Category Archives: News

Norman Lamb warns against demonising people with mental ill health at Hallowe’en

We’ve always had great fun at Hallowe’en in our house. We love the guisers (none of this new fangled Trick or Treat stuff, if you please). My husband loves carving the pumpkin even if he isn’t as elaborate as some. My Facebook timeline has been full of everything from Pumpkin Daleks to the delicious irony of an actual Cinderella carriage. I have some very creative friends.

The Teenager is spending Hallowe’en with her friends and will be headed out in vampire dress leaving us to greet the scores of little devils, ghouls, zombies, fairies, princesses, ghosts and animals who will come …

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Last chance to make your views heard on more powers for Scotland..

Well, not the last chance ever, but certainly the last chance to make a submission to the Smith Commission, which is looking into delivering more powers for Scotland in the wake of the independence referendum.

My view is that it was very clear that people wanted significantly more powers. I don’t think that was predominantly why they voted No, but it was clearly indicated during the debate.

The difficulty that the Commission has now is that the Labour Party, which has been dragging its feet on more powers anyway, now has no leader and no direction. Like the other parties, it has submitted its own recommendations, which are by far the most timid, but how is it going to get its act together enough to agree anything more substantial. It will have to, because  the most basic instincts of self preservation tell you that “The Vow” made must be kept.

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UK decision to stop migrant rescue operations attacked by Teather (“unethical”) and Ashdown (“inhuman”), defended by Clegg (“Italian decision”)

Conservative home office minister James Brokenshire defended the Government’s decision to withdraw support – along with all other EU member states – for future search-and-rescue operations for migrants in the Mediterranean. The BBC reports:

James Brokenshire told MPs the change would “save lives rather than putting them in peril.” About 3,000 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean so far this year. That is out of an estimated total of 150,000 to have made the trip by boat across to Europe. Mr Brokenshire said operations to rescue migrants encouraged more people to make the “perilous journey” across the Mediterranean in the hope of being granted asylum. He said the “despicable work” of human traffickers had made the problem much worse, and must be tackled. On the new approach, he added it was “inconceivable to suggest that if a boat were in peril, that support would not be provided”.

Italian officials have made clear they intend to scale down their government’s current operation, known as Mare Nostrum, as the EU introduces a new operation known as Triton. Triton will focus more on border control – tasks such as vetting asylum seekers once they are ashore, and coastal patrols – rather than search and rescue in international waters. Mr Brokenshire said that 28 EU member states had “unanimously agreed” to the new proposals, and criticised those attacking the policy for seeking to “politicise” the issue.

Lib Dem MP Sarah Teather was not impressed by the minister’s defence:

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UKIP MEP calls equal marriage supporters “equality Nazis” and defends UKIP’s collaboration with party whose leader praised Hitler

Six months ago, Scotland had an actual farmer as an MEP. George Lyon’s knowledge of farming and rural issues was a massive asset to Scotland’s representation in Europe.

Not that I’m bitter, well, maybe a bit, but his replacement, UKIP’s David Coburn, who lives in London, has been telling the Huffington Post hat equal marriage supporters are ‘Equality Nazis”:

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Alison McInnes makes debut at First Minister’s Questions

Highly regarded Scottish Liberal Democrats Justice Spokesperson Alison McInnes stood in for Willie Rennie, who’s recovering well from routine surgery, at today’s First Minister’s Questions. You can watch her here from 23 minutes in.

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Stephen Williams doing a Reddit Ask Me Anything tonight at 6:30 pm

Stephen Williams MPEarlier this year, we featured Communities Minister and MP for Bristol West Stephen Williams’ Reddit questionnaire where he invited constituents to “Ask me anything.” And they did, too. 

Here’s a wee snippet:

First of all, I tweeted you support on the day of the Marriage Act vote and you replied. Thank you for that, you made my day on both counts.

Now for a question: I initially supported a boycott of Starbucks and Amazon for non-payment of UK tax. After a year, however, I feel that the blame

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Half of current Green supporters voted Lib Dem in 2010

“As Ukip is to the Tories, so can the Green party be to the Lib Dems.” That’s a sentence I wrote 7 years ago, November 2007. So I was interested to see this post by YouGov’s Peter Kellner – ‘Ukip, the Greens and the new politics of protest’ – which looks at his firm’s polling data to find out more about the current spike in support for the Greens.

In it, he aggregates three weeks’ polling data to create a sample size large enough to find out who these new Green voters are. One finding probably won’t surprise many of us: half current Green supporters voted Lib Dem in May 2010:

yougov - green vote

Here’s how Peter Kellner analyses it:

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Coalition stooshie* as Tories refuse deal to get EU Referendum Bill debated

There’s been an almighty row in the Coalition over which Private Members Bills should be given government support.

The Liberal Democrats had offered the Tories a deal which would have given both Bob Neill’s Bill on an EU referendum and Andrew George’s on the Bedroom Tax a fair chance of becoming law. In return, the Tories offered the Liberal Democrats a deal under which only the EU Bill would have stood a chance. We’d have been daft to have let them away with it.

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Nick Clegg: I’m not voting in this Thursday’s PCC by-election

Police helmetThere’s a by-election taking place this Thursday. The good news is the Lib Dems won’t lose our deposit.

The reason is the party’s not standing a candidate in the Police and Crime Commissioner by-election triggered by the resignation of former PCC Shaun Wright over the Rotherham child sex abuse scandal.

Here’s how Nick Clegg explained the decision to the BBC earlier this month:

“Having looked at the experiment of police and crime commissioners, I’ve come to the conclusion it just doesn’t work. Look what happened in South Yorkshire and across the whole of the north of England; it’s all re-hashed, re-tread Labour politicians and, guess what, the public don’t like it and they don’t bother to vote for it at all.”

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Kirsty Williams: For Labour and the Tories, Welsh patients are just collateral damage in NHS War

rally kirsty williams 1Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams emailed Welsh members yesterday about the current war of words over the Welsh NHS. Here’s what she said:

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Federal Committee candidate lists announced

Libby - Some rghts reserved by David SpenderIf you are a party member, you might want to head to this thread on our Members’ Forum to see the lists of people standing for the Party Committees. The ballot will be conducted predominantly online with links to the ballot being provided to those Conference Representatives for whom the party has an email address. Those emails will be being despatched imminently. Ballots will be sent by post to those for whom there is no email address. The postie will be struggling up the path with the weight of the mailing – there are over 100 candidates for the 42 places on the three committees.

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Carmichael talks green investment, energy and renewables

AlistairCarmichaelYesterday, Alistair Carmichael spoke at a Green investment conference in Edinburgh, which is, of course, home to the Green Investment Bank.

It was a strong pitch to persuade those attending that the Liberal Democrats are delivering in Government on policies that are both green and pro-businesss. Here are some of the highlights.

Being Scotland, there had to be a bit on the constitution, though, and the Smith Commission:

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Why would you not be a feminist? says Clegg

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 17.45.31Elle magazine is doing  a big push for feminism at the moment. It attempted to get the three main party leaders south of the border to wear their “This is what a feminist looks like” t-shirt.

Ed Miliband was happy to do it and so was Nick Clegg, who said:

I support equality and choice – so yes, I’m a feminist. How on earth in this day and age can you not be? As a wiser person than me once said: “Men who actually treat women as equals are the ones with more cojones.”

That wiser person is, of course, is his wife Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, who made the comment in relation to childcare earlier this year, much to the consternation of the Daily Fail.

David Cameron decided not to risk the wrath of the right wing tabloids by daring to wear a t-shirt with the F word on it. Elle magazine aren’t wildly chuffed about that. Editor-in-chief Lorraine Candy said:

We asked the Prime Minister five times if he would wear the Fawcett Society’s iconic This Is What A Feminist Looks Like slogan T-shirt and send us a snapshot (it would only take 10 minutes). Five times, he declined. This is a shame on so many levels, especially given he knew Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband had agreed without hesitation, alongside many other influential men who were more than happy to call themselves feminists. It seems the Prime Minister still has an issue with the word “feminist”.

I was personally disappointed that we couldn’t feature Mr Cameron in our Feminism Issue because it is ELLE’s aim to engage with men in the fight for equality: because of parliament’s current gender imbalance, it is men who have the power to make changes in every area of British women’s lives. When the man in charge doesn’t engage, it doesn’t bode well. Given the huge international male support for UN Women’s #HeForShe campaign, it does rather make our Prime Minister look like the odd one out.’

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LibLink: Ed Davey promises no blackouts this winter

Ed Davey Social Liberal Forum conference Jul 19 2014 Photo by Paul WalterInterviewed in the Sunday Telgraph, Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, said that he had asked the energy regulators for extra contingency measures to cut consumption in event of a cold winter or more power station failures.

Emergency plans will be announced tomorrow in which hotels will be paid to turn down refrigerators and factories paid to make staff work overnight to cut energy consumption and prevent blackouts this winter.

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All welcome to the first Liberal Democrat European Group Conference

ldeg-logoThe next 5 years will be amongst the most important for the Liberal Democrats, for Britain and for the European Union.

Liberal Democrats face three important European challenges, to:

  1. Elect, or re-elect, Liberal Democrat MPs to ensure, as far as we can, that the UK government is constructive about the European Union as a means to advance the UK public’s interests.
  2. Win any referendum on Europe.
  3. Return a large group of Liberal Democrat MEPs in 2019 to fight for the interests of our constituents and a more liberal and democratic Europe.

These challenges are all important. All the people we care about in our communities will be affected by these three events. None of these three challenges will be easy to meet.  Nor can we wait.

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Carswell: Free Liberal. How it might have been

The more time I spend with him (Carswell), the more bewildered I am. Why on earth did he join Ukip? Well, he says, he could hardly have moved over to Clegg’s lot. “If the Liberal Democrats hadn’t made 20 years of errors, yes. But they have made it very clear that they’re not liberal and that they’re on the side of the elites, not the people.” If Gladstone was such a hero, why didn’t he stand as an independent one-man Liberal party candidate? He laughs. “Well I toyed with the idea…

Interview with Douglas Carswell, The Guardian, 19th October 2014

28th August 2014

Before a packed room of journalists, all looking around eagerly for suspected impresario Nigel Farage to emerge, Douglas Carswell finally stepped out onto the stage, alone, having called a press conference only hours beforehand. He announced that, after a long struggle with his conscience, he had come to a decision:

“The main parties are not serious about real change. It’s above all the failure to deliver on the promise of political reform that has driven me to be here today. Europe’s the one continent on the globe that is not growing … yet who in Westminster, who among our so-called leaders, is prepared to envisage real change? The call for an independent, reformist, libertarian voice is a demand I feel I can no longer ignore.”

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Sal Brinton on how Liberal Democrats helped change law on revenge porn

Sal BrintonIf you have half an hour today, make sure you listen to the Week in Westminster, available here on iPlayer.

In it, Tom Brake debates the merits of fixed term Parliaments. The Tory argument against them seems to be more based in self interest and “we are sick fed up of the coalition and these pesky Liberal Democrats” than anything that actually matters.

Sal Brinton is also on talking about revenge porn which was made illegal in moves driven by Liberal Democrats including Sal, Olly Grender, Jonathan Marks and Liz Barker. Presenter Helen Lewis had initially said that the move was part of Chris Grayling’s move to combat internet abuse. Sal put her right, explaining that the impetus actually came from Liberal Democrats on the back of Hannah Thompson’s campaign. She was very diplomatic about the process of getting Government support for the move. You’ll have to listen to see how, in the last few minutes of the programme.

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It’s the Liberal Democrat Blogosphere Wedding of the Year – congratulations to Richard and Alex

I had planned to be in Stockport this afternoon. A bit of a health scare for my poor husband means that I can’t make it but my heart is there with my friends Alex Wilcock and Richard Flowers. It’s twenty years today since they first got together and they are celebrating by getting married. It’s the Wedding of the Year for the Liberal Democrat Blogosphere

Both have been star Liberal Democrat bloggers for some time. Richard won our Blog of the Year in 2010 for his Very Fluffy Diary of Millennium Dome, Elephant. Alex is constantly challenging us to be better at articulating our liberal values on Love and Liberty. Both of these blogs are proper food for the Liberal Democrat soul.

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Liberal Democrats the sexiest party, apparently…

Well, you thought we were all about constitutions and Focus leaflets, didn’t you? Well, the Mirror reports that, apparently, Liberal Democrat supporters have the most adventurous sex lives of all political supporters. This all comes from a book to be published next week called Sex, lies and the ballot box: 50 things you need to know about British elections by Philip Cowley and Robert Ford. That’ll be winging its way to my Kindle on Tuesday. I’ll let you know what I think of it in due course.

I’m sorry if this is too delicate a subject for this time in the morning and if you have choked on your Corn Flakes, I hope you got your breath back quickly.

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Why I’m spitting furious about Johann Lamont’s resignation.

The Scottish Labour Party has been thrown into turmoil by the sudden resignation of its leader, Johann Lamont. Her decision effectively sets Labour’s Holyrood and Westminster camps in open warfare against each other.

Lamont threw in the towel after discovering that Scottish Labour’s General Secretary Ian Price had been removed from office without her even being consulted. I have to say that I am beyond furious about the way Ian has been treated. He is a friend of mine and an opponent who is worthy of respect. The problems faced by the Labour Party are primarily to do with their sense of entitlement to power and their predilection towards factionalism, personality cults and in-fighting, not a pragmatic, sensible general secretary who could actually have been part of the solution if he’d been allowed. I do not like seeing my friends being treated badly.

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Nick Clegg’s message for Diwali 2014

Here is Nick Clegg’s message for Diwali. The full transcript is below for those who have difficulty with hearing.

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Botswana elections: Liberal Democrats help sister party and its “calm revolutionary of our time”

Three chiefs and justice gaborone botswana by BoHeMIoYesterday was polling day in the General Election in Botswana. 57 parliamentary seats are up for grabs along with council seats across the country. The Botswana Democratic Party has been in power since the country gained independence in 1966. The Liberal Democrats have been helping our sister party, the Botswana Movement for Democracy, which has been fighting the election as part of a coalition of opposition parties, the Umbrella for Democratic Change. In early August, their campaign suffered a huge blow when BMD leader and Vice Presidential candidate Gomolemo Matswaledi was killed in a car accident on the way back from a visit to Johannesberg.

Top Liberal Democrat campaigns guru Victoria Marsom, who has the by-election victories in both Brent and Eastleigh under her belt, has been working closely with the BMD for the past year as part of a project funded by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. She’s travelled to Botswana twice, once in June and she’s there now for this last week of the campaign. I had a bit of a surprise the other night when I found this from her on my Facebook timeline:

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By-election update: 8 seats up for grabs – no losses, no gains

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)Thursday saw eight principal by-elections take place in England and Scotland. The Conservatives secured a gain on Gloucestershire County Council in the Mitcheldean by-election, a ward which previously had an Independent councillor.

In Durham, Labour gained a seat in Burnopfield and Dipton, defeating the Derwentside Independents by just a single vote.

In Shepway, the Conservatives successfully retained their seat in Folkstone North West. However UKIP made considerable inroads into the Conservative majority in the ward, with the party registering 27.7% of the vote having not fielded a …

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LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League: how it stands after Week 8

Congratulations to Jon Featonby, who leads the LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League after Week 8, with a whopping 484 points. However, not far behind are George Murray (472) and 2013 Liberal Voice of the Year, Sam Bowman (470). However, as just 39 points separate the top 10, it’s fair to say it’s still very much anyone’s season.

For the record, I’m only 82 points off the lead, biding my time, ready for my Premiership-winning push. Like Arsenal. And I suspect I have about as much chance of winning as the Gunners do.

And not that it matters in the least, but the …

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A powerful message from Canada’s Liberal leader in response to Wednesday’s shootings

Canada flag License Some rights reserved by archer10 (Dennis)What would you want a liberal to say in the wake of shocking and violent events in your country? It must be something pretty close to Justin Trudeau’s words, full of dignity, wisdom and empathy.

Watch the video and see the excerpt below:

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Roundtable talks on new mental health waiting time standards

Phrenology head - mental health - Some rights reserved by evansvilleToday Nick Clegg and Norman Lamb held roundtable talks on mental health services in Sheffield.

Representatives from the local NHS discussed the impact of mental health conditions being brought into line with other NHS services, with the introduction of the first ever waiting time standards.

For the first time, from April 2015, most patients needing talking therapies – for conditions like depression – will be guaranteed the treatment they need in as little as six weeks, with a maximum wait of 18 weeks.

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Alex Salmond to make Westminster comeback – threat to Lib Dem seat of Gordon?

Alex Salmond - License Some rights reserved by Ewan McIntoshFormer Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has hinted he might make a comeback at Westminster, as the BBC reports:

Alex Salmond has said he has not made up his mind whether or not to stand for a Westminster seat at the next general election. The outgoing Scottish first minister was asked on the BBC’s Question Time programme if he would consider becoming an MP again. Mr Salmond said he had “absolutely decisively” not made up his mind, but agreed that the door was not closed.

Alex Salmond made his name at Westminster, as MP for Banff and Buchan for 23 years (1987-2010). However, two factors will be in his mind.

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Clare Campion-Smith Selected as Lib Dem PPC for Bristol North West

At a well-attended meeting in St Edyth’s Hall, Sea Mills, Liberal Democrats selected Cllr Clare Campion-Smith to be their prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC) for the Bristol North West parliamentary seat.

Clare Campion Smith Bristol North West Lib Dem PPC

Cllr Campion-Smith was first elected to represent the Henleaze ward in May 2006. She was re-elected earlier this year, beating her nearest rival by over 500 votes. From February 2009 to November 2012, Clare was the lead member for Children’s Services and she is now the Vice-Chair of the Business Change & Resources Scrutiny Committee. She has previously worked as a mathematics teacher and currently lives with her husband in Redland. They have two children, one daughter-in-law and one grandson.

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Teacher workload – a concern north and south of the border

Yesterday, Nick Clegg gave a speech to public sector workers. His specific focus was on teacher workload. Everyone thinks that teachers work short hours and have long holidays. Yet everyone who has a child actually at school will know how much effort goes in to preparing lessons. And everyone who knows a teacher knows that they spend a lot of their supposed “off-duty” time thinking of interesting lessons or, more likely these days, filling in interminable paperwork. We know that children need to be kept safe and their progress checked, but I get the feeling that the bureaucracy is overbearing and unnecessary. Let’s just give you a small example from my own experience. Every time my child sets foot outside the school we have to fill in a consent form. It’s A4. It has all sorts of medical info on it. It even asks how far they can swim unaided, a skill which is unlikely to be needed when representing the school in a maths competition or reading stories to 6 year olds in the local primary school. We can be filling in one of these forms twice a month. If it’s a mild inconvenience for us as parents, what’s it like for teachers who have maybe 30 of them to collect for each class? Why can parents not fill in a standing consent with all the info which covers the whole year?

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Early years pupil premium – local allocations announced

school childrenThe government has announced the regional allocations for the Early Years pupil premium.

Nurseries, childminders and other early years providers throughout the country are set for a cash injection to help three and four-year-olds from disadvantaged families.

Children from low income families have often fallen behind more well off classmates before they even start school.​

But from April 2015, the Early Years Pupil Premium – which has been backed by groups like Barnados, 4Children and the Child Poverty Action Group – ​will mean extra money to make sure every child gets a …

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDaniel Henry 31st Oct - 5:28pm
    Ouch indeed! You're more man than me Joe - I think I would have spoiled my ballot, or even stayed at home!
  • User Avatarpaul barker 31st Oct - 5:21pm
    The crucial point is that Labour gained this great victory on organisation, not Politics. An astonishing 80% of the votes cast were Postal votes. Nothing...
  • User AvatarJoe Otten 31st Oct - 5:01pm
    Remember, g, the Sheffield figures are based on 5.5 consituencies, 3.5 of which are safe Labour (though UKIP topped the poll in 0.5 in May,...
  • User Avatarmalc 31st Oct - 5:00pm
    A UKIP supporter agreeing with Nick Clegg! Will we be seeing a Tory/LibDem/UKIP coalition government in 2015? I have a feeling Cameron and Clegg would...
  • User AvatarPeter Hayes 31st Oct - 4:51pm
    There seems to be a problem that neither NHS or social services work together with families. My Mother had been in hospital for several months...
  • User Avatarg 31st Oct - 4:50pm
    Odd headline. Hanging on is not a phrase you associate with a party achieving over 50% of the vote, a very rare occurrence in elections....