Boris Johnson’s suspension of parliament is an affront to democracy | Financial Times

Sound comment from the Financial Times (not usually noted as hostile to the Conservative Party):

Boris Johnson has detonated a bomb under the constitutional apparatus of the United Kingdom. The prime minister’s request to the Queen to suspend parliament for up to five weeks, ostensibly to prepare a new legislative programme, is without modern precedent. It is an intolerable attempt to silence parliament until it can no longer halt a disastrous crash-out by the UK from the EU on October 31. The seat of British democracy, long admired worldwide, is being denied a say on the most consequential decision facing the country in more than four decades. So, too, are the British people — in whose name Mr Johnson claims to be acting. It is time for parliamentarians to bring down his government in a no-confidence vote, paving the way for an election in which the people can express their will.

Source: Boris Johnson’s suspension of parliament is an affront to democracy | Financial Times

Our LibDem Councillors: Promises Kept!

It is now not much more than two months since our team of newly elected Liberal Democrat town councillors were inducted, but already we are making a difference – and are keeping promises we made on the campaign trail.

As candidates for the local elections, we promised (among others) to :

● Communicate regularly with residents: We will continue distributing Focus all year round.

We have already distributed one issue of Focus since the election, and are currently preparing the next. We plan to produce one every quarter.

● Listen to your concerns:  We will hold regular Councillors’ surgeries to hear your concerns and assist where we can.

We have held our first surgery at the Haslewey Community Centre. The next two are scheduled for August 3rd (10-12 am, again at Haslewey) and August 10th (3:30 – 5pm, Royal British Legion, Hindhead) .

● Attend Council meetings This should be a basic but the record of several Conservative Councillors leaves much to be desired. We pledge to do better.

It’s early days, but our LD councillors thus far have a strong attendance record, not only for the main council and sub-committee meetings, but also for other civic functions and meetings with community groups.

Consider the interests of ALL residents. We promise to consider all our residents, reflecting our community’s full diversity.

At the Finance and Governance committee, we proposed amaending the existing equal opportunities policy for staff, to cover the full town, in everything that we do.  The full council has now approved an amended policy that does just that.

● Be ACTIVE campaigners We will be fully involved in campaigns to protect and improve our community, starting with our efforts to be ready, if necessary, to defend the library from cuts.

We will shortly be announcing the next steps in the library campaign. In addition, we worked closely with our Green and Independent partners in the “progressive alliance” that now leads the council, to prepare a motion for the council to declare a climate emergency. While that did not pass in the original wording, council did adopt a revised motion, again prepared by Independent and LibDem councillors, to accept the principle, and set up a working party to produce a revised motion that will be accepted at our next meeting. 

Populism can be beaten back by libraries. Really – Open Future

MANY IDEAS have been put forward to explain the rise of populism in the West: economic insecurity, a backlash against immigration and fake news, to name but a few. Another on the list might be the lack of shared spaces where people from different walks of life can meet and mingle. If politics has become tribal, perhaps that is a result of people being walled off from others—in some cases literally—eroding the sense of commonality and community.

That is the intriguing message of a recent book by Eric Klinenberg, a sociologist at New York University and the author of “Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life” (Crown, 2018). The title comes from a phrase used by Andrew Carnegie, an American steel baron of the early 20th century, to describe the thousands of public libraries he helped build with his donations.

Source: Populism can be beaten back by libraries. Really – Open Future

UK housing: Fit for the future? – Committee on Climate Change

This report, by the Committee on Climate Change and its Adaptation Committee, assesses whether the UK’s housing stock is adequately prepared for the challenges of climate change; both in terms of reducing emissions from UK homes and ensuring homes are adequately prepared for the impacts of climate change.

The report’s key findings are that:

  • the UK’s legally-binding climate change targets will not be met without the near-complete elimination of greenhouse gas emissions from UK buildings.
  • emissions reductions from the UK’s 29 million homes have stalled, while energy use in homes – which accounts for 14% of total UK emissions – increased between 2016 and 2017.
  • efforts to adapt the UK’s housing stock to the impacts of the changing climate: for higher average temperatures, flooding and water scarcity, are lagging far behind what is needed to keep us safe and comfortable, even as these climate change risks grow.

Source: UK housing: Fit for the future? – Committee on Climate Change

 “Wealth Taxes”: Not Easy, but Possible.

From Resolution Foundation:

How wealth taxes can raise billions more without scaring any horses

Raising taxes is never easy. Raising taxes with the government’s slim parliamentary majority is harder still. Raising taxes on wealth in those circumstances, given our diverging senses of fairness is…  not a walk in the park. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need doing, and the good news is that significant progress can be made despite these constraints.

Source: How wealth taxes can raise billions more without scaring any horses – Resolution Foundation

Labour Members Back People’s Vote & Remain

From the Guardian

Most Labour members believe Corbyn should back second Brexit vote

Nearly 90% of party members would opt to stay in the EU in a ‘people’s vote’, finds survey

Jeremy Corbyn is facing pressure from within the party to support a second referendum.
 Jeremy Corbyn is facing pressure from within the party to support a second referendum. Photograph: Sean Smith for the Guardian

Labour members are significantly more opposed to Brexit than Jeremy Corbyn is, with 72% of them thinking their leader should fully support a second referendum, according to a study of attitudes in the party.

The polling, part of an ongoing wider academic study into attitudes in various parties, found that only 18% opposed Labour campaigning for a second referendum, while 88% would then opt for remain if such a vote was held.

Source: The Guardian

Labour’s Brexit Failure

From the New Statesman:

Labour’s refusal to oppose Brexit is becoming a historic error

There are some in the FBPE (Follow Back, Pro-EU) community who claim that Brexit could have been stopped if the Labour leadership had abandoned Brexit. This is either arguable if applied to 2016 or just simply wrong since 2016. But in the turmoil that is likely to follow the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement in January, the Labour leadership will play a crucial role. This post is about what happens if Labour enable Brexit in any way. I am not suggesting they will (and hope they do not), but right now this is a significant enough possibility to be worth writing about

Source: Labour’s refusal to oppose Brexit is becoming a historic error