Category Archives: News

Stephen Lloyd on the Eastbourne pier fire: “I am as shocked and heartbroken as everyone”

Eastbourne pier on fireStephen Lloyd, Lib Dem MP for Eastbourne, has posted the following message on his Facebook page to update people on what action is being after the fire which ravaged the town’s pier:

Dear all,

Thanks for the support posted here after the tragic fire at the pier yesterday. I am as shocked and heartbroken as everyone. The important thing now is to get this fixed; keep pushing out that Eastbourne is well and truly open for business and to do what we can to help the Pier owners and the folk who had concessions on the Pier. Some of the kiosk owners have lost their livelihood and it’s important we rally around.

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It’s all kicking off in Calderdale as Liberal Democrats help oust Labour administration and win concessions from Conservatives

You would think, wouldn’t you, that if you were in a situation where you were running a minority administration that was dependent on the casting vote of the Mayor, you might be a bit more consensual in your approach to local government.

Not so the Labour party in Calderdale who, from this Storify compiled by Jennie Rigg, seem to feel some sort of entitlement to power. I cut my political teeth campaigning against Labour in the East Midlands so it’s no surprise that they think like that but it’s depressing that nothing has changed in 25 years.

In Calderdale, they projected some sort of humility in May, saying that they would work in a consensual manner and then proceeded with a controversial crossroads against the wishes of the local community.

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The Lib Dem retreat to seat-by-seat campaigns. The right tactic, but not a long-term strategy

Stephen LloydThe Guardian’s Rafael Behr has written of his experiences in Eastbourne, a seat won from the Tories by the Lib Dems’ Stephen Lloyd in 2010. His majority, 3,435, would need a swing of just 3.9% to be wiped out. The recent Lord Ashcroft poll of Tory / Lib Dem marginals indicated an average swing away from the Lib Dems to the Tories of 3.5%. This, then, is the kind of seat within the Tories’ reach and which they need to win if they are to gain an overall majority. …

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Michael Moore MP to trek Tweed to raise funds for children and rescue charities

At the Voice, we are always keen to support our parliamentarians in their fund raising activities, whether it’s giving up booze for a month like Alistair Carmichael did last year or scale an Ecuadorian volcano like Greg Mulholland did in May.

Michael Moore has announced that he and Borders Council Leader David Parker will be undertaking a 97 mile fundraising walk along the River Tweed at the end of August. From the Borders Telegraph:

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Liberal Democrat scientists tell Juncker to keep Scientific Adviser amid pressure from environmental groups to drop the post

New EI Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has had lots of conflicting advice about what to do about the post of the Commission’s Chief Scientific Officer. Environmental NGO’s seem to want to get rid of the post while research organisations want to keep it. The Guardian reports:

The NGOs called the role, which was introduced in 2012 by current EC president José Manuel Barroso and has been occupied since then by a biologist at the University of Aberdeen, Prof Anne Glover, “fundamentally problematic”. Their letter argued that the non-elected role concentrated too much influence in one person, undermining research by the

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Opinion: Intergenerational Fairness: Are we really building a fair future for our young people?

The challenges that young people face today are considerably different to what the previous generations faced. The baby boomers spent much of their lives enjoying a resilient and rewarding economy, with prospects of owning a house regarded as being the norm.

These days, as a young person, it’s not even a realistic goal, let alone normal. Between 2001 and 2011, house prices rose three times faster than wages. As a double whammy, we saw the recession hit wages and young people’s employment prospects particularly hard. Whilst unemployment is dropping, too many of us know young people settling for part-time work, …

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Monroe Palmer writes: Reform of the complaints system for the Armed Forces

British soldiers on a training mission in Afghanistan -  Some rights reserved by AN HONORABLE GERMANThe Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Bill, currently going through report stage in the Lords, has a non-snappy title clearly not dreamt up with Public Relations in mind. It is however important as it includes creation of a Service Complaints Ombudsman and reform of Service complaints system.

As we move into Report stage the Liberal Democrat team, including the valuable contributions of my Lib Dem colleague Martin Thomas (Lord Thomas of Gresford), concentrated on two amendments. One to ensure that a complaint does not disappear if the complainant dies. The second is to carry out an investigation of any allegations of systemic abuse or injustice if it appears to her/him to be in the public interest and that there should be compelling circumstances.

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Lib Dems publish latest accounts: £439k surplus and membership up to 43,451

Libby - Some rights reserved by David SpenderThe latest set of accounts for the Lib Dems have been published – I’ve uploaded it at the foot of this post. (You can compare it with last year’s here.) Here are 5 points that struck me I read through the document.

1) Party bounces back from deficit to surplus

Last year, the Lib Dems recorded a deficit of £410k (described then as a “disappointing result”). This year (ie, the year ending 31 Dec 2013), the party has recorded a healthy overall surplus of £439k, with £7.3m of income and £6.9m of expenditure.

photo by: NCVO
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Stephen Williams writes … Energy efficient homes, house building and minority rights for Cornwall

Terraced housingAs we have now begun the summer recess, I wanted to write an update on the progress that has been made at the Department for Communities and Local Government in recent months. Despite differences in priority between our Conservative coalition partners we have made huge strides in key policy areas and I believe that we should be proud and confident highlighting these achievements on the door step.

One of the most crucial recent breakthroughs has been in regards to zero carbon homes. As I am sure you are aware, if we are to meet our carbon emissions targets then we have to make our housing stock more energy efficient by introducing strict new regulations. This, of course, is easier said than done and we have had to work extensively with developers, industry representatives and environmental groups in order to agree ambitious yet practical energy efficiency targets.  As a result of drawn out negotiations with the Conservatives, the government is now legislating, through the Infrastructure Bill, to introduce a list of ‘allowable solutions’. This is the final measure needed to enable house builders to construct all new homes to a zero-carbon standard from 2016. Zero carbon homes has been a key priority for me since becoming a minister and I am delighted that this incredibly important green policy is now being delivered.

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Food for Thought: Scottish independence?

An educational charity called WORLDwrite contacted Lib Dem Voice recently with a link to their programme below.

This was made by WORLDbytes, which is a “unique online Citizen TV channel set up and run by the education charity WORLDwrite. Dedicated to advancing new knowledge, skills and ideas, the charity promotes excellence in citizen reporting and provides free training to volunteer-learners which combines practical film making with tackling challenging issues.” It offers a 6 week training programme for 16 – 25 year olds, so may well be of interest to any Liberal Youth readers.

This is a video their volunteers made about the Scottish referendum.

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A bit of our party’s history remembered

1988On 29th July, exactly 26 years ago, Paddy Ashdown was elected as the first leader of the newly merged Social and Liberal Democrats (which quickly settled down to being known as the Liberal Democrats).  The leadership contest was between Paddy Ashdown and Alan Beith, who had my vote. But what a leader Paddy turned out to be!

The Guardian marks the anniversary by airing an editorial of the day, part of which was a tribute to David Steel who had decided not to enter the leadership contest. David Steel had led the Liberal Party into the Alliance with the Social Democrats and acted as one of the two interim leaders of the Social and Liberal Democrats after the merger.  He had been the baby of the House when elected at the age of 26, and was one of the youngest party leaders ever when he took up that role 11 years later.

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Nick Clegg’s Message for Eid-al-Fitr

We join Nick Clegg in wishing those of you who are celebrating today a very happy Eid-al-Fitr.

Here is his video message, with transcript underneath:

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Clegg: Commonwealth must live up to its values and oppose LGBT discrimination

Clegg signs in at Pride HouseWe know that Nick Clegg has spoken out against discriminatory LGBT laws across the Commonwealth. He’s done so again in an interview with Gay Times magazine.  He called them after his visit to Pride House i(where the picture was taken) n Glasgow.

Shortly before he took his place in the stalls for the opening ceremony, the Deputy PM gave GT Towers a ring. “This is the Downing Street switchboard. We have the Deputy Prime Minister on the line for you,” came the call. Well, that was

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Lib Dems have led the case against armed police in the Highlands – not that you’d know from the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland

This time next week, I will be in one of what I think is the most magical places on earth, the Black Isle. The friendly people, gorgeously rich scenery from the fertile farmlands to the wonderful pink-sanded Rosemarkie beach, the rubbish mobile phone signal and the utter peace of the place combine to make it my perfect bolt-hole.  I feel myself relaxing as soon as I get my first view of Munlochy Bay from the A9. It’s pure heaven.

I try very hard when we’re there to do all my shopping from local shops rather than the big supermarkets in Inverness, …

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The 21 areas where the Lib Dems and Labour agree

Miliband-CleggIt’s a few months since I first published my list of 17 policies on which the Lib Dems and Labour now agree. These ranged from including tax-cuts for low-earners, the introduction of a mansion tax, a major council house-building programme, cuts to universal benefits for wealthy pensioners, and an elected House of Lords.

One I highlighted was the likely scrapping of the Bedroom Tax, noting then: “Officially the Lib Dems are committed to an immediate review of the impact of the ‘bedroom tax’ (or ‘spare room subsidy’ as no-one calls it), …

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Ed Miliband’s speech: tricky message, poor timing

Ed MilibandI’ve quite a lot of time for Ed Miliband. Politics needs intelligent, thoughtful folk with their hearts in the right place.

I respect, for example, that he held out last year against the superficially attractive urge to call for an in/out EU referendum advocated by more opportunistic Labour colleagues who relished the idea of stirring Tory discontent with Cameron. Miliband, rightly, decided to put national interest ahead of narrow party interest.

But there are evident troubles with his leadership, crystallised by his speech yesterday in which he acknowledged his own image problems: “I am not trying to win a photo-op contest in the next 10 months. And I wouldn’t win it if I tried.”

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RIP Cllr Jo Stephenson, Lib Dem leader in Cumbria

jo stephensonJo Stephenson, Deputy Leader of Cumbria County Council and Lib Dem group leader, has died. The Westmoreland Gazette reports:

A LEADING Lake District politician who fell 30ft out of a window three weeks ago died in hospital last night, Cumbria County Council said today.

Liberal Democrat Coun Jo Stephenson suffered serious injuries including a broken pelvis, punctured lung and chest injuries following the incident in Windermere on July 4.

A statement released by Cumbria County Council this morning confirmed Coun Stephenson, who was the deputy leader of the authority, died in Royal Preston Hospital last night.

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Social Liberal Forum Conference – a belated report of an enriching day

Social Liberal Forum conference Jul 19 2014 closing panel Photo by Paul WalterThis time last week, I had just arrived at a very crowded Euston Station in London for the Social Liberal Forum’s Annual Conference. It was more than worth the 800 mile round trip, even if  I’ve been ill ever since.

Our own Mary Reid had a major hand in the organisation of the event, which was attended by over 200 people. She did a fantastic job. Everything ran smoothly and the food and drink on offer all day was …

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Lord Rennard: Lib Dems continue investigation into peer while party official apologises for lapse

Chris RennardThe Guardian reports today on the latest developments in the Lord Rennard case, specifically:

  • A senior Lib Dem official has personally apologised to Lord Rennard “over the fact the party told the media an appeal against his suspension had been rejected before the peer himself was informed of the ruling.” (See LDV’s brief report, ‘Lord Rennard remains suspended’ (15th July).)
  • The party has abandoned its investigation into Lord Rennard for not apologising to the four women, who maintain he touched them inappropriately, as recommended by Alistair Webster QC’s inquiry,
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    By-election update: Staplehurst gain by 6 votes

    There were eight principal by-elections this week in Blackpool, Doncaster, Maidstone, Northumberland, Reading, Rhondda, Walsall and Windsor. The Liberal Democrats made two gains, Labour held four seats, UKIP gained one seat and an Independent held one seat.

    longhoughtonThe Berwick Liberal Democrats stormed to victory in the rural ward of Longhoughton (Northumberland CC). Kate Cairns won just shy of 50% of the vote to gain the seat for the Liberal Democrats after the death of a long standing and popular Independent councillor. The division which had not seen such a competitive election in a long time saw the Conservatives come second with 23.5%, an Independent came third (13.9%), UKIP were fourth with 9.8% and Labour trailed in last with 3.2%. Campaigning is not easy in the division which is nearly the size of Luxembourg so the local Liberal Democrats made good use of Virtual Phone Banks and had help with telephoning from across the country. They also made use of ALDC best practice resources to run a strong traditional literature campaign. Julie Pörksen, the local PPC who is hoping to succeed Sir Alan Beith, helped lead the by-election effort and ran a popular local campaign about Labour cutting post-16 subsidised transport. Cllr Cairns is a parish councillor and well-known road safety champion and so the campaign also focused on speeding, cycle safety, potholes and parking along the coastal road.

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    Careers Guidance and Education in Schools

    old schoolThe 2011 Education Act made a radical change in provision for careers advice for young people. Responsibility had traditionally been with an external advice agency – originally the LA careers service and from 2002 with Connexions. The Act passed this responsibility on to schools with provisos that it should be ‘independent and impartial’ and involve people other than just school staff. During the passage of the Act, Lib Dems in the Lords had fought hard to make it mandatory that each young person should have a one-to-one interview with a properly qualified external careers’ adviser. We did this partly because we knew schools did not have the resources to provide the service but also because academisation and increasing competition for sixth formers meant that many schools were putting pressure on young people to stay on in school to do AS and A levels, rather than telling them about vocational and apprenticeship opportunities available through the local FE college – indeed we knew of examples where schools had refused to allow the local FE college even to distribute a prospectus to pupils.

    photo by: alamosbasement
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    GDP above pre-crash level; strongest growth in G7

    Today’s figures from the Office for National Statistics show growth of 0.8% in the second quarter of 2014, bringing UK GDP above the level it was before the 2008 crash.

    With GDP 3.1% higher than a year earlier, the UK has the fastest growing economy in the G7.

    Cheif Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander comments

    Today we are passing a major milestone on the long road back to full recovery. There is still a long way to go but Britain has recovered the economic ground lost under Labour and is forging ahead.

    The main reason that we stepped forward to

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    Nick Clegg: The more men speak out against FGM, the sooner we can stop it

    Nick Clegg 3 - Paul WalterCosmopolitan magazine caught up with Nick Clegg at the Girl Summit the other day. They have launched their own campaign to remember the victims of “honour killings”, surely the most inappropriate way to describe cold blooded murder. The images they’ve had designed to illustrate their campaign are extremely hard hitting.

    He was asked what he thought Cosmo’s young women readers could do to help end FGM and forced marriage:

    …the most powerful change of all is girls and women speaking up. Not allowing this to lurk in

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    Ukip may well win a seat in May 2015. But the least likely person to get elected is Nigel Farage

    Nigel Farage, Leader, UK Independence Party (UKIP)This week saw the latest in Lord Ashcroft’s polls of the marginal battleground seats that will decide the result of the next general election. This crop focused on 14 marginal Conservative-held seats where Labour are in second place.

    The overall news was half-encouraging for Labour. As it stands, Ed Miliband’s party is poised to win 11 of these 14 seats next May. The average swing from Tory to Labour of 4.5% would be enough to win 53 Tory seats, which, as as Ashcroft notes, “combined with the 17 seats my recent polling suggested they could gain from the Lib Dems, would be enough for a small overall majority”.

    Of course, this poll is a snapshot, not a prediction (as Ashcroft repeatedly stresses). A similar exercise conducted by Ashcroft for PoliticsHome in 2009 pointed to a Tory majority of 70 seats and we all know how that turned out a few months later. Usually the governing party picks up support as the election nears, while the opposition party loses support. We’ll see how that historical pattern bears out in Coalition conditions and as voting becomes yet more fragmented between five national parties, as well as the nationalists in Scotland and Wales.

    But the most newsworthy finding from Ashcroft’s poll was that Ukip would win two Conservative-held seats, Thanet South and Thurrock.

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    Nick Clegg: I want to hardwire LGBT rights into our entire human rights agenda

    Rennie and the Queen's Baton
    The Commonwealth Games opens in Glasgow in a couple of hours and we’re promised quite a spectacle. All of Scotland is ready. Except perhaps Edinburgh, where the powers that be have decided, in their wisdom,  to dig up the road outside Waverley Station, causing total chaos.

    Politicians have been all over the place in Scotland today, ahead of attending the Opening Ceremony.

    Willie Rennie managed to get his hands on the Queen’s Baton (see the photo on the right).

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    Ayoub Khan selected as Liberal Democrat candidate for West Midlands Police and Crime Commisioner by-election

    Police helmetA by-election is to take place on 21st August for the post of West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner after the sad death of the incumbent, Labour’s Bob Jones, on July 1st.

    The Liberal Democrat candidate will be Ayoub Khan, the 41 year old barrister and former councillor who fought the election in 2012.

    From the Birmingham Mail:

    The 41-year-old from Aston, who administered first aid to a gun-shot victim fifty yards from his house in 2002, was called to the bar in 2005.

    He was a Birmingham City

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    David Ward apologises for his tweet and calls for more action by world community to end humanitarian crisis in Gaza

    David WardDavid Ward has apologised for last night’s tweet,  saying that he does not condone firing rockets into Israel. Here’s his statement in full:

    I utterly condemn the violence on both sides in Israel and Gaza.

    I condemn the actions of Hamas, and my comments were not in support of firing rockets into Israel. If they gave the opposite impression, I apologise.

    However, while I defend the right of Israel to exist and defend itself, I will continue to speak out for the rights of the Palestinian people who are facing untold suffering. More must be done by the world community to end this humanitarian crisis and protect the families living in Gaza. I can understand their plight and desperation.

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    David Ward: “if I lived in #Gaza would I fire a rocket? – probably yes”

    A year ago David Ward, Lib Dem MP for Bradford East, had the party whip temporarily withdrawn after he accused “the Jews” of “inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel”. Though he apologised for blanket-labelling he said he would “continue to make criticisms of actions in Palestine in the strongest possible terms” and has tonight lived up to his word on his Twitter feed:

    david ward tweets

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    In Full: Nick Clegg’s speech to the Girl Summit

    girlsummitlogoIt’s hard to imagine the event that took place in London today happening 20 years ago. Yes, of course, we knew about Female Genital Mutilation and Child and Enforced Marriage, but it wasn’t a mainstream political issue. Now, we’re seeing concerted global action, and the UK Government is involved up to its eyeballs, as Julian Huppert told us earlier. I couldn’t have imagined Mrs Thatcher or Sir Geoffrey Howe talking openly about the need to tackle these issues. But today, David Cameron, Philip Hammond, Theresa May, Justine Greening and Nick Clegg were all present at the Girl Summit. Here is Nick Clegg’s speech which closed the proceedings.

    Take some time tonight not just to read this, though. Have a look through the Girl Summit Twitter feed and look at some of the stories and experiences that were shared, of girls as young as 12 pulled out of school and forced to marry. Read about how this problem is particularly bad at the moment in the Syrian refugee camps. It’s harrowing, but you also get a glimpse of all the work being done globally to bring these practices to an end. Today’s summit must only be a staging post in a much longer journey and now that the issue has hit the political mainstream, it must not be allowed to fade until it’s sorted.

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    Paul Burstow writes … Depression touches all of our lives

    Depression #5 (staring at the park)Depression affects as many as 1 in 4 of us in our lifetimes, 1 in 10 adults at any one time. So the truth is, it affects all of us – whether we have experienced depression ourselves, or as partners, parents, children, siblings, friends and colleagues of those who have, and may well still suffer. The misery that it brings is cruel and pernicious – we know it shatters lives. But despite the fact that depression touches all of our lives, it is still far too poorly understood.

    As Minister for Mental Health, I awarded government funding to the Time to Change campaign to challenge the stigma of mental ill health and I’m pleased to say that the funding has continued throughout this parliament, and should, in my view, continue in the next. It has been very successful and has helped change mindsets in a range of fields. Celebrities and politicians have been brave enough to talk publicly about their own experiences of depression, and it has helped.

    photo by:
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