Message to Extinction Rebellion: Flying is here to stay – but we need to reduce its carbon footprintApr. 25th, 2019 02:40 pm
It was 13 July 2005, and I was sitting in an office in Madrid when I got the dreaded phone call to tell me that my father, who had been suffering from cancer, was slipping away. By that evening I was by his bedside in Surrey, and held his hand as he died the next morning. I am very glad, to this day, that I got back in time.
Extinction Rebellion had the intention on Good Friday of disrupting flights at Heathrow. ‘Terribly sorry’ – they said – ‘if your Easter getaway is delayed’ – fortunately none were. Delaying an Easter skiing break might be annoying, but not the end of the world – is how their argument goes.
…Except for the fact that not everyone flying is getting on a plane because they want to. A flight delay or cancellation can have enormous ramifications. – Consequences which Extinction Rebellion seem to be blind to. Aside from the example of when my father died I am reminded of my good friends whose holiday abroad ended in tragedy when their 9 month-old son died from cot death. After dealing with an unhelpful British consulate, eventually they were able to repatriate his body to the U.K. Further delays thanks to a few climate change protestors would have rubbed salt into their wounds.
On a wider level, how do Extinction Rebellion think that international aid workers get to their place of work on the ground to deal with humanitarian emergencies like the Ebola crisis, famine in Africa or floods in Bangladesh to Puerto Rico? Not on the back of Santa’s sleigh.
There is no doubt that aviation is a big contributor to climate change and that flying a lot isn’t good for the planet. However when your job requires it or you have family abroad (I fall into both categories), then to suggest, as one pro Extinction Rebellion friend did, that flying is a privilege, is simply not true.
Local MPs in South West London have quite rightly opposed Heathrow expansion but we have to be clear that, like it or not, flying is here to stay.
There is nothing to stop governments anywhere from incentivising the aviation industry to reduce its carbon footprint. It is possible to have much higher landing charges at airports for older, and more fuel inefficient planes or planes which fly virtually empty. It is also possible to give tax breaks for research and development into manufacturing aircraft which use less fuel.
Other countries could follow the lead of the U.K. and levy higher passenger duties. Airlines are also able to do their bit for the environment by minimising the use of disposable plastics – just as some hotels do by asking you to think twice before asking for your towels to be washed every day.
In the U.K., we can also easily improve public transport to our airports – especially Heathrow, or make the cost of it more competitive compared to taking Uber or a taxi. Indeed, one of the main arguments against Heathrow expansion is the impact it would have on air pollution related to surface transport in West London.
Politicians and their parties who support immigration and the idea of accepting refugees also need to remember that those refugees surely have a right to go back and visit their families. Do we tell the Syrian family, who made their way to the UK via a rickety dingy, that because of climate change we shouldn’t allow direct flights to Damascus to land in London one day in the future ?
Rather than trying to make life miserable for the flying public, Extinction Rebellion and those of us concerned about climate change should see the world as it is, not just how they would like it to be. They should be sitting down with airlines, aircraft manufacturers and politicians and demanding change.
They should also avoid being accused of hypocrisy – for example, certain parts of the media quite rightly called out Emma Thompson for flying into the U.K. to protest against climate change.
If we are serious about climate change then let’s work to find ways to make aviation less polluting. Not ruin the lives of people for whom stopping flying simply isn’t an option.
* Chris Key is dad of two girls, multilingual and internationalist. He is a Lib Dem member in Twickenham who likes holding the local council and MPs to account.
As a lifelong active member of the Dutch party “Democrats 66” (D66), I know how difficult constitutional, structural and cultural improvements of state (and European) democracy can be. My party had both improving national democracy (example: direct election of the prime minister who would lead the formation of the post-election coalition government) and direct European elections in its 1966 founding manifesto,
As anybody consulting Wikipedia can read, D66 was founded by a coalition of both members of existing parties (including an orthodox Marxist one) and unaffiliated, new citizens who’d become concerned that Dutch politics was stagnating and becoming oligarchic. (From 1963 until 1967, there were three different coalition governments on the basis of the 1963 general election results).
So, I can sympathise with the pride of Chuka Umunna over assembling a similar British party (wanting to renew the existing party democracy, solidly pro-EU feeling; assembled from active party members and concerned unaffiliated citizens) in Change UK.
We entered the Dutch parliament in 1967 with a spectacular 7 seats (of 150) thanks to proportional voting, but struggled to be heard for years.
With the first European Elections in 1979, we tried to enter the European parliament (EP) outside the existing party groupings like the Socialists, because we refused “backroom deals” with other Dutch parties to have a better chance to get in. We wanted to reform European politics from within, but got exactly nowhere. Having failed in our profiling aim, we lost both EP seats in the 1984 EP elections. We re-entered in 1989 after joining ELDR/ALDE with the more Eurosceptic (and car-loving; we’re environmentalist) VVD Dutch liberals in it; and we went from strength to strength. One of our MEPs, Sophie in’t Veld is a British TV celebrity and EU politics analyst.
D66 is a Social-Liberal, pro-European party, so we abhor it when at decisive elections, like the upcoming European ones, excessive “political renewal” purism risks giving a free ride to Ann Widdecombe as one of Farage’s EP candidates, and foreign parties like Salvini’s Lega, and the Polish jingoist PiS, who in different European parliamentary groupings, totally share Brexiteering jingoism, reactionary social agendas (see LGTBI rights, female church pastors, abortion), and a love for Trump’s disruptive politics. They dearly want to trounce splintered groups of progressive, pro-European parties in their own countries, and to dominate a large share of the European parliament’s seats, key EP and EU jobs, and thus the EU political agenda (EuroCommission, EU Budget; foreign policy, environment). Even if it is only until Brexit in November.
Mr. Umunna and Change UK fear Electoral Commission investigations and punishments if they make deals about which of the Remain parties take the lead in certain regions. I advise him to read Paddy Ashdown’s memoirs: neither the sharing out of votes between the Liberals and SDP in the 1980’s, nor the Ashdown/Blair 1997 deal about sharing, and even letting non-affiliated BBC celebrities like Martin Bell oust sleaze-mired Tories like Neil Hamilton (see: ), ever resulted in big Electoral Commission punishments or scandals.
On the contrary: Scotland, London, Northern Ireland and Wales got devolved government, and despite Gordon Brown’s tribal resistance, Blair operated at the heart of Europe until in 2003 he followed Bush into Iraq. Two Grimondian liberal hobby horses fulfilled.
* Bernard Aris is a Dutch historian (university of Leiden), and Documentation assistant to the D66 parliamentary Party. He is a member of the Brussels/EU branch of the LibDems.
In the last few days we’ve seen rightists attempt to bully Greta Thunberg out of the public sphere rather than engage with her arguments; Tony Blair’s demand for ID cards and that immigrants have a duty to integrate; and rightists (backfiring) efforts to shame Diane Abbott for drinking on a train. These all have something in common. They show that the right and centre are enemies of freedom*.
These are not the only examples, nor the worst. New Labour created thousands of new criminal offences, a trend continued by the Tory government such as in its ban on legal highs, its counterproductive porn block and its "hostile environment" policy. Very many Tories and Cuks voted last year against legalizing cannabis. Chuka Umunna, following the centrist Emmanuel Macron, wants to reintroduce forced labour. And of course demands to end freedom of movement and restrict immigration are by definition demands to curb freedom.
The only reference the Cuks made to freedom in their launch statement (pdf) was that: “our free media, the rule of law, and our open, tolerant and respectful democratic society should be cherished and renewed.” This looks a little like valuing the freedom of corporations more than that of individuals.
To people of my vintage, this illiberalism looks odd. In my formative years anti-leftists claimed to cherish freedom, and attacked the Soviet Union for denying it to their people.
Which poses the question: why, then, are they so opposed to liberty today?
Partly, it’s because they always have been. Many cold warriors were not sincere libertarians, but only appealed to freedom as a stick with which to beat the USSR. Many of them supported Pinochet and apartheid, and the criminalization of homosexuality. The freedom they valued was the freedom to exploit others.
Another reason is that the enemy of freedom is fanaticism. Friedrich Hayek wrote:
Since the value of freedom rests on the opportunities it provides for unforeseeable and unpredictable actions, we will rarely know what we lose through a particular restriction of freedom. Any such restriction, any coercion other than the enforcement of general rules, will aim at the achievement of some foreseeable particular result, but what is prevented by it will usually not be known....And so, when we decide each issue solely on what appear to be its individual merits, we always over-estimate the advantages of central direction. (Law Legislation and Liberty Vol I, p56-57.)
The more confident you are about your own beliefs, the more weight you’ll attach to the individual merits of any infraction of freedom and the less weight to unforeseeable actions. So you’ll be more inclined to curtail freedom. Although centrists think of themselves of moderates, this is often mere self-love: you can be a fanatical centrist just as much as you can be a fanatical leftist or rightist. Fanaticism and extremism are different things.
There’s something else. Centrists and rights have long been naïve about power. Many have been over-optimistic about the extent to which it will be used benignly, no doubt in part because it has traditionally been exercised by jolly good chaps like themselves. It is for this reason that they have long been too relaxed about the coercion that occurs within corporate hierarchies. But the same thinking – or lack thereof – extends to political power. If it is people like you who will exercise power, and minorities or working class people who’ll be on the dirty end of it, you’ll be relaxed about arrogating power to the state.
Which brings me to a forgotten fact. Before the 20th century, freedom was a leftist ideal: think of Tom Paine, John Stuart Mill, the young Marx, Adam Smith’s jaundiced view of the “rich and great”, or the first word of the motto of the French revolutionaries. There was a simple reason for this: they all knew that restrictions of freedom helped the rich and powerful and hurt the poor and powerless. It is time for the left to reclaim the value of freedom – because, let’s face it, nobody else will.
* Of course, rightists are quick to claim to value free speech. But Dawn Foster has a point: the infringements of freedom of which they complain are often no such thing but are instead the hitherto voiceless merely answering back.
With Obama’s former VP, 76 year old Joe Biden, today entering the race for the WH2020 Democratic nomination he does so from a position of strength in national polls of party voters.
The chart shows the latest Real Clear Politics polling average national lead for Joe Biden over Bernie Sanders and Pete butcher Jack compared with the latest surveys in Iowa and New Hampshire. These are, of course, the first two to decide and where all the active presidential campaigns have been paying lots of visits at the moment.
As can be seen from the charts there’s a biggish divide between the national picture and what is happening in Iowa and New Hampshire. This could be the case because in these two traditional starting primary states voters are paying much more attention to the race than those elsewhere.
Both Iowa and New Hampshire take a lot of pride in their status as being the first on the primary calendar each four years with the Presidential elections I just wonder whether this explains the gap.
If so that reinforces the notion that a part of Biden’s polling position is down to the fact that he is the better known. He is of course a regular fighter for the presidency and has failed several times before going back to 1988.
In a letter to Palace staff organising the impending state visit in June, Mr Cable said:
I have taken the view that as a party leader I should not support state visits where the government of the day has issued invitations inappropriately.
I did not accept an invitation to attend a State Banquet with the King of Saudi Arabia for that reason. I hope and trust Her Majesty The Queen will understand that I decline this invitation out of no disrespect to her. I am of course hugely honoured to have been invited.
Following his letter Vince Cable commented:
The Conservative Government has prevailed on the Palace to host President Trump, and they are dutifully doing so. But we should not be beguiled by pomp and circumstance into hobnobbing with a man who is on record as a misogynist and a racist.
If we need to do business with the United States on an intergovernmental basis, we can do that without rolling out the red carpet in this way.
The fact this state visit is occurring at all is a shameful stain on the Government, who doubtless see it as a distraction from the mess they are making of running the country.
* News Meerkat - keeping a look-out for Liberal Democrat news. Meerkat photo by Adair Broughton
Over the last few weeks I’ve had the pleasure of participating in some conversations, on a dark corner of the internet, about values-based campaigning. Over the last few days I’ve had the delight of seeing this break out of the dark corner, when Henry Wright (candidate for Cherry Hinton, Cambridge) shared what he’d been creating and why he joined the Lib Dems in the first place:
I joined @LibDems because I saw a party where what mattered wasn't where you were from, what your background was or who you were but what you could achieve. Because in our Britain, who you are should *never* be a barrier to achieving your dreams. #DemandBetter pic.twitter.com/qHjHbtfQes
— Henry Wright (@henrydwright) 21 April 2019
It’s since turned up in a few places, so it’s obviously resonated with some people. But really, this has been part of a wider conversation about converting Mark Pack’s argument that we should talk about our values into practice - and what really excites me is that, at least amongst newer members, this is really empowering.
Another (new) member has started an Instagram to share that they, too, have values - and they want to talk about them (follow them, if you have Instagram, to put a smile on their face). Absent the fear of the more experienced campaigner, they don’t want to talk about just local issues but also how this ties into their personal beliefs - and why you, too, should be a Lib Dem. And honestly? Good on them.
I truly believe that if we are to rebuild then it needs to be on solid, Liberal foundations and with voters that share our values as well as liking our policies. Lots of members are trying this, but what I liked about this approach is the brazen, proud, Liberal standard-bearing. Consider this poster, which explores how Liberal values enrich and empower our identities instead of coming into conflict with them:
Thanks for all the love for this! I never expected something I made to get so far… If you want more where this came from, another one is here showing how @LibDems have strong values we should be more proud of in our campaigns. pic.twitter.com/338iruK4DR
— Henry Wright (@henrydwright) 21 April 2019
I hope this finds a kind, encouraging and welcoming audience amongst their peers – and I believe that, when we speak up, we can find a lot more peers.
* James Belchamber is a party activist currently living in Basingstoke
The reaction underlines something that’s a real problem in the UK media and political establishments: they’re dominated by the voices of mediocre, reactionary men. They’re not clutching their pearls because she says something they disagree with; they’re doing it because she has the temerity to say anything at all.
The Mail has published a leaked memo from Change UK which sets out its current strategy in relation to the Lib Dems.
It is a bit of a shock.
We were hoping that there would be co-operation between Change UK and our party.
However, the one page of the memo (it’s not clear if there are more unleaked pages) makes it clear that the authors want to stamp out the Lib Dems and, basically, replace us. They basically want to grab our money, members and policies. There is only a small measure of co-operation on “certain issues” mentioned at the bottom of the page.
Change UK have not denied the veracity of the memo page, which appears to have been written before they thought of the “Change UK” monicker (they were still calling it “NP” – presumably “New Party”).
We have to hope that the “reality therapy” of the forthcoming elections lead to a tempering of the Change UK view. Given that this memo is perhaps a month or two old, then it suggests that the Change UK strategy/tactics are not working because there has hardly been a tsunami of defectors from the LDs to Change UK, as the memo seemed to have hoped for.
Here’s what the memo says:
Single party, brand, entity and leadership team for progressive politics at the next General Election including all progressive traditions (centre-left, One Nation and Liberal).
No mergers, pacts or alliances.
1. Win over LD activist and members to the TIG/NP cause – to win over as supporters;
2. Attract support and resources from LD backers – to win over and help provide resources.
1. Grow TIG so HoC numbers exceed LDs
2. Illustrate TIG exceeds the support base of the LD
a. Grow supporter list to byond 100,000 (current number of LD members)
b. Grow twitter followers beyond 244,00 (LDs currently on 244,100).
3. Connect with key LD backers
a. Approach top 6 individually by May
b. Secure public support of previous LD backers
4. Show bona fides on key LD issues
a. Interventions on Electoral Reform
i. Westminster Hall or Adjornment debate led by a TIG member
ii.Op-Ed on a LD online platform
iii TIG EDM
b. Highlight interventions of TIG members on civil liberties issues
i. Example – Shaminma Begum
5. Advertise public pledges of support by LD members/activists
a. Highlight any LD councillors supporting TIG/NP
b. Draw attention to any ex-LD PPCs joining TIG/NP
c. Encourage LD public figures to advocate transferring to TIG/NP
6. Where appropriate, TIG and LD MPs to co-operate publicly on certain issues
a. Brexit – CU/AS/GS fortnightly working group?
b. Mental Health – LB and NL etc
Tim Farron commented wisely:
I’ve been hugely positive about TIG but this is daft. In the 1980s, many of the SDP founders were a) ‘big beasts’ and b) incredibly gracious towards the Liberals. The project helped us get 26% of the vote and turned the UK into a genuine 3 party system. A good lesson to learn… https://t.co/YR5unrPw3D
— Tim Farron (@timfarron) April 24, 2019
* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.
Climate change is hurling humanity towards disaster. There is no more room to question the science, when nearly every climate scientist is in agreement that the implications of a global rise in average temperature will spell drastic changes for human civilisation. In the face of such a rapidly encroaching threat, political niceties and traditional incrementalism and compromise cannot come close to the level of change and upheaval required to solve, or even mitigate, the problem of global climate change.
That’s what they mean by no incrementalism. We get to have the revolution right here, right now. No different from any other sect preparing for the end of the world unless……
The current ineptitude and impotency of the ruling class is unacceptable when the consequences of inaction are so far-reaching. More than ever, it is time for workers – those who will be hardest hit by soaring food and healthcare costs, and by property destruction caused by natural disasters and the rising sea – to exert their power and force the hand of major players (governments and corporations) to avert what is almost certain to be the next global mass extinction.
The workers – Marx and Engels ride again.
Housebuilders are sitting on enough land to build more than 800,000 homes, analysis by The Telegraph has found, raising new questions about efforts to increase the supply of new properties and reverse the decline in home ownership.
The total number of plots in the top nine housebuilders’ land banks has risen by 25pc in the past five years to around 838,000. That is despite a series of Government reviews and policies meant to increase the rate of building.
Land is an input into housebuilding. Land that can be built upon takes some years to put together, gain permission upon. The stock of inputs that take some years to organise will rise as annual production increases.
So additive to stop bread going mouldy fingered for causing diabetes.
In a small trial involving humans, people who consumed propionate experienced temporary increases in insulin resistance, over the space of a few hours, compared with those who didn’t consume the additive.
However, this early research cannot prove that propionate causes diabetes. Larger studies conducted over longer periods are needed to better understand whether propionate contributes to diabetes in people, the authors said. [9 Disgusting Things That the FDA Allows in Your Food]
Still, the findings are concerning given how widely propionate is used, the authors wrote in their paper, published today (April 24) in the journal Science Translational Medicine. They called for more research into the potential metabolic effects of food components like propionate.
“Understanding how ingredients in food affect the body’s metabolism at the molecular and cellular level could help us develop simple but effective measures to tackle the dual epidemics of obesity and diabetes,” study senior author Dr. Gökhan Hotamisligil, a professor of genetics and metabolism at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a statement.
Entirely happy with the idea that more research should be done. Just wondering whether the idea has nay legs at all is all:
Propionate is “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), meaning the ingredient doesn’t need to be approved by the FDA to be added to food. It’s also a naturally occuring fatty acid, produced by our gut bacteria when it breaks down fiber. But no one had investigated the metabolic effects of propionate when it’s consumed as a food additive, the authors said.
If you eat fibre your gut produces it. Eating fibre has effects upon insulin etc.
So, what’s the difference here between the effect of eating fibre and eating the substance? Is there something about digestion that I’m missing here?
ChangeUK is learning the hard way that there’s more to running a political party than just getting aApr. 25th, 2019 12:42 am
The struggles of the new party
The widely reported problems it is having with its selection of some candidates for the European elections together with the difficulty getting a logo registered are just indications of the teething trouble that ChangeUK is having in its attempt to establish itself as a new political force.
This will likely be amplified a week today in the English local elections which cover almost all the English counties with the exception of London and a couple of other places. The Tories are defending more than 4k seats and the chances that are that this will not be a comfortable night for Mrs May.
From what we can judge so far (and this is all anecdotal) is that the main beneficiaries will be the Lib Dems and the Greens both parties which are fiercely hostile to Brexit. CUK will not be getting any seats because it is not putting up any candidates.
This could be problematical in the CUK efforts to present itself as the main vehicle for the anti Brexit vote. If the Lib Dems and the Greens have taken a few hundred seats as might happen, then they surely will argue that they are the parties of Remain.
- It has barely been noticed that that there is a high degree of cooperation taking place between the Greens and the Lib Dems at a local level in a number of council areas with one party or the other standing aside in wards where they think one of them is in with a chance.
Unless there is something that causes Tory turnout to get back to normal local election levels then the two parties are going to be able to present themselves as the true groupings for anti-Brexit voters.
ChangeUK going AWOL for the biggest set of local elections in the four year cycle of these elections might in retrospect not look smart.
A leaked Change UK / The Independent Group memo, not denied or ‘clarified’ since its appearance this morning, sets out an aggressive plan for the party in its approach to the Liberal Democrats.
It eschews seeking any sort of formal relations:
No mergers, pacts or alliances.
But it goes much further, with an objective for the new party of replacing any role for the Liberal Democrats in UK politics:
Objectives: Single party, brand, entity and leadership team for progressive politics at the next General Election including all progressive traditions (centre-left, One Nation and Liberal).
No sense of cooperating in any sort of loose arrangement (such as an umbrella grouping) or even accepting co-existence. Rather an objective of replacing the Liberal Democrats with that use of “single”.
What’s more, the tactics set out are heavy on poaching support from the Liberal Democrats, with talk of trying to get key Lib Dem donors to switch, to recruit councillors from the Lib Dems and to win over prominent Lib Dem supporters.
It’s not exactly a plan for wanting to work together in search of common aims.
That is all rather disappointing, to put it mildly. And needs to be added to the growing list of Change UK candidates with a record of intolerant and discriminatory comments.
It shouldn’t, however, be seen as the end of the matter as not only do we not know how widely this approach is supported within Change UK, but also we don’t know how Change UK will view matters are the council elections and the Euros.
If the former see widespread Lib Dem gains and the latter see Change UK splitting the vote and helping elect Hard Brexiter MEPs*, for example, it’s easy to see the mood change significantly. And, so far at least, Change UK has been shedding those illiberal candidates.
A reason, therefore, for Lib Dems to redouble our efforts in aid of our own successes and to hold back a verdict on Change UK for the moment.
Here is the memo in full published by the Daily Mail.**
* Of the six opinion polls carried out so far for the Euros, five put the Lib Dems ahead of Change UK and one had the parties tied.
** Given the instinctive reaction of some of ‘Daily Mail, must be fake’ it is worth adding that Change UK hasn’t denied, repudiated or ‘clarified’ the memo. Not even in the quotes given to the media by Change UK for a follow-up story about it. That wouldn’t be the case if it were a fake or a hoax.
Another day, another Change UK Euro candidate hastily departs. This time is Joseph Russo:
Joseph Russo, the Party’s lead candidate in Scotland, stepped down as a candidate after a string of offensive tweets sent from his account were revealed by journalist Alasdair Clark.
A 2012 tweet from his account read: “Black women scare me. I put this down to be[ing] chased through Amsterdam by a crazy black whore…”…
Last night, MMA fighter and former Tory Ali Sadjady was forced to step down as a candidate over tweets suggesting he would support Brexit if it stopped Romanian pickpockets. [Daily Mirror]
Part of what’s happened to Change UK is not surprising: selecting a large number of candidates at high speed with little time to vet them is a tough ask, as I warned back in March. That standards slipped is not surprising in those circumstances.
Another part of what’s happened is even deserving of some praise for Change UK. Whatever you think of their culpability for those two candidates slipping through their processes, the reaction in both cases was swift, decisive and correct.
What though depresses me is how two people who posted such controversial tweets about those of other races didn’t ever seem to stop and think, ‘this is going to be a problem’ before being caught out in public. Or if they did realise that such comments are so offensive, then they didn’t decide to do anything such as apologise in advance or pull out voluntarily first.
Being deliberately offensive in search of publicity, in a failed attempt at humour or because you lost your temper is bad enough. But to be offensive and then apparently not even realise that you’ve been so? That says a lot about how far we still have to go as a society.
UPDATE: And more candidate trouble for Change UK, this time with Jan Rostowski.
Sir Graham Brady says the 1922 Committee will ask Theresa May for “clarity” on when she will step down if she cannot get a Brexit deal through parliament. Declines to say whether this means a specific date.
— Benjamin Kentish (@BenKentish) April 24, 2019
Journos should be more sceptical about ERG briefings
I don’t know about you but I’m getting a bit tired of all these headlines about Theresa May on the point of being ousted. This started, it will be recalled, last autumn and what amounts to the same has been an almost never-ending source of political “exclusives” since.
Could it be that the source of these s is actually a very small group of the more vociferous hardliners that are associated with the ERG. Surely the media have woken up to fact by now that they do not speak for backbench opinion within the Conservative Party.
Sure Tory MPs are not very happy at the moment but one of the reasons for that is that the ERG group has been so strong in its opposition to Theresa May’s that it has failed to get through the Commons.
The hardline brexiteers have got to accept that the referendum was won by the narrowest of margins and indeed a swing of 1.9% could have produced a different outcome. That meant, surely, that the nation wanted Brexit of some form but of the very softest nature.
People who were betting on Theresa May’s early departure, I’d suggest, are probably not going to win.
It seems inevitable that the elections to the European Parliament will be read as a vote on Brexit. That risks the election campaign being a rehash of the referendum, alienating an electorate frustrated by #BrexitShambles, and putting the emphasis on whether we should be there rather than on what our we are electing people to do.
Instead of this, campaigning on the core of the programme of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe gives us a chance to shift the debate, adding something new and inviting supporters of Brexit to see things differently.
ALDE’s programme begins with a summary the British electorate would do well to hear:
In more than 60 years of European integration, the European Union has served us well in achieving peace, stability and prosperity. The EU has promoted and extended to half a billion people the four freedoms: the free movement of people, services, capital and goods across borders. We want the Union to play a key leadership role in tackling today’s and tomorrow’s global challenges.
As such, the ALDE Party believes in a Europe based on the fundamental Liberal principles of liberty, democracy, the rule of law, human rights, tolerance and solidarity. We believe in a fair, free and open society which harnesses the abilities of each and every one of its citizens to participate fully in society, presenting them with the opportunities to fulfil their potential, free from poverty, ignorance, and discrimination.
The full ALDE manifesto is something to be proud of. The core statements in the political programme strike a powerful chord: a prosperous Europe, sustainable development and peace in the world, renew the EU and building a transparent, democratic and accountable Europe. Nuancing the descriptions a little for a British audience:
A prosperous Europe
Offering proper democratic scrutiny of the Single Market and the work of the EU in adding to the many fair and sustainable international trade deals we already have.
Sustainable development and peace in the world
Acting to tackle climate change, protect the environment and promote sustainable development, so that we build a safe and just society in a more peaceful and stable world.
Renew the European Union
We all stand to gain from deepening and enriching the EU, but we need to show the British people that this isn’t a threat. We do this best by talking about it openly.
Transparent, democratic and accountable Europe
Being clear about doing centrally only what needs to be done there, and showing that the EU is about pushing power to the local, celebrating the diversity of the communities, regions and nations of Europe and protecting fundamental rights, civil liberties and the rule of law.
The ALDE programme ends:
We are therefore united in our mission to renew Europe into a place that people can be proud of again. Change is necessary. We must fight for reform, and not let our cooperation be destroyed. No single country can respond to climate change, international terrorism and ensure that globalisation delivers for everyone. Only if we choose to address Europe’s flaws and reform it, the EU will again be a driving force for new jobs, security and prosperity, a renewed Europe.
In stark contrast, a headline in this week’s New European says that “Nigel Farage REFUSES to publish a Brexit Party manifesto until after EU elections”.
* Mark Argent was the candidate in Hertford and Stortford in the 2017 General Election
We must safeguard our younger members and be radical – reasons why we should not raise the age limitApr. 24th, 2019 12:28 pm
It has been the buzz for years and the main topic within our echo chamber of an organisation: the Young Liberals want to raise the membership age ceiling from 26 to 30. But this isn’t the type of “raise the roof” action that the organisation should be taking.
In previous articles written, you’ve heard about the issues that the Young Liberals face. Yet, at the same time, you can be a supporter of our campaigns and guide us without being in the organisation. We already turn to our elected members, local parties and other inspirational people in the party for guidance and wisdom, so why does being in the Young Liberals after the age of 26 matter? Instead, we hope that members are mature enough to see that some major issues aren’t being addressed in these reforms.
There is a widespread belief that these reforms have been overwhelmingly and unanimously supported within the Young Liberals’ membership, but we beg to differ. At their Glasgow Conference, we were told the idea was met with an astounding approval. Yet with approximately 35 members present at the conference, this is not, and cannot be, a fair representation of the organisation.
And at the same conference, members of the organisation under 18 were informed they had to not only get written consent to attend the conference, but also were not allowed to stay at the hostel where the conference was taking place. The reason given was:
This year Young Liberals have made the decision not to offer accommodation to members under the age of 18. (…) Young Liberals are not sufficiently trained to adequately safeguard such members (…) such training could be in place for future Young Liberals Conferences, however not for current conferences. Members are free to stay in private accommodation in the city.
This was unacceptable. How can our organisation not have in place the proper training to include all our members? Letting them stay off the premises is not any safer, neglects their safety and ignores their accommodation needs.
Mistakes like these make it clear that the organisation cannot deal with our current capacity. As older members, it is our duty to care for and make younger members comfortable while keeping their safety a top priority. We’ve all heard some of the incidents that have occurred due to a lack of safeguarding, some of which escalated to dangerous heights. This could have been avoided if there was more of a culture of respect and caring, something that is key to liberal philosophy.
This is an organisation that can’t even respond to its current members. There have been multiple occasions where important emails from members and societies have been missed, or just simply ignored, despite multiple people chasing them up. Increasing the membership would only make this worse.
At the end of the day, being young is great, some would say the best years of their lives but at some point, it is important to end that chapter and start a new one. It is best to look back fondly at the people you met and the memories that you made within the organisation.
We need to ensure that the Young Liberals cater for their current membership before they think about expanding.
A link to the conference FAQs is here.
* Jasneet Samrai is a former YL Regional Chair-Elect, a member of YL and is an ordinary member of the South East Liberal Democrat Executive. Leena Sarah Fahrat is a member of Rhyddifanc Cymru (Welsh YL), the PPC for Westminster and the Senedd for Carmarthenshire East and Dinefwr.