On the last Wednesday of every month I co-host a radio show with Geoff Payne, Hackney Lib Dems, on a popular community radio station called K2K Radio –  http://ktokradio.com/. We go on air tomorrow, 27 Sept, from about 8.10pm for an hour and will be discussing the conference. To listen to us go to the website and click on the link in the top right hand corner.


Our guests are Jonathan Fryer who is an expert in international affairs and spoke at the debate on the Balfour Declaration ; and Bobby Dean, PPC for Lewisham, who spoke at the debate on knife crimes. Bobby runs his own consultancy called ‘Speak Change‘.


I am looking for views and opinions from Lib Dem members on the conference. It could be an overall opinion, an opinion on a specific debate or a policy viewpoint or an observation even.


Please email me at: ambitiousmamas@gmail.com with ‘radio programme’ in the strap line in no more than 100 words by 4.30pm on 27 September. 


I will try and read every contribution out. Remember to include your name and which branch of the party you belong to.


I look forward to hearing from you.

EU citizens living under squeezed financial circumstances
could be forgiven for wondering whether Commission President Juncker was having
a joke at their expense when he spoke recently about how Europe’s
economy is finally bouncing back
. After a tumultuous decade triggered by
the global financial crisis in 2007, the Eurozone’s growth figures are being
compared favourably
to America’s, with production up 3.2% against last
year.




However, evidence points to a wide chasm between people’s
lived experiences and Juncker’s message of triumph. It is doubtful that the
citizens of Spain and Greece, for example, would agree with his assessment.

According to the Commission, 30% of Spaniards are at risk
of social exclusion due to poverty and income inequality. The proportion of
children in Spain living below the poverty line increased by 9% between 2008
and 2014, to almost 40%, and Spain is in 7th place on the list of
countries where inequality has risen the most since 2010. Greece, meanwhile, is
at top of this ranking.

Now, ‘growth’ may be used to express the success of a
country’s economic performance. But how impressive is it really, when the Troika’s austerity
driven politics is causing so much human suffering in countries like Greece and
Spain?

According to the OECD, countries have continued the trend
towards implementing
tax policy reforms
to boost growth. French President Macron is proposing to
cut corporation tax from 33.3% to 25% by 2022.

Yet the use of tax levers, primarily cuts to corporation
tax, as a means to draw inward investment has been disputed
by top economists
.

“The way you get a productive economy is changing the
fundamentals, says John Van Reenen of the LSE. “You get your people to be more
skilled, or you have your infrastructure working efficiently. You’re never
really going to get there just by reducing corporate tax.”

So what’s the alternative? It is possible to pursue a
successful strategy without crucifying ordinary people in the process, and
Portugal is leading the way. The country adopted left wing alternatives to austerity
policies in 2015 and is now reporting an
impressive recovery
. It is a model from which governments can learn.

I wrote this article originally for DiEM25 which is a grass roots organisation co-founded by Yanis Varoufakis, former finance minister of Greece, campaigning for reform of the EU. Membership details can be found here.https://internal.diem25.org/en/users/sign_up



When one cannot be at conference (like me) then watching a livestream of it is a lifeline. Punchy, intellectual  and people centred are the words that I would use to describe today’s proceedings. Sal Brinton’s, President of the Liberal Democrat Party, speech was the highlight – pitched at the right level to appeal to both the converted Lib Dem-er and non-converted voter, packed with truths and rounded off with a strong dash of an urgency to answer her ‘call to arms’.


In other words, Lib Dems have their work cut out for them in trying to rope in Labour and Tory voters who are wavering about their tribal allegiances.


Sal Brinton started off by alluding to a Groundhog Day feeling in politics given that two general election and a referendum have been held in the space of two years. She spoke about the “loony” figures and situations that have arisen in global politics and name checked Trump, North Korea and Theresa May. I suspect there were no dissenters in the audience to Sal’s analysis. If there were then they were clearly in the wrong place.

Recent events were referenced in her speech. Sal probably captured the common mood when she referred to the “shocking lack of humanity and efficiency” demonstrated by the Tory government over their handling of the fall out from Hurricane Irma as experienced in the British dependent territories. Emmanuel Macron, the French President, managed to get troops out before Hurricane Irma struck, she said, contrasting this with the Tory government who were “taken by surprise at the scale of the disaster” despite numerous prior warnings.


Continuing her attack on the Tory Party she described Theresa May’s leadership as akin to being a house with “the lights on but no one is at home”.


“The Nasty Party is back”, Sal declared and spoke about how the Tories are starving the NHS of funds and that the UN has declared that the UK government’s treatment of the disabled is “disgraceful”.

She called the Lib Dems the “only national party fighting for a true place in Europe”.  Her call to arms came when she told followers that the left and right of politics had been crushed by the lurch to authoritarianism.


And where does this leave the Liberal Democrats? According to Sal Brinton it is the only party that questions and challenges authoritarianism.


Sadly, some may not buy this given the resentment that still exists over the party’s role in building austerity driven politics but, as a speech at a party political conference, it did the job.

Most parents hold the memory of their child’s first day of school quite dear. My daughter started school in 2003 and I still remember every detail of it with emotion bordering on extreme nostalgia. Dropping your child off at the school gates or walking them into the classroom itself, as some schools allow, is a memory making moment.


Starting school is a defining moment in a child’s life. It marks a transition from being a toddler to entering an institution tasked with instilling a sense of discipline and responsibility in the child. As a responsible parent we feel it imperative upon us to physically deposit them at school as if it were some sort of cultural ‘handing over’ ceremony.


But is it just flummery or does the whole ‘taking your child on first day of school and making a big deal of it’ mean anything at the end of the day?


I think the answer has two dimensions: from a parental point of view and from the child’s view.


As a parent, taking my daughter to school was a BIG deal for me. It felt like a rite of passage. What sort of mother would I have been if I hadn’t marked the day by physically being there, was my personal view. The whole process of waking up early on the day and getting her changed into a school uniform was part of a ‘process’.


Fast forward 14 years later. My daughter is now 18 years old and can’t really remember her first day. Neither, I should add, does she give a stuff about how it all went. While I still cling on to old memories she has made newer and fresher ones that are far more exciting to her.


The ‘process’ that I refer to two paras above turned out to be not quite as life-changing as I thought it would. My fear was that the home would become a diminished place because much of her life would be shaped by academia and teachers. I severely underestimated the continued primacy of the home and my role as a mum.


From the acres of coverage of Prince George’s first day at school what is rapidly emerging is an unspoken subtext that the Duchess of Cambridge ought to feel guilty for not being present today at the school gates.


I have no doubt that she is convulsed with guilt and regret over it but somebody should tell her that as the years roll on these things fade into the background and, more likely, Prince George didn’t feel abandoned in the slightest.


As parents we sometimes create extra burdens for ourselves by gold plating our sense of care, love and responsibility.