The Press Pack: A round-up of Lib Dem media comments – 22 August 2017

Here’s a roundup of  media comments made by Lib Dem parliamentarians and spokespeople today.

GP numbers

Norman Lamb slammed the Government for failing to deliver more GPs:

The government’s promise to recruit 5,000 more GPs by 2020 lies in tatters, with fewer GPs now than when this pledge was first made.

“The pitiful increase we have seen in recent months is nowhere near enough to cope with rising patient demand.

“This failure to recruit enough doctors will inevitably have a damaging impact on the ability of patients to access the healthcare they need.

“We are already close to breaking point, with people in many parts of the country struggling to get appointments with their GP.

“More doctors are urgently needed to guarantee a fully-staffed NHS that provides everyone with the care they need.

Swinson criticises UK support for Trump Afghanistan move

The government didn’t really get round to condemning Donald Trump’s appalling remarks in the wake of Charlottesville, but they were quick off the mark to support him sending more troops to Afghanistan. Jo Swinson said:

For once, sense seems to have prevailed in the White House.

“But to succeed in Afghanistan will require winning the hearts and minds of its people and working closely with neighbouring countries.

“On that front, Donald Trump has already done untold damage through his proposed refugee ban, Islamophobic comments and cack-handed approach to foreign affairs.

“The government’s rapid statement of support for Trump today contrasts with its failure to swiftly condemn his divisive views and actions in the past.

“Simply pouring more troops into Afghanistan will not work without a broader strategy involving careful diplomacy and redoubled efforts to build a stable government.”

Even Brussels must be tired of this waffle

Tom Brake commented on the latest Brexit paper to come from the Government, this time on civil judicial links post Brexit:

Each Brexit paper the government releases leaves us with more questions than answers. Even Brussels must have had enough of this waffle by now.

“The Conservatives are admitting the current system has served British citizens well, giving them certainty that the same rules will apply across Europe. So why are ministers hell-bent on ripping up this system and plunging British citizens abroad and EU citizens here into uncertainty?

“No clarity has been given over which court will resolve disputes and how this will work in practice.

“The government doesn’t even seem to know what it wants to negotiate, so how can it possibly secure a good deal for Britain?”

And he rounded on the Government after they admitted a no-deal Brexit would make it harder to return abducted children:

This exposes the reality of a no deal Brexit, abducted children at greater risk and families plunged into uncertainty.

“The Government needs to end its heartless insistence that no deal is better than a bad deal.

“Avoiding the devastating human consequences of an extreme Brexit should come ahead of the ideological obsessions of Tory Brexiteers.

“The Conservatives claim to be the party of family values, but their plans would risk tearing more families apart.”

BHS prosecution: Carmichael says no court case can restore 11,000 jobs

The legal process must now run its course but no prosecution will give back the jobs of 11,000 people who Philip Green effectively put on the dole by passing the company on to Mr Chappell.

“While Green continues to enjoy his knighthood and his yacht, we need to ensure that workers and pensioners are never again put through such an ordeal.”

SNP failing on skills – Caddick

Responding to a new survey which suggests that almost two thirds of Scottish firms are concerned they will be unable to recruit sufficiently skilled employees over the next few years, Scottish Liberal Democrats have called upon the Scottish Government to boost investment in education and skills.

A total of 120 companies in Scotland were questioned as part of a UK-wide survey by Pearson UK and the Confederation of British Industry(CBI). Just over three quarters of businesses said they expect their need for “high-level skills” – including qualifications, employability skills and industry knowledge – to increase in the next three to five years, but 59% are concerned that candidates will not meet their requirements.

Scottish Liberal Democrat economy spokesperson Councillor Carolyn Caddick said:

“The Scottish economy faces serious challenges. A disastrous hard Brexit from the Tories would deprive businesses of the people they need while the SNP preside over a skills shortage and an education system that has slipped.

“The results of this survey underline the importance of remaining in the single market. The Scottish Government must also make a transformative £500 million investment in education so that everyone has the skills they need to get on in life. This is essential to building the high skill, high wage economy of the future and enabling employers to find staff and grow.”

Barclay Review “missed opportunity for radical change” to Land Value Taxation

The Scottish Government’s review into Business Rates was published today and was, as ever, timid.

The review misses the opportunity for radical changes that would benefit Scottish business. We could have moved to a system of land value taxation which would have avoided the big rate increases that Scottish businesses face when they improve their property with renewable energy or sprinkler systems. All Barclay does is ask for a further review. Land value tax would also provide an automatic incentive to redevelop brown-field sites.

“It is a good idea to exempt new buildings from rates for a year to give a new business the chance to get established. This will encourage enterprise and innovation.

“However, it is disappointing that the Barclay Review does not recommend giving businesses protection from the gigantic rate increases that some of them have faced this year. Hotels and pubs have been hammered by the last two reviews.

“Ministers will have to explain clearly if they are going to adopt the recommendation to transfer money away from local authority sports’ bodies and towards big business. These are the big headline cash transfers in the report and will concern people worried about local council services.”

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  • Richard Underhill 22nd Aug '17 - 8:44pm

    Most people have forgotten than the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, following on from an ‘aid program’ which built roads for use by the USSR military, The Soviets were not welcome on the ground and tended to operate from military helicopters, not even using the roads they had built. Surface to air missiles which were generally available in the international arms trade were made available to Afghan resistance fighters, but they were not very accurate. Other surface to air missiles were only available to US forces, so using them labelled them made in USA, which eventually happened. The soviet armed forces withdrew and Gorbachev added to his political problems by dismissing them. The unemployed soldiers used the increased freedom from Glasnost to demonstrate against him, others did what ex-soldiers can do at the expense of civil society in Russia. According to Chris Patten (First confession) the British Ambassador to Afghanistan forecast what would happen and has been proved right. Unfortunately Whitehall was wrong.

  • Most people have forgotten the Treaty of Rawalpindi.

  • Andrew McCaig 23rd Aug '17 - 9:49am

    It is an amazing commentary on the Trump regime that renewed military involvement in Afghanistan is seen as somehow sensible!

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Aug '17 - 9:58am
    which was before the Atlee government accepted that India should be independent. We are currently seeing reviews of the effects of partition, massive loss of life, 3 wars between India and Pakistan, continuing violent disagreement about Kashmir and minimal trade between neighbours.
    Frequent floods in Bangladesh need international co-operation to divert water coming down the hills from the Himalayas.
    Former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan said that Moscow was ‘playing the Great Game’ as well as selling armaments to India at discounted prices, so the USA provided arms to Pakistan, not controlled by USA, which leaked into world markets and can be used against US troops in Afghanistan.
    Donald Trump is too inconsistent to be believed on anything without, exhaustive fact-checking, and has only entered politics recently. He is not a historian. What he is doing now is in line with what Mark Twain said about the Philippines.

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Aug '17 - 10:12am

    The Liberal Democrats could consider supporting a move in the Welsh Assembly for representatives to job-share.
    Caroline Lucas job-shares the leadership of the Green Party, although she was elected as an MP (Brighton Pavilion) and her political partner was not (in a different constituency). Their opinions appear to be identical, which is a challenge for political journalists trying to get a cigarette paper between them.
    When Bill Clinton was first elected as President of the USA he said that the electorate was “getting two for the price of one” by which he did not mean Vice President Al Gore, he meant First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, in charge of health reform, which became Obama-care.

  • “And as for the flag for the Philippine Province, it is easily arranged. We can have a special one – our States do it: we can have just our usual flag, with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bones”.

    Mark Twain had a clearer idea of the conflict than anti-imperialists of today do. He could openly and freely support Aguinaldo, while today’s “progressives” are caught between a blundering, deadly and counter productive American foreign policy which they oppose on the one hand, and, in the Middle East, often an unsavory band of murderous criminals, terrorists, and ethnic nationalists which they cannot support on the other.

  • Talking about Lib Dems in the media, curious that this column is so coy about a report in yesterday’s ‘Scotsman’ that Willie Rennie is planning a budget deal with the SNP ? I thought the Scottish Lib Dems thought the SNP was tarred with the Devil’s brush.

    I’ve heard it said, ‘Ye need a lang spoon tae sup wi a Fifer? .’ but does the opposite now apply, Willie ?

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