Category Archives: News

Susan Kramer says that Government must unfreeze benefits

Back in July, I told a panel on social security at the Social Liberal Forum conference that in the wake of Brexit, a benefits freeze for four years, which was never a good idea, was entirely inappropriate and we should be opposing it loudly.

Analysis from the Institute of Fiscal Studies confirms that Brexit is going to hit those on benefits and low incomes particularly hard:

Normally many of those on the lowest incomes would be at least partially protected from the impact of higher prices by the rules that govern the annual uprating of benefits and tax credits. By default, benefit and tax credit rates are (with some exceptions, most notably the state pension) increased each April in line with the annual CPI inflation rate of the previous September – higher prices lead to higher benefit rates (albeit with a lag). However, in the July 2015 Budget the Government announced that, as part of its attempt to cut annual social security spending by £12 billion, most working-age benefit and tax credit rates would be frozen in cash terms until March 2020. This policy represented a significant takeaway from a large number of working age households. But it also represented a shifting of risk from the Government to benefit recipients. Previously, higher inflation was a risk to the public finances, increasing cash spending on benefits. Now the risk is borne by low-income households: unless policy changes higher inflation will reduce their real incomes.

I am glad to see that our shadow Chancellor, Susan Kramer, has now said that the Government must reverse its unfair benefits freeze plans:

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Remembering Helen Watt

Helen WattMany of us have expressed the opinion that 2016 can just do one. The deaths early in the year of national treasures, the heroes we’d grown up with,  like David Bowie and Alan Rickman shocked us. In Scotland, that sense of loss has intensified and come closer to home as we learned of the passing on Monday of one of our most popular and stalwart members, Helen Watt.

Helen was convener of the Scottish Party’s Conference Committee between 2003 and 2007. She also chaired and held most of the offices of Scottish Women Liberal Democrats.  She stood for Parliament, both Holyrood and Westminster, many times. A member in East Dunbartonshire, she was a critical part of Jo Swinson’s campaign team from the very beginning and helped to elect the area’s councillors.

I served as an office bearer with her and always admired  and learned from her  practicality and common sense as I have neither.

Helen’s capacity for work was incredible. As well as full-on Liberal Democrat commitments, her retirement was taken up with other voluntary organisations such as Meals on Wheels. Everything she did was accomplished with energy, warmth and humour. The thought of not hearing that infectious laugh again makes me very sad. The last thing she would want, though, is sadness. Her instructions for her memorial events included positivity and red wine. I have shared many a bottle with her over the years, often well into the early hours. I have fond memories of one first thing Sunday Conference debate that she was chairing and I was aiding where we were a little ashen-faced and sleep-deprived but we got through it unscathed. 

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Heathrow: Theresa May kicks the can down the road

Commenting on the news that MPs will not get a vote on Heathrow expansion until next year, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Jenny Randerson said:

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Why would Alex Salmond nominate a key Brexiteer for Commons Brexit Committee chair?

This afternoon, we’ll find out who will be leading the Parliamentary scrutiny of Brexit as MPs vote for the chairs of the new select committee on Brexit.

It’s a race between Labour’s Hilary Benn, who campaigned for Remain, and Brexiteer Kate Hoey who does not think that membership of the single market is an achievable outcome.

From the Herald:

Labour’s Hilary Benn, the former shadow foreign secretary, is tipped to become chairman of the committee, which will have 21 members, including 10 Tories and MPs from six opposition parties; the average committee normally has 11 members.

But Ms Hoey, who represents Vauxhall in London, has also thrown her hat in the ring and, among those nominating her, is the former SNP leader. The onetime sports minister has said she wants Britain to have the fullest possible access to the single market but argues that taking back full control of immigration is incompatible with membership.

It is quite bizarre that Alex Salmond has chosen to nominate Kate Hoey given that the SNP has (rightly) been very vocal about the importance of continuing membership of the single market for the whole UK and for Scotland in particular. Why on earth would be support someone who doesn’t support that outcome?

Lib Dem Peer Jeremy Purvis had this to say on the matter:

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Nice start but what next for Calais?












News that the trickle of children admitted from the Calais jungle has started to become more of a steady flow is, of course, welcome.

But there are still hundreds there and no real sign that there will be a convey of coaches to bring them to the UK, where they can be reunited with their families, as they are entitled.

I wrote before on LDV, and spoke at Conference, about these children being caught in a web of bureaucracy. The Home Office does now, it appears, take this more seriously but the danger that the demolition of the camp might take place before they make their way across the Channel remains all too real.

Demolition was supposed to happen on Monday 17 October. The fact that it has been deferred is good news but there is still a real chance that it might happen as early as next week. Experience tells us that should that happen many children will simply disappear – and thus be even more at the mercy of people traffickers.

Tim Farron speaks for all Liberals when he says:

It is outrageous to hear the Home Secretary now claiming to be acting urgently to ensure the safety of these children.

Where was this urgency for the last year that they have been stuck in Calais, and why does it only extend to a small number of the hundreds of these unaccompanied kids?

He also speaks for some Conservatives too.

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Nick Clegg on the impact of Brexit on food prices

Nick Clegg has given a speech at the National Liberal Club today to launch his third report in the Brexit Challenge series. In this one he looks at the impact of hard Brexit on food prices. Here is his speech in full:

Nearly 4 months on from the vote to leave the European Union, we are finally starting to understand the early consequences of Brexit.

In the last week we have seen the government on the back foot, pressed by Conservative MPs to give parliament a say ahead of the triggering of article 50.

We have seen Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, issue the hardest statement yet against giving the UK a sweetheart deal.

And we saw the strongest ripples yet in the currency markets and in business. According to the Financial Times the pound’s effective exchange rate, weighted to reflect the UK’s trade flows, fell to a 168-year low last Tuesday – weaker than the lowest point in the recent financial crisis, weaker than when Britain was ejected from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1992, weaker even than when we left the Gold Standard in the 1930s.

Perhaps most significantly, the markets seem to have woken up to the looming danger of Hard Brexit, and investors are using their money to punish the government for every perceived misstep, while rewarding decisions that raise the chances of a better deal.

The markets are a powerful new player in this story. They are becoming increasing sensitive to relatively small policy changes. Hence the pound rallied sharply last week as soon as the Prime Minister announced there would after all be a debate ahead of the negotiations, but slipped back again when David Davis put in another Commons performance devoid of any meaningful content.

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Dillie Keane of Fascinating Aida endorses Liz Leffman

Here’s another encouraging story from Liz Leffman’s campaign in Witney.


Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPaul Walter 23rd Oct - 10:29pm
    El Sid "Sorry Paul. Have I been misunderstanding you on this thread? I believed that your good self and the liberal democrat party wanted to...
  • User AvatarTony Greaves 23rd Oct - 10:27pm
    The boy Lineker done well...
  • User Avatarnvelope2003 23rd Oct - 9:50pm
    The SNP does not get so much coverage at Westminster as it did to start with because few of its MPs say anything interesting. The...
  • User AvatarStevan Rose 23rd Oct - 9:37pm
    "They are refugees who have lived through terrible times and made tremendous journeys, and have now been stuck in that wretched camp for many months....
  • User AvatarJohn Peters 23rd Oct - 9:35pm
    @Michael BG The choice of best government for Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland is down to the respective electorate.
  • User AvatarMichael BG 23rd Oct - 9:13pm
    @ El Sid “I believe self determination is more important than the “right” decision.” Your argument could be used for the independence of Scotland or...