Sunday, 14 June 2015

David Cameron's EUnormas challenge

As a consequence of his abject failure to stand up to his own right wing Eurosceptic bankbenchers, David Cameron has given himself the greatest challenge of his political life: how to avoid going down in history as the Prime Minister who oversaw the break up of the United Kingdom.

The only way he can avoid a political epitaph no-one wants, especially not a Tory PM, is to win an EU referendum. Mr Cameron himself does not want Britain to leave the EU, but he has repeatedly thwarted himself in this aim.

Firstly, he hasn't stood up to (never mind stamped down on) the Eurosceptics in his own party, whose only acceptable version of the EU would be a kind of British empire mark two where other countries agreed to everything Britain wanted.

Secondly, by pulling the Tories out of the EPP, the main centre right political group in the European Parliament, Mr Cameron left the largest group, weakened it and lost close cooperation with ruling centre right parties like that of German Chancellor Merkel and Spanish PM Rajoy. That's not ideal when you need to their help with your "renegotiation".

Thirdly, by repeatedly saying (to placate Tory Eurosceptics) that he wants to "renegotiate Britain's membership of the EU" rather than seeking EU reform that bring benefits to all including Britain, he has got other countries' backs up immediately. Why should the UK (or any individual EU country) get special conditions? If one can have special conditions, why not all?

It is however worth pointing out that contrary to popular belief (at least in the UK), EU legislation isn't "one size fits all", but almost all of it contains tweaks here and there to suit individual countries, as long as this doesn't negatively impact others. That is not what Mr Cameron's backbenchers mean. Those who don't want a British empire mark two, want to cherry pick EU rules instead, no doubt jettisoning ones that protect the environment or worker's rights, while keeping those that help British companies win business across the EU.

So, for the toughest battle of his life, Mr Cameron has decided to metaphorically tie his hands behind his back and blindfold himself.

Then there's the thorny question of what would happen if the UK as a whole voted to leave the EU, but some home nations voted to stay. The Celtic nations, in particular Scotland, are far more pro European than England. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has already said that an EU vote where the country as a whole voted to leave, but Scotland voted to stay, would pave the way for a second independence referendum and Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Woods has said that a decision to leave the EU should be one voted for by all UK nations.

Surely a second Independence referendum in Scotland on the back of an "England is forcing Scotland to leave the EU against the will of Scottish voters" message would stand a far greater chance of success? I would imagine Mr Cameron does not want to take such a chance....

Image result for united kingdom breaking up

Friday, 17 April 2015

The poisonous climate of racism/xenophobia UKIP rhetoric creates

This morning an ex-flatmate of mine, a Yorkshire girl of Indian heritage (UK born and raised British citizen), had a very unpleasant experience on her commute to work.

Two older men were sat near her on the train talking loudly about how they were going to vote UKIP in order to "get rid of this shit in our country" while staring menacingly at her. She diplomatically said that she "did not take kindly" to this and that it left her "fuming" (how British!).

No matter how many times Nigel Farage or other UKIP members/supporters say they're not a racist party, they have to take responsibility for the climate of racism/xenophobia their rhetoric creates. That climate emboldens people like the two men on the train to think that it's OK to behave in an intimidating manner towards someone because of their ethnic origin.

I recall attending an event on human rights while an MEP where a speaker of South Asian heritage said (in the context of voting being an important human right) that everyone should get out and vote for whichever party and/or candidate they identified with most strongly.

The same speaker went on to say he was worried about the rise of UKIP as he feared that their rhetoric would create a hostile environment for people of BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) origin and lead to some people looking at his children and seeing them as "foreigners" and a "problem". At the time, I thought he might be overreacting. What happened to my former flatmate this morning indicates that sadly I was wrong.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Liberal Democrat manifesto supports vapers!

For immediate release 15 April 2015

Liberal Democrat manifesto supports vapers!

The Liberal Democrats manifesto released today Wednesday 15 April 2015 recognises that electronic cigarettes are a way out of tobacco for many people, and that any restrictions should be proportionate and evidence based. (1)

The party has also ruled out a ban on vaping in public places. There is no evidence of bystander harm from vaping and making it more difficult for people to vape risks discouraging smokers from making the switch from tobacco to e-cigarettes. In addition, forcing vapers to stand with smokers and be exposed to the product they are trying to avoid, seems somewhat perverse.

Rebecca Taylor, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Morley and Outwood, former Yorkshire and Humber MEP and campaigner on tobacco harm reduction (2) welcomed the move:

"I am very glad that my party has taken a Liberal and pragmatic position on e-cigarettes and vaping. I hope that other political parties will see through the misleading research put out by some (3) and come to the same conclusion".


Notes for editors

(1) The manifesto text (on page 76 is: "Carefully monitor the growing evidence base around electronic cigarettes, which appear to be a route by which many people are quitting tobacco, and ensure restrictions on marketing and use are proportionate and evidence based. For example, we support restrictions ton advertising which risks promoting tobacco or targets under 18s, such as those introduced in 2014, but would rule out a statutory ban on “vaping” in public places."

(2) In a personal capacity Rebecca Taylor is an associate of the New Nicotine Alliance ( and is on the advisory board of a large scale study on the use of e-cigarettes, which is currently applying for funding.

(3) For a good explanation of much of the misleading research on e-cigarettes, please see:


Twitter @RTaylor_LibDem

Monday, 6 April 2015

Things I learned about Morley and Outwood no 2 - people care about nature

Many voters care about nature

I have received many emails from voters in Morley and Outwood asking me to "Vote for Bob".

A vote for Bob (FYI Bob is a red squirrel) is a commitment to put nature higher up the political agenda and Bob's biggest supporter is the RSPB.

Bob (or one of his friends)

 Image result for red squirrel

As someone who grew up enjoying the pretty Yorkshire countryside (in the Calder Valley to be precise) and worked closely with the RSPB while a Member of the European Parliament. I was happy to agree to "Vote for Bob".

You can find here some details of my work to protect nature while an MEP:

blanket bog and climate change

stopping the destruction of blanket bog

So if you're a Morley and Outwood voter and you want your next MP to be someone who not only says they cares about nature, but has a track record of fighting to protect it, then vote for me!

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Things I learned about Morley and Outwood no 1

Ed Balls invites working people to meet him at daytime coffee mornings during the week (!?)

When I announced that I was standing for the LibDems in Morley and Outwood against Labour MP Ed Balls, a friend who lives in the constituency joked "Will you be inviting us to a coffee morning like Ed Balls does?" I replied that I didn't have the budget of an MP (yet...).

It then transpired on further questioning that my friends in Morley and Outwood have been invited many times to coffee mornings by Mr Balls. They have never ever been as the coffee mornings are on weekdays mornings, when like most working age people, funnily enough they're at work.

 Image result for work in progress

Political parties hold details of voters often including their date of birth, so you'd think Mr Balls or his staff might question the wisdom of inviting voters in their late 30s and early 40s to events on on weekday mornings. Apparently not. You'd almost think Mr Balls doesn't really want to meet his constituents....

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Why I am standing in Morley and Outwood

I am very pleased to have been selected as the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Morley and Outwood.

I was born, grew up and studied in West Yorkshire and spent 2.5 years as one of the region's MEPs, so I understand not only the problems, but also the potential that areas like Morley & Outwood face. I also have friends who live in the constituency.

Morley and Outwood deserves a hard working Liberal Democrat MP to represent the views of local people in Westminster, and ensure that Liberal Democrat policies that can help and support the people of Morley and Outwood are implemented. Such policies include:

   A further £400 tax cut for low and middle income workers by increasing tax the threshold to £12,500 (full time minimum wage).
   Strict new rules to clamp down and tax evasion and avoidance to make sure that the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share and those that do not face serious consequences.
   Supporting families by increasing free childcare provision for working parents and improving shared parental leave.
   Protecting education funding from crรจche to college.
   Providing the health service with the £8bn additional funding NHS bosses say is needed in next 5 years.

In addition, why would anyone not want to represent an area that includes the famous Rhubarb triangle?! The Yorkshire rhubarb of course benefits from having European protected regional food speciality status and is great when used to make crumble (slight vested interest here as my Mum makes a great rhubarb crumble....).

It is important to remind voters of Labour's poor handling of the economy in which Ed Balls played a key role first as an economic advisor to Gordon Brown, then as a government minister. As City Minister he championed Labour's "light touch regulation" of financial services, which nearly toppled our banking system, yet in 2011, unbelievably he denied there had been a budget deficit under Labour's watch, telling the BBC: I don't think we had a structural deficit at all in that period.

Labour actually ran a budget deficit since 2002 more than five (!) years before the financial crisis happened.

The Liberal Democrats went into government to help clear up the economic mess Labour had left behind and significant progress has now been made, but the job is not done yet. The Conservatives deficit reduction plans (that there were unable to implement in coalition with the Liberal Democrats) rely purely on cuts, mainly targeting the working poor, but require no additional contributions from the better off in society. 

The Liberal Democrats believe that finishing the job of balancing the nations books can be done in a fairer way using tax rises that target the wealthiest, banks and big businesses and limiting spending cuts to protect the least well off in society. When not opposing every single government cut, the Labour party would borrow more to fund their spending promises because their Bank levy can't really be spent more than once, leaving our children with debts to pay off. 

Unlike Labour and the Tories, Liberal Democrat candidates do not have funds flowing from trade unions or big business, but rely on small donations from ordinary people. You can donate to my campaign by clicking the "donate" button on the Wakefield and Morley Liberal Democrat website:

Thanks in advance for your support!

Rebecca Taylor

Monday, 23 February 2015

MPs should focus on being MPs!

I was a Member of the European Parliament for two and a half years during which time I worked on average 6 days a week, including some rather unsocial hours. Sunday was usually my only proper day off and I often did some catching up on emails that day.

The job of course also involved a great deal of travel, mainly between Leeds and Brussels, but also across the Yorkshire and Humber region and to Strasbourg once a month. I didn’t have much time for family and friends and many complained to me about this.

The life of an MP is similar (although possibly with less travel). I know MPs who work 80 hours a week pretty much on a permanent basis. I therefore struggle to comprehend how an MP has the time for a second job.

If they have time for another job, what are they not doing as an MP as a consequence? Perhaps they only show up to very few parliamentary debates, hold few or no constituency surgeries, don’t visit local businesses, schools and colleges and rarely venture out to meet their constituents? And if they’re not working full-time as an MP, why are they receiving a full-time salary?

Any MP foolish enough to claim they need to earn extra money because £67k isn’t enough to live on (yes Malcolm Rifkind I’m talking to you!), is so out of touch with ordinary life they deserve all the criticism they get. I managed to live in London, the most expensive city in the UK, on a bit more than a third of an MP’s salary. Doing so did require careful budgeting (my top tips: walk or cycle to work, take a packed lunch every day and never buy take away coffee), but it is possible and many people do it. In fact, many people manage on less.

I understand that some MPs earned considerably more before they entered politics and if that is the case, then good for them for making a choice to earn less in order to take up public office. That is not however, a justification for a 2nd job/outside consultancy work.

I do however understand that for MPs in certain professions, e.g. the medical profession, there may be a need to undertake training/education or even some professional practice in order to remain qualified and able to practice. I think it’s fair enough to allow an MP time for such activities, but I strongly suspect they don’t come to anything like the time commitment of a 2nd job.

I am uncomfortable about an MP being paid for advice on matters that relate to parliamentary business. As an MEP, when I met with representatives of businesses, charities, NGOs, industry associations, public sector bodies etc, they often asked whether their organisation’s aims in their campaign/concerning a piece of legislation et were realistic and achievable, and if certain of my colleagues were worth approaching. I was happy in such situations to give my opinion (and it was only my opinion). The idea of being paid to do that while holding elected public office not only seems wrong, but seems possibly undemocratic, as I’m sure only a minority of organisations have the money to do that.

And finally, the thing that annoys me the most about the second job debate is that it paints a picture of MPs that is wholly unfair to all those who dedicate long hours serving their constituents sometimes at great personal cost.