Author Archives: The Voice

Kirsty Williams’ bill to ensure safe staffing levels for nurses takes a step closer to becoming law

Kirsty Williams’ bill to ensure that nursing levels in Welsh hospitals are put on a  safer, statutory footing has passed another parliamentary hurdle, as Wales Online reports:

A proposed law to introduce a legal minimum staffing level for nurses has overcome another hurdle after Assembly committee members passed amendments to the Bill.

The Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Bill, proposed by Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams, would see an independent assessment for appropriate staffing levels in Welsh hospitals.

The proposal would see Wales become the first country in the UK with a legal duty on safe nurse staffing levels.

The Assembly’s Health and Social Services Committee voted to support Phase 2 of the Bill which will now move to Phase 3.

The Bill has the backing of the Royal College of Nursing in Wales.

The Minister insisted on the removal of the word “safe” from the title of the Bill, which has disappointed Kirsty, but she is pleased that it has passed another stage:

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LibLink: Catherine Bearder says that any post-Brexit deal would be tough on the UK


Catherine Bearder, our only Lib Dem MEP, has been interviewed about the consequences of Brexit by the EU Observer.

She doesn’t think that an arrangement similar to Norway’s – being in the European Economic Area but not in the European Union – is achievable.

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LibLink: Willie Rennie on St Andrew’s Day – “No Racism: Refugees Welcome Here”

Willie leader launch crouching in front of bridgeThe St Andrew’s Day Anti-Racism March and Rally will focus on refugees this year, under the theme No Racism: Refugees Welcome Here.  It will start at 10.30am from Glasgow Green. Willie Rennie has been explaining the importance of this year’s march to the Scottish Trade Unions Congress.

The refugee crisis is the biggest humanitarian challenge that Europe has faced since 1945. Our response to the crisis needs to match the scale of this challenge. And just as we speak out against racism, we need to ensure that we are challenging those who would see us ignore our obligation to help.
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Tim Farron’s response to the Autumn Statement

Tim Farron writes:

This was a deeply political budget from a deeply political Chancellor.  It looks good in the theatrics of the Commons, with Labour divided, weak and inept, but the budget will unravel.

It will unravel in schools next year when they see funding slashed; it will unravel when local councils have to cut services and increase taxes just to get by; and it will unravel when projects can’t be built because of the skills shortage caused by the attack on further education.

The brighter outlook has given Osborne room for manoeuvre, yet he continues an ideological crusade to slash spending and

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Liblink: Tim Farron on the five things Lib Dems want to see in the Spending Review


Tim Farron has been writing today in the Huffington Post.

The simple fact is that nearly half of the cuts George Osborne will make aren’t necessary to get spending under control. Instead that are motivated by an ideological drive to shrink the state. That’s a big departure from the decisions Liberal Democrats took in Coalition.

He outlines the five things that he would like to see in the review:

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“It’s time to break the silence surrounding male suicide”

Norman Lamb and his son Archie opened up on ITV News about Archie’s depression and thoughts of suicide. In a very moving interview with Mark Austin they say what it is like to live with mental illness.

Archie explains:

It just takes over your head. You can’t think of anything else. When you get into depression you cannot think of anything else apart from the gloom of how you are thinking. In my toughest moments you don’t feel like there’s any escape. … I’ve had those thoughts ever since I can remember. They’re not very nice thoughts to have, obviously. It’s really, really horrible and you feel embarrassed to talk about them. At the time I wouldn’t have spoken to my parents about it, or my friends because it is embarrassing.

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Farron on Defence Review: We need more flexible forces and better co-ordination with Europe

Tim Farron has been commenting on the Strategic Defence Review. He said:

Only this government could create a ‘rapid reaction force’ and will take 10 years to react.

The Government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) has some good points, especially the new maritime patrol boats and extra frigates.

The world is more dangerous and uncertain since the last SDSR and that is why we need more flexible forces and greater coordination with allies in Europe. For all the Prime Minister’s bluster, that piece of the jigsaw is sadly missing.

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Farron: I don’t want British weapons used for human rights abuses

The Guardian reports a Liberal Democrat call for stricter controls on arms exports so that weapons could not be sold to regimes which have poor human rights records:

The Lib Dems tightened the already strict criteria while in government, delivering on a manifesto commitment to secure the first international arms trade treaty, limiting the sale of weapons to dangerous regimes. More than 150 licences granted by the Labour government were revoked as an immediate reaction tot he Arab Spring.

The Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, said: “Human rights should not be pushed aside in a headlong rush to profit. We currently sell weapons to a series of regimes that have terrible human rights records. I do not want British weapons or equipment being used to commit human rights abuses.

“We do have a strong regime of safeguards, some of the strongest in the world, but they can be strengthened.

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Lib Dem Lords’ maiden speeches: Lorely Burt on Trade Unions

Last week, Lorely Burt made her maiden speech in the House of Lords. She spoke in the debate on trade unions. Here it is in full:

My lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to make my maiden speech today.  I feel enormously privileged to be here, and I hope to make a productive and positive contribution to this house. I am grateful also for the welcome I received from noble lords and ladies at my induction and for the enormous support, courtesy and patience of parliamentary staff in the way they prepared me and helped this particular ‘new girl’.  I have found the politeness and helpfulness of all the staff in this place without parallel. However, I’m sure it will take me a while to get used to the ways and customs here, so I feel now is a good opportunity to apologise in advance for any faux pas I’m likely to make as I feel my way! Now I have been told that one’s maiden speech should be relatively non-controversial. My lords – I’ll try!

Having been bruised and battered many times in the fray of the Other Place I have been impressed by the politeness and civility I’ve witnessed here, in this chamber.  It is refreshing and I hope to measure up to the standards you maintain here. Politics, in my past experience, has been a brutal game.  I have served in local as well as national elected chambers – as a local councillor in Dudley (Lenny Henry country) and for ten years as MP in the rather more genteel Solihull, overturning a 9,400 majority in 2005.

This result came as an enormous surprise, not only to the ruling party but also to many in my own party!  At least one colleague on election duty with the media that night asked them to double check the result before they would discuss it on air! But although it was the street-fighter from Dudley who originally won the seat, I chose Solihull for my peerage title.  Because today I am a silhillian – live there, love it and love the people I’ve served these 10 years.

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What’s on in our Parliaments this week?

Scottish Parliament 3What are our MPs, MSPs, MEPs and AM’s going to be talking about this coming week?


Women will be a key focus of the Scottish Parliament this week with a debate on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against women on Wednesday which starts 16 days of activism lasting till Human Rights Day on 10 December.

There is also a debate on how welfare reform affects women on Thursday.

On Wednesday, controversy about the SNP Government’s decision to tender for the contract to run Clyde and Hebridean ferry services will be highlighted in a Labour Opposition Day Debate. No doubt Liam McArthur and Tavish Scott will want to mention the fundamental unfairness which has seen the Scottish Government cut ferry fares for islanders off the west coast, but not for the northern isles.  

The Senedd

AMs will be debating affordable housing, with North Wales Lib Dem Aled Roberts tabling some radical amendments calling for the planned rate of housebilding to be doubled. 

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

7 ver 4 fullMany thanks to the  13,300 visitors who dropped by Lib Dem Voice this week. Here’s our 7 most-read posts…

++Special Conference is triggered. All members will be able to attend (117 comments) by The Voice

++Chris Rennard’s statement as he steps down from the Federal Executive (54 comments) by The Voice

++Breaking…Tim Farron calls on Chris Rennard to step down from the Federal Executive (33 comments) by The Voice

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Tim Farron’s statement for Transgender Day of Remembrance

Transgender Day of RemembranceToday is the day when transgender people who have lost their lives through hate-fuelled violence are remembered.

Tim Farron has said:

Too many transgender lives have been lost to hate and prejudice around the world. Today, on Transgender Day of Remembrance, we reflect on that and remember those killed and focus on what steps we can take, both in the UK and internationally, to halt this tragic and unnecessary loss of life.

I’m proud that Liberal Democrats have led and continue to lead the way on trans equality, opposing the spousal veto and continuing to campaign to introduce X Gender markers on passports.

He has also responded to the shocking news yesterday that transgender woman Vicky Thompson had been found dead at Armley jail in Leeds, a men’s prison.

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The morning after the by-elections. How did Lib Dems do on 19th November 2015?

Good news from Norfolk where the Liberal Democrats defended a county council seat.

The vote going up by 25.8% is a very healthy result indeed. Well done to the team there.

There was one more Liberal Democrat defence yesterday, in Epsom, where Julie Morris is the candidate. We’ll post that result here later.

UPDATE: That Epsom result is now in and it’s a heartbreaker. With just 34 votes separating the first four candidates, the Conservatives gained the seat from us.

Many commiserations to Julie and her team.

Elsewhere, how’s this for a close result, in Aylesford Green ward in Ashford? Labour and UKIP must be kicking themselves.

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Lamb on junior doctors’ vote in favour of strike action: Government has “woefully mismanaged” negotiation

Today, it was announced that junior doctors had voted in favour of strike action by an overwhelming majority. 98% were in favour of action which will begin on 1st December.

Norman Lamb has condemned the Government’s handling of the situation and told Jeremy Hunt to do everything he could to avert the strike:

It’s a serious concern that we have reached a point where junior doctors are prepared to take strike action. The Government has woefully mismanaged this contract negotiation and Jeremy Hunt must act urgently to resolve the dispute. Everything possible must be done to avert the strike which could damage patient care.

It is legitimate to review working practices to ensure they best meet patients’ needs. However these proposals could mean less protection and a cut in pay for those junior doctors expected to work extremely long hours. That is clearly not in the best interests of patients or of NHS staff.

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Lib Dem Lords’ maiden speeches: Jonny Oates on international trade and on running away to Ethiopia at 15

We like to cover our Lords’ maiden speeches. Nick Clegg’s former chief of staff, Jonny Oates made his last week. He talked about international trade and particularly about encouraging trade with Africa, and told us something about his life that may well become one of those Lib Dem trivia questions for fundraising quizzes. I think we need to know the full story.

My Lords, it is an honour to make my maiden speech, albeit necessarily briefly, in this debate. I want first to thank everybody who made my introduction to your Lordships’ House so easy—in particular, Black Rod and his staff, the doorkeepers, attendants and police officers, who have been an unfailing source of directions, advice and, above all, patience. I also want to thank my two supporters, my noble friends Lady Parminter and Lady Suttie, who have been great friends to me over many years.

I have taken the geographic part of my title, Denby Grange, in tribute to my late uncle Lawrence, who was a miner at Denby Grange colliery in West Yorkshire all his life. My title is not only a tribute to him; it is a wider acknowledgement that my good fortune is built on the shoulders of my grandparents and parents, uncles and aunts. They all faced much tougher challenges than I ever have and, through the sacrifices they made, they opened up a whole world of opportunities to their children and grandchildren that they never had themselves.

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Votes at 16: Jonathan Court: 16 and 17 year olds are affected by Governments – we should have a say

Ahead of tonight’s vote in the House of Lords on giving 16 and 17 year olds the vote in the EU Referendum, Liberal Youth member Jonathan Court, who’s 17, explains why the issue is so important to him.

I missed the 2015 election by 15 months. Though all my friends around me could vote in the last election, I was stuck without a say. During the campaign I listened to debates, campaigned with other locals and met numerous politicians like Sadiq Khan and Nick Clegg.

16 and 17 year olds aren’t stereotypical drug-taking layabouts that have no interest in the things around them. Things like the education maintenance cuts, tuition fees rise and proposed child tax credit cuts really permeate into people’s discussions. 16 and 17 year olds aren’t stereotypical hard-left extremists either, however they are concerned about public funding cuts that affect them. And why shouldn’t they be? Everyone votes in their interest but young-disenfranchised people without a vote are being squashed by the baby boomers that can vote in their droves. Young people are being continuously robbed of responsibilities by this government, a mixture of cuts in grants to those who go to sixth forms while raising the school leaving age has left too many in limbo.

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Votes at 16: Isabelle Cherry: It’s our future, too

Ahead of the Lords vote on allowing 16 and 17 year olds the vote in the EU Referendum, Liberal Youth member Isabelle Cherry, who’s 17, says why this is so important to her.

A 16 year old says: “I think we should remain in the EU because membership gives us a say on how trading rules are set up”, to which a 46 year old replies: “you don’t know what you’re talking about because you’re 16”. If the 16 year old’s argument was said by an older member of the community, the point would be scrutinised and debated, and ultimately taken seriously. Does who the person is validate, or in this case, invalidate their argument?

There would obviously, and quite rightly, be outcries of blatant discrimination if the 46 year old’s response was “you don’t know what you’re talking about because you’re a woman” or “because you’re black”. How come it is acceptable to reject the argument of the 16 year old on the grounds of their age, as opposed to the credibility of what they’re saying?

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Statement from Rock the Boat – Liberal Democrats against harassment

Rock the Boat – Liberal Democrats Against Sexual Harassment – today welcomed the statements from Tim Farron and Lord Rennard this morning regarding the House of Lords’ representative on the Federal Executive.

Grace Goodlad, steering group member, said:

We are saddened that it took the triggering of a Special Conference and a public plea from our Party Leader to get there, but we are pleased that good sense has now prevailed.

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++Breaking: Chris Rennard’s statement as he stands down from the Federal Executive

Chris Rennard has made the following statement announcing that he has withdrawn from the Federal Executive:

A week ago, I was elected by the votes of the Liberal Democrat members of the House of Lords to be their representative on the party’s Federal Executive. Any Lib Dem peer could have stood, all of them could vote, and I was elected by 44 votes to 25. Since then a number of party members have objected to that outcome and sought to effectively overturn it by removing the right of the Lib Dem peers to have a representative on it.

I was disappointed that in a party called the Liberal Democrats there should be such a challenge to the result of a democratic election. I recognise, however, that there has been much controversy in the party and this has continued partly because it has been very poor in communicating to its members the outcomes of all the various processes investigating allegations made against me. In particular, many members have remained unaware of the key conclusion concerning me in the final report of the independent businesswoman, Helena Morrissey, who reviewed these processes.

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+++Breaking: Tim Farron calls on Chris Rennard to step down from the Federal Executive

Tim Farron has issued the following statement calling on Chris Rennard to step down from the Federal Executive position to which he was elected by Liberal Democrat Lords last week:

As you know, Chris Rennard’s election to the Federal Executive has prompted party members to call for a Special Conference.

I have not spoken out until now as I have been giving Chris time to reflect on the party’s reaction to his election.

I have decided it is time to make clear publicly that I do not believe it is in the interests of the party for Chris to take up his position on the FE.

Chris was entitled to stand for election and the Lords were entitled to elect him. That does not mean his decision to put himself forward was in the best interests of the party.

Helena Morrissey’s review threw the spotlight on our party’s culture and working practices. We have made major changes to the constitution and to the rules we use to apply its values.

For example, we have ensured that for instances of alleged discrimination, bullying, harassment or intimidation, we now operate to the standards you would expect in most modern workplaces.

However, I also believe that the call for a Special Conference shows we still have some way to go to convince our members that the party’s culture has changed.

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

7 ver 4 fullMany thanks to the 11,400  visitors who dropped by Lib Dem Voice this week. Here’s our 7 most-read posts…

Chris Rennard elected to the Federal Executive by Lib Dem peers (105 comments) by The Voice

Alistair Carmichael case rumbles on (38 comments) by The Voice

HS2: Who cares about an old pear tree standing in its way (71 comments) by John Whitehouse

Posted in Site news | 2 Comments

++Special conference is triggered – all members will be able to attend


On Thursday, LDV reported that Chris Rennard was elected to represent the party’s House of Lords group on the Federal Executive.

Since then, a petition has been submitted to the party by the group ‘Rock the Boat – Lib Dems against Sexual Harrassment’. The petition calls for a Special Party Conference to debate a Constitutional amendment to remove the seat on Federal Executive reserved for a nominee from the Lords group. The petition has been declared valid as it includes over 200 signatures of members from at least 20 different local parties.

Posted in A weekly catchup and Party policy and internal matters | Tagged , and | 117 Comments

A new dawn in Myanmar: cause for great celebration

The Guardian reports:

Aung San Suu Kyi has won Myanmar’s landmark election and claimed a staggering majority in parliament, ending half a century of dominance by the military and providing the symbol of a decades-old democracy movement with a mandate to rule.

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Farron: The Northern Powerhouse is a sham

Tim Farron has been in Yorkshire twice this week. He spoke at Yorkshire and the Humber (note, the name of the region is right this time) Liberal Democrat conference on Saturday and he was back for the Annual Dinner in Greg Mulholland’s seat on Wednesday.

While he was there, he spoke to the Yorkshire Post and was not impressed by the Conservative’s model of devolution:

One of the reasons the northern powerhouse is a sham and a failure is because this Government are now so obsessed with making sure that we reduce the size of the state that we are therefore not investing in the rail services that we need, in the housing that we need, the green energy we need, the broadband we need.

“Whilst the Labour Party is completely wrong-footed, completely in denial that the deficit needs to be reduced, cleared and to balance the books, George Osborne is mistaking the need to make sure you balance the books on your day to day expenditure with having to at the same time not invest in capital expenditure.

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Former chair of Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats is ejected from the party

The Independent reports:

Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera, former chair of the Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats (EMLD), was told his membership had been terminated with immediate effect last week, after an internal disciplinary panel upheld allegations of harassment and intimidation against him.

However, senior figures in the EMLD, which champions diversity in the party, have reacted with outrage, refusing to accept the decision, and plan to write to the party’s president and its leader, Tim Farron, demanding Mr Uduwerage-Perera be reinstated.

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Chris Rennard elected to Federal Executive by Lib Dem peers

There has as yet been no official confirmation, but it is being widely reported that the Lib Dem group in the House of Lords has elected Chris Rennard as its representative on the party’s Federal Executive.

First, here is a reminder from the party website (where you can see the other current members) of the FE’s role:

The Federal Executive (FE) is the governing body of the Federal Party. It is responsible for directing, co-ordinating, and implementing the work of the Federal Party.

The FE is Chaired by the Party President, and has representatives of the members (15 members elected by Conference), the state parties, MPs, Peers, MEPs, and councillors.

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Sir Simon Hughes knighted by the Queen

Sir Simon Hughes’ knighthood is official! Yesterday he went to Buckingham Palace to receive his insignia from the Queen.

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Bearder, Wallace and Brake set out alternative ask of EU

Catherine Bearder - Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0David Cameron is expected to announce his list of proposed EU reforms today in a letter to EU council president Donald Tusk. Catherine Bearder, Jim Wallace and Tom Brake have written an alternative letter advocating British leadership in Europe on refugees, tax evasion, climate change and organised crime. Text follows.

Dear President Tusk,

Our Prime Minister, David Cameron, will today be putting forward a list of demands which he believes are necessary to win over those in his own party and amongst the British public who are sceptical about the EU ahead of the forthcoming referendum on the UK’s EU membership.

Posted in News | 18 Comments

Alistair Carmichael case rumbles on

Alistair Carmichael speech Jan 2014Today the Election Court will be sitting in Edinburgh to hear witnesses in the legal challenge, as we explained here. It is expected to carry on for 4 days. At the end of the process the court will report to the House of Commons, and any action will be decided by them.

The hearing will not be in public this time, apart from the summing up. Apparently tweeting has been banned.

Back in May, Alistair issued this statement.

Posted in News | Tagged | 38 Comments

Are you interested in working on party policy on nuclear weapons?


The Federal Policy Committee is searching for members with an interest and/or some relevant expertise in the issues around Trident and nuclear weapons to join a policy working group.

At Federal Conference in Bournemouth, Conference passed this amendment to the Trident motion:

1. Commission a Policy Working Group to develop policy on the future of Britain’s nuclear deterrent, if any, following a full consultation within the party.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged and | 6 Comments

Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMick Taylor 26th Nov - 12:03pm
    Dear oh me Peter. Do you really believe that the EU having been subject to a torrent of abuse in the referendum will want to...
  • User AvatarMick Taylor 26th Nov - 11:48am
    @raddiy. So we Liberal Democrats are not entitled to a view? Not entitled to tell the UK electorate the pros (and vital necessary changes to...
  • User AvatarDave Orbison 26th Nov - 11:47am
    Expats and David Raw - spot on. Osborne has a tried and tested MO. 1. Leak doom and gloom then row back and be introduced...
  • User AvatarPeter 26th Nov - 11:45am
    The truth of your argument is that the EU is far from wonderful and the other states are worried. The EU is currently in rapid...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 26th Nov - 11:36am
    "Paul Reynolds works with multilateral organisations". It would be helpful if we had full information on what and who these "multilateral organisations" are.
  • User AvatarPeter 26th Nov - 11:35am
    You can't have your argument both ways. If the EU is so wonderful, why is there paranoia about a rush for the exit by other...