It’s International Day for the elimination of violence against women. Lynne Featherstone highlights need for men and boys to act. What do Liberal Democrat MPs do?

Today marks the start of 16 days of action, from today’s International Day for the elimination of violence against women to Human Rights Day on 10th December, when events all over the world will raise awareness and take action to stop violence against women.

Jo Swinson and Lynne Featherstone have been speaking to students  at an NUS event aimed at Kings College London about the importance of changing the culture and the role that men and boys need to play in that.

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Liberal Democrat members and ministers talk mental health for Channel 4’s political slot

Last week, the Liberal Democrats used their Political Slot with Channel 4 to talk about mental health. Norman Lamb said that it was “morally wrong and economically stupid” to deny people with mental ill health speedy treatment and talked about Liberal Democrat plans to introduce waiting time targets over the next five years.

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The ‘nowcast’ for May 2015 which gives the Lib Dems 28 MPs

Over at the polling website May2015 (part of the New Statesman stable) Matt Singh has asked the straightforward question, ‘How are the Lib Dems polling and will they survive in May 2015?’ Except it isn’t all that straightforward…

First, there’s the issue that the different polling companies don’t agree on what the current Lib Dem rating actually is. In the last fortnight, the party’s been rated as low as 5% (Opinium) and as high as 11% (ICM): that’s a difference outside the margin of error you might expect.

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A cute cross-party christening

Tom Watson is Labour MP or West Bromwich and general scourge of the Murdoch empire, which is no bad thing. He’s pretty much with us when he talks about the need to tackle politicians’ deference to the media.

He’s an old friend and university sparring partner of long-standing Liberal Democrat Federal Executive and Federal Conference Committee member James Gurling and this weekend became godfather to Gurling’s incredibly cute 9 month old son.

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Lamb urges online therapy for teenagers with Depression and McInnes urges Scottish Government to improve mental health services for young people

Norman Lamb has been talking to the Times (£)  about different ways of helping children and teenagers with Depression. This could include accessing therapy via an internet app. This would augment, to replace traditional face to face therapy:

MPs on the health select committee said this month that mental health services for children and teenagers were inadequate from prevention to crisis care, as they reported increasing concerns over cyberbullying and self-harm websites.

Mr Lamb wants to use online tools to solve some of these problems, including computerised cognitive behavioural therapy, online counselling and peer support networks for the mentally ill.

“If you’re a teenager and your world revolves around digital access, we must make sure you get access to therapy online. So these programmes are being developed. We’ve got a taskforce looking at how we can modernise children and young people’s mental health and that’s one of the key elements to it,” he told The Times.

“What I want to achieve is a much more seamless service that allows you access online, face to face or over the telephone, whichever is appropriate.”

Some programmes had already been shown to work, he said. “These platforms are evidence-based so the risk is very low that they’re not appropriate. Some people may need more than that so you have to have access to a gradation of different type of service.”

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LibLink: Ibrahim Taguri: Immigration – do you want the truth or something beautiful?

Brace yourselves. Brent Central Liberal Democrat candidate has written a hard-hitting and heartfelt article for the New Statesman on immigration. He expresses his anger at what passes for debate on the issue:

This country has been built on the blood, sweat and backs of immigrants. This is the story of immigration in this country. It’s about time the political establishment recognised this. Not make us feel like foreigners in our own country.

The disenfranchised working classes are being whipped up over the issue and after being long abandoned by Labour are turning to Ukip.

Our country is being betrayed by politicians who are too weak and too self-serving to make the positive case for immigration. Instead it’s a testosterone fuelled race as to who can be hard, harder and hardest on immigrants.

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Opinion: ALDE Party Council: Bouncing Czechs, “which Slovenes are the liberals?”*, and a prospective rise in the price of cod…

Whilst you might not have guessed it from those manifestos you read from candidates for places on the Party’s ALDE Council delegation, the policy debates were still in our future when Council made an early start on Friday morning.Our task was a straightforward one, debate changes to the constitution, including a revision of the membership structure, authorise the creation of a business club, consider six membership applications, receive and approve the 2015 budget and debate the report of the Bureau… in two hours (English Council, please note).

The constitutional changes were adopted, although there were concerns over the apparent absence of a code of conduct for fundraising. Luckily, a helpful British member of the Financial Advisory Committee was on hand to both reassure and clarify the position – there is one, it was available for circulation, and it could be applied to the proposed business club, a means for corporate sponsors to fund events without directly funding a political party’s campaigning activities.

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Tagged | 8 Comments

What do do if you haven’t had a ballot paper in the party Presidential Election

Over the last few months, the party has had the best Presidential election contest it’s had in years, with first four, then three candidates travelling the length of the country to meet and engage with members and answer their questions.

Now it’s almost over. Voting closes tomorrow at noon.

Ballot papers were sent out at the end of October to all members by post. Each member had an option of returning the green ballot paper, or using the unique information in it to vote by post.

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Baroness Sally Hamwee writes…Lords push for a stronger Modern Slavery Bill

Parliament is never short of Bills coming from the Home Office, but the Modern Slavery Bill is different.  At the end of the second reading in the Lords last week, the Minister pointed to the warm reception given by every speaker who followed this with seven minutes on all the things that could be added to it.  The view on the Lib Dem benches, like others, was to welcome the Bill both for what it is and for the opportunity it provides to do even more to address the abomination (and very big business – this is often highly profitable …

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Opinion: The assessment boycott and the need to protect students with disabilities

I have just started university and all is going well, except in one particular area. I have not received a single piece of work back from my university tutors since my course began. This because of a assessment boycott instigated by the University and Colleges Union (UCU). They are is a dispute with the group that represents the heads of most universities in the UK (UUK) over pensions. I am in the same boat as thousands of other university and college students in the UK. this is not only very annoying it is also very disruptive the my university education. As a student with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs), this includes myself as I have Dyslexia and Dyspraxia. This is putting a massive amount of undue extra pressure on me and many others at the beginning of our university lives. I have made a brief video which explains this further:

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Opinion: ALDE Congress: Après le deluge, liberalism reclaimed?

Rainy Lisbon by vidixitIt had been raining in Portugal’s capital, Lisbon. Indeed, it had been raining for so long and so hard that local taxi drivers couldn’t remember it being worse. Not, perhaps, an auspicious opening for a meeting of European liberals, although for the Germans and ourselves, the notion of poor political weather might well have been vaguely familiar.But, gather we did, and amongst our midst were strangers, hoping to be friends, and some of the new MEPs and European Commissioners, showing their faces and networking. There were emerging issues to discuss – what to do about Russia, how to grow the economy, what to do about the digital economy, privacy and data protection – and a desire to reclaim liberalism from those who use it as a term of abuse.

The first order of business was the ALDE Party Council meeting, but I’ll cover that separately.

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In full: Willie Rennie’s speech to Scottish Conference

Willie Rennie speaking at Lib Dem Spring conference, Liverpool 2008Here is Willie Rennie’s speech to Scottish Conference in Dunfermline this Saturday.

Thank you to everyone who sent kind wishes following my period of absence from the political stage. I was undergoing an operation to replace a mangled disc in my neck.

It was an emergency, not for any medical reasons, but because our campaign director Adam Stachura said it was hindering my canvassing technique.

Lying on the theatre trolley as the needle was about to be injected into my hand the doctor declared she knew exactly who I was.

It was even more alarming that she looked remarkably like Nicola Sturgeon.

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Opinion: What’s that you say, Mr Robinson?

Peter robinson by alan in belfastThis weekend,  Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson addressed his party conference for the last time before the General Election and launched his ire at losing his seat in Westminster last time out. Talking of the DUP candidate’s chances for East Belfast next May he said:

There may be other unionists in the field, but they will only serve to divide the pro-union opposition to the flag-lowering, parade-stopping, gay marriage-supporting, pro water-charging, holier-than-thou Alliance Party.

It’s an interesting choice of words, which drew applause from his audience but needs a serious look at the implications of what they mean, for our sister party in Northern Ireland.

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Julian Huppert MP writes… Recalling MPs – how to let the public recall MPs who have committed misconduct

Today, the Recall of MPs Bill comes back to the House of Commons for further consideration.  During its Committee Stage, David Heath and I proposed improvements, which would ensure that constituents could access the recall process without the involvement of any parliamentary committee (link to previous article).

Greg Clark, the Government Minister responding to our proposals, told MPs that it was an “important suggestion much to commend it” and that he would “reflect carefully on the amendment.”  This is usually parliamentary parlance for “I like this idea and will bring it back in my own name at the next stage”.

However, …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 6 Comments

Nick Clegg taking questions on mental health on Mind’s Facebook page today

nick clegg live tweet town hall 1st may 2014In a Facebook first, Nick Clegg will be taking questions on mental health over on Mind’s Facebook page this lunchtime, starting at 12:30 pm.

He put this brief video on his own page to explain why he thinks this is important and is quoted on Mind’s website:

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An overview of Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference

Scottish liberal democratsFor the first time in 5 years, and only the third in the almost 15 years we’ve been back in Scotland, I missed a Scottish Conference this weekend. I had a particularly unpleasant bug that kept me in my bed for almost 3 days. Be gentle with me because I’m still not quite recovered.

The event had keynote speeches from Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael and leader Willie Rennie, a discussion on the manifesto led by Jo Swinson and motions on subjects such as access to mental health services for young people and putting more NHS resources in areas of deprivation – a patient premium. The conference also passed a landmark motion calling for decriminalisation of sex work. You can have a look at the motions up for debate here. There was, I am told, even a good old-fashioned tammy on amending Conference Standing Orders which the Establishment won – but only after a counted vote.

My colleague Dave Gorman, from Falkirk gave a brief summary of the day on Facebook and I have his permission to reproduce it here:

My experience of being a Liberal Democrat, and the vitriol and nonsense written and spoken about us, causes me to write this. Today we agreed policy on, inter alia, widening participation to democracy including giving a duty to electoral officers to stimulate voting; providing new rights to sex workers and decriminalising it; extra funding for GP practices based on special funding in deprived areas; new support for poorer workers and much more. I remain proud to stand with fellow Liberal Democrats to promote opportunity and to promote the rights and opportunities of the minority, the oppressed and the poorest. So there.

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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #399

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 399th 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 (16-22 November, 2014), 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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Alex Folkes: Cornwall Council and its chief executive have serious questions to answer

Many Lib Dems will know Alex Folkes. He’s a Lib Dem councillor on Cornwall Council, and was a member of its cabinet until earlier this month, when he stood down to “deal with a personal issue”. I noticed it at the time, hoped it was nothing too bad, thought no more of it.

Then on Thursday night I read Alex’s 1,500-word blog-post, ‘The truth about why I resigned and the claims being made against me’.

It is an extraordinary account which, if shown to be true, must surely lead to the resignation of Cornwall Council’s chief executive, Andrew Kerr. It was Mr Kerr who has asked Alex to resign from the council over claims he poses a “potential risk” to children. Last week, without giving Alex any advance notice, the council wrote to all schools and youth clubs in his ward about him and issued a press release to say they had done so. Why? Here’s how Alex tells it:

Posted in News | Tagged , , , and | 23 Comments

Should Liberal Democrat Voice put up a post if and when a blogger leaves the party?

charlotte henryIn a spasm of madness a few weeks ago, from their conclavial confinement, the Liberal Democrat Voice team saw fit to emit a puff of white smoke in favour of myself, concerning the vexed matter of who would be Wednesday Editor of this august and elegantly barnacle-clad ship of the cyber-seas.

In the course of my duties last Wednesday, my not-very sophisticated news gathering antennae became aware of the news that Charlotte Henry had left the party. Newsmoggie kindly published a post concerning that. An interesting comments debate ensued under said post and it was one of our most popular offerings for this week.

Posted in Humour and Site news | 41 Comments

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

7 ver 4 fullMany thanks to the 17,000 visitors who dropped by Lib Dem Voice this week. Here’s our 7 most-read posts…

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LibLink: Danny Alexander – The coalition has helped, not hurt the poor

Danny Alexander by Paul WalterDanny Alexander, Lib Dem chief secretary to the Treasury, has an article in today’s Observer rejecting the paper’s front page lead last week headlined ‘Revealed: how coalition has helped rich by hitting poor’.

I absolutely reject this assertion. Nick Clegg and I led the Liberal Democrats into coalition not just to rescue the British economy from the aftermath of the 2008 crash, but to do so fairly.

He details, with examples, various of the Coalition’s policies which aren’t picked up in the analysis reported by the Observer …

Posted in LibLink | Tagged and | 67 Comments

New LDV members’ survey now live: your views on

imageThe new LDV members’ survey is now live. So if you are one of the 1,500+ registered members of the Liberal Democrat Voice forum — and any paid-up party member is welcome to join — then you now have the opportunity to make your views known.

Questions we’re asking this month include:

  • do you support the broadcasters’ proposal for the televised leaders’ debates;
Posted in LDV Members poll | 2 Comments

In the next month 43 seats will short-list their wannabe Lib Dem MPs

Lib Dems winning hereHere’s the full list of selection contests in the coming month available for Lib Dems on the approved parliamentary candidates’ list, together with the closing date for applications.

The following seats have selections in progress and are currently advertising for candidates:

Posted in Selection news | Tagged | 23 Comments

How Lib Dems should talk about immigration

british future immigrationThis week saw the publication of an important report from the think-tank British Future called ‘How to talk about immigration’.

Its central thrust is that the majority of the British public’s views about immigration are more moderate, pragmatic and nuanced than the polarising debate often allows:

How to talk about immigration challenges both the pro and anti-migration voices to respond to the public’s desire for a sensible conversation about immigration.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , and | 23 Comments

What’s being debated in our members’ forum this week?

members forum wordleLibDemVoice has two parallel sites. The first is our public blog, the thing you’re reading now. The second is our private members’ forum, which only current Lib Dem members can access.

If you’re a member and want to chat with fellow party members about any issue that’s on your mind, then why not sign up? In addition, you’ll be included in our regular surveys’ of party members’ views.

Here’s some of the most active discussions this past 7 days:

Posted in Site news | 3 Comments

By-election update: Lib Dem progress in Stockport

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)Three principal council by-elections were fought yesterday alongside the Parliamentary contest in Rochester & Strood.

In Stockport, the Conservatives held on to their seat in Bramhall South & Woodford despite a hard-fought campaign by the Liberal Democrat team. Polling day saw many volunteers from across the Greater Manchester area descend on the Stockport MB ward in an attempt to clinch victory from the Conservatives. However the Conservative candidate polled 53.2% to secure victory by 578 votes. Liberal Democrat candidate Jeremy Meal managed to increase the party’s …

Posted in News | Tagged and | 26 Comments

LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League: how it stands after Week 11

Congratulations to Jon Featonby, who continues to lead the LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League after Week 11, having amassed a whopping 675 points. Not far behind is George Murray (663), then Sam Bowman (659).

A bit of a gap has opened up between the top three and the chasing pack: fourth-placed Andrew Wiseman is 34 points back. However, just 69 points separates the top whole of the top 10, a gap that can easily be closed. After all, where we work we win, right?

For information only, the bottom placed team has 205 points, dangerously close to a lost deposit.

Posted in News | Tagged | 4 Comments

Lib Dem Party Committee election results

Libby - Some rghts reserved by David SpenderThe Lib Dems have this evening announced the results of the elections to its Party Committees as voted for by conference representatives. Congratulations to all elected; commiserations to those who weren’t.

The lists of those elected (and not), ordered by first preference votes, follows…

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged and | 34 Comments

Compromise signalled on future of TPIMs

The Guardian and other outlets are reporting that the new anti-terror bill to be published next week will include a power to force individuals subject to TPIMs to relocate within the UK, subject to a restricted definition of terrorism and a higher burden of proof.

Posted in News | 30 Comments

Emily Thornberry resigns over tweet

Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry has resigned from the front bench over a tweet from Rochester which shows, at best, a gulf of understanding between the Labour front bench and working class “white van man”.

Posted in News | 69 Comments
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