The EU Referendum, Sir William Cash declared during the passage of the Bill providing for it through the Commons, is of fundamental importance to the future of this country over the next generation and more.That is why Liberal Democrats have been arguing, regardless of the broader issue of lowering the voting age, that on this occasion 16- and 17-year-olds should be allowed to vote. We agree with Eurosceptics like Bill Cash that this is a vital, long-term decision; so those that have the longest stake in the future of this country should not be denied a say.
The Tory selloff of Government assets along Whitehall will cause major security problems in the future Lord Wallace of Saltaire has warned today.
In a question in the Lords, William Wallace has asked the Government what assessment they have made of the potential security risks posed by the conversion of former Government buildings along major procession routes.
Lord Wallace has also highlighted that there remains a network of World War Two tunnels under Whitehall that link all these buildings together.
Roads regularly used by the queen and foreign dignitaries could soon be lined with “Horseguard Hiltons” that will make security operations much more difficult.
“In their ill thought through drive to cut everything the Tories are willing to sacrifice security to make a quick buck.
“It would be a lot harder to guarantee the protection of the Queen, dignitaries or foreign leaders if you have hotels lining the route.”
“The selling off of assets is something a business does before it folds, not something a nation does on the way up.”
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.
In a letter to the Financial Times, Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesperson William Wallace has written:
“Sir, Your call for UK prime minister David Cameron to “make the case for strong defence capabilities” (editorial, June 2) does not spell out the link between the pursuit of a semi-detached relationship with continental Europe and the shrinkage of the UK’s military ambitions.”
I’ve gone down with Canvasser’s Heel. Well, the doctor called it plantar fasciitis: her first question to me after I had described the symptoms were, ‘Does your job involve a lot of standing and walking?’
The NHS defines it as ‘excessive, constant abnormal pulling and stretching of the fibrous bands that support the arch, [which] causes the heel bone to become inflamed and painful. This constant irritation can sometimes lead to a heel spur (bony growth) forming on the bottom of the heel bone. The patient usually complains of pain with the first step in the morning, some relief following activity, but the pain returning after extended amounts of time standing or walking.’
I’d thought I’d bruised my heel somehow, and had gone on canvassing (and limping) over several weekends, until it was clearly getting worse rather than better. The cure starts with icepacks applied, then rest, physiotherapy, walking gently, and wearing well-padded shoes.
This used, apparently, to be called ‘Policeman’s Heel’. Brian Paddick hadn’t heard of it, and the policeman I spoke to in Liverpool during our Spring conference only said that ‘we spend most of our time sitting in cars these days’. But the officer on duty outside the Commons as I left last Thursday said he’d suffered from it: too much walking around on hard pavements, made worse by standing for long periods on street corners. Road runners often suffer from this, too, I’m told.
So what should the dedicated Liberal activist do to avoid succumbing to this in the course of an election campaign? Wear comfortable lace-up shoes with thick soles and heels, for a start: Clark’s shoes, or trainers, are much better than thin-soled shoes. Sit down from time to time; twiddle your toes, flex your feet by going up on your toes and back every now and again. Put padded insoles in and arch supports, if that helps more. Think about the risks of spending too long on concrete and tarmac; walk on the grass when you can.
I took part in a five-party panel at York University the other weekend, organised by the University’s Politics Society, in front of a packed lecture hall with over 200 students. No other panellist or questioner mentioned the subject of tuition fees, believed by some Liberal Democrat activists (and right-wing journalists) to be an issue that hangs like an albatross round Nick Clegg’s neck. The overwhelming impression I came away with, reinforced by informal conversations with several students after the meeting, was not that we face an outraged student body which can never forgive us for the tuition fees ‘betrayal’, as the NUS would like to portray it; it was of a student body which is switched off from party politics, unsure of whether to vote or not, but with some intelligent questions to ask. ‘I wasn’t planning to vote until I came to this’, one student told me afterwards, ‘but maybe now I will.’
Since nobody else did, I addressed the tuition fee issue. I said that we had found it impossible to persuade our Conservative partners in the coalition to pay for this, against the background of a yawning gap between revenue and expenditure in 2010, and had therefore focused on striking a deal that was as progressive in its impact as possible; that the package had ensured that graduates only start to pay back when they are earning good money; that the rise since then in the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds applying to university has shown that we got that right; and that there was no no way any future government would want to take us back to free fees in the face of other competing demands for government funding. I went on to say that we had worked in government to put money into ‘the other 50%’ – the young people who never go to university; that doubling the number of apprenticeships, paying a Pupil Premium to encourage schools to put more resources into helping those who most need it, and expanding nursery education to give children a better start in life had proved to be more progressive and cost-effective than free fees for the better-off.