Category Archives: News

Vince Cable backs opt-out organ donation system

I’ve seen people go through the pain of losing someone they love because a transplant didn’t happen in time. I’ve seen people, in shock at having lost someone suddenly and tragically being put under the added pressure of deciding whether their loved one’s organs should be donated. Maybe they hadn’t even had the conversation and didn’t know what their wishes would be. Maybe it was pain too far.

I’ve always made it clear to my family that should it be me, anything that would make anyone else have a chance of improved life should be used. I’ve signed up to the organ donor register. However, not everyone who would be happy to donate their organs has got round to filling in the form.

That’s why I’ve always favoured an opt-out system. It means that anyone who objects to their organs being used has the right to ensure that it doesn’t happen to them. And if you do object, you will make sure that you have opted out. This is one of these issues where there are liberal arguments for both sides. For me, as long as there are proper safeguards for people, opting out is the way to go.

So I was very pleased to see that Vince Cable has backed The Mirror’s campaign for an opt out donor system.

He told them:

“There are around 6,500 people in the UK waiting for a transplant. I urge the Government to listen to this campaign and the calls of countless families across the country.

“We can ensure more lives and more children like little Max are saved. I’m proud to be a registered organ donor. I carry my card everywhere. It was an obvious choice.”

The “little Max” he was talking to is a 9 year old who had a heart transplant after a wait of 8 months.

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What Brexit means for women

Recently, an event was held in London, to discuss Brexit, and its effect on the rights of women and what might change following its implementation. As a participant, I had arrived with the view that it would be difficult to change the law as it stood, but new laws might be affected.

For the last 43 years, most if not all of our Equalities legislation has come through the European Union. For women in particular, that has changed both their entitlements and rights as matters from equal pay to maternity leave have been secured by that route. It is astonishing to think that women, up until that legislation was passed, had more rights in Anglo Saxon England than in the 800 or so years that followed the Norman invasion.

What transpired at the meeting caused much anxiety among those present. For it is the case that, as most if not all of our Equalities law emanates from Brussels. It has been adopted into UK law, so can be cut back by use of new powers currently going through Parliament.

There are several risk areas, according to the Fawcett Society, which cover rights at work, women’s economic life, safety from attacks and racism. Those explicitly protective of women such as the Pregnant Workers Directive, or indirect protection such as that provided by The Part Time Worker Directive and the Agency Directive, which protects pension rights, written contracts giving details of working hours and pay and parental leave. It matters for those working part time, where the majority are women.

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Our new PPB: The one with Vince’s hat

We have a new Party Political Broadcast to coincide with our Conference. It’s set in a creative agency in a meeting where they are trying to decide how to brand the Lib Dems. It’s got its quirky bits and is clearly set to appeal to the young, professional types.

The production quality is absolutely excellent. This could end up being the new Gold Blend series…

You can catch it on the actual telly at 18:25 on ITV and 18:55 on BBC1.

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When the Leader crashes Not the Leader’s Speech

In a tradition dating from the Coalition years, certain members of the Awkward Squad gather in a local hostelry as the Liberal Democrat Leader gives his keynote speech to Conference, watch the event on Twitter and determine the point at which they would have walked out had they been in the hall.

These days, the potential for walkout has significantly reduced, but no self-respecting Awkward Squad would ever say that it had ebbed away entirely. Leaders must be kept on their toes at all times, after all.

And so, yesterday, they gathered in the best real ale pub in the Bournemouth, the Goat and Tricycle, which had been the venue for my Golden Jubilee drinks on Friday night.

Being liberals, they don’t mind if those of us who love the occasion of The Speech turn up afterwards to discuss it and everything else in the entire universe afterwards.

What they don’t usually get is the leader turning up too. 

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In full: Kirsty Williams’ speech to Conference

The Lib Dems’ only Cabinet Minister, Kirsty William, Cabinet Secretary for Education in Wales, addressed Conference on Sunday. Here is her speech in full.

Introduction

I would like to open this speech with a thank-you to Tim Farron for his leadership over what, unquestionably, has been the toughest period this party has ever faced.

At our lowest point, Tim stepped up to the plate, helping reverse our fortunes.

In an unexpected election, Tim nearly doubled the number of seats we held in Parliament, and took our membership to over 100,000. A record.

As I look across the room and see plenty of new faces, Tim can rightly be proud of the liberal vision that he put forward that attracted so many new people to our party.

I would also like to thank Mark Williams. Wales has lost a tremendous MP, and a strong advocate for radical Welsh Liberalism.

Mark worked tirelessly for the communities of Ceredigion, dealing with thousands of pieces of casework, leading major campaigns such as changing the legal definition of child neglect, and continuously being a strong voice for rural Wales.

Mark, we thank you.

Now, conference, despite our solid performance in the General Election, it is clear that many shifted back to the old way of doing things: red versus blue. Left versus right.

Increasingly, people are feeling powerless, neglected, excluded.

Some look to exploit those fears. Exploit them with easy answers. Tell them it’ll all be ok if we just turn back the clock.

Sometimes back to the 1950s, sometimes 1970s… sometimes the 1670s if you’re Mr Rees-Mogg.

But liberal values haven’t gone away. The populist voices have just got louder. Shouting down all that disagree.

Too often, especially in recent years, the louder voice has won the day.

Well here’s an idea – isn’t it time the liberal voice was heard again?

There are people across Britain looking for reasons to support us.

We must provide the leadership Britain needs, standing up for what is right.

It’s our turn to be loud.

Building a coalition that fights for fairness. Fights for reason. Fights for tolerance.

Conference, we must fight to win today’s arguments – so that we can win for tomorrow.

Education

It’s 75 years since William Beveridge published his ground-breaking report.

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Vince: I’m a proud saboteur

Vince Cable’s debut Conference speech as leader will be very different from Tim Farron’s. We won’t find him bouncing about the stage. His style is quieter but no less compelling and interesting to listen to.

Below we get a flavour of the thing he’ll be saying tomorrow, establishing us firmly as the Party of Remain.

On Brexit

“A disaster looms. Brexit. The product of a fraudulent and frivolous campaign led by two groups of silly public school boys living their dormitory pillow fights.

“And now, thanks to Boris Johnson, they have degenerated into a full-scale school riot with the head teacher hiding, barricaded in her office.

“In the real world, we have yet to experience the full impact of leaving Europe. But we have a taste of what is to come in the fall of the value of the pound.

“Foreign exchange dealers are not point scoring politicians. Their cold, hard, unsentimental judgement has been, quite simply, that Brexit Britain will be poorer and weaker after Brexit than if we had decided to stay in Europe.

“Brexit was described by the Brexit Secretary himself as an operation of such technical complexity that it makes the moon landing look simple.

“It is a pity that the Brexit landing is being managed by people who would struggle to get their heads around a toddlers’ Lego set. They live in a world of infantile fairy tales.

On Labour

“We might have expected better from Labour. Many people got behind them in June, expecting a better politics and a better future from him.  They are already being betrayed.

“Today’s Labour Party isn’t into problem solving; let alone governing. Jeremy Corbyn’s acolytes are focused on how to maximise the contradictions of capitalism.

“You don’t qualify for the Shadow Cabinet these days unless you have studied the Venezuelan guide on how to bankrupt a rich economy.

“No wonder they back Brexit. No wonder they lined up behind Theresa May, maximising the chance of chaos and disruption.

“Then a few weeks ago the moderates briefly penetrated the Corbyn bunker. They persuaded him that collaborating quite so closely with the class enemy didn’t look too good.

“So, they have a new policy: to stay in the Single market and Customs Union, possibly; or to leave, maybe. Or maybe to stay in for a bit, and then leave.

“I am trying to be kind here: I am trying to understand what they are trying to say. I think the current line is, we should transition to the transition gradually while we prepare for a post-transition world.

“This is what they mean by the smack of firm leadership on the biggest issue of the day.

“But if Jeremy Corbyn sits on the fence any longer, he is in danger of being sliced up the middle by the serrated edge.

“He would do better to get off the fence and refurbish his revolutionary credentials.  Jeremy – join us in the Anti Brexit People’s Liberation Front!”

Political adults

“What the people want. What the country now desperately needs is some political adults.

“That’s you. That’s us.

“Fortunately, we are not alone. There are sensible grown-ups in the Conservative party and the Labour Party and the Greens. And beyond them are millions of people deeply worried about what is happening.

“We have to put aside tribal differences and work alongside like-minded people to keep the Single Market and Customs Union, essential for trade and jobs;

“Europe’s high environmental and social standards; shared research; help for our poorer regions; cooperation over policing and terrorism.

“Europe, of course, needs reform but you don’t achieve reform by walking away.

“Our position is clear: the Liberal Democrats are the party of Remain.

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WATCH: Willie Rennie’s speech to Conference

Willie gave one of the best speeches I’d heard him give. It was robust and clear – putting the Liberal Democrats back at the forefront of driving change in Scotland.

The text is below.

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Recent Comments

  • User Avatardavid 21st Sep - 7:52pm
    A very good article. You are certainly not alone in being a member and voting to leave. Moreover there are many former lib dem supporters...
  • User AvatarRoland 21st Sep - 7:43pm
    @ Glenn - “IMO it’s irrelevant whether or not the EU is democratic.” I understand how you could arrive at that conclusion! From a UK...
  • User AvatarRoland 21st Sep - 7:22pm
    @Glenn - re; 3 day week etc. Personally, I take claims for the negative impact of the European project with a lake of salt. The...
  • User AvatarAlistair 21st Sep - 7:21pm
    I really dont see why Leavers attach so much importance to Juncker's vision, he is merely a figurehead and noone else cares. I'm far more...
  • User AvatarLiberal Maverick 21st Sep - 7:07pm
    The best way Labour and the Lib Dems could work together is via an electoral arrangement with the objective of securing a hung parliament followed...
  • User AvatarPeter Scott Brooks 21st Sep - 7:04pm
    Until Labour realise the coalition of chaos they've entered into with the Conservatives over Brexit and decide to save the country instead I'm afraid this...