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Newsletter from Stephen Lloyd, former Lib Dem MP for Eastbourne

by derekdeedman on 4 September, 2015

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Dear Derek

As I flagged in my last e-newsletter I will continue doing a regular email covering a little of what I am doing locally, along with a few thoughts on some of the key national issues from time to time. If you do not want to receive my e-newsletter, please click the link at the bottom of the page to unsubscribe. If you’d like to keep hearing from me – then read on!

This month I am focusing on national issues, as I’m drawn by what’s going on with the two main Party’s at the minute. The Tories in majority government and the Labour Party’s apparent determination to elect Jeremy Corbyn as their new Leader.

Lets look at the Conservatives first: if they say a week is a long time in politics, then the last couple of months seem to have seen the Tories move very firmly to the right on the political spectrum. With Labour turning in on itself and the Lib Dems, sadly in my view currently diminished, I do wonder who will hold this government seriously and intelligently to account.

I was particularly struck with this thought recently, when I read a comment from a Government Minister, Matthew Hancock. Now I knew Matthew and worked with him on a couple of apprenticeship initiatives when we were both in the Coalition, and he was the apprenticeship minister under Vince Cable at Biz.

He struck me then as a sensible centrist politician, who had some understanding of the challenges people from more under-privileged backgrounds experience. And yet – in his new role as Minister for the Cabinet Office – he was quoted as saying that to break the underperforming cycle of some young people, he was introducing what he called a ‘boot camp’ and a ‘no excuses’ culture.

I found this profoundly depressing to read. Such a pure Daily Mail approach to young people has been tried numerous times by Conservatives, of various stripes, over the years and – guess what – its never worked. We are dealing with a group that has been historically under-achieving and, consequently, have a deep seated low sense of self worth and low confidence. How anyone in their right mind thinks putting such individuals through a ‘boot camp’ regime will work is simply beyond me.

And I know what I’m talking about: a jobs initiative I implemented in Eastbourne in partnership with our local Job Centre last year, aimed at people who were long term unemployed achieved a 30% success rate in securing local residents a job. This compares very favourably with the then gov’s Work Programme for the same cohort of people which secured employment, on average, for only 4.2% of participants!

Me, the Job Centre Plus team, Business Leaders and participants celebrating our
jobs initiative.
How did we do it? We focused positively on the individuals, we emphasised it was a partnership between us, the employers and the long-term unemployed participants – and it worked, as the figures showed. I profoundly believe that optimism, respect, trust along with strong boundaries and encouragement, all secure a much better response from people than threats or insults.

How is it then that a Minister who I believed grasped these fundamental points has moved so far to the right so quickly? I think its tokenistic politics; irrational thinking based on ideology rather than objective analysis on what actually works, and worst of all – leads to unsuccessful outcomes, only serving to demoralise disadvantaged young people even more.

Which leads me to the Labour Party leadership battle and Jeremy Corbyn, who it seems clear is very likely to be their new Leader in a few days time. I’ve watched this with great interest not least as the Labour establishments frantic efforts to stop him winning are clearly having the opposite effect.

My prediction is – he’ll win. There will be a honeymoon period – a short honeymoon – and then the Party will implode into a bitter public fight which will cause it terrible damage long into the future. And for the record, this does not bring me a jot of satisfaction as I do not believe a Conservative Party unchecked is good for the overall health of UKplc.

Of course this could present an opportunity for a centrist, moderate Party which is as pro-business as it is equal opportunity.

A political party that is rationally rather than fundamentally green, that sets a high score on individual liberty against an over-mighty state, a party that prioritises education for people from disadvantaged backgrounds because it recognises it as the silver bullet for creating opportunities in employment. A party that is internationalist in outlook and optimistic about human potential, a party that kept the nastier elements of conservatism in check.

And guess what, we already have one – the Liberal Democrats!

All the best folks. Its interesting times ahead……….

Regards

ps: I’ve read recently how the government are casting aside the interpreters who worked for the British Army in Afghanistan. This is absolutely disgraceful. These are people who had put their lives (and their families lives) on the line to assist our troops in their fight against the Taliban. To me it’s a point of honour for our nation. Here, with Prince Harry, is one such interpreter with their face masked for security reasons. They were there when we needed them and now we are leaving Afghanistan they are in real danger.
Its incumbent upon us to bring these brave men and their families to the UK if they wish so they can have a decent and secure future. We owe it to them. If you agree then please join me by signing the petition urging the government to do the right thing
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