Tag Archives: Liberal Democrats

Charities and politics

A charity is allowed to engage in politics. A charity is not allowed to do party-political campaigning.

The distinction is made clearest whenever there’s an election. If a charity wants to comment on any one party’s manifesto, they have to comment on them all. They may possibly just get away with only commenting on the five major parties – the ones with seats in Parliament – but they cannot pick and choose.

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is a registered charity. Their mission is “To support people to take voluntary action to help themselves and others, and to bring about social change.” Continue reading

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A more equal council for Edinburgh?

Brian Monteith wrote just before five o’clock today:

we may at last be seeing the beginning of a much needed realignment of Scottish politics.

But in one huge respect, Scottish politics is still aligned exactly the way it was before the elections.

From 2008-2012, Edinburgh Council had 15 women councillors out of 58. (Elizabeth Maginnis, elected to Forth Ward for Labour in 2007, died in 2008, and the seat was held for Labour by a man.) From 2012-2017, unless by-elections change this, there will be 15 women out of 58.
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Filed under Elections, Scottish Politics, Women

An equal council for Edinburgh

On Thursday 3rd May, Edinburgh goes to the polls to elect a new council for the first time since 2007.

In 2007 we had the guddle of the ballots, and in the five years since the last set of councillors took office, we’ve had an economic crash, LibDems propping up a Tory government, the tenement statutory repairs scam come to light, a serious effort by the Tory, LibDem, and SNP groups on Edinburgh council to privatise our city parks and services (foiled when the SNP group switched sides to vote with Labour and the Greens), and of course… the trams.

Normally you can look at the previous elections and have a fair idea how things are going to go this time. But no one should take the 2007 election results as a guide. All we can be really sure of is that this time as last time, most of the councillors on 4th May will be men.
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Atheist Easter Links

And two hours later, after I had bought a latte and a croissant at Relish:

As an atheist, I suppose I ought to have made this post on the vernal equinox. But who’s thinking about chocolate eggs then?

Cadbury's Creme Eggs
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Bradford West: Respect

Since May 2010, there have been six by-elections, and every one of them a hold for Labour until last night.

(BBC)

  • George Galloway (Respect) 18,341 (55.89%, +52.83%)
  • Imran Hussain (Labour) 8,201 (24.99%, -20.36%)
  • Jackie Whiteley (Conservative) 2,746 (8.37%, -22.78%)
  • Jeanette Sunderland (Liberal Democrat) 1,505 (4.59%, -7.08%)
  • Sonja McNally (UKIP) 1,085 (3.31%, +1.31%)
  • Dawud Islam (Green) 481 (1.47%, -0.85%)

Eoin Clarke very nicely shows that the biggest slide towards George Galloway was among Tory voters. (Update: And more realistically, Matthew Butcher notes that Galloway’s victory should be a wake-up call to the left – GG campaigned on an anti-austerity platform in a constituency where a Labour council had implemented ConDem cuts.)

Austerity Isn't Working

But the 2010 election results for Bradford West had Labour winning with a margin over 14 percentage higher than the Tories: 2.9% of formerly-Tory voters were voting Labour: Bradford West was a safe seat, in ordinary UK Parliamentary understanding.
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You can’t be cured when you’re not ill

You can’t “cure” someone of having a sexual orientation.

Individuals and groups who claim they can cure a person of being gay are either bigots or frauds or, quite possibly, both.

The Catholic hierarchy has dealt with the priests who molest children in several ways. For decades at least, they ignored the crimes and covered up after the criminals. (There is written evidence of reports made to the Vatican in 1962 and to Pope Paul VI a year later, about child-molesting priests being returned to parish work where they would again have access to children.) They also attempted to pin the blame on gay men being admitted to the priesthood: but painstaking evidence was gathered to show this was factually wrong. And in some horrible instances, the Church seems to have done both: Continue reading

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Why do almost all political parties select men?

No political party today would argue that they ought to be allowed to discriminate against women.

But they all do.

We know they do, because we can look at the results:

Gender balance UK Parliament

That high point in the Labour graph was from 1997, when half of all constituencies with winnable seats were required to have women-only shortlists.

Of course men complained about this, and men’s reasons for complaining are obvious: this system meant that party activists who had earned and deserved a chance of winning a seat, would, in 50% of constituencies likely to go Labour, not stand a chance of being selected. That is to say, in just 50% of constituencies between 1997 and 2003 (when legal challenges from disgruntled men forced Labour to drop the policy) the men were in exactly the same position as women – and they didn’t like it.
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The NHS is not a pie

If we were Americans this would be Pi Day. As we are British and write our dates in the proper order, Pi Day is on 22nd July: 22/7, which is more accurate anyway by a fraction of 1/3047. That matters if you have a big pie, and the NHS is a very, very big pie.

Pie NHS logo

From Doctor Eoin Clarke’s blog, The Green Benches:

Lord Owen, the leading opponent of the NHS Bill in the House of Lords will attempt one last deed to slow the passage of this NHS Bill. He has introduced an amendment (here) into the House of Lords that the entire NHS Bill be paused until the NHS Risk Register is published. This is because Lord Owen is fearful that the risks contained within the report are so grave that they should be considered and debated first, before the bill proceeds. We need you to contact the Lib Dem peers and ask them to support Lord Owen’s amendment.

The vote will take place on Monday. There’s a gadget at the Green Benches to auto-email all of the LibDem peers, but I really prefer WriteToThem because that site monitors which peers respond to what you wrote – and also by default sends the message by fax, which means that your letter arrives at their office on paper (unless they are set up to handle emails and have told mySociety to have people email them). Paper letters are treated more seriously than emails, especially when emails are sent in large numbers with the same wording.

Update: But you can only use Write To Them for six peers every two days!
From Write To Them Lords faq:

How many Lords can I write to?

Quite a few, but don’t try and write to loads. You see, they’ve only got this one fax machine, and we don’t want to overwhelm it. The Parliament website gives more details about different ways to contact Lords, and the different limits on sending bulk messages to all Lords.

We also very aggressively prevent copy-and-pasted messages to Lords. This is because the House of Lords throw away bulk sent faxes, so it is a waste of time. Do not tell people to copy and paste letters to Lords, get them to write in their own words. See our Guidelines for campaigning for more information on this.

So there you go. If you have further updates about the *’d peers, let me know.]

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The letter I wrote:

I have been following the progress of the Health and Social Care Bill through Parliament with great concern.

Although I live in Scotland, where the NHS will not be subject to the “reforms” of this Bill, it seems to me that such a radical breakdown of the NHS is bound to affect the whole of the UK – and will certainly have knock-on effects for Scots (and Welsh) travelling or temporarily staying in England.
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Nick Clegg: Heel Face Turn

Apparently at the Lib Dem conference in Gateshead last weekend, Nick Clegg tried to claim that the NHS Reform bill is strictly Tory.

This is of course not true. While it originates with the Tories, and will obviously benefit their donors, the Liberal Democrats are directly and very publicly responsible for ensuring that the bill will pass – even though it was not part of the original coalition agreement, was not even on the Tory manifesto, and has been comprehensively rejected by both the general public and the NHS professionals who would be required to implement the changes.

The emergency motion that Dr Evan Harris had proposed for debate Sunday morning, to have the LibDem conference vote to drop the bill, was defeated because Nick Clegg’s office instructed Shirley Williams to put forward a competing motion.

While the defeat of the Shirley Williams motion has been billed as a defeat for Clegg, in fact Nick Clegg won as soon as the motion his office had drafted had been chosen for the emergency debate Sunday morning: Continue reading

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Did the LibDems just vote me towards independence?

A record-breaking 172,475 people have signed Dr Kailash Chand’s e-petition to drop the NHS Reforms bill.

David Cameron promised once upon a time that any e-petition that got more than 100,000 signatures would get a debate in the House of Commons, but he evidently meant “any e-petition that Tories can support without going against the interests of our donors“.

At the Liberal Democrat conference today:

2.21pm: Nick Clegg has won his first battle of the conference. According to Channel 4’s Michael Crick on Twitter, Lib Dem activists have chosen to debate the Shirley Williams health motion tomorrow – the pro-leadership one – instead of the rebel motion calling for it to be withdrawn or defeated.

2.27pm: The Shirley Williams health motion got 309 votes. The rebel “drop the bill” one got 280 votes.

On Tuesday 13th March, the e-petition will have a House of Commons debate and the House of Lords will have a 3rd-reading debate on the Bill.

If the Bill becomes law, while it will not apply to the NHS in Scotland (or in Wales) Scots travelling in England will have to reckon with the possibility they may not get emergency treatment on the NHS. Continue reading

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Filed under Elections, Epetitions, Healthcare