by derekdeedman on 22 June, 2017
By Caron Lindsay | Wed 21st June 2017 – 11:04 pm
The LibDem Press Office has issued a veritable storm of press releases in response to the Queen’s Speech today. Here’s a round-up of what our key figures said about their areas of expertise.
Tim Farron looked at the whole speech and was unimpressed:
“This slimmed down Queen’s Speech shows a government on the edge.
Having dropped everything from the Dementia Tax to fox hunting I assume the only reason they have proposed a Space Bill is so they can shoot their manifesto into space and pretend it never existed.
People up and down the country are seeing our schools and hospitals in crisis. Proposed Tory cuts will leave our children in overcrowded classes in underfunded and crumbling schools, the sick left on trolleys in hospital corridors and the vulnerable without the vital services they rely on. This speech is bereft of any real solutions to these issues.
The only thing that stayed the same was the Torie’s obsession with Brexit. Instead of tearing up our membership of the Single Market and the Customs Union, with all the consequences that will have for the economy, jobs and prices in the shops, they should be trying to bring the country together.
Theresa May should ask all parties to come together and negotiate the best possible Brexit deal for the whole country.”
Home affairs and justice. On the Government’s various measures to tackle extremism and terrorism, Ed Davey sad:
“Our police and security and intelligence services do a brilliant job of keeping us safe but the government is not giving them the resources they need. Theresa May has underappreciated the work of our police in gathering intelligence and has overseen damaging cuts both as Home Secretary and now as prime minister.
The police face funding cuts in real-terms of £160m between 2015-16 and 2016-17, and future cuts of -1.4% by 2020.”
The Government is going to set up a Commission on counter-extremism. Ed had some words of warning:
“We support this Commission but it must bring together all the relevant voices, otherwise, like the Prevent Strategy, it will be doomed to fail, lacking the trust and respect from the very communities it needs to engage.
And what of this plan to fine social media platforms that fail to immediately remove extremist content?
As the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation has said, the problem with extremist content isn’t their policy on it taking down but the sheer scale of the stuff. We need to work with these companies to make sure that when extremist content is identified, it is taken down and we are well equipped to counter extremist narratives online.”
Ed had a lot to say today. Here he is on immigration:
“Theresa May is not being honest with the public. She staked her career on this. Yet despite committing to bringing immigration down to the tens of thousands, there was no sign of it in today’s Queen’s Speech.
Has she finally started listening to the businesses and experts who have said that reducing immigration in such an arbitrary manner would be damaging to our economy? I hope so.
The vilification of immigrants by the Conservative Party is an utter disgrace – these are students who help fund our universities, doctors and teachers who help us and our children, and entrepreneurs who help grow our economy. Theresa May must drop the target and instead recognise their contribution to Britain.”
There is a draft bill on domestic violence. Ed Davey was concerned that cuts to services for victims were not being addressed:
“Everything that can be done to eradicate domestic violence and abuse must be done. Too many of the laws that exist are outdated and leave victims without the support and protection they need.
But legislation is only half the story. Vital frontline services that offer support to women are being cut to the bone or shutdown altogether. Vulnerable women, often with their children, are being turned away at the door of refuges due to lack of funding. This is disgraceful.
Until this government is willing to invest in refuges and other frontline services, women and children up and down the country will continue to be let down.”
Norman Lamb was furious that the issue of social care had been kicked into the long grass again:
“Social care is in a state of total crisis. A million older people are missing out on care they need and services face a funding black hole of billions in this year alone.
In Coalition we commissioned the Dilnot report – an independent, expert led review of social care funding -yet the Conservatives have chosen to ignore the recommendations.
Now they are simply kicking the issue into the long grass again with more consultation, after their deeply unfair Dementia Tax was clearly rejected by voters.”
Help for renters
Olly Grender was delighted to see that the Liberal Democrat policy to ban lettings fees was finally going to be enacted:
“I am absolutely delighted that a ban on unfair letting fees is now finally being proposed as law.
“We saw from the tragedy at Grenfell Tower that tenants’ rights have been ignored for far too long.
It’s time we made them a much greater priority, including by introducing a public register of rogue landlords.”
Tom Brake didn’t see much merit in the Trade Bill:
“In reality this is an Anti-Trade Bill, as it means leaving the single market and customs union, despite clear opposition from the Chancellor and the Bank of England.
It might give Liam Fox a job with plenty of air miles, but many workers will be worried that this bill will give them nothing but P45s.
Leaving the single market and customs union would be catastrophic for the British economy, wrenching us out of the world’s biggest marketplace of over 500 million consumers. Our integrated European supply chains and international companies based here rely on free trade with Europe. Britain pushed to create this system to avoid exactly the regulatory nightmare we will now face.
Every port will be clogged up with lorries arguing over export dockets, with companies less keen to include British goods in their supply chains, and a border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland will further destabilise our union.
Theresa May has no mandate to pursue this extreme Brexit, yet she is charging on with a package which will harm jobs, the economy and our country.
He was also concerned that the Great Repeal Bill might be a bonfire of key standards that keep us safe:
Many Conservatives have made it clear they want to use Brexit to scrap our hard-won workplace rights and environmental standards.
But protections for workers and our environment are not just red tape to be tossed on a bonfire.
Nobody voted to diminish their rights, make themselves poorer or to make our country less safe.
The Liberal Democrats will strongly oppose any weakening of existing standards and fight to ensure proper oversight and transparency.
We cannot allow this minority Conservative government to use Henry VIII powers to steamroller the democratic process.”
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron’s MusingsLeave a comment