Today – Tim meets two new councilors in Kingston and urges members to get involved in by-elections

Today Lib Dem leader Tim Farron visited Kingston to meet two councillors who won their seats since the General Election as the party’s fightback gathers pace.

Tim stressed the importance of members getting involved and campaigning at every by-election.

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LibLink: Tim Farron says blood donation rules urgently need to change

Writing on Huffington Post, Tim Farron calls for changes to the current blood donation rules:

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The Times’ curious use of single quotation marks in headlines

times falconer

Women ‘are not tough enough to lead Labour’

Such was the headline in the Times last Friday, above an article by Lord Falconer. You would be forgiven for tinking that Lord Falconer actually said that women “are not tough enough to lead Labour”. But what he actually wrote was:

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Tim Farron calls for a bit of compassion in the Calais debate

Tim Farron has made the following comment on the Calais issue:

If you don’t give people hope, they will resort to desperate measures. We are treating this as a security issue, but primarily it is a humanitarian one.

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++ Tim Farron announces diverse spokesperson team

Tim Farron has just announced his “frontbench” spokesperson team, and it is very diverse, with women leading on the economy and defence.

From the Liberal Democrats:

Tim Farron today set about ending the Liberal Democrats’ lack diversity at the top of the party – by naming the most diverse shadow cabinet team in the party’s history.

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‘A leftwing Labour leader could raise the Liberal Democrats from the dead’

So runs the headline in the Guardian over a piece today by Mary Dejevsky:

A return to more leftwingery for Labour could create more ideological space for the Liberal Democrats and foster a stronger electoral identity for both parties.

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We need to be careful before jumping on the Lord Sewel bandwagon

Nigel Griffiths. Tim Yeo. Mark Oaten. Paddy Ashdown. Ron Davies. Ian Harvey. David Blunkett. John Prescott. Cecil Parkinson. David Mellor (“toe job to no job” – replace orange bra with alleged Chelsea FC strip). Robin Cook. Harvey Proctor.

All those men were MPs who featured in tabloid sex scandals over the last few decades. None involved expenses abuses or other impropriety that I can recall or find in the archives.

The Lord Sewel episode admittedly involves an alleged breach of drugs laws (legislation which liberals have campaigned to reform) and the use of a publicly supported flat.

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Leaving UKIP for the Liberal Democrats

I finally decided to leave UKIP in June this year.

Let me first say, this has not been an easy decision. It has taken me a year of talking to fellow party members, scrutinising Lib Dem party policy and wrestling with my own personal & political convictions. In the end the right choice was for me to join the Liberal Democrats.

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Tim Farron calls for Lords reform in wake of Sewel

Tim Farron has written to party leaders and cross-bench peers calling for Lords reform in the wake of the Lord Sewel scandal.

Tim argues that this is not just about one bad apple, but rather it is about a system which is rotten to the core and allows unelected, unaccountable people to think they are above the law. It is yet another sorry reflection of an undemocratic system, and more than ever highlights the Liberal Democrat case for reform.

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Writing by Simon Titley

Simon Titley was a member of the Liberator Collective from 1985 until his death, aged 57, on 31 August 2014.

He became well known for both the quality and quantity of his contributions to the magazine and for the wit, insight and erudition he displayed.

A selection of 40 of his best articles, at least from among those of which we have electronic copies, is now available free on the Liberator website at the ‘writing by Simon Titley’ drop down.

Simon’s articles range over everything from Liberal Democrat strategy to the decline of the middle-class dinner party, from liberals’ difficulty with …

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The new Israeli proposal

Recently I’ve been interviewing Israeli and Palestinian scholars and activists about the prospects of alternative voices in the peace process: namely the BRICS countries and whether they might make a difference.

The general impression seems to be no. Last year’s failed talks by US Secretary of State, John Kerry, and the re-election of an intransigent Netanyahu government have meant little change. Although the BRICS countries (and the EU) have called for a different, more multilateral response, this is unlikely to happen. Much of this is down to BRICS’ self-promotion and separation of political rhetoric from their prioritisation of economic relations with Israel’s hi-tech and – especially in the case of India – arms industry.

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Why I went from being Rugby Green Party’s general election candidate to a revived Liberal Democrat activist

Terry-WhiteI have defected to the Liberal Democrats following differences with myself and the national Green Party. I have rejoined a party I left at the start of the previous government as a result of the direction I felt the party was heading in, but I am confident in the fight back of the party following the election of Tim Farron as party leader and the spirit of the modern party.

I have therefore stepped down from my role as co-ordinator of Rugby Green Party as well as the role of chair of the under 30’s branch of the midlands region of the party.

There is ambition in the Green Party definitely. But that is all there is. Ambition. I believe in democracy and the fact that the Green Party protested about the fact the Conservatives won a mandate to govern the country is simply sickening. I don’t like the Conservatives as much as the next Green Party member but I also respect the process of an election.

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Policymaking reform; what the problem is and how to solve it

 

New members often ask how to find out what current policy is, on a wide range of topics, how to influence or ‘input’ on policy, and indeed what the party does with its policy once it is established.

Normally I explain that in policy Conference is supreme, at least in theory. I talk a bit about Policy Working Groups (PWGs), initiated by the Federal Policy Committee, FPC. I also explain that there is a review of policymaking underway, to be discussed at Autumn Conference.

In this context, new members may appreciate a quick summary of my personal views of some of the problems and how we might approach solving them.

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Rawls v Bayes

At the Social Liberal Forum conference session on equality, one of the points raised by Julian Huppert (pictured alongside chair Mark Blackburn and the other speaker Kelly-Marie Blundell) was that of philosopher John Rawls’ idea of the Veil of Ignorance.

Huppert Blackburn Blundell

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The Human Rights Act 1998: Why this must always be protected

Human Rights ActAfter the 2015 general election, David Cameron announced that during his time in government he will try and scrap the Human Rights Act of 1998 and replace it with a British Bill of Rights. After this statement only one thought sprung to mind: has David Cameron officially lost it?

However with David Cameron’s small majority, I hardly think this motion will be accepted among the MPs of the House of Commons, let alone the great British public.

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The economic consequences of tuition fees 

 

Volumes have been written on this site and elsewhere about the political, moral and social impacts of the coalition government increasing tuition fees in the last parliament.

I do not propose to rekindle that debate, but rather to examine the emerging, and potentially very long-term economic consequences of tuition fees.

Whilst the UK economic recovery started to gain a genuine depth, public policy makers and private sector market participants alike commented on both the narrowness of the recovery (the rate of growth being pedestrian for an economy exiting recession), the lack of wage growth, the subdued level of capital investment and lack of productivity growth.

Some of those metrics, notably wages, have shown improvement more recently, whilst demographic changes and the impact of quantitative easing on asset prices carry much of the blame for some of the other structural ills that have haunted this economic recovery.

But it is the contention of this article that the tuition fee rise has had a direct impact on the progress of the UK economy in recent years and will continue to do so in two distinct ways.

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Liberal Democrats can define themselves through football reform

 

In the world of football, all is not good. FIFA is undergoing the trials and tribulations of reform, whilst acting like some sort of pseudo- authoritarian state, corrupt to the very core. The FA is blind to the locking out of many fans and seemingly unable to push real reform. The Premier League can’t hear complaints over the cash pile that they find themselves eternally drenched in.

This matters, to a lot of people. In the UK, 32% of the adult population is engaged with the Premier League. This is before we address the Championship, where historically popular teams such as Derby and Nottingham Forest now lie. In 2013-14, Championship teams averaged 17,000 spectators per game, and in League 1 that figure still stood at a very reasonable 8,000. Football matters.

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Where are the Lib Dem business networks?

 

After many years on the cusp of joining the party, I finally made the decision to join the Lib Dems immediately after that fateful day in May. My motivations, I am sure, were much the same as those of many other waverers – despite having a stubborn, independent streak that made me loath to join a party (any party), and hesitation over the policies of the Coalition, I could no longer stand by and expect others to shoulder the burden of protecting liberal values and defending individual rights.

I can safely say that I haven’t regretted my decision for a moment: the warm welcome from Greenwich Borough Lib Dems, and the party as a whole, has reaffirmed my belief that liberalism has a bright future in English politics.

As a small business manager, one aspect of the Lib Dems that I have always found most attractive is its independence from vested interests. Not being dominated by – or acting as a mouthpiece for – the sectional interests of organised labour or powerful corporations is, for me, what allows our party to genuinely stand for individual rights and wellbeing. It is this independence which also makes the Lib Dems the natural home of the entrepreneur, the shopkeeper and the SME business manager – the small and the brave – as the social freedoms which we strive for as a party are those which independent businesses require in order to thrive.

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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #424

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 424th weekly round-up from the Lib Dem blogosphere … Featuring the seven most popular stories beyond Lib Dem Voice according to click-throughs from the Aggregator (19-25 July, 2015), together with a hand-picked quintet, you might otherwise have missed.

Don’t forget: you can sign up to receive the Golden Dozen direct to your email inbox — just click here — ensuring you never miss out on the best of Lib Dem blogging.

As ever, let’s start with the most popular post, and work our way down:

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A trio of Lib Dem Lords stand up for LGBT+ Asylum seekers

It was Home Office questions in the House of Lords this week. Three Liberal Democrat peers asked questions about the treatment of LGBT+ people in the asylum system and abroad which has to date been pretty awful. The first was Paul Scriven who asked whether the recommendations to change the disgraceful way LGBT+ people seeking asylum in this country are treated. Here’s the exchange in full:

Lord Scriven (LD): To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to implement the recommendations in the report by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration of March–June 2014 regarding the handling of asylum claims made on the grounds of sexual orientation, and if so, when.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): My Lords, the Home Office has been actively working to implement the recommendations. An updated asylum instruction considering sexual identity issues in the asylum claim has been issued. Approved training for staff is under development. These will ensure the sensitive and effective exploration of asylum claims based on sexuality. The Home Office is conducting “second pair of eyes” checks on all such claims to ensure the consistent recording of cases and more accurate data.

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Lamb and Williams warn on care cap delay

As Care Minister, Norman Lamb (and his Liberal Democrat predecessor) were pivotal in ensuring that the cap for care costs was introduced. The Conservatives have now delayed its implementation by 4 long years. Norman described this as an “outrageous betrayal of people at their most weak and most frail. He said:

This an extraordinary and devastating u-turn from the Tories and an outrageous betrayal of people at their most weak and most frail with conditions like dementia.

Crippling care costs need addressing urgently. In coalition we designed a solution that would help and was affordable. Local authorities have spent millions already preparing for the introduction of the cap, yet we now hear the Tories are turning their back on it. This delay is a total waste of public money.

The distress and heartbreak that people feel when a loved one is in care, is being exacerbated by the fear of how to pay for it. We must not allow this to continue.

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LDV’s Sunday Best: our 7 most-read articles this week

7 ver 4 fullMany thanks to the 14,800 visitors who dropped by Lib Dem Voice this week. Here’s our 7 most-read posts…

Channel 4, Cathy Newman, Tim Farron, sex and sin (286 comments) by Joe Otten

What could a Jeremy Corbyn victory mean for the Lib Dems? (85 comments) by Mark Argent

On Farron’s lurch to the left (64 comments) by Caron Lindsay

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Federal Executive urges party to stand in Police and Crime Commissioner Elections

Way back in 2011, the then Federal Executive created, shall we say, a little light controversy by deciding not to fund any Liberal Democrat campaigns for Police and Crime Commissioner on the grounds that we didn’t support the idea as it concentrated too much power in the hands of one person.

After much discussion, the party did eventually contest 24 out of the 36 contests in England and none in Wales.

The posts are up for election again next May and FE discussed the party’s approach to them at its meeting last Monday. This time it’s very different. The recommendation FE made was that the party should endeavour to fight every seat. The PCC elections mean that the whole of Britain will be voting for something on the same day (there are devolved elections in Scotland, Wales and London as well as local elections as well) and it’s an important test of national opinion.

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Tim Farron talks to his local newspaper on becoming Lib Dem Leader:

The first people Tim Farron called on becoming Liberal Democrat leader were his local paper, the Westmorland Gazette. Here are some highlights of his first in-depth interview as leader:

Turning his local success into a national phenomenon

This is a big deal. It will be a great responsibility and I will work tirelessly to fight for Liberal values.

There are real challenges ahead but we have shown in Westmorland how we can succeed and we want to make a difference all over the country.

“A fairer, greener, freer Britain”

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#Libdemfightback: What do the polls say?

Obviously we’re all a little wary of using the polls since the General Election, but it should be remembered that while the polls then underestimated the Tories and over-estimated Labour, they got our tiny percentage pretty much spot on. The only problem was that, because the Tory vote was higher in actuality than predicted, that we ended up losing a few more Tory/LD marginals than we’d ever expected to.

But Pollsters have been amending their weighting…and the ‘Shy Tory Voter’ doesn’t really seem to exist anymore. They’re out and proud! So I’ve been having a look at what the polls have been predicting for a General Election  held today.

The Method

My reading of the polls uses averages to fill in the gaps on the days when there aren’t polls, and then to run seven day rolling figures based on both those averages and the polls themselves.

The model I use is modelled heavily on that of Martin Baxter’s Electoral Calculus model, as featured often in the press. The idea is that one takes the ‘base’ vote of each constituency (i.e. Southport 2010 36% Con, 9% Lab, 50% LD etc), place that against the GE figure for that year (i.e. 37 Con, 30 Lab, 24 LD) and then see how the constituency figure moves with regards to latest polling (i.e. the final poll pre 2015 GE of 33 Con, 33 Lab and 9 LD) and then see how the initial constituency figure moves (in this case to 33 Con, 12 Lab and 35 LD) thus showing how John Pugh kept his seat.

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And this is why MPs doing casework is important

I’ve heard quite a few people say that MPs should concentrate on making laws and not act as “glorified social workers.” I totally disagree with that approach.

I’ve also heard politicians, ministers, even Liberal Democrat ones, confidently tell meetings that it’s fine, such and such a problem is fixed and the service in question is now working well when any service user will tell you that this is far from the truth.

This is why it’s so important for MPs to understand what problems people are facing and to take action to fix them.

One example of this comes from Orkney and Shetland. We all know that claiming benefits is s bit of a nightmare, particularly if you are required to have a Work Capability Assessment. If you live in a remote area, and they don’t come much more remote than those two islands, you could find yourself waiting for a very long time for that assessment, leaving you temporarily out of pocket.

Island residents took their concerns to local Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael who flew to Aberdeen last week to meet contractors Maximus (who replaced ATOS). The Shetland News reports:

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Veronica German to head South Wales East list for Welsh Assembly elections

Former AM Veronica German has been chosen to lead the South Wales East list for the Welsh Assembly elections next May.

From the Welsh Lib Dems website:

A democratic postal ballot of all members in the region chose the following candidates for the regional list in 2016:

1. Veronica German

2. Paul Halliday

3. Bob Griffin

Veronica German is a former Assembly Member for the region who has served as the Welsh Lib Dem spokesperson on health, local government and equalities. She is a former county councillor in both Newport and Torfaen, and worked as a science teacher for over 20 years.

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Jo Swinson highlights need for better management to increase productivity

It sounds obvious, but well-,managed employees who feel part of a team with a shared goal perform better. Sadly, not all employees work under good managers who are able to get the best out of their teams. This week, Jo Swinson highlighted the need for good management as WSB reports:

“The role of good management skills needs to be more prominent in the thinking about productivity,” Swinson said.

One of the biggest challenges we face in dealing with the productivity dilemma in this country is about improving the quality of management skills.

She said the lack of managerial training was an “ingrained

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A liberal century

In many ways the 20th century could be described as a socialist one.

Internationally parties using that label emerged gaining electoral strength, or in some cases,notably Russia, lead successful revolutions.

In Britain, Labour overtook a Liberal Party wracked by division and by 1945 they appeared totally dominant.But as the century ended the collapse of the regimes in Eastern Europe left socialism of the authoritarian variety totally discredited and the democratic socialist parties in the West struggling to define themselves.

Here Blair created New Labour, dropped Clause 4 and built a new philosophy that turned out to be ideologically hollow. A temporary rise in their electoral fortunes has now given way to what looks like another long period of opposition and the inevitable soul searching that goes with it. Their current current leadership election could even bring about a split.

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ALDC’s by-election report – 23 July 2015

Neil Houston Long DittonLiberal Democrats had another good night in yesterday’s five principal council by-elections with the bonus of a parish council gain in Seaford, Lewes, East Sussex.

Holding Long Ditton ward on Elmbridge Borough Council in Surrey following a Lib Dem resignation was a healthy result and a welcome return to being on the council to Neil Houston. Neil was born in Liverpool and brought up Norfolk served as a Lib Dem councillor in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames till 2014.

Sadly we did not stand a candidates in New Tredegar Ward of the County borough of Caerphilly in Wales nor in the Harrow Road ward of Westminster City Council in London. In both cases Labour had comfortable victories with increased votes of 82.5% and 75.4% respectively.

In North East Lincolnshire Roy Horobin stood for the Lib Dems in Croft Baker ward which we held up to 2010 and had an encouraging result, leapfrogging UKIP to come third behind Labour and the Tories.

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  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 29th Jul - 4:44pm
    Would we write with wit?
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    @tpfkar 29th "Good for diversity, of gender,race and experience." But what about diversity of political outlook?
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    Looking at the issue more broadly there have been attempts to make hours of work in the Commons more family friendly. One possibility is getting...
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    The judge found this case "unarguably correct". What Cope and Phips are doing is using the courts to generate publicity for an opinion which should...
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    Stephen Booth, As the LibDems claim to be the arbiters and defenders of liberal philosophy they are obliged to engage in such activities. Liberalism is...