The Reagan Show – an absorbing portrait of a master communicator in the White House

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The Reagan Show is a CNN Films movie released in the UK earlier this month. After showing in a few cinemas it is now available on iTunes, Sky, Amazon, GooglePlay and YouTube.

The film uses the mountain of archive “behind-the-scenes” and in-front-of-the-scenes footage recorded during the Ronald Reagan Presidency. There are some great clips and there is a particularly compelling portrait of his work with Mikhail Gorbachev to eventually sign the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. We’re reminded that Gorbachev too was a showman, and that the two struck up quite a close working friendship.

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Just a joke, love

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I blame Strictly Come Dancing. Autumn last year my son and I are settling down to watch our regular two hour marathon of sequins and emotion when he pipes up that he fancies a Chinese takeaway. Doting Mum, off I trot down the high street to fulfill my youngest’s whim. It is not even 7pm in a sleepy market town and stepping out into the evening holds no fears. But as I pass the Crown Hotel and then the Baker’s Arms my path is blocked by two young men. The shorter one is almost face to face with me and as I side step him he side steps too, blocks my path again and blows smoke in my face. Having enjoyed my discomfort for a few seconds off they go giggling into the evening.

The cemetery down the road a few weeks ago. Broad daylight. I am at one end of the cemetery -three teenagers at the other. I have caught their attention and they clearly have not yet clocked that I am old enough to be their mum (ye Gods, their grandma even). As they come towards me one of them starts: “Are you going to say hello to us? Are you going to say hello to us? Are you going to..” He becomes more sheepish when he gets closer and realises my seniority but he does not want to back down in front of his mates and keeps on at me, tailing off as his mates snigger and I swerve onto another path. I am all too conscious that that path leads me deeper into the churchyard with no means of escape if things escalate. They wonder off, doubtless to continue studying for their A’Levels at the sixth form college down the road and then home to Mum.

A month ago. A new low. This time I am accompanied. A late evening walk with my son and husband. We are just going past my son’s old school.  My son is on his bike and freewheels on ahead followed closely by my husband. I fall back a few metres and have noticed a couple of lads hanging around. I turn round to look as they don’t seem altogether benign. I am greeted with: “You’ve got a big butt.” (technically not inaccurate but a somewhat unnecessary observation to a complete stranger).”I said you’ve got a big butt.” I offer them a cheery expletive (feeling safe to risk antagonising them because my husband is not that far away) and receive a rapid stream of f-words. 

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A vision for Vince

Our nation is at a crossroads, if we take the wrong path we could fall off the cliff. Britain lacks strong leadership, there is no clear vision and there is certainly no plan. Our country is confused, our people are perplexed and our neighbours think we are crazy.

And above all our governments have consistently neglected the prosperity of our people, the millions who everyday are struggling with unnecessary financial hardship; Promises have been made but there has been no follow through. We have been sold austerity as inevitable when prosperity is possible.

Politics for the privileged is no longer acceptable, the people want change, they told us that with the referendum vote, they told us that with the 2017 election. While the Liberal Democrats did not do nearly as well as we would like, we undoubtedly have  appealing values and policies but we just did not communicate the message clearly.

Our party has a huge opportunity but a very short window to make a big impact. The other two parties are in chaos, lacking strong leadership and direction. We must seize the chance, to make sure that more and more voters know what we stand for, and realise we offer the best way forward. For we are the party of common sense, of moderation but we are also a progressive party, with progressive fresh ideas, the radical centre, the real alternative.

We need a clear vision for our party, our country and its place in the world. Not with empty rhetoric but with real practical proposals that are inclusive and make a real difference to real people. A vision to unite our country, to create change, to move us forward with a clear direction, which will bring the opportunity of, shared prosperity for all.

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Dear Theresa, You’re either hopelessly out of touch or not being straight with us

On 19th October 2017, we received a letter from Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, ahead of her meeting with the European Council as part of the UK’s Brexit negotiations. Given that she had taken the trouble to write to us, we thought it only polite to reply. This is our response.

Dear Theresa,

Thank you for your letter explaining what you are doing to secure the rights of European Union citizens living in the United Kingdom and of UK citizens living in other EU member states. We were relieved to hear that you are taking this issue so seriously. Because your actions and those of your government since the referendum in June 2016 have given a very different impression.

You say that the rights of EU and UK citizens are your first priority. This is reassuring. But it would be slightly more reassuring, we feel, if it had not taken you sixteen months to come to this conclusion. You have left three million EU citizens living in the UK and over a million UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU in a state of increasing anxiety. And you have done nothing.

The freedom of European Union citizens to live and work without hindrance in any of the twenty eight member states has been one of the most positive and profound impacts of our collective European endeavour. As a married couple of one British citizen (Simon) and one German national (Natalie), it has formed the bedrock of our shared life together. And of the future plans that now lie in tatters. And we are not alone.

The three million EU citizens living in the UK work hard, pay their taxes and contribute to our society. They are our doctors and our nurses. They are our office workers, our builders and our taxi drivers. They crew our fishing boats, they look after our elderly and, yes, they pick our strawberries. But your inaction has created a climate where they no longer feel welcome. Where they fear for their future.

And it is not just these individuals who are affected, Theresa. You have left their – often British – spouses, their children, their friends and their employers in a state of enduring limbo, too. Punctured with vile threats from various members of your government about complex registration procedures, loss of rights, compulsory fingerprinting, exorbitant fees and more. Oh, and with your Home Office writing to numerous EU citizens demanding that they make immediate preparations to leave the UK.

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Lib Dems step up attack on Universal Credit

Liberal Democrats have played their part in making sure that the inadequacies of Universal Credit have been highlighted. In the debate on Wednesday,  Christine Jardine said:

We hear that, instead of it helping, as many as 1 million children could be pushed into poverty by 2020. That surely cannot be the legacy that my Conservative colleagues would want to leave for future generations. They surely cannot be content with what they are hearing in this Chamber from constituents and even their own Back Benchers: that families are facing rent arrears and the threat of losing their homes; that there is anxiety about missed payments; and that people are choosing between making those payments or feeding their families.

Citizens Advice Scotland has already seen more than 100,000 people, one in five of whom have waited more than six weeks for payments—and only 14 areas in Scotland have UC. We stand at an important crossroads: the Government have the opportunity to pause UC, address its many flaws and say to those coping with the cruel reality of this botched benefit reform, “We hear you. We recognise the problem and we will fix it.”

Stephen Lloyd caught Iain Duncan Smith out one of those economic with the truth moments:

Secondly, the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr Duncan Smith), a former Secretary of State, said that the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has supported universal credit. I was a bit surprised by that, so I did a quick check. The JRF actually said that it would support universal credit if it was properly funded—I just mentioned the £3 billion—and if payment and waiting times were reduced, which is exactly what many people have been saying today.

The media reports yesterday that the Government is ready to make changes on the amount of time people are waiting for money, but that isn’t the only problem with Universal Credit. It’s interesting that Labour now accepts the principles behind Universal Credit – that it should end the poverty trap. Until the Tories got a majority, that’s exactly what it would have done. There was enough money in there to ensure that people could move into work and not lose their benefits. Then May 2015 happened and George Osborne took billions out of the system.

So, our Work and Pensions Spokesperson Stephen Lloyd and Leader Vince Cable have written to the the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to ask him to sort this out in the budget. They said:

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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #493

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 493rd weekly round-up from the Lib Dem blogosphere … Featuring the five most popular stories beyond Lib Dem Voice according to click-throughs from the Aggregator (15-21 October, 2017), together with a hand-picked seven you might otherwise have missed.

Don’t forget: you can sign up to receive the Golden Dozen direct to your email inbox — just click here — ensuring you never miss out on the best of Lib Dem blogging.

As ever, let’s start with the most popular post, and work our way down:

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Brake: Labour Brexit Bill intervention “Too little, too late”

Today’s pronouncements by Keir Starmer that Labour might, if it feels like it, work with Tories to secure some moderate changes to the EU Withdrawal Bill are hardly earth-shattering.

I can’t find the words “single market” anywhere in his red lines. Perhaps the people’s red lines are, like the Glee Club song, slightly pink. I certainly don’t think that Labour should be expecting gratitude any time soon. They are barely managing the minimum you would expect from an opposition.

Lib Dem Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake is similarly unimpressed:

It’s entertaining to see the  Labour front bench attempting to have a backbone,

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarSimon Perks 23rd Oct - 3:51pm
    @jay: A fair point. But it's a letter to Theresa May, not the EU negotiating team. And given that it's the UK that has got...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 23rd Oct - 3:46pm
    Well said, Peter Hirst. I believe that individually and in our local parties (for instance by holding anti-Brexit street stalls), we should help to build...
  • User AvatarMichael Cole 23rd Oct - 3:30pm
    @Peter Watson 23rd Oct '17 - 12:08pm, The LD support for a referendum related specifically to the Lisbon Treaty.
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 23rd Oct - 3:28pm
    Hi, David, I expected you might come back with 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions'! But you for once are unfair in...
  • User Avatarjay 23rd Oct - 3:19pm
    I notice no condemnation of the EU for refusing to enter early talks along these lines. While I certainly sympathise with people stuck in in...
  • User AvatarRuth Bright 23rd Oct - 3:17pm
    A hug from Jennie is definitely worth a thousand comments from anyone else!