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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I have been a proponent of Basic Income for many years and was delighted when it was adopted as party policy at last year's conference. That moment was the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people within our party who believe that Basic Income is a policy that combines the best of liberalism: faith in individual agency combined with the power of central government to be a force for equality and fairness.

But we also knew back then that the hard work was only just beginning. We still had to go out to the country and tell the British public about our vision for a Basic Income. We are starting that process in Wales at this election.

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This week, the Free (Libre) and Open Source Software community are attempting to remove an activist (known for their repugnant and bigoted views) from the board of the Free Software Foundation, an important institution in the FLOSS community. The activist - Richard Stallman - founded the organisation and is widely considered to be the founder of the Free Software movement.

He is also something of a cult figure amongst many, who respect his achievements and follow his leadership in all walks of life - something of a problem with leaders that (in a most charitable reading) are thoughtless about who they harm when they speak.

Every community starts with one person - as such, it's tempting to think that these "rockstars" are an inevitable and innate risk. But what if we re-framed the role of a leader - not as a big personality that led from the front, becoming an embodiment of the community they created - but with an expectation that they create communities that quickly outgrow them, and build the processes and institutions that don't need them?

What if we expected all leaders to become quickly unnecessary, before some of them become embedded and toxic?

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In the latest attempt to get one over on a squirming Left, this government is reportedly issuing guidance to see "the Union Jack flown on UK government buildings every day  - not just on designated days as is the current practice". This is clearly part of a wider culture war, waged by a resurgent new right and, in an attempt to neuter it, adopted wholesale by the Labour Party. Of course, you can hear the Liberal response..

..ugh, fine?

Is this what you're going to do to solve the country's problems? Wave flags? Well get on with it - quickly - and then get back to these substantive issues that really matter to the electorate - like housing, supporting small business, and ensuring our COVID heroes in the NHS get paid fairly.

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Liberals are in the news every week. Here we try to highlight the... highlights.

This week:

  • Clapham Common & women's freedoms
  • Protest crackdown bill & the freedom to protest
  • Lib Dem Spring conference
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