Welcome to my day: 18 September 2023 – changing perspectives…

There’s been a lot of debate about the Party’s proposals on housing policy for the past week or so, as evidenced by the series of articles on this website. There’s another today from Simon McGrath, who has rather controversially linked one area of Party policy to this one. It’s controversial merely because the Government don’t do that sort of joined up thinking.

The subject is of particular relevance to me this week, because I’ve just moved house, leaving my small, perfectly formed village in the Gipping Valley for a new home in the centre of Ipswich. Housing policy isn’t just about the young, although I can entirely understand why they might feel that they’re the greatest victims of the current flaws in our system. But building homes suitable for an increasingly ageing population with all the associated health problems and potential disabilities, or reclaiming our town and city centres in the face of the ongoing decline in the retail sector are also part of the jigsaw puzzle of housing provision that needs to be solved.

Also, in a country that is fixated on home ownership, how can that be reconciled with a job market where flexibility is increasingly necessary and loyalty, both from employers and employees, is becoming a thing of the past? Perhaps a slump in house prices might bring some relief, but the cost in terms of the broader economy might be stark.

Another week, another (alleged) sexual predator outed. I’ve not really followed the Russell Brand story in any great detail – the boxes scattered around my house have rather dominated my attention – but as someone a bit older than he is, I’ve not personally found it difficult to deal with the issue of consent in the past. But I worry about the rush by politicians to condemn, as if to suggest that this behaviour is somehow indicative of the entertainment industry. After all, there have been enough scandals amongst politicians in recent years to suggest that Parliament is not so different in terms of abuse of power over junior colleagues. Condemn the actions by all means, but it’s foolhardy to make out that your side are entirely on the side of the angels.

The last thing that Rishi Sunak needed this week was to see the zombie that was Liz Truss’s political credibility rise from the grave, but it’s indicative of the complete and total lack of discipline within Conservative ranks that she feels the need to claim that, in the face of all the evidence, that she was right to do what she did during her “glorious reign”. And whilst it is engrossing to watch a political party so seemingly determined to dive head first onto a hard surface, this is the Government of the country we’re talking about, tasked with trying to make the place a bit better for its people. But with the public now apparently determined to rid itself of them by any means necessary, we might get to see the next act, whereby the Conservatives spend the next decade concluding that they lost because they weren’t right-wing enough. It’s going to be a long haul back towards the centre ground of British politics…

But I’d better get on, I think. So, as you pack your bags for a few days by the sea in Bournemouth, if there’s something burning you feel should be said, why not write something for us? We welcome articles – the lifeblood of a political website – so there’s an invitation for you…

* Mark Valladares is the Monday Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice.

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8 Comments

  • Sandy Smith 18th Sep '23 - 8:54am

    I will not comment on the Russell Brand allegations but would like to make a wider point about how society is increasingly responding to situations where allegations are made – employers, sponsors and pressure groups react as though guilt were already established and damage is inflicted on the individual without any due process having been completed. Even when cases result in not guilty verdicts, it is often made difficult for people to resume their lives due to the assumption they were guilty and ‘got away with it’. This is not healthy and we need to push against this trend.

  • Alex Macfie 18th Sep '23 - 9:02am

    @Sandy Smith: Yes, innocent until proven guilty, but if I were falsely accused of sexual misconduct the very last people I’d want batting for me would be Andrew Tate and Elon Musk.

  • Martin Gray 18th Sep '23 - 9:55am

    @Sandy Smith…Agree with your post Sandy …
    Everybody has a right of the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise… Allegations are not evidence , accusers are not victims . The individuals involved need to contact the police , who have the powers to arrest question & charge….The alternative is a social media frenzy & a man’s reputation trashed , irrespective of who he is …

  • Mary Regnier-Wilson 18th Sep '23 - 12:58pm

    Mark. I am here to live up to my reputation as a day obsessed geek. Have you told HQ about your change of membership address?

  • Mick Taylor 18th Sep '23 - 5:05pm

    I won’t prejudge the outcome of the Russel Brand allegations and agree with Sandy Smith on the issue of rushing to judgement. Far too many LibDems assume someone is guilty because they’re accused of sexual misconduct without waiting for the evidence.
    However, I do wonder what is NOT in the news as a result of all the attention to Russel Brand. Is somebody burying bad news again?

  • @Mick Taylor: I’m not assuming anyone is guilty of anything. But the Dispatches programme about the Russell Brand allegations was a year in the making. And his defenders seem to be disproportionately from the far-right/contrarian fringe of politics. This is not about the government burying bad news, although I suppose that whenever the allegations came out there would be something this particular government would want to bury.

  • Mick Taylor 19th Sep '23 - 1:49pm

    @Alex MacFie. The point I was making and find I have increasingly to make, even amongst Liberal Democrats who should know better, is that our system of justice assumes innocence until proved guilty. Somehow if there is an accusation of sexual wrongdoing, suddenly people believe the accused must be guilty and start acting as if that were the case.
    Some people so accused have their lives ruined because the accusations prove to be unfounded and they are then said to have “got away with it”. Kevin Spacey being an recent example.
    I am not saying that people, mainly men, who engage in predatory behaviour or indulge in sexual wrongdoing should get away with it, far from it. However, the principle of innocent until proved guilty still applies and anyone accused of a sexual crime has the same right to a fair trial as anyone else instead of trial by newspaper or social media.
    If Russell Brand has done the things claimed, then he should be brought to trial for them and judged by his peers (the jury). If found guilty, then he would deserve the odium that will be heaped upon him.
    I am greatly concerned that this fundamental principle of English law is being ridden roughshod over by the press, social media, politicians and some members of the Liberal Democrats.

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