Category Archives: Blog

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 crèche to college.
   Providing the health service with the £8bn additional funding NHS bosses say is needed in next 5 years.
In addition, whywould 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: http://www.wakefieldlibdems.org.uk
Thanks in advance for your support!
Rebecca Taylor

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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 2ndjob/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.

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Liberal Democrats stand up for British trade & jobs; UKIP and Eurosceptic Tories pretend you can have your cake and eat it

Following a number of Twitter exchanges about trade with Eurosceptics (mostly UKIP supporters), I decided I needed a bit more than 140 characters to properly address this crucial topic.

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Good news for tobacco control; less so for e-cigarettes

Today I abstained on the final Tobacco Products Directive vote.  My position on this Directive has always been clear: I wanted strong tobacco control measures and sensible regulation of e-cigarettes.   I was therefore not willing to vote against the Directive …

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Outdated, outmoded and increasingly inaccurate: is it time follow our European neighbours and say goodbye to "Miss"?

It has long been unfair that women can be identified by their marital status through the use of  “Miss” or “Mrs” whereas men cannot via “Mr”. “Ms” was introduced as an alternative for both married and unmarried women, although is not universally used or liked.

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Use of electronic cigarettes: blanket bans are not appropriate!

I am hearing about blanket bans on people using e-cigarettes on public transport and in some public places like bars and pubs e.g. Wetherspoons, etc. I have even seen a notice banning the use of e-cigs in a comedy club where you can eat and drink whil…

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The Tobacco Directive & E-cigarettes: Trialogue update

Negotiations between the European Parliament and national governments (“trialogues”) on the tobacco products directive have begun and several meetings have already taken place. There is a strong desire to try and reach agreement on the tobacco directive during the Lithuanian Presidency, which runs until the end of the year. 

 

National governments are represented by the Lithuanian Presidency and the EP negotiating team is led by the rapporteur Labour MEP Linda McAvan, along with the shadow rapporteurs from the other political groups. The Liberal group is represented by Belgian Liberal MEP Frédérique Ries, co-author along with myself and Chris Davies of amendment 170 on e-cigarettes.

 

After the first trialogue meeting which addressed the issue of e-cigarettes, Frédérique tweeted the following:

 

“#trilogue #ecig: ça va mal, la Présidence lituanienne ne veut rien entendre, RIEN. Pas un geste, aucune volonté! Je bataille contre un mur”

 

(translation: “It’s going badly for e-cigs in trialogue, the Lithuanian Presidency doesn’t want to listen at all. Not a gesture, no willingness whatsoever! I am fighting against a brick wall”)

 

However, along with Frédérique, the centre right (EPP) and Conservative (ECR) shadow rapporteurs, German MEP Karl Heinz Florenz and UK Tory MEP Martin Callanan made it clear that e-cigarettes were a red line for their respective groups. If those three groups (ALDE, EPP and ECR) vote along the same lines, they form a majority in the European Parliament and once an agreement is reached on the tobacco directive, it will have to be approved by the Parliament (a simple yes/no vote).

 

An agreement on the tobacco directive which is not fully supported by three political groups which constitute a majority of MEPs is unwise, and therein lies the hope for sensible regulation of e-cigarettes.

 

Since the July 2013 position of national governments on the tobacco directive, which included an agreement to support medicines regulation for e-cigarettes, the ground has shifted significantly. Not only did the European Parliament clearly vote against medicines regulation, but action at national level has drawn this matter to public and political attention. In addition, there have apparently been complaints to the Lithuanians that they are going too quickly on e-cigs without allowing national governments the chance to consider other options.

The key country right now is France, which is believed to no longer be supportive of the medicines route for e-cigarettes (and was reluctantly supportive previously), although no official change of position has been announced. In France, 100 leading doctors recently sent a letter to the French government asking them to act on this issue and push for sensible regulation. It is thought that if France changes its position on e-cigs, this may lead other countries to do the same.

 

The irony of a Socialist government in France opposing medicines regulation of e-cigs, contrary to the position of the Socialist group in the European Parliament, while a Conservative/Lib Dem coalition government in the UK supports medicines regulation against its own MEPs, is not lost on me!

 

What is needed right now from a UK perspective is to get increasing numbers of Westminster MPs to question the government/MHRA position. Some Liberal Democrat colleagues of mine at Westminster including Norman Lamb MP, the social care minister, Dan Rogerson MP and Lorely Burt MP have been doing this as has Conservative MP Sarah Woolleston, who is a GP.

 

Along with Chris Davies, I will carry on trying to win over LibDem colleagues at Westminster, but this effort needs to be extended to Conservative and Labour MPs too. I would therefore repeat my previous call for concerned individuals to contact their MP to raise this issue (see previous blog: http://rebeccataylormep.blogspot.be/2013/10/e-cigarettes-and-tobacco-directive.html).

 

It would also be worth noting when you contact MPs that the MHRA is still (as of last week; Jeremy Mean spoke at the e-cigarettes summit in London http://e-cigarette-summit.com/) unable to give more than very vague answers to specific questions about how e-cigarettes could be regulated as medicines. This does not fill me with confidence…..

 

The battle for sensible regulation of e-cigs is not yet over and can still be won!

 

 

 

 

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E-cigarettes and tobacco directive: what’s next?

I am pleased to have played a role, along with my colleagues Chris Davies, Lib Dem MEP for the North West of England, and Belgian Liberal MEP Frédérique Ries in getting amendment 170 on e-cigarettes adopted by the European Parliament (EP) in the plenary vote on the tobacco products directive (TPD).

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EU tobacco directive: delayed vote politics

The week before last, the EPP (centre right group) made a request to delay the vote on the tobacco products directive (TPD) until 8 October (it was scheduled for the September plenary session). This request was supported by the ALDE (Liberal) group and…

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Worried about the overregulation of e-cigarettes and want to do something about it?

Following an agreement among the leaders of the European Parliament’s political groups last week, the final EP vote on the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) has now been pushed back to the 8th of October 2013. Although the vote was not delayed because o…

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