New Statesman events at Lib Dem conference 2013

The New Statesman will be heading to Glasgow to host a series of events and discussions during the Liberal Democrats autumn conference 2013.

The New Statesman will be at the Liberal Democrats autumn conference this year in Glasgow to host a series of events and round table discussions. Highlights include an "In conversation" session with Minister of State for Care and Support, and Lib Dem MP, Normal Lamb at the Glasgow Science Centre tomorrow evening, a discussions on aid and advocacy between Menzies Campbell, Simon Hughes and Medical Aid for Palestinians Chief Executive Tony Laurance on Monday afternoon and a talk with David Laws, Minister for Cabinet Office and Schools on Monday evening. All events are free to attend and open to the public.

There will also be a session with Lib Dem president Tim Farron, a possible future leader of the party, whose comments on Ed Miliband in this week's New Statesman were widely regarded as proof that coalition with Labour rather than the Tories after 2015 remains a distinct possibility. (The correlative came from Jeremy Browne in the same issue, a Lib Dem with less polite things to say about the Labour leader). 

A full list of NS events at the Lib Dem conference can be found below:

Liberal Democrat Part Conference 2013

 

Sunday the 15th of September 

 

 

Integration in an era of competition: Is it possible? 

Speakers: Rt Hon Paul Burstow MP

                  Chris Hopskin, Chief Executive, Foundation Trust Network

                  Professor Clare Bambra, Durham University 

Location: Clyde Suite, Glasgow Science Centre  

Time: 13:30-14:30 

 

What next for the criminal justice system?

Speakers: Lord McNally, Minister of State for Justice,

                  Steve Gillan, General Secretary, POA

                  Jerry Petherick, Managing Director – Custodial & Detention

                  - Services, G4S 

                  Tania Bassett, Napo Press, Parliament and Campaigns Officer

Location: Science Show Theatre, Glasgow Science Centre      

Time: 13:00-14:00  

Smart Grids: Is this the way of selling low carbon policy to skeptics?

Speakers: Stephen Gilbert MP, PPS to Rt. Hon Edward Davey MP

                  - Secretary of State for Climate Change  

                  Jim Sutherland, Scottish Power Energy Networks 

                  Dr. Hongjain Sun, Lecturer in Smart Grids, Durham University 

Location: Science Show Theatre, Glasgow Science Centre  

Time: 14:00-15:00

Norman Lamb MP in conversation with New Statesman

Speaker: Norman Lamb MP, Minister of State for Care and Support

Location: Science Show Theatre, Glasgow Science Centre  

Time: 18:15-19:15  

Monday the 16th of September

 

Home Front: the battle for a sustainable housing Market

(invite only)

Speakers: Rt. Hon Don Foster MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the

                  - Department of Communities and Local Goverment         

                  Stephen Gilbert MP, PPS to the Rt. Hon Edward Davey MP,

                  - Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change      

                  Lord Shipley          

                  Annette Brooke MP          

                  Lord Newby, Deputy Chief Whip 

Location: Clyde Suite, Glasgow Science Centre   

Time: 8.30-10:00

Innovation, what does the NHS need to do?

Speakers: Norman Lamb MP, Minister of State for Care and Support  

                  David Worskett, Chief Executive, NHS Partners Network

                  Professor Clare Bambra, Durham University 

Location: Science Show Theatre, Glasgow Science Centre     

Time: 10.30-11.30

Can aid be effective without advocacy? 

Speakers: Rt. Hon Sir Menzies Campbell MP

                  Rt. Hon Simon Hughes MP

                  Tony Laurance, Chief Executive, Medical Aid for Palestinians 

Location: Science Show Theatre, Glasgow Science Centre   

Time: 13:00-14:00

Endgames: The Lib Dems in the final phase of the coalition  

Speakers: Tim Farron MP, President of the Liberal Democrats  

                  Tavish Scott MSP      

                  Akash Paun, Fellow, Institute of Government  

                  Olly Grender, Deputy Chair, General Election Capmaign

Location:Clyde Suite, Science Show Theatre, Glasgow Science Centre     

Time: 18:00-19:00

David Laws MP in conversation with the New Statesman

Speaker: Rt Hon David Laws MP, Minister of State for Cabinet Office and Schools

Location: Science Show Theatre, Glasgow Science Centre     

Time: 19:00-20:00

Tuesday the 17th September

 

Will competition and choice open up the banking sector?

Speakers: Lord Newby, Government Chief Whip, Liberal Democrat Chief

                  - Whip, Treasury Spokesperson in the House of Lords

                  Adrian Kamellard, Chief Executive, Payments Council

                  Jeff Salway, Freelance Journalist      

                  Richard Lloyd, Executive Director, Which?

Location: Science Show Theatre, Glasgow Science Centre 

Time: 13:00-14:00    

Why invest in UK life sciences?

Speakers: Dr Julian Huppert MP

                  Andrew Powrie-Smith, Director ABPI, Scotland 

                  Mike Farrar, Chief Executive, NHS Confederation 

Location: Science Show Theatre, Glasgow Science Centre   

Time: 13:00-14:00

Tim Farron MP in conversation with New Statesman

Speaker: Tim Farron MP, President of the Liberal Democrats

Location: Science Show Theatre, Glasgow Science Centre 

Time: 18:15-19:15   

Is a cap on immigration a cap on growth?

Speakers: Rt. Hon Dr Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State, Business

                  - Innovation and Skills, President of the Board of Trade  

                  Mr. Neil Stevenson, Brand Executive Director, ACCA       

                  Dr. Adam Marshall, British Chamber of Commerce        

                  Professor Christian Dustmann

Location: Clyde Suite, Science Show Theatre, Glasgow Science Centre        

Time: 19:00-20:00

Nick Clegg's speech will close the conference on Wednesday 18 September. Photograph: Getty Images.
ANDREY BORODULIN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
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Letter from Donetsk: ice cream, bustling bars and missiles in eastern Ukraine

In Donetsk, which has been under the control of Russian backed rebels since April 2014, the propaganda has a hermetic, relentless feel to it.

Eighty-eight year-old Nadya Moroz stares through the taped-up window of her flat in Donetsk, blown in by persistent bombing. She wonders why she abandoned her peaceful village for a “better life” in Donetsk with her daughter, just months before war erupted in spring 2014.

Nadya is no stranger to upheaval. She was captured by the Nazis when she was 15 and sent to shovel coal in a mine in Alsace, in eastern France. When the region was liberated by the Americans, she narrowly missed a plane taking refugees to the US, and so returned empty-handed to Ukraine. She never thought that she would see fighting again.

Now she and her daughter Irina shuffle around their dilapidated flat in the front-line district of Tekstilshchik. Both physically impaired, they seldom venture out.

The highlight of the women’s day is the television series Posledniy Yanychar (“The Last Janissary”), about an Ottoman slave soldier and his dangerous love for a free Cossack girl.

They leave the dog-walking to Irina’s daughter, Galya, who comes back just in time. We turn on the TV a few minutes before two o’clock to watch a news report on Channel One, the Russian state broadcaster. It shows a montage of unnerving images: Nato tanks racing in formation across a plain, goose-stepping troops of Pravy Sektor (a right-wing Ukrainian militia) and several implicit warnings that a Western invasion is nigh. I wonder how my hosts can remain so impassive in the face of such blatant propaganda.

In Donetsk, which has been under the control of Russian-backed rebels since April 2014, the propaganda has a hermetic, relentless feel to it. If the TV doesn’t get you, the print media, radio and street hoardings will. Take a walk in the empty central district of the city and you have the creeping sense of being transported back to what it must have been like in the 1940s. Posters of Stalin, with his martial gaze and pomaded moustache, were taboo for decades even under the Soviets but now they grace the near-empty boulevards. Images of veterans of the 1941-45 war are ubiquitous, breast pockets ablaze with medals. Even the checkpoints bear the graffiti: “To Berlin!” It’s all inching closer to a theme-park re-enactment of the Soviet glory years, a weird meeting of propaganda and nostalgia.

So completely is the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in thrall to Russia that even its parliament has passed over its new flag for the tricolour of the Russian Federation, which flutters atop the building. “At least now that the municipal departments have become ministries, everyone has been promoted,” says Galya, wryly. “We’ve got to have something to be pleased about.”

The war in the Donbas – the eastern region of Ukraine that includes Donetsk and Luhansk – can be traced to the street demonstrations of 2013-14. The former president Viktor Yanukovych, a close ally of Vladimir Putin, had refused to sign an agreement that would have heralded closer integration with the EU. In late 2013, protests against his corrupt rule began in Maidan Nezalezhnosti (“Independence Square”) in Kyiv, as well as other cities. In early 2014 Yanukovych’s security forces fired on the crowds in the capital, causing dozens of fatalities, before he fled.

Putin acted swiftly, annexing Crimea and engineering a series of “anti-Maidans” across the east and south of Ukraine, bussing in “volunteers” and thugs to help shore up resistance to the new authority in Kyiv. The Russian-backed rebels consolidated their power base in Donetsk and Luhansk, where they established two “independent” republics, the DPR and its co-statelet, the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR). Kyiv moved to recover the lost territories, sparking a full-scale war that raged in late 2014 and early 2015.

Despite the so-called “peace” that arrived in autumn 2015 and the beguiling feeling that a certain normality has returned – the prams, the ice creams in the park, the bustling bars – missiles still fly and small-arms fire frequently breaks out. You can’t forget the conflict for long.

One reminder is the large number of dogs roaming the streets, set free when their owners left. Even those with homes have suffered. A Yorkshire terrier in the flat next door to mine started collecting food from its bowl when the war began and storing it in hiding places around the flat. Now, whenever the shelling starts, he goes to his caches and binge-eats in a sort of atavistic canine survival ritual.

Pet shops are another indicator of the state of a society. Master Zoo in the city centre has an overabundance of tropical fish tanks (too clunky to evacuate) and no dogs. In their absence, the kennels have been filled with life-size plastic hounds under a sign strictly forbidding photography, for reasons unknown. I had to share my rented room with a pet chinchilla called Shunya. These furry Andean rodents, fragile to transport but conveniently low-maintenance, had become increasingly fashionable before the war. The city must still be full of them.

The bombing generally began “after the weekends, before holidays, Ukraine’s national days and before major agreements”, Galya had said. A new round of peace talks was about to start, and I should have my emergency bag at the ready. I shuddered back up to the ninth floor of my pitch-dark Tekstilshchik tower block. Shunya was sitting quiet and unruffled in his cage, never betraying any signs of stress. Free from Russian television, we girded ourselves for the night ahead.

This article first appeared in the 05 February 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Putin's war