Author Archives: Caron Lindsay

Autumn Conference registration now open

An email from Andrew Wiseman, chair of Federal Conference Committee, announced that registration was open for Autumn Conference in Bournemouth.

The Dorset town is my favourite conference venue. Maybe I’m just biased because the weather was so gorgeous the last time we were there, and the Goat and Tricycle pub is one of the nicest and has fantastic beer, but I’d strongly recommend coming. Let’s hope that we have many more MPs to welcome, too.

The exceptionally good news is that the Early Bird Discount rate would normally run out before the election, but it has been extended until 23rd June. This shows that the Conference Office and Federal Conference Committee have listened to criticism they received (some of it from me) about previous events when the discount has expired at a time when it would have caused difficulties for people. So, well done to them for that. 

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Could Rachel Johnson stand as a Lib Dem candidate?

First of all, Rachel Johnson, writer and journalist, welcome to the Liberal Democrats. Every media outlet is telling us that she has joined and some are even suggesting that she will be a candidate for the Liberal Democrats in this coming general election. The Guardian is feverishly speculating:

Johnson’s decision to join the Lib Dems is expected to infuriate her brother Boris, who has had a relatively marginal role in the post-Brexit negotiations so far.

She could not be reached for comment, while a spokesman for the Lib Dems declined to confirm her membership, citing data protection rules.

With just nine MPs,

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Save the date: 24 May for TV Leaders’ Debate

And it’ll be a good one, too.

No, Theresa and Jeremy haven’t overcome their fear of Tim Farron. This is the Scottish Leaders’ Debate where Willie Rennie will spend an hour and a half at 8:30 pm on STV debating Nicola Sturgeon, Kezia Dugdale and Ruth Davidson.

From the STV website:

The Scottish debates are usually of pretty decent quality and you should be able to watch on the live stream south of the border.

 

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Alex Cole-Hamilton: Family cap and rape clause have no place in a civilised society

Yesterday the Scottish Parliament debated the Conservative cuts to tax credit which means that only two children per family are covered.

Every Scottish Conservative MSP voted for it, with many robustly defending the policy. Their line seems to be, as the Conservative candidate at my local council hustings said last week, that this is a compassionate (that’s the word she actually used) exemption. They are also saying that the woman doesn’t have to fill it in, it’s a third party. Well, have a look at the form and imagine how you would feel if it applied to you. You have to write down the name of your child and sign a declaration that “I believe the non-consensual conception exception applies to my child.” How you can do that without your mind drifting back to the traumatic circumstances of that conception? You are also then required to take the form to a third party to get them to fill it in. You are going to have to relive that ordeal. You may never have told anyone about it before and be worried about whether you are going to be believed. If implementation of a policy requires this sort of trauma, then the policy itself is clearly wrong.

There were many fantastic speeches from across the Chamber, including moving personal testimonies sent to MSPs like Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale.

The Liberal Democrats were represented by Alex Cole-Hamilton, who condemned these policies – and pointed out that during the coalition years, we had put a stop to their introduction:

I pay tribute to Kez Dugdale and Sandra White for offering very moving personal testimonies, and I congratulate the Scottish Government on lodging the motion. I assure it of the support of the Liberal Democrats. We will support Kez Dugdale’s and Alison Johnstone’s amendments, as well.

Who can forget Theresa May’s inaugural words in her tenure as Prime Minister? In her Francis of Assisi moment on the steps of number 10, she said of families that rely on tax credits in particular:

“If you’re from an ordinary working class family, life is much harder than many people in Westminster realise. You have a job but you don’t always have job security. You have your own home, but you worry about paying a mortgage. You can just about manage but you worry about the cost of living and getting your kids into a good school … I know you’re working around the clock, I know you’re doing your best, and I know that sometimes life can be a struggle. The government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few, but by yours.”

In the two-child tax credit cap and the rape clause that underpins it, we see the measure of that commitment made flesh. I am certain that those words have now turned to ash in the Prime Minister’s mouth.

There are days in the chamber when we are debating welfare reform and social security matters in which I rise to speak with some trepidation and a recognition that there were times when my party, through dint of the coalition, participated in decisions and reforms that were distasteful to us as Liberals, but were far less egregious than those that our partners originally proposed. Members rightly lose no time in reminding me of that in colourful interventions. That is fair enough, but the untold story of our days in coalition is what never made it to the statute book thanks to Liberal Democrat resistance: regional pay, which would penalise any workers outside the south-east of England, inheritance tax cuts for millionaires and enhanced powers for employers to sack staff without notice or recourse to a tribunal.

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There, he’s said it. You can leave him alone now

So, we’re teetering on the edge of a massive Tory hard Brexit cliff. The UK is in danger of breaking up because of the Tory preoccupation with finding the bumpiest, riskiest way out of the European Union. Donald Trump has his finger on the nuclear button and North Korea is deliberately winding him up.

Yet our media gets all obsessed about whether a man with a good track record on LGBT rights thinks gay sex is a sin. Today, Tim put the matter finally beyond doubt in an interview with the BBC.  

He said:

“I don’t believe that gay sex is a sin,” he said.

“I take the view though that as a political leader, my job is not to pontificate on theological matters.”

Mr Farron said that with a general election campaign under way, it was important to be talking about “big issues” like health and social care and Brexit.

“I am quite careful about how I talk about my faith. I do not bang on about it, I do not make a secret out of it,” he said.

“On reflection, it makes sense to actually answer this direct question since it’s become an issue.”

He also said the Lib Dems had “undoubtedly the best record” on gay rights out of all political parties.

Personally, I’d rather politicians kept their traps shut about what was sinful and what is not. So, clearly, does Tim, yet this whole thing was clearly not going to go away until he made a definitive statement. I feel more than a little bit livid that someone with a fantastic record on LGBT equality has been pushed like this. Nobody has asked Theresa May the same question, nor any of the other Christian MPs with much worse voting records.

Writing sensible stuff about Lib Dems in right wing publications once is quite incredible, twice in two days seems almost reckless, but  journalist Stephen Daisley has done exactly that. There was yesterday’s Scottish Daily Mail article saying that the Lib Dems must be taken seriously and now he’s written about what he calls the cruel hounding of Tim Farron for the Spectator.

Journalists feel no misgivings about doing just that to Tim Farron because they suspect him of holding a view they deem bigoted and because although he is a Lib Dem he is not a member of a favoured minority. Their transgression is not political correctness but hypocrisy and the impotent obsessions of identity politics. If we are to bring a theological critique to the campaign trail, a man who seldom talks publicly about his faith seems an odd target when the Prime Minister speaks so openly about hers. How does Tory policy on refugees square with Isaiah 1:17? Or their welfare reforms with Proverbs 22:16 and 22:22?

Except that would look priggish and doesn’t have social media ‘shareability’. Forgive them, Tim Farron, they know exactly what they do.

This was some of the reaction on Twitter:

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Eluned Parrott selected to fight Cardiff Central

Former Welsh Assembly member Eluned Parrott has been selected to fight the constituency of Cardiff Central which, until 2015 was held by Jenny Willott.

Eluned fought the seat for the Welsh Assembly last year and came within 1000 votes of victory.

From the Cardiff Lib Dem website:

The Lib Dems are odds-on favourite to win Cardiff Central (at 4/6 with Betfair on Monday morning), and have been endorsed by pro-EU newspaper The New European as the clear choice in the fight against a hard Brexit.

Eluned Parrott said:
“I hadn’t intended to come back into politics, but Brexit changed everything. I can’t simply stand by and let our country be ripped apart by hatred and division.

“I want to represent Cardiff Central in Parliament to fight Theresa May’s divisive Hard Brexit, both for the majority here who voted Remain and the many who voted Leave but want to stay in the Single Market.

“Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party isn’t providing Britain with a real opposition to this Conservative Brexit Government. That’s why people are turning to the Liberal Democrats in droves – as you can see by the dozens of by-election wins we have had across Britain, including one right here in Cardiff.

“The choice in Cardiff Central is clear: Corbyn’s Labour party who rolled over to back the Tories’ Hard Brexit, or the Liberal Democrats who will fight for an open, tolerant and united country.”

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The Lib Dem Lowdown: 100,000 members special: A guide to the Liberal Democrats for our new members

When Tim Farron set his 100,000 members by 2020 target during his leadership campaign in 2015, it seemed pretty ambitious. Since Brexit, though, around 30,000 members have signed up to our party. A warm welcome to every single one of you.

Around half of those 30,000 have joined in the 6 days since Theresa May made her announcement about the General Election. This afternoon, Tim Farron was able to announce that we had reached that ambitious 100,000 target at a rally in Vauxhall.

I wouldn’t celebrate for too long, though. Tim is not one to rest on his laurels. I’m sure an even more ambitious target will be set fairly soon!

Every so often I roll out this post, which is basically a rehash of an article that I first wrote in May 2015 when many joined the party in the wake of the General Election result in the hope that it might be useful to tell you a little bit about how our party works and give you a bit of an idea of the opportunities open to you. If you are not yet a member, read it and if you think it sounds appealing, sign up here.

What do we believe?

Before we get into the nitty gritty of organisation, the best statement of who we are and what we’re about can be found in the Preamble to our Constitution which underlines how we believe in freedom, opportunity, diversity,  decentralisation and internationalism. Here’s a snippet:

The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. We aim to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity. We believe that the role of the state is to enable all citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the decisions which affect their lives.

We look forward to a world in which all people share the same basic rights, in which they live together in peace and in which their different cultures will be able to develop freely. We believe that each generation is responsible for the fate of our planet and, by safeguarding the balance of nature and the environment, for the long term continuity of life in all its forms. Upholding these values of individual and social justice, we reject allprejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality.

We have a fierce respect for individuality, with no expectation that fellow Liberal Democrats will agree with us on every issue. We expect our views to be challenged and feel free to challenge others without rancour. We can have a robust debate and head to the pub afterwards, the very best of friends.

Your rights as a member

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarTonyH 28th Apr - 10:55am
    The role of taxes is not just to raise revenue, but encourage or enhance 'good' behaviour, and discourage the 'bad', or activity which acts against...
  • User AvatarSimon Banks 28th Apr - 10:40am
    My view on all-women shortlists and other kinds of positive discrimination (as opposed to positive action such as making particular efforts to offer training and...
  • User AvatarRoger Roberts 28th Apr - 10:26am
    Victor Babu for Clwyd West - winner of Wales,best doctor award.
  • User AvatarSimon McGrath 28th Apr - 10:13am
    You have missed out the next MP for Oxford West and Abingdon - Layla Moran http://www.libdems.org.uk/layla_moran
  • User Avatarexpats 28th Apr - 10:12am
    Andy Coleby 28th Apr '17 - 8:52am..............Good news about Rachel as any publicity is good publicity fof the Liberal Democrats as DisMay is hogging the...
  • User AvatarDavid Pocock 28th Apr - 10:11am
    I would push to have the debates with two empty chairs. Fptp means only two parties can win and they won't debate, there is political...