Category Archives: News

Davey: We need to look at rules on transparency of fossil fuel investments

The Financial Times reports:

Britain’s energy secretary has called for tougher rules to be applied to companies holding “risky” fossil fuel assets that could plunge in value because of global action to tackle climate change.
Ed Davey’s move makes him one of the first senior politicians to weigh into a growing debate on the future of oil, gas and coal companies as governments work on sealing a global climate deal in Paris next year.

“We’re seeing a move from a carbon economy to a climate economy,” Mr Davey told reporters on the sidelines of UN talks in Lima shaping the Paris agreement.

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Clegg’s letter to Burnham: “you may have inadvertently misled” Commons on Labour’s NHS privatisation record

clegg on leveson 2Nick Clegg fielded Prime Minister’s Questions today, during which he noted that Labour’s shadow health secretary Andy Burnham is “the only man in England who has ever privatised an NHS hospital”. Mr Burham complained that Nick had misled the House of Commons over the issue of Hichingbrooke Hospital, accusing him of “sheer inaccuracy”. The Lib Dem leader lost no time in responding:

Dear Andy,

I see that you raised a Point of Order in the House of Commons and that you accused me of “sheer inaccuracy”. I am always happy to confirm the accuracy of what I have said.

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Why IDS is still in his job is revealing of Conservative attitudes to social security

Iain Duncan SmithWhen Andrew Lansley’s health reforms ran into trouble – and his inability to take with him the public or those working in the NHS proved toxic – David Cameron reshuffled him out of harm’s way. Jeremy Hunt was brought in to make nice to the health sector and patients.

When Michael Gove’s education reforms started to run before they could walk – and his inability to take with him the public or the teachers proved toxic, especially in marginal constituencies – David Cameron reshuffled him out of harm’s way. Nicky …

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Poll: Young people appear more tolerant, open and happy with modern Britain

A recent survey by YouGov, for Business for New Europe, indicates that teenagers have markedly more positive views towards Europe and the free movement of labour than adults. This should encourage those who appreciate the economic advantages of an outward-facing UK. It could also fuel calls for 16 and 17 year-olds to be included in any forthcoming referendum on the EU.

The poll, based on the views of young people aged between 14 and 17 years old, showed:

  • If there was a referendum, approximately twice as many of those aged 14 to 17 would vote to stay in the EU (45%) as leave (23%).
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Kirsty Williams named Welsh assembly member of the year

rally kirsty williams 1Many congratulations to Kirsty Williams, who has been named AM of the Year as part of the Welsh Political awards. The award, given to Kirsty last night at Cardiff City Hall, was “for exercising her political skills to enable the First Minister to achieve his budget, but also allow the Lib Dems to claim significant policy gains in the areas of health and education.”

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24 Lib Dem peers “rebel” as Lords reject government’s judicial review proposals

The Guardian reports:

A rebellion in the House of Lords has inflicted a second defeat on the government’s plans to restrict access to judicial review challenges.

The vote by 274 to 205 means that for a second time peers have rejected keys proposals in the criminal justice and courts bill. It will restore to judges their discretion in handling such cases.

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Something you didn’t know about Stephen Tall…

…but could probably have guessed.

Stephen got a mention in the Telegraph’s Morning Bulletin this morning for this tweet:

So, I asked around at LDV Towers and discovered that there was only one member of the team who has a Positive Candy Crush Status. And it isn’t me. I’m not going to out the person because they asked me not to.

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Liam McArthur highlights Swinson’s and Featherstone’s work and supports ambition action on violence against women

Last week the Scottish Parliament debated violence against women during the 16 days of action between the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and International Human Rights day. Liam McArthur led for the Liberal Democrats. He noted that in the ninety minutes of the debate, 9 women would face violence at the hands of their partners.

It was a sensible, consensual debate which you can read here.  Liam’s speech in full is published below:

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Michael Moore MP named as MP of the Year by Liberal Democrat Fairtrade Future

michael-moore-mp-secretary-of-state-for-scotlandMatt Whittles and I, as the co-founders of Liberal Democrat Fairtrade Future (LDFF), are delighted to announce that we’re awarding our first ever MP of the Year award to Michael Moore, the MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk.

We’re awarding him this honour in recognition of all of the hard work he’s put in to his Private Members Bill – currently working its way through Parliament – which will enshrine into law the UK’s promise to spend 0.7% of the UK’s gross national income on International Aid.

We couldn’t be more proud that it is a Lib Dem MP who has brought this Bill before Parliament and we fervently hope it gets signed on to the Statute Books.

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“Tories running dirty tricks call campaign against Lib Dems”

Tessa Munt photo by Keith EdkinsThat’s the headline in today’s Mirror newspaper:

The Tories have launched a nasty dirty tricks campaign in a knife-edge constituency ahead of the next election. Conservative activists are ringing voters in marginal Wells and pretending to be calling on behalf of the respected local Lib-Dem MP Tessa Munt. They then ask the voters if they wanted to see David Cameron or Ed Miliband as Prime Minister at the next election. The calls were all made from a number in Southend, Essex. The Mirror has confirmed that

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Reviewing the papers on Radio Scotland’s Crossfire

Driving to Glasgow at 6am on a wintry Sunday morning was slightly scary, especially for someone who really doesn’t do Winter, but that’s what I did to take part in the review of the Sunday papers on the Radio Scotland programme Crossfire. I was on with former Herald editor Murray Ritchie and Cat Boyd from the Radical Independence campaign.

Obviously we talked about some bloke deciding he wants to stand for the Westminster Parliament he claims to revile.  Former Special Adviser Sam Ghibaldan on Sunday Politics Scotland and I both made the case that Salmond’s victory is far from assured.

I raised …

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Taunton Deane Liberal Democrats select Rachel Gilmour

Rachel GilmourFrom the Taunton Deane Liberal Democrat website:

Rachel Gilmour was selected at the members’ hustings on 6 Dec 2014 in Taunton by a full turnout of Members as their prospective Parliamentary candidate for the 2015 General Election.  She succeeds Jeremy Browne , MP,  who will stand down when parliament is dissolved in March 2015.

 

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Liz Barker leads first ever Lords debate on Lesbian, bisexual and transgender women’s health

Last Wednesday, Baroness Liz Barker, who made one of the most fantastic speeches of the entire debate on same sex marriage,  led the first ever debate on health services for lesbians and bisexual and transgender women.

The ignorance and even ridicule LBT women have faced from health professionals in the accounts Liz and others shared during the debate is truly astonishing. There does not seem to be a widespread understanding of even the very basic issues they may face.

The Minister’s reply was a bit frustrating because he basically agreed with everything that was being said but didn’t offer any actual, concrete proposal to make things better.

You can read the whole debate here, but Liz’s speech in full is published below:

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Game on in Gordon: Liberal Democrat Christine Jardine has to defend seat against former First Minister Salmond

imageIn the biggest surprise since the sun last rose in the east, Alex Salmond will announce today that he’s going to be standing for the Westminster Parliament in the Gordon Constituency which is currently held by Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Sir Malcolm Bruce.

It’s almost a year since Christine Jardine was selected to fight the seat. She has been leading a fun and spirited campaign since then which saw voters in Gordon reject independence by almost 2:1. Her campaign manager is the party legend who masterminded Nicol Stephen’s election campaigns in the 1980s and 1990s. Mr Salmond should underestimate them at his peril.

Salmond represents part of the Gordon constituency at Holyrood. He no doubt thinks that he can do as he did in 2007, swan in to the seat and win. Certainly the SNP will resource his campaign to the max and there are plenty new members in that party to help out.

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ALDC’s by-election report, 4th December 2014

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)Thursday saw three principal council by-elections contested, with an additional election fought on Friday. There was a gain for Labour from the Mansfield Independent Forum in Netherfield on Mansfield DC. The MIF didn’t field a candidate as Labour increased their share of the vote by 12.1% to win by 122 votes ahead of UKIP.

Elsewhere UKIP held their seat in the Thurrock BC ward of Aveley & Uplands after a hard fought campaign with the Conservatives who finished second. The UKIP candidate polled 41% to win with a majority of 227 votes.

There was also a hold for Labour in Longholme ward on Rossendale BC, with the party’s candidate winning ahead of the Conservatives by 115 votes.

In addition the contest on Adur DC saw a rare by-election held on a Friday, with the Conservatives holding their seat in St Mary’s ward with 38.4% of the vote.

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Mittens and Cartoons: how political parties are trying to mobilise their supporters this Winter

liberal mittensI have been loving some of the stuff that our sister party in Canada has been sending out to supporters. Their Winter fundraising push involves them sending this fetching pair of mittens to anyone who donates over $100 over a two day period. It’s caused such a stir that those cheeky little mitts have their own parody Twitter account.

I bet their supporters team, led by the  equivalent of our Austin Rathe, had fun coming up with the accompanying email:

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Nick Clegg’s message for Small Business Saturday

We’ve had every massive corporation trying to tempt us with bargains over the last few days, from Black Friday to Cyber Monday. Today small independent traders hit back with Small Business Saturday.

Nick Clegg has put out a message to mark the occasion. He said:

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Happy Christmas from the Cleggs: here’s Nick and Miriam’s festive photobooth card

Nick Clegg’s Christmas card has been unveiled today – a photobooth set of four shots depicting he and Miriam as Nick pulls on a red Santa hat.

clegg famil xmas card

The insta-reaction from the Twitterati has been positive:

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And it’s good-bye from me as LibDemVoice Co-Editor…

Today marks the countdown to my final day as Co-Editor of LibDemVoice. I guess I could say the past seven years and seven months have flown by, but actually it seems like a long, long time since I started here. Tony Blair was prime minister, Ming Campbell was Lib Dem leader, and I was still a councillor.

I think I officially took over as Editor (from the site’s co-founder Rob Fenwick) on 31st May, 2007, though I’d started the Golden Dozen round-up of the best of the Lib Dem blogs a few months earlier.

A couple of years later, …

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Willie Rennie excluded on profanity grounds

Well, sort of.

He tried to sign up to a news website the other night and this is what happened:

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Jo Swinson on one of the great double standards of our time

Breastfeeding is in the news again after Claridges thought that it was ok .to tell a mother to cover up as her baby nursed.

Nick Clegg was asked a rather strange question, which he eventually answered pretty well, about whether the importance of breastfeeding should be covered in Personal Health and Social Education classes and whether mothers should be told that it should be done in private. The right answer is, of course, yes to the first and no to the second.

It’s really quite ridiculous to think that it took until 2010 for the rights of mothers to breastfeed their babies in public was protected in law. This means that nobody can ask a mother to stop doing so in any place where she and the baby are allowed to be. Scotland was way ahead of the game, protecting women some five years before. Remembering the struggle it was to get that bill through, I wouldn’t give too much credit to the Labour/Liberal Democrat government of the day. It took a cross party alliance of women to keep Elaine Smith’s private member’s bill alive.

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“This is not a snub. I thought it would be a nice change to get out of the Westminster bubble”: Clegg on his Autumn Statement absence

clegg on levesonNick Clegg has taken my advice.*

Back in July, I offered the Lib Dem leader five unsolicited pieces of advice. Most he’s ridden roughshod over: Vince Cable wasn’t appointed the party’s shadow chancellor for the next election, Jo Swinson wasn’t promoted to the cabinet, and (as far as I know) Nick continues to rule out options other than a full coalition in the event of a hung parliament.

But item number 4 was this:

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In full: Baroness Northover’s speech to launch the DFID disability framework

Lindsay NorthoverBaroness Northover is parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for International Development. Here is the speech she made today, in the Houses of Parliament, to launch the DFID disabilty framework:

I’m delighted to be here with you today, to celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Although the UK Department for International Development and many of you in this room have been increasingly focused on disability inclusion in recent years, it is now that we are really beginning to see this issue get the attention it deserves.

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Challenging the myths about benefits claimant – an inspiring video from an Oxford charity

Liberal Democrats generally despair about the attitudes in the media towards people who claim benefits.

I’m sure that most of you reading this will be inspired by this fantastic video from an Oxford self advocacy charity run by and for people with learning disabilities. My Life My Choice got some people to share their stories and challenging some of the myths people have about people on benefits. It’s very moving. Please share it all over social media. I think we probably all have friends who believe the myths and they need to see it.

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Lib Dems Telegraph splash: EU bashing “weak, opportunistic and fundamentally un-British” say Ashdown, Ludford, Brinton, Farron and 90 Lib Dems

Even Margaret Thatcher wouldn’t have taken the isolationist path that David Cameron’s Conservative party is romping its way down, according to 90 Liberal Democrats in a letter to the Telegraph today. The letter states:

David Cameron’s recent speech on European immigration is the latest in a series of desperate moves from a Conservative Party in full-scale panic.

We’ve had: “Go home or face arrest” vans. We’ve had: if you are from the EU and want to move to Britain, go and register at a police station. We’ve had: if you’re out of work, even for a few months, go back to where you came from.

In her Bruges speech in 1988, Margaret Thatcher said: “Britain does not dream of some cosy, isolated existence on the fringes of the European Community. Our destiny is in Europe, as part of the Community.”

What happened to that Conservative destiny? The dual menace of the Tory headbangers and the rise of Ukip.

There is nothing patriotic about bashing immigration from Europe. It is opportunistic, weak and fundamentally un-British. Migrants from the EU claim less in benefits than people born in this country. They are a massive net positive to the British economy. The Tories are scared to admit this. They have lost all sense of political courage – and that is why people have lost confidence in them.

We, the undersigned Liberal Democrats, konw that the real patriotic case is for Britain to remain in Europe; our jobs and our economic future depend on it.

photo by: rockcohen
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ALDC by-election report: 27th November 2014

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)
There were twelve principal council by-elections contested last Thursday. In the Melton DC ward of Asfordby, the Conservatives polled 53.4% in gaining a seat from Labour with a majority of 136 votes.

There was also a gain for UKIP from the SDP after winning in Bridlington Central and Old Town on East Yorkshire UA with a narrow majority of 49 ahead of the Conservatives.

In addition, the SNP made a gain in the Aberdeenshire ward of Troup from the Conservatives after winning 1158 first preference votes.

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Nick Clegg puts £10 million into encouraging students and young people to register to vote

So, when there’s a certain amount of money around to encourage voters to register, what does Nick Clegg do with it?

Does he put it into a voter registration drive in the affluent ex-pat communities of Spain or does he put it into that group of people it can be difficult to find, young people and students? The latter, of course.  From The Guardian:

Lib Dem sources said Clegg, whose Sheffield Hallam constituency contains a high number of students, was “determined to ensure that the government does everything it can to help students register to vote”.

One said: “Nick Clegg has now

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Opinion: Should we take the ‘Mental’ out of Mental Health?

Thanks to the work of Norman Lamb and other Liberal Democrat MPs, mental health has risen up the political agenda. For many years, NHS spending on mental health has lagged far behind that of other conditions and research into treatments for mental illness has also been disproportionately low.  MIND recently estimated that local authorities in England spend, on average, only 1.36 per cent of their total public health budgets on mental health – even though such problems cost the country an estimated £100 billion a year.

The aspiration of policymakers now is to achieve ‘parity of esteem’ between mental and physical health, the subject of much debate in the health policy world.

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Abusive site Wings over Scotland is embedded into the Scottish Government and Yes movement – Willie Rennie proves what we knew already

I’ve written before about the appallingly abusive Wings over Scotland site. It’s a pro-independnece blog written, ironically, by the self-styled “Rev” Stu Campbell who lives in Bath.

His shameful content and comments he allows on his site and on social media  have included:

  • Using a picture of hearses going through Royal Wootton Bassett in a mocked up “Better Together poster;
  • Showering abuse on Clare Lally after she spoke at the Better Together “100 days to go” event. Funnily enough, he then said he couldn’t find any abuse of her on his site. I helped him out. 
  • Doing me over when I said that being part in the UK meant we could do more in terms of international development
  • Disgusting transphobia towards Chelsea Manning
  • Referring to a Conservative MSP as an a******* and “sewer dwelling vermin”
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Labour’s attitude to abortion devolution says a lot about their attitude to Scotland

When I wrote about the Smith Commission report last week, I was intrigued by its decision not to devolve abortion law to Scotland despite all the parties wanting to do so,  Here’s a reminder of what I said:

One last point: I’d quite like to know the story behind the fudge on abortion and embryology:

  • The parties are strongly of the view to recommend the devolution of abortion and regard it as an anomalous health reservation. They agree that further serious consideration should be given to its devolution and a process should be established immediately to consider the matter further.
  • The devolution of xenotransplantation; embryology, surrogacy and genetics; medicines, medical supplies and poisons; and welfare foods (i.e. matters reserved under Sections J2 to J5 of Head J – Health and Medicines, Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998) should be the subject of further discussions between the UK and Scottish Governments. Those discussions are without prejudice to whether or not devolution takes place and in what form.
  • If they all agree, why not just devolve it?

    Scotland on Sunday had an explanation. Apparently, it was Labour who vetoed its inclusion:

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