Liberals in the news: Covid clashes with civil liberties, and women told to stay in their homes

Liberals are in the news every week - here we try to highlight the... well, the highlights.

This week:

  • Reclaim these streets
  • New coalmines - and we're the canaries
  • Covid - nationalism and liberties
  • Scotland and an unusual coalition

Reclaim these streets

This week, the nation was gripped with concern and then anger as the story of Sarah Everard's tragic abduction and murder unfolded.

As women across the country shared their everyday feelings of fear and harassment from men, a new campaign group marshalled the sentiment and declared a Covid-safe, socially distanced vigil to #ReclaimTheseStreets. They were promptly threatened with enormous fines by the police and, while some vigils went ahead, many women were forced to reclaim the streets from their doorstep.

Daisy Cooper was widely reported to be supporting Reclaim These Streets and said it was the government's job to ensure people can protest safely. Pointing to the Covid-safe Black Lives Matter demonstration in St Albans last year, she questions why women were now being threatened with 10K fines in a disproportionate crackdown on the right to demonstrate. She added that the government's Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will restrict the right to protest further this week.

New coal mines - and we're the canaries

As Climate Change accelerates and threatens to displace billions of people before the end of the decade, it has seemed unconscionable that the government would be planning to open a new coal mine in Cumbria.

After much pressure, housing and planning Minister, Robert Jenrick has called in the plans for further investigation.

Tim Farron praised the rethink, saying: "It's fantastic news that the Government have at long last finally woken up to the fact that this mine would be an almighty backwards step in our fight against climate change."

"In the year that Britain hosts COP26, it is blindingly obvious that we won't be taken seriously on the world stage with this coal mine hanging round our neck."

In response, Tories say that Jenrick has "bowed to climate terrorists."

Covid - nationalism and liberties

There is light at the end of the Covid-tunnel (as the vaccine rollout carries on). But as reports indicate the government is banning exports of UK stocks, Munira Wilson points out that vaccine nationalism does no one any good.

Alistair Carmichael says it's time to scrap the Coronavirus Act to protect civil liberties. Finding himself in odd company, he said that you can share the concerns of libertarians without sharing the same conclusions and that the legal campaign group, Liberty's "Protect Everyone" Bill would provide Covid protections without the same government over-reach.

Scotland and an unusual coalition

Liberals were temporarily in coalition with SNP this week. The Holyrood budget is normally passed with the support of more than one party. This year, Lib Dems supported the budget in exchange for more money for mental health and education.

This contrasted with Westminster where Christine Jardine said the UK government's budget did not live up to the spirit of these times. She said, "While our scientists have done their job in finding a medical formula for recovery, our governments have not."

Ed Davey called out the SNP and the Tories for their 'never-ending constitutional war' and said he wished they would learn from the community activists who have pulled together to do great things during the pandemic instead of using the crisis as fuel for their arguments.

Willie Rennie told any SNP voters that had become 'depressed' after a decade of nationalist rule and latest grubby infighting that they could find a home with the Liberal Democrats. Perhaps aided by the common agreement on budget priorities, he posed the challenge, "what have you got to lose?"

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