“Please offer me a seat”

avril-coelho-conference

As a disabled commuter who is unable to drive for medical reasons, I rely as thousands of other people to on public transport to get to the shops, to  get to work and back and to get to medical appointments.

Whilst I have a disabled person’s freedom pass, drivers don’t always notice that I need a priority seat. Certainly as my disabilities are hidden, other passengers don’t see my epilepsy or the three worn vertebrae in my spine. I need to sit where it’s not too hard to get up again and where the driver can see if I do have a seizure. I know that should I have a seizure, bus drivers have a protocol to follow.

I have been on a busy Tube and not offered a seat despite talking about my need for one with another standing passenger who was two weeks away from giving birth. Her need was obvious to anyone with sight but nobody got up. We were stood next to many seated men with briefcases and mobile phones in their hands who might have all needed their seats but it’s unlikely. A seat came up and I offered the lady the seat as her and her unborn baby needed it. The heat became unbearable and triggered a seizure and without anyone giving up a seat within the ten seconds I had to sit down, I fell down on the Tube floor. Only then did the men seated get up. Not to offer me their seats though! They picked me and my bag up and carried me of the Gunnersbury platform bench and left me alone there! My bag could have been stolen before the seizure ended.

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Be under no illusion – the BMA screwed this up.

Prior to previous set of strikes, there was an emphasis on patient safety. The contract was unsafe, argued doctors, and Jeremy Hunt’s plans were unrealistic. Chair of the Junior Doctors’ Committee (JDC), Johann Malawanna and a number of other doctors in the BMA did a superb job of appearing reasonable, measured and yet passionate. Junior doctors looked like professionals being harried and hampered by government from trying to help patients.

At relatively short notice, a ballot with a turnout of 72% gained 98% support for strikes. This is unheard of. The strikes were announced well in advanced, were each two days long and went ahead safely without incident. They had the support of the vast majority of consultants, other healthcare professionals and royal colleges. The BMA had shed its reputation for incompetence.

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Every single vote to 20%

There were nine by-elections in total on Thursday. Seven were spread out across England with one each in Scotland and Wales so after celebrating our two gains I decided that they represented a big enough cross section to do some analysis.

Across the seats we contested the average increase in our vote was 12.3% and our total vote share was an impressive 24.7%.

However, we only contested six of the by-elections. 1/3rd of the elections went ahead without any Liberal Democrat on the ballot. Unfortunately when you add in these three 0% figures our vote increase comes down to 8.2% and our vote share down to 16.5%

In the 2016 local elections the media glossed over the fact that we had the biggest number of net gains and were the only party to gain control of a council. But what they couldn’t gloss over was the fact that we’d pushed UKIP back into 4th place with our vote share. LAB 31%, CON 30%, LDEM 15%, UKIP 12%. Wherever the graphs and tables were shown it was clear that the Lib Dems were back.

Everyone is aware of the electoral reasons for always putting up a candidate but it really does matter for another reason which I will show you below.

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Trump and Clinton finally meet to debate

Well, at last we saw Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton facing each other this morning. You can watch the debate in full via CBS and YouTube below.

My first impression was that Hilary Clinton certainly put the “health” and “stamina” issues to bed. Donald Trump started to get a little frayed as the debate wore on. Clinton carried on confidently and was as fresh as a daisy at the end. She certainly looked “presidential”.

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Thank you to everyone who supported the Conference Access Fund

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We have been telling you about the Conference Access Fund and how it has helped members to attend. Before we got to Brighton, Matthew Clark told us his experiences in a post titled ‘Young, disabled and believed in‘. By happy coincidence, I was delighted to be able to call him to speak in the debate on ‘Mending the Safety Net’ (the Social Security policy paper) which I happened to be chairing, and he was an impressive first time speaker. You can watch …

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York: Getting residents and communities involved

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Keith Aspden at Heslington Sportsfield which benefitted from Ward Committee funding

I’m back in York after a very enjoyable conference in Brighton. From a local government perspective, I was pleased to participate in important discussions around education, housing, the impact of Brexit, the environment, devolution and more! I was pleased to speak (together with Cllr Keith House, Leader of Eastleigh Borough Council) at an ALDC training session about how Liberal Democrats can make best use of Area and Ward Committees. I’ve written up my notes from the meeting about York’s Ward Committees below, which I hope might be useful food for thought for other Councillors and campaigners.

What are Ward Committees?

In York, each ward is given a budget to spend on local projects and offer grants to community groups. Meetings are chaired by local councillors who work with residents and ward teams to decide collectively where money is spent.

Our 2015 Manifesto

Key campaigning themes for us in the run-up to the 2015 local elections were the Labour Council being out-of-touch with residents, taking all decisions centrally, and ignoring communities in the suburbs and villages around York. Ward Committees had suffered significantly under Labour – as a result of their cuts, wards had a total budget of just £75,000 across the city.

Our manifesto promised to change this and ‘re-establish proper Ward Committees as a way to put power and budgets back in the hands of local residents’.

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Young people and grammar schools

 

This is the slightly edited text of the speech to party conference on Sunday 18th September, moving the motion with the same title. The text of the motion can be seen here.

We believe in social mobility, but social mobility is more than simply plucking a few from disadvantaged backgrounds, by unreliable assessment and unfair procedures, at the age of 11.

In any case, all-embracing division at age 11 sends a damaging message about how we value each young person.

Actually, we believe in more than social mobility; we want even people who choose to stay in particular social groups to be better educated and better off. Not only is that good for them, it is necessary for our economy.

Gone are the days when unqualified youngsters from secondary modern schools could walk into a good job.

Gone, we hope are the days when an educated elite takes charge of everything and the rest are merely simple-minded servants.

Likewise we need more education for our society and our democracy; local and national governments and voluntary organisations have more complicated decisions to make, requiring greater understanding and participation on the part of all our people.

Posted in Op-eds and Speeches | Tagged and | 14 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMatthew Huntbach 27th Sep - 9:20pm
    grahame lamb Yes. It is rather a shame that the technical schools didn’t find more favour. It would be good to set up some technical...
  • User AvatarRoland 27th Sep - 9:02pm
    Re: "The BMA screwed this up" I found it a little irritating the article failed to distinguish between the BMA and the BMA's Junior Doctors’...
  • User AvatarAndrew McCaig 27th Sep - 8:35pm
    Clinton Cash is not a "documentary" BTW.. It is not exactly impartial, with the film funded by the CEO of the Trump campaign!
  • User AvatarStuart 27th Sep - 8:32pm
    "I am saddened by Labour’s demise... The public has already made up its mind about Corbyn.. The Labour party is already teetering on the edge...
  • User AvatarAndrew McCaig 27th Sep - 8:18pm
    Tsar Nicholas, Can you list the wars Hillary has started, please??
  • User AvatarBill le Breton 27th Sep - 7:52pm
    Should this now be our policy: The Continental Partnership Proposal: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexit/2016/08/29/europe-after-brexit-a-proposal-for-a-new-continental-partnership/ and some answers to reactions: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexit/2016/09/27/the-continental-partnership-proposal-a-reply-to-five-main-criticisms/