In 2013, as requested by Save UK Justice campaign, I wrote a postcard to Nick Clegg, the then Deputy PM in the Coalition Government, and helped deliver a batch of over 3000 similar such postcards.
Lib Dem policy as approved at party Conference, supported Legal Aid.
“Dear Mr Clegg,
You are the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, currently in Government in coalition with the Conservatives.
That Party is committed to savage, damaging and unsustainable cuts.
Your Party, to its credit and in stark contrast, has declared a Policy to support Legal Aid.
What are you, as Leader, going to do about it?
Greg Foxsmith”. (Together with 3000+ other postcards and the Save Justice UK Campaign)
We finally received an answer from Clegg -published by SaveJusticeUK here
The response was woefully inadequate, sloppy, fatuous and factually incorrect. It was worse than a brush-off-it was a calculated insult. There were still some good people in the Lib-Dems, but it was now clear they needed to examine their consciences, and either change their leader, or change their party. They did not manage the former, although many did the latter, and the Lib Dems were decimated in the post-Coalition election of 2015.
Now, at the Lib Dem Conference (September 2016) the Lib Dems pass a motion “regretting” the legal Aid bonfire. (This regret is seemingly not shared by the ghastly Lord McNally, Lib-Dem minister and sidekick to Chris Grayling, who (along with Simon Hughes) should carry much of the blame)
Sadly for those who support legal aid (and more importantly those who need it) this expression of regret by the Party Conference comes too late. Nick Clegg cannot say they were not warned.
1 I attended Lib Dem HQ in November, representing the LCCSA, to help deliver the thousands of save Legal Aid postcards as part of the postcard campaign organised by SaveJusticeUk.
Also attending from Islington was Ruth Hayes, (pictured with me outside LD HQ in photo above) from Islington Law Centre.
Ruth told me “the Law Centre knows the importance of Legal Aid to vulnerable clients, who without it will be denied justice. We are particularly concerned about the impact of the Residence Test, and changes to funding for Judicial Review.”
2 see also opinion piece in Lib Dem Voice here.)
There was also advice to act quickly from Lib Dem Lawyers -and we all know what happens to people who ignore legal advice….