Lib Dem Peer Paul Tyler appeared on today’s BOOKtalk on BBC Parliament, to discuss his book Who Decides?
From the book’s blurb:
If you are one of the hundreds of thousands of people in Britain who regularly take collective decisions – in a club, in business, in local or central government, or indeed in any other organisation – this book offers essential advice. The combination of Dr Edgar Anstey’s professional expertise, as a former government Chief Psychologist, and Paul Tyler’s practical experiences provides invaluable, topical guidance. Along the way we discover how the winner of the Man Booker Prize is chosen, how bishops (men only, but for how long?) are selected and how Margaret Thatcher plumped for the Channel Tunnel option. By what process did Tony Blair translate from a lost deposit to a safe Labour seat? How could the Liberal Democrats get into the coalition bed with David Cameron after the failure to do a deal with Edward Heath in 1974? And while politicians look on the House of Lords as a very comfortable and rewarding retirement home will there ever be a decision on its reform?
Dermot Murnaghan: Let’s talk to a former Lib Dem leader, Paddy Ashdown, good to talk to you. So let’s take that head on, so Mr Blair, it’s not boots on the ground he said but he is still firmly interventionist, is he right to be?
Paddy Ashdown: I’m firmly interventionist because I believe unless we are prepared to intervene internationally to preserve the wider peace when it’s threatened, the world will be a much more turbulent place but I don’t believe it’s right in these circumstances in the way that Tony suggests. I mean there are other ways you can do it and we might come on to talking about that.
Look, I’m sorry Dermot, I’m having a bit of a difficulty getting my mind round the idea that a problem that has been caused or made worse by killing many, many Arab Muslims in the Middle East is now going to be made better by killing more with Western weapons. I just don’t think that’s the solution.
Look, let me go back I think it’s a couple of years actually or thereabouts, we were talking about Syria and I was talking on your programme and I was saying the problem is not Syria, please don’t get distracted, the problem is that we are at the beginning of a widening Sunni/Shia religious sectarian conflict that is going to be spreading across the entire Middle East, it will go to Iraq, it will go to Egypt, it will go to Libya, it will go to Mali and that’s exactly what’s happened.
This is more about the preparations, funded by the way by our so-called friends in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to capture and unify the Sunni community, the Sunni umma, for a Jihadist cause in preparation for a widening Shia war and unless we understand that and unless we understand also, Dermot, that we have pretty limited means to influence the progress of that, then I think we are going to get every calculation wrong. I mean let me put it to you pretty straightforward, personally I think ISIS has over-extended themselves, the next thing I think you’re going to see is ISIS being beaten back in some form or another but that does not alter the reality that in all probability what you are seeing now is the wholesale rewriting of the borders established in the Sykes-Picot Agreement and set in the Versailles Conference of 1918 of the whole Middle East in favour of a new complex of borders which reflect sectarian differences between Sunni and Shia and that’s the danger. If that is the prelude, and I think it is, to a widening regional war – actually we think we are the targets because we always do but I think actually we may get drawn into this in some form or another but I think the targets are now not the great Satan of the West but the great heretic in Teheran.
My final point here before we talk about what should be done is this, we need also to recognise that the Russians have a concern about this and a very legitimate one because what they are seeing in those Islamic republics of Dagestan, Chechnya threatening the cohesion of the Russian Federation is exactly the same radicalisation of the Sunni community and the real danger of this, unless we are very careful, is that we are drawn in on one side, on the side of the Sunnis, and Russia is drawn in on the other. Then you have a regional war with the great powers engaged. Now I don’t say we are there yet but that at all costs is what we must avoid.
During my years in Bosnia, both during the war and afterwards I heard and saw evidence of horrific stories of mass rape and sexual violence committed during the war. Thousands of women and children suffered terrible abuse and the physical and mental scars could stay with survivors for the rest of their lives.
Years later, sexual violence still remains entrenched in conflict zones around the world and children are often the most vulnerable. Children suffering in conflicts are growing up in a world where they face the daily threat of rape and abuse and sexual violence is considered the ‘norm’.
In Mogadishu, Somalia, Unicef teams treated more than 50 child survivors of sexual violence every single week in 2013. And in the Democratic Republic of Congo an average of 36 women and girls are raped every day – with children as young as six months old being targeted by armed groups.
Lib Dem Peer Shirley Williams appeared on yesterday morning’s Andrew Marr Show to discuss the day’s papers
From the BBC blurb:
Andrew Marr is joined by key political personalities and cultural figures to discuss topical politics, current affairs and the arts. He is joined by foreign secretary William Hague MP, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper MP, first minister of Scotland and leader of the SNP Alex Salmond MSP, and IMF managing director Christine Lagarde. There is a performance from Eddi Reader, and Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Shirley Williams and former security minister Admiral Lord West review the newspapers.
Ahead of this week’s summit to end sexual violence in conflict, the Lib Dem peer appeals for a coordinated and integrated approach to tackling the appalling crimes.
This week, Foreign Secretary William Hague and Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy for the UN, will co-chair a three dayGlobal Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict. World leaders and experts will gather in London with the aim of creating the political momentum to finally end the use of rape as a weapon of war.
Sexual violence is one of the most appalling crimes committed during conflict; it destroys lives and ravages of communities. It represents a scorched earth-policy that blights reconciliation processes and entrenches conflict in the minds of its victims. To end these atrocities, we need strong political leadership and international coalitions prepared to say – as previous leaders have done with chemical and biological weapons – “this ends now”.
The Liberal Democrats are lucky to have such an able and committed leader – and one with a lot to be proud of.
Nick Clegg has been a principled, honourable and brave leader of the Liberal Democrats. He has borne criticism, even insult and abuse, with remarkable grace, maintaining a political position based on reason and on strongly held values. Such politicians are rare. It would be absurd to demand his resignation now because some parliamentary candidates think that bowing to a populist anti-Europe campaign would somehow win their seats for them. As for polling in four seats reported today by the Guardian, the survey was conducted throughout April, undermining its credibility – and was clearly commissioned and leaked for political purposes.
Ukip, as Kenneth Clarke pointed out today, won the support of a little over a quarter of those who bothered to vote, more precisely 27% of the 34% who did. It was apathy rather than passionate opposition to the European Union that characterised an election in which so few voted. Ukip supporters are in general older than the population as a whole, and older people are more likely to vote. That may be one reason why Ukip has so few policies that address the problems of the future – climate change, inequality, poverty and lack of education (especially of girls) in large parts of the developing world.
“I bring you nought for your comfort, Yea, nought for your desire. Save that the sky grows darker yet, And the sea rises higher.”
I suspect that many Lib Dems waking on Monday morning will identify with King Alfred’s speech to his ragged army in G.K Chesterton’s epic “The Ballad of the White Horse”.
We Liberal Democrats have endured some sombre post-electoral dawns recently. And this one is going to be another of them. With the election just a year away, this poses some serious questions for us. But they pose questions for the other parties too.
With Ukip on the stage, can the Tories ever win a majority on their own again? They may hate coalition, but is it now the best the Tories can hope for? Mr Cameron famously wouldn’t “obsess about Europe” because he knew it was toxic for his party’s unity. But by helping Ukip put a European referendum centre stage, he has now cheerfully taken the viper to his breast. A 2017 European referendum could be as deadly to Tory unity as the 1975 one was to Labour. Listen to the Tory voices calling for an electoral pact with Ukip and you can already hear the distant thunder.
True to form, Labour’s answer to its difficulties is an enquiry and another outing for its traditional circular firing squad.
Many years ago I fell in love with a handsome man and we started living together. Everything was fine to begin with but gradually and almost imperceptibly things began to change. Only occasionally would something happen that made me think things were not quite right. The first occasion was when he tore-up a birthday card from a friend because he suspected it was from a secret lover. He would often get angry if I got held-up at work. He would not believe that there was an innocent explanation. He would say that unless I was home within half an hour he would not be home when I got there. I would get stressed rushing home to beat his deadline.
He used to check my mobile phone. He found an entry he did not recognise and assumed that “Bruno” was someone I was having an affair with. He refused to believe my denials and was angry for days. Out of desperation, I brought home the phone book belonging to my boss’ secretary to prove that Bruno was actually my boss’ driver. Only then would he believe me although it would not be long before he found some other excuse to have a go at me. It was a combination of excessive jealousy and an excuse to shout at me. He would get angry with me for the slightest reason and twice the emotional abuse became physical.