Nick Clegg’s message for Diwali 2014

Here is Nick Clegg’s message for Diwali. The full transcript is below for those who have difficulty with hearing.

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Botswana elections: Liberal Democrats help sister party and its “calm revolutionary of our time”

ELephants Bostwana Sedudu Photo by Mp3iefYesterday was polling day in the General Election in Botswana. 57 parliamentary seats are up for grabs along with council seats across the country. The Botswana Democratic Party has been in power since the country gained independence in 1966. The Liberal Democrats have been helping our sister party, the Botswana Movement for Democracy, which has been fighting the election as part of a coalition of opposition parties, the Umbrella for Democratic Change. In early August, their campaign suffered a huge blow when BMD leader and Vice Presidential candidate Gomolemo Matswaledi was killed in a car accident on the way back from a visit to Johannesberg.

Top Liberal Democrat campaigns guru Victoria Marsom, who has the by-election victories in both Brent and Eastleigh under her belt, has been working closely with the BMD for the past year as part of a project funded by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. She’s travelled to Botswana twice, once in June and she’s there now for this last week of the campaign. I had a bit of a surprise the other night when I found this from her on my Facebook timeline:

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What Lib Dem members think about devolution – and what their local priorities would be

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Almost 600 party members responded to this set of questions – thank you – in a supplementary poll ran just before the party conference.

Majorities say Education and NHS should be governed at local/regional level

Which of the following should be decided mainly at a local/regional level?

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By-election update: 8 seats up for grabs – no losses, no gains

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)Thursday saw eight principal by-elections take place in England and Scotland. The Conservatives secured a gain on Gloucestershire County Council in the Mitcheldean by-election, a ward which previously had an Independent councillor.

In Durham, Labour gained a seat in Burnopfield and Dipton, defeating the Derwentside Independents by just a single vote.

In Shepway, the Conservatives successfully retained their seat in Folkstone North West. However UKIP made considerable inroads into the Conservative majority in the ward, with the party registering 27.7% of the vote having not fielded a …

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LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League: how it stands after Week 8

Congratulations to Jon Featonby, who leads the LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League after Week 8, with a whopping 484 points. However, not far behind are George Murray (472) and 2013 Liberal Voice of the Year, Sam Bowman (470). However, as just 39 points separate the top 10, it’s fair to say it’s still very much anyone’s season.

For the record, I’m only 82 points off the lead, biding my time, ready for my Premiership-winning push. Like Arsenal. And I suspect I have about as much chance of winning as the Gunners do.

And not that it matters in the least, but the …

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Ed Davey MP writes…Signed, sealed and delivered, an ambitious climate change deal for Europe

Wind turbine - Some rights reserved by thomas vlWe’ve done it!  For Liberal Democrats in government, this EU climate deal is our most significant green win so far.  While Liberal Democrats are passionate about tackling climate change, the likes of Owen Paterson and UKIP seem to delight in talking down the threat that it poses, but that should make us even more determined to tell people why this deal is so crucial.

What have we achieved?  An ambitious Europe-wide climate change deal that will see greenhouse gases cut by at least 40% by 2030.  Other countries wanted a lower target, but I argued that the science demanded higher. And I was determined that if in next year’s UN climate talks other countries like the US and China show similar ambition, Europe should be ready to increase its efforts still further – so the words “at least” in the deal are more important than normal.

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Catherine Bearder MEP writes… EU climate targets thanks to Ed Davey and Lib Dems

Green wind farmThis week, European leaders including David Cameron thrashed out an agreement on the EU’s climate change targets up until 2030.

The EU has been a world leader in the fight against climate change, becoming the first region to set binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But in the face of the financial crisis, leaders have become more nervous and the momentum behind the drive towards a greener economy has started to wane.

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A powerful message from Canada’s Liberal leader in response to Wednesday’s shootings

Canada flag License Some rights reserved by archer10 (Dennis)What would you want a liberal to say in the wake of shocking and violent events in your country? It must be something pretty close to Justin Trudeau’s words, full of dignity, wisdom and empathy.

Watch the video and see the excerpt below:

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Roundtable talks on new mental health waiting time standards

Phrenology head - mental health - Some rights reserved by evansvilleToday Nick Clegg and Norman Lamb held roundtable talks on mental health services in Sheffield.

Representatives from the local NHS discussed the impact of mental health conditions being brought into line with other NHS services, with the introduction of the first ever waiting time standards.

For the first time, from April 2015, most patients needing talking therapies – for conditions like depression – will be guaranteed the treatment they need in as little as six weeks, with a maximum wait of 18 weeks.

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Opinion: The utter and total failure of the political left

Che Guevara - Some rights reserved by StreetFly JZThis is a response to some of the discussion under Shouldn’t Parliament Square be for protesters?

I am afraid that my experience of various protest movements very much DOES suggest they are mainly composed of people from a social elite background, and many of those engaged in them do seem to me to be motivated at least in part by a sort of poseur mentality.

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Alex Salmond to make Westminster comeback – threat to Lib Dem seat of Gordon?

Alex Salmond - License Some rights reserved by Ewan McIntoshFormer Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has hinted he might make a comeback at Westminster, as the BBC reports:

Alex Salmond has said he has not made up his mind whether or not to stand for a Westminster seat at the next general election. The outgoing Scottish first minister was asked on the BBC’s Question Time programme if he would consider becoming an MP again. Mr Salmond said he had “absolutely decisively” not made up his mind, but agreed that the door was not closed.

Alex Salmond made his name at Westminster, as MP for Banff and Buchan for 23 years (1987-2010). However, two factors will be in his mind.

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Clare Campion-Smith Selected as Lib Dem PPC for Bristol North West

At a well-attended meeting in St Edyth’s Hall, Sea Mills, Liberal Democrats selected Cllr Clare Campion-Smith to be their prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC) for the Bristol North West parliamentary seat.

Clare Campion Smith Bristol North West Lib Dem PPC

Cllr Campion-Smith was first elected to represent the Henleaze ward in May 2006. She was re-elected earlier this year, beating her nearest rival by over 500 votes. From February 2009 to November 2012, Clare was the lead member for Children’s Services and she is now the Vice-Chair of the Business Change & Resources Scrutiny Committee. She has previously worked as a mathematics teacher and currently lives with her husband in Redland. They have two children, one daughter-in-law and one grandson.

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Lord Paul Tyler writes…Farce in the Lords

Any interested fellow citizen who was told how the latest recruit to their Parliament was chosen would be first baffled, then outraged.  Is it any wonder that there are more electors who favour the complete abolition of the House of Lords than support retention of the existing arrangements?

The provisions for the replacement of one of our hereditary Peers, when deceased, are confusing, complicated and downright contradictory.

The latest election result, announced by the Lord Speaker on Wednesday afternoon, may seem to be relatively simple:  our new Liberal Democrat colleague will be Raymond Asquith, otherwise known as the Earl of Oxford and Asquith and descendant of the distinguished Liberal Prime Minister.  He was chosen in an AV election, but gained 50%+ on the first count, so no reallocation of the votes of lower scoring candidates was required.

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Norman Lamb MP writes…Liberal Democrats will fight relentlessly for NHS to have funding it needs

Today Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of NHS England published his 5-year Forward Look, setting out the challenges facing our health and care system in the coming years.

It makes sobering reading.  Simon Stevens sets out the huge scale of the financial challenge facing us in the years ahead as we continue to adapt to an ageing population, and increasing numbers of people living longer with multiple chronic conditions.  We also need more investment to ensure that people with mental health problems can get the same standard of care and support as with physical health.

Earlier this month, the Liberal Democrats set out their priorities for the NHS.  We committed to investing at least £1bn extra in our health and care system in each year in the next parliament.  £500m of that will go to mental health to ensure mental health patients get fair treatment, and can access the support they need.  And by the end of the next parliament we will give each carer £250 a year to recognise the immense contribution they make to society.

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Teacher workload – a concern north and south of the border

Yesterday, Nick Clegg gave a speech to public sector workers. His specific focus was on teacher workload. Everyone thinks that teachers work short hours and have long holidays. Yet everyone who has a child actually at school will know how much effort goes in to preparing lessons. And everyone who knows a teacher knows that they spend a lot of their supposed “off-duty” time thinking of interesting lessons or, more likely these days, filling in interminable paperwork. We know that children need to be kept safe and their progress checked, but I get the feeling that the bureaucracy is overbearing and unnecessary. Let’s just give you a small example from my own experience. Every time my child sets foot outside the school we have to fill in a consent form. It’s A4. It has all sorts of medical info on it. It even asks how far they can swim unaided, a skill which is unlikely to be needed when representing the school in a maths competition or reading stories to 6 year olds in the local primary school. We can be filling in one of these forms twice a month. If it’s a mild inconvenience for us as parents, what’s it like for teachers who have maybe 30 of them to collect for each class? Why can parents not fill in a standing consent with all the info which covers the whole year?

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Opinion: Liberal Democrats in conversation, an Indiegogo campaign

In April of this year, I organised a fundraising dinner for Simon Hughes in central London. Between courses we interviewed Nick Clegg, Lynne Featherstone and Simon about their early political interests and experiences. The answers were inspiring, the anecdotes hilarious and the audience were treated to a fascinating glimpse into the reasons why MPs get involved with politics in the first place.

The performances of Nick, Lynne and Simon challenged the all-too-common misperception that MPs are simply career politicians and members of a remote political class, far removed from the lives of the ordinary British public. Instead, the interviews highlighted a real diversity of backgrounds, professions and motivations in those who enter politics. After dinner, I experienced a eureka moment when a guest came to me and said, “If only the public could see the side of Nick we witnessed tonight”.  It was immediately evident that the interview format we trialled that evening could translate well into film, providing the party with a new and persuasive campaign medium.

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LibLink: Tim Farron: Don’t despair, we can help those whose lives are threatened by climate change

Tim farron photo by liberal democrats dave radcliffeTim Farron has been writing for the Guardian about the extent of the practical problems faced by communities around the world as a direct result of climate change. Last week he met with someone from the Philippines who knows only too well what climate change means to their islands:

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Early years pupil premium – local allocations announced

school childrenThe government has announced the regional allocations for the Early Years pupil premium.

Nurseries, childminders and other early years providers throughout the country are set for a cash injection to help three and four-year-olds from disadvantaged families.

Children from low income families have often fallen behind more well off classmates before they even start school.​

But from April 2015, the Early Years Pupil Premium – which has been backed by groups like Barnados, 4Children and the Child Poverty Action Group – ​will mean extra money to make sure every child gets a …

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Opinion: In for a cent, in for a Euro?

Euro by Alf MelinThis is probably a stupid idea.

I thought I’d get that in before you do, because it probably is, and even it’s not you’re probably still going to think that it is. Nevertheless I’m going to say it anyway because frankly right now British politics is somewhere up a creek and Nigel Farage is running off with the paddle.

How about we hold an in-out referendum on European Union membership on the first Thursday in February?

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Horwood and Burstow take part in Westminster Dog of the Year

Guide dog puppyThis year’s Westminster Dog of the Year gets underway shortly. The aim is to celebrate that great bond between dog and human and to promote responsible dog ownership.

Last year, the Liberal Democrats were represented by Tessa Munt and Poppy. This year Paul Burstow and Martin Horwood are taking part.

Paul takes part with his dog Indy, who came to them as a rescue dog 4 years ago:

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The Liberal Party and the First World War – event in London next month

War gravesIn this year, a hundred years since the coming of war in August 1914, the conflict is remembered chiefly for
 its impact on the millions of ordinary men, women and children who were to suffer and die and over the following four years. Lives were altered forever and society transformed. But the war had political consequences too: empires fell, new nations emerged and British political parties and the party system underwent profound change – a transformation which plunged the Liberal Party into civil war and caused it to plummet from a natural party of government to electoral insignificance within a few short years.

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Shouldn’t Parliament Square be for protesters?

Parliament square by Paul WalterThe name Donnachadh McCarthy means something to those of us of a certain age. Donnachadh was once a Liberal Democrat and he was proper Awkward Squad. I spent many hours arguing with him on Cix, which was where all online Liberal Democrats hung out back in the day. Quite often I agreed with him and even when I didn’t, I realised that he was the sort of pain in the backside that every leader needs. Liberals have always been particularly bad at venerating their leaders. Willie Rennie described us, the day he became Scottish leader, as a party that doesn’t want to be led.

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Liberal Democrat storms to by-election win – in the House of Lords

House of Lords - Some rights reserved by UK ParliamentWe have a new Liberal Democrat Parliamentarian tonight after a by-election win. It’s a wee while since we could say that. But it’s a very different type of by-election and one that raises more than a little disquiet. I have to say I find it pretty objectionable that you can get a seat in Parliament not through election by actual voters but because of the circumstances of your birth.

The House of Lords Act of 1999 left 92 hereditary peers in place after the Labour government backed down from full reform. That’s the Labour party, blocking reform at every turn whether in government or opposition. When one of them dies, there is a by-election held to admit a new one. The electorate is the whole House of Lords.

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Kirsty Williams questions Welsh First Minister on “lack of ambition” for young people

Kirsty WilliamsKirsty Williams seemed choked with the cold when she questioned First Minister Carwyn Jones yesterday but her fighting spirit was undiminished as she took him to task for what she called his government’s aspiration towards mediocrity rather than excellence in the wake of the annual Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission report which said that poorer children in Wales were significantly less likely to obtain 5 GCSE’s including Maths and English. Even at the age of 3, children in Wales were falling behind those in England and Scotland in terms of vocabulary. While children in England caught up with those in Scotland by the age of 5, children in Wales fell further behind.

In his response, Mr Jones had to point to the “Pupil Deprivation Grant” as being part of the solution.

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Opinion: Decision making in the Liberal Democrats

libby on the wall3

The Liberal Democrats could be on the verge of a major change in the way in which we conduct our internal business.  We have already decided to move to OMOV for Federal Conference, and that will result automatically in all members of the party being eligible to stand for the elected positions on our Federal Executive.  We have also already decided to move to no less than 30% female representation for the elected seats on the FE, which will automatically weight the FE to at least 15% women (a token gesture by people who don’t understand the issue).

I have proposed, as a part of my agenda for election to the FE that we should move to having all seats on the FE directly elected and on a 50/50 +1 split of male to female members.
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The Independent View: Ministry of Justice costs reforms undermine Vince Cable’s aim of tackling rogue directors

Statue of Justice - The Old BaileyA key message the Business Secretary Vince Cable has been keen to stress during his time in government is the need to tackle rogue directors: he’s announced plans to produce “stronger deterrents” and “more robust sanctions” to quash ‘dodgy directors’. Dr Cable’s – and insolvency minister Jo Swinson’s – policies on protecting creditors from rogue directors are certainly worth developing, but they are at risk of being undermined by policies being put forward by the Ministry of Justice.

The Ministry of Justice has been seeking to tackle the costs of litigation, but its reforms will end up having a big impact on the insolvency profession’s ability to combat rogue directors and will have disastrous and costly consequences for small business creditors and the taxpayer.

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Lord Andrew Phillips writes…Reflections from the campaign trail in Clacton

Clacton beach huts photo by Nick PageI have a lifelong affinity with Clacton. It was the nearest seaside resort to my hometown of Sudbury, but more relevantly I was parliamentary candidate for the Harwich division, as it was then called, which included Clacton, in the General Election of 1970 (albeit for Labour – I saw the light three years later!)

On the face of it one should want to forget all about the Clacton results as quickly as possible. But there are some bright spots, and some insights which may be worth sharing.

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LibLink: Hannah Thompson on her successful campaign to outlaw revenge porn

hannah thompsonEvery time I read about what Hannah Thompson went through, the ordeal of not knowing when and where photos which she had intended only for private consumption would end up next after her former boyfriend abused her trust, it makes me want to cry. Partly in empathy, feeling for what she went through, partly in anger that anyone could do that to a former partner, partly in total admiration at the way she has calmly and reasonably campaigned for what happened to her to be made an offence. This week the House of Lords passed the amendment which makes revenge porn illegal.

Hannah told her story to the Telegraph, first of all talking about the powerlessness of not knowing where these photos, which should never have seen the light of day, would resurface, especially when the Police said there was nothing they could do:

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Voting for the next Lib Dem party president starts a week today

Libby - Some rghts reserved by David SpenderA week today, Wednesday, 29th October, ballot papers will be sent to all c.44,000 Lib Dem members enabling us to vote for the next Party President in succession to Tim Farron, who’s held the post for the past four years. Other than the party leader, the presidency is currently the only other post in the Lib Dems determined by a vote of all its members.

Three candidates successfully secured nomination — click on their names to follow the links to their campaign websites:

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LDVideo: Vikki Slade on Free School Meals in action

In Channel 4’s Political Slot this week, Lib Dem candidate for Mid Dorset and North Poole Vikki Slade finds out how the party’s policy of free school meals for 4-7 year olds is having a huge impact locally. You can watch it here.

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