Liberals in the News: What does Johnson have in common with Thatcher?

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

This week:

  • Mental health in Scotland
  • Liberals call for more support for carers
  • Pressuring China through sporting boycotts
  • Challenging the government on "Crony contracts"
  • National vaccine shortage
  • Pub-campaign alert!

Mental health in Scotland

This week, the late, ex-Lib Dem leader, Charles Kennedy, was in the news and on TV as a documentary described the abuse he received towards the end of his leadership and his life. It also documented his fight with alcohol dependency and the impact of that abuse.

Perhaps fittingly, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have been championing mental health in Holyrood: through FOI requests, they have recently discovered the rising extent of mental health absences in medical staff, particular paramedics and other emergency staff and other ambulance related staff in Scotland.

This new revelation follows closely on a successful Lib Dem motion in Holyrood to declare a national mental health crisis, and a Lib Dem proposal for 24/7 mental health support for all health and social care staff that was adopted in the summer of last year.

Liberals call for more support for carers

The government's new "roadmap out of lockdown" suggests an end to restrictions on 21st June. Ed Davey leads calls to make 21st June (end of lockdown) a special bank holiday and says it should be a day to celebrate the servers of carers and the NHS - Lib Dem leader, Ed Davey, is calling for a national bank holiday with the specific purpose of celebrating and thanking the service of carers and NHS staff.

Other MPs have been keen on the idea of a bank holiday to celebrate the end of lockdown too - so maybe this will happen?

Pressuring China through sporting boycotts

China's attack on democracy in Hong Kong and its oppression and even genocide of the Uighur people in the north-west of the super-state is attracting a lot of attention in Parliament - but action is not so forthcoming. Ed Davey (who is apparently quite busy this week) is proposing that Britain boycotts the Winter Olympics (due to be held in China this year). Back in the 1980s most countries boycotted sporting competitions in South Africa because of apartheid (as a result of the 1977 Gleneagles Agreement).

The Thatcher government did not approve of the sporting boycott then, and the Johnson government does not approve of the sporting boycott now.

Challenging the government on "Crony contracts"

In a week when Matt Hancock has been doing the media rounds - denying any problem with the dubious awards of (and lack of transparency around) covid-response contracts to companies with links to government and ministers - Lib Dem chief whip, Wendy Chamberlain, has been refusing to let them off the hook with "crony contracts." Several opposition MPs have raised the endless law breaking and cronyism of this government.

Wendy challenged the government directly on whether it was keeping to the Nolan principles of public life, "which include integrity, accountability and openness" - the government response was unrepentant as ever.

National vaccine shortage

It has become clear this week that the government's platform for the May elections (local and devolved) is the success of the NHS' rollout of the national Covid vaccine program.

Daisy Cooper has been championing her local GP's and local pharmacists' vaccine centres and asking the government to explain why they've only received 1,000 vaccines in recent weeks when they have a capacity to roll out 14,000 at just one of those centres.

Government ministers were publicly clapping NHS workers just last year - but now they seem intent on stealing the credit for NHS, GP and local pharmacy vaccine centres.

Pub campaign alert

And finally... Liberals love a community pub, and Tim Farron is no different. This week he joins with the Countryside Alliance to support #UnlockInn, a campaign to boost support for the community pubs and other hospitality companies that have been left behind by the government's covid responses. Proof that the Lib Dems are the Party of Pubs.

Got a news tip? Fire it our way; we'll be much obliged.

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