Lib Dems undermined access to justice and human rights
Yesterday's Daily Mirror covered the awful results legal aid cuts have had on families and individuals. The full article can be read here and it was great to see The Mirror show how this policy affects so many people unable to access justice either as swiftly or even at all under changes made since Labour left Government in 2010.
The legal aid changes were labelled ‘Tory cuts’ in The Mirror but were administered by the Lib Dem/Tory Coalition. No 'Liberal' worth their salt should have been undermining access to justice but these cuts would not have been possible without Lib Dem support, including Commons votes and at Ministerial level.
The array of old faces reappearing as frontbenchers at Lib Dem conference includes Cable, Davey and Swinson. It does not include the former Lib Dem Justice Minister and my predecessor Sir Simon Hughes. Hughes oversaw the legal aid cuts which left hundreds of thousands of people without the support they need, including local people I've seen who need help to escape violent relationships or secure custody of their children. Cuts that Amnesty say have created a two-tier legal service with only the wealthy able to afford full justice. Cuts that the Children’s Commissioner stated in 2014 were leaving the most vulnerable children in our society without access to justice and undermining human rights.
The Lib Dem Justice Minister's response to the Children's Commissioner's severe warning? He announced a 'review' - but Hughes' commitment was printed on Lib Dem press office paper and not from his Government department. It was never honoured and should be a stain on real liberals' collective conscience.
The Mirror is right to castigate Tory-led cuts. But the, albeit limited, exposure of former Lib Dem Ministers at their conference this week is also reminding voters of this guilty party's role in Coalition and with policies like slashing access to justice, trebling tuition fees and introducing the bedroom tax. People in Southwark and beyond still await apology and redress.