As a northerner I believe we are Better Together. I am bound to say that I suppose, but I really do believe the UK is better together. I think that the bonds and shared history that hold us together rises above the endless facts and figures, many of which are directly contradicted by the other side, we hear being bandied about in the debate. I guess the ferocity of the debate shows one thing, that this vote matters. I think Alex Salmond for his many, many talents, has failed to articulate a coherent case for why Scotland should be independent.
One of the things I am most proud of our party for in government, is the emphasis we are putting on mental health. I want to pay tribute to Paul Burstow and Norman Lamb for their work on this and I also want to thank Lib Dem party members like Lee Dargue who have put in hours and hours, campaigning on this issue. Mental health services are absolutely vital but tragically find themselves swept under the carpet all too often. This silence must end. It costs lives, divides our society and harms our young people. We must have the courage to open our eyes to the truth about mental health and act.
There is a very real risk that policymakers ignore the tech sector because they don't understand it or because they are scared of not looking like an expert. I think this blind spot is also linked to overly managerial politic: politics that responds more to polls than to fresh opportunities, that listens to focus groups in order to invent new ways of saying the same thing, rather than engaging dynamically with the new innovations emerging.
The Tories' failure to defend Britain's EU membership is of a different nature altogether. They seem to have gone quiet in order to hide what we already know - most Conservatives want to leave the EU. They simply don't care that it supports British jobs, helps fight climate change and makes our streets safer. They aren't interested in the huge benefits the EU gives consumers through cheaper shopping bills, travel and mobile phone roaming, and they are certainly not interested in projecting British influence and values around the world through the EU amplifier.
Doctors regularly get accused of treating their patients like children by not revealing all the facts, but it's nothing compared to how drugs companies can treat doctors. Astonishingly drugs companies are often under no legal burden to make their research public, despite millions of people depending on the drugs they develop for treatment.
We must harness the EU to create jobs and attract investment into the UK and to streamline regulations for our smallest companies... But this doesn't interest Tory rebels precisely because they don't want reform to work. They want to pretend that the EU is un-reformable because their true agenda is to leave the EU.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), surely, is one area where it is clear that politicians at whatever level must send out a strong message that this appalling practise cannot continue. So I was understandably outraged to learn that in a vote before Christmas, four Conservatives MEPs - Marta Andreasen, Nirj Deva, Sajjad Karim and Timothy Kirkhope - voted against a European Parliament resolution condemning FGM. Several Conservative and UKIP MEPs also failed to back the resolution by abstaining. This, in my view, shows politics at its worst, letting political point-scoring on the EU ruin a chance to be a strong voice for vulnerable girls fearing barbaric mutilation.
What do attempted London bomber Hussain Osman, child abductor Jeremy Forrest and drug-smuggling gangster Mark Lilley all have in common? Well, aside from having been some of Britain's most-wanted criminals, they were all captured and brought back to face justice in the UK thanks to the European Arrest Warrant, which saw its tenth anniversary earlier this month.... All across the country, the European Arrest Warrant has been used to track down criminals and obtain justice for victims of crime and their relatives.
Every time I watch the news and see scenes of hundreds of thousands of protestors on the streets, I feel we are witnessing something very important. What is remarkable is that they are protesting for closer and deeper ties with the EU, their anger sparked by president Viktor Yanukovich's spurning of an association agreement with the EU last month.
The most important aspect of these new reforms is that fishing quotas will now have to fit into a long-term plan based on scientific advice, with the aim of restoring Europe's fish stocks by 2020. That is ambitious, but achievable. They also have symbolic importance. They show that when the UK is constructive and pushes for reform of the EU, it can deliver real results.