The Assisted Dying Bill: A necessary evil?

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When is it justified for the paternal state to relinquish its grasp?

Recent comments made by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey with regards to the Assisted Dying Bill mark a significant blow to opposition campaigners against the bill. In the Daily Mail, he writes: “Today we face a central paradox. In strictly observing the sanctity of life, the Church could now actually be promoting anguish and pain, the very opposite of a Christian message of hope.” Lord Carey’s words coupled with retired Anglican bishop Desmond Tutu’s follow up: “I revere the sanctity of life – but not at any cost.” [1] This means that the debate on assisted suicide can no longer be made solely on the grounds of Christian reasoning. Support of euthanasia can be framed on the fundamental principle of hope for an individual through the relieving of their suffering.

The Assisted Dying Bill would allow a terminally ill individual who is six months from death to end their life early through a lethal injection administered by a doctor. These patients will have to be mentally competent and two independent doctors must judge that the patient made an informed decision to end the end their life before the procedure can go ahead.

Whilst religious concerns were addressed, the opposition campaign have raised the problem of one’s choice over euthanasia being motivated extrinsically. It is an issue that was raised by Baroness Grey-Thompson in an interview with the New Statesman.

“Choice is a word that’s frequently used in this debate but there’s a very fine line between genuine choice and people making the decision that they feel they should to help other people. I could see why at a really low point in your life, you could think that was the only choice you have. If this law gets through, we’ll never know how many people will have been forced or encouraged to do it. It might be none. But I’d like the data to prove that, and the danger is that it’ll no longer be measured.” [2]

It is hoped however that the use of two independent doctors will directly tackle this concern as they will judge whether there was outside pressure which proved influential enough to obscure the individual’s choice in ending their life.

Yet this process of judging the underlying motivations behind one’s decision is open to scrutiny. Baroness Hollins, a former president of both the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Psychiatrists has raised these difficulties, going further to state that there are “no possible safeguards” which can adequately protect the vulnerable.

Furthermore, in a letter written to the Telegraph by opponents to the bill including Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, who suffers from a degenerative illness, and the chair of the disability charity Scope, Dr Alice Maynard,  fears were expressed that inequality towards disabled and older people would be reinforced if the bill was to pass.[3]

“Why is it that when people who are not disabled want to commit suicide, we try to talk them out of it, but when a disabled person wants to commit suicide, we focus on how we can make that possible?

“We believe that the campaign to legalise assisted suicide reinforces deep-seated beliefs that the lives of sick and disabled people are not worth as much as other people’s; that if you are disabled or terminally ill, it’s not worth being alive.

“Disabled people want help to live – not to die.” [4]

Taking these views into consideration, it is important to note that giving disabled people the chance to escape from their pain signifies that they are being listened to, appreciated and henceforth they are considered seriously. This chance means giving them a choice to determine their fate but it does not suggest they are pushed into a decision. Through this choice, they are treated equally with a non-disabled person who also has the same choice.

Moreover disabled people do have help to live. Modern medicine and the continual advancement in medical research allows lives to be extended whilst personal carers ensure that the quality of life for the disabled improves. Additional measures such as the Equality Act further ensure this.

As for whether disabled people want help to die, this is a deeply personal matter dependent on the individual. If one was to hit the psychological wall where they wish to no longer suffer then to deny them the chance to escape further pain would only bring further pain onto them.

It is for these reasons why the Assisted Dying Bill is an admirable attempt to provide the terminally ill with choice. To give them the chance to end their lives should their pain become unbearable. Of course there are problems regarding how an individual’s motivations can be ascertained but these problems are likely to remain for some time. The passing through of this bill will signal that the views of the terminally ill are being listened to, are appreciated and thus they are being treated equally and so whilst not perfect, the bill offers the best way to address the concerns of the terminally ill.

By Avision Ho, LSESU Liberal Democrats

[1] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2689295/Carey-Ive-changed-mind-right-die-On-eve-Lords-debate-ex-Archbishop-dramatically-backs-assisted-death-law.html

[2] http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/07/tanni-grey-thompson-assisted-dying-people-come-me-and-say-i-wouldn-t-want-live-if-i

[3] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10875799/Assisted-dying-plan-like-telling-disabled-its-not-worth-being-alive-Tanni-Grey-Thompson.html

[4] http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/07/tanni-grey-thompson-assisted-dying-people-come-me-and-say-i-wouldn-t-want-live-if-i

Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and President of the Party, tells us why he is a proud Lib Dem!

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(1) Why are you a Liberal Democrat? 

I am a liberal democrat because I believe in fairness, equality and opportunity for all.  I do not believe markets should run rampant but neither do I believe the state should do everything.  I am a liberal – I believe that the state has a role.  My view is shaped by the 1980’s when I looked around the class room in Lancashire, I saw half of the kids parents, including mine, out of work and I knew that something had to be done.  I went home and joined the Liberals and fought to make Britain fairer, more just and more equal.

(2)    Which historical figure has influenced your political views the most? 

Does Paddy Ashdown count?  His passion, determination and vision was essential as he brought us back from near oblivion – he always stood for the liberal cause, no matter the cost.  In Charles Kennedy too we saw someone who was prepared to be unpopular in order to do what was right.

But historically I’d have to say Beveridge – he helped create a political consensus and created the welfare state. The Liberal MP for Berwick for just one year but someone who had the audacity to dream the bid idea and shape politics in a more liberal way.  Politics nowadays has too many managers and not enough ‘can-do’ visionaries.  Perhaps my most lasting influence has been the late Neva Orrell.  She was a councillor in Lancashire from 1960 through to her death in 2002 – more than anyone she embodied the practical commitment to community politics, selfless service to the people who elected her and the never-say-die Liberal spirit.

(3)    Have you ever doubted your Liberal values?

I don’t walk around with a cock-sure belief that I’m right about everything, but I don’t think I doubt my over all philosophy of the freedom of the individual and a belief in the fullest extent of freedom i.e. not just political and personal freedom, but social and economic freedom to. In other words, you are not free if you are too poor to exercise your freedom.

(4)    How do you feel about retaining your seat in 2015?

 That’s for people here in Westmorland to decide and I never take anything for granted.  In recent years our local election results have been very good. We won 2 seats from the conservatives in 2012 and a further two in 2013. But we will keep working and fighting on the issues that local people care about and our track record of achievements until 2015.

(5)    In your opinion, who has been the greatest Liberal British Prime Minister of all time?  

This was a tough choice between Lloyd George and Asquith.  I think I’d choose Asquith.  As Prime Minister, he led the Liberal party to a series of major domestic reforms, including social insurance and the reduction of the power of the House of Lords.

Many of the major reforms popularly associated with Lloyd George as “the man who won the war” were actually implemented by Asquith.  He was not a war time leader but he was a fantastic Prime Minister.

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A quick note to you from the Chair of IR Cymru

Nine months ago if I had said IR Cymru to you, I am 100% sure most of  you would have quizzically responded: ‘come-again? Not today. In the last 9 months Liberal Youth Wales have gone from strength to strength.

IR Cymru now has 7 branches in every corner of Wales, and we’ve almost trebled our membership. With a strong team behind it, we at the IR Cymru Executive have re-launched our website, we have fundraised to pay for Freshers, and we have done the single largest membership drive in our history, jumping massively from 88 members to well over 200.

This is not all. Within weeks of re-launching, our Policy Officer, Rhys Taylor, had written our now very familiar Fairer Fares transport policy. We then took this not only to Welsh Liberal Democrat conference and had it passed unanimously, but also took it to Liberal Youth Conference in Manchester and had it passed there too.

Speaking of which, we are extremely proud this November to be hosting Liberal Youth Conference in our Capital, Cardiff. We have lined up guest speakers and events to show you all the best Wales, the Welsh Liberal Democrats, and IR Cymru have to offer. We will be giving you a VIP tour, by our South Wales Central Regional Assembly Member Eluned Parrot AM, of the Senedd (the Welsh Assembly). We will be welcomed to Cardiff by none-other than the Lib Dems junior whip Jenny Willott MP, and we will be giving you another opportunity to experience another of Kirsty Williams AM’s, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, unique fire brand speeches which we have all come to know and love. If you do not know and love them yet you will be sure to by the end of Cardiff Liberal Youth Conference.

As Chair of IR Cymru I am already incredibly proud that in less than 12 months IR Cymru has gone from nought to sixty. We have been at the top table when Liberal Youth have been driving through immense changes to help represent the membership better. In IR Cymru this has been a commitment which has driven us forward, reaching out to more members in more branches and instilling faith once more in Liberal Youth Wales and what it has to offer our members.

I would like to personally invite you to join us at Conference in Cardiff and experience first-hand not only what Wales has to offer, we will be bringing Welsh Cakes, but to come to the land of David Lloyd George, where the Liberal movement grew strong and is growing strong once more. Our promise to you is Conference in Cardiff will be like no other conference before it, just as IR Cymru has done things like no other Liberal Youth organisation before it.

I look forward to seeing you on November 8th.

 Sam Bennett

Chair of IR Cymru

@bennett_sam

Liberal Youth: Fancy a trip to Newquay with Steve Gilbert MP?

Stephen Gilbert is inviting you to Newquay from Friday 18th October to Saturday 20th October 2013. 

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Steve and the team have planned a weekend of surfing, leaflet delivery, door-knocking, and eating out.  We’ll probably also visit a few bars if anyone fancies it…

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If you would like to come join Steve and the St Austell and Newquay team (including my good self), then the local party will pay for your accommodation, food (a mixture of take-aways, eating out, and Cornish pasties), surfing, and an evening event, in return for a few campaign sessions.  The local party have secured a deal on some pretty snazzy accommodation, so everyone will be staying in the same place, in order to add to the fun!

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Don’t worry if you haven’t been out campaigning before, as we’ll teach you anything you need to know!  Of course, if you’re an experienced campaigner, then that’d also be super useful.

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Steve has also invited friends from across the party, and would love it if you’d also invite your Lib Dem mates…  We’ve got an online sign-up sheet here; http://bit.ly/16YNQIP, and if you’re on Facebook you can also tell everyone that you’re attending by clicking here: http://on.fb.me/19byDcY

 

I’m excited for the weekend, and I’d love it if you joined us! 

 

Any questions then do feel free to email any of us; my own email address is: Rebecca.tidy@googlemail.com

Interview your MP!

 

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Why not interview you local Lib Dem MP!

If your MP is not a Lib Dem, why not contact MP’s beyond your constituency!

This opportunity is open to all, whether you are a school leaver, university, college or school student.

Our aim at ‘The Libertine Blog’ is to have all 55 Liberal Democrat MP’s interviewed by September 2014!

There are five questions which all MP’s must be asked:

(1)    Why are you a Liberal Democrat?

(2)    Which historical figure has influenced your political views the most?

(3)    Have you ever doubted your Liberal values?

(4)    How do you feel about retaining your seat in 2015?

(5)    In your opinion, who has been the greatest Liberal British Prime Minister of all time?  

Please send your completed interviews to mtavares2@hotmail.co.uk. If you have any questions about the task, don’t hesitate to contact the same email address.

Best of luck from everyone here at The Libertine!

Young People Don’t Need Independence to Feel Scottish

By Eilidh Macfarlane

Today marks one year until the Scottish independence referendum. Michael Moore and Nick Clegg have made speeches in Glasgow where they have set out their arguments for why Scotland should remain part of the UK. Better Together and Yes Scotland will also be campaigning across the country today and this weekend, drawing attention to the important decision us Scots are going to have to make in 12 months’ time.

The referendum is a political issue that engages people who aren’t normally interested in politics. Even those who are normally apathetic realise the importance next year’s vote will have for all our futures, not just in Scotland but across the whole UK. Many of my friends are signed up members of the Better Together campaign, despite not being active, or even particularly interested, in party politics. The myth that young people are more pro-independence is being proved to be just that – a myth.

When I asked Michael Moore at his webinar about how we can convince young people their future will be better as part of the UK, he spoke about how young Scots today are comfortable with having a mixed identity – they can be proud to be Scottish, proud to be British and even proud to be European! In my experience most young people are passionate unionists as well as proud Scots, although many people from my area would also add Highlander to their cultural identity. Independence simply isn’t necessary for young people to feel Scottish.

 

 

Some already hold strong opinions – however others, of all ages, feel there is a lack of information and have still to make up their minds. It is crucial that Better Together convinces these people that a United Kingdom means a stronger Scotland in the next year. We’re currently part of the sixth largest economy in the world and one in five workers in Scotland are employed by an English, Welsh or Northern Irish firm. When we work together we are stronger than any of our individual parts, and this strength and security would be put at risk by independence.

The UK is about more than jobs though – it’s a family, and so many people living in Scotland have connections that reach across the border. 800,000 Scots live and work in England and Wales without needing papers or passports and I’m about to join their number. I start university in England next month, so for the next three years I’m going to be spending almost exactly half my time in England and half in Scotland. I don’t feel like I’m about to move abroad – I have family and friends down South. It’s this personal connection that makes the difference for so many people. In an increasingly globalised world, building barriers and separating families just doesn’t make sense. Liberalism should be about tearing down the barriers the nationalists are trying to build up, and that’s exactly what we’re trying to do as we play an active part in the Better Together campaign. 

As a Better Together activist I’ve been giving people in my local area more information about why Scotland is stronger as part of the UK. I’ve delivered only a few hundred of the four million leaflets which have been distributed by Better Together supporters, but we need more help to spread the message – it’s so easy to sign up online and get involved.

Although the polls are in our favour, there’s no room for complacency. The next year will go very quicklyeven with ‘Braveheart’ on a loop on the TV. We are stronger when we work together as part of an incredibly successful union which can continue to deliver for Scotland, giving us our own decision making powers in Holyrood as well as the strength and security of Westminster. So anyone who believes that if Scotland stays part of the UK we can continue to work together to build a stronger economy in a fairer society should sign up at http://bettertogether.net/.

Eilidh Macfarlane @petiteliberal is President of Highland Liberal Youth @HighlandLY 
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The Liberal Democrats and Republicanism: In conversation with Julian Huppert MP (Part 2)

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(5)   Will the eradication of monarchy ever be a priority for the Party?

It’s something I’m always aware of and I think it matters for the identity of the Party. I think there will be interesting times when the current Queen stops reigning, whether she abdicates or dies. I think that will be a very important moment to try to engage the country on the issue of Republicanism.

You have to accept the current Queen is personally popular. There are lots of polls done about politicians which always find that local MP’s are more popular than MP’s in general.  It’s harder to conduct a poll comparing this current Queen to the concept of monarch. I would suspect that she would substantially outperform her job if such a poll were to be conducted. That transition point will therefore be an important one for a widespread re-evaluation of the institution of monarchy. That for me is a really important opportunity to change the way the system works.

(6)   Do you think the reaction to recent events, the Diamond Jubilee and Royal birth included, demonstrates the long term security of the monarchy?

These events have certainly bolstered support for the monarchy. We will have to wait and see. However, I don’t think Charles is as personally popular.

(7)   How do you think a specifically Liberal Democrat case for a Republic differs from that of other parties?

If you look at our fundamental values, we exist to create a free, fair and open society, where no one is enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. It is not a free and fair society if there is somebody who by birth right is in charge, however nominally. I don’t think it helps to free others from enslavement if individuals are put into certain roles based on their birth right. It’s the hereditary aspect which is the central problem.

(8)   On a more theoretical level, how do you think Liberalism makes a better case for Republicanism, than Socialism does?

In my opinion, one of the core principles of Liberalism is about equality of opportunity. A monarchy flies in the face of this sole principle. It is less objectionable because it so curtailed. I think Liberals would unite against the prospect of a powerful monarch. There would be no question about that whatsoever.

I am not sure I can necessarily argue from a Socialist perspective. I am not always entirely sure which parties are Socialist in the UK. From the Socialist perspective, one may defend Republicanism on the basis of equality. Yet I believe it is important to distinguish economic and social equality from equality of opportunity.

From historical experience, Socialism has had a ‘big man effect’, where support of a sole figurehead has become a reality. However, there is a perfectly viable Social Democratic case for a Republic as well. This case is connected to certain Liberal values, but is not a clear cut connection.

(9)   If I am right in saying that your opposition to the institution of monarchy stems from a belief in the principle of equality of opportunity, how would you respond to the claim that Liberalism does not result in a level balanced playing field?

I think Liberalism in its purest form makes the playing field fair. It’s doesn’t ensure that every classroom has the same number of students. That’s why we shouldn’t conflate notions of equality with equality of opportunity. It results in a massive oversimplification if we do. Equality of opportunity is of course different from the more general notion of equality.

If you want a literary example with the problems of equality, there is a wonderful story called ‘Harrison Bergeron’ . It is a short story written by Kurt Vonnegut which is set in a world where everybody is equal. So, if you are particularly strong, you have to carry weights at all times to stop you being able to move faster than anybody else. If you are attractive, you are obliged to wear fake deformities. That is a form of equality which I do not want to see.

The playing field shouldn’t be stacked one way or the other. But I don’t want the score to always be ten all.

(10)   What alternative constitutional model do you support?

I think there are a range of constitutional models that one could have. As long as it fits with the principles which I have previously outlined, I am not attached to a specific alternative. We are not at the stage right now where next week we have to decide which form to go for.

From my perspective, it’s very fundamental to tackle the issue of inheritance of power. The arrangements regarding an elected and accountable Head of State would result in a secondary decision. However, once this decision is made it would make it easier for us to determine what the Head of State’s powers actually are; to what extent they are a figurehead; to what extent are they powerful.

(11)   How would you respond to claims that the US style presidential model is the only alternative constitutional model?

I would disagree that the US style presidential model is the only alternative. For instance, South Africa, Israel and a huge range of countries share a twin approach where the President is a nominal figurehead.

I am not sure I would particularly want a US style presidential model. However, I am relatively relaxed about exactly what form might be chosen. Then again, I would probably lean towards the prospect of a more ceremonial figure.

Conference: The Good, the Bad, and the Awesome

By Rebecca Tidy

It’s under a week until the Lib Dem Autumn conference, which incidentally, features a number of Liberal Youth organized events, including, the LY Welcome Reception, Rounders in the Park, and Is Teenage Depression being Ignored?

This is the first in a series of short blog posts where Liberal Youth members have been asked to discuss the good, the bad, and the awesome parts of conference!  If you would like to contribute a post to this series then please email Rebecca on Rebecca.tidy@liberalyouth.org

The Good

  • The amazing training sessions.  I’m looking forward to enhancing my Connect knowledge further.

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  • The RSPCA fringe.  I love animals.  I love food.  Free food, whilst we talk about how to help animals?  I’m there.  With bells on.

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  • Liberal Democrat bingo.  Nine well-known Lib Dems, or well-known Lib Dem-ish things, e.g. sandals, and socks, on a piece of paper, and the first person to get as full house wins.

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By the way, as can be seen  above, the Lib Dems were way ahead of the trend on socks with sandals (much like with our policies).

The Bad

  • Any kind of debate about taxation.  It has to be the most boring thing ever.  Why do Lib Dems care quite so much about taxation?  Are we obsessed with it?  You can guarantee that any event focused upon taxation will be bursting at the seams, and you will have to stand up at the back if you don’t get there 20 minutes early…
  • Creepy guys that think it’s okay to hit on you because they are higher up the political, or socio-economic pecking order.  Two words, and the second one is off!  That said, it is good for a bit of entertainment :)

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The Awesome

  • Meeting new people interested in liberal policies, and making society a better place…

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  • Getting to catch up with everyone that I haven’t seen in at least a year.  Those people from that by-election 3 years ago, your favourite MP, that fun organizer from the North of England, that drunk person you haven’t seen since you were in the Jury’s Inn bar in Birmingham in 2011…?

Rebecca works as a Constituency Organiser for the St Austell and Newquay Liberal Democrats.  She tweets at @rebecca_tidy.

The Liberal Democrats and Republicanism: In conversation with Julian Huppert MP (PART 1)

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Julian Huppert MP interview

On the 4th September, I interviewed Julian Huppert, Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge.  Julian is an advocate of British Republicanism and supports the aims of the British pressure group ‘Republic’. 

‘THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. ‘                                 ‘HARRISON BERGERON’ by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

(1)   Why do you support the aims of the pressure group Republic?

For as long as I can remember. It’s just felt intrinsically wrong to me that there should be an unelected head of state. The idea that somebody has that role, however curtailed now, by birthright, just doesn’t fit with my sense of social justice, my sense of equality. It doesn’t fit with any of my fundamental beliefs.

In no sense do I bear the current monarch any ill doing. I actually think she does the job extremely well. I don’t share an anti Queen approach. It’s the fact of the institution, of the role. It’s what it says about our country. It’s about the extended influence of the royal family. Whilst I think the Queen does her job very well, there are some real questions over Prince Charles’ lobbying activities. I think there is a real red line there.

If you wish to have a very powerful unaccountable, unelected position, there have to be constraints, as you will accept yourself. It’s a frustration with that whole concept. And then you find all the other things which are connected, like the Duchy of Cornwall and the instance of where someone dies without a will, and a whole series of archaic and bizarre aspects of our legal system. For example, the fact that there is consent required from the royal family for various pieces of parliamentary legislation. I just don’t think it is the right way to go.

For me, it’s always been an intrinsic sense that this is not how I would design a constitutional system.

(2)   What are your views on the global image of the British monarchy?

I think there are two halves to it. Firstly, there is no doubt that the monarchy is popular around the rest of the world. There is no doubt that there are people who come for tourist activities. There is no question at all about that. However, I have to say that tourists would still visit royal attractions, even if the institution of monarchy no longer existed.  Yet, there is no doubt that there are positive aspects which result from the global brand which is the British monarchy.  I am not going to pretend that is not the case.

Secondly, the institution of monarchy also puts us (Britain) in a difficult position when trying to convince others to become more democratic. How can we convince others to stop handing power to their nearest and dearest, when this process is taking place in Britain?  Indeed, the counter claim that the British monarch only has theoretical powers is a weak argument. It doesn’t sit very well with me.

There are also substantial financial costs. We are supporting an entire royal family. We are not just talking about a monarch and immediate family. It is far more extended than that.

The existence of the monarchy is also connected to other archaic elements of British politics. For instance, the fact we also have hereditary peers in the House of Lords; that we still have an unelected House of Lords; that we still have bishops in the House of Lords. All of these things have a large influence on how our country is governed. While again, some of those people do fantastic work, overall I don’t think it’s the right way to move forward.  

(3)   Do you think that the elitism associated with British politics is a consequence of the monarchy?

I think it’s connected. Yet, I don’t think it is as quite simple as that. If you look at the European countries which still have monarchies, I suspect there wouldn’t be a very strong correlation. In some Scandinavian countries, the institution of monarchy is very low key and so I don’t think it’s necessarily the case. However, I think that sense of the old way of doing things does cause real concerns. On a philosophical level, I am quite attracted to the works of (John) Rawls and his idea of the ‘veil of ignorance’. If any of us were going to design how British society would work, knowing we would adopt any randomly allocated role within it, very few of us would choose to make it a monarchy. One would not choose a system where nominally the top position is granted by inheritance.

(4)   How do you feel republican values can be promoted within the party?

I do not think the issue of monarchy simply breaks down on party political lines. There are a number of Liberal Democrats who are actively involved with ‘Republic’. I think one of the issues is that whilst I am a very staunch Republican, if I was told I could change any one thing in the entire country, eradicating the institution of monarchy is probably not it. I think there is an issue that there is a limit to the number of political campaigns one is actively devoted to.

On the other hand, there is a way of engaging with Party members. Most Liberal Democrats would agree that there are problems with the theoretical concentration of power in one hereditary position. 

 

The Better Together campaign, the campaign to keep Scotland part of the United Kingdom, hosted a dedicated Ross-Shire launch event at the National Hotel in Dingwall on August 31st. The event saw senior politicians from across political parties join together in a public Q&A session. An informative event with thanks to the three speakers; Mary Scanlon MSP (Conservative), Rhoda Grant MSP (Labour) and Charles Kennedy MP (Liberal Democrat).

It is great to see the upcoming referendum as a catalyst for political debate in our country. Indeed, it is even better to see so many young people engaged with politics and extending the right to vote to 16 & 17 year olds, which Liberal Youth Scotland campaigned for, has certainly helped to ensure issues relating to young people are central to this debate. It should be emphasised further how very few issues would have attracted such a turnout for a political Q&A. Therefore, special thanks should go to the members of the public who packed out the Seaforth room in Dingwall and made the launch such an occasion.

The feeling of the room was very clear. Indeed, it was a direct reflection of the response we have been getting in both the Highlands and across Scotland. So many local people have expressed their support and wish to remain in the UK. However, no campaign must allow itself to be complacent. There is no doubt it will be a tough vote. Indeed, the Better Together campaign will fight hard to ensure that local people have the facts to make this decision.

A key issue raised by the public was on the case for more powers. It is clear from the polling data released by the DevoPlus Scotland group that 59% of Scots are firmly against independence. Furthermore, it indicated that a large percentage of Scots want to see more powers. Indeed, the people I speak to are calling for action to deliver more local decision making here in the Highlands. This is crucial. Independence would only geographically move centralised decision making from London to Edinburgh. Independence would not empower rural communities here in the Highlands. If we are to really deliver local decision making by local people we need a settlement that works. There is a growing political consensus for more local powers. I believe that can only be delivered if we vote to stay ‘better together’ in the UK. A ‘No’ vote does and will mean change.

However, this campaign can only be won with the support of the public. Whether you’ve campaigned before or not; if you believe Scotland is stronger as a part of the UK – we need you. To get in touch please email peter@bettertogether.net.

David Green

David is currently President of Liberal Youth Scotland and former Constituency Organiser for Charles Kennedy MP and the Highland Liberal Democrats. David is in his 4th year at the University of Aberdeen, studying Politics. You can follow him on twitter at ‘DavidMGreen92′.

Better Together Launches in Ross-Shire

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