Tag Archives: william wallace

Lib Dems help win Lords concession on citizens’ rights after Brexit

Regular Lib Dem Voice contributor and Lib Dem peer William Wallace has won a major concession from the Government as the EU Withdrawal Bill makes its way through the House of Lords.

Don’t get me wrong, the words EU Withdrawal Bill send a cold shiver through my heart, but anything we can do to make the legislation less awful has to be welcomed.

Under pressure from peers the government stated that they will commit to upholding the rights won from our membership of the EU. This includes upholding key parts of existing rights such as the EU Working Time Directive.

Speaking last night in the Lords on behalf of the government, Lord Duncan of Springbank,

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Boris “a real embarrassment” says William Wallace

Our Lib Dem Peer and regular LDV contributor William Wallace is an Emeritus Professor in International Relations. He is more qualified than most people to comment on foreign policy. In the Lords debate on the EU Withdrawal on Monday, he was incredibly critical about the Foreign Secretary – and that was before Boris’s bizarre comparison of the congestion charge boundary to the Irish border after Brexit.

Here’s the whole of that speech:

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William Wallace of Saltaire on singing at the Coronation

You think you know everything there is to know about our parliamentarians’ backgrounds and then, all of a sudden, you find out something new.

That happened to me tonight as I watched the BBC1 programme about The Coronation. For me, the big “wow” moment wasn’t watching the Queen chatting away about her big day, or her obvious fascination with her crowns. It was when they showed 4 former choristers who sang on that day that I thought – that looks like William Wallace, our Peer and regular LDV contributor. Keeley Hawes, narrating, then said their names, and one of them was William Wallace. He was on the front row. He was a pupil at the Westminster Abbey Choir School.

Wikipedia provided the final confirmation. And the wonders of the internet also told me that he had spoken to ITV about the experience back in 2015 when the Queen became the longest-reigning monarch. 

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LibLink: William Wallace writes for the Independent on the Government’s Brexit dilemma

Regardless of whether you support or oppose Brexit, there is no doubt that you’d prefer your negotiators to be both united and organised. In a piece for yesterday’s Independent, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson in the Lords, William Wallace, highlights some of the emerging tensions amongst Conservative ranks.

The Leave campaign united around reasserting British sovereignty; but they gave little thought to what that meant, or what continuing relations we would have with our neighbours if we left what has been the institutional framework for a broad partnership for 44 years.

Boris Johnson

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William Wallace writes….What’s Brexit really all about?

At the consultation meeting the Lords Party held at our Bournemouth conference, the strongest plea that came from round the table discussing Brexit was for more information on what is happening.  We will take that back to the wider parliamentary party and our small and overworked group of researchers, and see what more we can do.  There are some really good papers from Nick Clegg’s advisory group on the party’s web site, which explore the underlying issues; but the politics of the negotiations are moving and changing almost every week, and I guess that campaigners want usable material to respond to that.  So meanwhile, here are some initial suggestions on how best to play the issues in different places.

The most important shift in the Brexit debate over the summer has been from general principle to detail, as negotiations get under way, and as the deadline of March 2019 begins to loom.  Boris Johnson’s Telegraph article was a denial of where we are – sweeping aside the difficult questions about HOW we manage a mutually-advantageous relationship with the EU after we leave, to argue that those who say Britain will suffer if we don’t get an agreement are talking the country down, and that a close external association with the EU will make the UK ‘a vassal state’, in ‘a national humiliation.’  This, we must all repeat vigorously, is Brexit denial, like climate change denial: refusing to admit the detailed evidence that there are problems to resolve.  The detail matters, we must insist against the ideological sceptics: crashing out without a deal will cause chaos in the UK economy, cost jobs, and endanger standards.

Let’s take the issue of border controls. 2.6 million trucks pass through Dover every year, five times as many as when the Single Market started in 1992.  They spend an average of 2 minutes each passing the border.  If this extended to 20 minutes each (the fastest one estimate suggests they could be cleared outside the customs union), the queues would soon stretch along the M20, supermarket shelves would empty (1/3 of our food is imported from the EU) and assembly lines would grind to a halt (Honda’s Swindon plant alone depends on 350 truck-loads of components a day coming through Dover). Revenue and Customs are trying to introduce a new computer system, but that may not have the capacity to cope with the number of transactions required outside the customs union, and in any case may well not be ready by March 2019.  Estimates of additional customs staff needed by then are in the thousands; but recruitment has not yet begun.  And Boris doesn’t think we need a transition arrangement after that date?

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LibLink: William Wallace gives the William Beveridge Memorial Lecture

William Wallace – one of our eminent peers – delivered the William Beveridge Memorial Lecture at the Social Liberal Forum Conference a week ago.

Professionally William was a professor in International Relations at the London School of Economics, and he has worked as a visiting professor in Universities around the world. So you would be right in expecting his lecture to be intellectually rigorous and thoroughly relevant to social liberals.

He took as his theme the question: Is a liberal and democratic society compatible with globalisation? You can read the full text of his lecture here, but here is a taster.

He sets the question firmly in an international context:

Dani Rodrik, one of my favourite economists – a Turk teaching at Harvard – wrote some five years ago that we may be discovering that democracy is not compatible with unconditional globalization; and that if we have to choose, we must prefer democracy and open society to globalization.  I take that as my text, and will explore its implications for Liberals, who believe in open societies and international cooperation but also in individual freedom within settled communities.   I have a second text, which is President Macron’s declaration that France must support a market economy, but not a market society’ – which is a good phrase for us to adopt in Britain, when Corbynistas are close to rejecting the market as such and the Conservative right sees the market as governing social provision.

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Lib Dem Lords vs the Article 50 Bill: William Wallace: Our democracy is in danger

The Lib Dem Lords have made some cracking contributions to the debate on the Article 50 Bill. Ahead of its next Lords stages, we’re bringing you all the Lib Dem contributions over the course of this weekend. That’s no mean feat. There were 32 of them and cover more than 30,000 words. You are not expected to read every single one of them as they appear. Nobody’s going to be testing you or anything. However, they will be there to refer to in the future. 

Our Lords excelled themselves. Their contributions were thoughtful, individual, well-researched and wide-ranging and it’s right that we present them in

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William Wallace writes…What should the Liberal Democrats be saying to the “left behind?”

What should the Liberal Democrats be saying to the ‘Left Behind’?  We’ve claimed a strong position as the voice of the 48%; but there are many among the 52% who are not illiberal at heart, and others who voted ‘Sod off!’ in the Referendum to London as much as to Brussels in their disillusion with politics and the distant elite.  People who live on partly-sold off Council estates, or in places built to house workers in factories that closed 30 to 40 years ago, where local services have been steadily cut back and jobs are hard to get to, low paid and insecure, have some justifiable reasons to feel resentful .

Theresa May has spoken about the ‘left behind’ at the Davos World Economic Forum, but said little about what an’ active state’ (yes, she has used that term) should do to help them. Donald Trump in his inauguration speech promised ‘the forgotten people’ from globalisation that they will now be remembered, but didn’t say what he would do to help them beyond putting up barriers to imports.  The right-wing media in Britain have portrayed their problems as mostly down to fecklessness and immigrants – taking their jobs and the social housing they want to claim, weighing down the NHS.  Labour is wavering over whether to give in to that narrative, or address more underlying problems.

But what do we want to say, consistent with our values, and without pandering to the ‘blame the East Europeans’ narrative?  Liberal Democrat peers have set up a working group to address this, to feed into party campaigning in ‘left behind’ areas.  The London-based media portrays the political choices for such voters as between Labour and UKIP (having forgotten the Lib Dem record in cities like Sheffield, Liverpool, Newcastle, Hull and elsewhere).  We know that Labour has already lost their trust, and that local campaigning has created new pockets of Liberal Democrat support, with encouraging local by-election results in recent months. Our group includes peers with local government experience in northern cities and neglected rural areas; and we are drawing on a number of reports on the social and economic conditions of England’s pockets of depression and deprivation.

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William Wallace writes…Liberal Democrats will fight for votes at 16 and balanced EU referendum rules

The EU Referendum, Sir William Cash declared during the passage of the Bill providing for it through the Commons, is of fundamental importance to the future of this country over the next generation and more.That is why Liberal Democrats have been arguing, regardless of the broader issue of lowering the voting age, that on this occasion 16- and 17-year-olds should be allowed to vote. We agree with Eurosceptics like Bill Cash that this is a vital, long-term decision; so those that have the longest stake in the future of this country should not be denied a say.

The Bill has now passed through the Commons, and has its second reading in the Lords today. Liberal Democrats will be putting down amendments on a number of issues in addition to votes at sixteen. We support extending the franchise for the referendum to UK citizens who have been living and working elsewhere within the EU for more than 15 years, which is the current cut-off for non-resident voters. We will also be putting down an amendment to allow EU citizens who have become long-term residents within the UK to vote in the referendum; they already have the right to vote in local and European elections here, so in many cases are already on the register.

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Martin Horwood MP writes… Balance of competence reports shows EU membership is crucial for UK jobs

The Government today published the long awaited first six reports of the review of the balance of competences between EU and national levels, due to be finalised at the end of 2014. The review has been overseen by a Ministerial star chamber with Lord Wallace of Saltaire leading impressively for the Liberal Democrats in the complicated process.

Contrary to the perception in Eurosceptic ranks, this review is not and was never about creating a wish list of demands for unilateral repatriation of powers. Liberal Democrats have been unwavering in our arguments that the EU needs reform to make …

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Next week in the Lords: 29 October – 1 November

There are those who suggest that what this country needs is less legislation and more management and proper scrutiny. Perhaps the House of Lords is taking this to heart, as the diary for the week is reflective of such a wish…

Monday sees the beginning of the Committee Stage of the Election Registration and Administration Bill, with Chris Rennard and Paul Tyler leading for the Liberal Democrats, and William Wallace responding on behalf of the Government.

Liberal Democrats will be looking to ensure that voter registration remains mandatory, as …

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Lord Stoneham defends Goodwin disclosure

The Liberal Democrat peer who disclosed that former Royal Bank of Scotland chief Sir Fred Goodwin had a relationship with a senior colleague defended his action last night.

Using Parliamentary privilege, Lord Stoneham of Droxford told peers last Thursday:

Every taxpayer has a direct public interest in the events leading up to the collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland, so how can it be right for a super-injunction to hide the alleged relationship between Sir Fred Goodwin and a senior colleague?

If true, it would be a serious breach of corporate governance and not even the Financial Services Authority would be

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Why vote Liberal Democrat? Book review

If you go to Amazon searching for “Why vote Liberal Democrat?”, edited by Danny Alexander and just published  by Biteback, you may be surprised to find yourself being presented instead with a book of the same title from 1997, written by William Wallace. The new book is misfiled by Amazon under the title “Why vote Lib Dem?” but actually the 1997 volume provides an interesting contrast with the 2010 version.

The 2010 book is one of a series, covering also Labour, Conservatives, SNP, Plaid and the Greens. All the others are single person authored books (with the exception of …

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Podcast: The foundation of the Liberal Party

150th anniversary

One hundred and fifty years ago, on the 6 June 1859, at Willis Rooms in St James, Westminster, Radical, Peelite and Whig Members of Parliament met to formalise their Parliamentary coalition to oust the Conservative government and finally brought about the formation of the Liberal Party.

To commemorate the compact made at Willis Rooms in 1859 and the consequent founding of the Liberal Party, the Liberal Democrat History Group and the National Liberal Club organised a joint event at the Club on 20 July 2009. The evening was …

Play
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Ralf Dahrendorf obituary

Yesterday the Financial Times ran an obituary from Liberal Democrat peer William Wallace:

Ralf Dahrendorf, who has died at the age of 80, crowded several careers, in Germany and Britain, into a single life.

First a leading academic sociologist, then a rising Liberal German politician, director of the London School of Economics and later warden of St Antony’s College, Oxford, he combined political engagement and intellectual debate. He was successively a German minister, a European commissioner and a British peer. He was a European public intellectual; the author of nearly 30 books, and a long-standing columnist for Die Zeit and La Repubblica

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