Category Archives: News

SNP Scottish Parliament selections – 2 MSPs deselected so far as Salmond endorses one challenger

The SNP is currently choosing its candidates for the Scottish Parliament. Like the Liberal Democrats, they allow challenges of sitting parliamentarians. Two MSPs have been deselected so far. Of greatest interest to Liberal Democrat fortunes is the deselection of Colin Keir in Edinburgh Western. The seat will now be fought by Toni Giulani who had the backing of former SNP leader and first minister Alex Salmond. In our party it would simply not be permitted for a senior, powerful party figure to take such an influential public stance in a selection.

SNP parliamentarians already have a fairly draconian disciplinary code to obey. They are not allowed to publicly criticise any decisions of the group and have had very few rebels in parliamentary votes. Their MSPs are, on the whole, pretty compliant. When two of them voted against the party’s new position on NATO in a vote at their conference, they resigned from the party. It now seems that if their faces don’t fit, key players will contribute to your demise.

Alex Cole-Hamilton is our candidate in Edinburgh Western. He also tops the party’s Lothian regional list. Although we lost Mike Crockart in Edinburgh West in May, the SNP’s margin of victory was comparatively small, our West campaign organisation is pretty strong and the SNP have given up any benefits of incumbency. 

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ALDC Awards: One week to go

With only one week left to go, ALDC are still looking for nominations for the best Liberal Democrat campaigners to be recognised at our Awards event in September.

It’s a great opportunity for ALDC to highlight the best campaigning teams in our party and give them the recognition they deserve. Last year’s overall winners were Kirklees whose campaign for 2014 started as soon as the results were announced in 2012.

Each year, ALDC recognises the outstanding work of local Focus teams through our Campaigner Awards. This year, our categories are:

  • Best Member engagement campaign          
  • Best Literature
  • Best Community Campaign
  • Best By-Election campaign
  • Best Digital Campaign
  • Best Ward Campaign
  • Overall Campaigner Awards Winner

To submit your nomination with relevant examples of artwork and photos, please fill in the linked form and send any supporting material to [email protected].

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Duwayne Brooks pulls out of London mayoral selection

ITV News reports that Duwayne Brooks “has pulled out of the race to be London’s next mayor”. The report continues:

Brooks, a former Lewisham councillor, was named today as one of two Lib Dems on the party’s shortlist along with London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon.

But the Liberal Democrats then revealed he was no longer taking part in the contest because of his role in a review of stop and search by police in Northamptonshire.

“Unfortunately Duwayne Brooks has since withdrawn from the Mayoral selection owing to a new professional commitment with a Police Authority which prevents him from going forward.”
– Liberal Democrat statement

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Farron urges Theresa May to help Calais refugees

Tim Farron has written to Theresa May to ask her to help the refugees in Calais. He visited the port earlier this month and saw for himself the conditions people had to live in and also heard some of their stories. Here is his letter in full:

Dear Theresa,

I am writing to you about the humanitarian crisis in Calais ahead of your meeting with French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve later this week.

I welcome the measures the Government has already taken to improve the security situation at the Eurotunnel and reduce the disruption which has been caused for British businesses and holidaymakers, but am writing to ask that the UK do more to ensure that the humanitarian crisis in Calais is properly recognised and addressed.

Having visited the Jules Ferry migrant support centre in Calais and met with organisations working on the ground, it is clear that many of those living in “the jungle” are refugees fleeing war and persecution. The organisations who are currently working to support these very vulnerable people are under extreme pressure. The conditions in Calais fall far short of international standards on the treatment and welfare of refugees. Water and sanitation are all in short supply and medical support stretched beyond capacity. Many are being forced to subsist on the one meal a day that the centre is able to provide. More funding and better coordination are urgently needed, and the UK needs to do more. It is absolutely right that we work together with the French to fund improvements in security at the Eurotunnel and action on people trafficking, but the humanitarian support that is so desperately needed must also be adequately funded.

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Shortlist for London Assembly elections

 

Voters at the London elections next May will be given three ballot papers each using a different voting system – let no-one claim that alternative systems to First Past The Post can’t work.

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Are you a teenager or first year student just about to go away? – you may need to get vaccinated for the main Meningitis types

The NHS is providing a free vaccine for certain strains of meningitis to teenagers, sixth-formers and all first-year students who are starting college or university this autumn. All you need to do is contact your GP surgery to arrange a jab, if medically appropriate.

The NHS Choices website says:

Young teenagers, sixth formers and ‘fresher’ students going to university for the first time are now routinely offered a vaccination to prevent meningitis W disease.

The Men ACWY vaccine protects against four different causes of meningitis and septicaemia – meningococcal (Men) A, C, W and Y diseases.

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Consultation opens on Liberal Democrat values and beliefs

agenda2020

Why are we Liberal Democrats? What do we mean by liberalism (or, if you prefer, liberal democracy)? What do our beliefs and values have to offer the country over the next five years?

Every member will have their own answers to those questions, but the party hasn’t attempted to describe its basic philosophy in full since the paper It’s About Freedom, published in 2002. As we wrote here on Liberal Democrat Voice two months ago, given the catastrophic result of the 2015 election, coupled with the huge, and very welcome, influx of new members, the Federal Policy Committee thinks it’s time we did so again. Discussing and articulating our basic beliefs – the backbone around which we build our policies on specific issues – is a vital part of our fightback.

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Do the Liberal Democrat Voice team choose the adverts on this site?

We are often asked if we directly control the adverts which appear on Liberal Democrat Voice.

We do have a policy on adverts as follows:

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Jim Hume MSP: Scottish mental health units ‘struggling to cope’

From the Scotsman today:

More than 4,000 patients have been sent for mental health treatment outside their health board area in the past five years, according to latest figures.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats, who obtained the figures through parliamentary questions, have warned that mental health units across Scotland are struggling to cope with demand.

The figures show that, in 2013-14, a total of 799 patients were discharged from a psychiatric hospital in a different area from where they live. This compares with 793 in 2012-13 and 855 the year before that.

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The stars and stripes flying in Havana top a list of significant achievements by Barack Obama

I was toddling around in nappies when the US flag was taken down in Havana in January 1961. The decision to break off diplomatic relations between the USA and Cuba was taken a day earlier by President Eisenhower. So started a period of frozen relationships between the two neighbours which included years of trade embargoes.

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Conference agenda now available

 

The full conference agenda for Bournemouth is now available online here.  As we mentioned before, members will be debating a wide variety of topics, but now you can read the substance of the motions.

This is the time for members and local parties to go through the motions and decide whether to submit an amendment or two, or whether to put forward an emergency motion or a topical issue for debate. Full details on how to do that are to be found on page 9 of the agenda, but, in brief, the deadline for submitting amendments, emergency motions and topical issues is 1pm on 7th September.

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David Laws peerage “blocked” – plus new Liberal Democrat House of Lords members speculation

David Laws speaking at Lib Dem Spring conference, Liverpool 2008

The Times (£) reports that former Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has nominated former Yeovil MP, David Laws, for elevation to the House of Lords. However, it adds:

His nomination for a peerage was blocked by the House of Lords Appointments Commission, chaired by an independent peer, Lord Kakkar.

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On Kezia Dugdale becoming Scottish Labour leader

Comments from our esteemed editor:

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ALDC by-election report 13th August: Victory over the Tories in Powys

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)
There was a brilliant gain for the Lib Dems in Powys (CC) on Thursday night with candidate James Gibson-Watt polling 44.4% of the vote to secure victory in Glasbury division, with the defending Tories vote share dropping by 10.9% from three years ago. The seat had been vacated by new Conservative Brecon & Radnorshire MP Christopher Davies and the result is even more impressive when considering the party had failed to even stand a candidate in the ward’s two previous elections. The win makes the Lib Dems the second largest party on Powys County Council behind the independents, bringing their representation up to 10 and reducing the Tories to 9 Councillors. Glasbury was also the priority for ALDC’s by-election phonebank, which operates every Thursday night from our Manchester HQ.

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REMINDER: ALDC awards: All you need to know

A reminder of our post from last week:

Have you run a great campaign? If so ALDC want to hear from you!

The ALDC Campaigner Award winners highlight the best ideas and practice of Liberal Democrat activists across the Country and we are still looking for entries to this year’s Campaigner Awards.

We have already had some great examples from Focus teams at ALDC HQ and will be sharing these more widely after Conference but we still want to hear from you.

The awards include prizes for the Best Ward Campaign, for engaging with your local members, the best literature and examples of digital campaigning well as community and by-election campaigns and best overall campaign. Details of all of the categories can be seen here.

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International Office to host busiest conference programme yet in Bournemouth

International Office_with text

With European and International affairs dominating the political agenda in the UK, this year’s Autumn Conference is set to be one of the most ‘internationalist’ of recent times. With this global agenda as a backdrop, the International Office is hosting its most extensive conference programme yet!

With the EU In/Out referendum expected within the next two years, and neither of the two major parties willing or able to take ownership of the ‘Yes’ campaign, there is a unique opportunity for the Liberal Democrats to take charge and lead the fight for our continued membership of the EU.

In this spirit, the International Office is hosting a ‘Europe Evening’ from 21:00-23:00 on Sunday 21 September, offering Liberal Democrat members the opportunity to hear from the leading voices in the Party on Europe and to meet and discuss how they can become involved in the referendum campaign in the coming months.

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++Lib Dems GAIN former council ward of Brecon and Radnor’s Conservative MP

Great news this morning.

Congratulations to Councillor James Gibson-Watt! Very well done to James and all the Brecon and Radnor team!

Details are:

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New members declare why they are liberal on Twitter #libdemnewbies #imliberal

This is a great sort of viral sort of thing. You can join in with the hashtag #imliberal and/or #libdemnewbies.

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Shirley Williams predicts Labour MPs could come together with Lib Dems if Corbyn wins

Speaking to the Huffington Post, Shirley Williams recalls the formation of the SDP in 1981, a key reason for which was the decision of left-wing Labour to campaign to take Britain out of the EEC:

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Sal Brinton writes: Consultation on party governance

Over the last two years members have made it clear that they feel that the party is out of touch, often unaccountable and our complex structures unintelligible to all but those heavily involved in them. Reform was a key issue raised by members in the Presidential campaign in 2014 and again in the Leadership campaign earlier this year.

In answer to this, I promised during my Presidential campaign that I would be a reforming President, tackling the difficult issue of party governance head on by carrying out a full review of the party’s governance, followed by a root and branch restructuring …

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Calais: a sharp contrast in approach

Philip Hammond, the British Foreign Secretary, has made some comments about the Calais situation, reported in the Telegraph:

Millions of African migrants pose a threat to the standard of living and social structure of the UK and the rest of Europe, the Foreign Secretary has warned.

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What’s in Liberator Issue 373?

Issue 373 of Liberator is on its way to subscribers and this one’s free sample online content is the Commentary on Tim Farron’s election as Lib Dem leader, and Tony Greaves’ article in which he argues that the party has forgotten how to campaign and must avoiding wasting the potential of its thousand of new members. The full version of Liberator 372 is now also online. See: www.liberatormagazine.org.uk

The new issue also includes:

THE PATH TO PADDY’S HAT – the general election exit poll should not have surprised those who had followed what the market research industry was doing, says Alex Dee

WELLBEING WORKS – Looking at wellbeing provides liberals with route to express their commitment to redistribution, and they should accept the need for state involvement, says Claire Tyler

PLACES THAT DON’T MATTER – The wave of migrants trying to reach Europe is driven by corruption and poverty in misgoverned African states, says Rebecca Tinsley

POWER CHANGES IN NIGERIA – A first peaceful change of power between civilian parties shows Nigeria’s democracy has finally established itself, says Donald Inwalomhe

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LAST CHANCE to nominate for party awards

As Sal Brinton reminded us on Wednesday, the deadline to nominate people for this year’s Party Awards is 9 am tomorrow morning. Who do you think deserves to be recognised?

Sal wrote:

The deadline for this year’s Party Awards has been extended to Monday at 9am – don’t forget to nominate! I know there are people all over the country who deserve to be rewarded for all the hard work they put in during the election period, not to mention the invaluable ongoing work which so many party officers and others have been carrying out.

As a reminder, please see below the various categories, and how to apply.

President’s Award – any member elected to public office.

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McInnes presses for Holyrood enquiry into Police spying claims

Another month, another scandal involving Police Scotland.

Alison McInnes has called for an enquiry that could see senior police officers and government ministers  brought before a Holyrood committee to provide answers on Police Scotland’s involvement in accessing the communications data of journalists without judicial approval. 

Alison has written to Convenor Christine Grahame to ask that the parliamentary committee investigate the claims. If agreed, an inquiry could result in senior figures from Police Scotland and the Scottish Government being asked to provide evidence.

It emerged last month that two un-named UK police forces had been involved in spying on journalists and their sources.

The Sunday Herald newspaper has claimed that Police Scotland is one of those forces and yesterday an investigative journalist told BBC Scotland he believes the national force may have been monitoring his communications illegally.

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Lib Dem Jobwatch Special: Fancy being a Parliamentary Adviser?

The Liberal Democrats are setting up a more streamlined parliamentary policy team as befits our new circumstances and, for the first time, one team will serve both Commons and Lords. Applications close at 5 pm this coming Wednesday.

The job description for the three parliamentary adviser posts is as follows:

The PAU is a dynamic, exciting and fast paced team working to support and promote the efforts of Liberal Democrat Parliamentarians in both the House of Commons and House of Lords.

The Parliamentary Adviser will specialise in one of six key policy areas, supporting all Parliamentarians in carrying out their duties.  We are currently advertising for three of these policy areas.

Working with the Leaders and Chief Whips of both Houses, the post holders will support the design and delivery of key parliamentary campaigns, which promote the ideals and aims of the Liberal Democrats in Westminster. As such a detailed understanding of parliament, ability to identify and engage with key external stakeholders and experience of policy communication are essential.

The PAU will be based in the Liberal Democrat HQ in Westminster.

The portfolio areas to be recruited are:

  • Human Rights, Policing, Justice and Security
  • Housing, Sustainability and Environment
  • Europe, Foreign Affairs, Defence and UK Devolution (including devolved Parliaments)

There are also two Parliamentary support and correspondence officer positions available:

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Amnesty should support decriminalisation of sex work

This month, Amnesty International delegates will vote on a proposal to make decriminalisation of sex work a campaigning matter for the human rights organisation. This, understandably, has raised ire from many people, but none so large as parts of the feminist movement.

Just last week, we saw several Hollywood actors – ordinarily staunch allies of Amnesty’s work – sign an open letter promulgated by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women calling for Amnesty to reject the policy. One notable signatory was Anne Hathaway, who received an Oscar two years ago for her portrayal of Fantine in Les Miserables.
Fantine’s story is one that resembles that of many sex workers – after losing her job at Valjean’s factory, and being unable to make ends meet, she turns to selling sex at the docks of Montrieul. Eventually, after she is assaulted by a client, Javert arrests her and sentences her to prison. Only through Valjean’s intervention is Fantine able to die a free woman. Would criminalisation have helped Fantine? Obviously not; solicitation was highly illegal in 19th century France. In addition, like many of these laws, it was a law only ever utilised against the poorest workers. Hugo’s message in telling Fantine’s story was not one against prostitution; it was one of moral judgement failing the most in need.
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Willie Rennie puts us all to shame – is it time he challenged Farron?

Willie Rennie certainly is a pretty good role model for a healthy lifestyle.

This is the sight that greeted me when I arrived at Scottish Lib Dem HQ for a meeting yesterday morning.

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Tim Farron’s seven campaign priorities

Just before heading off on holiday, Tim Farron has announced his seven campaign priorities. As they cross departmental boundaries, he’s put together a campaign team to lead on each issue. It’s a sign of how much importance he attaches to housing that he has taken the lead role on that issue himself.

The team will be responsible for taking our campaign messages and making sure that they get out on the ground. The seven priorities and the lead people responsible are as follows:

 

Chaired by Greg Mulholland MP, the Parliamentary Campaigns Team will consist of:

  • Rural Communities and Vice Chair – Mark Williams MP
  • EU referendum – Catherine Bearder MEP and Lord Jim Wallace (Deputy)
  • Mental Health – Norman Lamb MP
  • Immigration – Shas Sheehan
  • Civil Liberties – Alistair Carmichael MP
  • Green Economy – Baroness Susan Kramer
  • Housing – Tim Farron MP

Tim said:

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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. Simply register your details, pick your team, and away you go. If you need the joining code at any point, it’s 271576-231936.

And for those who don’t feel they have the insider knowledge to compete, you can always choose the ‘auto-complete’ option …

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Two appalling examples of lack of diversity in our public services

Before anyone mentions it, yes, I do know that the Liberal Democrats’ parliamentary gender balance is horrendous everywhere except Wales and Europe,the latter being because we only have one MEP. Stuff must be done to resolve this, but that’s not the point of this post.

This week, two examples of lack of diversity in our public services have come to light. The first has been revealed by the Scottish Liberal Democrats. Only 1% of Scotland’s Police Officers identify as coming from a BAME background – and none make it to the highest grades in the force.

Figures obtained using freedom of information laws found that – despite 7.6 percent of Scotland’s population being BAME – there are no BAME officers in the top two ranks and only two across the top four ranks held by the 446 most senior officers in Scotland.

In total, there are only 175 BAME officers out of a total 17,515 police officers.

Figures for police staff showed that there are no BAME in the top five grades, and only 69 out of 5963 staff overall.

Commenting, Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Alison McInnes MSP said:

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