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About Trevor Smith

Trevor Smith is a retiring Lib Dem life peer and a former director and chair of the JRRT Ltd.

Articles by Trevor Smith

This week’s front page editor


Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Paddy Ashdown – a frank remembrance

Ashdown’s successes as a relatable man, a tactician and a statesman should not blind us to his strategic failures.

After Carillion, can capitalism clean up its act? Or will Marx have the final word?

Carillion's collapse - and other failures such as privatised forensics firm Randox - show the limits of the managerial revolution. But who'll take on the robber barons?

Politics against democracy: tracing the roots of Brexit.

Brexit cannot simply be attributed to contemporary alienation. We must examine the referendum result in the context of a long history of anti-democratic trends in UK governance.

The challenge facing the Liberal Democrats

The Lib Dems must embark on an ambitious course if they are to survive in the new, fractured political landscape.

Lib Dem prospects

Will party members bring courage to their simmering resentment and oust Nick Clegg?

Cameron's damage control strategy will further humiliate the Lib Dems

Cameron’s coalition reshuffle is nothing more than short term damage control to protect his leadership. But as the Lib Dems find themselves increasingly blamed for this government’s long term decisions, time is running out to pull out of the deal. 

Whither the Lib Dems? Withering!

The Liberal Democrats took a knocking at last week's Mayoral and local elections, in the latest sign that the once third party in British politics now faces oblivion. A Lib Dem Peer gives his party a wake-up call and prescribes some much-needed remedies.

Prime Minister as a mid-career job: what consequence for Britain?

The office of Prime Minister, once the apex of a political career, has become a stepping stone for a new generation of ambitious young politicians.

War with Iran? How should Britain proceed?

Conflict with Iran is looming, with the US and Israel circling around the possibility of a pre-emptive strike to prevent the manufacture of nuclear weapons. What course should Britain take? And what is the role of the Liberal Democrats?

Save our party from the precipice! A LibDem's plan for recovery

Britain's 'third party' is no longer worthy of the name. Trevor Smith joined the Liberal Party in 1955 when it had five MPs; he fears he may die with the LibDems having the same number!

Unelected Oligarchy: corporate and financial power in Britain under the spotlight

Corporate and financial power has always influenced governments. But in Britain, reflecting a global trend, the balance is now grossly in favour of big business. A new Democratic Audit paper analyses the contemporary reality of UK governance

We Lib Dems cannot return to 'business as usual'

Liberal Democrat life peer Trevor Smith sets out the implications of 5 May for his party. He argues that, while Nick Clegg will not resign as a result of crushing electoral results nationwide, they cannot return to 'business as usual'. The Lilb Dems must formulate a set of objectives, to restore public faith in the party

Why I defied the Whips and voted against my government’s education policy

The Lib Dem working peer and former vice-chancellor of Ulster University explains why he defied his party and the government to vote against the Higher Education reforms.

Conservatives will polarise Northern Ireland politics

Trevor Smith (York, House of Lords): The formal re-uniting of the Ulster Unionist Party and Conservatives is major blunder by David Cameron: it will further polarise politics in Northern Ireland. It will invite a response not only from the other legitimate political parties in Ulster but, worse, is likely to provoke further violence from the dissident Republican para-military groups.

His assertion at the UUP's annual conference that this new merger signals his Unionist credentials is foolish and dangerous posturing. The UUP is now a small rump of a party with only one MP at Westminster and she, Lady Hermon, is rightly sceptical of the new arrangement. It will do nothing for the Tories and precious little for the UUP.

However, Cameron's Unionism is not spread equally thickly throughout the UK. In Scotland he tactically hopes that the SNP will be successful enough to limit the number of Labour MPs at Westminster to secure him a majority at the next General Election. Cynical tactics for a party leader who proclaims transparency and integrity in policy formation.

Trevor Smith is the Liberal Democrat spokesperson on Northern Ireland in the House of Lords

A momentous day in the Lords

Trevor Smith (York, House of Lords): Yesterday's Lords' debate on the Counter-Terrorism Bill was a traditional set-piece parliamentary occasion. The House was packed to capacity. In the last decade or so only the debates on Clause 28, the abolition of fox hunting and the Lisbon Treaty had the same flavour.
It was particularly interesting to observe the fissures in the various sectors of the Chamber. The biggest split was among the Labour Lords. Ranged on one side were the securicrats in the form of Foulkes Of Cumnock, Harris of Haringey and Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale, with the liberal wing being represented by Baroness Malllieu and Lords Falconer and Morris of Aberavon. Former police chiefs were also divided between Lords Dear and Condon voting against 42 days and Lord Imbert who supported the proposal, though the former security service heads voted against it. Ex judges and former Lord Chancellors and Attorneys General voted against and only two Labour QCs ( Lord Archer of Sandwell and Lord Wedderburn) voted with the government. Lord Tebbit was the lone Tory dissident who voted for 42 days. Apart from the minister, Admiral Lord West of Spithead, the military top brass who turned out voted against the government. The one bishop in attendance, Southwark, voted against.
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