In 1910, British journalist Norman Angell published “The Great Illusion”, arguing that the integration of the global economy was so all-embracing and irreversible that future wars were all but impossible. Released shortly before the outbreak of the Great War, the idea that humans had outgrown their propensity to mass slaughter did not stand the test of time for long.
We face today a similar dichotomy in Putin’s Russia. Europe and Russia are intertwined in mutual trade dependency and the major oil companies – BP and Shell among them – are increasing their investments in Russia. Since the end of the cold war, military conflict between the UN security-council members has seemed inconceivable.
Yet, Russia today appears to be in the grip of a ruthless kleptocracy that orchestrates the embezzlement of state funds on a massive scale and seeks to expand its tentacles to its near abroad. Russian state propaganda appears to be based on the dictum of Joseph Goebbels that “when one lies, one should lie big.”
Putin’s actions as head of the Russian State are there for all to see – the widespread corruption and advancement of favoured oligarchs; the abolition and repression of a free press with the imprisonment, kidnapping and murder of journalists; the poisoning of Alexander Litvenenko who was granted asylum in the UK following his disclosure of the plot to assassinate the Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky; the death while in prison of Sergei Magnitsky after his exposure of large-scale theft from the Russian state, sanctioned and carried out by Russian officials.
We should be in no doubt as to the length to which Putin’s administration will go. The BBC correspondent, Robert Peston, reported last month that at the height of the financial crisis on Wall Street “the Russians were suggesting a joint pact with China to drive down the price of the debt of Fannie and Freddie, and maximize the turmoil on Wall Street.”
During the Second World War Norman Angell argued that if France, Britain, Poland, Czechoslovakia and others had bound themselves together to oppose Hitler’s military aggression, and to appeal to world justice for solution to countries’ grievances, then the great mass of reasonable Germans would have stepped up and stopped Hitler from leading their country into an unwinnable war.
In today’s Russia as in 1930’s Germany, nationalism is on the rise. Crimea was the first test and now the establishment of ‘Novorossiya’ in Eastern and Southern Ukraine is the order of the day.
The UK and the US have given assurances to seek to preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine under the terms of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. Those assurances need to be taken seriously in developing a coherent response to Russian aggression.
Nick Clegg, in denouncing Nigel Farrage’s admiration of Putin, has avoided Lloyd George’s mistake of being slow to recognise the danger of fascism. We need to ramp-up sanctions further now with a UK ‘Magnitsky’ Act aimed at Russian officials complicit in criminality and international aggression.
* Joe Bourke is an accountant, former parliamentary candidate and Treasurer of Hounslow Liberal Democrats
Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Over 830 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.
The Lib Dems launch our European election campaign officially today – but it was unofficially kicked off in February when Nick Clegg laid down the gauntlet to Nigel Farage, challenging him to a debate on whether the UK should be in or out. We asked Lib Dem members what they thought of the duel – was Nick right to debate Nigel, and who you thought did best. Here’s what you told us…
Two-thirds say Nick right to challenge Nigel
Do you think it was good or a bad decision for Nick Clegg to challenge Nigel Farage to a debate on Britain’s membership of the European Union?
Good decision = 68%
Bad decision = 23%
Neither = 6%
Don’t know = 2%
It was a risky decision by Nick, that’s for sure, and many of the commentariat will say it didn’t pay off – after all a clear majority in the polls of those who watched said Nigel was the winner, and Lib Dem poll ratings have barely flickered. This survey was conducted a fortnight after both debates took place, so everyone will have seen the coverage. Lib Dem members are in no doubt it was the right decision regardless, with three times as many saying it was a good call. However, the end result is best summed up by a phrase that spontaneously recurred in members’ comments: “Good decision – badly executed.” Here’s a sample of some of your other comments…
It was the right thing to do, but it hasn’t paid off. Nothing ventured, nothing lost or gained. Farage is a very populist debater. It is very difficult to defeat him with facts. I am very pleased that Nick decided to campaign strongly on Europe. An awful decision as it gave a platform to a populistic demagogue. Good to open the debate but bad for us. You can’t change 30 years of relentless lies and pessimism about Europe overnight. Just performed badly – massive questions about prep work Even if Nick ‘lost’, it was a courageous decision and encouraged debate The pro-Europe case needs every support available, but Nick showed too much irritation and insufficient gravitas It has energised the party base. The outcome of the debates (and the media narrative/coverage both before and after) are a different matter entirely. Never debate an idiot… They always drag you to their level and then beat you with experience. He was right to “flush Farage out”. I didn’t agree with the polls and neither did 27% other people which wasn’t bad considering the LibDem poll rating is still in single figures.
1-in-3 say Nigel won, 1-in-5 say Nick did – and one-third say it was a draw
Leaving aside your own party preference, who do you think performed better overall in the Nick v Nigel debates?
Nick Clegg better = 20%
Nigel Farage better = 34%
Both equally well = 18%
Neither performed well = 16%
Don’t know = 13%
It’s less good news for Nick on who performed better in the debates – 1-in-3 Lib Dem members say Nigel Farage came off better, compared with 1-in-5 saying Nick did. You’ll notice we’ve added in two options that neither YouGov or ICM did: whether people thought the debates were a score-draw (both performed well) or a no-score-draw (neither performed well) – 1-in-3 members belonged to one of these two camps, and it would have been interesting to see what the viewing public thought. That seems to me to be only good practice, and it’s a shame professional pollsters follow the money of the media’s lust for forced choice questions which don’t necessarily represent what people actually think. Here’s a sample of your comments…
I agreed with Clegg all the way and appreciated his call to reason and facts, but Farage’s rhetoric and anecdotes was always going to win. It depends almost entirely what you want; facts, arguments, debate or tub-thumping rabble-rousing playing on ignorance, prejudice and lies. Farage better debater, Clegg the better answers. He had the evidence on his side, but did not always find the snappy put down. Forty years of media indifference and tabloid lies is hard to overcome in two hours. In the first debate it was Nick and the second Farage Farage did better from a neutral perspective, Clegg did better from a telling the truth perspective. Performed for who? Farage won the debates with the mass audience but Nick placed the Lib Dems as the only party with the guts to stand up for what we believe in – we won it with our own activists and anyone who believes we should stay in the EU. So Nick achieved his aim – and very well too Depends how you define better. Farage was always going to be able outshout Nick. But Nick should have reached the audience at which he was aiming Clegg came across as just another grey, soundbite-spouting, stuffed-shirt establishment politician. Ironic, given that his success in the 2010 debates was precisely because he wasn’t seen as one. Nick neither coherently stated the core case for the roles of the EU that are indispensable to the UK’s welfare, nor did he provide appealing illustrations of those roles, nor of priority areas for EU reform, and he demolished patheically little of Farage’s farrago of anti-EU nonsense. Clegg did better in that his arguments were right and good. Farage did better because he “won”. Farage offered a positive alternative (which I personally loathe) which resonates with voters. Clegg had no vision to offer Objectively, Nick performed better, with actual facts. He didn’t win the public appeal battle though. Farage was a pub bore Nick far too patronising. No question that Nick was better on substance and the superior statesman. Voters looking for those qualities will have been impressed (until they saw the poll, perhaps…)
45% Lib Dem members want more EU integration; 46% happy with status quo or want less integration
Thinking about Britain’s relationship with Europe, which would you most like to see?
Britain remaining in the European Union, integrating more closely with our European neighbours = 45%
Britain remaining in the European Union as it is = 36%
Britain remaining in the European Union, but with a repatriation of powers that means membership is on the basis of a free trade agreement and no more = 10%
Britain leaving the European Union completely = 1%
None of these = 7%
Don’t know = 0%
Away from the debates themselves, we asked members their first preference for Britain’s relationship with Europe – the findings are remarkably consistent with what we found over a year ago when we asked the same question: Lib Dem members are strongly pro-European, but split between those who want more integration (45%), those who want the EU to stay as it is (36%), and those who want less integration (11%). Those 7% who answered ‘none of these’ primarily advocated specific reforms to the EU as it is now, including some mix of further integration in some areas and repatriation of powers in others.
* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.
In Full: Nick Clegg on tearing down the barriers facing women at work and the £23 billion boost if wApr. 24th, 2014 08:04 am
I have always said that if I had to pick one policy enacted by the Coalition that summed up our liberal values it would be the revolution that Nick Clegg and Jo Swinson have enacted on parental leave. From next year, parents will be able to choose how they split parental leave following a birth or adoption between them rather than the mother having to take it all. It’s the stronger economy, fairer society and enabling people to get on in life all in one.
Yesterday, Nick Clegg made a speech in which he explained the reasons for this and talked about how we need to get more women into senior positions in companies. He said that we could boost our GDP by £23 billion if we tackled the barriers facing women in employment. He talked about encouraging girls in science based careers and challenged employers to make family friendly working the new norm.
His whole speech is worth reading, so here it is:
Forty years ago, when women were first being allowed onto the trading floor of the London Stock Exchange, any talk of families in the workplace was confined to a framed photo on your desk.
Mothers were almost always expected to stay at home and an event like this just wouldn’t have happened.
Now we have the highest female employment rate on record, with 630,000 extra women in employment since 2010. And networks like City Mothers and Fathers show how many more parents are choosing to both earn and share their childcare responsibilities between them.
Yet the enormity of the challenge we face – to ensure genuine equality in work and across our society – requires even more radical change.
First, we have to sweep away those Edwardian rules which still hold back those families working hard to juggle their responsibilities at home and work.
For decades, our parental leave system has been based on the assumption that it’s dad who goes out to work while mum cares for the kids – giving fathers two weeks off when your baby is first born and mothers up to a year.
But what about those households where the woman is the main earner? Or the families where a working father just wants to spend more time with his children, or both parents want to do their bit at home without sacrificing their careers?
In many ways, the system still treats these families as the exception not the norm.
As a Liberal, I’ve always believed the system should support not dictate our families’ choices. That’s why I, and the Liberal Democrats,have made building a Britain that’s fit for modern families one of our biggest priorities in Government.
So we’ve worked hard to increase access to affordable, high-quality childcare for more families. And, from 2015, Government is investing an extra £750 million in tax-free childcare: to help more working parents with children under 12 cover their childcare bill. This is support worth up to £2,000 a year per child for millions of families.
This is in addition to our offer of 15 hours a week of free early years’ education for every 3 and 4 year old, as well as for 2 year olds in those families most feeling the squeeze.
Most importantly, I’ve also fought to drag those clapped out rules into the 21st Century.
And, from next year, if a mother wants to return to work before her year’s maternity leave is up or go back to work for a particular project, she can – without losing out. Her partner will now be entitled to use up her remaining parental leave and pay, if that’s what they want. You can even – as parents – take off chunks of time together.
Yet changing laws like this is only the start. Culturally, we also need to recognise that we can’t build a more family-friendly Britain unless all of us see the world differently.
We need to tackle once and for all the hidden prejudices which still limit the choices of many men and women. And we need to create the same equal opportunities for both sexes to care as well as earn.
How do we do that?
Well, we’ve got to tear down those barriers which still prevent too many brilliant women from reaching the top of their professions. For example, despite progress in recent years, women still account for just
21% of board positions on FTSE 100 companies. And only four of those companies have a female CEO.
That impacts on all of us, with estimates showing that the UK could boost its GDP by up to £23 billion if we use the skills of our female workforce more effectively.
Parents and teachers have an incredibly important role to play here: inspiring every young girl to think big and aim high for their future. If they’ve got the talent and ambition to succeed, then no job should be closed off to them – whether it’s to build their own business, lead a top company or work at the cutting edge of science, technology or engineering.
This is also why brilliant campaigns like Inspiring Women, which Miriam is heavily involved in, are so important: to help more young women reach for the sky.
Government is doing its bit to help too: boosting support for female entrepreneurs, pushing for more women on boards and helping young girls see the full range of career options open to them, including in those traditionally male-dominated STEM industries.
But at the same time, we also need to encourage more boys to see the value of building a career in the caring professions. For too long, these kinds of jobs – in childcare, early years’ education and social care – have typically been seen as the preserve of women. There are around 4 million people working in health and social care jobs in the UK today and still four out of every five people working in those jobs are women.
Yet these are fields in which both men and women have a lot to offer and can excel. We are now starting to see that kind of change in nursing. But I want to see it happen right across the board: helping more people to make choices based on what’s right for them not
outdated preconceptions about their gender.
Of course, if we’re to do it properly, then we also need to challenge the ways in which many fathers are still pushed to see themselves as a breadwinner first and carer second.
Whether it’s by a manager’s raised eyebrow when you ask for some family time off. Or your friends’ surprise when you say you’d like to be a stay at home parent if you could. Or your own ingrained fear that, if you choose to work more flexibly, you’ll find your career stuck in the slow lane and your peers overtaking you.
As your survey shows, it’s as if even asking to work differently marks you out as less committed, ambitious or capable than your colleagues without children. And according to official research, fathers are less likely to work part-time than other employed men. In fact, around a quarter of new fathers take only a week or less of paternity leave.
This is despite increasing numbers of employers, both big and small, which now recognise the benefits of work-life balance, such as a more productive, loyal and engaged work force. This includes many of your own employers, companies like KPMG, Citi, Lloyds, EY and others.
Yet that kind of fantastic corporate support still isn’t translating into the wholesale shift in attitudes we need. That’s especially true in jobs with an entrenched long hours’ culture like here in the City.
We’re all familiar with the objections that come up again and again when changes like this are proposed: “It’s bad for our economy.”… “This is an additional burden businesses just don’t need.”… “It’s going to make us less competitive.”
Yet the reality is that countries like Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands which actively champion more family-friendly working arrangements are consistently rated amongst the top economies on
global competitiveness and well-being.
UK research also shows that employees working flexibly are more prepared to go that extra mile. And, more widely, McGill University academics argue that family-friendly policies help to reduce staff turnover, boost performance and improve job satisfaction.
As you can see in almost every political debate these days, there’s a big difference emerging between those who want Britain to be open or closed and ready to change or anxious to turn the clock back.
I’m clear on that fundamental dividing line. I believe we should always point to the future not hanker after the past. And the simple reality is that we always see resistance to these types of reforms in the early days, but they rapidly become the norm.
As representatives of some of the UK’s leading organisations, you can help us make that happen now. By working with us to ensure every family who can benefit from these new rights is able to do so, including your own, we can make family-friendly working the new norm in Britain.
That means ensuring it’s a genuine option for every employee who works in your organisation. From the men and women serving meals in your canteen and cleaning your offices to those sitting in the boardroom.
Getting the chance to take these opportunities is always harder for those families on the lowest incomes. So talk to your bosses, customers and business partners. And together we can generate a once-in-a-generation chain reaction across our offices, factories and other workplaces.
As competition increases, no successful business leader would think twice about investing in the latest technology to help their business
get ahead. In the same way, we need to show how an upgrade in old- fashioned attitudes to flexible working can sharpen competitiveness even more.
That’s the only way we’ll secure the best, most talented and diverse workforce for Britain’s success. Together we can ensure that, in the City and beyond, every British family – whatever their background or circumstances – gets an equal chance to thrive.
* Caron Lindsay is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings
It's possible that the departmental move may be delayed. I say this on account of my manager saying that we should have been notified by today at the outside if we're going this Friday. There are no emails, no letters, no
( Read more... )
Mark Steel: What a triumph! We’ve persuaded Starbucks to relocate its European headquarters to BritaApr. 17th, 2014 05:02 pm
One of the first rules of economics is that if an international organisation bases itself in the UK, this is good for business, good for jobs and good for Britain. Al Qa’ida could announce they were relocating their headquarters to Swindon, and a minister would appear on the news to, “This is a marvellous boost to the economy, providing up to 500 jobs, with the excellent news that each year many of the clerical grades are required to blow themselves up, resulting in a constant demand for new staff.”
NSFW P2P badboys show online piracy is alive and humping
The Pirate Bay has hit a historic milestone after celebrating its 10 millionth upload. However, the auspiciousness of the occasion was dampened slightly by the fact the content in question was a pirated copy of a smut film from the "Intimate Lesbians" series.
I posted it on Twitter and someone else sent me a link showing that it’s true. Six out of the 14 votes in the European parliament against combating the illegal ivory trade came from Ukip – including Nigel Farage. This is morally repugnant. Perhaps they voted that way because they oppose forcing Western cultural values on African countries, but I doubt it.
Expect Ukip to explain that they always vote against anything that expands EU power. As a passionate anti-EU conservative, I appreciate that stance. But when it comes to taking action against something as squalid as the ivory trade, even this rabid patriot would compromise my anti-EU principles. What next? Refusing to uphold a ban on child labour?
A great number of Ukip supporters are troubled about immigration and want to protect British sovereignty. But they’re not barbarians. The ivory trade represents the callous exploitation of innocent creatures for profit and every sane, civilised person opposes it. Given the Right’s traditional loathing of horse meat and love of donkey sanctuaries, I think this could lose Ukip a few votes in May. Seriously, it’s not cool and – for once when it comes to Ukip – definitely not funny.
Can we think of a moral and principled reason, something beyond just a plague on all that the EU does, for opposing a “combat against the illegal ivory trade”?
Why, yes, we can. We could, for example, note that it is the eating of beef that increases the number of cows out there, the use of wool that has increased the number of sheep, the joy that we take in slobbering kisses that has increased the number of dogs.
That is, that when humans gain something of value from an animal then we tend to make sure that the population of that animal increases. We’ve even got a name for the process: “farming”.
So, if we desire to either protect the current number of elephants, or perhaps to increase it, then a logical plan would be to farm elephants for those things which they produce of value. Some part of that is simply the tourism opportunity to stand next to them and say “God, innit big?”. More would be the use of hides from culled animals, the eating of the meat. And, obviously, the use of that most valuable part, the ivory.
That is, that making the ivory trade illegal prevents anyone from profiting from the raising of elephants. Which means that no one does. And thus voting against the ivory trade being illegal is a just and moral position to take. The real statement being made here is that those who would ban, are banning, the ivory trade are ignorant cunts working towards the extinction of the entire species.
But then expecting an historian of American culture (and there’s a shallow subject for you) to understand how the world really works is possibly being a bit hopeful on my part.
Fathers who look after their children have “more cojones” and only “dinosaurs” think men shouldn’t share childcare, Miriam Clegg has said.
Nick Clegg’s wife, who is a high profile lawyer, interrupted her husband’s press conference to ask the Deputy Prime Minister to take a public stand for men who look after their children.
In a rare move, which will be seen as highly political, Mrs Clegg took the microphone at the launch of Cityfathers to demand that “modern working fathers” announce “loudly and proudly” that taking responsibility for your own children does not “affect your level of testosterone. “
Mr Clegg replied: “Of course I agree with you Miriam”.
He added: “I am assuming I don’t have to translate cojones – or cojos as it’s sometimes known.”
It’s not actually true. Those alpha males who bonk and leave have higher testosterone levels than the betas who stay and raise. And there’s also convincing evidence that the actual process of staying and raising reduces testosterone levels.
All of this has nothing at all to do with the moral points of it all, whether men should stay, should take an active part in child care and so on. They’re entirely different from the science of what happens in that interaction of bonking, children and testosterone levels.
Still, at least Mrs. Clegg is only wring about the evidence, unlike her husband who is wrong about everything.
P2P badboys show online piracy is alive and humping
NSFW The Pirate Bay has hit a historic milestone after celebrating its 10 millionth upload. However, the auspiciousness of the occasion was dampened slightly by the fact the content in question was a pirated copy of a smut film from the "Intimate Lesbians" series.…
— Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) April 24, 2014
The yellows are getting betting support on 3+ seats
My view of yesterday’s news about the breakaway anti-EU party at the Euro elections remains. Unless the official UKIP legal challenge succeeds I believe it will impact on its performance on May 22nd. The question is how much?
When I first saw the South West England ballot paper yesterday with the breakaway group at the top my reaction was that this referred to Farage’s party which was just describing itself awkwardly. It has a record of doing this as we saw in the London elections in 2012.
It was only on closer scrutiny of the form that I saw the real UKIP at the bottom of the ballot.
If I was confused then my assumption is that other voters will also be to the detriment of Mr Farage.
Generally in UK elections you vote for an individual candidate and not a party and the names are listed alphabetically. It will be hard for voters to distinguish between the “two UKIPs” and the options at the top will sypohon off quite a number of UKIP votes. In the polling stations election officials are very limited in the guidance that they can give to voters.
This shouldn’t have taken UKIP by surprise. There had been reports over the past few weeks that something like this was going to happen.
Meanwhile in the betting the LAB most votes price gets tighter and I’ve had a little flutter at 7/2 on the LDs getting 3+ MEPs.