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.
This means a new rejuvenated Liberal Democrat party firmly committed to Europe but also committed to sharing the wealth we all create and in so doing move the whole country from austerity to prosperity.
With Vince, we have a knowledgeable, experienced statesman, an economist and former cabinet minister who has the capability and credibility to lead this country forward to a bright future and a strong place in the world. We have front bench team with more government experience than the Labour Party. We have members than the Conservatives. We just need more votes. Our challenge is to communicate our message, so that voters know what we stand for and believe we can win.
Thankfully Vince knows we need a vision and need to sharpen our branding and presentation. Nationally a communications strategy is required that delivers our message right to the voter to support our incredible grassroots teams.
So let us create a bold vision, develop a clear strategy and propose a practical precise policy platform that is clearly understood, differentiated from other parties and truly makes life better for those that have little, not just those that have lots!
* om Burgess is Executive Director of the Progressive Policy Unit, a political advocacy group. He is the author of From Here to Prosperity, a practical policy agenda for a sustainable economy and greater social justice. Formerly CEO of an international communications firm, he has also worked as a journalist, editor, and lecturer as well in health service management. Tom Burgess is a long time political activist, a former full time student leader and founding member of the Social Democratic Party, editor of a political newspaper and has twice stood for public office.
At the end of each month I pull together a collection of links to some of the most relevant, interesting or thought-provoking web content I’ve come across during the previous month. Here’s the latest collection from August 2017.
Visualisations & Infographics
Includes static and interactive visualisation examples, infographics and galleries/collections of relevant imagery.
Washington Post | ‘What #eclipse2017 looked like across the country’
Medium | ‘041/342: Amp up! From psychedelic rock to minimalism – data viz experience.’
Visual Capitalist | ‘Animation: Comparing China vs. India Population Pyramids’
Washington Post | ‘Here’s how far you’re likely to get from America’s largest cities’
FT | ‘Bailout costs will be a burden for years’
Beautiful English | ‘Beautiful is the most common word translated to English with Google’
Morgenpost | ‘All 2559 direct candidates – who they are, what they stand for’
New York Times | ‘Alaska’s permafrost, is no longer permanent. It is starting to thaw’
Guardian | ‘Brexit talks: where are the negotiations up to?’ (Not a viz but shows value of good info design)
Scientific American | ‘Coming Soon? A Solar Eclipse Near You’
Dillon Marsh | ‘These images combine photography and computer generated elements in an effort to visualise the output of a mine’
Hindustan Times | ‘Every country’s fastest man in one race’
TheUpshot | ‘Good, Evil, Ugly, Beautiful: Help Us Make a ‘Game of Thrones’ Chart’
Washington Post | Some exceptional thematic mapping on show about Hurricane Harvey, beginning with ‘Flooding persists as Harvey downgraded to tropical depression’
Axios | …and this ‘Harvey’s energy toll’
Axios | …as well as ‘Map: Every storm that has hit Texas since 1960’
New York Times | …and ‘Maps: Tracking Harvey’s Destructive Path Through Texas and Louisiana’
Earth Observatory | …and this, predicting the likely best view of the total eclipse across the US based on then-projected clear skies
New York Times | …and finally ‘Thousands Cried for Help as Houston Flooded’
Bl.ocks | ‘Northern hemisphere sea ice extent: 1978 to 2017’ by Tom Shanley
The Science Bookstore | ‘Great Maps Department: Nationalities of Manhattan, 1894.’
Kultur Design | Wonderfully creative portfolio from the Kultur team, Polly and Mike
2q17 | ‘What was Germany looking for? Which terms were most frequently used in connection with the top candidates of the seven most searched parties on Google?’
Reuters | ‘North Korea visualised: A selection of data-driven stories from Reuters.’
ThePudding | ‘She Giggles, He Gallops: Analyzing gender tropes in film with screen direction from 2,000 scripts.’
Flickr | ‘Temperature anomalies arranged by country 1900 – 2016.’
FT | ‘Record football transfer deals within the realms of the rational’ (mainly the fascinating chart in the middle of the piece)
Washington Post | ‘The astonishing human potential wasted on commutes’
Gramener | ‘The Elvis Presley Jukebox’
John Grimwade Blog | ‘Size comparison: Side-by-sde visualisations’
Kickstarter | ‘The Golden Record: gold data visualisations from Voyager’
Fallen | The Shadow Peace is a web series that combines data-visualization and cinematic storytelling to explore the driving factors of war and peace’
The emphasis on these items is that they are less about visualisation images and are more article-focused, so includes discussion, discourse, interviews and videos
Cartonerd | ‘Too much rain for a rainbow’
Vallandingham | ‘How Long Does it Take to (Quick) Draw a Dog?’
Medium | ‘Looking at the German election through Google Trends — an interview with Moritz Stefaner’ (about the ‘2Q17’ project, above)
Lisa Charlotte Rost | ‘My Why and How of Blogging’
John Grimwade Blog | ‘On the road: A less than serious review of highways signs’
Tableau | ‘The State of Data Education in 2016: How U.S. higher education responds to the data skills gap’
Learning & Development
These links cover presentations, tutorials, academic papers, development opportunities, case-studies, how-tos etc.
Vallandingham | Talk: ‘Histograms to View Oodles of Doodles from Google’ (associated with article above)
Data Stories | Excellent episode 104 ‘Visualization Literacy in Elementary School with Basak Alper and Nathalie Riche’
AVIZ | ‘The Emerging Genre of Data Comics’
DataVizProject | ‘A website trying to present all relevant data visualizations, so you can find the right visualization and get inspired how to make them’
The Design Journal | Opinion piece: ‘Research in Graphic Design’ by Sue Walker
Journocode | ‘From the data to the story: A typical ddj workflow in R’
Source | ‘How We Made the Washington Post Eclipse-Scroller’
ESRI | ‘How-To: Missile Height Diagram’
Design Research Society | Paper: ‘Data Visualisation Does Political Things’, by Dr. Joanna Boehnert
Paint By Numbers | An oldie but I found it SO useful this month ‘A Rough Guide to Tableau Dashboard Actions’
R-Project | ‘The viridis color palettes’
Journal of Statistical Software | Paper: ‘Tidy Data’, by Hadley Wickham
Evergreen Data | ‘Visualizing Not Applicable or Missing Data’
New York Times | ‘What Music Do Americans Love the Most? 50 Detailed Fan Maps’
Includes announcements within the field, brand new/new-to-me sites, new books and generally interesting developments.
Rock the VizComm | ‘Charting the Chartists: A 2016 Survey of Data Visualization Professionals’
Twitter | Sarah Slobin’s curated an ‘open, evolving list of the female talent working with, studying and making dataviz’
ClearGraph | ‘ClearGraph joins Tableau’
Medium | ‘Introducing Semiotic for Data Visualization’
Any other items that may or may not be directly linked to data visualisation but might have a data/technology focus or just seem worthy of sharing
Medium | ‘Look (what you made me do): I illustrated 10 of my professional sins’
The Guardian | ‘Four UK news sources among top 10 most trusted in US – survey’
Twitter | ‘Map showing the most popular drinks company in each country’
Animade | It is so long ago I can’t remember specifically why I bookmarked this animated chilli dog but it is an animated chilli dog so that might be enough
CJR | ‘Q&A: Artist behind infamous New Yorker cartoon on the craft, his inspiration’
Guardian | ‘Why are there so few women in tech? The truth behind the Google memo’
Priceonomics | ‘Why Every Movie Looks Sort of Orange and Blue’
NRK beta | ‘With a quiz to comment, readers test their article comprehension’
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.
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.
You could so easily have given reassurance to these people that their rights would be protected. Or at the very least that they were not about to be rounded up by the goon squad. But you chose not to. While our family and our friends have shown nothing but love, kindness and compassion, our government has done nothing. And for that, Theresa, we are afraid that we cannot forgive you.
You complain that your government has been accused of treating EU citizens living in the UK as ‘bargaining chips’ in your negotiations with the European Union. Yet it was Liam Fox, your very own Secretary of State for International Trade (and our constituency MP), who claimed that EU citizens in the UK are ‘one of our main cards’ in negotiating a Brexit deal. So please forgive us if we find your protestations somewhat disingenuous.
You also seem a little optimistic about the current status of the negotiations between the UK and the EU.
You imply in your letter that a formal agreement is almost complete, with only minor issues left to negotiate. But that is patently not true. You must surely recognise this. There is no agreement. And there is no immediate prospect of one.
So you are, in our view, either hopelessly out of touch with your own government or not being entirely straight with us. Or, quite possibly, both.
But let us be honest, Theresa. Your letter is not really aimed at us. You have not given a monkey’s about our rights until now. You have only written to us because the European Union is furious at your lack of action in this area and you are trying desperately to dig yourself out of the colossal Brexit black hole that you, David Davis, Liam Fox, Boris Johnson and others have created.
You are not ‘putting people first’, as you claim. You are putting your government first. You are putting yourself first. You are putting your party’s ideological loathing of all things European ahead of the future of your country and of those who have chosen to call it their home.
You are right that we are seeking certainty about the future. But the only certainty here is that you and your government have failed at every turn. And one letter is not going to change that.
Natalie Fey & Simon Perks.
* Natalie Fey is a lecturer in chemistry at a Russell Group university. Simon Perks runs a specialist management consultancy practice. They have been married for 18 years and live in Somerset with Molly, their Labrador dog. You can find them on Twitter at @nataliefey_NLS and @simonperks respectively.
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:
We are writing to urge you to raise Universal Credit work allowances in the Autumn 2017 Budget.
The Conservative – Liberal Democrat Coalition Government introduced Universal Credit because we wanted to simplify the benefits system and make work pay. To achieve this second objective, we introduced work allowances. By allowing, for example, a single person to earn up to £1,332 a year before their payments were reduced, the Coalition ensured that everyone would be better off in work.
Cuts to the work allowance, made by the Conservatives as soon as the Liberal Democrats left government, have fatally undermined the whole purpose of Universal Credit.
Politicians, experts and charities from across the political spectrum have warned that reducing work allowances – even abolishing them entirely for people without children – will both worsen poverty and severely weaken incentives to work.
Analysis published this weekend by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation demonstrates that keeping the work allowance at current levels – as opposed to restoring it to its previous levels – will push 340,000 people into poverty in 2020/21. 310,000 of these live in families with children. A lone parent working full-time on the new national living wage, will be £16 per week worse off because of Conservative cuts.
The Centre for Social Justice estimates that by 2022 more than three million people will see their average income fall by over £1,000 a year because of cuts to work allowances. In October 2016, they recommended that work allowances be reinstated to 2015 levels. JRF today likewise recommends an increase in the work allowance.
The Government has already acknowledged the problems caused by the reduction of work allowances by reducing the taper rate in the 2016 Autumn Statement from 65% to 63%. However, this amounts to little more than cosmetic tinkering. The benefits of such a modest change are far outweighed by the work allowance reductions. Only increasing work allowances directly will reward people for entering the workplace, encourage more people to find work, and support those in low-paid work.
The Prime Minister took office describing the position of low income families in Britain today as among the “burning injustices” she wished to address. Permitting another Budget to pass without restoring the work allowance would make a mockery of that commitment. We urge you and the Chancellor to make good on the promise and the purpose of Universal Credit by increasing the work allowance in the coming Budget statement.
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings
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:
1. Is it eight or nine council by-elections this week? by Mark Pack on Mark Pack.
So frustrating to see the Tories given a free run.
2. If you can hear a wailing and a gnashing of teeth from political types today.…by Jennie Rigg on I spend ages hanging around the Rue Morgue in a gorilla suit and what do I get?
Jennie on what the Boundary Commission report means for her part of the world.
3. What if Theresa May did give the Alistair Campbell speech reversing Brexit? It would snooker Labour by Nick Tyrone on NickTyrone.com.
Nick argues that there isn’t necessarily a good outcome for Corbyn.
4. Who do you think was the best Lib Dem Leader? by Mark Pack on Mark Pack.
I spent ages ruminating on this one before making my mind up.
5. Monopolies and the dog that didn’t bark by David Boyle on The Real Blog.
UK politics are too slow to tackle problems caused by monopoly power.
And now to the seven blog-posts that come highly recommended, regardless of the number of Aggregator click-throughs they attracted. To nominate a Lib Dem blog article published in the past seven days – your own, or someone else’s, all you have to do is drop a line to email@example.com. You can also contact us via Twitter, where we’re @libdemvoice
6. Retiring lords: should we use age or length of service? by Zoe O’Connell on Complicity.
Zoe looks at the evidence for both.
7. Report of FCC meeting of 19th October 2017 by Jennie Rigg on I spend ages hanging around the Rue Morgue in a gorilla suit and what do I get?
Not a post in which you would expect the words “spank me and call me Gerald” to appear.
8. #metoo: Groped at a business meeting by Jane Chelliah on Feminist Mama.
We’ve learned over the past week that women are demeaned like this as they go about their daily lives.
9. Student speech to be censored at UK universities by Zoe O’Connell on Complicity.
I listened to someone on Radio 4 complain bitterly this week that debate on gender identity issues was being shut down. He didn’t seem to sense any irony in the fact that he was being given a platform on one of the most major and most reputable broadcasters on the planet. Zoe looks at who is being censored and what power they have.
10. Radicals and Democrats and Renewals. Oh my. by Nick Barlow on What we can get away with.
People creating a new movement because they don’t like something about the others – but will they be able to build a common platform in their own new parties?
11. Time to remove the Lib Dem invisibility cloak by Tom King on Never cruel or cowardly.
People keep trying to reinvent what already exists to oppose Brexit.
12. Diary Day 395: Weighing what we have in common against our differences: what no deal means by Jo Hayes on Josephine Hayes.
Any parliamentarian who continues to support Brexit is reckless, says Jo.
And that’s it for another week. Happy blogging ‘n’ reading ‘n’ nominating.
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings