Tuesday, 25 September 2012
Thursday, 20 September 2012
Gavin Barwell, MP for Croydon Central introduced the second reading of the Mental Health (Discrimination) (No.2) Bill in the House of Commons on 14 September 2012.
Gavin Barwell then moved on to a form of discrimination that I have previously challenged in Sefton. The guidance forSchool Governors reads that you cannot be a Governor if you 'are liable to be detained under the Mental Health Act'. I think that guidance eminated from Central Government when (I think) David Blunkett was Secretary of State. Now it strikes me that a lot of people may 'be liabel' to be detained and I got Sefton to change the advice. I do believe I had the support of the then Cabinet Mmber for Children, Schools and families Cllr P Dowd. This matter is covered by the new Bill as Mr Barwell explained:
Those commenting on the debate were impressed by the overall standard of speaches and the fact that nobody voted against the Bill. Jonathan Calder did tweet that John Pugh had done 'Terribly Well' . Here is what John said as reported in Hansard:
John Pugh (Southport) (LD): The issue of mental health has crossed my path many times throughout my life. In fact, I have seen some of the extremes of it. I once worked on all the wards of a very old-fashioned mental hospital, Oakwood hospital in Maidstone. In the north, I taught at Ashworth’s predecessor institution, known as Park Lane. I am probably the only MP who has had the experience of showing somebody into a padded cell and of helping administer electro-convulsive therapy—that is quite a distinction, I guess. I have seen the extremes, therefore, and my conclusion is that mental health covers a very wide spectrum—a whole range of issues.
There are two fallacies to which I strongly object. First, there is the idea that the world is divided into those who have perfect mental health and those who do not—hands-up anybody in the Chamber who has got perfect mental health. It is undoubtedly the case that some people cannot do certain kinds of work because of mental health issues, of course, but it is also the case that many people work despite having mental health issues; they might work through mental health issues with occasional mental health episodes while at work, and some people will be oblivious to the mental health issues they have. It is a fallacy to think there are people
14 Sep 2012 : Column 559
who are available for work with perfect mental health, and those who are unavailable for work, who lack perfect mental health.
The second fallacy is that having an acute episode of a mental health issue permanently disqualifies someone from work. That must be resisted entirely. The philosopher Nietzsche said that what does not destroy us makes us stronger, and there is plenty of evidence to support that; some people are strengthened by having had a mental health problem. The hon. Member for Broxbourne (Mr Walker) has been able to work very satisfactorily for his constituents and in all sorts of jobs, which serves to show that people can work through chronic mental health problems. I worked with colleagues in the teaching profession who had obsessive compulsive disorder. Lots of people manage to cope with, and overcome, chronic mental health issues and go back to work.
Belief in either of those fallacies leads to the unfair discrimination that the Bill seeks to tackle. Discrimination itself is not a bad thing, however. We frequently need to discriminate; we do so all the time. Older Members will remember the Peter Cook and Dudley Moore sketch about the one-legged man applying for a film role as Tarzan, and we can think of circumstances in which having certain mental health issues would disqualify people from following a profession: it is probably not a good idea for those with a phobia of heights to apply for a job in the Shard, and it might well be inadvisable for those with suicidal tendencies to apply for a post involving firearms. The generalised stigma that prevails throughout wider society is wholly inappropriate, however.
I looked up the Mental Health Act 1983. Its provisions apply not to MPs with mental health problems, but to MPs who are subject to compulsory detention under that Act, such as, perhaps, those with suicidal impulses or those with delusions and hallucinations, and where the prognosis is poor. The question then is what to do. We are torn between discrimination, which we reject, and the need to make sure people have proper and adequate representation. That question requires a solution of some subtlety. As has been said, this is not an issue of mental health; it is an issue of the capacity of an MP, and to make it merely an issue about mental health is pure discrimination.
Wednesday, 19 September 2012
Sir, It is interesting to connect two of the issues you are reporting on at the moment: wealth tax and green belt development.
If, regrettably, the Chancellor’s plan to allow green belt development goes ahead, some land owners will find that their previously low-value land becomes extremely valuable. The landowners will have done nothing to merit that significant increase in their wealth. Surely the community as a whole should benefit not an individual whose gain is purely by chance? What better example could there be to support Professor Sandilands’s call for the taxation of land values?
Your recent lovely Birkdale blog about dear old Viv Bingham reminded me about the Co-op's little understood financial support for Labour. The Co-op shops may be "Good with Food", as their telly ads keep saying, but they keep very quiet about it being also "Good for Labour."
Tonight I simply Googled "Co-operative Party finance" and turned up a very interesting page on the Unlock Democracy web site. Do have a look at unlockdemocracy.org.uk/blog/entry/donor-of-the-week-the-co-operative-group
The up-to-date post, dated 10 August 2012, claims that the Co-operative Group donated £809,000 in 2011 to the Co-operative Party - the official "sister" party of Labour with Ed Balls and many other MPs being elected as "Labour and Co-operative"members - and £50,000 in the first quarter of 2012. How many LibDem and Tory voters who are Co-op shoppers realise they are indirectly helping to contribute political donations to Labour when they fill their supermarket trolleys ? Perhaps it's time they were told !!
And what did Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and their crew do during all those years of government to promote and encourage shared ownership and co-operative principles ? Instead they fawned over the City and big business.
Be warned, however. Under the Donations heading on the blog, there is a mistake. It says that Labour is the "only political party" to benefit from indirect donations from the Co-operative Bank credit card schemes. The LibDems also have an affinity card deal with the Co-op Bank which brings in cash to the party every time I use it. I know this because I'm signed up to it and my card has the Libby logo on it. But while I bank with the Co-op, they don't get much income out of me as it's free banking and for all my misgivings it's still not a "casino" bank and has ethical policies, unlike the others.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device
Monday, 17 September 2012
Saturday, 15 September 2012
Thursday, 13 September 2012
Back in July I got an email from Jim Hancock that read:
Jessica and Katy Bingham have asked me contact you to ensure that you
know that there will be a memorial celebration of the life of their
father Viv Bingham (President of the Liberal Party 1981-82) on WED
SEPT 12th at 6pm in the Lloyd George Room of the National Liberal
.. and so it was a goodly crowd of Liberals assembled at the NLC to remember Viv's life. It was the sort of event Viv would have loved to attend. The range his of friends there from Ministers to focus deliverers confirmed him as a man who could move easily in so many different settings. He was described during the evening in various ways; a good man, a fully rounded man, a convivial man, a man of firm convictions but one who strove not to fall out with those with whom he disagreed.
The evening was hosted brilliantly by Jim. We all reminisced about Viv and therefore we all smiled and laughed, we sang the old songs and believed again that we could overcome.
At the front was Chris Green, Gordon Lishman, Michael Meadowcroft, Joan Walmsley, and Paddy Ashdown all of whom spoke-more of which later-they were joined later by Don Foster and finally by Andrew Stunnell who proposed a toast. In the body of the kirk was all manner of folk; Peter Brook, Paul Rowan, Helen and William Wallace, Tom McNally, Jenny Tonge, Martin Thomas (who played the piano) Simon Hughes, Mark Hunter, John Leach, Hugh Jones, John Pugh Johnathon Fryer and many others
Viv would have loved to have been there and he wouldn't have missed the opportunity of sharing a few thoughts. As Michael observed he was a national politician. The records show that he did fight a council seat once but his interest lay in national politics. He will be remembered for two policy areas, disarmament set within a broader context of international relations and industrial policy
Viv did not understand why the party had back peddled of worker ownership. When I wrote immediately after his death I did not mention that he had worked for the National Coal Board. It was there that he met and worked for Fritz Schumacher an influence that remained with him all his life. He was talking about it when we met at the Birmingham conference 2011. It is part of the reason that he moved to work in the Co-operative Group in Manchester as a senior executive. It was why he was so attracted to the Grimond policy of employee ownership and workers co-operatives. His daughters told us last night that he had started work on some memoirs and a paper on why the co-operative movement and Liberals should be able to co operate together better.
He was a champion schemes that promoted industrial democracy and employee ownership. I know that this tradition also exists within the Labour Party but it has never commanded the the support that many may have hoped. In some way this does go back to the influence of the Webbs and the early Labour Party. Viv knew this history well. After the Rochdale pioneers had established their consumer co-op there was a move to establish a producer co-op and a mill was acquired to this end. It failed. Workers co-ops were off the agenda and state ownership and nationalisation became the dominant credo of the Labour Party. Blair may have tried to dump it. Tristan Hunt may speak of mutualism but in my experience Labour activists want nationalisation and anything else is second best.
In my original piece I thought Viv joined the party as a student. Last night the date was agreed to be 1962 -the year of Orpington. I had thought Viv had been a Liberal at Oxford chiefly because I remember telling me about the campaign around the racially mixed marriage in 1948 of Seretse Khama as wiki records:
Having banned interracial marriage under the apartheid system, South Africa could not afford to have an interracial couple ruling just across their northern border. As Bechuanaland was then a British protectorate (not a colony), the South African government immediately exerted pressure to have Khama removed from his chieftainship. Britain’s Labour government, then heavily in debt from World War II, could not afford to lose cheap South African gold and uranium supplies. There was also a fear that South Africa might take more direct action against Bechuanaland, through economic sanctions or a military incursion. The British government therefore launched a parliamentary enquiry into Khama’s fitness for the chieftainship. Though the investigation reported that he was in fact eminently fit to rule Bechuanaland, "but for his unfortunate marriage", the government ordered the report suppressed (it would remain so for thirty years), and exiled Khama and his wife from Bechuanaland in 1951.
I don't know if that was Viv's first real engagement in International politics but it certainly set the tone. It was, of course , his commitment to disarmament that marked him out. In this he walked on a bigger stage than the Liberal Party. But the party was his home and he argued his case with passion and he organised. Michael Meadowcroft said he wasn't a plotter. I'm not sure I agreed. Peter Brook and I were comparing memories of times when Viv went head to head with the leadership and won. He achieved that not just by his oratory but by his organisation. Certainly over all the maneuverings about Cruse missiles he carefully planned how to win. As Chris Green recalled last night it was he who enlisted Paddy to propose the anti Cruse motion that torpedoed David Steel. It was true also in industrial policy where he took on Pardoe, Steel and Cyril on a range of issues. In particular during one of Steel's mad moments when he was attracted to legislation about strikes in the public sector Viv not only won the argument he deployed his troops with some skill and shrewedness to achieve the desired end. We were given one further example back to the dreaded seats negociatations between the SDP and the Liberals this time his interlocutor was that angry little man Mike Thomas, Viv so neutralised Thomas's contribution that it allowed a deal to be done.
One further thing that I left out from my original piece was Viv's health. Towards the end we were all aware of his physical ill health. Andrew Stunnel reported that earlier this year on advice from his Doctor that he needed more exercise Viv turned up offering to deliver a Focus round . In his one and only Christmas letter he also spoke of his experience of depression. I think that for most folk that was the first they knew of it. I always found him quite open about it and he took an interest in the work I do in mental health and even took the chance to discuss his medication!
Paddy was both an ally and an adversary and he spoke about Viv and his part in his liberalism. I wrote that Viv's last conference speach was in support of David Grace's motion on Trident. I stand corrected. Apparently he successfully moved a motion to ensure that conference papers were available in hard copy. The irony of this was not lost on any of us when Paddy came to the end of his contribution telling us that there was a part of Pericles great funeral oration that he wanted to quote. . He took out his mobile phone where he had stored the quote. You've guested it, he couldn't find it but he persevered and persevered and persevered until he did.
.............We make friends by doing good to others, not by receiving good from them. This makes our friendship all the more reliable, since we want to keep alive the gratitude of those who are in our debt by showing continued goodwill to them: whereas the feelings of one who owes us something lack the same enthusiasm, since he knows that, when he repays our kindness, it will be more like paying back a debt than giving something spontaneously. We are unique in this. When we do kindnesses to others, we do not do them out of any calculations of profit or loss: we do them without afterthought, relying on our free liberality.
and he ended:
Monday, 10 September 2012
Sunday, 9 September 2012
Friday, 7 September 2012
Wednesday, 5 September 2012
Monday, 3 September 2012
D66 the left Liberal Party from the Netherlands is being tipped to enter government. With the recovery of the Labour Party the possibility of a 'purple coalition' is growing. That was the coalition that ran the government between 1994 and 2002 and has always been seen as D66's preferred option. The coalition would consist of D66, the Labour Party and the right wing Liberals VVD. The election is on the 12th September
Earlier this year D66 put out a statement on their position which can be found in full here and their website is here
Towards a prosperous, sustainable future
Summary and main points
Together, we’re ready for progress. D66 wants to go forward, it wants to contribute to a world in which people are not bound by inflexible systems, tight rules or prejudice and labels. Connected people who—with care and responsibility for themselves and each other—function to the best of their ability. After a number of wasted years, the Netherlands is desperate for a new vision, for new economic growth that includes chances for everyone.
Chances for increased prosperity are abundant, now and for future generations. We therefore should not sit still. D66 wants to stand up to the challenges we face and start renewing our economy, sustainability, labor, housing and our educational system. D66 wants to take initiative to balance the budget and leap forward to a strong and democratic Europe that includes its citizens in decision processes. Stagnation does not endow people with anything good: not a house, not a diploma, and certainly no perspective of a prosperous future.
D66 chooses economic growth and more freedom. This can be achieved through true commitment to Europe, a balanced budget and excellent education.
D66 has featured before on the blog
The MP was another John, J M Astbury KC, who fought and won the seat in 1906 and his agent was the legendary A. Keith Durham.
To Mr and Mrs A. Keith Durham
in grateful recognition of their
contribution to the Liberal Victory in the Southport Division 1906 from their sincere friend
J M Astbury
The cup arrived on my doorstep last week in a cardboard box addressed to Connard's a long established Jeweller in Lord St Southport . ( I have a fairly shrewd idea who left it). Michael Braham's definitive history of Southport Liberals-The first 100 years- records:
On 24th January, from the balcony of the Cambridge Hall (now renamed The Atkinson) admist a scene of unparralled excitement, the following announcemnt was made:
As the Southport Liberal Associating Annual report noted, 'Liberalism achieved a magnificent victory and Southport Division once more vindicated its right place among those constituencies where the principles of justice and reform hold sway over class, privilege and political reaction'
The question is begged whether the 120 ounce silver salver he received was in addition to the 76 ounce cup?