Tag Archives: vince cable

Verdict on Vince’s first year

Yesterday was Vince Cable’s first anniversary as leader – the paper anniversary, so that should encourage us all to go deliver lots of leaflets for our Exit from Brexit campaign over the next wee while.

We undoubtedly have the grown-up in the room as far as British politics is concerned. While the Tories’ toxic civil war leads them to force a catastrophic economic meltdown on the country and Labour stands by and lets them do it, Vince has been tirelessly making the case for us to get out of this mess.

Two years on from the Brexit referendum, if it was all going well, if the Government really was enacting this “will of the people”, we wouldn’t have polls showing significant support for a People’s Vote on the final deal.  We even have polling showing that Remain would win the sort of three way referendum Justine Greening was talking about by the same margin as the Scottish independence referendum was won.

Our arguments are prevailing and our poll ratings are edging slowly towards double figures, but we haven’t had the massive breakthrough we’d all like to see.

Why is that and what can Vince do about it in his second year?

Creating waves

Vince’s piece for us yesterday showed that he has been talking a lot in the past year about issues that matter to people. Housing, health, inequality, public services as well as Brexit.

What we need over the next while is a thread that ties all these things together in a way that shows what we stand for – a radical, bold, reforming party that champions freedom from poverty, co-operation, internationalism, human rights and giving people power over their own destinies. We must do this with vigour and passion and show that we will never settle for anything less.

We need to show how our broken democracy has got us into the mess we’re in and lead the way out.

Vince has a reputation for being scholarly and academic with speeches more like lectures than political orations, but he can deliver the goods and create some waves:

I’d like to see him elaborate on the things that get him this sort of attention like this from Spring Conference:

Too many were driven by a nostalgia for a world where passports were blue, faces were white, and the map was coloured imperial pink.

Their votes on one wet day in June, crushing the hopes and aspiration of the young for years to come.

He was absolutely right to say it and we need to hear it more often. We need to hear more of the “young are being shafted on Brexit” and he needs to show that Jeremy Corbyn is just as responsible for what is happening as Theresa May and her Brexiteers.

He needs to take more risks and say more audacious things.

He got a whole load of attention back in February for asking the PM if the NHS would be protected in any trade deal with Donald Trump. He’s not yet exploited the potential of that line and he could do worse than take Willie Rennie’s terrier approach to these things. He just keeps asking the question at every opportunity.

That Lib Dem Process thing

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Vince Cable writes: Lib Dems will be at the forefront of political realignment

It is a year today since I became party leader, and a great deal has happened since.

Thanks to the efforts of so many of our members and campaigners, we had the best set of local election results of the three main parties in England in councils gained and the best overall for us in fifteen years.  We have every reason to hope that next year will be better still – we are already preparing.

The by-election in Lewisham East was our best against Labour for a decade.  Local council contests each week continue to reinforce the positive message our surveys are giving us.

Whatever toxicity attached to the Lib Dem brand after the Coalition has substantially dissipated.  Large numbers will vote for us if they think we have a chance of winning and if there is an effective campaign

As well as winning elections, we are setting out big ideas to change the country.  A few weeks ago, I detailed an ambitious but realistic approach to house building, describing what could be achieved without the impediment of ideological prejudice.

I have also launched a series of initiatives to confront the issues thrown up by the new digital economy and deal with the ‘data giants’; a group is looking at how best to support lifelong learning for people whose future is potentially subject to the upheavals of technological change; another will soon look more broadly at the impact of new technologies like AI and how best to respond to them.

On the core economy, I have set out a revised approach to fiscal and monetary policy which builds on, but does not destroy, existing structures.  We have carried out serious work on land value taxation, which will come before Conference in the Autumn. And I have described how in practice we create a corporate structure which is best described as ‘responsible capitalism’.

On public services, Liberal Democrats continue to lead the argument about the mechanics for funding health and social care with the advice of leading figures in health policy. The Federal Policy Committee has recently set up a new health working group to take forward their work, and to continue our leadership role in mental health policy pioneered by Norman Lamb. Layla Moran, our education spokesperson, has published proposals to address the concerns of parents, teachers and schools, which we endorsed at conference.

The politics of Brexit is moving slowly but substantially in our direction.  Where our calls for a final say on the deal for the public were once derided, more and more people are now joining with us in that campaign.  A highlight of my year was addressing the 100,000 people amassed in Parliament Square for the People’s Vote march.  We remain the leading political force arguing that whatever the parliamentary wranglings over detail, the best course for Britain is to stop Brexit altogether.  Giving the people a choice at the end of this dismal negotiating process is the best way to obtain an exit from Brexit

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WATCH: Vince Cable explain why we need a #peoplesvote

From yesterday’s Victoria Derbyshire programme:

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Vince: PM’s plan weakens Britain

I should have actually written it on here, but I reckoned that the number of Cabinet ministers resigning today would be zero. Whether that holds up when they start to get grief from their constituency associations is yet to be seen.

It was always clear that whatever came out of the Chequers summit today would be less than what we have already.

We can’t get as good a deal as we get from being a full member of the European Union. We should be in there shaping hhe EU response to the challenges facing us all whether they be on security or …

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Happy Anniversary!

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It’s hot, and our regular supply of posts from you, dear readers, seems to have melted away. But we can’t let today go by without acknowledging the 70th Anniversary of the NHS.

Of course, we can’t do it justice in a short piece, but we can be proud that, for all its faults, we do still have a system that is not only valued at home but also admired by other countries. Indeed, many nations now have systems of health care which are universal and free at the point of delivery, even if they differ in the methods used to achieve that.

Yes, of course there are anomalies in the NHS – dental care and prescriptions are often not free, social care is still not integrated properly with medical care, treatment is rationed by Clinical Commissioning Groups, too many services are outsourced.

But what has always astonished me is the fact that this blatantly socialist project, vilified by many at the time (including the majority of doctors), is now seen as an essential component of British life by people from across the political spectrum. And what saddens me is that the American right still don’t understand why we love it, and have dismantled the progressive systems that Obama carefully constructed.

The challenge over the last 70 years has been for the NHS to keep in step both with research and with societal changes, and that challenge will go with it into the future.

So it is appropriate that Vince Cable has chosen today to highlight quite a niche subject – access to fertility treatment for female couples.  He has written to Sir Andrew Dillon, the chief executive of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, about ‘shared motherhood’. This is a treatment that involves one partner donating an egg which is then carried by the other partner, so that both women are physically involved. At the moment it is only available privately at a cost of £6000 per cycle.

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Lib Dems condemn “betrayal” of Swansea Tidal Lagoon cancellation

It was a project which would power 150,000 households for 120 year, a program of lagoons at Swansea, Newport, Cardiff and Colwyn Bay which would create over 34,000 jobs in Wales alone. And Wales does need jobs. It was championed by the Lib Dems in Government, but, as has happened with so many Lib Dem ideas, it’s been cancelled today by the Tories.

Coming on the same day as the the vote on Heathrow expansion, you would be forgiven that the Tories really didn’t give a hoot about what David Cameron is alleged to have once described as “green crap” – and he was one of the more progressive ones.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have condemned the decision as a huge missed opportunity and another example of the Conservatives’ neglect of Wales.

The lagoon was strongly backed by the government commissioned Hendry review in January 2017 and is supported by businesses, councils, MPs and AMs from all parties. The lagoon would have acted as a pathfinder project for other lagoons across Wales including Newport, Cardiff and Colwyn Bay.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds was furious that the opportunity to make Wales a world leader in green energy had been thrown away:

The Conservatives’ rejection of the Swansea Tidal Lagoon is a disgrace. The Swansea Tidal Lagoon would be a vital first step in making Wales a world leader in green energy, bringing untold environmental and economic benefits to the community, Wales and the UK.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have consistently supported the Swansea Tidal Lagoon as a key part of our plans to develop an innovative, radical and ambitious green economy in Wales. It is deeply disappointing the Conservatives do not share our ambition.

When Ed Davey was Secretary of State for Climate Change he was totally behind the project. He called the cancellation an “historic mistake.”

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Vince: Keep fighting, keep hoping. We will win

Here’s the Lib Dem contingent at today’s People’s Vote march. There were lots of us there. It was an incredible atmosphere as we filled Parliament Square and beyond to listen to speeches from Tony Robinson (who actually said “I have a cunning plan”), David Lammy, Caroline Lucas and our own Vince Cable.

This event seemed like a real step up from previous ones. 100,000 people turned out demanding a People’s Vote. The key message was that this is not a done deal and we absolutely can get out of it.

This kicks off a Summer of campaigning across the country.

Here’s Vince speaking:

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Vince’s message for Eid al-Fitr

Apologies for not putting this up yesterday – it appeared after we had set up for the day – and it was one of THOSE days where we couldn’t get online.

So, a belated Eid Mubarak to all who have been celebrating.

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Dear Vince, Please stop and think before blaming immigrants

On Wednesday, Vince Cable spoke at an Open Britain event where he talked about EU immigration being “managed” from within the EU. Later in the day he tweeted: “Fully support proposals to ensure that #Immigration is managed. Compatible with membership of #singlemarket and #EuropeanUnion. Pity his government and mine acted too late to stop disastrous #Brexit vote. But not too late to stop Brexit.” So we’ve written him this letter to tell him what we think:

Dear Vince,

We know you’re trying to help; really, we do. We know that you want the UK to stay in the EU; …

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Vince on how the Lib Dems are transforming British politics – but can we do better?

In an article in the New Statesman, Vince outlines the three elements necessary to transform British politics from its current divisive, dystopian, dysfunctional state.

The first is following the example of the Canadian Liberals who went from third place to Government in just a few years.

Justin Trudeau was the result of a concerted effort to open up the Liberal Party to a wider support base through open primaries for the national leadership and MPs.

He talks a lot about open primaries these days although we’ve yet to see proposals of how this would work in practice and already many of our …

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Vince: Lib Dems will be running Sheffield by 2023

Vince Cable went to Sheffield this week and predicted that the party would again be running Sheffield’s Council within 5 years – and that we would win back Sheffield Hallam.

From The Star:

There

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Why Vince highlighted the Labour/Tory Brexit love-in

Vince had a question to the Prime Minister today. He was jeered at almost as soon as he stood up – a good sign that he is so relevant that people think they have to do that.

What did he choose to ask her on this set piece occasion?

The Prime Minister and the Labour Leader of the Opposition both agree that we should leave the single market and leave the European Union customs union, and that the public should not have a final say on the Brexit deal, so will the Prime Minister dispense with our tradition of party political point scoring and, in the spirit that I am setting, publicly thank the leadership of the Labour party for its help and support in making Brexit happen?

So why was he stirring that particular pot?

Well, it’s kind of obvious if you are fighting a parliamentary by-election a few miles down the road where Labour in theory has a large majority that you showcase their massive weakness in this pro-Remain seat as often as possible. At every possible moment, you highlight how Jeremy Corbyn is giving the Tories a free ride.

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Today on Lucy Salek’s Lewisham campaign…and why you should go to help her soon

I have a friend who’s heading down to Lewisham for a few days today to help Lucy Salek. She’s travelling 400 miles to work in a by-election in London. Why?

Well, the sooner you get there, the bigger the impact. We’ve had a fair few people out this weekend – 3 figures – which isn’t bad. We need more, though, to show that we are aiming high and taking the fight to the pro-Brexit Tory and Labour parties.

It’s those early days of a by-election where we can lay down a statement of intent. If people get lots of stuff from us early on and we create a bit of a buzz, we have more chance of a really good result. In Dunfermline in 2006, we were able to establish our credentials in the first couple of weeks and went from strength to strength after that.The more we can be seen all over the constituency and the more leaflets people get from us and, most importantly, if they find us on their doorsteps, the bigger the chance of a successful result. So if you possibly can, do get down early and often.

There’s also a purely selfish reason why you should go now – to see what happens in the early days of a big campaign. See if they are trying out any new quirky things, get some samples of early literature to crib from in your campaign.

Oh, and you will have massive amounts of fun too. I’m probably not going to get there in person but I have donated and I will be making calls.

Lucy has been campaigning tirelessly since she was selected. Today she was talking to people at a farmers’ market.

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Vince Cable talks about his mother’s mental illness, his father’s racism and overcoming prejudice in a moving and candid interview

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You probably don’t know that Vince Cable was on Radio 5 Live as the birthday guest on Sunday night because it’s not really been reported anywhere. It’s worth catching up on it though because it’s one of the most open, personal  and moving interviews I’ve heard him give. He’s mentioned the racism he and his first wife Olympia faced as a mixed race couple before but in this

Vince was 75 last week but he said that he was both physically and mentally fit – he was introduced as a dancer and black run skier. His age isn’t an issue, he says. He says he’s well received amongst audiences of young people and derided by older people.

He said there was a period in politics when it was important to be youthful, citing Kennedy, Blair and Cameron but talks about a blend of youthful innovation and experience is necessary.

Growing up in York to ambitious working class parents, he learned about aspiration and ambition. He says he was a bit lonely when his brother arrived at 11. HIs mother suffered post natal depression and spent some time in hospital as a result. He has talked before of the role of adult education in helping her recover from that. His brother was fostered for a while and his father had to look after him.  He said people were quite cruel about it and taunted him about is mother going to the “loony bin.” He says we’ve made some progress with that sort of attitude.

The idea of women working when he was growing up was frowned upon. He sees this as adding to his mother’s loneliness. His father was a very traditional person who had campaigned to stop women teaching and who believed in a hierarchy of races.

He talked of forming a “little liberal cell” in his house with his mum, who defied the instructions to vote Conservative she received from her husband.

It was playing Macbeth in the school play which helped him overcome his awkwardness as a teenager and he spoke of how his involvement in a drama group led to his first relationship – with Lady Macbeth.

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Vince Cable’s message as Ramadan begins

I was standing at the bus stop yesterday morning in already warm sunshine wondering how on earth I’d cope if I couldn’t have anything to eat or drink before the sun went down which, in Scotland is nigh on ten at night. The answer is not very well.

I have nothing but admiration for my Muslim friends who take part in Ramadan every year. For them it is part of the annual routine and they just get on with it, however challenging that might be in our northern hemisphere long days. It’s important to remember that the majority of a quarter of the world’s population will be taking part in the fast.

I found this article on the Everyday Feminism site, about how to support friends during Ramadan, helpful. A lot of it is about asking people what would work best for them.

Vince Cable has recorded a message of support for all those who are fasting:

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Ed and Vince appeal to Sajid Javid to retain people’s rights to access Home Office data about them

Sajid Javid has been urged to dump the controversial Immigration Exemption Clause from the Data Protection Bill when it returns to the Commons next week.

Vince Cable and  Ed Davey have written to the new Home Secretary to urge him to protect people’s fundamental rights when their data is being processed for immigration purposes.

Many immigration decisions are overturned at appeal because the Home Office has made mistakes. But the bill puts at risk the right for individuals to see what information the Home Office holds on them and the Lib Dems are pressuring the government to make a concession on this point.

The letter says:

Congratulations on taking up your new post. As you have acknowledged, the task facing you is immense.

Further to exchanges in the House yesterday, can we urge you to clear the air by publishing any report made by Philip Hammond as Foreign Secretary in 2016 to the Home Office about deportations of the Windrush generation, following his meetings with Caribbean ministers and their representations to him? In the chamber you only said you would ‘consider’ publication in the House of Commons library. We hope you will agree that the House should know whether the Prime Minister knew these deportations were happening and what actions she took as Home Secretary to stop them.

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Vince on Marr – Rudd, race and the need for a People’s vote on Brexit

There must be an election happening or something. We have had Vince on Marr this morning and Jo Swinson is on Peston as I write.

He was quite measured on Amber Rudd. Rather than call outright for her resignation, he said we needed to hear what she had to say to Parliament tomorrow. One of two things is true:

Either she misled Parliament or she was the last person in the Home Office to know about removal targets.

A later comment by Brandon Lewis on the same programme intensifies the case against Amber Rudd.

Lewis bullishly defended the removal targets, saying that we had to get rid of those bad criminals and illegal immigrants, didn’t we? It is very easy to become an illegal immigrant. A tiny error on a complicated Home Office form can mean that you lose your status. You are given no chance to rectify it. Yet the people responsible for an almighty scandal such as Windrush get off with a few critical newspaper headlines.

I actually hope that Amber Rudd didn’t deliberately mislead Parliament because I don’t want her replaced by some extreme Brexiteer like Gove or Grayling. There is nobody in the Conservative Party who is going to give the Home Office and immigration system the treatment it deserves: dismantling completely and being rebuilt in a fair and compassionate manner which inspires the confidence of those who use it and those who advocate on their behalf.

Back to Vince. He said that most people who voted for Brexit did so for legitimate reasons, but that racism was a factor.

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Vince: Supermarket mega-merger must be referred to competition watchdog.

The news that two of the big four supermarkets in this country were in merger talks was greeted with concern with many people.

If this goes ahead, the new company would control 30% of the market which is in few enough hands as it is.

Vince Cable basically said that it was a no-brainer that this should be fully investigated before it was allowed. He said:

The grocery market – and the British shopper – already suffers from the mid-market being dominated by just a handful of big players. What the merger of the second and third biggest supermarkets threatens is the creation of

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WATCH: Vince Cable’s speech to Scottish Conference

Here is Vince Cable’s speech to Scottish Conference yesterday. He challenged the SNP to back a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal, saying that their silence on the issue was embarrassing. He said he had been working with them perfectly well on issues like the customs union and he single market and called on them to put the national interest above their party interest.

He also made it clear that the Scottish Conservatives, without whom Theresa May would not be able to form a Government, are wholly signed up to the hard right Tory-UKIP agenda.

He said that he was optimistic about our party’s future, saying that we are on the right side of history. We can stop Brexit, which he said would be a nightmare for EU nationals and said that there was no solution for the Irish Border that didn’t involve staying n the customs union.

Enjoy:

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Vince Cable as you have never seen him before

We’re used to seeing Vince outlining his Liberal Democrat vision in typically thoughtful style. Action shots are more likely to be gliding effortlessly across the dance floor in a graceful and flawless foxtrot.

We’re used to seeing Willie Rennie dialling the fun in any photo opportunity up to the maximum level.

When Vince came to Aviemore yesterday to speak at Scottish Conference, he got a taste of photo-ops, Rennie style – and he loved it. He threw himself, quite literally, into the spirit of the occasion when he found himself next to a sign saying “Jump and Smile Adventure Park”

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Why is a parliamentary vote on military action necessary?

I have just come back from a wonderful week in the Highlands with only intermittent connection to the internet. The apologetic note from the housekeeper of our rented holiday cottage saying that the wifi was out of action was unexpected but very welcome. It was incredibly restorative to have a few days when the only thing I had to worry about (and this is not insignificant, I have to say) was the incredibly dim pheasants with no instinct of self preservation whatsoever that would blithely wander into the path of the car on the single track road to the cottage. Seriously, one of the little beasts held me up for three full minutes last night as my dinner was getting cold. Oh, and there was the irony of finding that Scottish Water, who have been delaying my commute with their roadworks in Edinburgh for nigh on half a year were also digging up the village on my twice daily route to the beach. The delays were substantially less, though.

My very grateful thanks and promises of beer and wine at a later date are due to Paul and Mary who kept the site going through mine and Kirsten’s absence this week.

Since we’ve been away, the horrific chemical attack in Syria has shocked, if not surprised, the world. When something like that happens, it’s so important to respond in a careful and considered way, with a proper plan that has the support of key international allies and, in our case, parliamentary approval. I know that we technically don’t have to have a parliamentary vote, but it sends a much stronger message if action is taken with the consent of a majority of members of Parliament. It lends a legitimacy to the proceedings.

Any Government sending our people into active service should have the democratic scrutiny of Parliament behind it. We live in a parliamentary democracy and the government shouldn’t avoid its responsibilities in that regard.

I am still not entirely sure whether I support the attack in principle. Of course anyone who gases their own people needs to be stopped and, frankly, sitting round a table and asking Assad nicely not to do it probably isn’t going to cut it. I think there is an argument for taking out the capability to produce and use these awful weapons. However, you have to be very sure that you aren’t going to make the situation worse for the people who live there.

Vince Cable’s statesmanlike approach to these issues has made me wish he were making the decisions rather than May and certainly the ever volatile Donald Trump. He has been reasonable, asking for evidence, a plan and a parliamentary vote and he’s been explaining today why he thinks that is so important:

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Letter to Vince Cable – UK military action in Syria is not justified

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This letter is in response to Vince’s request for feedback on the Syrian question

Dear Vince Cable,

Thank you for giving we members an opportunity to forward our views to you on the possible military intervention by the UK in Syria.

This is an extremely difficult problem which seems to place us in a lose-lose situation. If we do not intervene we appear to stand by impotently whilst terrible wickedness takes place, including the internationally illegal use of chemical weapons. If we do intervene there is a strong possibility of making a bad situation worse, as has already happened in similar circumstances in Iraq and Libya.

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Vince Cable on Syria

In an email to members Vince Cable writes:

I am certain that you are as appalled as I am about the horrific scenes coming out of Syria.

The use of chemical weapons is barbaric. It is a crime against humanity and it is a clear violation of international law.

The Liberal Democrats are an internationalist, outward-looking party – and part of that is being willing to play our part in upholding international law.

In the next few days, it is possible the Government will ask MPs to decide on potential military action in Syria. This is not a decision we will ever make lightly.

As Leader, I want to be clear with you how I and our group in Parliament will make such a decision.

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Vince Cable on internet regulation

In the years before the 2008 crash, Vince Cable built a reputation for seeing further ahead than most in politics and economics. Vince’s essay in the new Social Liberal Forum book “Four Go in Search of Big Ideas” enhances this record.

Writing before recent revelations about Cambridge Analytica, he identified: “the heart of the worries growing deeper about the data giants: that by filtering the information we receive they can influence not just the goods and services we consume but how we vote and, indeed, what we think”.

Vince sets out the threat to democracy: “Even if the owners of the platforms are benign and well-intentioned, the systems they have created and now monopolise may threaten democracy as we know it”. “Their systems can be used for surveillance by building up a profile of targeted individuals. Elections in many countries often revolve around which candidate has the largest, engaged, Facebook following while the US President’s Twitter following has become a means of short-circuiting the checks and balances built into media coverage”.

Vince’s concludes that “the Internet is being constructed around a handful of companies of immense and growing power, notably Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Netflix, along with their Chinese equivalents, Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu”. “We are dealing with a particular case of regulated natural monopoly. If there are historical parallels it is with nineteenth-century railway companies which dominated the economy and society of the regions they opened up”.

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Vince Cable’s Easter Message

Here is Vince Cable’s Easter message:

I would like to send warm wishes to all those celebrating Easter here in the UK and around the world.

For many Christians, Easter is a time of deep reflection and self-examination, and is an important reminder of the values of forgiveness, compassion and kindness. These are principles that resonate with people of all faiths and none.

At the heart of the Easter story is a message of hope and we see this demonstrated through various faith-based projects across the country, whose work helps to protect the most vulnerable in our society. Thank you to the thousands who continue to give their time and energy for the good of their local communities.

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A year to Brexit – time to remember that we could and should get out of this mess

A year ago, I watched in sorrow and horror as Theresa May triggered the Article 50 process, motivated more by keeping her restless Brexiteers in check than what was actually good for the country.

With just a year to go before we are scheduled to leave the European Union, most of the really difficult issues are unresolved and every day the problems become more apparent. From the Irish border to how we sell and buy the things we take for granted from abroad, to the reappearance of roaming charges to uncertainty over aviation to nuclear safety, we still don’t know how our post Brexit life will take shape.

That’s partly because Theresa May has chosen to pander to the hard right gung ho Brexiteer elements in her own party rather than build support for a more moderate cross-party approach.  The negotiating tactics have been ridiculous, disjointed and devoid of any sort of strategy. They are making this country look very stupid on the international stage which isn’t a good look for our forthcoming leap into isolation.

When you have an international trade war being ignited by a protectionist in the White House, surely you are better off ganging up with 27 of your mates rather than entering negotiations alone and powerless.

21 months on from the referendum, we know that Brexit is much more complex than was at first portrayed and there is little sign of a fawning world queuing up to offer us trade deals that are even half as good as the one we currently enjoy from within the EU.

People are brining up Brexit a lot on the doorsteps. They think it is a really bad idea, but think we are stuck with it. The message from Liberal Democrats today must be very strongly that we can get out of it – and we will. We have to offer tangible hope to people.

Vince Cable kicked off an Easter weekend of intensive Lib Dem campaigning on this issue, saying:

Today the Liberal Democrats are launching our biggest ever campaign outside an election.

Article 50 was triggered a year ago and since then few concrete steps towards a deal. May’s tactic of kicking the can down the road has meant that no tangible progress has been made, and year ahead is overloaded.

In the coming months, the country faces two critical issues. One is on membership of the Customs Union, which we must remain in, as it is essential to our supply chain industries and solving the matter of the Irish border.

The other is that it must be made clear what a ‘close transition’ truly means – at the moment it is just a messy vacuum.

The poorly-handled negotiations and the Cambridge Analytica scandal means that there is, rightfully, a heightened sense that any Brexit deal must be signed off in a test of public opinion. This must include the option of an exit from Brexit.

Willie Rennie said:

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Vince calls on Government to delay changes to mortgage interest payment for people on benefits

In less than 3 weeks’ time, the Government stops paying mortgage interest to for those on certain benefits.

Some bright spark at the Department of Work and Pensions came up with a way to save the Government money – by getting a private company, Serco, to operate a loan scheme. Instead of having payments covered by the state, they will be covered by the homeowner taking out a private loan with Serco in return for a charge on the property. That means that they will have to pay back an unspecified sum of money if they eventually sell their house.

The Government …

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Vince talks to Voice Part 4: Liberal ideas for the modern world – open, liberal, green

Here’s the final part of my chat with Vince Cable just after his keynote speech to Conference on Sunday.

I wanted to know what he meant about having a party “fizzing with ideas”

We’ve got these structures for policy making and they can be a bit clunky but they often produce some good creative stuff.  Instead of this just being confined to the usual small minority of policy wonks we open it up to the wider membership and get much more feedback. The whole point of being more digital is that it’s easier to engage people.

I set out some of the areas in the speech we should be thinking about. There are whole swathes of stuff I didn’t even begin to talk about – what you do about national defence in the new era of Russia. I hinted at tax but that’s a mega area. We’ve got to rethink the principles of it.

I think in a way the principles come before the policy. It’s easy to be geeks about policy but policy is something people in the party care about. I just want it opened up.

You might remember yesterday I was asked about universal basic income. My starting position is that it’s a seriously bad idea but if other people in the party care about it and can make the argument, let’s have that debate?

I asked if we have too much policy and not enough big picture stuff about who we are?

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Vince talks to Voice Part 3: A message of hope that Brexit can be stopped

As you know, I managed to grab 10 minutes with Vince, his wife Rachel and some delicious sandwiches just after his speech on Sunday.  You can also read Parts 1,  and 2

I asked him what he wanted to have accomplished by the time we gather in Brighton for Conference in September.

Well I think there are some very specific areas where good work has been initiated – learning accounts, medical technologies, taxation. that will be some meaty stuff to talk about.

But Brexit is going to be the big thing….

We will have a greater understanding by September of exactly where we are in the Brexit cycle. Hopefully the message of hope that this can be stopped will be clearer but even if it isn’t totally clear we will then have one month to stop it and October may be the crucial month so people need to be prepared that this is the time for the big push and to back up what’s happening in the party and at conference with stuff on the streets. That’s crucial.

We are the only party that is mobilising people to argue back with street campaigns. We need to build up the tempo on that working with other campaigning groups. We’ve already started that. It doesn’t stop at the local elections. It needs to keep going over the Summer as the key decisions will be made in the Autumn. I hope that people’s confidence that this is doable is fortified by some victories in the Spring. If we can get the Government defeated on the customs union, that’ll be a start. It’s not the end but it’s certainly the start.

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Lib Dems respond to the Spring Statement – Hammond ignores the Heffalump in the room

You know, I actually wrote Autumn Statement in the headline and had to change it. Old habits die hard. I’m so used to the Big Budget being in March and that ritual of having to go and fill up with petrol the night before in case the prices went up…

Anyway, here’s what Lib Dems have been saying about Philip Hammond’s statement, starting with Vince:

The Spring Statement was a non-event. The OECD gave us the clearer picture – that the economy is bumping along the bottom of the G20, well behind the likes of Australia, Canada and the Euro area.

The OBR’s fresh forecasts are still a long way behind the figures estimated in March 2016 before the EU referendum.

It is time the government was honest with the public: there will need to be tax increases to pay for the NHS and social care, police and schools.

This is why the Liberal Democrats have advocated a penny in the pound income tax increase for health and care and why we must scrap cuts in Capital Gains Tax and Inheritance Tax introduced since 2015.

Christine Jardine got a bit carried away with Winnie the Pooh metaphors:

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    " and many still have memories of the last time the hard left were in power." When was that? I am the same age as...
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  • User AvatarMike Read 21st Jul - 7:18pm
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