Our nation is at a crossroads, if we take the wrong path we could fall off the cliff. Britain lacks strong leadership, there is no clear vision and there is certainly no plan. Our country is confused, our people are perplexed and our neighbours think we are crazy.
And above all our governments have consistently neglected the prosperity of our people, the millions who everyday are struggling with unnecessary financial hardship; Promises have been made but there has been no follow through. We have been sold austerity as inevitable when prosperity is possible.
Politics for the privileged is no longer acceptable, the people want change, they told us that with the referendum vote, they told us that with the 2017 election. While the Liberal Democrats did not do nearly as well as we would like, we undoubtedly have appealing values and policies but we just did not communicate the message clearly.
Our party has a huge opportunity but a very short window to make a big impact. The other two parties are in chaos, lacking strong leadership and direction. We must seize the chance, to make sure that more and more voters know what we stand for, and realise we offer the best way forward. For we are the party of common sense, of moderation but we are also a progressive party, with progressive fresh ideas, the radical centre, the real alternative.
We need a clear vision for our party, our country and its place in the world. Not with empty rhetoric but with real practical proposals that are inclusive and make a real difference to real people. A vision to unite our country, to create change, to move us forward with a clear direction, which will bring the opportunity of, shared prosperity for all.
This means a new rejuvenated Liberal Democrat party firmly committed to Europe but also committed to sharing the wealth we all create and in so doing move the whole country from austerity to prosperity.
With Vince, we have a knowledgeable, experienced statesman, an economist and former cabinet minister who has the capability and credibility to lead this country forward to a bright future and a strong place in the world. We have front bench team with more government experience than the Labour Party. We have members than the Conservatives. We just need more votes. Our challenge is to communicate our message, so that voters know what we stand for and believe we can win.
Thankfully Vince knows we need a vision and need to sharpen our branding and presentation. Nationally a communications strategy is required that delivers our message right to the voter to support our incredible grassroots teams.
So let us create a bold vision, develop a clear strategy and propose a practical precise policy platform that is clearly understood, differentiated from other parties and truly makes life better for those that have little, not just those that have lots!
* om Burgess is Executive Director of the Progressive Policy Unit, a political advocacy group. He is the author of From Here to Prosperity, a practical policy agenda for a sustainable economy and greater social justice. Formerly CEO of an international communications firm, he has also worked as a journalist, editor, and lecturer as well in health service management. Tom Burgess is a long time political activist, a former full time student leader and founding member of the Social Democratic Party, editor of a political newspaper and has twice stood for public office.
Then last night my lecturer for the Monday lecture said UCU voted for a strike today.
While I have no problem supporting the strike, I'm really sad to miss a lecture for this class (Language Mind and Brain; the one I've enthused about (sometimes drunkenly...) whenever anyone's asked me how my course is going)!
And I'm sad for whatever has happened to my lovely Arabic teacher, but I'm relieved because three hours of language-learning all in a row is brutal, makes Wednesdays by far my longest day in uni, and this week I'd have had a meeting partway through so I'd have worried about what I was missing after I had to leave.
But with no Arabic and no lecture, I'm left with only one lecture and two seminars all week! And next week is Reading Week (a concept my American brain is still struggling to understand). I feel kind of grateful for this chance to catch my metaphorical breath: I've been doing okay (if not perfectly) at keeping on top of uni things, but I'm way behind on housework, spending any quality time with my partners, etc.
I do have an essay due this Friday and one next Friday, and Arabic teacher has said she might try to make up this week's lessons during Reading Week too, so it's not as if I have nothing to do. But it does feel like a very light week for me, and solemn though the reasons for that are, I'd be lying if I didn't say I'm kind of glad.
On 19th October 2017, we received a letter from Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, ahead of her meeting with the European Council as part of the UK’s Brexit negotiations. Given that she had taken the trouble to write to us, we thought it only polite to reply. This is our response.
Thank you for your letter explaining what you are doing to secure the rights of European Union citizens living in the United Kingdom and of UK citizens living in other EU member states. We were relieved to hear that you are taking this issue so seriously. Because your actions and those of your government since the referendum in June 2016 have given a very different impression.
You say that the rights of EU and UK citizens are your first priority. This is reassuring. But it would be slightly more reassuring, we feel, if it had not taken you sixteen months to come to this conclusion. You have left three million EU citizens living in the UK and over a million UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU in a state of increasing anxiety. And you have done nothing.
The freedom of European Union citizens to live and work without hindrance in any of the twenty eight member states has been one of the most positive and profound impacts of our collective European endeavour. As a married couple of one British citizen (Simon) and one German national (Natalie), it has formed the bedrock of our shared life together. And of the future plans that now lie in tatters. And we are not alone.
The three million EU citizens living in the UK work hard, pay their taxes and contribute to our society. They are our doctors and our nurses. They are our office workers, our builders and our taxi drivers. They crew our fishing boats, they look after our elderly and, yes, they pick our strawberries. But your inaction has created a climate where they no longer feel welcome. Where they fear for their future.
And it is not just these individuals who are affected, Theresa. You have left their – often British – spouses, their children, their friends and their employers in a state of enduring limbo, too. Punctured with vile threats from various members of your government about complex registration procedures, loss of rights, compulsory fingerprinting, exorbitant fees and more. Oh, and with your Home Office writing to numerous EU citizens demanding that they make immediate preparations to leave the UK.
You could so easily have given reassurance to these people that their rights would be protected. Or at the very least that they were not about to be rounded up by the goon squad. But you chose not to. While our family and our friends have shown nothing but love, kindness and compassion, our government has done nothing. And for that, Theresa, we are afraid that we cannot forgive you.
You complain that your government has been accused of treating EU citizens living in the UK as ‘bargaining chips’ in your negotiations with the European Union. Yet it was Liam Fox, your very own Secretary of State for International Trade (and our constituency MP), who claimed that EU citizens in the UK are ‘one of our main cards’ in negotiating a Brexit deal. So please forgive us if we find your protestations somewhat disingenuous.
You also seem a little optimistic about the current status of the negotiations between the UK and the EU.
You imply in your letter that a formal agreement is almost complete, with only minor issues left to negotiate. But that is patently not true. You must surely recognise this. There is no agreement. And there is no immediate prospect of one.
So you are, in our view, either hopelessly out of touch with your own government or not being entirely straight with us. Or, quite possibly, both.
But let us be honest, Theresa. Your letter is not really aimed at us. You have not given a monkey’s about our rights until now. You have only written to us because the European Union is furious at your lack of action in this area and you are trying desperately to dig yourself out of the colossal Brexit black hole that you, David Davis, Liam Fox, Boris Johnson and others have created.
You are not ‘putting people first’, as you claim. You are putting your government first. You are putting yourself first. You are putting your party’s ideological loathing of all things European ahead of the future of your country and of those who have chosen to call it their home.
You are right that we are seeking certainty about the future. But the only certainty here is that you and your government have failed at every turn. And one letter is not going to change that.
Natalie Fey & Simon Perks.
* Natalie Fey is a lecturer in chemistry at a Russell Group university. Simon Perks runs a specialist management consultancy practice. They have been married for 18 years and live in Somerset with Molly, their Labrador dog. You can find them on Twitter at @nataliefey_NLS and @simonperks respectively.
Here's the copy and paste bit because they explain it better than I could:
"Please take part in the UK Flusurvey to help track the spread of flu. Anyone can register by going to http://flusurvey.org.uk . Participants are asked to report any flu-like symptoms each week during the flu season. Is man flu a myth? Does taking public transport give you flu? Register for the flusurvey to find out."
And there's a constantly updated and very pretty heat map of infulenza-like-illnesses in the UK on their website.
It really does only take five minutes to register and then a minute or two each week to fill in the symptom questionnaire (and it's only one ticky box if you have no symptoms). But with enough participants, it'll doing something really useful that should contribute to everyone's health and wellbeing in the future.
When it asks who referred you my user name is (unsurprisingly) "Ludy" - am not sure if they are doing a prize draw for recruiters of not thus year but if you fill it in I might get a thing and will definitely get the warm glowy feeling of Righteousness from helping SCIENCE!
Also, although the animation is gorgeous, I do think they were still working out the kinks of the animating-in-oil-paint process and it sometimes gives the film a distracting jerkiness. But perhaps it's just that it's quite unlike anything else I've ever seen, and that in itself is distracting? Only more films would give me the opportunity to tell...
Anyway! The film is set about a year after van Gogh's death. Armand Roulin's father tasks him with delivering a letter that Vincent wrote to his brother Theo but never mailed - only for Armand to discover that Theo, too, has died. So Armand heads to Auvers, where Vincent died, in the hopes of asking his doctor where he might find Theo's widow - which somehow metamorphoses into an attempt to recreate Vincent's last days, and answer the question of why he killed himself. If he killed himself.
I must confess I felt skeptical when the film took this turn. I went through something of a van Gogh phase in college (his doomed friendship with Gauguin hit me where I lived), and nothing in my reading suggested that there was any controversy about how he died. He shot himself in the fields where he was painting, using a revolver that he brought along to scare away the crows, and then dragged himself back to the house where he was staying and died there two days later after telling everyone that he shot himself.
HOWEVER, upon repairing to Wikipedia I have discovered that in 2011 (in short, after my van Gogh interest waned) two academics published a book in which they argued that maybe van Gogh was accidentally shot by a rich spoiled teenage hooligan who liked to run around Auvers dressed as a cowboy and menace people with a gun - and van Gogh said he did it himself to... shield the miscreant, I guess? I don't know, I think this kind of theory was slightly more plausible when someone argued that Gauguin was the one who cut off Vincent's ear (in a fight, not just for funzies, I feel I should clarify), and Vincent said he did it himself to cover for him. At least we know for a fact that van Gogh was unhealthily invested in his friendship with Gauguin. Why's he going to cover for the random cowboy kid?
But I did like that the structure allows the filmmakers' to show Vincent from multiple angles (through the eyes of his paint dealer, his landlord's daughter, his doctor...) and forces Armand to think more about his own attitudes toward van Gogh - whom he didn't give a damn about in life. He saw Vincent as weird and kind of alarming, and now he wishes that he had seen his loneliness and understood and befriended him.
I have read other stories where the main character learns more about someone after their death (Olive's Ocean comes to mind) and goes, oh, I wish I'd known they were so lonely, we could have been friends - but I'm not sure that actually works; I'm not sure you can force yourself to be friends with someone just because you know they need a friend. I would think there needs to be something else there beyond just sympathy - some kind of esteem or respect or something - to make it a true friendship rather than just pity.
Also, I think that when people learn this sort of thing about someone who is still alive, their reaction is rarely "Oh, we should be friends!" - because the person is alive, that would demand a real investment of time and emotion and energy. This is why sadness makes fictional characters mysterious and fascinating but can be off-putting in real people: a fictional character is never going to stop speaking to you for three months because you said the wrong thing that one time and touched off a downward spiral and how dare you be anything less than a constant wellspring of undemanding support.
TL:DR, this movie hit me in a weird place because when I was younger I invested really hard in the importance of Being There for your friends during their mental health issues, which might have worked out better for me if I were better at setting boundaries, or had fewer friends with mental health issue, or knew when the fuck to just let someone go. I burned the fuck out and now when I watch Armand having this "Why didn't I see that he was in trouble? Why didn't I try to help?" crisis I want to shout at the screen, "BECAUSE YOU HAVE SENSIBLE BOUNDARIES, ARMAND, DON'T GUILT YOURSELF OUT OF THAT."
If all the polls had been looked like Survation & the YouGov model there’d have been fewer JC accolades
Just on four months ago, after the LAB leader’s extraordinary reception at Glastonbury, the festival chief, Michael Eavis, reported that Corbyn had told him that he’d be PM within six months and that he would scrap Britain’s Trident nuclear defence system as soon as he could.
The following day the LAB PR machine went into action to seek to play down the latter claim but the becoming PM by Christmas element was left hanging.
The festival had very much caught the mood of that incredible month when TMay had looked all set to win an increased majority if not a landslide and Labour was doomed to be beaten once again.
But because most of the polls were pointing to much bigger vote leads for the Tories the fact Mrs May lost her majority was seen as such a shock and the credit started to be heaped on Corbyn.
But let’s not forget the election arithmetic. The Tories ended with 318 seats while Labour got 262. There was a gap of 56 seats. This was still a defeat and they are a long way off the 326 MPs required for a majority.
Corbyn should have realised before the Glastonbury hubris that it is hard to envisage the circumstances in which he becomes PM without a new General Election which the Tories, whatever their internal turmoil, are not going to initiate.
Remember the ONLY way an election can be triggered before 2022 is by going through the processes set down in the Fixed-Term Parliament Act. This requires two thirds of all 650 MPs to back one, as last April, or else the government losing two votes of no confidence within a specific time table.
In the current context the latter requires both the DUP and the SNP to join with LAB, PC and the LD MPs. The DUP has been bought off for its 10 votes and LAB should be under no illusions about the SNP’s 35 MPs. Nicola’s party got smashed on June 8th and isn’t going to put its remaining 35 MPs at risk by doing anything that would facilitate an early election.
Corbyn owes his current apparent GE2017 “victory” status to the pollsters who got it wrong. His party actually undershot against the YouGov mode and the final Survation polls.
The current Labour polling leads are nowhere near what you would have thought they should be given the turmoil within the blue team.
This supermarket also sells rosewater lassi (mmm) and century eggs, which I thought you had to go to Chinatown or wherever to get!
African Artist and Japanese Designer Create Stunning Kimonos By Mixing Cultures
Pretending to be Batman helps kids stay on task (The way it's written I think they mean "pretending to be a popular fictional character", and not "Batman only, those other characters tested didn't work".)
Vikings Razed the Forests. Can Iceland Regrow Them?
Here are the Meanings Behind 19 Classic Sailor Tattoos (I have no way to verify this information, but I was interested in the picture of the 1930s German sailors meeting King Neptune. It's funny to think that during the upcoming war, sailors on both sides were still doing the same silly ritual that sailors do.)
Every Apple You Eat Took Years and Years to Make
The Shocking World of Electric Fishes
Young subscribers flock to old media
This Mississippi hospital should be in crisis. How it beat the odds.
Cities Take Both Sides in the 'War on Sitting'
The U.S. Is Retreating from Religion
In gritty city outside Caracas, the story of a socialist win
In Mexican slum, a decades-long wait for quake relief
$50,000 payments help grieving Gaza families end blood feuds
How Long Can The Courts Keep Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban At Bay?
The U.S. could have avoided Puerto Rico’s water crisis
The Boomtown That Shouldn’t Exist
Uninsured rate up to 12.3 percent amid "Obamacare" turmoil
The Populist Right Tears Down a Press It Can't Replace
The Politics Of Tax Reform: 101
Federal Prisons Don’t Even Try to Rehabilitate the Undocumented
Does Trump Believe His Own Hype?
Liberal Democrats have played their part in making sure that the inadequacies of Universal Credit have been highlighted. In the debate on Wednesday, Christine Jardine said:
We hear that, instead of it helping, as many as 1 million children could be pushed into poverty by 2020. That surely cannot be the legacy that my Conservative colleagues would want to leave for future generations. They surely cannot be content with what they are hearing in this Chamber from constituents and even their own Back Benchers: that families are facing rent arrears and the threat of losing their homes; that there is anxiety about missed payments; and that people are choosing between making those payments or feeding their families.
Citizens Advice Scotland has already seen more than 100,000 people, one in five of whom have waited more than six weeks for payments—and only 14 areas in Scotland have UC. We stand at an important crossroads: the Government have the opportunity to pause UC, address its many flaws and say to those coping with the cruel reality of this botched benefit reform, “We hear you. We recognise the problem and we will fix it.”
Stephen Lloyd caught Iain Duncan Smith out one of those economic with the truth moments:
Secondly, the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr Duncan Smith), a former Secretary of State, said that the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has supported universal credit. I was a bit surprised by that, so I did a quick check. The JRF actually said that it would support universal credit if it was properly funded—I just mentioned the £3 billion—and if payment and waiting times were reduced, which is exactly what many people have been saying today.
The media reports yesterday that the Government is ready to make changes on the amount of time people are waiting for money, but that isn’t the only problem with Universal Credit. It’s interesting that Labour now accepts the principles behind Universal Credit – that it should end the poverty trap. Until the Tories got a majority, that’s exactly what it would have done. There was enough money in there to ensure that people could move into work and not lose their benefits. Then May 2015 happened and George Osborne took billions out of the system.
So, our Work and Pensions Spokesperson Stephen Lloyd and Leader Vince Cable have written to the the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to ask him to sort this out in the budget. They said:
We are writing to urge you to raise Universal Credit work allowances in the Autumn 2017 Budget.
The Conservative – Liberal Democrat Coalition Government introduced Universal Credit because we wanted to simplify the benefits system and make work pay. To achieve this second objective, we introduced work allowances. By allowing, for example, a single person to earn up to £1,332 a year before their payments were reduced, the Coalition ensured that everyone would be better off in work.
Cuts to the work allowance, made by the Conservatives as soon as the Liberal Democrats left government, have fatally undermined the whole purpose of Universal Credit.
Politicians, experts and charities from across the political spectrum have warned that reducing work allowances – even abolishing them entirely for people without children – will both worsen poverty and severely weaken incentives to work.
Analysis published this weekend by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation demonstrates that keeping the work allowance at current levels – as opposed to restoring it to its previous levels – will push 340,000 people into poverty in 2020/21. 310,000 of these live in families with children. A lone parent working full-time on the new national living wage, will be £16 per week worse off because of Conservative cuts.
The Centre for Social Justice estimates that by 2022 more than three million people will see their average income fall by over £1,000 a year because of cuts to work allowances. In October 2016, they recommended that work allowances be reinstated to 2015 levels. JRF today likewise recommends an increase in the work allowance.
The Government has already acknowledged the problems caused by the reduction of work allowances by reducing the taper rate in the 2016 Autumn Statement from 65% to 63%. However, this amounts to little more than cosmetic tinkering. The benefits of such a modest change are far outweighed by the work allowance reductions. Only increasing work allowances directly will reward people for entering the workplace, encourage more people to find work, and support those in low-paid work.
The Prime Minister took office describing the position of low income families in Britain today as among the “burning injustices” she wished to address. Permitting another Budget to pass without restoring the work allowance would make a mockery of that commitment. We urge you and the Chancellor to make good on the promise and the purpose of Universal Credit by increasing the work allowance in the coming Budget statement.
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings
You're just a humble AI, and all you want to do is be the best paperclip manufacturer ever. (And you will be!)
( Tips )
It's going to take a few hours, but you don't need to be there the whole time. You can just wander off and do other things most of it.
Oh! And there's some music. Mute that window entirely if you don't like it, I can't find a way to turn it off.
It's also the first day I'd seen him since Friday! I do miss him when I'm away. I tend to dream about him when I'm somewhere else overnight, not so much when I'm at home. Tonight we collected him from mother_bones and as we walked home I noticed he was doing that weird thing again, sniffing not just at the ground or bins or where other dogs have peed but sniffing the air in what seems like a weird new way that doesn't have an obvious explanation.
I mentioned this to Andrew last week when I first noticed it, when I'd taken him on one of his evening walks. "Yeah," Andrew said, "he's been doing that lately."
"I hadn't noticed it in the mornings," I'd said (I usually walk him in the mornings, and Andrew in the evenings." That it's time-of-day specific made it seem even more remarkable.
"He's so earnest about everything all the time," I said. (He does. It's one of his most endearing traits.) "So he looks like he's a little CSI or something."
I thought for a second and then, thinking of it as a parallel to "checking his wee-mail" (a phrase I think I picked up from miss_s_b), I added "a WeeSI!"
And I've been thinking of it that way ever since.
Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 493rd weekly round-up from the Lib Dem blogosphere … Featuring the five most popular stories beyond Lib Dem Voice according to click-throughs from the Aggregator (15-21 October, 2017), together with a hand-picked seven you might otherwise have missed.
Don’t forget: you can sign up to receive the Golden Dozen direct to your email inbox — just click here — ensuring you never miss out on the best of Lib Dem blogging.
As ever, let’s start with the most popular post, and work our way down:
1. Is it eight or nine council by-elections this week? by Mark Pack on Mark Pack.
So frustrating to see the Tories given a free run.
2. If you can hear a wailing and a gnashing of teeth from political types today.…by Jennie Rigg on I spend ages hanging around the Rue Morgue in a gorilla suit and what do I get?
Jennie on what the Boundary Commission report means for her part of the world.
3. What if Theresa May did give the Alistair Campbell speech reversing Brexit? It would snooker Labour by Nick Tyrone on NickTyrone.com.
Nick argues that there isn’t necessarily a good outcome for Corbyn.
4. Who do you think was the best Lib Dem Leader? by Mark Pack on Mark Pack.
I spent ages ruminating on this one before making my mind up.
5. Monopolies and the dog that didn’t bark by David Boyle on The Real Blog.
UK politics are too slow to tackle problems caused by monopoly power.
And now to the seven blog-posts that come highly recommended, regardless of the number of Aggregator click-throughs they attracted. To nominate a Lib Dem blog article published in the past seven days – your own, or someone else’s, all you have to do is drop a line to email@example.com. You can also contact us via Twitter, where we’re @libdemvoice
6. Retiring lords: should we use age or length of service? by Zoe O’Connell on Complicity.
Zoe looks at the evidence for both.
7. Report of FCC meeting of 19th October 2017 by Jennie Rigg on I spend ages hanging around the Rue Morgue in a gorilla suit and what do I get?
Not a post in which you would expect the words “spank me and call me Gerald” to appear.
8. #metoo: Groped at a business meeting by Jane Chelliah on Feminist Mama.
We’ve learned over the past week that women are demeaned like this as they go about their daily lives.
9. Student speech to be censored at UK universities by Zoe O’Connell on Complicity.
I listened to someone on Radio 4 complain bitterly this week that debate on gender identity issues was being shut down. He didn’t seem to sense any irony in the fact that he was being given a platform on one of the most major and most reputable broadcasters on the planet. Zoe looks at who is being censored and what power they have.
10. Radicals and Democrats and Renewals. Oh my. by Nick Barlow on What we can get away with.
People creating a new movement because they don’t like something about the others – but will they be able to build a common platform in their own new parties?
11. Time to remove the Lib Dem invisibility cloak by Tom King on Never cruel or cowardly.
People keep trying to reinvent what already exists to oppose Brexit.
12. Diary Day 395: Weighing what we have in common against our differences: what no deal means by Jo Hayes on Josephine Hayes.
Any parliamentarian who continues to support Brexit is reckless, says Jo.
And that’s it for another week. Happy blogging ‘n’ reading ‘n’ nominating.
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings
In a different vein, Lucy Worsley's programme on choral evensong - a gentle look at the history of the early Reformation, and how Henry VII, Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I each made their mark on the music of the Chapel Royal and more widely across the country. I'd have liked longer segments of music (and less talking over them), but it was still an hour well spent.
Finally, there was Chris Packham: Asperger's and Me, where the naturalist tells us a bit about how he finds living with Asperger's. I don't want to generalise, but he's very good at explaining how he relates to the world, and how his autism affects that - both its highs and its lows. It's very personal, and you can see he's describing very intimate details about himself; I think to try and get the more neurotypical of us to try and see the world a little as he does. He then goes to the US to see how they try and treat people with autism there, and it's obviously very painful - both to hear people describing autism as a disease that should be eradicated, and to see the impact of dealing with autism on the people he meets and their families. Chris is clear that now he wouldn't want his autism cured, but that equally he might have made a different decision in the past, and that he's been lucky to be able to find a career that lets him play to his strengths.