Author Archives: The Voice

Edgbaston PPC Lee Dargue takes part in debate with Birmingham University students

Lee Dargue, Lib Dem PPC for Edgbaston, recently met students from the University of Birmingham to discuss the party’s policies and their concerns. The student website Redbrick described him as an MP. We can but wish. It would not be a bad thing to have the chair of the Lib Dem Mental Health Association in Parliament.

It was inevitable that tuition fees would come up:

Dargue stated, ‘It has caused us a lot of damage.’ He did highlight the fact that ‘not all Lib Dem MPs voted in favour of the tuition fee rise.’ However, he stressed the positive realities of the new system, comparing it to a ‘Graduate Tax’ and reminded students that these loans are ‘no longer tied to your credit rating.’

To continue the discussion, a student asked what the Lib Dems believe is the greatest student problem. In response, Dargue stated that ‘Tuition fees are a red herring.’ He added that his party were more concerned about ‘the cost of student accommodation and transport’ since these are more immediate factors that affect students.

Redbrick also has a report of the event as it happened. Lee said he wanted to see  16 year olds and prisoners have the right to vote, he questioned the need for LGBT only schools, saying:

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A first glance at the agenda for Spring Conference

The outline agenda for the Liberal Democrats’ Spring Conference in Liverpool has been published.

Spring Conference outline agenda

 

On Friday, a series of policy consultations, and a consultation on the plans to take forward One Member One Vote take up the afternoon before the rally.

On Saturday, there are speeches by Danny Alexander, Vince Cable and Jo Swinson with a question and answer session with Nick Clegg. Policy debates include mental health, the manifesto (surprisingly titled Stronger Economy and Fairer Society), green laws and workforce rights.

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Open Doors: All 3 versions of the first Lib Dem broadcast of the year

The Liberal Democrats’ first crack at the General Election broadcasts is being shown as you read this.

With the theme of Open Doors, it’s about listening to voters and majors on how the Liberal Democrats would make a difference compared to Labour and the Conservatives.You may not be surprised to find that the phrases “stronger economy”, “fairer society” and “opportunity for everyone” feature.

Here is the English version. The Scottish and Welsh will follow below when they are available.

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100 Days until polling day

Today, 100 days before polling day, sees a new poster launched by the Liberal Democrats, offering a straight road between the reckless borrowing offered by Labour and the reckless cuts of the Conservatives.
General Election Poster 270115s

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

7 ver 4 fullMany thanks to the 15,800 visitors who dropped by Lib Dem Voice this week. Here’s our 7 most-read posts…

 The Greens: The Lib Dem fightback begins (178 comments) by Caron Lindsay

Britain’s greenest party, the Green Party and environmentalism (99 comments) by Simon Oliver

The Green Party: should we be panicking? (22 comments) by Paul Walter

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Shirley Williams on A life in politics

The Daily Politics has been running a series of interviews with political figures in their A Life in Politics series.

This week it was Shirley Williams talking about her varied career and personal life. Look back not he formation of the SDP, her passion for education reform and the prospects for the Liberal Democrats in the election, saying “we’re bound to be a main factor in another coalition.” Oh, and don’t call her indecisive.

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Welsh Lib Dems get good media coverage for new website launch

Welsh Lib Dems weibsiteNew websites put Welsh Lib Dems at forefront of web campaigning” screams the headline on Wales Online. Not bad coverage for the launch of a website, albeit one using the new .wales and .cymru domain names.

Kirsty Williams is quoted as saying:

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Brent Central’s Ibrahim Taguri appointed as Liberal Democrat Race Equality Champion

Ibrahim Taguri selected for Brent Central
Ibrahim Taguri was born and raised in Brent not far from the office he wants to take over from Sarah Teather in May. Last Summer he wrote of his ambition for the area:

Yet I was lucky. My mother was single minded when it came to our education as children. That was our route out of poverty. I was also lucky in many ways, so when I had opportunities I was able to make the most of them. That’s why when Sarah Teather announced she was standing down as MP, I knew I had to take the opportunity to represent my community. My job as an MP will be to challenge those structural barriers that prevent people getting on in life as well as to support the most vulnerable in our society on a day to day basis, helping them to escape a cycle of despair.

That’s why, if I’m fortunate enough to be elected, I will be dedicating my first term in parliament to eradicating child poverty in the UK by 2020. A goal set out but the last administration and continued by the coalition. Yet the target is in serious danger of being missed as political parties continue to embroil themselves in blame games and semantics.

I believe that focusing on this issue we can tackle many of the great challenges of our time; improving life chances no matter where someone was born, integrating physical and mental health services; increasing housing stock to not uproot families; providing more educational opportunities and making work pay.

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Nick Clegg tells Chilcot: People will think your report is being “sexed down”

Following tonight’s news about the further delay in the publication of the Chilcot Report until after the election, Nick Clegg has written to Sir John Chilcott to ask him to get on with it.

Here’s his letter in full 

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Now, about those secret party elections we told you about the other week…

A couple of weeks ago, we told you about those important party elections, details of which were hidden in an obscure corner of the party website. Well, our stirring did generate a few nominations which meant that there were a good few contested positions.

Federal Executive members voted over last weekend and the results were declared last night. Here they are in full:

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“What I need is what I think the Liberal Democrats are proposing” says Labour’s Peter Mandelson on Mansion Tax

Well, well. Who would have thought Peter Mandelson of all people would back a Liberal Democrat policy over a Labour one?

The Guardian has the story:

Speaking on Newsnight on BBC2, Mandelson said he favoured finding new ways of taxing property in Britain. But he added: “I don’t happen to think that the mansion tax is the right policy response to that. I think it’s sort of crude, it’s sort of short-termist.

“What we need is what I think the Liberal Democrats are proposing and that is the introduction of further bands that relate to different values of property within the council tax system. That’s what I would like to see. It will take longer to introduce, that’s true, but it will be more effective and efficient in the longer term than simply clobbering people with a rather sort of crude short term mansion tax.”

Mandelson is the latest senior Labour figure to criticise the party’s plan to impose a tax on properties worth more than £2m to help raise £1.2bn towards the £2.5bn costs of a new “Time to Care” NHS fund. This is designed to support 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs and 5,000 more care workers by 2020.

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Nick Clegg’s speech today on mental health

Nick clegg by dave radcliffe, liberal democratsThis is the full text of the speech Nick Clegg gave today at the Mental Health Conference that he co-hosted with Norman Lamb. You can see a video of part of the speech here.

Imagine breaking your leg, only to be told that your nearest care facility was half way across the country, with a long waiting list and no guarantees about when you’ll actually get the help you need. Or developing diabetes but being too scared to tell your family, friends and your boss about what’s happening, because you’re worried about how they might react and possibly losing your job.

If any of these things happened to someone with a serious physical health condition in our country, there would quite rightly be outrage. It would be on the front page of every national newspaper and dominate Prime Minister’s Questions every week. People would be out on the streets calling for reform. But this is exactly the kind of second-class treatment that people with mental health issues have had to endure for decades.

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

7 ver 4 fullMany thanks to the 17100  visitors who dropped by Lib Dem Voice this week. Here’s our 7 most-read posts…

 Could we have a better leader? (57 comments) by Stephen Phillips

The Greens: the Lib Dem fightback begins (74 comments) by Caron Lindsay

Êtes-vous Charlie? (133 comments) by The Voice

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How you can help Liberal Democrat Voice

The Voice is only a success because of the interest and support from our readers. For many people just lurking and reading the site is all they want to do – and that’s fine, we’re grateful for people taking the time to read the site.

You can though help us continue to produce interesting content for a growing audience. Here are four simple ways:

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Nick Clegg pledges to end illiteracy by 2025 by ensuring every child leaves Primary School able to read

Nick Clegg has unveiled a key manifesto commitment for the Liberal Democrats this morning:

The plans mean that every child born in 2014, who will leave primary school in 2025 will be able to read and write at a standard identified to lead to success in secondary school and beyond.

Nick Clegg explained why this is so important to Liberal Democrats:

I am proud of the scale of our ambition. We are raising the bar on what children should be able to achieve by the age of eleven and want all children to get over the bar by 2025.

The Coalition Government has

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Nick Clegg to be pelted with space hoppers?

Nick Clegg has set himself up for a potential pounding with space hoppers by agreeing to appear on Channel 4’s The Last Leg programme to convince presenter Alex Brooker that it’s worth voting.

From the Independent:

Nick Clegg has accepted a challenge to appear on television show The Last Leg as part of a quest to convince one of its presenters to vote.

The Deputy Prime Minister said he would happily face being pelted with space hoppers as part of the Channel 4 comedy show.

He was the only politician to respond to a challenge to poll presenter Alex Brooker but the video he initially sent in was not enough.

Mr Clegg appealed to the presenter to vote in May’s general election to “celebrate democracy” and hold politicians to account.

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Two deadlines all Scottish members and all Council campaign teams should be aware of

Be very aware that there are two deadlines rapidly hurtling towards us. The first is tomorrow, so you really need to get a move on.

It’s for ALDC’s postal voter mailing, the details of which you can find here.

As they say:

Turnout of supporters who receive literature and are contacted during a campaign exceeds 80%, far higher than the turnout proportion of our polling day Shuttleworth. This underlines the importance of getting known supporters onto postal votes, as it will help both our local and national results next May and could be the crucial difference.

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Call Clegg 15 January 15: The Cleggster goes cold on Carlile

Today’s Call Clegg was another lively affair. A bit of froideur towards a Lib Dem peer, a lot of distance put between Nick and David Ward and, of course, those debates.

The first question was about freedom of speech. The caller asked if there wasn’t a double standard between people getting away with insulting Mohammed but Muslims burning poppies were convicted. Nick was right to pick up that the second case was not the same thing. It was more causing a disturbance at an event and getting in the way of others expressing their views.

He made an interesting little barb about Alex Carlile the Lib Dem peer who was the independent overseer of terrorism laws under Labour governments over the snoopers’ charter .”He hasn’t agreed with the Lib Dems on this for years and years and years,” said Nick, “He’s not the touchstone of liberal thinking.” Ouch.

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WATCH: How Lynne Featherstone secured an extra £23.5 million in NHS funding for local health services

This video shows how Lynne Featherstone went about remedying an inequality in NHS funding which meant that health services in Haringey received less in terms of funding than other areas of London. We love the bit where Lynne says:

If I see something that’s unfair, I want it made fair.

That’s very her.

She’s continuing her campaign because although the funding boost has enabled better facilities and staffing, it’s still not on an equal footing with other boroughs. Enjoy.

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Lord Roger Roberts: May’s Counter-Terror powers could enable her to ban liberalism

Lord Roger Roberts gave the following speech expressing his concerns about the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill in the House of Lords at its Second Reading on Tuesday:

I was delighted that Lord Carlile mentioned, in his contribution to the debate, the four Albanians—two Muslims and two Christians—who walked together in the demonstration in Paris

Multi-faith groups exist in many places and people are able to say, “My brother, my sister, my family; we are one family”. We could really tackle a lot of these stresses before they become threatening. There is an opportunity in some way or another to encourage it.

However, the world is full of uncertainties. I am not the only one who remembers the time when it was better to be red than dead—so some said. Others said that it was better to be dead than red. Today it is the difference, between security and liberty. We are trying to see where is the line that needs to be drawn. This Bill seeks to draw that line. I sometimes measure our civilisation by Alan Paton’s (the author of Cry, the Beloved Country) values. In a lecture in 1953, he declared himself a liberal and defined the term thus:

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Should the SNP and Greens be included in leaders’ debates?

Welcome to another of our occasional series of posts where two writers offer an alternative view to one of the issues of the day. Today, it’s whether the SNP, Plaid and Greens should be invited to take part in leaders’  debates. 

Jonathan Waddell says there is a case for the Greens to be included on a UK basis but not the SNP and Plaid:

Earlier this week, Wings Over Scotland claimed that to exclude the SNP from UK-wide election debates would be to subjugate Scots to second-class citizens. Website owner and frequent contributor, Stuart Campbell, argued:

the only reason to bar them is that they’re Scottish. In other words, Scotland’s MPs are worth less than MPs from other parts of the UK, and therefore by extension Scottish votes are worth less than other people’s votes.

Speaking as a Scot who believes in giving a platform to a plurality of parties at any given election to encourage a representative debate of the issues and views affecting the country, surely the more obvious reason is that over 90% of the electorate can’t vote for them; or at least a question of electoral logistics rather than anti-Scottish sentiment?

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Featherstone and Hughes defend Coalition record on civil liberties in letter to Independent on Sunday

The coalition’s record on civil liberties took a bit of  a pasting in last week’s Independent on Sunday. Today, Justice Minister Simon Hughes and Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone defended the Liberal Democrat record in a letter to the paper. Their missive rather felt the sharp edge of the editor’s pen, but the full version (via the party website) is below. They have a good go at both the Tories and Labour.

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

7 ver 4 fullMany thanks to the 19,100 visitors who dropped by Lib Dem Voice this week. Here’s our 7 most-read posts…

Êtes-vous Charlie? (100 comments) by The Voice

Ming Campbell’s response to the Charlie Hebdo shootings worries me (95 comments) by Caron Lindsay

Could there be a National Government by the end of the year (42 comments) by Sally Pearson

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Farron: Publish Chilcot Report within a week

On Thursday, Tim Farron, writing for this site, said that Liberal Democrats must continue to push for the Chilcot Report to be published.

In the same way, we must push for the UK’s Chilcot report into the Iraq war to be published. The delay has gone on long enough – key actors like Tony Blair and former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw must be held to account. Jack Straw steps down as an MP in May – it is vital that the truth about Iraq comes out long before that!

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Êtes-vous Charlie?

There was a bit of a discussion on Twitter yesterday about the use of the hashtag “Je suis Charlie.” Some people are uncomfortable about being seen to endorse a publication whose views they did not agree with. Here are two opposing views from George Potter and Caron Lindsay:

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Je suis Charlie

Charlie front page

We have made an extraordinary change to our home page. We have four “featured post” windows at the top of it. They contain a photo accompanied by a headline. Today we have changed all the photos to show a “Je suis Charlie” image. The headlines then link to articles, on the subject, which we have published so far.

This is a small act, to underline a few things.

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Christmas in Bermondsey the Simon Hughes way: “Our big city is made up of little villages, little communities and we all have to look after each other”

Do you have those inevitable first week of January blues? This will warm your heart because it’s really what politics is all about. It’s about making people’s lives better. It’s a short film showing Simon Hughes going around various community events in his constituency on Christmas Day. As he said, the big city is made up of villages and we all need to look after each other. Enjoy.

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Nick Clegg on the Charlie Hebdo horror: “barbaric attack on freedom of speech”

Nick Clegg has responded to the news of the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris:

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Charlie Hebdo – in sympathy and solidarity

The news from Paris today is deeply shocking. There are twelve people who are reported dead and four reported injured by the attack at the offices of satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. Four cartoonists and the editor-in-chief of the magazine are reported to be among the dead. We express our sincere sympathy to those who have lost loved ones and those affected by the tragedy. We also express our solidarity with the French people and Charlie Hebdo magazine in standing for free speech and against such mindless acts.

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While we’re talking about deadlines….

We told you about the secret elections earlier, but there’s something else you might want to think about. The deadline for submitting motions for the Spring Conference in Liverpool is less than 8 days away. It’s 1pm on Wednesday 14th January so if you are keen to see a change in policy, now is your chance. Get it drafted and get 10 voting representatives to sign it.

The party website has some tips for writing motions here.

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