Canadian Leader stands up to the bully next door as May is Selling England by the Pound

www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-38786656

As the rather sad Mrs. May went creeping around Trump for the odd crumb from his table the decent man next door to the USA who leads Canada was standing firmly against the politics of hate and division.

As the leader of the supposedly free world takes us all into some very dark places indeed with our own appeasing Prime Minister tagging along it’s great to see other world leaders like Justine Trudeau standing firm.

Trouble is that Mrs. May is in an impossible bind, she needs to take whatever Trump is prepared to offer her in terms of a trade deal with the US and at whatever the cost is to us. Having signalled that we want to cease beneficial trading with our nearest partners as a consequence of Brexit she may have no choice but to give in to any other country that is prepared to offer us a trade deal on their terms. And the more powerful that country the more the trade deals will on their terms.

What hope now for the NHS? It seems that in any trade deal with the US Trump will be wanting more access for US companies into NHS services so that they can turn a profit from them. And Teresa May will have no choice but to give Trump that access because our new trade deal with the US will be far more beneficial to the US than it is to us.

And what about education? Will Trump want access into that too? The bottom line Trump will want access into any part of our economy where US companies can turn a profit and that’s on top of our ever greater dependence on China of course.

May has even gone creeping around the former democracy of Turkey to sell them more arms so that they can keep their own people and and those in neighbouring counties under control. Nice to know we can still make a favourable trade deal by selling death to others.

‘Selling England by the Pound’ was the name of a Genesis album; maybe the title is now the Tories, UKIP and sadly even Labour’s new strap line. May your God (I don’t have one I might add) go with you in the words of the late great Dave Allen.

2016 – A year to forget? Well yes, but there was the odd glimmer of hope

BAD NATIONAL & GLOBAL EVENTS

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* Given the biggest self-destruct button the UK electorate has probably ever been tempted by i.e the EU referendum – they pressed it!

* Sociopath Trump wins in America, seemingly with help from Putin in the Cremlin!

* We manage to get rid of a centrist (for a Conservative that is), if hardly competent, Tory Prime Minister (Cameron) for him to be replaced by someone who looks utterly lost, is in a job probably well above her pay grade and who is riding us off into a inglorious right wing sunset!

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* Our NHS and elderly social care system has been systematically neglected and left to wither on the vine by our clueless government whilst we chuck goodness knows how much money on a replacement for the Trident nuclear missile programme that will never be used. There are guilty people in all political parties over this.

AND GOOD NATIONAL & GLOBAL THINGS?

* Well Lib Dem anti-Brexit candidate Sarah Olney winning the Richmond Park Parliamentary by-election comes to mind.

* The beating the right took in the Austrian Presidential election was a pleasant if somewhat surprising turn of events.

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* Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shining a light for tolerant, inclusive and progressive politics from over the pond in Canada. Is there anyone else in power on the global stage who can match his progressive approach to running a country?

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* The low and high of Notts and England batsman James Taylor being struck down by an almost fatal undiagnosed heart condition and then him coming through it. Yes we have lost on brilliant batsman but so glad he is still alive. And yes I am an Notts supporter.

AND LOCAL LOWS AND HIGHS?

Inside the Youth Coffee Bar after a refurb' a few years ago

Inside the Youth Coffee Bar after a refurb’ a few years ago

* LOW – We had the depressing news that Labour-run Maghull Town Council was finally killing-off the innovative Youth Coffee Bar in Maghull Town Hall which local youngsters had started 20+ years ago. And hey what a surprise (NOT) anti-social behaviour is a problem in the area of Maghull where it once operated!

St Catherine's otherwise know as Lydiate Abbey

St Catherine’s otherwise know as Lydiate Abbey

* HIGH – The ‘Friends of the Abbey’ in Lydiate gaining a Lottery grant to start the process of trying to conserve and preserve the ruins of St Catherine’s Chapel for future generations.

Former Maghull/Lydiate Borough Councillor Robbie Fenton with the petition she raised to try to save the Leighton Ave toilets a few years ago. Sadly they are all but gone now via neglect and vandalism.

Former Maghull/Lydiate Borough Councillor Robbie Fenton with the petition she raised to try to save the Leighton Ave toilets a few years ago. Sadly they are all but gone now via neglect and vandalism.

* LOW – The running down of and then appalling vandalism to Maghull’s once award winning public toilets in Leighton Avenue.

The long view of 2016 winter planting down Westway looking from the Leighton Ave junction towards the A59 Northway.

The long view of 2016 winter planting down Westway looking from the Leighton Ave junction towards the A59 Northway.

* HIGH – The continuing success of the Maghull in Bloom and Maghull Station Volunteers as they try to improve Maghull’s environment.

A Maghull Town Council leaflet from 1998 - Strangely this time round the now Labour-run Town Council did not fight the Green Belt grab.

A Maghull Town Council leaflet from 1998 – Strangely this time round the now Labour-run Town Council did not fight the Green Belt grab.

* LOW – The rubber stamping of the Sefton Local Plan which will ruin Green Belt and kill off some of the 2% highest grade of agricultural land in England. A black cloud for for environmental campaigners indeed.

Canal Bicentenary

* HIGH – The Bicentenary celebrations of the completion of the Leeds Liverpool Canal

On a personal note the start of 2016 was grim as I attended 4 funerals of people I knew in the first 4 months – former Lib Dem Councillors Joan Blackburn, David Rimmer and Kath Jones together with Lib Dem activist Susan Ashton. It finished with a further death this time of a relative in December whose funeral I could not get to because of traffic jams on the M6. But of course there were personal highs as well –

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* Being invited to play Santa for a session to help Maghull & Aughton Rotary Club and Maghull in Bloom fund raise was great fun.

Me sat in my old choir stall  at Sefton Church. I recall sitting in this very seat - if memory serves at all of course - it was over 40 years ago!

Me sat in my old choir stall at Sefton Church. I recall sitting in this very seat – if memory serves at all of course – it was over 40 years ago!

* Being invited to rejoin the choir of St Helen’s Church in Sefton Village, where I had been a choirboy in 1970, despite being an atheist was lovely. Obviously I politely declined.

Carl Cashman for Mersey Metro Mayor Launch 08 16 - Credit Charlie Green

* Helping a great young man to be selected as Lib Dem candidate for the Liverpool City Region Mayoral election to be held in May 2017. Carl Cashman is that young man. I have known him for some years now and am delighted he will be on the ballot paper.

Iain Brodie Brown - Mayor of Sefton at the Leeds Liverpool Canal Bicentenary celebrations in Maghull

Iain Brodie Brown – Mayor of Sefton at the Leeds Liverpool Canal Bicentenary celebrations in Maghull

* My old chum Iain Brodie Browne becoming Mayor of Sefton. A Liberal down to his boots and one of the most radical, capable and compassionate politicians I have ever come across.

So sadly 2016 has been a year of some very significant lows indeed. Some of those lows we will be grappling with the consequences of for maybe 10 years or more. Fortunately the odd bit of good news did filter through but surely 2017 has to be better?

Assisted Dying – Canada makes a welcome step down the road

www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-36566214

The BBC has the story on its web site – see link above

It may not go as far as it needs to go but it it is certainly a big step in the right direction.

The UK needs to address this issue rather than keep running away from it. Surely it is the most Liberal of all humanitarian causes to allow those with no hope to terminate their own life on their own terms at a time and place of their own choosing.

Labour’s new civil war over racism and power

To see senior Labour figures literally kicking verbal lumps out of each other may be entertaining to those of us who despise the authoritarian Labour Party but what is going on is more than a spat about racism vitally important though that is.

For a party supposedly of the left to be openly at war over racism is bizarre in itself but I go back 30 years or more to one of the most telling things I was told as a young politician. It came from a young Labour Party member who quite openly said to me that there were more racists in his party than in the other political party or words to that effect. And it seems to have come to pass many years later played out on our TV screens with senior Labour figures making such allegations about others in that comradely Party.

But of course this is just the latest spat in Labour’s ongoing civil war. The Red Tories want Corbyn out, they want him to look like he can’t lead his party, they are making the Labour Party impossible to lead.

Yes Corbyn is no great leader of men and women but neither is he the appalling man many of his own MP’s are trying to make him look like. He probably has many principles which his own party is trying to make him compromise. They may, in many cases, be principles that we libertarians could not agree with but at least he has principles.

Burnham is quite obviously jockeying for position as he can smell a possible end to Corbyn’s leadership and he needs to reinvent himself again after getting such a pasting in the last leadership election. He’s even using left wing rhetoric these days; very different to that he used when he lost to Corbyn and even further away from his days as a Blairite Minister privatising the NHS.

The majority of Labour MP’s want their party to swing back to the right, to be Blairite under a more palatable title. No more New Labour by name but very much so in policy terms.

My argument is that a right wing Labour Party is no good for the UK. Yes they may be able to unseat some Tories but why do we need Red Tories to replace Blue Tories? The changes would only be at the margins.

What we need is a radical, diverse and yes yet more radical alternative to Labour settling back down as the just slightly better alternative to more Tory years. Canada has that alternative model and those of us who want open inclusive government should take note. Why even some Americans can see that a more radical path needs to be taken with the rise of Bernie Sanders in the Democrat Party. I am always amazed to hear Labour Party members arguing for Hilary Clinton to win the Democratic nomination.

Justin Trudeau did not come to power by being slightly less right wing than the Canadian Tories he did it by turning the Canadian Liberal Party into a radical party that is openly prepared to tear up old outdated policy stances.

Radical policies are not based on class war as Labour and its core supporters believe, they are based on true empowerment of people, celebrating diversity and getting voters to coalesce around a common radical and positive agenda. Labour are incapable of such an approach whether the left or right is running their show.

The UK is crying out for a Justine Trudeau type leader not talk of moderation and aiming for the center ground, or worse centre ground positioning dressed up by left wing rhetoric. Is Tim Farron up for that?

The old politics of fear is dead? Trouble is we need new leaders who are not wedded to the past

The quite ridiculous recent debate about renewing the Trident nuclear missile deterrent made me think about how out of touch our politicians and media really are. We have for years lived in a society where government and the press have told us what is good for us, what we should be concerned about and who are enemies are. Both also know how to get us to vote with fear in our hearts.

My guess is that public thinking is actually far more advanced than right wing journalists and the majority of our politicians may think.

Firstly, Trident is the product of the cold war and even Jeremy Corbyn can’t quite grasp that despite him being high up in CND circles. It needs to be phased out as part of a wide ranging defence review that tackles where the threats to the UK actually are as opposed to where they once were. Keep the submarines but take the missiles away, really! Or, we must keep the missiles because they provide UK jobs? So should we base our economy on producing weapons to provide jobs? Neither idea is credible public policy in 2016 Mr Corbyn.

Right to die – Apart from the few people I speak to with strong religious views everyone seems to think that all of us should have the right to die as we choose; with all the proper safeguards in place of course. Politicians and the press just get in a tangle about this without wanting to allow us to do what we want to do. If you can’t control your own life, what freedom do you have? If some folks don’t want to exercise a right to die then no one will make them do so but to deny that right to others is utterly appalling.

And what about our ridiculous drug laws which have had the unintended consequence of creating a crime wave that we can’t escape from? Is it not time to open our minds to newer more radical solutions that other countries are seriously trying? Yes, our present drug laws may well keep many police and customs employees in jobs but is that or indeed the similar argument for keeping Trident a sensible way of making public policy?

There are of course many other major public policy issues (not least the environmental catastrophe that awaits us if we can’t successfully address global warming/clean energy) but I use these 3 to highlight my concerns. Our ruling politicians and media barons try to control what we think and how we react because it suits them to do so. They want to stay in power/in control. But every few years they are forced to rethink their old fashioned ways of doing things so that they can try to stay in power and in control. Are we approaching another such change?

When people started to flock towards Corbyn (by joining or rejoining the Labour Party) they were not doing so because they thought he was going to make a great leader. I have yet to meet anyone who thinks he would be such a great leader. They flocked towards him because they wanted and still want change; to loosen the power of the ruling classes over us. In this case the New Labour ruling classes.

When Farron was elected as the Lib Dem Leader last year the same thing was happening in that radical thinking non-socialist people wanted him to challenge the old certainties.

I think it fair to say that Corbyn has proved he is no leader and that he is probably stuck in the political past. It is also fair to say that Farron is yet to find his truly radical edge to match what at times can be quite powerful rhetoric.

I suspect that both of them realise that society is changing fast but the Westminster bubble still pulls them towards the old realities that those in power are comfortable with. It will be interesting to see if either of them manages to set themselves free from the old politics or whether someone new rises to the political surface who is not encumbered by the old political baggage.

A look over the pond to Justin Trudeau, Canada’s new Prime Minister, shows how radical politicians can break through. It may be in the fullness of time that Trudeau disappoints in the way some think that Obama has but both started with really positive agendas that folk were willing to support and even get enthusiastic about. Of course, a similar thing happened here with Blair and but he ultimately proved to be a great disappointment to many especially over the war in Iraq.

Oh for credible, radical leaders who are not prisoners of the past. The challenge is there but is anyone up for it in UK politics?