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Friday, August 26, 2011

I agree with Nick - again!

There are two stand-out articles from yesterday's press that show Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats have not lost their reforming zeal, nor are they going to be pushed around by the Conservatives.

The first of these is Nick's determination to finally nail down reform of the way political parties are funded. According to the Independent, the Liberal Democrat leader is considering ideas including a £50,000 cap on individual donations to parties so they do not rely on rich backers. In return, parties could qualify for tax relief on small donations in the same way as charities.

The paper says that Clegg insists that he wants to reach an all-party consensus, however, he does not rule out legislation if no deal can be reached. The final Government proposals will be finalised after an independent inquiry into political funding reports in October.

The second issue is on the Human Rights Act. In an article in the Guardian Nick makes it clear that he is fully committed to retaining the Act and will fight to do so:

The Labour government that passed the Human Rights Act then spent years trashing it, allowing a myth to take root that human rights are a foreign invention, unwanted here, a charter for greedy lawyers and meddlesome bureaucrats.

This myth panders to a view that no rights, not even the most basic, come without responsibilities; that criminals ought to forfeit their very humanity the moment they step out of line; and that the punishment of lawbreakers ought not to be restrained by due process.

The reality is that those who need to make use of human rights laws to challenge the decisions of the authorities are nearly always people who are in the care of the state: children's homes, mental hospitals, immigration detention, residential care. They are often vulnerable, powerless, or outsiders, and are sometimes people for whom the public feels little sympathy. But they are human beings, and our common humanity dictates that we treat them as such.

He says that there is a sensible discussion to be had about the details of how the Act is applied but the biggest problem with the Human Rights Act is not how it operates in the courts, nor how it interacts with other rights. It is how it is manipulated not just by the media but by overcautious officials:

It was, for example, of no help to anyone when police spokespeople blamed human rights for a decision to deliver a KFC meal to a fugitive on a roof: this had nothing to do with the Human Rights act. There is no human right to fried chicken.

So, as Cameron has said, we need to "get a grip on the misrepresentation of human rights". Too many people have succumbed to a culture of legal paranoia where common sense decisions are questioned – not by the courts, but by overcautious lawyers and officials. This creates an ever-worsening cycle: the more we perpetuate the myth that, in the words of Jack Straw, human rights are a "villains' charter", the more those dealing with lawbreakers curtail their behaviour because of a general sense that rights trump common sense. The friends of human rights have the most to gain if we get a grip on this. We must give public officials back the confidence that reasonable decisions taken in the public interest will be defended by the courts – as they usually are when they actually reach the courts.

He points out that: Court judgments themselves tend to tell a very different story about our rights culture than tabloid papers. The Human Rights Act and the European convention on human rights have been instrumental in preventing local authorities from snooping on law-abiding families, in removing innocent people from the national DNA database, in preventing rapists from cross-examining their victims in court, in defending the rights of parents to have a say in the medical treatment of their children, in holding local authorities to account where they have failed to protect children from abuse, in protecting the anonymity of journalists' sources, and in upholding the rights of elderly married couples to be cared for together in care homes.

He concludes that as we continue to promote human rights abroad, we must ensure we work to uphold them here at home. He says that we have a proud record that we should never abandon.

It is an article that the News Statesman rightly suggests is a much-needed contribution to the public debate on the matter. They go on to suggest that Ed Miliband might be wishing that he had written it. Indeed, given Labour's record on civil liberties it would be useful to know, does Ed agree with Nick as well?
Good to see Clegg and the Lib Dems really fighting on the issues that are gripping the national and international attention. Reform perhaps, but in touch with the desires of the British public about what actually needs reform, less so. This feels like Clegg is clamouring for some attention in the current whirlwind of political attention, by shouting down a tunnel, at the end of which he will only find his core party support, with a message that will travel no further.
Last week Simon Hughes was wanting water cannons,and if you could you would have closed social media.If Labour had done this you would be up in arms.No Lib Dem voted for these cuts yet Nick Clegg jumped straight into bed with Cameron.You came last in an Edinburgh council election last week and will get wiped out north of the m25 mark my words.I am very unhappy at the way this gov are treating disabled and poor people. SHAME ON ALL LIB DEMS

Then again on 12 August we won a by-election in Windsor, on 4 August we won by-elections in Somerset and Aberystwyth, whilst on 28 July we won a by-election in Hereford, all outside the M25.

Do you not think the police should be equipped with the right equipment to control riots? Is that what the left has come to in Britain, supporting disorder and putting police officers at risk?

As for social media it is the Liberal Democrats who have been the moderating influence to prevent it being closed down.

The Liberal Democrats went into coalition with the Conservatives because the Countty needed stable government and Labour were not interested. Labour wrecked this country's economy and then walked away. We are taking responsibility for putting it right, though that is going to take time.

As for the disabled it is the Liberal Democrats who have been the moderating influence on benefit reform and who have insisted on cutting taxes for the low paid and taking many low paid people out of tax altogether. It was Labour who abolished the 10p tax rate, penalising thousands of low paid workers.
Tut Tut Peter
The police laughed when it was suggested by Politicians that water cannon should be made available.
"Police Officers at risk" Well its the Coalition who are making thousands of police jobs redundent.
I'm pleased Clegg is acting as a moderating influence but he is dancing with the devil So beware!
Are they making thousands of police officers redundant? I dont think so. Where is your evidence for that?
Of course time will tell but this report seems to have some authority http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14233495
"There will be 34,000 fewer police jobs in England and Wales in March 2015 than in March 2010, research by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary suggests.
It estimated that the overall cut of 14% will include losing 16,200 officers and 16,100 civilian staff."
Cut the debt YES but be very careful how its done.
Authorative or not, it is speculation and not entirely down to the coalition policies. After all cutbacks to the Police budgets started under Labour. And of course it says nothing about thousands of police officers being made redundant as you suggest. If Chief Constables follow Audit advice much of the money will be saved through back office efficiencies and reorganising command structures.
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