsey consultant and prominent journalist with The Times before being in Camerons No. 10 Policy unit (2015-‘6). Clegg said he was struck by her lack of interest in economic aspects of for example immigration policy, while obsessing about immigration numbers. Vince Cable, former business secretary, made the same point  in this campaign, criticizing May’s cavalier pushing of a hard Brexit in spite of the thousands of jobs in London in branches of companies whose HQ is on the EU continent.

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Norway option, at least in the interim, offers the only sensible route out of this mess

The Conservative party likes to boast that it, combined with our FPTP electoral system, provides strong and stable government.

Well, a fat lot of strength and stability the Tory party and FPTP system have given us in the last two years!

We’ve had two Prime Ministers, Cameron and May, who will have historians squabbling for years as to whether they are the worst or second worst or third worst Prime Ministers in the history of this country!

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Lord Martin Thomas writes…The moment the election turned

On the morning of Monday, 22nd May, we were tipped off that Theresa May was coming to the Memorial Hall in Gresford, an old mining village just outside Wrexham where we live. My wife, Joan (Baroness) Walmsley, and I headed off immediately to be part of this unusual and unheralded event – the last PM in Gresford was Ted Heath in 1970.

The entrance to the hall was manned by anonymous young men in dark suits and unsurprisingly our names were not on the printed list of expected attendees from the local Tory faithful. However, I pointed out that I was President of the Trust which built and owned the building and they obviously thought there would be more trouble if we were excluded. The local Tory candidate reluctantly agreed.

Joan was clued up about the dementia tax, since she had been debating it with Jeremy Hunt at Alzheimer’s Society meeting in London four days’ earlier. We thought we might raise the issue with Mrs May.

For the first fifteen minutes, the PM attacked Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Diane Abbot in highly personal and insulting terms. The election was apparently between her personally and these reprobates. She was still in “strong and stable” mode. There was no “conservative” on the back cloth.

And then something surprising happened.

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LibLink: Tim Farron on Theresa May and counter-terrorism policy

Under the heading “Theresa May can’t be trusted to get it right on counter-terrorism policy” Tim Farron writes in the Guardian today:

Theresa May set out her position on Sunday, stating, “Enough is enough.” It was a highly political speech that set out the choices she intends to make that will affect all of us: our security, our freedoms and the way we live our lives. These are important choices with important consequences. But the real choice is between what works and what doesn’t.

Theresa May accused the police of crying wolf over the impact of cuts to their numbers, and their concerns that the public were being put in danger. However, the blunt reality is that the one decision she could take that would have the single biggest impact is to reverse those cuts.

Whilst acknowledging the challenges that the Internet brings he criticises her for wanting to control it:

If we turn the internet into a tool for censorship and surveillance, the terrorists will have won. We won’t make ourselves safer by making ourselves less free.

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If you read one thing today, read this: “Britain is being led to an epic act of national self-harm” – by Will Hutton

Well done to Will Hutton, in the Observer, for marshalling the words to brilliantly sum up what I have been thinking since June 24th 2016.

I am not one of those who feel despair about our country. But I am old enough to have experienced what economic hardship and chaos feels, to an extent. This isn’t going to be pretty. Numbed by the valium of insane and misplaced national pride we are sleep-walking to the most awful economic disaster.

Here’s a sample of what Will Hutton says today:

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May’s Brexit will create a weak and unstable United Kingdom

Voters in next month’s general election are being asked to support Theresa May’s ‘strong and stable’ leadership in the Brexit negotiations. What voters may in fact be choosing is a weak and unstable United Kingdom. Inflation, first prompted by the 15% fall in sterling after last year’s vote to leave the European Union (EU), will continue to erode real standards of living. The drip drip of foreign firms reallocating future investment and jobs outside the United Kingdom will continue. As a result Government tax revenue will decline and Tory austerity will last longer. The Scottish Government will progress a second …

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The country goes a-Maying now, but is being led a merry dance

England has a long tradition of May Queens, but never before had a May who sometimes acts like a queen. ‘This is the most important election in my lifetime’ she insisted to Andrew Marr on one of his Sunday-morning BBC 1 shows.  ‘It’s about the future of the country and about the national interest’. She made plain her belief that to get the ‘tough’ Brexit negotiations right the country needs her in charge, which will also ensure a strong economy and ‘a country that works for everyone’.

She put over the same message even more explicitly on a visit to Scotland on April 30, stating that ‘every vote for me and my team will strengthen the Union, strengthen the economy, and the UK and Scotland together will flourish’.

Her messages are evidently working, as the local election results seem to show. The tide of approval and trust evidenced by comments of ordinary people who may never have voted Tory before almost suggests a developing cult status for her. When she held that queenly audience outside No.10 to announce that ‘some in Brussels’ want to sabotage Brexit, try to affect the election result and harm the UK, she was not noticeably received with incredulous laughter. Her words were not generally regarded either as paranoid or manipulative, but instead brought solemn head-shaking about our erstwhile friends apparently becoming enemies, in a newly Manichean view of Europe.

Posted in Op-eds | 27 Comments

Strong and stable

Strong and stable

Theresa’s been
given her lines.
Yes, Strong and Stable
it’s on the table,
not fact but fable,
it’s just a label,
hopeless, not able,
propaganda Babel.

Posted in Poetry | 4 Comments

WATCH: When Tim and Theresa meet the public

The party’s digital people are really on form at the moment. Within hours of Tim Farron’s friendly argument with a voter yesterday, they had this out on social media contrasting what happens when Tim and Theresa go out in public. Tim chats away to anyone and came out of that experience with Malcolm very well. Theresa, well, doesn’t really meet ordinary people. This is important because in a democracy, people need to see their leaders under intense public scrutiny. No idea should go unchallenged.

Anyway, enjoy.

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“Dear Mrs May…”, an open letter from Catherine Bearder

Dear Mrs May,

You called an election last week so that British voters can, you claim, by electing a large Conservative parliamentary majority, give you the “strongest hand” possible in the Brexit negotiations. But I am afraid Mrs May you have already decided on the direction you are taking this country in and I think you already know that.

Today the leaders of the 27 EU countries will meet to finalise their negotiating guidelines, for what Guy Verhofstadt described to Liberal MEPs this week as probably the shortest Council meeting ever. Why? Because …

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Easter egg hunt furore – something of the ridiculous?

Can you see the word “Easter” in the image above? The image is a screenshot of the National Trust website for its Easter activity.

Yet, Theresa May saw fit to interrupt her visit to Saudi Arabia to criticise Cadbury’s and the National Trust for calling the activity an “Egg Hunt” rather than a “Easter Egg Hunt” – even though Easter is emblazoned above the title.

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Tom Brake on human rights in Saudi Arabia

Tom Brake has written a letter to the Prime Minister urging her to raise human rights issues in her meeting with Saudi Arabia.

Here is the letter:

Dear Theresa,

I am writing in advance of your visit to Saudi Arabia tomorrow, to ask you to raise urgently with the regime a number of serious human rights concerns.

1. The targeting of civilians in Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition
According to the United Nations, over 7,600 people have been killed and 42,000 injured since fighting began in March 2015, the majority in airstrikes led by the Saudi coalition. The conflict and a blockade imposed by the coalition have also triggered a humanitarian disaster, leaving 70% of the population in need of aid, including millions on the verge of famine.

The Saudi coalition, in contravention of humanitarian law, has repeatedly targeted civilians, including at funerals, weddings and in market places.

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The Observer on a hard Brexit

 

We don’t usually cover newspaper editorials, but the one yesterday in The Observer was extraordinarily angry and intense. The subeditors and author seemed to have had second thoughts about how it should be titled. The online version was originally headed “The triggering of article 50 jeopardises 60 years of unparalleled peace” – a quote from the piece, and a strong enough sentiment, but it does not do justice to rest of the hard-hitting post which begins:

Like sheep, the British people, regardless of whether they support Brexit, are being herded off a cliff, duped and misled by the most irresponsible, least trustworthy government in living memory.

By the time it appeared in the print version it had become “Hard Brexit is an epic act of self-harm – only reinforcing rancour and division”.

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