Paul Burstow writes…Care Act shows how Lib Dems in Government make society fairer

Knowing that you will receive the best care possible means the world to everyone who finds themselves or their loved ones in need of social care.
That is why I made it my first priority as Care Minister, and together with Norman Lamb – our current Care Minister – and other Lib Dem colleagues we have worked hard to reform our badly out of date care system and drag it into the twenty first century.
Today, that work reaches a major milestone with the Care Act coming into effect. As the independent health charity the Kings Fund put it, on social care “the coalition has made more progress in five years than the previous government did in thirteen”.
The Care Act creates new rights and protections for people who need care and new rights for the friends and family who selflessly care for them. It puts in place for the first time a national rules to determine when a person is eligible for care ending the unfair postcode lottery that existed in the past. This means that  people with the same level of care needs will now be treated in the same way wherever they live. It also puts people’s wellbeing at the heart of all care decisions, and creates new responsibilities for local authorities to make sure that support is available to stop people developing care needs in the first place.
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Why did Cameron’s and Clegg’s Palace business have to be conducted in secret?

I was pretty grumpy on Monday when I was watching the rolling news coverage. First of all, the BBC had live reporting from Westminster, the only place in the country you wouldn’t find any politicians following the dissolution of Parliament. Ok, so they did find Simon Hughes, but they could have headed a couple of miles down the road to go to him.

Then there were people reporting from Downing Street long after everyone had departed to ht the campaign trail.

But what made my blood boil was the aerial shots of Buckingham Palace broadcast as David Cameron and Nick Clegg made their visits there. We all know what it looks like. The BBC and Sky didn’t really need to spend money on a helicopter to give us pictures of one of the most familiar sites in the country if not the world.

Why on earth were  we not able to see what was going on inside? What’s with the mystery? It wasn’t very exciting, but we weren’t even given a photograph of the occasions. Cameron met first with the Queen, although that was pretty much a waste of time given that the dissolution of Parliament is an automatic process these days. Then Nick Clegg met with the Privy Council he chairs to carry out the necessary formality. When I say chairs, there actually aren’t any as the meetings are traditionally held with everyone standing to make them shorter. 

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Well, it is April 1st

We’re pleased many of you enjoyed our little prank today.  To maintain the joke we kept all most of the comments in moderation, but have now released them, so you can go back and see who fell for it.

For some readers the penny only dropped when they read our new comments policy for today.

Here is a round-up of some other April Fools that we liked across the media:

The Guardian tried to get us to believe that Jeremy Clarkson had turned environmental campaigner.

Pink News told us that Nick Clegg had joined Grindr for the duration of the election.

And scientists at Cern say May The Force be with EU.

Mark Pack had a beautifully crafted piece about how the party was using automated technology. The first part was almost plausible. we rumbled it at the robo-calling and the end is hilarious.

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AIDS organisations and Elton John support Liberal Democrat candidate Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett over HIV disclosure

On Monday, Liberal Democrat candidate for Vauxhall Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett told Buzzfeed about his HIV status which means that he’s the first openly HIV positive candidate to contest an election in the UK. Yesterday, as Buzzfeed reports, Sir Elton John and his husband David Furnish praised his courage.

After hearing about the story, Elton John and his husband David Furnish contacted BuzzNews News with a heartfelt message of support for Adrian.

“Elton John and David Furnish applaud Adrian Trett for his courage and bravery in publicly acknowledging his HIV+ status,” the statement said. “He is a fine example that HIV+ people live robust, happy and productive lives. We wish him all the best.”

Adrian was really chuffed with this:

He told BuzzFeed News: “I’m completely overwhelmed to have the support of Elton John and David Furnish and particularly appreciate it coming as a result of disclosing my HIV status. Their kindness means a lot to me, not least because Elton and David, along with the Elton John AIDS Foundation, have worked tirelessly on combatting HIV/AIDS – and the stigma surrounding it – for years.”

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Something nasty – why the Tories aren’t making headway

“I saw something nasty in the woodshed”- Ada Doom, ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ by Stella Gibbons
There is some bafflement in the Tory ranks as to why their party isn’t shooting ahead of Labour in the polls. David Cameron is very popular. People think Ed Miliband is a “muppet”. So why aren’t the Conservatives surging ahead?

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What’s happening on P-36, Wednesday 1st April?

Shared Parental Leave is the theme of the day as the big yellow battle bus heads for East Dunbartonshire and a nursery visit.Parents of babies due on or after this Saturday will be able to choose how they share 50 of the 52 weeks of parental leave. The only stipulation is that mothers have to take the first two weeks after the birth.

This is a policy that ticks all the stronger economy, fairer society and opportunity for everyone boxes. Nick will be visiting the nursery with the minister who introduced the measure, Jo Swinson, in her constituency.

Also in Scotland, Willie Rennie gives a speech to the Scottish Police Federation. Police officers in Scotland have suffered from the actions of their senior managers in recent years. Their Chief Constable and his colleagues have been caught out telling untruths to Parliament over armed police and stop and search on several occasions. Officers are also reeling from a target driven culture that places the emphasis on form filling and targets rather than just doing the job.

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++Lib Dems hit another big fundraising target

Great news! Just after midnight last night, Tim Gordon, Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats, sent this message to party members from his Blackberry:

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Liberal Democrat Voice comments policy upgrade

crotpa20002Following the dissolution of Parliament on Monday, today the terms of the Representation of the People Acts come into force. To comply with those terms, Liberal Democrat Voice is upgrading its comments policy forthwith. The enhanced policy can be read here. There will be a brief, almost indiscernible, pause in comments today while essential technical adjustments are transacted.

From now until election day, as per advice in the ALDC Election Law Handbook and in the Agents Manual, all comments by a parliamentary candidate, or by anyone who has campaigned (including telephone canvassing)  for a parliamentary candidate, should contain the correct imprint for that candidate. If a commenter has campaigned for more than one candidate then s/he should provide a separate imprint for each one.

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38 Degrees take another step to putting right their NHS mistake

Further to my post this morning, 38 Degrees have made another step to making amends for their mistake on the NHS. However, they have had to be dragged at every stage.

They have retweeted a graphic produced for them by Lancashire Lib Dem Paul Valentine, and have been tweeting it to people who have complained at their lack of response.

It’s only taken them five days.

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House of Comments podcast: Mark Thompson, Scotland, Camibland and Lib Dem prospects

House of CommentsOn Saturday afternoon, I joined Mark Thompson on his recently rejuvenated House of Comments podcast. He’s doing it in a new format with just one guest. We spent around 45 minutes chatting about the week’s events.

We kind of had to talk about the Camibland debate. I mentioned the imbalance between the questions the two men got. Kay Burley actually asked Cameron if he’d ever eaten three shredded wheat. In the same segment, Ed was asked if he had done a better job than his brother could have done. All …

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Liberal Democrats raise half a million pounds from members and supporters

The Liberal Democrats are quietly breaking all sorts of records at the moment. Membership is increasing, a million doors have been knocked on this year and yesterday, we passed a significant milestone – £500,000 has been raised from members and supporters, a record for this stage of any election campaign.

As we reported the other day, there’s a match funding offer on at the moment with a target of raising £300,000 by the end of today to support the election campaigns of our key candidates across the country. The party hopes to raise £600,000 in total simply from online donations. If you want to help out with this, you can donate here.

The new member and supporter database has been a very effective tool in turning this method of donation from one of the smallest to one of the biggest income streams by helping the team ask for the right amount at the right times. They seem to know what pushes my buttons, for sure. One picture of Tony Blair and I’m reaching for my credit card. I’m waiting for the email that reads:

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P-37: What are the Liberal Democrats talking about today? Mental Health and the manifesto for the mind

We’ll be having daily deeper and more detailed look at the party’s main theme. Today it’s mental health. Nick Clegg and Norman Lamb this morning said that Liberal Democrats (or should that be Democats?) would invest £3.5 billion in mental health over the next Parliament.

Part of our record in Government includes securing £150 million to help young people with eating disorders. A new video shows Kat sharing her experience of living with an eating disorder:

The Party’s Manifesto for the mind outlines a wide-ranging suite of measures to improve mental health services:

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Joey Essex on the Liberal Democats and “nice” and “honest” Nick Clegg

Liberal DemocatsIt’s fair to say that one of the last people we expected to turn up at a Liberal Democrat press conference was Joey Essex from TOWIE.

He was there this morning, though, as he’s doing some briefings for young people.

He managed to grab a selfie with Nick Clegg:

The Mirror has details of the conversation between them when Joey revealed that he thought we were called the Liberal Democats:

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Peter Preston reminisces about David Steel’s by-election victory half a century ago

Former Guardian editor Peter Preston has been reminiscing about the Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles by-election 50 years ago which was won by a young David Steel. He’s been to the opening of a new exhibition celebrating the by-election and muses on the difference between politics then and now.

First, he sets the scene:

Fifty years ago, as a neophyte Guardian reporter, I covered the Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles byelection that catapulted David Steel into parliament. Now I’m back in Selkirk to open an exhibition celebrating his victory: a kind of still living artefact in a mini-museum full of faded speeches, posters and promises. Ah yes, I remember it well. The eerily youthful “boy David” who went on to lead the Liberals through that pact; wildly enthusiastic meetings, 300 or more strong, greeting big hitters – George Brown, Lord Hailsham, Jo Grimond – up from the smoke; an enthusiasm and a turnout (81.5%) with referendum intensity.But the past is not an island – even in a chilly mansion-cum-embryo-arts-centre perched by a loch. For the clan gathering to congratulate the old boy (aka Lord Steel of Aikwood) is large and intriguing. Here’s George Reid, the early SNP warrior who succeeded Steel as presiding officer in the Edinburgh parliament. Here’s Tam Dalyell of the Binns, Labour’s superlative stoker of backbench trouble through four decades. Here (well, at least expected soon) is Ronald King Murray, 92, who lost his Labour deposit but went on to win laurels as lord advocate. Here are canvassers who tramped the streets of Galashiels, folk with a memory leaning on a stick.

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38 Degrees get it badly wrong on Lib Dem funding for NHS – but don’t do nearly enough to put it right

Everyone makes mistakes. That’s a fact of life. However, when you do, you need to properly acknowledge it and make amends.

One of the key Liberal Democrat priorities for this election is that we would fund the £8 billion that the NHS in England needs. In fact, we’re spending more than that on health because  there are Barnett consequentials giving about another billion to Scotland and Wales. It’s not difficult to understand.

Last Thursday, campaign organisation 38 Degrees put up a graphic on its Facebook page which compared party’s pledges against what the NHS needed. The figure cited for the Liberal Democrats was just £2 billion, a mere quarter of what we intend to spend.  This has now been shared by over 1400 people and has been seen by many, many more.

Many people have pointed out the glaring error in their graphic. To each comment, the organisation has made an individual reply:

38 Degrees apology over NHS

 

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What’s happening on P-37, Tuesday 31st March?

Today was the first of the traditional morning election press conferences. Liberal Democrats hold ours in the National Liberal Club, just off Whitehall. It’s a lovely building with super views over the Thames. This morning Nick Clegg and Norman Lamb launched the party’s Manifesto for the Mind. This sets out how the party would invest £3.5 billion over the next Parliament to improve mental health service, reduce waiting times. Nick Clegg said:

Liberal Democrats believe that no matter who you are, where you come from and what your circumstances, you should not be denied the opportunity to fulfil your potential.

Yet, in Britain today, millions of people are denied the opportunity to get on and live happy, fulfilling lives because they live with mental health issues.

One in four of us will experience mental health problems at some point in our lives. And yet, for decades, mental health services have been neglected by successive governments, the poor relation of physical health problems.

That’s why in Government, the Liberal Democrats have slowly started to undo that damage.

In the coalition government’s final Budget we secured more than a billion pounds to revolutionise services for children and young people, alongside the first ever waiting times standards and a plan to roll out talking therapies across England.

But we cannot and must not rest there. Equality for people with mental health issues is a liberal mission.

As this document sets out, in Government again, we will continue to put mental health front and centre of the political debate.

That’s why I am so immensely proud that we are the first party to put equality for people with mental health problems on the front page of our full General Election manifesto.

Only the Liberal Democrats can keep Britain on track and provide both a stronger economy and a fairer society with strong public services.

Only the Liberal Democrats can and will make sure mental health is treated with the same urgency as physical health, with money to back that up, and challenge the stigma every day.

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Former LGBT+ chair Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett becomes Britain’s first openly HIV positive candidate

Adrian Hyyrylainen-TrettI am feeling incredibly emotional this evening. What I’m feeling ranges from intense pride in a friend whose courage in telling his story will help others, to equally intense, ice-cold rage at what he has had to endure over the years. Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett is the Liberal Democrat candidate for Vauxhall. He is a former chair of LGBT+ Lib Dems. Tonight, he has spoken to Buzzfeed about the bullying he suffered at school, how this led him to contemplate suicide at the age of just 14 and how his mental health deteriorated during his early adult life. He tells how he contracted HIV 11 years ago.

The fact that Adrian’s health has improved, he has found happiness in his personal life and professional success will be an inspiration to other young people who are suffering in the same way. I understand a little bit of what it’s like to be that teenager everyone hates who thinks the world would be so much better without her. Except when I was a teenager, nobody talked about this kind of stuff and I thought I was alone and the feelings I had were because I was a bad person.

You need to read the whole interview. It’s powerful, eloquent and very, very frank.

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Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems can be very proud of themselves

In the photo above, Nick Clegg leaves Number Ten Downing Street this morning for an audience with the Queen upon the dissolution of Parliament.

We’ve had many debates on this website about the record of the Lib Dems in government. Nick Clegg has received shedloads of stinging criticism.

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Sal Brinton and the grassroots

Sal Brinton addresses the rally Liverpool Spring conference 2015 Phoito by LIberal DemocratsYesterday Party President Sal Brinton was interviewed by Dermot Murnaghan for Sky News.

You can read the full transcript of the interview here, but here are some snippets:

DM: … you are in touch with the Lib Dem grassroots as President and we heard from Lord Steel, the former leader, saying there is no appetite amongst Lib Dems for another coalition.

SAL BRINTON: That’s not the grassroots that I’ve been talking to.

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Opinion: It’s not just Britain and France

 

At Conference Nick Clegg mentioned that the only European powers with any worthwhile military capability are Britain and France. Apart from the fact that we are just one more round of defence cuts away from that not being true in Britain’s case, it is also a very WESTERN European world-view. It is true that so far as expeditionary warfare is concerned, only Britain and France have any great capability to send troops to the far corners of the globe, but it is not just expeditionary warfare that matters in this world.

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Opinion: Liberal Internationalism

During Nick Clegg’s Q&A session at the Spring Conference in Liverpool there were three questions that in their different ways touched on Liberalism in the international environment. Ones on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), NATO spending and Hong Kong. Nick’s replies were I reminder of why Liberalism is best placed to shape the 21st Century.

With much of the Middle East in turmoil and Russia busy advancing into Ukraine, it is perhaps superfluous to point out that Liberalism is not yet a universal creed – and there is also China. Home to a millennia old Legalist tradition, which practiced totalitarianism …

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Opinion: Ed Miliband has taken the left along for a ride

 

Ever since Ed Miliband was elected as Labour leader in 2010 all the talk has been about how he is taking Labour back to the left, but the truth is very different. The problem is he has gone along with this narrative and now runs a deeply divided party, saying one thing, but doing another.

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A tale of a fox and a duck

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Tony Greaves writes … Haggling over more than the haggis?

 

Let’s assume, as I did in previous pieces here and here, that no party will win a majority on May 7th, and that all the post-election pressure will be for a minority government with an arrangement with one or more other parties that falls short of coalition. On current polls the Liberal Democrats will not get enough seats for it to be practicable for us to enter coalition, and the third largest party will be the SNP who have made it clear they will not enter any coalition but will seek a looser agreement with Labour.

None of this may happen but the probability seems high enough to discuss how it might work. I am also assuming that, for reasons I’ve also set out previously here, the Fixed-term Parliaments Act will make it very difficult for anyone to force an early second election. In spite of this (or perhaps with some level of ignorance) both Labour and Conservative MPs seem to favour minority government. All this could mean that a minority government may not only be the short term outcome, but could last for some time – perhaps a full five years.

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Paddy Ashdown on the campaign trail

 

We have The Courier to thank for this story:

Former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown is quite the character. Aside from his rather acerbic literary take on Alex Salmond’s referendum diaries, his loose cannon nature proves both entertaining and stressful for party staffers.

However, as campaign coordinator, he still knows how to turn on the charm.

During a door-knocking session in North East Fife, he was invited into a woman’s Newport home after being told she had a house guest who was a fan of his.

It turns out the person was Chinese and he ended up having a full-blown conversation in Mandarin. It’s just a pity for Paddy and his party that she’s not eligible to vote!

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What is happening today, then?

 

At midnight last night Parliament was dissolved. Members of Parliament are expected to clear their desks and retreat to their constituencies, if they are re-standing, or to go and help new candidates.

But the country is not without Government. Ministers will continue to hold their posts right until a new Government is formed after the election, so we have the unusual sight, for Lib Dems, of some of our own remaining in power throughout the short election campaign.

photo by:
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The Independent View: Countdown to the Election

Lib Dem Voice has received this article from Matrix Chambers, a law firm that specialises in election law. It offers the opportunity to sign up for weekly briefings during the election period.

It’s trite to say, but we are just weeks away from the most important General Election in a generation – especially for those interested in election law. The culture of fighting elections – and the public’s role within that – has changed in recent years owing to new technology. There is now also new (and untested) legislation restricting the actions of professional third party campaigners.

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Diane Abbott condemns “shameful” Labour mug and the policy that goes with it

The controversy over Labour’s “Controls on immigration” mugwhich I wrote about last night, continues. 108 units have been sold since I first looked this morning, netting the party over £500.The goodwill it will have lost Labour is priceless, though.  Seriously, how would you feel if you had gone through hell trying to get into this country, had finally got your visa and been reunited with your spouse whom you hadn’t seen for ages only to be assaulted with headlines demonising immigrants on a  daily basis. How would you feel if you saw someone drinking out of a mug like that?Not very welcome, I can imagine. Maybe a little fearful about what that person thought of you.

Senior MP Diane Abbott is far from impressed. Earlier she tweeted:

Over on LabourList, Maya Goodfellow shares Abbott’s sentiments:

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LDVideo: Nick Clegg speaking in Oxford West and Abingdon today

Thanks to Daisy Benson for putting this on You Tube. If this was the West Wing, it would be Nick’s stump speech and every time he speaks in the next few weeks, it’ll be the “modified stump” that he delivers.

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LDVideo: Naomi Long reads out and responds to mean tweets

Twitter abuse is an occupational hazard for anyone who has an opinion, especially if they happen to be female. If you are a woman, it’s not only what you say but how you look that is fair game for the trolls.

Alliance MP Naomi Long had a bit of Friday fun this week as she read out some of the abuse she’d received over the years and get her own back with some witty retorts. I think my personal favourite was her response to the one about the size of her backside – a subject on which Alistair Carmichael waded in with support for Naomi.

Anyway, watch and enjoy:

You might also be interested in one of Jo Swinson’s favourite antidotes to the haters. Thank you, haters, by Clever Pie and Isabel Fay is very funny.

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