Category Archives: News

Bold new graphics for a new leader

There’s a lovely new range of graphics in a whole new style. Well done to the creative types in the party who have put them together, mainly from quotes from his speech on Thursday night. They are very pretty. And there’s not a Stronger Economy, Fairer Society in sight.

The first comes from a comment he made on Twitter to a Liberal Youth member which sums up his feelings on same sex marriage:

Farron Love is love


Farron graphic 2

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The men who bankrolled the Liberal Democrat Leadership campaigns

So, I went looking for the Register of MPs’ Interests earlier today. My intent was not particularly noble. My heart was bleeding to such an extent over Tobias Ellwood’s penury that I just wanted to check if there was anything in there that might help help him out. Bless him, he only had the £3.5k for being in the Territorial Army to help supplement his £90k ministerial salary. His wife is only a corporate lawyer, too. I really don’t know how they manage. And, of course, Tobias is so full of empathy for his fellow poor people that he’s more than happy to walk through a voting lobby and freeze their benefits for four years while he picks up a £7000 pay rise.  Can you hear those violins? But at least he will get more of his money taxed at the lower rate this year, as George Osborne has taken pity on him and made sure that he’s increased the amount he can earn before he pays higher rate tax.

It turns out there’s a brand new Register out, released on Wednesday, so I thought I’d look our lot up. Nothing terribly exciting, except that at least some of the donations to the leadership campaigns have now been registered.

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Talking Tim on Radio Scotland

Yesterday, I went on the Stephen Jardine show on Radio Scotland to spill all Tim Farron’s secrets and discuss his prospects with Stephen and John Crace from the Guardian. Sadly, I didn’t quite get through all of them, but that at least means I have them for another time.

You can listen to it all here from about 1 hour 18 minutes in. Do feel free to laugh at me criticising the party’s election messages for use of too many body parts and then using two myself in fairly quick succession.

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In Full: Tim Farron’s speech, transcribed by Joanne Ferguson

Since she joined the party in May, Joanne Ferguson from Hamilton has thrown herself into Lib Dem life. She’s stood for election in Liberal Youth, she’s been to hustings meetings, policy roadshows and worked like a demon for Tim Farron’s leadership campaign. She’s also written twice for us.

I wanted to put a full transcript of Tim’s speech from the rally. The one on the party website is good enough, but I decided to go for the one Joanne did on her blog because of her commentary and because of the effort she put in to doing it. So, enjoy.

“Shall I … Do you want me to say something? Is it a cunning ploy to make sure we get a standing ovation by just … making you stand?

Wow, well look, for years I stood where you are now. I joined this party when I was sixteen. I watched some great liberal leaders give some incredible speeches: Steel, Ashdown, Kennedy, Campbell, *he looks at Nick* Clegg. Imagine following in their footsteps. To say it’s an honour is an understatement of epic proportions. I remember sitting in the winter gardens at the Blackpool conference, watching Paddy give his first leader’s speech when I was 18. I remember feeling not just inspired but incredibly guilty, because I’d left home in Preston that morning, and there on the kitchen table was my round of Focus leaflets and I’d not delivered them yet. I got home and discovered that my mother had done them for me … just … bless her.

So I get to lead the party I joined as a kid. Thank you, thank you very much. I will work every day to repay the trust you have put in me, but there is someone else I want to say thank you to as well, and that is Norman. *clapping* There’s more. *more clapping*. Norman is an outstanding liberal who’s been a mentor of mine since I was first elected in 2005. I got really bored of hearing myself speak during the leadership campaign, but I never got bored with Norman. As I consider Norman’s achievements on improving mental health, I am reminded how vital it is that we win elections so we can make that kind of difference again. If there were more Norman Lambs in politics, people’s opinions of politicians would be so much better. They said of Jo Grimond that he gave politics a good name. Now I don’t go around comparing people to Jo Grimond lightly, but Norman is exactly in that mould. I am proud of his achievements in government. I am incredibly proud to work alongside Norman as we rebuild our party. To Norman and all of his team, you fought a brilliant campaign. We owe you a massive debt of thanks.


LibLink: David Steel: Tim Farron is a man of conviction and a risk taker – that’s why he got my vote

David Steel has written in the Guardian about why he backed Tim Farron and what he thinks he’ll bring to the party:

That level of deep commitment which Farron obviously has, combined with his organisational skills and northern public persona, has all the ingredients of a successful leadership. I speak as one who sat in a gloomy Commons party of six after the 1970 election debacle, three of us clinging to majorities under 1000. It took time, but we turned that round, and went on both to increase our numbers and form the significant Alliance with the SDP and eventually the new united party, which at elections under Paddy Ashdown, Charles Kennedy and Clegg reached new heights of public support. The same can happen again.

A colleague said to me during this contest: “But isn’t Farron a bit risky?” I responded that that may be so, but what the party needs at this time is a risk-taker, not afraid to revisit more traditional Liberal policies – on Trident, on Europe, on industrial democracy, on land value taxation, on the pursuit of a more just society, and on the need for a federal constitution including a new upper house.

It will be a long and at times painful journey, but with Tim Farron inspiring and leading it I see grounds for real hope and optimism.

 You can read the whole article here. 
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Sal Brinton’s message for Eid-ul-Fitr

Party President Sal Brinton issued the following message for Eid-ul-Fitr.

As the holy month of Ramadan comes to an end, I would like to wish Muslims in the United Kingdom and all over the world a happy Eid-ul-Fitr.

Eid is a joyful occasion and a time for family, friends and neighbours to come together and celebrate the common values that unite us in our humanity.

But even during this festive time, the attitude of Muslims to remember those in parts of the world less fortunate than us is exemplary.

Throughout Ramadan, Muslim communities collect and distribute Zakat-ul-fitr so that all Muslims are able to

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Opinion: High Court rules DRIP legislation introduced by Liberal Democrats in government is unlawful

Last year there was widespread criticism from Liberal Democrat members  towards the parliamentary party’s support (with the honourable exception of the four Lib Dem MPs) for emergency DRIP surveillance powers.  A fair number of us warned our parliamentarians that the legislation seemingly did not comply with the European Convention on Human Rights.  In addition to the warnings that came from those of us within the party there was an open letter from leading UK internet law academic experts  and widespread criticism from civil liberties groups.

Norman Baker who was then a minister of state at the Home Office minster

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Who are your human rights heroes?

Liberty is looking for nominations for its 2015 Human Rights Awards.

Here’s what you need to do by 5pm tonight:

We’re looking for the NGOs, the national campaigners, the local activists, the volunteers or professionals who are working on human rights issues – whether it be inspiring or organising, providing support or challenging misconceptions. Often individuals and organisations work tirelessly and with little recognition – this is our chance to thanks them for all they do, and shine a light on this crucial work.

Past award categories have included Human Rights Lawyer of the Year, Human Rights Young Person of the Year, and our ‘Close to Home’ award, which acknowledges those who battle for the rights and freedoms of their own families, streets and communities. These categories are not fixed so please nominate anyone you believe deserves recognition for their work to protect, promote or broaden understanding of human rights.

Who is eligible?

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Liberal Democrats win three by-elections in Kingston, Wrexham and Battle

Well, that was a turn up for the books. Liberal Democrats in Kingston have stormed to victory in the Grove Ward by-election. The Tories threw the kitchen sink at the ward, even sending Chris Grayling and Sol Campbell there along with a huge amounts of activists, but their vote was pretty embarrassing to be honest.

UKIP: 58
Greens: 88
Conservatives: 688
Labour: 223
Lib Dems: 1577

In Wales, we took a seat from Labour by some margin.

And in Battle, Cllr Kevin Dixon regained the seat he lost in May:

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LDVideo: Tim Farron’s first speech as Liberal Democrat leader

Here it is in full, courtesy of Sky News – Tim’s first speech, delivered to a packed Islington Assembly Hall. I followed it on Twitter while I was on a train and it was giving me goosebumps so you might need to sit down with a cup of tea to watch the whole thing. Full of passion and energy and purpose and articulating an practical, relevant, optimistic, joyful liberalism.

A member of the audience fainted at one point and was incredibly apologetic but Tim was quick to reassure him and make sure he was ok.

There is a transcript on the party website, reproduced below for ease.

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Tim Farron is the new Liberal Democrat leader

BBC News announcement of Tim as leader

Congratulations, Tim, on being elected leader of a party that doesn’t often want to be led at one of  the most challenging times in its history.

And here’s the official tweet:

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Leadership update: How they count the votes

The party is catering for all the process geeks amongst its membership well this afternoon with an explanation of exactly how the votes are being counted. The result is expected in the next hour:

All of the ballot papers have been returned directly to Electoral Reform Services (the commercial arm of the Electoral Reform Society) who are running the election for us.

Ahead of the count, the ERS opened all of the returned envelopes, and put the votes into batches of 100 ready for counting.

The count is conducted by ERS staff as is supervised by a small team from party HQ (Tim Gordon our CEO, Darren Briddock from the party’s compliance team and Austin Rathe form the membership team) along with the agents and additional observers from each of the two campaigns. The count is a sterile environment, so representatives from both campaigns will have to hand in their mobile phones before entering the count area – hence why you won’t hear anything during the count!

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What you can do while waiting for the new leader to be announced.

Fed up waiting for the result of the leadership election? Here’s something to take your mind of it whether you’re a Tim or a Norman supporter.

There is a major by-election in a key marginal seat in Kingston going on today.  It was caused by the death of popular Liberal Democrat Councillor Chrissie Hitchcock. Our candidate is Jon Tolley who owns a record shop and has massively high name recognition in the ward. He’s clearly very well thought of.

The Tories have thrown the kitchen sink at the ward and have stopped to all sorts of lows. Think this leaflet slating Jon Tolley comes from the Greens?

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“Soggy Syriza with sandals” – thanks, Danny, for giving Osborne a stick to beat us with

I almost choked on my Earl Grey this morning when I read Danny Alexander’s piece in the New Statesman in which he suggested that there was much to cheer in George Osborne’s budget. I wondered if he had forgotten that May, you know, happened?

The reason we lost so many seats to the Tories is,  at least in part,  that the people who voted for us no longer felt that we represented their values, the sorts of values that had seen us stand up for freedom and social justice. Those people turned to the Greens and Labour. Yes, of course the Tory tactics over the SNP were relevant but we kind of stoked that by legitimising it.

We also made a great thing during the election campaign of talking about our opposition to the Tories’ £12 billion welfare cuts proposals, much of which we had stopped in government. Now Danny suggests that we shouldn’t go out of our way to oppose them in opposition:

Neither Labour nor the Liberal Democrats should envisage a future as a sort of soggy Syriza in sandals. I  don’t like some of the welfare reforms in the Budget, but to make it the political dividing line is to fail to recognise the views of most people.

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Chris Huhne talks to Robert Peston and Eddie Mair about his downfall, prison, Balzac and phlegmatism

Huhne, Mair, PestonBBC journalists Robert Peston and Eddie Mair have teamed up over recent weeks to make a late-night Radio 4 interview show with a difference. Each week, the presenters take it in turn to choose a guest to be interviewed by them both — but the one not choosing does not know who the guest is until the recording begins. This week’s episode was the last in the series, and Eddie Mair’s guest of choice was Chris Huhne, formerly the Liberal Democrat MP for Eastleigh and energy secretary in the coalition, who was convicted in  2013 of perverting the course of justice, and sentenced to eight months in prison.

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Leadership election results out today – what you need to know

tim farron norman lamb squarish by paul walter2 months of campaigning, 25 hustings, 20,000 miles covered by the candidates to attend 100 events (according to the Guardian, anyway) — the leadership election comes to an end today, as the ballots are counted and the result is declared.

The count itself will take place at the offices of Electoral Reform Services in London, attended by a select group. The result will then be posted first on the Lib Dem Twitter feed and Facebook page, hopefully sometime between 4 and 5pm.

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Kirsty Williams: Liberal Democrats fight for the underdog, we fight for what is right, leading on the issues that no-one else will

In a speech in Cardiff today, Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams made a considered, candid speech in which she started to chart the direction of the post-coalition party. She has to lead her AMs into challenging Welsh Assembly elections in less than ten months’ time.

She spoke honestly about the coalition experience and what she felt the Liberal Democrats had got wrong as well as right. She said it was now time to reset the dial and talked about those values of social justice, individual liberty and Keynesian economic efficiency which are the cornerstones of our values.

The whole speech is reproduced below, and you can listen along to the audio here.

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Lord Roger Roberts writes… Liberal Democrats fight to make sure local government reflects will of people

This year we celebrate the Magna Carta and the struggle for rights and liberties. The democratic rights of the people – our enfranchisement from the Great Reform Act of 1834 to the struggles of today and our belief that the voice of every person in the United Kingdom if registered to vote can carry some influence. This includes all men and women without regard to wealth, status or property rights. All 18 and over are included. In Scotland 16 year olds were able to vote in the recent Referendum and now throughout the United Kingdom there is a campaign to …

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Lib Dem Lords fight for votes at 16 in Council elections

The Liberal Democrat campaign for votes at 16 enters a new stage today as the Lords debates the Cities Bill. Liberal Democrat Paul Tyler has put down an amendment which would enable 16 and 17 year olds to vote in Council elections in England and Wales.

Labour have said that they will support Paul’s amendment. If it passes, it will then be up to David Cameron’s Conservative MPs to overturn it. I suspect that they will have no problem doing that given that young people are hardly top of their list of priorities at the moment. However, you don’t need many Tory rebels to threaten the Government’s majority. The only thing is that you would need the SNP to vote in order to defeat the Government in the Commons. If the SNP does vote on this entirely English and Welsh matter, you would be less likely to get the Tory rebels. The chances of it becoming law therefore seem slim at this stage.

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Nominations open for party awards

It’s that time of year again – the Party Awards season, and the nominations pack is now up on the website. The awards recognise the exceptional and dedicated work our members do in our communities and this is your chance to tell us who we should be recognising.

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Federal Conference Committee report

Photo by Jon BallFederal Conference Committee (FCC) met on Saturday to decide which of the 52 motions submitted by members should be debated when we go to Bournemouth later this year. I’m sure many of you will be scrolling down to the end of this post to find out the good news, but for those who are new to the party or two FCC machinations, I shall quickly explain what FCC does and how it arrived at it’s decision.

The full FCC meets six times a year, three per conference. The first meeting in the cycle is general business, discussing topics such as future venues, stewarding and security needs, design of speakers cards, overall allocation of time between policy/speeches/Q&As, registration rates and so on. Before anyone asks, I should point out that the location of future conferences is a closely guarded secret until officially announced as we don’t want commercial companies block-booking accommodation in advance, as this puts the price up for ordinary members.


Well, there’s a twist – SNP to torpedo Tory attempt to relax hunting ban

The Guardian reports:

David Cameron’s plan to relax the foxhunting ban is likely to fail after the Scottish National party decided to take the provocative step of voting against a change in the law that only relates to England and Wales.

After a meeting of its MPs in Westminster, the SNP decided it would vote down the motion even though it would only bring the law in England and Wales into line with Scotland by allowing hunts to flush out foxes with a pack of dogs before they are shot.

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Nick Clegg’s first interview since the election

Nick Clegg was interviewed by Andrew Marr on the Sunday Politics show yesterday. Amongst other things he discusses how PR could be a condition of any further coalition.

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Lib Dem party steward saves a life

One of our volunteer stewards at Federal Conferences is in the news for having saved a man’s life.  The Manchester Evening explains what happened in an article headlined Good Samaritans save life of man on motorway bridge.

Hamza Afzal, a student from Manchester, was driving from Bolton to Manchester with a friend, when they spotted a man standing on a motorway bridge, on the wrong side of the barriers. They stopped and managed to pull him back to safety just as he was falling unconscious.

Congratulations to Hamza on his quick thinking and timely actions.



In pictures: Today in Athens

Scenes from Athens today, as momentous discussions take place in Brussels. Scroll down to view. Hover your mouse or finger over the photo to read the caption, and/or double-click on the image to see it in context on Getty Images.

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Conference controversy guaranteed – Renewal of Trident to be debated

Full details of the agenda for Autumn Conference will be released in due course, but reports on social media say that a motion calling for Trident not to be renewed at all will be debated.

If passed, this would mean an end to a succession of fudges on the issue in recent, and not so recent, years.

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Hillary minds her left flank – while Jeb stacks up the money (but is it in the right place?)

There’s a lot of those internet/Facebook quizzes going round, as usual. One of them asks several questions to show you which US presidential candidate one comes nearest to, in terms of policy.

Strangely enough, I and most of Lib Dem friends come out nearest Bernie Sanders. “Who he? – Ed” – was the first thought that ran through my mind, when that answer came up for me, although I had vaguely heard of the junior senator from Vermont.

Is the US the only country where a 73 year-old can be described as “junior”? And is it wrong that whenever Vermont is mentioned, I either think of Bill Bryson’s hilarious tales from Vermont or that fantastic old comedy programme with Bob Newhart where he ran a hotel in Vermont and spent much of the show opening the door and letting in gustfuls of snow?

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Guy Verhofstadt tears into Greece/Alexis Tsipras in the European parliament – and the reply

Newshound covered this on Thursday, but here’s a second chance to view Guy Verhofstadt, Member of the European Parliament and leader of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, telling Alexis Tsipras very precisely and passionately what Greece has to do. It’s a real zinger of a speech (and much better than Nigel Farage’s foghorned nonsense).

If you haven’t seen this, it’s well worth looking at. It’s the one commentary on the Greek situation which, for me, has made real sense:

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Dangling on a rope, pulling pints, catching the tube – photos of Nick Clegg by the party’s official photographer

nick clegg with diver 17th April 2015 Photo by James Gourley from Liberal Democrats CCL Flickr photostream
James Gourley worked for Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats as our official photographer until May.

He’s put up some super photos on this blog post.

Nick is seen at Go Ape where he famously went during the election, on the campaign bus, behind the scenes at Conference, sitting on the Government benches in the House of Commons, feeding a sea lion, waiting to catch a tube. He was even smiling when he was doing that!

You can see him delivering leaflets, blowing up balloons, rehearsing his speech for conference and much more.

The photos capture the mood of the moments beautifully and are well worth a look.

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More than just a flag….

The Confederate Flag came down for the last time yesterday at the South Carolina State House.

It’s worth watching this speech below from South Carolina Representative Joseph Neal (thanks to Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire). It is a moving and dignified speech, which well explains the significance of the Confederate battle flag finally being consigned to a museum. He made the speech during the debate in the South Carolinian State legislature on the subject of the flag.

Matthew Teague writes an excellent article about the event over on the Guardian, concluding:

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarClootie 29th Jul - 12:07am
    "Good sound bites without much substance" I think you will have a touch of déjà vu
  • User AvatarJoe Otten 28th Jul - 11:44pm
    There is an issue that mental health was typically funded by block grant as other areas were moving to per patient, and that mental health...
  • User AvatarJohn Dunn 28th Jul - 11:44pm
    I can fully respect someone for reviewing their party affiliation based on an appraisal of policy. You say : "I have always believed that we...
  • User AvatarAlex H 28th Jul - 11:40pm
    Welcome Jakob! I'm glad you took your time in weighing up your views and beliefs before leaving UKIP and in joining the Lib Dems, and...
  • User AvatarTed Logan 28th Jul - 11:26pm
    Welcome to the Liberal Democrats, Jakob. You are absolutely right that our party is a broad church, and we are very welcoming of all views...
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 28th Jul - 11:19pm
    Peter, Good to hear from you. The point is that this man was in charge of the rules for conduct and behaviour. Their Lordships know...