Sunday, 23 September 2012

The speech I would have given at the welfare reform debate



I put in a speaker's card to speak at the Debate on Equal Citizenship- supporting independence for sick and disabled people.  I was not chosen to speak so here is what I would have said. I am very disappointed that I didn't get to speak because I felt that somebody should have stood up for Remploy at a Lib Dem conference. 

Good afternoon conference. I joined the Liberal Democrats and gave my first conference 

speech at the age of 10. I am now 13. Being in government seemed a distant dream then but I 

firmly believed that if ever we were elected we would make a huge difference to the lives of the 

vulnerable.

 Now we are in government and do you know what the irony is for me? That the current welfare 

situation affecting the sick and disabled is one that I would have imagined happening without 

our influence.  

I support lines 28 to 31 but there has to be a recognition that many disabled and ill people can only enjoy full and equal citizenship within the limits of their condition and, quite often, by depending on others. 

 One word will sum up the nonsense of the welfare to work discourse of the Government. Remploy. This is a group of factories that employs disabled people and 27 out of 54 have been closed. Never mind that Remploy was actually manufacturing things like electronics, textiles and furniture.- a Vince Cable dream. There is a table in my classroom made by Remploy and it is the one of the only tables that is stable.

 This slash and burn Government ignores its’ crucial role in supporting disability. Fellow Liberal Democrats, by scrapping DLA the recipients stand to lose an allowance that pays for ways to be independent – calling for a taxi, getting a carer or buying special equipment for home use. 90,000 motability cars and scooters will be repossessed. Here’s another irony – DLA will be replaced by a scheme called Personal Independence Payments (PIP). Independence? 

Even our great Paralympians needed DLA. Natasha Baker, Britain’s dressage champion who won gold used DLA to pay for her petrol.  Surely we didn’t go into government to practise butch politics where ministers accuse disabled employed people of sitting around drinking cups of tea all day.

 I am a Liberal Democrat because of our stated values, ‘no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals”
 Fellow LibDems That’s why we have had Remploy protesters outside conferences. These were protests to influence and appeal to the Lib Dem better nature which needs to come to the forefront now.

 The government needs to listen as set out in line 61. The Spartacus report was written by disabled people. Did the government listen?  

 Referring to lines 72 to 73. Independence only works if there is a society that recognises the disabled and sick as individuals worthy of respect. I deplore the way the government has actively encouraged a hostile culture towards welfare claimants. Yes, there are real life benefit scroungers. No, they aren’t the majority.

 As a young party member I ask that our leaders stand up to the moral test of social justice. Who do we want to be the real winners of the Paralympic spirit? Atos? ESA? Or Liberal Values? 
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Friday, 21 September 2012

As The Troops Gather in Brighton

Wow! Has there been a bigger heralding of conference time than an apology from the leader of the party to the nation? 'Sorry' is going to be the dominant word of this conference. I think it is fair to say that this conference will be a fractious one but perhaps it is time to have that difficult talk.

The recent conferences that we have had since May 2010 have been far too complacent. We listened to Nick telling us that there was no other choice but to go into coalition with the Tories ( I still think that this is correct) and then we patted ourselves on the back for being martyrs to the cause of austerity cuts. Somewhere along the way we lost our identity but kept justifying our actions and Nick's actions. The cuts aren't working, borrowing is going up and there are no jobs.  Membership is down.

My hope as a youth member is that this conference will see frank debate which will help us re-establish our identities and sense of direction. A sort of back to basics 5 days is what I am hoping for.


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Monday, 17 September 2012

The Indian Rubber of Flexible Labour Markets



Almost everyday there is talk of how much more flexible our labour market needs to be to accommodate growth in jobs. I have been thinking about this and something seems wrong. Mind you, I am no economist but the sums do not add up.

There is less money to spend because salaries are being frozen, people are having to take pay cuts, people are losing their jobs and the expenditure of people on benefits is being slashed. Where is the consumer spending money  going to come from if labour markets are being squeezed, bent and twisted?

We can't end up with rock bottom wages like it is in China and India because the cost of living in the UK is higher. So where is the sensible pressure for competition for the UK to have even more flexible labour markets coming from? A neoliberal agenda or a realistic economic necessity? 
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Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Taliban Child Victims

Korshid. One of the children who was killed in this attack.

How can this happen in the world? In modern society? The Taliban sent a 14 year old boy as a suicide bomber to blow up Nato headquarters in Kabul.  Four of the children who were killed, aged 12-16, sold trinkets and chewing gum to soldiers and diplomats. They were close friends and shared the money they earned to help their families. Those children already led difficult lives and they were happy but even that was taken away from them. I want to remember these children and hope that children will no longer be the victims of adult's fighting.
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Saturday, 1 September 2012

A Child Says Conventions Need a Crèche



Democrats hold their convention next week and it is creating waves of the wrong sort. The Democrat's convention isn't providing a crèche and every single little person including babies have to be registered. Democrats are well known for being the party that supports women's rights and I find it shocking that a major American party is limiting Women's attendance at their national convention.

Childcare is an issue even for non-feminist women and providing childcare is the entry point for mothers to be able to participate. I should know! I cut my political teeth at a few Lib Dem crèches years ago. If the Lib Dems hadn't provided subsidised childcare my mother couldn't have attended conference. Because of the childcare provided at conference I am where I am now.

Come on Dems! Can you provide childcare? Yes you can!  Just think, one of those children who needs the crèche may be the future President of America and may give the GOP  a thwacking that it deserves. You never know.
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