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Tag: david cameron

On…’Let Clegg Be Clegg’

‘Let Bartlet be Bartlet’ is one of the most famous sayings from the US show The West Wing. The saying becomes a recurring theme throughout the series and it basically means let the president be himself and the politics and public perception be damned. This is obviously a TV show but if you look at the political leaders in the UK and you’ll see that only two of them have any sort of personality that can engage with people and they are Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg. Cameron doesn’t, Miliband doesn’t and Bennett doesn’t. The Lib Dems are in the tank but their biggest weakness is also their greatest strength – Nick Clegg.

We aren’t in 2010 any more, we all know that. The Cleggmania that swept the nation will not happen again, not by a long chalk. However whilst many, many people are completely closed off to the Lib Dems – and Clegg in particular – because of mostly the tuition fees issue and the coalition as a premise when they voted strategically for the best possible Anti-Tory party in 2015, there are people out there whose minds aren’t closed off just yet and who are willing to listen and to get through to those people Nick Clegg has to be himself, warts and all.

I know of many Lib Dems who don’t like him because he took the party into coalition with the Tories and because despite his popularity, the party actually lost seats in 2010. This is just one of the warts of the FPTP electoral system. UKIP and the Green Party will find that out in May. Lots of votes and national vote share means relatively little until you hit a certain mark and neither of those parties will even approach this. Therefore they’ll have to target their resources wisely and fight ground battles in targeted seats, just like the Lib Dems will do this time around (albeit playing defence much more than offence).

Nick Clegg has his pitfalls as do we all, his personality though is not one of them. He is an engaging individual who if let off the leash can possibly help the party not suffer the crushing defeat that most pundits are gleefully predicting.

The Lib Dems are not the choir boys any more. They have held some power in a coalition government national, with all the issues that brings. They will take some blame for things they have done but on the flip side they should also take some credit for positive things that have happened that wouldn’t have happened with a Conservative (or indeed Labour) government. Clegg has been tainted somewhat and he has seemed too comfortable in the coalition for most people but then you look and he helped provide a stable government that has turned the economy around.

Clegg is not the poison that people think he is. Let him off the leash and whilst he’ll not get near the heights of 2010 – certainly not nationally – in the seats where the party have a strong ground game, people are still receptive albeit hesitant. The party have to extol the virtues of being a grown-up party and being able to deal with everything that entails. Many people voted for the party because they were untainted but also many people didn’t vote for the party because they didn’t believe they could make the difficult decisions that a government has to. This issue has been resolved.

May is not going to pretty for the Lib Dems, most pundits and activists know this but it doesn’t have to be that bad. Nick Clegg impressed most reporters with his appearance on The Last Leg that Friday night. It reminded some people that he is human and he got through a difficult interview very well. Whether it will make much of a difference is unlikely but it showed us that the Clegg we liked is still knocking about in there.

There are three growth up parties now and not just the two. Put Clegg, Miliband and Cameron up against one another in a debate form and Miliband will be squeezed. This is part of why the Lib Dems are so desperate that Clegg get on a platform with just Miliband and Cameron. The debates as currently constituted would not favour the Lib Dems at all, they need Clegg to be able to be himself as much as possible and as openly as possible. Clegg’s biggest hope now is for the broadcasters to change their minds (again) or that Cameron bottles it and they empty chair him, which would leave the Lib Dem leader as the only person with government responsibility at the debates, leaving him free to take as much credit as he likes for the good things the coalition has done.

Whatever happens though the Lib Dems are (rightly or wrongly) married to Nick Clegg at this point and need to let him off the leash completely. He is the biggest asset and also the biggest problem. To use a cricket analogy, his best shot is the free flowing cover drive a la David Gower but the best way to get him out is nicking off to slip outside of off stump. He’s going to nick off a fair few times over the course of the General Election campaign so its best to let him try and hit a few cover drives and score a few runs (points) whilst he does so.

Let Clegg Be Clegg.

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Porn, Porn everywhere (but soon) not a link to click

Various newspaper reports state that today David Cameron is going to make a keynote speech with regards to pornography and it will mean that people will have to actively opt-in to porn if they want to watch. The Prime Minister believes this will clean up the internet and protect children. At what point do we call David Cameron ‘Helen Lovejoy’ or ‘Maude Flanders’?

“We are taking action to help clean up the internet. One click to protect your home and keep your children safe.” the Prime Minister will state. However I have a small problem with this. What if a family has opted in to watch porn and a child still has access to it? What will the PM do then? He hasn’t protected children of those who watch porn, all he has done is make it more culturally unacceptable to watch pornography.

People equate pornography to being a pervert. That isn’t the case. Lots of different people watch porn. I know pensioners who watch porn. I know men and women who watch porn. I know young people who love porn and I know middle aged people who enjoy porn. I know single people who watch porn. I know couples who watch porn. I know straight people who watch porn. I know of gay people who watch porn. I know of bisexual people who watch porn. Basically porn is pretty mainstream and despite its social taboo a large percentage of people indulge in pornography. I would say more adults enjoy porn of a semi-regular basis than voted for the Conservative Party at the last General Election.

The issue I have is clearly what happens to those who opt-in? Is this data kept and who has access to this data? Will police use this data to profile people who live locally to a sexual crime and these people all suddenly become suspects? Will this data be public? Will angry mobs start circling the houses of those who watch porn? There are some (I feel) legitimate questions here.

The government has many important things to do. Censoring the internet is not one of them. Parents have a role in how they bring up their offspring and the government of the day should not overstep these boundaries. If a parent doesn’t actively stop their kids watching pornography then that is up to the parents. It isn’t the role of government to bring up kids.

As for online filters…this very blog is (or has been) blocked by TalkTalk for an age because of pornographic content. There is no pornographic content on this blog but TalkTalk says there is. I have heard of newspaper websites such as The Guardian being blocked over pornography. At what point does the government think enough censorship is enough? At what point do we say that kids welfare is actually the primary aim of parents and not the government?

Parents should know what their children are doing online in their own home. Parents can set up filters and block out content already. If a parent doesn’t want their child to be watching porn they can stop it. It doesn’t need wholesale changes to the internet to do this. So why is the PM desperate to push this through? Maybe because he is pandering to ‘Middle England’ and the Daily Mail in an attempt to show he can get big laws through that go against the EU. Maybe he actually thinks internet censorship is a good thing. Either way he’s wrong.

As long as what adults do isn’t against the law then why should they be censored? If this is truly about children then far more important to keep these sites and videos away by using already set up parental filters. Also educating young people about sex and violence and how to deal with feelings and urges is something that we as a nation generally fail at. Sex is a taboo and until we as a nation embrace it and teach young people frankly and openly about it all then we are fighting a losing battle.

Education is what is needed, not draconian measures that aim to record all those who choose to watch porn. There are distinct difference between all porn (which is legal) and already illegal child porn and rape porn. Lumping them all under one umbrella first of all isn’t right and secondly does nothing to actually help. Young people need better education. Education, Education, Education Tony Blair used to bang on about and in this instance that motto rings true. People, young people, will always find a way to watch porn but the more ‘dirty’ you make it then the more young people will strive to enjoy it as it’ll be ‘wrong’ and if I know one thing about young people is the more you tell them something is bad without any further education on the subject then the more they’ll attempt to do it.

The Prime Minister has got this all wrong and I hope the Lib Dems as a party step up and fight this although my faith in the leadership is at this point lacking but I still can hope. I can still have that…right?

Oh and lastly. Internet pornography bad but Page 3 is a ‘consumer choice’? That really doesn’t make any sense…

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Attention Politicians: Where is your leadership?

When did we get to the point where the seemingly marginalised viewpoints of society stopped being so out there? Over the past few years as the economic downturn has gripped the country, people have looked for someone to blame and the easiest people to blame are those who are different. So politicians are easy to blame but the problem with that is of course someone has to govern so whoever gets voted in will be a politician. Bankers have seen blame laid at their feet but yet again bankers aren’t going away any time soon so the problem has been who can people blame who they can a) get rid of and b) don’t understand.

Step forward religion and foreigners.

The term, ‘I’m not racist but…’ has become a bit of a running gag, albeit not very funny. People say this with a completely straight face. The people that are saying it are not the people that you would generally look at and think they are racist either. However a spectre of what I won’t call hate, but will call intolerance now hangs over far more people than I’ve ever known in my 29 years on this Earth and that spectre is becoming an ever bigger presence in society.

My problem is working out where this has come from? It must have come from somewhere and looking around the most obvious parts of society I can point my finger at and believe they are the reason is the media and politicians. The media will always tap into whatever the mood of the nation is and then play up to it. If the nation are happy then the media will be happy. If the nation has a sense of unease then the media will portray that and start to feed off it. If we are being told constantly about bad things people are doing then it will seep into the public’s consciousness and I believe this is what has happened.

Look at the media coverage yesterday. It was by a person who seemingly was a Muslim. Now was he described first of all as a terrorist or was he first of all classed as a Muslim? You bet it was the latter and not the former. Whilst so many bleat that the English Defence League do not speak for us we must understand that just because people do terrorist attacks are of one faith, they do not speak for an entire religion. When the IRA where blowing things up left, right and centre did they speak for all Catholicism? I’m pretty sure they didn’t.

We though as a nation are far more scared of the unknown than we ever have been before. In this modern age where people can interact with anyone, at any time, people get disturbed. If you are on a tube and two people are speaking to one another in a foreign tongue then instead of being calm and ignoring it, more than ever people are worried because they don’t understand and there we get it the crux of the issue. People in general are far more afraid of what they don’t understand than ever before and we have to ask ourselves, ‘why is that?’

However I want to point a very stern finger at politicians because I see a distinct lack of leadership. In all honesty the last person who displayed leadership qualities was Tony Blair. Like it or not he led this country. Ever since politicians have been too scared to truly stand for what they believe in. As a friend put it to me last night, ‘they pander to the lowest common denominator’ and he was right. Politicians are afraid to say what they really think in case the most vocal of critics attack them. This needs to stop.

I would love to see David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband at a joint Press Conference where they said that intolerance would not be accepted. We live in a multi-cultural society and I love that. Great Britain isn’t just for those who were born here, it is for people who want to live and work here. Should people not be allowed to move from place to place to live with different people, different cultures, experience a different way of life? Should we go back to the day of ‘If you were born in Essex then you’ll live and die in Essex’ and so on? I certainly do not believe so. No-one owns the Earth or any country therein and people should be free to move around.

As we all know though this isn’t the way the tide is going. People think there is always someplace greener and those greener pastures might be to leave the European Union. Some want to leave the European Human Rights Act and have a British Bill of Human Rights instead. My fear though is what if we do this and still things are no better then who do people blame? Do they blame themselves for pushing this through or do they find another scapegoat? What if we started turning on all blondes? Would that be accepted in society the way that intolerance towards people of foreign backgrounds and different religions seemingly are?

The crux is no matter how hard David Cameron wants to bang on about fixing our broken society – the more he says this then the more people will look for where the cracks and the problems are. It is a bit like saying how terrible the economy is, the more you say it the more people will believe it. Society is not perfect. We all know this. However society is not perfect throughout the globe and there are bad people all over the world doing bad things every day. This isn’t just confined to us in the UK, it is a far larger problem than that and one that has to be addressed through education for the next generations coming through.

No matter what our differences are we all bleed when we are cut. We are all but one race – the human race. We all broadly want the same things for our loved ones and for society as a whole but the problems are some believe there are short-cuts and scapegoats to why we don’t all have what we would like.

Immigration is not a problem to the degree that people believe it is. People can live with people of different religious backgrounds. Not all people who are different are our enemies. The vast majority of people who practise the Christian faith are good people. The vast majority of those who follow Islam are good people. The vast majority of those who are Jews are good people and so on and so forth. Being different isn’t a reason to be scared of someone.

Our leaders need to step up to the plate here and now and stop this going forward. Do not pander down to the most vocal in an attempt to win votes. Stand for what you truly believe in. If you stand together and say that this type of intolerance will not be accepted then you’ll start drawing a line in the sand. This whole situation has meandered on for far too long. People can have different views on anything but still not persecute one another. Until such a time where this is the strong and constant viewpoint from our politicians (and in turn our media) then I fear the culture of intolerance will only grow and slowly shatter any illusions we have that we are a progressive society.

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‘I’d govern like a true Tory if it wasn’t for the Lib Dems’

David Cameron himself is saying that the Lib Dems are holding him back from being as Tory as he wants to be. He says that the Lib Dems are curbing him. However everyone thinks that the Lib Dems are helping him run the most right-wing government in history. Either Cameron is more right wing that Thatcher on acid or maybe that rhetoric is just lazy media and political bluster.

Here is the top of the Daily Mail today:

Daily Mail David Cameron
Daily Mail 9/2/12

If Lib Dems don’t use this in Focuses over the next couple of years then Focus editors are dumb. It was kinda nice for the PM to write our headlines for us…

The Lib Dems are making a difference. People might not think they are doing a lot but when the PM is making it clear that he wants to do so much more just holding him and his party back is quite an accomplishment for the Lib Dems. Yes as a Lib Dem I’d love to have more influence but for what 57 MPs the party are doing well to keep Cameron and Osbourne on a leash that won’t let them stray too far too the right. If we had let the leash go in May 2010 then who knows where we’d be right now?

Now is the time that the Lib Dems need to make it clear that they are not just underwriting the Tories. The economy is the number one priority and always will be but there are other issues and as long as the two parties can sing from the same hymn sheet on the economy then everything else can be openly and honestly debated.

It’s all fun n games isn’t it?

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Does V for Veto equate to V for Victory?

So I was up early this morning. Way too early for my liking. I flick through my iPhone in bed and see on twitter that big news was coming down that we had used our powers of veto and not signed up to a new treaty that it was hoped would save the Eurozone. The reasons we have used our veto seem pretty clear. The deal would actually harm the UK but strengthen Europe.

As the UK is not in the Euro our viewpoint was always going to be different from the French and the Germans who are busy forcing through urgent changes. Germany want it to safe the Eurozone and the French (Sarkozy) want it because they (he) want to save their (his) jobs. Having David Cameron be the public bad guy works out great for Sarkozy as whatever happens he can point to it in presidential race which will go down well with the natives.

However despite this should the Eurozone fail it will hit us hard so we can’t be flippant. David Cameron is pretty centralist as Europe goes and he did discuss the situation with his Deputy and his Chancellor. So it wasn’t a unilateral decision and the Lib Dems were involved. This though has of course stirred the twitterari as they are a) happy that their party was involved but b) unhappy they were involved. Being a Lib Dem and having some actual influence is a hard thing for party members as we are used to railing against the man. Now we talk and debate with the man and that just isn’t as much fun.

I saw a City of London analyst on Sky News this AM say that 37% of the World’s financial sector business outside of the Far East and the US is done in London. Is is by far the busiest hub of non Far East and US financial business and this is despite the UK not being in the Eurozone so any changes to conditions in the City of London would have a huge effect. Remember this treaty wasn’t about the EU as a whole but about the financial sector aspect of the EU. We still have a voice at the EU table although now it’s more than likely they’ll be bloc voting of the ‘in’s’ and ‘out’s’ of their accord.

Next though is the question of whether or not this accord is legally binding? From all I’ve read and seen on the news this AM it seemingly will not be (but that of course isn’t known yet either way). If it isn’t then what is to stop one or more of the countries floating the rules to get more business? Not a lot. If 23 countries are all playing happy families then good times but all it takes is for one or two to take their ball back and play the game their own way for political reasons and the house of cards topples to the floor again.

Do I trust all of the leaders of Europe to play nice for ever and ever? No. Do I feel that they can play nice for a year or two? Of that I’m even unsure. The Euro crisis is spreading like a wildfire and today three of the top French banks have had their credit rating dropped. As it currently stands the UK is feeling the pinch but the wildfire is being doused by the English Channel. Had we gone all in to try to save the Eurozone without ensuring our financial sector survived then that would have been reckless.

I know there are far more clever people out there who know what they are talking about. I’m just a relatively ill-informed bystander but from what I’ve read the veto probably had to be used. The French were desperate to have everything their own way. The Eurozone needed the UK more than the UK needed the Eurozone but they needed the UK to give a lot more than it was going to get.

The Eurozone needs to survive. Of that there is little doubt. However was their proposed treaty definitely going to save the Eurozone? No. Would it have enhanced its chances of survival? Probably? Enough that it was worth us risking our place as the hub of the financial sector outside of the Far East and the US? I think not but that is something that will be debated for years.

I have long been a proponent of a stronger and united Europe but not at all costs. The UK would not have entered this treaty on a level playing field. It came to the table in a strong bargaining position and were unable to get what they wanted but they were also unwilling to give up what was desired. So it was stalemate and now we are outside the tent pissing in instead of the preferred position of being inside and pissing out. It’s not ideal but considering the options and the Eurozone wildfire it might be the best of a bad situation.


Nick Clegg has now spoken:

I regret that last night it proved to be impossible to find a way forward as a group of 27 on European treaty change.

I have said for months that it would be best to avoid arcane debates about treaty change altogether and if we had to proceed down that road, it would be best to do so in a way that did not create divisions in Europe

The demands Britain made for safeguards, on which the Coalition Government was united, were modest and reasonable. They were safeguards for the single market, not just the UK.

There were no demands of repatriation of powers from the EU to Britain and no demands for a unilateral carve-out of UK financial services.

What we sought to ensure was to maintain a level playing field in financial services and the single market as a whole. This would have retained the UK’s ability to take tougher, not looser, regulatory action to sort out our banking system.

As a lifelong pro-European, I will continue to argue within Government and with our European partners that where changes now occur, it is essential that the integrity of our open European single market is kept intact and that we work together on the long term problems of competitiveness within the EU on which millions of people’s jobs depend.

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David Cameron stabs Ken Clarke and the Lib Dems in the back

So David Cameron has pandered to The Sun again. If only I was surprised. After years of saying they were the ones the won Labour the 1997 election despite the evidence being rather different. The Sun can now claim to pretty much have David Cameron’s ear. The Tory Prime Minister has once more listened to the newspaper and decided to completely rip up Ken Clarke’s excellent prison reforms just to ensure that publicly he can sound tough on crime.

The Sun’s ‘Say No To Soft Justice’ has been running ever since Victoria Derbyshire decided to bring up rape in an interview with the Justice Secretary. The fact these proposed bills had been in the public domain for months is neither here nor there – once someone had brought up the word rape then the media and the public jumped on the bandwagon without even giving the proposals the time of day.

I wrote my most popular ever blog about it the day after entitled Ken Clarke – a trial by Social Media where I parodied the reaction of twitter to the interview in a court setting. It showed how reactionary twitter (and in all honesty most people) were to the news.

The media banged on repeatedly about the 50% reduction in sentences whereas in all honesty the only difference was giving judges more leeway. The current rules are a judge can reduce a sentence up to 33% for an early guilty plea. So the difference would only have been 17%. All crimes are not created equal and judges know this. It is a shame that the Prime Minister doesn’t seem to.

I’m going to put it out there right now – just throwing people into prison does nothing. Prison doesn’t work. All prison does generally is make softer cons more hardened as they are surrounded 24 hours a day by hardened cons and drugs. For the future the most important thing is surely to get people off drugs and teach them that a life of crime isn’t the way forward. Nipping their life of crime in the bud. That would be far better than creating another generation of big time crooks.

However by doing this people will think that you are being soft on crime. Too many people think prison is the answer to everything. It isn’t. Prison is in many cases the cause for a life time of crime getting progressively worse as they go. The more time an impressionable individual spends with a bad person then the more they’ll think the bad person is a good role model. It is exactly the same as a good kid hanging out with bad kids on a street corner, before you know it the good kid will be doing bad things. It is exactly the same with people in prison.

Yet again I go back to one of my initial comments – not all crimes are created equal and without a doubt not all criminals are created equal. Giving judges as much leeway as possible is a good thing. It isn’t soft on crime it is called being smart on crime. Yes it isn’t easy and some will think community sentences are soft but there needs to be another way. Maybe the creation of special short-term prisons which are a short-sharp-shock treatment for less serious crimes. Maybe giving younger criminals the option of jail or military service. Something has to be done differently as the status quo will not do the job long-term.

Whilst it may be completely clear that I’m in disagreement with this u-turn and liked the proposals a lot, what gets my goat more is the Prime Minister saying that the Lib Dems are soft and had it been a Tory government they would be tougher on crime like this is a good thing. The truth is that the Tories didn’t outright win the election so he can only blame himself for that part and whilst the Tories want to be tough on crime, they aren’t exactly smart on crime and that is a distinct difference. Unless things change then people will get into crime at a young age and stay involved in crime for the rest of their lives. Is that what we want as a nation? Generation after generation of criminals or do we want to find a way to get people off of crime?

That is the question we need to answer. Personally speaking we need to find a solution to stopping career criminals before they get into their career. Whilst these proposals wouldn’t tackle that problem head-on they were giving the people who understand even more leeway. Is sending an 18 year-old kid down for six months for burglery to feed his drug habit really going to do anything other than give him a few months with hardened cons who’ll help him on his path to a life of crime?

Justice is not only about protecting civilians short-term whilst they are behind bars and punishing the culprits. It is also about protecting citizens long-term when the criminals finish their sentence and getting criminals off of their path of a life of crime and into hard working tax paying citizens for the benefit of both themselves and the country.

It is better to be smart on crime than tough on crime.

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Just how weak is David Cameron as a PM?

The political pundits around Westminster and the blogosphere keep telling us just how strong the PM is and he’s getting through policies that the Iron Lady herself could only dream about but is that true? I’m not so sure that it is.

We have had the climbdown over selling forests, we have had the ongoing saga of the NHS reforms and now today Ken Clarke’s plans to give more flexibility to judges has seemingly been shelved.

Three unpopular policies. Two have been shelved completely and one has been watered-down to such an extent that the changes will seemingly be minimal. Is this the sign of a men who is dragging the country with him or just the sign of a man who whilst confident on economic policy is deeply unsure on everything else? This is a PM who is listening to what Middle England say so much that I’m surprised his ear drums aren’t perforated. Even on such issues as the watershed and the sexulisation of TV and youngsters he is getting involved and going with the louder voices instead of the majority. Next thing you know he’ll be calling for a Public Inquiry into the Madeline McCann case – oh wait…

I’m not saying this is a bad thing but David Cameron is clearly nowhere near as confident in himself or in his cabinet as previous Prime Minister’s have been. I know he is leading a cabinet with voices from another party but a strong PM would have gotten rid of Vince Cable by now and Chris Huhne too. Andrew Lansley is only still holding on to his job because if he was fired the Tory right would be in uproar.

So whilst economically Cameron with his chief-lieutenant George Osbourne, he knows what they want to do. Elsewhere it seems like he just wants to make everybody happy and as we all know, that is impossible so to try and do it seems foolish at best and careless at worst.Cameron is about as strong on subjects away from the economy as custard is when Jon Tickle isn’t walking on it.

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‘Capped immigration’ I [redacted] hate the fact that Cameron thinks this is a good thing. [redacted] hate it.

David Cameron keeps banging on and on and on about this immigration cap like this is a good thing. Whilst the public don’t seem to care too much about this (and in general they are for this) it is the most anti-liberal policy that this coalition government has forced through. It sickens me to my soul far more than the embarrassing and very public U-turn on tuition fees for students but again the public seem to think that is far more important than freedom of movement of people into the UK.

The United Kingdom has long been a home for people from all over the world. People from our former colonies helped rebuild this country after the World Wars and we have a history of being a very tolerant nation. However this is slowly turning and it scares me. Oh boy does it scare me.

I have a Polish friend who was extremely happy in Ireland until its economy hit the buffers and the people of the country decided to blame the foreigners. She left The Emerald Isle and went back home before moving to London last summer. However even in the past 9-10 months she tells me that the attitude towards her has changed from the general public. When life isn’t going great people want to blame everyone but themselves. When the country needs these people though people welcome them with open arms. In the boom years no-one else wanted jobs as hospital cleaners as an example but now they are taking all our jobs. What horseshit.

Remember this immigration cap is only relevant for non-EU nationals. Anyone in the EU is free to move around the European Union at will to live and work. That is the freedom of movement that we all have. However the level of people against the EU – primarily for this reason – is rising and you never know at some point within the next decade or so there might be a referendum on this. It wouldn’t shock me if the general public voted for this and wanted us to remove ourselves from the EU despite the obvious harm to trade and the economy.

Even though it might be unpopular this is something where I believe the Lib Dems cannot bend let alone break. We are a Pro-EU and very much a pro freedom of movement party. People should be able to live and work wherever they like in the world. Just because someone is born in that country it doesn’t mean that they should be made to stay in that country for the rest of their lives.

If there aren’t enough skilled English nurses or doctors should we stop skilled workers coming in and filling these jobs? Do you care if the doctor who performs live saving surgery on your loved one is English born and bred? No you don’t. I get the sense a significant number of people only want to see and hear from foreigners when they are helping them personally and boy how selfish and pathetic is that?

The immigration cap is relatively meaningless because of the EU situation but the fact that David Cameron bangs on about it – and is so intently proud of it – makes my stomach churn. Foreigners – like British people are a mix. Some are arseholes, some are layabouts, some are losers but most are just hard-working, good, decent folk. If it wasn’t for non-native people this country would be in a much worse situation than it is now and by stopping them coming in – or by kicking those who are already here out – the country would not be the great nation that it is now.

Foreigners *thumbs up*

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David Cameron implies that ‘Innocent Until Proven Guilty’ is not enough in terror cases. Eeek.

‘Innocent until proven Guilty’. It is an old adage and one that I stand by fiercely as do most liberals. It is a core element of who we are. If I was being posh I’d say, ‘Ei incumbit probatio, qui dicit, non qui negat; cum per rerum naturam factum negantis probatio nulla sit’ which as I’m sure you all know means, ‘he proof lies upon him who affirms, not upon him who denies; since, by the nature of things, he who denies a fact cannot produce any proof’. A very good point indeed.

I have served on two juries in my time on two very different cases. One case we all thought that the two defendants were clearly not guilty and we ruled as such. On the second we were split and there was a lot of debate but in the end as the foreman I made the decision that it was clear the case was not proven and therefore we must find the man not guilty as the case for the prosecution had not proved their case anywhere near beyond reasonable doubt. My fellow jurors agreed with the exception of one lady who then proceeded to take hours before admitting that just using solely the facts provided in court she couldn’t be sure he was guilty, so we found him not guilty. Whether he was or not is not the point and I have never lost sleep over it although I suspect others may have done in that room (let’s just say it was a very serious crime).

Why am I writing about this? Well today during Prime Minsters Questions a Tory backbench MP asked about being able to deport those that we suspect of being terrorists and the PM confirmed that is the plan. It made my blood boil. If the intelligence services suspect someone of doing such a thing then follow him, watch their every move and then step in to stop it if they are doing something that threatens national security. Then put them to trial and let a jury of twelve men and women decide whether or not they have committed a crime. Surely if someone is suspected of plotting terrorism then the reason they are suspected is if they have evidence to back it up. If they have enough evidence then arrest and try to convict. Surely that is the way forward?

If they arrest and a jury finds them not guilty then will this government still try to deport them? You can bet your bottom dollar on it. The presumption of innocence is a core value of mine and as far as I know in most people. If someone is found not guilty in a Court of Law then that is it – the end. There is no comebacks. No-one should be able to step in and say, ‘well I think the jury are a bunch of idiots and in fact we are going to throw them out of the country any way as we think we are right’. Surely a Court of Law should be the highest court in the land in criminal trials and if it isn’t then certain people and decisions are above the law – and that is a terrifying place to be.

I know people worry about terrorism, we all do to some degree. However throwing people out of the country with no proof of any wrong doing is all manners of wrong. I know it is easier for me to sit here and say that even though I have no real power compared to say the PM who has to tink of the safety of the country but still, everyone is equal and everyone should be held to the same standard. If a suspect was suspected of plotting a murder would they be thrown out of the country if there wasn’t enough evidence for a conviction but just they were suspected of doing a crime? If you handle suspected terrorists in that way then you are setting a very dangerous precedent. We have the judicial system for a reason. If government wants to by-pass that then who knows where it’ll stop.

The last Labour government were about the worst in terms of protecting our civil liberties compared to many western countries. This government are working towards fixing some of these issues but that question and answer from the PM haunted me. What levels of suspicion will be needed to deport someone or detain someone? If it is anything below the levels tat would secure a conviction in a Court of Law then it is wrong and extremely illiberal and immoral. If that is how the PM wants it then it won’t be that dis-similar to the Salem Witch Trials. All it needs is an accusation and some malicious gossip and the power of the mob will take action on its own. I know it’s a stretch but I’ve seen it before. A pediatrician being mistaken for a pedophile. Let’s just say the results weren’t pretty.

The Court of Law must rule on all cases of criminal acts for if they don’t then the road we are going down is a scary one for us all.

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