Sal Brinton writes…Nominations for Party Awards are open

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.
The following awards are open for nomination:

President’s Award – open to any Party Member elected to public office and who has demonstrated excellence and commitment.
Harriet Smith Liberal Democrat Distinguished Service Award – open to any Party Member never elected to public office and who has demonstrated excellence and commitment.

Belinda Eyre-Brook Award – to recognise the efforts of people working for our elected representatives in their local areas – from local party employees, to political assistants to council groups, to people working in MPs’ constituency offices.

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We must speak for our EU Citizens in the UK

eupetitionCanvassing during the referendum in the London borough of Merton one point came up on a surprising number of households – what was going to happen to people from the EU living here if we voted to Leave. We were only canvassing people entitled to voted in the referendum but in many cases the person who opened the door was from the EU and their partner was British. It was often said slightly jokingly with people saying they could tell us how their British partner would be voting ‘or else’ but with an undertone of concern. As the polls got worse the concerns got greater and at out street stall in Morden the Saturday before the vote several people spoke of real concern – as one women put it to me ‘my son loves his school, my husband has a good job and we have a nice flat. I don’t want to leave and go back to Italy – this is now our home’.

With the result – and what seem to be increasing attacks on immigrants those concerns have only got worse Last Saturday we held a street stall in Wimbledon asking people to sign our petition that people from the EU who are here should be able to carry on living and working here without any concern about any worries – and that the same thing should apply to British citizens in the rest of the EU. We had a quite extraordinary response – I have never seen anything like it. People were queuing up to sign , shaking our hands and thanking us for taking up the issue. There is a real concerns about the uncertainty which makes it impossible for people to plan for the future.

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Sorting Out the Political Mess

I am concerned about many of the issues that people have been discussing on Lib Dem Voice and the media over the past few days. The big issues being:

  • The referendum was actually about issues other than the EU and indeed immigration–in particular: gross inequality in our country; how austerity has created winners and losers when it comes to many cities and regions; and the opportunity this represented for people to punish the political elites.
  • The Leave campaign seem to have pedaled out a lot of untruths—especially the inability to be able to stem immigration in the post-Brexit world and our

Posted in Op-eds | 21 Comments

Uncrossing the wires in the IP Bill

The average age of the House of Lords is about 70 years old. Yet it has been left up to us to scrutinise, amend and improve the highly technical and technological Investigatory Powers Bill after its easy ride through the House of Commons.

Today, in the Bill’s Second Reading, I urged peers from all sides to not shy away from the technical nature of the Bill and to tackle the issues it raises head on and with gusto. Fundamentally this Bill will govern what powers our security services and law enforcement agencies have, under what circumstances they will be allowed to use them and how the use of these powers will be overseen. In all of this there is a balancing act to be done – it is the responsibility of the police and the security services to ask Government for the powers they believe they need in order to be effective and it is the responsibility of Parliament to balance those requests against the tests of necessity and proportionality.

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A reminder about the memorial event for David Rendel on 4th July

David Rendel at Anti-Iraq war demo 15th Feb 2003 Some rights reserved by Paul WalterThe life and legacy of David Rendel, Liberal Democrat MP for Newbury 1993-2005, will be remembered by his family, friends and colleagues at Newbury’s Corn Exchange on Monday 4th July 2016. All are welcome at the event which will begin at 1.00pm.

Donations in David’s memory may be made to Voluntary Service Overseas or Médecins Sans Frontières (UK); there is a Just Giving page for this.

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Our values and the Brexit crisis

We must quickly learn to cope with the new reality, and respond imaginatively, rationally and practically.  I applaud Tim Farron for doing so, and doing it well.

With a trickle of enquiries about whether Tim is acting ultra vires, party members will need reassurance that approved constitutional arrangements for policy making in emergency situations are being scrupulously observed. Federal Policy Committee should quickly provide reassurance, and should also circulate its plans to organise and channel the party membership’s central role in policy making during the crisis.

Meanwhile, back at the inferno, many established aspects of UK governance are under challenge, with new challenges arising constantly. Liberal Democrats need to seize the hour, to strongly re-emphasise the party’s radical political and constitutional reform agenda, developed over many decades, but corroded by the 2010 coalition agreement, and then undermined by the frustrating processes and unsatisfactory outcomes of the 2012-13 policy working group (of which I was a member).

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How do we make liberalism relevant to the disenfranchised leave voters?

I think we are agreed now that the EU referendum result was not a vote to leave the EU at all, but a howl of protest from the people of Britain that feel left out of the prosperity that predominately benefits the south east, and fearful of the changes affecting their communities.

It feels that we are not a liberal country after all. It makes me extremely sad to realise this, and will lead others to question the relevance of our Party.

But if we dig deep into the basic principles and aims of our Party we will see that we are more relevant than we have ever been. It is poverty and lack of opportunity that harnesses swathes of our society to a yoke of resentment and fear ploughing a furrow for lies and misinformation that grow into a forest cutting them off from truth and the liberal world. It is this very poverty and ignorance that our Party seeks to address: no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We are a divided, unequal Britain and the Party aims to deliver equality for all. It is therefore incumbent upon us not just to represent the liberal-thinking 48%, but to take up the fight on behalf of the disenfranchised before UKIP step in to represent them.

The difficult question is how do we do that?  I do not claim to have the answers, but some thoughts based on local experience (in a strong liberal borough that voted to leave!?) have started to form as I work through the shock of the referendum result.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMark Goodrich 30th Jun - 1:57am
    I agree wholeheatedly with the article. It is not right to say that it denies the benefits of free movement. It recognises them but also...
  • User AvatarMark Goodrich 30th Jun - 1:45am
    I have been posing the question on Twitter (@markygoodrich) and trying to find information on what the advantages of the Norway option are. As far...
  • User AvatarCllr Mark Wright 30th Jun - 12:35am
    Some very good posts above by Matthew Huntbach (apart from the Clegg bashing!)
  • User AvatarHugh 29th Jun - 11:39pm
    Jayne, like like the drift of your article, but I do not think a single person voted Leave because of the recent Housing or Planning...
  • User AvatarKevin colwill 29th Jun - 11:34pm
    "And the people chose FPTP over a fairer system – that’s democracy" but it's not set in stone like some unchanging law of physics. One...
  • User AvatarRoland 29th Jun - 11:23pm
    I think you’ll find that the virtually all the 17 million people who voted to leave the EU actually voted to leave the EU. Don't...