Tag Archives: lord alderdice

John Alderdice: an Open Letter from Israeli citizens to British MPs (via LordAlderdice.com)

Lord Alderdice
Lord Alderdice

Some Israeli friends have sent me an open letter requesting British MPs to vote in favour of today’s Motion in the House of Commons urging the British Government to recognize the Palestinian State side by side with the State of Israel.

The letter says this –

“We, Israelis who worry and care for the well-being of the state of Israel, believe that the long-term existence and security of Israel depends on the long-term existence and security of a Palestinian state. For this reason we the undersigned urge members of the UK parliament to vote in favour of the motion to be debated on Monday 13th October 2014 calling on the British Government to recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel”

Within a few hours it was signed by more than 350 significant Israelis including –

Former MK’s: Uri Avneri, Yael Dayan, Yossi Sarid, Naomi Chazan, Ran Cohen, Mossi Raz

Former Ministers: Yossi Sarid (Education), Ran Cohen (Industry and trade)

Former Govt. Officials: Alon Liel (CEO of Foreign Office and Ambassador to S. Africa and to Turkey), Ilan Baruch (Ambassador to S. Africa and Zimbabwe)

Israel Prize: Yehoshua Kolodny, Yoram Bilu, Shimon Sandbank, Yona Rosenfeld, David Harel, Alex levac

Nobel Prize: Danny Kahneman

Former Attorney General: Michael Benyair

Artists/Playwrights: Joshua Sobol (“Ghetto”), Motti Lerner, Sinai Peter, Avraham Oz , Ofira Henig (Theatre), Uri Segal (Conductor and Musical Director)

Military: Emanuel Shaked (former head of infantry and paratroopers), Dan Hadani (Brigadier)

It is clear that many loyal Israeli citizens now believe that immediate recognition of the Palestinian State may be the only way to save the Two-State Solution.  These are dangerous times for everyone in the Middle East, including the people of Israel as well as Palestine.  Such times require radical moves if we are not to see a dissolution into catastrophic horror.   This move shows not only the depth of concern in Israel, but also a positive, non-military way in which UK Parliamentarians and the British Government can make a real contribution to rescuing the situation.

One of the key organizers of the initiative is Professor Amiram Goldblum, who may be contacted at Tel: +972-544-653292 and e-mail: amiramg@ekmd.huji.ac.il

Lord Alderdice: Care Bill is something we can be proud of

The Care Bill – an ambitious, Lib Dem-driven attempt to overhaul the creaking care system – receives its Second Reading in the Lords today. Lord Alderdice says it is no wonder it has received near-universal praise

Lord Alderdice
Lord Alderdice

Today in the House of Lords we will be debating the Care Bill at Second Reading – the start of its legislative journey to becoming law. The title of the Bill may be prosaic. But it masks the fact that this is the most ambitious and holistic attempt to reform the over-complex and labyrinthine care system in a generation.

Nobody, inside or outside the system, seriously argues that it isn’t in need of an overhaul. Those who work within it can be perplexed by it so it is little wonder that those in need of it, or those who look after them, are often overwhelmed by the sheer complexity of what has allowed to have been built up. Worse is that these people are the most vulnerable in society – the elderly and disabled. It is by concentrating on what is best for these people, and not for the system, that this Bill has been drawn up. It is little wonder that it has achieved near-universal praise.

We should all be very proud that this Bill is the result of Liberal Democrats in government. For one reason or another, successive Conservative and Labour governments backed away from reforming a care system which had clearly stopped delivering for the people who needed it. But Paul Burstow grasped the mettle and, following a report from the Law Commission, took the Department of Health and the care sector with him. Paul’s successor Norman Lamb pursued it with no less energy, and indeed gave it an even more razor-sharp focus on integrating health and care services.

This Bill will do much to tackle the serious failings laid out in the Francis Report on the horrendous failures seen in Mid Staffordshire. Ratings for hospitals and care homes will help to ensure failings will no longer be allowed to fester unchecked, while a Chief Inspector of Hospitals with real teeth will be able to take action if and when they are found.

We are not pretending this is a perfect Bill. As we clear up the economic mess, the money is not there to, as many would like, make social care free for all. But it will put a cap on care costs, above which local authorities will make up the shortfall and ending the situation where people were forced to sell their homes to pay for care. At the moment anyone with assests of £23,250 is responsible for paying their way. This Bill will see that rise to £118,000.

Governments of both other hues have ducked this issue for decades. Lib Dems in government have finally taken hold of it and are delivering real change. That is something we can all be proud of.


Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.

Peer post: Lord Alderdice on ending discrimination in mental healthcare

After primary qualifications in medicine and psychiatry I undertook higher specialist training in psychotherapy – the talking treatments. I would usually arrive early for my supervision sessions at the Royal Free Hospital and wait in the out-patient clinic. One day my supervisor remarked that I must be quite sane because I did not mind sitting among her patients. 

Our prejudice against some people is because we feel different in colour, gender, age, lifestyle or culture, but we stigmatize people with mental disorders partly because we are terrified of crossing that line ourselves. When we lose a person or something that really matters to us we get down in our spirits, we react with profound anxiety to frightening life events, and during sleep our mind experiences psychotic-like fantasies and nightmares. 

These disturbances of thinking and feeling are appropriate, transient reactions to real experiences and normal processes of consciousness. But if you could not wake up from your worst nightmare, or the terrifying thoughts and feelings kept recurring with no apparent cause, life would be intolerable. The person who is mentally ill is not just unhappy in miserable circumstances, but trapped in a disturbed experience of meaning and reality.  

Fear of and prejudice against those who are mentally ill has resulted not only in stigma but in historically poor levels of service. This is why it is so important that the 2012 Health and Social Care Act has created equal status for mental and physical health and the new mandate to the NHS Commissioning Board tasks it with delivering on this goal. One of the eight objectives of the mandate is “putting mental health on an equal footing with physical health – this means everyone who needs mental health services having timely access to the best available treatment” and ministers have made clear the NHS will be expected to demonstrate progress by March 2015.

More attention is also being paid to the psychological needs of people with mental illness and the Coalition Government has added £400m to the programme for Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) started by the previous government.

Legislating that mental health should no longer be the poor relation of physical health and increasing the resources for psychological therapies are positive steps towards addressing the discrimination within healthcare against the mentally ill, but psychological therapies can address stigma more directly.  A behavioural therapist once told me that when he started cognitive therapy he began to understand and empathize with his patients in a wholly new way. 

Psychological therapies can humanize the experience not just of people with neurotic and personality disturbances but also those suffering from psychosis and organic disorders, and they can also enable wider society to appreciate that disturbances of meaning and reality are part of the human experience that we can be understood, contained and treated psychologically so we do not have to distance and stigmatize those who suffer from them to protect ourselves.

Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.

Peer post – A way forward for the Middle East

Last week Lord Alderdice and Dr Sundeep Waslekar, President of the Strategic Foresight Group based in Mumbai, organised an all-day round table at the House of Lords to explore the issue of cooperation in  the Middle East.  The event was addressed by Prince Hassan of Jordan and attended by parliamentarians and policy makers from the region. Here they explain how cooperation on water policy could show the way ahead for the region 

Lord Alderdice
Lord Alderdice

A combination of multiple deadlocks in traditional conflicts and disappointment about the course of the Arab Awakening, have brought despair across the Middle East. There does not seem to be a clear route out of the internal strife in Syria, there is growing hostility between Syria and Turkey and between Israel and Turkey, and the deep freeze in relations between Israel and Palestine seems ever more impervious.  Moreover, Iran’s shadow looms large in all these other conflicts.  Can it be that there is any hope beneath the surface?

As the European nations emerged from World War II a small group of people determined that instead of coal and steel being used to produce armaments for yet another disastrous conflict they would prioritize cooperation on coal and steel as a means to develop a joint stake in mutual survival and prosperity. Eventually the European Coal and Steel Community evolved into the European Union – not without its problems, but a long way from war.

The European project is not the only such example.  India and Pakistan fought wars in 1965, 1971 and 1999. However, during this period they honoured the Indus Water Treaty of 1960 and refrained from bombing watercourses and granaries.  Now they are moving to explore workable solutions to outstanding issues such as Jammu and Kashmir.   North America and East Asia provide other examples of how cooperation in spheres of mutual interest helped reduce political distrust and facilitate cooperation.  Africa, which has been plagued by myriad conflicts is also moving towards regional cooperation with the Southern African Development Community, the East African Community, the Senegal River Basin Organisation and the reinvigorated African Union.

It is no coincidence that the Middle East, which lacks any real institutions of regional cooperation and dialogue, continuously faces instability and violent conflict. In the long run, that region also needs an inclusive, semi-permanent conference similar to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), but in the immediate future, it can begin by establishing institutionalised mechanisms for cooperation in core areas of human development.  Water and water-courses naturally form and often cross borders.  In Ireland, for example, one of the few areas of North-South cooperation in the years between partition in 1922 and the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985 was the Foyle Fisheries Commission and it became a model for the North-South Executive bodies that were such a key element of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that brought that conflict to a close.

Continue reading Peer post – A way forward for the Middle East

Improving the Justice and Security Bill

Last night a large number of Liberal Democrat peers helped to inflict a string of defeats on the Government’s Justice and Security Bill – one perhaps better known in the media as the “secret courts” legislation.

Over on Lib Dem Voice today, the party’s convenor in the Lords Lord Alderdice explains why peers voted the way they did, how it improved the Bill and why we stopped short of throwing out part 2 of the Bill entirely. You can find it here.


Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.