Tag Archives: tim farron

23 November 2022 – today’s press releases (part 2)

  • Senedd Member Calls for Action on the Cambrian Line
  • Raab bullying inquiry: Sunak must sack him if allegations upheld
  • Debate on Nurses Pay – Liberal Democrats Back Calls for Higher Nurses Pay Offer
  • Conservative MPs break manifesto pledge by voting against business rates review

Senedd Member Calls for Action on the Cambrian Line

Concerns have been raised today in the Senedd over the rail service on the Cambrian Line which runs through Mid Wales.

Speaking in the Senedd, Welsh Liberal Democrat Member for Mid & West Wales Jane Dodds raised delays in the much anticipated hourly service between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury, stating that the delays were just another sign of Mid Wales being forgotten about by the Labour-Plaid Cymru partnership in Cardiff Bay.

An hourly service between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury was announced in 2014, but has faced repeated delays since, with the latest delaying the introduction from 2022 to 2024.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have stated that an hourly service stopping at all stations along the Cambrian Line is essential to encourage more passengers to use the railway instead of cars and for businesses given it will also play an important role in making connections from Shrewsbury easier.

The Party has called on the Welsh Government to prioritise the introduction of the service and tackle delays head-on.

Commenting Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said:

We really need the Labour-Plaid Cymru partnership in Cardiff Bay to prioritise this route, it is essential for businesses and the public in Mid Wales.

The fact it has been continuously delayed for almost a decade shows that once again Mid Wales is being forgotten about by Labour.

With Transport for Wales now fully nationalized and owned by the Welsh Government, there is no excuse.

If Labour wants to put a ban on all new roadbuilding the least they can do is ensure we have well-functioning public transport networks.

I am calling for the Welsh Government to prioritise the rollout of this service and put an end to repeated delays once and for all.

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22 November 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Debt figures: Conservative Chancellors have blown black hole in Britain’s finances
  • Welsh Liberal Democrats to Vote to Withhold Legislative Consent on the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill
  • OECD forecast: Damning verdict of the Government’s economic record
  • Sewage: Budget means almost £500 million less to tackle the sewage crisis
  • Levelling Up Bill: Conservative chaos to blame for cancellation of vote

Debt figures: Conservative Chancellors have blown black hole in Britain’s finances

Responding to new ONS figures showing the scale of UK government borrowing in October, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney said:

These figures reveal just how badly the long list of Conservative Chancellors have trashed our economy. This Government has blown a massive black hole in Britain’s finances and is now expecting hardworking families to pick up the bill.

It is a national scandal that big banks are getting massive tax cuts whilst the squeezed-middle gets clobbered with endless tax rises.

The sensible way to solve this is surely to tax the richest companies making bumper profits. We can’t trust this Conservative Government to clean up their own mess. They should never be trusted to run our country’s economy.

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Morgan and Farron speak on rural levelling up

Rural issues are often sidelined in the Commons and in public policy. Yesterday, Tim Farron and Helen Morgan made significant contributions to the rural levelling up debate in the Commons chamber.

The debate, secured Selaine Saxby Conservative MP for North Devon, was sparsely attended but there were some strong speeches (Hansard).

Helen Morgan and Tim Farron highlighted the way that farming is being treated under the Conservative government, though the botched introduction of the Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMS) and trade deals. Rural transport was a major issue, trains, buses and access to rail stations. Hospitals of course featured. Ambulance delays. Bed blocking. The inability to attract staff because there is nowhere local and affordable to live. And the ever difficulty of getting a decent broadband connection in rural areas to allow businesses to thrive (I might add education and medical services to that list also).

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Tory councillors walk out of cost of living debate

So this is what happened at Westmorland and Furness when Liberal Democrats tabled a motion on the cost of living crisis.

The motion was passed and fully supported by all the remaining councillors.

Tim commented:

Our country is facing the biggest cost of living crisis in a generation – politicians of all stripes need to work together.

For Conservative councillors to abandon the meeting is an appalling dereliction of duty and sadly shows how out of touch their party is with the needs of people in Westmorland, Furness and Eden.

The Conservative Group explained that “the meeting had exceeded its time limit and the chair had invited members of the group to leave the meeting which they did due to having other commitments.” Strange then that it didn’t apply to all the other councillors.

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7 September 2022 – today’s (other) press release

Rural families in fuel poverty risk becoming “forgotten victims” as they face £450 bigger hit from energy price rise

Families living in fuel poverty in rural areas are set to be left £450 poorer than urban ones by October’s energy price rise, research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

The analysis by the House of Commons Library shows that the average “fuel poverty gap,” the additional income that would be needed to bring a household to the point of not being fuel poor, is set to rise to a staggering £1,050 in rural areas in October. This compares to a projected fuel poverty gap of £600 in urban areas. It means fuel poor homes in rural areas will need around twice as much support to bring them out of fuel poverty than those in urban areas.

Meanwhile, rural households with the poorest insulation rating (energy efficiency rating of F or G) are expected to see a shocking average fuel poverty gap of £3,350.

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Lord help us all….Lib Dems react to new Cabinet

So Liz Truss is now ensconced in Downing Street appointing her new Cabinet. And it looks like it is going to be one of the most socially as well as economically conservative governments in over quarter of a century. This is somewhat surprising given that she is the first Prime Minister of my lifetime who is younger than me.

After a 1000 mile round trip to see the Queen, she went  to her private Commons office  to send Rishi Sunak supporters Grant Shapps, Steve Barclay and Dominic Raab packing.

Every time a new Conservative PM announces their top team, you think it couldn’t get any worse. Remember when Theresa May appointed Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary? And then when Boris in turn made Priti Patel Home Secretary.

So far, Liz Truss has made some very worrying appointments.

First of all, someone who opposes abortion and same sex marriage to health:

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Welcome to my day: 29 August 2022 – aren’t politicians people too?

As my colleague noted yesterday, Sanna Marin, the Prime Minister of Finland, has been in the news for having the audacity to be (relatively) young, and dance at parties. Alcohol may even have been partaken of!

And I find myself wondering, since when did we start insisting that rather dull people represent us and why? Whilst expecting relatively high moral and ethical standards does seem reasonable, politicians are human and should be able to express themselves and, heaven forbid, let their hair down from time to time.

I thought that Tim Farron who, despite his frankly bizarre fondness for Blackburn Rovers, is as real a person as you could hope to find, put it well when asked for comment by the Guardian;

Social media is a mixed bag. I think it does change things but we have to accept our politicians are human beings – we should expect high standards in terms of integrity, but that doesn’t preclude you from having a couple of beers with your mates and dancing like nobody’s watching. I‘m an Olympic-standard dad dancer and I’m glad there are no pictures of me.

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26 August 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Davey – price rise “nothing short of catastrophe for millions”
  • Sewage: New Govt plan is a cruel joke and will result in 325,000 sewage dumps a year by 2030

Davey – price rise “nothing short of catastrophe for millions”

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey responds to price cap announcement:

This energy price rise is nothing short of a catastrophe for millions of families and pensioners already struggling to make ends meet.

The only option is for energy prices to be frozen before these rises wreak havoc on our communities. Then we need a proper plan to be put in place to bring bills down

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Sewage dumped in shellfish water 29,000 times by water companies

  • New fears shellfish could be contaminated by sewage dumps as over 200,000 hours of sewage is pumped into their habitat
  • The worst offenders are South West Water and Southern Water
  • Tim Farron slams lack of action from the Government: “Why aren’t Government Ministers listening to the public on this? They are ignoring the country’s outrage at this scandal.”

Analysis by the Liberal Democrats has found sewage was dumped into waters containing shellfish a staggering 29,000 times last year. The party has raised fears this could be taking place again this summer.

This equates to 207,013 hours worth of sewage in shellfish waters in England …

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Seaside sewage monitors revealed to be faulty or not even installed

Monitors which are supposed to measure the amount of sewage being pumped into popular seaside spots found to be broken or not even installed.

As many as one in eight southern sewage monitors installed for designated swimming areas are either faulty or not installed.

Sewage monitors along popular Cornish and Sussex coastlines not even installed – Lib Dem MP slams the water companies: “This is a national scandal and these new figures stink of a cover-up.”

New analysis of Environment Agency data by the Liberal Democrats has revealed water companies are failing to monitor sewage discharges at popular British seaside resorts. …

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Farron & Foord: Water executives get bonuses despite sewerage scandal

In a press release that is receiving widespread coverage in this morning’s media, Tim Farron and Richard Foord attacked the huge bonuses received by water bosses while sewerage pours into our rivers and seas.

  • Average water company executive pay and bonuses rose by a fifth compared to last year despite 2.7 million hours of sewage being pumped into rivers and swimming spots
  • Average water company executives paid themselves £100,000 more in bonuses alone. Their average annual bonus now stands at over £600,000
  • New Lib Dem figures revealed as hosepipe ban is announced for Thames Water who lose a quarter of all their water due due to leaking pipes going unfixed.

In the week that sewage flowed into Britain’s treasured seaside swimming spots, new analysis of water companies’ Annual Reports by the Liberal Democrats has found that executive pay packets have spiralled out of control.

Next week, millions of Thames Water customers will also suffer from a hosepipe ban despite the company leaking a quarter of all its water from leaking pipes. The firm failed to invest in fixing the leaks, but found over £3 million to pay their execs, an increase on last year’s executive payout.

Combined bonuses and salaries pay packets per water company executive rose by a fifth (21%) from 2020/2021 to 2021/2022. This is a year-on-year average rise per executive of nearly £200,000.

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Farron: Avanti Oxenholme lock-in an “unacceptable farce”

On Tuesday night, around 30 passengers alighted from the Avanti West Coast service from London Euston to Glasgow at Oxenholme. Alas, the station was closed. One of the passengers described the situation . They could scale the 8ft high gate, walk across the live tracks or “pick somewhere to try and sleep on a pavement until the morning”. Some reports suggest some passengers “took to climbing the 7-foot spiked gates and fences surrounding the station in order to get out.”

The hour was late but one passenger has the wits to ring Tim Farron, who got onto Avanti. “It was only when someone contacted Mr Farron that any help came, with a Network Rail worker opening the gate 45 minutes after the passengers arrived.”

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17 August 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Inflation figures: People will never forgive this Government for abandoning them
  • Thames Water hosepipe ban: slap in the face for millions of people
  • “Nasty party”: Kwarteng must clarify Truss’s shameful ‘graft’ comments
  • 75,000 A-Level grades set to be deflated under Government’s exam plans
  • Councillor Sykes welcomes change in law barring sex offenders from standing for or holding elected office

Inflation figures: People will never forgive this Government for abandoning them

Responding to inflation reaching 10.1% this morning, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

Britain is heading for the worst economic crisis in a generation, yet the Prime Minister has clocked off early whilst Sunak and Truss are too busy squabbling amongst themselves.

Families and pensioners will never forgive this Conservative Government for abandoning them in the middle of a cost of living catastrophe.

The answer is staring Conservative MPs in the face but they refuse to act. Energy bills must be frozen immediately or else millions of people will be plunged into financial devastation this winter.

Thames Water hosepipe ban: slap in the face for millions of people

Responding to the news that Thames Water will enforce a hosepipe ban, Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson Tim Farron MP said:

This is a slap in the face for millions of people when Thames Water is losing a quarter of all their water to leaks.

Their gross negligence to fix leaks is set to inflict hosepipe ban misery across the South. We wouldn’t be in this mess if Thames Water bothered to invest properly. Instead, water companies are choosing to pay themselves billions of pounds in profits and reward their CEOs with insulting bonuses. Thames Water is putting profit above the public and environment.

Ministers are to blame for letting profiteering water companies get away with it. Under this Government, our rivers have become polluted with sewage and water pipes rusting with leaks.

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16 August 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Pay squeeze: Families are being hammered by a cost of living catastrophe
  • Lib Dems: As the country floods, water companies are pumping out untold amounts of sewage

Pay squeeze: Families are being hammered by a cost of living catastrophe

Responding to the latest monthly wage figures which show real-term wages falling by 3%, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

Families are being hammered by a cost of living catastrophe and yet the Government is nowhere to be found.

This Zombie Government has no plan and is failing our country. People can’t wait any longer for the Conservatives to play out their

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And then there were two …

So the contest will be between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.

The votes for Liz Truss and Penny Mordaunt were very close, with only 8 between them.

And now we know that the next Prime Minister is going to be chosen by 160,000+ people who worship the memory of Margaret Thatcher.

Ed Davey used his slot at Prime Minister’s Questions to demand a general election once the leadership election is over.

While Tim Farron commented on Johnson’s final remarks.

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Farron: Ministers must now wake up and smell the sewage

While all eyes were on the leadership election last Thursday, the Environment Agency published its annual report on the environmental performance of water and sewerage companies. The agency has suffered from severe cuts to staff and that has limited its operational effectiveness. But it has too often pulled its punches, preferring diplomatic niceties to forceful language.

No longer. Outgoing chair Emma Howard Boyd didn’t mince her words in her last report on water and sewage. She called for prison sentences for the chief executives and board members of the companies responsible for the most serious pollution incidents. Company directors should be struck off. “Water companies exist to serve the public. Their environmental performance is a breach of trust. The polluter must pay.”

Reacting to the report Tim Farron said:

For months we have been calling for these water companies to pay for dirtying our precious rivers and beaches.  Time and time again, Ministers defended them whilst otters were poisoned and we swam in sewage infested waters.

Ministers must now wake up and smell the sewage. They can’t ignore the Environment Agency like they ignored the public.

We need a Sewage Tax on water companies making outrageous multi-billion pound profits. Why should they profit off destroying our environment? The whole thing stinks.

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Another day of chaos

A Twitter round up, including a great question to the PM from Munira Wilson and a punchy interview with Christine Jardine.

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Lib Dems call for fuel duty to be cut in more rural areas

Liberal Democrats have urged the Government to reduce fuel duty in rural areas, after analysis found that households in more remote areas paid £114 in transport costs each week in the year to March 2020, almost £40 more than those in urban areas.

The Lib Dems want an expansion of the rural fuel duty relief scheme, which is currently offered in a handful of remote areas of the UK, including Scotland islands and other areas, Scilly, and Hawes.

The proposal is to extend the relief to places where “public transport options are limited and drivers are being disproportionately hit by rising fuel prices”. This would include Devon, Cornwall, Cumbria, Shropshire and rural parts of Wales. The Lib Dems also want the relief to be doubled to 10p a litre.

Reported by the Telegraph and the i, rural affairs spokesman Tim Farron said:

The Government must act now to help rural families on the brink, by expanding the fuel duty relief scheme.

Ministers need to also crack down on the petrol profiteers who are cashing in on people’s misery at the pump.

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Farron: Farmers at sharp end of cost of living crisis need support

Writing in The House yesterday, Tim Farron said:

British farming communities are a crucial cog in the cost of living fighting machine. But farming families themselves are facing an even more acute cost of living emergency.

He said input costs are spiralling making crops and livestock more expensive to produce. In 12 months, the price of animal feed has shot up by 60 per cent. In some cases, fertiliser prices have quadrupled because production uses gas. Twelve months ago, a tonne of ammonium nitrate fertiliser cost £280 – it now costs £1,000.

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Reactions to the Sue Gray report

Ed Davey spoke in the Commons following the Prime Minister’s statement on the Sue Gray report.

As you might expect, other Lib Dem MPs also expressed their anger.

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Farron: Planning changes needed for second homes

Second homes are a growing issue in many rural areas of the country. Although visitors with second homes bring economic benefits, they also reduce local housing stock and drive up house prices by making offers that most locals can’t match. The squeeze on housing availability drives up rents as well as prices.

Yet when second home owners arrive for the weekend, for the week or for a holiday, they rely on local people for their services in shops, pubs and bars. But many people can’t afford to live in a settlement where second homes are popular.

In 2018/19, an estimated 772,000 households reported having second homes.

Speaking during questions on Levelling Up in the Commons yesterday, Tim Farron said:

It is… vital that houses that are given planning permission are then used for the purposes agreed on when the permission was granted. I am talking about second home ownership. Homes that are built for local families become second homes, and that leads to communities being hollowed out. Will the Minister look again at bringing in new change of use rules through the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill, so that second homes and holiday lets fall under a separate category of planning use, and homes in Cumbria can remain for local families, and do not become part of ghost towns?

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Farron: Sewerage bill moves to second reading

Last night, Tim Farron presented a Lib Dem bill on controlling sewerage charges. MPs agreed to allow the bill to progress and its second reading will be on 6 May after Farron said:

Our lakes and rivers are our natural treasures, yet water company bosses are degrading those natural treasures to keep a hold of their own treasure. Last year, the water companies made profits of £2.7 billion and paid out £27 million in bonuses. Their chief executives earn seven-figure sums, yet they are free by law to preside over enormous numbers of dangerous discharges that damage our environment and our wildlife, and are a threat to human life, too.

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Farron: Nationality and Borders Bill worst legislation I’ve seen in 17 years

In a passionate speech in the House of Commons yesterday, Tim Farron condemned the Nationality and Borders Bill saying it is based on a bogus premise, that we are swamped by asylum seekers. He slammed the “utterly bogus, completely contrived and arbitrary notion” that asylum seekers should be treated if they got here by illegal routes.

Farron asked why are we not granting asylum seekers the right to work? He said if MPs vote for this Bill, “they are voting for deaths in the channel”. People come here not because of the pull factor, but because of the push factor and …

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22 March 2022 – today’s press releases

  • HMICFRS report: Met police needs new leadership not stitch up by Johnson and Patel
  • Oligarch ditches UK mansions after government sanctions delay
  • Nationality and Borders Bill: A traffickers’ charter that will cause deaths in the Channel
  • Patel must stop her assault on British rights and freedoms

HMICFRS report: Met police needs new leadership not stitch up by Johnson and Patel

Responding to the report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) into corruption in the Met Police and the case of Daniel Morgan, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

This shocking report lays bare the ingrained culture of corruption and cover-up at the top of the Met. Police officers put themselves at risk every day to keep us safe, but they are being let down by poor leadership.

The Met urgently needs strong new leadership. Choosing the new Commissioner is too important to be a stitch up between Priti Patel and Boris Johnson – especially when Johnson is under criminal investigation by the Met himself.

The next Commissioner must be someone who will shake things up and stand up to government ministers – and that’s someone Johnson and Patel will never choose.

That’s why Liberal Democrats are calling for a cross-party confirmation vote by both Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee and London’s Police and Crime Committee, to stop the Government stitching up this crucial appointment.

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Farron & Morgan: We’re the party that backs British farmers

The Lib Dems are gearing up to win over farmers in the May elections when eyes will be on the blue walls of rural heartlands in places like Somerset, Herefordshire and Westmorland – key Lib Dem, Conservative battlegrounds in May.

The Liberal Democrats have put the Conservatives’ former rural heartlands on notice at their conference this weekend. It comes as the party has passed sweeping reform aimed at targeting the farming community that is “fed up with being taken for granted by the Government”.

The push to win the farming community comes after the North Shropshire by-election which caused a political earthquake in true blue Shropshire.

Alongside the “Back British Farmers” party policy reform the Liberal Democrats have also launched specialised farmers campaigning packs for local Lib Dems to gain support from farmers and paint true blue rural heartlands in orange diamonds.

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Wikipedia quoted at length in the Levelling Up White Paper

For most of us, our go-to source when doing a bit of background research is Wikipedia. Sometimes when we are looking for simple facts (like the election results in a particular year) the online crowd-sourced encyclopaedia is all we need. Sometimes it provides the starting point for more in-depth research, especially if we need to verify the sources.

Some years ago I was intrigued by an animation which showed the same Wikipedia page as it evolved over time. The number and frequency of changes was astonishing, which underlined the dynamic nature of knowledge, but also suggested that it should be used with some caution.

However it seems Wikipedia was enough for Government advisers who drew up the Levelling Up White Paper.

Tim Farron has been questioning Michael Gove (Minister for, among other things, Levelling Up) about the White Paper, mainly about the issues for people living in rural communities. But in the process he noticed that whole chunks of the White Paper were copied in full from the relevant Wikipedia entry.

According to The Independent

The white paper includes large sections of padding, with three pages devoted to the history of Jericho, Rome, and renaissance Europe.

But bits of this section appear to have been lifted directly from the popular internet encyclopaedia.

One off-beat part of the report reads: “Constantinople was the capital of the Roman/Byzantine Empire (330-1204 and 1261-1453), the Latin Empire (1204-1261) and the Ottoman Empire (1453-1922)”.

The text is identical to the first line of the Wikipedia page for Constantinople, right down to formatting and punctuation.

Another section of the report includes a full-page timeline of the largest cities in the world since 7,000 BC which is identical to a table on Wikipedia’s “List of largest cities throughout history” page.

Tim said:

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Farron: Nationality and Borders Bill impact on LGBTQ+ refugees

While the main attention in parliament yesterday was on tributes to Jack Dromey and Michael Gove’s statement on Levelling Up, an important debate also took place in Westminster Hall. Olivia Blake, Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam had secured a debate on the impact of the Nationality and Borders Bill on LGBTQ+ asylum seekers l. Tim Farron made a major and passionate contribution to the debate. It is notable that no Conservative MPs spoke during the debate.

Farron described the Nationality and Borders Bill as a peculiarly awful piece of legislation that is designed to solve problems that do not exist and to ignore problems that do. It is playing to the gallery rather than seeking to make a difference. The negative impact the Bill will have on LGBTQ+ asylum seekers is a prime example of what is wrong with it.

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When it comes to Ukraine let’s not forget the geopolitics before we rush in

A while ago I read a book by British journalist, Tim Marshall, entitled ‘Prisoners of Geography’, where he argues that where you live colours to a great extent your perception of the world around you. That Mr Marshall is an believer, if that’s the right word, in ‘geopolitics’ is very clear. He’s now followed this up with ‘The Power of Geography’, which I have yet to read; but I assume this takes the idea further.

Geopolitics states that politics, especially international relations, is influenced by geography. That certainly makes sense to me and I would argue, for example, that, living on an island as they do, it is perhaps not surprising that so many English voters, many with an atavistic fear of ‘Johnny Foreigner’ and being prepared to believe some of the myths pedalled by Messrs Farage and Johnson etc, voted to leave the EU.

Interestingly, in the furthest extremities of our islands, namely Scotland and Northern Ireland, support for continued EU membership was higher. With the luxury of firm frontiers and never having been occupied by a foreign ‘power’ for a millennium it is clearly very hard for many to empathise with many European citizens whose parents and grandparents have witnessed occupation at first hand. Who can blame them if many still see in closer economic and political cooperation with their neighbours a way of avoiding such disruption in the future?

There are many places where geography, or possibly our interpretation of it, have, since WW2 alone, come back to bite us, for example in Korea, the Congo, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Whether it is the arbitrary drawing and redrawing of boundaries, linguistic, cultural or religious boundaries, trying to impose ‘solutions’ based on our own, largely western  perception of what is best is often a recipe for strife and unnecessary bloodshed. I would urge our leaders in the West to be careful not to overreact to what is going on today on the border between the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

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Tim Farron on Cumbria’s rural housing crisis

Tourism is the lifeblood of many of our most spectacular rural communities. Nut there is a downside for the people who live there all year round. Second homes and holiday lets mean that it can be difficult for local people to find somewhere to live.

Tim Farron raised this in a debate in Parliament this week. Here is is opening speech.

It is a huge privilege to serve our communities in Cumbria—our towns, villages lakes and dales, among the rugged beauty of England’s finest landscapes—yet the people who live in our communities are even more precious than the places themselves. We welcome those who see Cumbria as a holiday destination: a place for leisure and relaxation, and a place of peaceful serenity and exhilarating extremes. It is our collective privilege to be the stewards of such a spectacular environment for the country, yet our full-time local communities face an existential threat unlike any other in the UK. I am immensely grateful to have secured this debate, because the housing crisis that has faced our communities in Cumbria and elsewhere in rural Britain for decades has rapidly become a catastrophe during the two years of the pandemic.

For the last few decades, we have seen an erosion in the number of properties in Cumbria that are available and affordable for local people to buy or rent. What little I know of geology tells me that although erosion usually takes place over huge passages of time, sometimes a whole rockface may collapse or a whole piece of a cliff might drop into the sea in a single instant. That is what has happened to our housing stock during the pandemic. In the space of less than two years, a bad situation has become utterly disastrous.

I have been calling for the Government to take action from the very beginning, so I confess to being frustrated and angry that Ministers have yet to do anything meaningful to tackle the problem. As a result, many of us living in rural communities feel ignored, abandoned and taken for granted by the Government, and we stand together today as rural communities to declare that we will not be taken for granted one moment longer.

In South Lakeland, the average house price is 11 times greater than the average household income. Families on low or middle incomes, and even those on reasonably good incomes, are completely excluded from the possibility of buying a home. Although the local council in South Lakeland has enabled the building of more than 1,000 new social rented properties, there are still more than 3,000 families languishing on the housing waiting list. Even before the pandemic, at least one in seven houses in my constituency was a second home—a bolthole or an investment for people whose main home is somewhere else.

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Trade deal with Australia will hit our farmers

Tim Farron has warned that farmers are being “sold down the river” by the Conservatives, after it emerged the government’s own impact assessment found the Australia deal will cause a £94m hit to the farming, forestry and fishing industries. There is also an expected £225 million hit to the semi-processed food sector, such as tinned foods.

The Liberal Democrats are demanding that MPs are given a vote on the Australia deal so they can stand up for the interests of British farmers. It comes following the party’s by-election win in North Shropshire during which concerns over the impacts of government’s trade deals on local farmers were a significant issue. The deal is likely to hit small farmers, especially hill farmers hardest.

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