Saturday, April 25, 2015

Bach Cello Suite No 2 in D minor


I have resolved to listen to some music before shutting down for the night. This evening it was the immortal Rostropovich playing Bach's cello suite No 2 in D minor. "E knew what E was doing, that Bach", Rostropovich said when I met him some years ago, and he was right!

Friday, April 24, 2015

View from my office window 17.40 this afternoon


Institute of Fiscal Studies analyses Party manifestos



Yesterday the IFS confirmed that the Liberal Democrats are the most transparent party in our manifesto. Tories give a “misleading impression” of cuts. Labour give “disappointingly little” information on borrowing and do not provide enough funding for the NHS.

The IFS found:
●       Lib Dems most transparent of all the parties
●       Lib Dems only party that will end austerity in 2017/18
●       Lib Dems will deliver £8bn for NHS and invest in public services

·         Conservatives will embark on £30bn of cuts to public services that are “not mentioned” in their manifesto
·         Conservatives manifesto gives “a misleading impression” of the scale of the cuts to public services
·         Conservatives “have not provided anything like complete details” of how they would eliminate the deficit

·         Labour will only increase spending on the NHS by £4.2bn - which the IFS describe as “a very tight settlement”
·         Labour “not spelling out” how much they would cut unprotected departments by
·         Labour have provided “disappointingly little” information on what they would borrow

·         SNP debt scenario similar to Labour’s
·         IFS said today that austerity would continue for longer under the SNP
·         SNP will spend more on debt interest and less on public services than the Liberal Democrats

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Liberal Democrats plan to help carers




Disability manifesto / King’s Fund
Stronger Economy. Fairer Society. Opportunity for Everyone
Disability manifesto
A £150m package for Britain’s 6.5 million carers is being announced by the Liberal Democrats today as part of our Disability Manifesto.
The package will help carers across Britain who support their loved ones who are older, disabled or seriously ill.
Around  one in every eight adults provide unpaid care for family and friends. Under the Liberal Democrats these carers will receive a £250 grant to ease the cost of looking after family members who require support for 35 hours or more each week over a 12 month period.
In addition, the NHS will have a legal duty to identify carers and introduce an innovative new ‘Carer’s Passport’ that provides people who look after ill and vulnerable loved ones with privileged support.
This could range from more flexible visiting hours and free hospital parking, through to free cinema tickets, free restaurant meals, and free gym sessions.
Carers could get an additional five days paid additional ‘care leave’ a year, and would be allowed to do more work without losing their Carer’s Allowance by extending the ‘earnings limit’ from £110 per week to £150 per week, putting more money back into their pockets.
In government, the Liberal Democrats would also appoint a new cross-government ‘Carer’s Champion’ to ensure carers get a voice at the heart of government.
The Disability Manifesto also includes measures to simplify the disability benefits system and protect benefits for the disabled from cuts to welfare, encourage employers to take on more people with disabilities who want to work, give people with disabilities better access to transport, and tackle disability hate crimes.

King’s Fund report
The latest King’s Fund quarterly monitoring report suggests the NHS is facing its “biggest challenge for years” with mounting deficits, worsening performance and declining staff morale.
That's why Liberal Democrats have a credible plan to invest the £8 bn per year that NHS bosses say it needs by 2020. We are the ONLY party to come up with a plan.
We will invest £1bn from higher taxes on the wealthy to enable the NHS to provide care closer to home, so fewer people have to go into hospital.
The NHS needs more than investment. So we are calling on all parties to join us in a non-partisan review of health and care after the election to ensure our NHS is safeguarded for the future.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Migrant deaths in Mediterranean



House of Lords Official Report November 4, 2014 Column 1619

Lord Avebury (LD): My Lords, does my noble friend note the comment made by the UN special rapporteur on migrant rights that it is appalling to bank on a rise in the number in people who drown acting as a deterrent? Does he think that the EU views a steep rise in the number of people killed with complacency, if not with satisfaction, because more people are drowning and acting as a deterrent?
Lord Bates: It is certainly not the case to say that the Government have been passive on this. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary had meetings with her Italian counterparts last month, and will meet them again this month. We have extended our offers of support and of course we have looked at the countries from which most of these migrants are coming, namely Syria and Ethiopia. We are putting large sums of money—£700 million in the first instance, £360 million in the second—to try and help people to give themselves a proper life at home.

Its all very well to say, as the inane Philip Hammond does, that "we must target the traffickers". We don't have any jurisdiction over what criminals are doing in Libya, where there are two competing governments plus the Daesh and no effective law enforcement. There's a faint hope that the two governments might reach a compromise at UN brokered talks in Nigeria, but if not, there's no hope of dealing with the traffickers or the increasing flow of destitute migrants.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

After May 7



The polls are consistently predicting that neither Labour or Conservatives will have a majority in the next Parliament and while they could all be wrong, don't bet on it. Betfair says that 87% of thepunters are putting heir money on a hung Parliament.

That seems to indicate another coalition, but the British people wouldn't take kindly to a deal between Labour and the SNP, the only combination which might produce a Commons majority. The alternative would be a minority Government.

The moderating influence of a strong LibDem contingent will be essential to stability in any imaginable scenario..

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Outlaw caste discrimination



The Liberal Democrat manifesto, published today, says

"We will... outlaw caste discrimination"

We had fought hard with others  to insert a provision in the Equality Act to treat caste as an aspect of race, but the best we could achieve was to give the  Government an obligation to make such an Order, without specifying a date for it, see http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2013/24/section/97. The Tories, under pressure from high caste Hindus, created a process involving two consultations, a feasibility study and other delaying mechanisms lasting two years, so that the law had not come into effect by the General Election.

People who want to end caste discrimination in the UK have an opportunity now to ask the candidates for their constituency standing in the election if they will support the implementation of this law without further delay in the next Parliament.