On Wednesday an opposition political banner was taken down in Stanway, Essex, on the orders of Kevin Bentley, the Conservative deputy leader of Essex County Council. Kevin says he "reported" it but didn't specifically "order" for them to be taken down - in the same way that your boss might tell you about a problem but not specifically demand you fix it. This silencing of opposition is.. well, fascist in nature.

Don't squirm - that's the word for it.

It's also not the only instance - the Scottish Conservatives also slipped "14 words" into a Tweet about IndyRef, a famous dog-whistle designed to signal support for white supremecy that has been repeated uncritically by news outlets.

If there were any indication that the Conservative Party has now embraced populist nationalism, with all the fascist-inspired excesses that come along for the ride, this should be what awakens us to it.

But why are the Tories embracing fascist ideas?

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You often hear it said that the Liberal Democrats have lots of policy but no overarching narrative. That charge sticks because for too long it has been true. The party has allowed a dangerous vacuum to develop where a succinct articulation of its core philosophy should be. The preamble to the party constitution is a thing of beauty, but we need something even more direct.

Our proposal is that the Liberal Democrats should define a liberal society as one in which every single person has enough power, wealth, knowledge and freedom in their own hands to be able to shape their own destiny, working in community with others. The key characteristic of a liberal society is therefore the widespread distribution of economic, social and political power; its fundamental enemy the excessive and unaccountable concentration of such power in either the state, the private sector, or both.

This is why, writing elsewhere and drawing on the title of Paddy Ashdown’s 1989 book, we have begun calling for a Citizens’ Britain. Whereas some seem to see this concept as a call only for more citizen engagement in policy-making, we see it as an idea with far wider purchase and around which a new, post-Brexit, post-Covid Liberal political project should cohere.

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Lesson: Educating our Children
Reading time: 5 minutes
Required watching: This chilling little video from the Department for Education, where this quote in particular stands out:

"Our silent corridors, where we transition around the building in silence, and having our equipment out ready to go when we arrive at our next lesson - all just helps get us focused and keeps us in that working set of mind when we arrive in our lessons"

Ignore the dystopian chill that just ran down your spine  - just for a second. Ignore the inhumanity of expecting children to be silent in the small periods of free time between classes (socialising, one assumes, being limited to three "meals" a day). Just have a think..

..does anyone work like this?

Well, actually, yes - there is one class of worker that would be expected to work like this - but we're rapidly making them obsolete.

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The timing could not have been more aggressive. Derek Chauvin's trial for the murder of George Floyd started and, on the same day, the UK Government press-released the findings of its report into institutional racism: an investigation that had been sparked by the murder and ensuing civil liberties movement. The released findings were incendiary- Britain was free from institutional racism and race was not such an important issue anymore.

And then the controversy grew deeper.

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Philip's story is sometimes controversial, sometimes inspiring. It is sad that he has died, and I am sure I reflect the feelings of all Liberals in sending my condolences to the queen and to everyone that is grieving their loss. It is reasonable for public resources to be used in supporting and reflecting that grief, and I take no issue with reasonable coverage of Philip's death and his funeral.

But what isn't reasonable is the national tub-thumping that's going on, treating the population like worms that must rise to the beat of a drum of conformity. What isn't reasonable is the selective reading of Philip's own wishes for his death, in pursuit of a specific political agenda.

So let's talk about what it means to be a patriot - and I can assure you that it has nothing to do with royals, nothing to do with big black funereal bars on children's programmes, and absolutely nothing to do with the size or prominence of your flag.

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Can you imagine it? The cold beer brought to you in a tall glass so chilled there is condensation thick on the outside, obscuring the golden, frothy, elixir you've been waiting for. A hot sunny day, you are sticky but relaxed and it is the waiting staff that buzz around toiling. And the sound of people laughing and conversing, in groups (!), at tables all around you... and your friend leans in to deliver the punchline of a joke. Your whole table bursts into laughter.

These days may be near upon us. From 12th April, we can meet in pub gardens in groups of up to 6 people. There is light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel.

The story of the COVID vaccine is one of human triumph, a scientific work that may rival trips to the moon, if I may be so bold. When faced with a global pandemic, humanity was able to produce not one but several cures in less than a year. Our returning rights and freedoms have come from this great feat of bioscience, chemistry and logistics.

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