Category Archives: News

Paul Burstow MP: Liberal Democrats announce package of measures to help carers

Care in the home Some rights reserved by British Red CrossThere are 6.5 million carers in the UK today looking after friends and family who started to need a little help to carry on their day to day lives. Sadly for both carers and those they care for, a little help can become a lot more as conditions deteriorate and people are able to do less for themselves.

That one in eight of us is willing to selflessly prioritise the needs of our loved ones is truly inspirational. But too often as …

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Sloths are cool – but they can’t run Liberal Youth

Sloths are coolThis little chap is a cutie, isn’t he?

He was the star of the email sent to Liberal Youth members kicking off the 2014 Annual Elections for which I am again the Returning Officer.

I don’t know yet how we’re doing but I am really keen for an email from me to beat the open rates of previous sloth emails sent from Liberal youth and, of course, the notorious one featuring Ed Balls.

Being involved in the running of Liberal Youth can be fantastic fun. It’s a long time since I was eligible but I really enjoyed being involved in Scottish SDP Students back in the day. I met friends for life during those years. Others have had the opportunity to head to places like Sri Lanka and Georgia to train young people in those countries.

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Revenge porn: Ministry of Justice launches consultation, Hannah Thompson interviewed on Women’s Hour

Smartphone bar.We’ve written about the issue of revenge porn extensively over the last few months, most recently covering the amendments introduced in the House of Lords which would make it illegal for abusive ex partners to upload intimate images to the internet without consent.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Justice launched a consultation on the issue, saying:

The Government is keen to understand more about the scale of this issue, whether incidents are being reported to the police or other authorities and, where they are, how these are being dealt with. This will allow us to

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Let Kirsty Williams know your views on nursing levels in Wales

Kirsty Williams and Peter Black visit nursesWelsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams has been on a mission for some time to ensure minimum nursing levels in Welsh hospitals. She explained on this site why this was important in a post in March this year.

Evidence is increasing from across the world on the positive impact that nurse staffing levels have on patient care and the recruitment and retention of staff. Nurses who have fewer patients to tend are able to spend a greater amount of time with each patient and as a result can provide better care. If they are more easily able to identify potential problems with a patient’s care, then they are able to play a preventative, rather than a simply reactive, role and consequently reduce the level of treatment needed and the cost of this care to the NHS. It also means better support for staff which leads to more manageable workloads, increased job satisfaction and reduced levels of stress or burnout.

Kirsty’s attempts to put staffing levels on a statutory footing has now reached the next stage. She has published a draft Bill and is currently running a consultation on it. You can access the Bill and the Consultation Document here.

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Danny Alexander says Liberal Democrats will continue free museum access

Danny Alexander at 10 Downing StreetAccess to museums and galleries such as the British Museum, the Tate Modern, the Science Museum and the V & A will remain free under new Liberal Democrat proposals according to The Guardian which quotes Danny Alexander as saying:

Our museums and galleries are some of the best in the world. They are a source of inspiration and education for millions across the country. As Liberal Democrats in government we’ve played our full part in making sure they have the funding and operating freedoms to widen access to all parts of society. The fact that attendance is at record levels and that last year was the first time that a majority of people had visited a museum or gallery shows that free access is a policy that works.

“We’re now committing to maintaining that free access in the next parliament so that people from all backgrounds and income groups can make use of these great institutions without concerns about the cost. I see this as another way of helping make sure that as many people as possible have the best chance of getting on in life.

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Ex-MEP Sharon Bowles appointed non-executive director of London Stock Exchange

Sharon BowlesThe London Evening Standard reports the appointment of former Lib Dem MEP, Sharon Bowles, who stood down at the May 2014 European elections, to the board of LSE:

The London Stock Exchange has appointed one of the most senior former Liberal Democrats in Europe to its board as non-executive director. Ex-MEP Sharon Bowles was one of the short-listed candidates to become Governor of the Bank of England before Mark Carney was appointed. Bowles, 61, is widely seen as one of the most influential people involved in shaping EU policy on financial services regulation, including the key second Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (Mifid II).

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Hughes: Lib Dems will extend Freedom of Information to open up public services run by private companies

simon hughesIt’s been a week of Lib Dem policy announcements, foreshadowing the party’s pre-manifesto to be voted on by members at this October’s conference in Glasgow:

Monday: Norman Baker: “The Lib Dems want to restore the public’s trust in the police”
Tuesday: Fairer funding for Wales: “Lib Dems will actually do something about it,” vows Kirsty Williams
Wednesday: Steve Webb: Lib Dems will introduce “fair warning” for job-seekers who break benefit rules before sanctions imposed
Thursday: Lib Dems pledge more tax cuts: after personal allowance raised to £12.5k will also increase National Insurance threshold

And on Friday, ready for the weekend papers, Simon Hughes – the Lib Dem justice minister – highlighted plans to bring housing associations, water companies and the Big Six energy companies within the scope of the Freedom of Information Act, opening them up for public accountability.

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Gaza: Senior Lib Dems speak out against Hamas, urge continuing ceasefire; and Lib Dem Friends of Israel issue statement

Gaza Burns - photo by Al Jazeera EnglishThis weekend’s Guardian published a letter from five senior Lib Dems – including Sir Alan Beith MP, Lord Dholakia and Baroness Sarah Ludford – condemning Hamas and urging both sides in the conflict to continue their ceasefire in Gaza:

As Liberal Democrats, we are totally committed to the state of Israel being able to live within secure borders, and wish to see the removal of the existential threat to Israel’s security by an internationally recognised terrorist group, and the creation of a viable

photo by:
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Quote of the Week: Lauren Bacall – “I’m total, total, total liberal and proud of it.”

Lauren BacallHere’s Lauren Bacall, who died this week, aged 89, being interviewed by Larry King in 2005:

KING: “Wait a minute. Are you a liberal?”
BACALL: “I’m a liberal. The “L” word!”
KING: “Egads!”
BACALL: … I love it. Being a liberal is the best thing on earth you can be. You are welcoming to everyone when you’re a liberal. You do not have a small mind… I’m total, total, total liberal and proud of it. And I think it’s outrageous to say “The L word”. I mean, excuse me. They should be damn

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Jo Swinson launches “Scotland should stay!” petition

st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TJo Swinson, Lib Dem MP for East Dunbartonshire, is inviting those who “think Scotland should be stay part of the United Kingdom” to sign a petition saying so ahead of the independence referendum on 18th September. Here’s the text of the email circulated to party members last night:

In just over a month my fellow Scots and I will cast the most important vote of our lives.

I’m hoping there’s a resounding vote for Scotland to stay as part of the

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Last call: How to enter the LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League

LDV FANTASY FOOTBALLThe English Premier League kicks off tomorrow and LibDemVoice has revived its Fantasy Football League to mark the occasion. So if you fancy pitting your soccer selection skills against 100+ fellow party supporters, here’s your chance.

To enter all you have to do is click on this link.

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Why Lib Dems shouldn’t keep schtum about tuition fees

tuition fees vote“University tuition fee rise has not deterred poorer students from applying”. That was the headline in The Guardian this week reporting new analysis by the Independent Commission on Fees chaired by Will Hutton:

The raising of tuition fees to £9,000 has not put off students from disadvantaged backgrounds from applying to university – although the gap in applications between those from wealthy and poor backgrounds remains wide, according to new analysis. …

The commission found that university application rates for 18-year-olds in England have continued to recover from their post-rise lows, with application rates for 2014 entry – including students who will receive their A-level results on Thursday – almost two percentage points higher than in 2010.

While students who are not eligible for free school meals – available for pupils from households earning less than £16,000 – remain more than twice as likely to go to university, the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students has narrowed from 30.5% in 2010 to 29.8% in 2013.

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An idea from Matthew Parris that will unite political activists everywhere

head over heels in the letterboxThe Lib-Con Coalition may have run out-of-steam, but Conservative MP-turned-columnist Matthew Parris has identified a policy around which the two parties could happily unite. Indeed, his proposal might even form the basis for a Rainbow Coalition of all the parties.

What’s prompted the idea is that Matthew’s been out delivering leaflets recently. And it has unleashed within him his ‘inner fascist’:

I want order. I want consistency. I want standards. And I want eye-watering penalties for property owners who try their fellow Britons’ patience and waste our time by making their addresses impossible to find. I am driven to distraction by the merry chaos of British residential and commercial addresses, and if I crick my back one more time stooping to try to force a flimsy paper envelope through a vicious ankle-level steel trap of a letterbox, I shall resign as a libertarian and howl for regulation.

So here’s his solution:

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Lib Dems pledge more tax cuts: after personal allowance raised to £12.5k will also increase National Insurance threshold

Danny Alexander by Paul WalterToday’s big announcement from the Lib Dems has been the “plan to cut your tax bill further”. Here’s how The Guardian reports it:

The Liberal Democrats are to burnish their credentials as the tax-cutting party for the low paid by floating the possibility of cutting national insurance contributions for anyone earning below £12,500 a year.

In a challenge to David Cameron, who is facing pressure from Tory MPs to pledge bold tax cuts as the economy grows, the Lib Dems will promise in their general election manifesto to raise the level at which workers start to pay national insurance contributions.

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Rennie on the SNP’s “dishonest, desperate and disgraceful” NHS scaremongering

nhs sign lrgScottish Lib Dem Leader Willie Rennie delivered a passionate speech yesterday setting out his positive arguments for Scotland remaining in the United Kingdom.

A link to the whole speech is below, but he spent a bit of time rebutting some recent scaremongering by the SNP on the issue of the NHS:

And across the UK, few things unite people like our belief in the NHS.

Founded on the principles that it should meet the needs of everyone, that it should be free at the point of delivery, and that it should be based on clinical need not the ability to pay, it remains a source of pride in which each and every one of us has a stake.

These principles are unique and they are enduring.

For the Nationalists to claim that they are under threat is dishonest, desperate and disgraceful.

It is also factually wrong.

Despite the financial pressure of the global financial crisis, the NHS budget has been protected and NHS funding in England is now £12.7 billion higher than it was in 2010.

Private sector involvement in England’s NHS is paid for with public money, meaning that the cash equivalent is protected for Scotland – and the Scottish Government can spend it however they see fit.

The publicly-funded NHS was this year ranked best healthcare system across the 11 richest countries in the world – and we are determined to keep it that way.

But five weeks out from the independence referendum, and the SNP has suddenly started to pretend that funding is in doubt.

Standing on street corners, dripping poison about the NHS into the ears of passers bye is a sign of just how desperate they are becoming.

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Lib Dem donations in 2014, 2nd Quarter: £1.23m raised (but that’s less than Ukip)

Today saw the publication by the Electoral Commission, the independent party funding watchdog, of the donations received by the UK’s political parties in the second quarter of 2014 (1 April to 30 June). Here are the figures:

lib dems donations - Q2 2014

And here’s how the BBC reported it:

UKIP have reported more in political donations than the Lib Dems in a quarter for the first time, according to the Electoral Commission. UKIP reported donations of £1.4m from April to June this year – £170,000 more than reported by the Lib

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Lib Dem Chief Whip on David Ward: “I do not intend to take further action in relation to the tweet”

David WardThree weeks ago, Lib Dem MP for Bradford East David Ward tweeted: “The big question is – if I lived in #Gaza would I fire a rocket? – probably yes”. The following day he issued an apology, saying:

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.

That wasn’t quite the end of the matter, though. The Lib Dem disciplinary process required a meeting between the party’s Chief Whip, Don Foster, and David. That’s now taken place, and it’s been decided there will be no further action. The Yorkshire Post has published the statements issued by both:

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Steve Webb: Lib Dems will introduce “fair warning” for job-seekers who break benefit rules before sanctions imposed

webb 01The Lib Dems are taking advantage of the quiet weeks in August to drip-feed a number of new policies likely to make it into the party’s general election manifesto. Alongside reforms to police stop-and-search and fairer funding for Wales, Lib Dem work and pensions minister Steve Webb has outline plans to introduce a ‘fair warning’ before benefits sanctions are imposed against job-seekers who break the rules. The Guardian reports:

The Liberal Democrats will pledge in their general election manifesto to introduce a new “yellow card” system to give

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Ryan Coetzee switches from Clegg’s Director of Strategy to Lib Dems’ General Election Director of Strategy

Ryan+CoetzeeIt’s almost two years since Ryan Coetzee was appointed as Nick Clegg’s director of strategy, replacing Richard Reeves. His experience as a liberal politician and campaigner with South Africa’s Democratic Alliance meant that he was welcomed, even by many of those often sceptical of advisers and their worth.

One of his first actions was to start identifying the Lib Dem ‘market’, those voters who would consider voting for the party. His research, backed up by the party’s first major private polling operation about which I wrote here, has informed much of the national party’s campaigning since, including its “Stronger society, fairer economy” strapline.

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LDVideo: Interview with Ben Fearn, “youngest ever Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate”

Ben Fearn, the 21 year-old Manchester University graduate selected earlier this year as Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Derbyshire Dales – seat of the Tory transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin – has been interviewed by Digital Journal (hat-tip Charlotte Henry). You can watch a 3-minute video below, which includes the announcement of his selection, and read a fuller interview with him here. Incidentally he’s billed as the “youngest ever Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate”, but are there rivals to that title? Let us know below-the-line…

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Fairer funding for Wales: “Lib Dems will actually do something about it,” vows Kirsty Williams

rally kirsty williams 1Yesterday we reported plans from Lib Dem home office minister Norman Baker to restore the public’s trust in the police. Another policy within the party’s ‘pre-manifesto’ is reported by BBC News Online – to reform the funding arrangement that has long been criticised for short-changing Wales:

Wales could benefit from hundreds of millions of pounds under Lib Dem plans to change the way funds are allocated to devolved nations, it has been claimed. The current system, known as the Barnett formula, is based on population levels and has long been criticised for short-changing Wales. Suggestions to re-draw the formula have been fiercely resisted in Scotland.

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Norman Baker: “The Lib Dems want to restore the public’s trust in the police”

Norman BakerToday’s London Evening Standard front page splashes on the news that the Lib Dems intend to tighten the laws on stop and search, and require some police officers to wear body cameras when they stop someone:

Armed police, riot squads and officers carrying out some stop-and-search in London would have to wear body cameras under Liberal Democrat proposals unveiled today.

The law and order reform, which will be in the party’s 2015 general election manifesto, will also require police to get a judge’s approval to carry out controversial Section 60 stop-and-searches. The existing law lets a senior officer authorise the stopping and searching of individuals in a certain area without suspicion of wrongdoing if he or she believes violence is about to erupt or that people are carrying weapons without good reason.

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LibLInk: Lord (Paul) Tyler – Just Deserts?

Paul TylerOver at Lords of the Blogs, Lib Dem peer Paul Tyler gives short shrift to the complaints of his parliamentary colleagues complaining that the red benches cannot accommodate the 22 new peers appointed last week:

What a nerve! If on 10th July 2012, having given the Government’s Bill a huge second reading majority, those very same MPs had allowed it to make progress, this alleged problem would have been solved. Egged on by Peers and journalists, they broke their manifesto promises to bring democracy to the Lords by playing party games. Had the Reform Bill passed, political appointments would have ceased by now and we would be preparing for the first election of 120 members representing every region and nation of the UK, next year. The choice was theirs two years ago: popular election or party patronage. They are now getting what they asked for.

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ALDE sets sail for a new world from a old port

image aldeThe Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe (ALDE) have confirmed that they will be holding their next Annual Congress in Lisbon, Portugal, a country not known for its liberal politics in recent years.

However, as part of ALDE’s efforts to encourage the growth of liberal forces across the continent, links with a new group in Portuguese politics, Nos Ciadados (We Citizens) have been established, and it is hoped that, by meeting in Lisbon, that those links might be strengthened and nurtured.

In the light of the recent European Parliamentary election results, …

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How to enter the LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League

LDV FANTASY FOOTBALLThe English Premier League kicks off this Saturday and LibDemVoice has revived its Fantasy Football League to mark the occasion. So if you fancy pitting your soccer selection skills against fellow party members, here’s your chance.

To enter all you have to do is click on this link.

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Vince to quit? The party’s “senior sources” have been out and about stirring again…

It’s not even six months since my co-editor Caron Lindsay urged fellow Lib Dems to make nice and drop the internal briefing against colleagues. This followed a spate of whisperings against Vince Cable and Tim Farron among others. The voices off against Vince even prompted Nick to start an internal inquiry, though, as Jonathan Calder observed here, nothing more was heard of it.

Today, though, the Mail on Sunday reports:

Allies of Vince Cable reacted furiously last night over a Liberal Democrat ‘whispering campaign’ suggesting that he is on the brink of walking out of the Coalition. The Mail on Sunday has been told by two well-placed sources within the party that the 71-year-old Business Secretary is considering leaving the Cabinet immediately after the party’s autumn conference.

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“Lynne Featherstone ‘horrified’ over homophobic abuse at Lib Dem councillor”

Lynne featherstone by paul walterMany Lib Dems will have read with sadness of the resignation of Sam Phripp from Somerset County Council owing to “hostility, intimidation and bullying” – including “being referred to as ‘that dirty bloody homosexual’” – from activists from other parties. Here’s what the Lib Dems’ international development minister Lynne Featherstone has had to say about it:

“I was horrified to hear of the treatment of the local Lib Dem Councillor in Somerset,” Ms Featherstone, the Lib Dem MP for Hornsey and Wood Green told PinkNews.co.uk. We’ve come such a long way in this country to achieve equal LGBT rights and I couldn’t be prouder that this government introduced equal marriage.

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Clegg: “I want to see Britain become the world leader in the next breakthrough in mental health research”

lib dem mental illness posterThe Lib Dems have unveiled plans to increase funding spent on mental health research by £50m, by 2020, as the party seeks to ensure it’s are treated as seriously as physical illnesses are. Here’s Nick Clegg:

“Mental health issues have been treated as a sort of Cinderella service compared to physical health issues. I want people who are dealing with depression to be as effectively treated as if they had diabetes. That is why I want to see Britain become the world leader in the next breakthrough

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Norman Baker: in profile

normanbakerThe latest Total Politics magazine has a profile of Lib Dem health home office minister Norman Baker. Here’s a snippet:

at the Home Office, Baker’s relationship with his boss Theresa May has developed into one of mutual respect. (May apparently told Baker early on that she didn’t know where the “spitting tacks” comment had come from.) According to one fellow MP: “He probably likes her because she stands up to Number 10. For her part, Theresa May doesn’t suffer fools gladly. It would’ve leaked out if she was unhappy with him.”

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Six new Lib Dem peers named

House of Lords - Some rights reserved by UK ParliamentThe names of six new Lib Dem peers have been published today. They are:

  • Chris Fox – Director of Group Communications for GKN; former Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats
  • Cllr David Goddard – elected Member of Stockport Metropolitan Council; former Leader of Stockport Council; former Member of the Greater Manchester Police Authority; former Non-Executive Director of Manchester International Airport
  • Cllr Barbara Janke – elected Member and former Leader of Bristol City Council; former teacher
  • Cllr Kath Pinnock – elected Member and former Leader of Kirklees Council
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