Chilcot Report – Proud of my party for leading the way

Today is a day for reflection, as we consider the consequences of the fateful decision to go to war in Iraq.

Our first thoughts need to be with the families across the world who have grieved loved ones, experienced life-changing injuries, and witnessed destruction and despair often beyond description.

There is no justice that can compensate their loss, and today we have learned from the Chilcot Report (http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/the-report)

what we all knew already in our hearts – it did not have to be this way

For many members in my local party, the Iraq war was a genuine turning point.

Many others chose to join the Liberal Democrats when they saw Charles Kennedy step up to the challenge, in difficult times, and provide the strong, principled leadership our country so desperately needed.

In 2003, every Liberal Democrat MP voted AGAINST going to war in Iraq.

It was the right thing to do, and that has been proven again today. Sir John Chilcot’s report has shown that this was a war of choice, that options for a peaceful resolution still existed, and that our Prime Minister wilfully mislead parliament and the British people to march us into a war he had already decided to launch.

I was proud to see our leader Charles Kennedy refuse to compromise, despite enormous pressure and abuse pouring in from all sides, on the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to internationalism and respect for international law.

You can see Charles’s speeches below, he was a real example of principled leadership in a time of crisis. It is not just Liberal Democrats who are missing Charles today. Our whole country is all the poorer without him.

Finally, while Chilcot gives us the chance to reflect on past mistakes, we still have a duty to oppose the mistakes that our leaders are making today!

Right now, Britain risks cutting herself off from our most valuable allies and trading partners, putting millions of jobs at risk and doing massive harm to our economy. I’m proud of Tim Farron for showing equal determination and leadership to fight Brexit and put Britain back where we belong, at the heart of an open, tolerant, free, and prosperous Europe.

If you agreed with us in 2003, if you agree with us now in 2016 it is time to join the party that is proudly and passionately fighting for the better future we all believe in. (https://libdems.secure.force.com/LiberalDemocrats/NewMemberRegistration)

You can see some great videos of Charles Kennedy’s speeches on Iraq in Parliament and at the anti-way rally in Hyde Park here :

http://www.libdemvoice.org/one-big-thing-to-remember-about-the-iraq-war-as-the-chilcot-report-is-published-51216html

 

TIM FARRON’s RESPONSE TO BREXIT

I am devastated and I am angry. Today we woke to a deeply divided country.

Nigel Farage’s vision for Britain has won this vote, but it is not a vision I accept.

An institution that we built, that delivered peace, that promoted equality, kept us safe and opened the doors of opportunity, will no longer play part of Britain’s future.

With this vote, the very fabric of our country has changed.

The whole fabric of Europe has been changed.

Even though the vote was close, the majority of British people want us to leave.

But we refuse to give up on our beliefs.

Our fight for an open, optimistic, hopeful, diverse and tolerant Britain is needed now more than ever.

Together we will continue to make the case for Britain’s future with Europe, a future millions of people have voted for.

Together we cannot afford to let that vision die.

The Liberal Democrats will continue to stand and fight for a better kind of Britain than the one painted by the leave campaign.

If you are as angry and heartbroken as I am, I need you to join us today.

As Gladstone said almost 130 years ago – ‘We are part of the community of Europe, and must do our duty as such.’

Hope and optimism, openness and tolerance, cooperation and togetherness can succeed.

We must not let this vote allow our country to turn to division, isolation and decline.

Fellow Liberal Democrats, your efforts, in every corner of Britain, have been incredible, and I am immensely proud of the role you have played in this campaign.

As Charles Kennedy said, this party – our family – has Europe in its DNA.

I am a northerner, I am English, I am British and I am a European. I am proud of all four, and I am not alone.

It has been a privilege for me to lead people so committed to our internationalist values and united behind a vision of Britain that is tolerant, outward-looking and compassionate.

While others sat on their hands, you guys pulled a shift in every community in Britain. I am proud of you.

For years we have been told we have had to hide our vision on Europe.

Today we stand alongside millions of people who share in that vision.

16M people.
Those people share our values, our belief and our ambition for Britain.

What stands out to me more than anything, is the great injustice to future generations.

It looks like younger voters voted to remain at a staggering margin – almost three-quarters wanting to stay in.

Their future has been taken away by older generations.

What a tragedy that older voters, the people who have been able to benefit from European integration, have removed the opportunity for those coming behind them.

So, Boris, Michael Gove, Nigel Farage. You’ve got your wish. Britain is out.

Now, what do you intend to do with it?

Simple catch phrases, bluff and bluster no longer cut it.

What do you say to the millions of Europeans who have made Britain their home?

What do you say to the millions of Britons who livelihoods are on the line?

You must look those people in the eye, and tell them what you can offer.

Overnight, sterling has plummeted
£120 billion was wiped off the market in the first 10 minutes
Our banks are now more precarious
People’s pensions are at risk

In a matter of moments we are no longer the 5th largest economy in the world, we’re sixth, behind France, and falling.

We are at serious risk that last night’s vote will inflict damage to our economy that can’t be undone.

Economics isn’t about numbers on a spreadsheet it’s about people, people’s homes, jobs, livelihoods – now all put at risk.

For decades, politicians on all sides have pointed the finger of blame at Europe.

Lies and invented claims were left unchallenged.

No wonder that the British people don’t trust it, and don’t believe it.

And when the PM backed remain, after a career of criticising Europe, it should be no surprise that no one trusted or believed him either.

Successive Prime Ministers – Conservative and Labour –allowed the myth to grow that ‘Europe’ interferes in our sovereignty in ways it never has.

Even when you consider the referendum itself, it only came about because it was politically expedient for David Cameron to hide from the European issue before the general election.

This vote has been a collective howl of frustration – at the political class, at big business, at a global elite.

This was not a vote on the European Union alone.

Years of frustration, dissatisfaction and people feeling ignored have been building to this point.

Too often the European Union has been used as a distraction from failures in government.

The pressures on our schools, the pressures on our hospitals and GP surgeries, the pressures on our infrastructure are problems made in Westminster, in our own Parliament, by British politicians.

The insecurities from zero hours contracts, the housing crisis, the desertion of the industrial north, the expenses scandals and the banking crisis, these are all problems made in Westminster.

No wonder people feel ignored and neglected by politics.

They have seen their living standards falling further and further behind the rest of society.

They are angry.

They are right to feel angry.

I share that anger.

But Nigel Farage is not the answer.

12 months ago David Cameron had the best result of his career. Today, the worst.

I was honoured to share a platform with the Prime Minster on this campaign, but this result, this self-inflicted wound, will be his legacy.

There have been many things I did not agree with the Prime Minister on, but I must thank him for his stewardship of the country and for the way he took the very bold move to create a Coalition Government in 2010. It was an incredible act of bi-partisan cooperation.

The result of the referendum has left him with no choice. In this immediate period, the Government must act quickly to steady the economy, reassure the markets, and immediately set a new course.

Greater instability will lead to job uncertainty, falling investment, and greater pressure on public services.

There is no doubt this is going to be an incredibly testing, difficult and fractious time.

David Cameron has become the latest Conservative leader to fall victim to his party’s dangerous obsession with Europe. The Conservative’s political manoeuvring has taken our country to the brink, and today we have toppled over the edge.

And what he does with this moment is pivotal.

He is right not to invoke Article 50 immediately, but to take time to set out a constructive vision of our relationship with Europe.

People on both sides of this debate must be brought together to set the course for how we leave.

There is no doubt this is going to be an incredibly testing, difficult and fractious time.

There were some genuinely amazing cross party moments in this campaign.

I really enjoyed standing alongside some of this country’s greatest progressive politicians.

But with politicians of all parties working together, one of the things that stood out in this campaign, was Jeremy Corbyn’s bizarre refusal to share a platform in the face of the greatest challenge our country was faced in a generation.

I have stood alongside Gordon Brown, Harriet Harman, Chukka Umuna, Andy Burnham and Sadiq Kahn.

Great progressive Labour politicians that I admire – forced to campaign with their hands tied behind their back because of short sighted demands from their Leader’s office.

Where was the leader of that party?

Even when the future of our country depended on him, he could not bring himself to reach across the aisle.

When the call went out for help, Jeremy Corbyn refused to answer.

The once-proud working class Labour vote has abandoned Corbyn in droves.

Great Labour cities have been driven into the arms of UKIP and Nigel Farage.

It is clearer than ever that Jermyn Corbyn has more concern for his own position in his own party, rather than his country.

This has been a brutal campaign.

Tempers ran high, allegations were flung, and animosity crept into friendships.

Today I stand for the 48%. I stand for the 16 million.

Because I believe that we are instinctively an optimistic, hopeful country.

We are diverse, welcoming and open-hearted.

In this spirit we must move forward.

In this campaign we stood together against campaigns that sought to stoke bitterness and English nationalism.

Together, our progressive unity must not now be allowed to fade away.

Our liberal, progressive values are true British values and we must fight so hard to ensure they remain at the forefront of our politics.

In many ways this referendum has shown how our politics is broken

There is a very black cloud hanging over our country, but under that cloud, under the narrow painful defeat, there is a silver lining.

Because for the last few weeks I have stood alongside progressives, in Labour, Greens, SNP even Conservatives. It felt so much like there was more that united us than divided us.

We must not allow this unity to fade away.

When other parties are divided and wounded, I will reach out.

I am proud of the campaign that my party has run.

Positive, energetic and hopeful.

That’s the sort of party we are, and that is my offer to the country. It is my offer to all people who share our values.

I can offer you a home for a new modern breed of politics – liberal, hopeful, international, rational – driven by real British values.

Positive about Europe, furious with those who led us to this disaster. Determined that we will not walk away from this fight.

Together we can lay foundations for a better Britain.

Together we can heal the rifts of a divisive and negative campaign.

Be proud that you’re one of the 48%. The 16 million.

Help us build a better, more effective and more representative politics.

Help us fight for real British values at home and abroad.

Show our fellow Europeans that Britain is a good neighbour. Is proud to be a European country. Is proud to lead.

So join us.

Already, today, a thousand new members have joined the Liberal Democrats in a spontaneous act of those who refuse to allow Farage’s vision of a bitter Britain to win.

They want a better Britain.

If you share their anger, if you share my anger, join us, and join us now.

16 million people. 48%. In need of a voice.

A politics of hope and optimism.

We will not give up.

You must not give up.

DAVID RENDEL an appreciation

 

David Rendel came to the attention of the general public in May 1993 when he won the Newbury By-Election for the Liberal Democrats with a record majority of 22,055.

I joined the party in December 1991, after taking early retirement.

I was soon working with David for the 1992 general election Our canvassing was going well until Kinnock made his infamous Sheffield speech, the rest is history.

The sitting MP died in January 1993, and the Newbury By Election was called for May 6th, the same day as the County Council elections, where I was standing in the Tory Division of Newbury Downlands. (I gained the seat with a Lib Dem majority of 627)

I came to know David well during the campaign. The first obvious quality was his energy, to be expected from an Oxford Blue. He canvassed the Newbury Downlands at a gallop, most appropriate for a Division where horse racing is the major industry.

As I worked with David on a number of projects I came to appreciate a conviction politician of integrity and honesty. As Chair of the Local Highways Committee I campaigned with David for the Newbury By-Pass, which
did not endear us to Liberal

Democrats outside Newbury. He opposed hunting, in an area where the horse ruled. He was the only member of the National Executive to vote against going into national coalition with the Tories.

Nothing was too much trouble for David. He looked after Newbury and has left a imprint from his campaigning. Not just the By Pass, but a Hospital, a Cinema and the historic Wharf area saved from destruction.

David had courage in spades.
He addressed thousands of by pass protestors at the third battle off Newbury. He had a rough ride, but when the gathering broke up and the protestors went home in their cars he returned to Newbury on his bike.

David was my political mentor and my friend. We kept in touch when I left Berkshire, by e-mail, visits to Newbury and dinners at conference.  He came to North Staffordshire to address students at Keele.

We shared concerns as to the way the party was heading.

I am one of hundreds who will miss him, a caring man who made a positive impact on the lives of many.

Alderman David Becket

 

UPDATE

As I am no longer a councillor I am considering the future of this site.

In the meantime local Lib Dem news can be obtained from our Newcastle Site

www.newcastlelibdems.org.uk

 

CABLE ON STEEL

At a regional Lib Dem conference in Newcastle under Lyme Vince Cable made a number of suggestions concerning the steel crisis. He pointed out that the industrial strategy that he introduced as Business Secretary had been abandoned. He proposed that the first action to take would be for the treasury to take responsibility for the pension fund (as the coalition did with Royal Mail) which would make the industry more attractive to a potential buyer.

The government must also drop its dogmatic approach to the crisis. A short period of public ownership might be required to give an opportunity to find a longer term solution.

David’s Comment

We took banks into public ownership to save them, why not steel which is the bedrock of our industrial production as the banks are the bedrock of our financial services?

Whilst Liberal Democrats running the Business Secretariat would not have prevented the crisis, the government the government would have been more prepared to deal with it

DISORGANISED or just PLAIN INCOMPETENCE

Consider the scene:

  • Tory councils protesting about the academy programme
  • The chaos over the cuts to disability support and working age credits
  • The civil war over the EU.
  • The mishandled dispute with the doctors.
  • The lack of an industry strategy to deal with the steel crisis

This Tory government must be the most  disorganised or incompetent  government in living memory.

 

Clearly the Lib Dems kept them going for the last five years.

 

KEEP THE GREEN BANK GREEN

The Green Investment bank was set up by Lib Dem Vince Cable in 2012.

It has invested £2.3 billion into the UK’s green economy bringing in a further £7 billion in from the private sector and its operations are already profitable.  As a result the UK has more renewables, more combined heat and power plants, more energy efficient road lighting, more heat pumps.  It has been a great Coalition success, down to Lib Dems in government.

 

Now the Tories, through the Enterprise Bill, want to take the Green out of Green Bank, so it just becomes another investment bank

 

Lib Dems in the House of Lords introduced the mechanism of a special share in the Green Investment Bank held by ‘green guardians’ appointed initially by the Climate Change Committee.  Those green objectives could only be changed if the three green guardians agreed unanimously.

It was approved by 46 votes in spite of government opposition.

 

This is just one of the many ways the government is wrecking our investment into green technology, and it is the Lib Dems trying to stop them.


 

YOUNG KIDS FORCED INTO SLAVERY AND PROSTITUTION

Last year 200, 000 children fleeing war arrived in Italy as refugees, and these were the lucky ones who did not die on the way.

13,000 were unaccompanied, and of those 4,000 disappeared. Nobody to care for them, no education no health support, and most likely working as slaves or prostitutes. This year it will be worse.

Lib Dem Leader Tim Farron has submitted a private members bill proposing that the UK take 3,000 of these children. That is far less than the number of Jewish children we took in before the last war.

Tim’s proposal is a liberal solution to a humane problem facing the young and vulnerable.

Lynne Featherstone writes… Tories’ huge backward step on climate change

Today the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, will give a speech to update us all on the Government’s energy policy. What she will say has been widely trailed and it contains some seriously bad news.

The last six months have seen a relentless and systematic unravelling of the excellent work done by Ed Davey to develop the green economy. The Government is now going one step further to deprioritise decarbonisation as a main goal, in favour of making energy security its number one priority. It does not seem to realise it is possible to deliver on both.

Amber Rudd will say she plans to curb the growth of renewable industries even further, with the logical conclusion that there must be an increase in nuclear and gas to meet energy needs. This means expensive subsidies paid to other countries, rather than investment in renewables in the UK, and also fracking.

The most baffling aspect of the Government’s abandonment of the renewable sector is the fact there is such a strong business case for investing in green industries. We might understand their actions if it was just about environmental concern, which Conservatives have never been strong on, and we know of the power wielded by backbench climate-change deniers and fossil fuel lobbyists. But to ignore the long-term economic case in favour of short-term cash gains is extraordinary. The UK has been a world leader in this sector and continuing to invest and develop these job-creating industries while we have a competitive advantage and while the costs of producing renewable energy are plummeting is simply good economic sense.

The timing of this speech is extremely worrying, being just a fortnight before the most significant global conference on climate change that there has ever been. The UN Climate Conference in Paris is a precious opportunity to build a worldwide consensus on tackling climate change. Undermining the UK’s clout in those discussions could potentially have devastating consequences.

It is clear now, if it wasn’t before, that the good work of the Coalition on green issues was entirely down to work of Liberal Democrats. Left on their own the Conservatives have shown that there is no genuine commitment to tackling climate change at all. Amber Rudd’s accusations that DECC over-spent over recent years are inaccurate and quite simply a smoke-screen for politically motivated cuts. The ending of electricity from coal announced today is of course good news, but what most people don’t know is that the Conservatives repeatedly opposed Lib Dem plans to do this during the Coalition. Cost pressures have finally changed their mind.

But while it angers us all to see what the Government is now doing, we should be careful to remember that their actions can only go so far in unpicking what Lib Dems achieved. The solar panels we put on roofs will remain. The wind farms we opened will continue to contribute towards our energy needs. There may be no new ones thanks to the Tories, but we can still be proud of the positive difference we have made. We must continue to fight for a greener economy because we have shown that our actions match our words, and it is clear that for the Tories they do not. Unfortunately Amber Rudd’s speech today makes that crystal clear.

* Lynne Featherstone was the MP for Hornsey and Wood Green from 2005 to 2015, and served as a minister in both the Home Office and Department for International Development. She blogs at www.lynnefeatherstone.org.