William Wallace: The USA, Britain and the EU in a changing environment

Lord Wallace of Saltaire
Lord Wallace of Saltaire

Foreign Affairs Spokesperson William Wallace recently made a speech to the 2015 Weatherhead Center for International Affairs Conference. In his speech he discussed the Future of the Special Relationship:

The US-UK special relationship was born in the Second World War, and grew to maturity in the first decade of the Cold War.   It was a military partnership, in which the UK was America’s junior but nevertheless valuable ally, with bases and forces that extended to the Red Sea, the Arab/Persian Gulf and Singapore.  It was also an intelligence partnership – built by working together through the Second World War, and maintained and developed in the decades that followed.  On both sides it was underpinned by emotion and rhetoric, by shared memories of the war in Europe and by constructed images –  myths – of shared history and values.

The personal ties weakened as the generation of British and Americans who had worked and fought together during the war passed on.  The value of the partnership to the USA diminished as decolonisation shrank Britain’s global reach, and the strain of military spending on the British economy reduced the size of its armed forces.

Continue reading William Wallace: The USA, Britain and the EU in a changing environment

Brian Paddick: The Government has been trying to play catch-up on drug control (via The Huffington Post)

Lord Paddick
Lord Paddick

Writing for the Huffington Post, Home Affairs Spokesperson Brian Paddick has pulled apart the Psychoactive Substances Bill, highlighting the problems with the current legislation and the ways in which the Lib Dems are seeking to fix it. 

Liberal Democrats in the Lords are trying to rescue something from the car crash that is the government’s Psychoactive Substances Bill by tabling a series of amendments.

The Bill seeks to make it illegal to produce or supply any substance that affects someone’s mental functioning or emotional state, unless the government specifically exempts it.

This takes the “my substances of choice, like alcohol and tobacco, are OK but yours aren’t” approach to a new level.

On Tuesday we tried and failed to press the pause button while an independent, evidence-based review (posh phrase for ‘what works in practice?’) of existing laws was carried out.

The UK Bill is based on a similar Act in force in the Republic of Ireland for the past four years that has been so disastrous, the Irish are thinking of repealing it.

At the moment ‘head shops’ sell so-called ‘legal highs’ with impunity. The government has been trying to play catch-up, banning harmful new substances as they are developed, and losing.

They have now lurched, with Labour Party support, to banning everything.

The full article is here 

Dick Taverne: Immigrants should be encouraged to study at British universities, not turned away (via Politics Home)

Lord Taverne
Lord Taverne

Writing for Politics Home, Dick Taverne highlighted the benefits that foreign students bring to Britain. 

Polls show that immigration is an issue of widespread concern. But public concern is not about immigrant students whom most people welcome. They know how much foreign students benefit Britain. Industry needs them.  They bring in billions to the Treasury. They enrich the quality (and income) of our universities.

Nevertheless government policies often seem to ignore these benefits and make foreign students feel they are not welcome – strict visa requirements for instance and a high minimum earnings requirement for those who want to stay after graduation. Another minor example, which few know about, causes despair and injustice to a particularly vulnerable and deserving group of young immigrants.  They are those who came to Britain as unaccompanied child refugees and who are denied a chance to go to university even if they do well at school…

The full article can be found here

Kate Parminter: We will work to make Britain less unjust, more liberal and greener (via Lib Dem Voice)

Baroness Parminter
Baroness Parminter

Writing for Lib Dem Voice, Environment Spokesperson and newly elected Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems in the Lords, outlined her plans in this parliament.

Last week I was elected as one of two Deputy Leaders (alongside Navnit Dholakia) of our group in the Lords.

We have many battles ahead of us and whilst I’m a supporter of an elected second chamber (and have long campaigned for one and will continue to do so) we Liberal Democrats in the Lords have a real opportunity to hold this Government to account. We can improve the laws that the Tories bring forward and campaign alongside others to make Britain less unjust, more liberal and greener.

I’m looking forward to working with Navnit & our Leader Jim Wallace as our 102 strong group in the Lords calls into question any illiberal moves by this Tory Government (and so far it looks like there will be many opportunities to do so). This will play a part in the Liberal Democrat fightback and keep the liberal voice loud in Westminster, helping re-build support for our party to win votes and seats right across Britain.

The full article is here

Jenny Randerson: No ifs, no buts, Wales must have fair funding

Baroness Randerson
Baroness Randerson

Former Wales Office Minister Baroness Randerson will today call for the UK Government to be bold and enshrine fair funding into the Wales Bill.

Speaking in a debate on devolution she is hosting in the House of Lords, Baroness Randerson will call on the Conservative UK Government to be bolder in its plans for the Wales Bill and will urge the Government to move much faster towards its implementation.

She will also call for the UK Government to:

  • devolve policing;
  • be open to the idea of establishing a separate legal jurisdiction for Wales;
  • devolve youth justice;
  • increase the available energy powers currently on offer; and
  • clarify whether it will be only be publishing a Draft Bill in this parliamentary session.

Continue reading Jenny Randerson: No ifs, no buts, Wales must have fair funding

Brian Paddick: The Lib Dems are the only party prepared to tackle the harm drugs cause

Lord Paddick
Lord Paddick

Liberal Democrats today attacked the blinkered Tory approach to drugs policy as they tabled a series of amendments to the Psychoactive Substances Bill in the House of Lords.

The party will call on the Conservatives to delay new laws until a full review is carried out into how existing legislation is failing to stop the harm caused by drugs.

They will urge the Conservatives to build on the health-based approach to drugs misuse championed by the Liberal Democrats in Coalition and abandon their failing ‘get tough’ policies.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Brian Paddick, who has tabled the amendments, is calling for:

  • the Government to delay moves to ban legal highs until an independent, evidence-based review of existing laws is carried out, allowing proper drafting of the legislation
  • the decriminalisation of  possession of all drugs for personal use
  • the legalisation of medicinal use of cannabis when it is prescribed by a doctor

Continue reading Brian Paddick: The Lib Dems are the only party prepared to tackle the harm drugs cause

Liz Barker: why Liberal Democrats should be out and proud in 2015 (via Lib Dem Voice)

Baroness Barker
Baroness Barker

Writing for Lib Dem Voice, Liz Barker has highlighted the importance of Pride, the Lib Dem record on LGBT equality and why it is more vital than ever the Lib Dems have a strong presence at Pride. 

Next Saturday the LGBT community will celebrate Pride in London.

There has been a kerfuffle about whether UKIP should be allowed to attend. Of course they should. In this country the LGBT community is strong enough to be inclusive, to involve all sorts of minorities.  Moreover several hours in which to challenge the absurdity of being an LGBT member of UKIP – preferably through the media of song and interpretive dance – is a gift too good to be spurned.

This year the march will be led by Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners; an organisation of which many young people were unaware until they saw the film Pride. Do get the DVD. It is well worth a watch.  The presence of LGSM (as it said on the collecting buckets) is a timely reminder of how easily political fortunes can change and memories fade.

The full article is here

The Liberal Democrat peers in the House of Lords

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