In full: Willie Rennie’s speech to Scottish Conference

Willie Rennie speaking at Lib Dem Spring conference, Liverpool 2008Here is Willie Rennie’s speech to Scottish Conference in Dunfermline this Saturday.

Thank you to everyone who sent kind wishes following my period of absence from the political stage. I was undergoing an operation to replace a mangled disc in my neck.

It was an emergency, not for any medical reasons, but because our campaign director Adam Stachura said it was hindering my canvassing technique.

Lying on the theatre trolley as the needle was about to be injected into my hand the doctor declared she knew exactly who I was.

It was even more alarming that she looked remarkably like Nicola Sturgeon.

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Opinion: What’s that you say, Mr Robinson?

Peter robinson by alan in belfastThis weekend,  Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson addressed his party conference for the last time before the General Election and launched his ire at losing his seat in Westminster last time out. Talking of the DUP candidate’s chances for East Belfast next May he said:

There may be other unionists in the field, but they will only serve to divide the pro-union opposition to the flag-lowering, parade-stopping, gay marriage-supporting, pro water-charging, holier-than-thou Alliance Party.

It’s an interesting choice of words, which drew applause from his audience but needs a serious look at the implications of what they mean, for our sister party in Northern Ireland.

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Julian Huppert MP writes… Recalling MPs – how to let the public recall MPs who have committed misconduct

Today, the Recall of MPs Bill comes back to the House of Commons for further consideration.  During its Committee Stage, David Heath and I proposed improvements, which would ensure that constituents could access the recall process without the involvement of any parliamentary committee (link to previous article).

Greg Clark, the Government Minister responding to our proposals, told MPs that it was an “important suggestion much to commend it” and that he would “reflect carefully on the amendment.”  This is usually parliamentary parlance for “I like this idea and will bring it back in my own name at the next stage”.

However, …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 14 Comments

Nick Clegg taking questions on mental health on Mind’s Facebook page today

nick clegg live tweet town hall 1st may 2014In a Facebook first, Nick Clegg will be taking questions on mental health over on Mind’s Facebook page this lunchtime, starting at 12:30 pm.

He put this brief video on his own page to explain why he thinks this is important and is quoted on Mind’s website:

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An overview of Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference

Scottish liberal democratsFor the first time in 5 years, and only the third in the almost 15 years we’ve been back in Scotland, I missed a Scottish Conference this weekend. I had a particularly unpleasant bug that kept me in my bed for almost 3 days. Be gentle with me because I’m still not quite recovered.

The event had keynote speeches from Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael and leader Willie Rennie, a discussion on the manifesto led by Jo Swinson and motions on subjects such as access to mental health services for young people and putting more NHS resources in areas of deprivation – a patient premium. The conference also passed a landmark motion calling for decriminalisation of sex work. You can have a look at the motions up for debate here. There was, I am told, even a good old-fashioned tammy on amending Conference Standing Orders which the Establishment won – but only after a counted vote.

My colleague Dave Gorman, from Falkirk gave a brief summary of the day on Facebook and I have his permission to reproduce it here:

My experience of being a Liberal Democrat, and the vitriol and nonsense written and spoken about us, causes me to write this. Today we agreed policy on, inter alia, widening participation to democracy including giving a duty to electoral officers to stimulate voting; providing new rights to sex workers and decriminalising it; extra funding for GP practices based on special funding in deprived areas; new support for poorer workers and much more. I remain proud to stand with fellow Liberal Democrats to promote opportunity and to promote the rights and opportunities of the minority, the oppressed and the poorest. So there.

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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #399

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 399th weekly round-up from the Lib Dem blogosphere … Featuring the seven most popular stories beyond Lib Dem Voice according to click-throughs from the Aggregator (16-22 November, 2014), together with a hand-picked quintet, you might otherwise have missed.

Don’t forget: you can sign up to receive the Golden Dozen direct to your email inbox — just click here — ensuring you never miss out on the best of Lib Dem blogging.

As ever, let’s start with the most popular post, and work our way down:

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Alex Folkes: Cornwall Council and its chief executive have serious questions to answer

Many Lib Dems will know Alex Folkes. He’s a Lib Dem councillor on Cornwall Council, and was a member of its cabinet until earlier this month, when he stood down to “deal with a personal issue”. I noticed it at the time, hoped it was nothing too bad, thought no more of it.

Then on Thursday night I read Alex’s 1,500-word blog-post, ‘The truth about why I resigned and the claims being made against me’.

It is an extraordinary account which, if shown to be true, must surely lead to the resignation of Cornwall Council’s chief executive, Andrew Kerr. It was Mr Kerr who has asked Alex to resign from the council over claims he poses a “potential risk” to children. Last week, without giving Alex any advance notice, the council wrote to all schools and youth clubs in his ward about him and issued a press release to say they had done so. Why? Here’s how Alex tells it:

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Should Liberal Democrat Voice put up a post if and when a blogger leaves the party?

charlotte henryIn a spasm of madness a few weeks ago, from their conclavial confinement, the Liberal Democrat Voice team saw fit to emit a puff of white smoke in favour of myself, concerning the vexed matter of who would be Wednesday Editor of this august and elegantly barnacle-clad ship of the cyber-seas.

In the course of my duties last Wednesday, my not-very sophisticated news gathering antennae became aware of the news that Charlotte Henry had left the party. Newsmoggie kindly published a post concerning that. An interesting comments debate ensued under said post and it was one of our most popular offerings for this week.

Posted in Humour and Site news | 43 Comments

LDV’s Sunday Best: our 7 most-read articles this week

7 ver 4 fullMany thanks to the 17,000 visitors who dropped by Lib Dem Voice this week. Here’s our 7 most-read posts…

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LibLink: Danny Alexander – The coalition has helped, not hurt the poor

Danny Alexander by Paul WalterDanny Alexander, Lib Dem chief secretary to the Treasury, has an article in today’s Observer rejecting the paper’s front page lead last week headlined ‘Revealed: how coalition has helped rich by hitting poor’.

I absolutely reject this assertion. Nick Clegg and I led the Liberal Democrats into coalition not just to rescue the British economy from the aftermath of the 2008 crash, but to do so fairly.

He details, with examples, various of the Coalition’s policies which aren’t picked up in the analysis reported by the Observer …

Posted in LibLink | Tagged and | 68 Comments

New LDV members’ survey now live: your views on

imageThe new LDV members’ survey is now live. So if you are one of the 1,500+ registered members of the Liberal Democrat Voice forum — and any paid-up party member is welcome to join — then you now have the opportunity to make your views known.

Questions we’re asking this month include:

  • do you support the broadcasters’ proposal for the televised leaders’ debates;
Posted in LDV Members poll | 2 Comments

In the next month 43 seats will short-list their wannabe Lib Dem MPs

Lib Dems winning hereHere’s the full list of selection contests in the coming month available for Lib Dems on the approved parliamentary candidates’ list, together with the closing date for applications.

The following seats have selections in progress and are currently advertising for candidates:

Posted in Selection news | Tagged | 26 Comments

How Lib Dems should talk about immigration

british future immigrationThis week saw the publication of an important report from the think-tank British Future called ‘How to talk about immigration’.

Its central thrust is that the majority of the British public’s views about immigration are more moderate, pragmatic and nuanced than the polarising debate often allows:

How to talk about immigration challenges both the pro and anti-migration voices to respond to the public’s desire for a sensible conversation about immigration.

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What’s being debated in our members’ forum this week?

members forum wordleLibDemVoice has two parallel sites. The first is our public blog, the thing you’re reading now. The second is our private members’ forum, which only current Lib Dem members can access.

If you’re a member and want to chat with fellow party members about any issue that’s on your mind, then why not sign up? In addition, you’ll be included in our regular surveys’ of party members’ views.

Here’s some of the most active discussions this past 7 days:

Posted in Site news | 3 Comments

By-election update: Lib Dem progress in Stockport

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)Three principal council by-elections were fought yesterday alongside the Parliamentary contest in Rochester & Strood.

In Stockport, the Conservatives held on to their seat in Bramhall South & Woodford despite a hard-fought campaign by the Liberal Democrat team. Polling day saw many volunteers from across the Greater Manchester area descend on the Stockport MB ward in an attempt to clinch victory from the Conservatives. However the Conservative candidate polled 53.2% to secure victory by 578 votes. Liberal Democrat candidate Jeremy Meal managed to increase the party’s …

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LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League: how it stands after Week 11

Congratulations to Jon Featonby, who continues to lead the LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League after Week 11, having amassed a whopping 675 points. Not far behind is George Murray (663), then Sam Bowman (659).

A bit of a gap has opened up between the top three and the chasing pack: fourth-placed Andrew Wiseman is 34 points back. However, just 69 points separates the top whole of the top 10, a gap that can easily be closed. After all, where we work we win, right?

For information only, the bottom placed team has 205 points, dangerously close to a lost deposit.

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Lib Dem Party Committee election results

Libby - Some rghts reserved by David SpenderThe Lib Dems have this evening announced the results of the elections to its Party Committees as voted for by conference representatives. Congratulations to all elected; commiserations to those who weren’t.

The lists of those elected (and not), ordered by first preference votes, follows…

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged and | 36 Comments

Compromise signalled on future of TPIMs

The Guardian and other outlets are reporting that the new anti-terror bill to be published next week will include a power to force individuals subject to TPIMs to relocate within the UK, subject to a restricted definition of terrorism and a higher burden of proof.

Posted in News | 30 Comments

Emily Thornberry resigns over tweet

Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry has resigned from the front bench over a tweet from Rochester which shows, at best, a gulf of understanding between the Labour front bench and working class “white van man”.

Posted in News | 69 Comments

Race, Extremism, Recruitment & Inspiration: the EMLD Presidential Hustings

EMLD Hustings - LD RadioThis week the Ethnic Minority Lib Dems became the first and only party AO/SAO to host a presidential hustings, with Issan Ghazni very ably chairing what for me was the most interesting of the handful of debates I’ve seen so far. He introduced the evening by noting that the UK is becoming ever more diverse and that our party’s lack of ethnic minority representation is an existential issue. The candidates then faced a range of excellent questions covering not just diversity in the party and the failures of the government to advance race equality but other issues such as countering radicalisation, social cohesion and the rise of the far right.

Posted in News | 12 Comments

Rochester & Strood by-election: Ukip win, Lib Dems lose 11th deposit

Mark Reckless won his bid to be re-elected an MP under the UKIP banner last night, following his eve-of-conference defection from the Conservatives. That this wasn’t at all a surprise — the swing from the Tories to UKIP was 28% — says something about the febrile dynamics of politics at the moment. Support for Labour in a seat they held until 2010 also slumped. Geoff Juby for the Lib Dems trailed in fifth place behind the Greens, having shed some nine-tenths of the party’s May 2010 vote. This was Lib Dems’ 11th lost deposit of the parliament.

Here are the votes:

Posted in News and Parliamentary by-elections | Tagged , , , , , , , and | 144 Comments

Three thoughts this Transgender Day of Remembrance

1911715_10154912243065565_3205825898850673008_nToday is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to pause and think of all those transgender people who have lost their lives just for being who they are across the world. I read the list of people who are being remembered in 2014 and it’s pretty harrowing to think of all those young lives lost through prejudice. Everybody should be free to express their identity without fear or attack.

A study earlier this year showed the high rates of suicide and attempted suicide amongst transgender people compared to the general population. We can’t stand by in the face of such evidence. It’s important that we make sure that everyone has the care and support that they need.

Paris Lees writes in the Guardian today about friends who have died far too soon and asks us all to show solidarity with transgender people.

I  spoke at the TDOR ceremony in London last year – one of the biggest in Europe, certainly in Britain, and possibly in the world. It was draining and moving and lacked the glitz and glamour of the well-funded galas and awards ceremonies that gay charities and magazines are able to throw at this time of year. It’s an event of which mainstream society is barely aware. Most of those attending were trans themselves, and there was a rawness and intense empathy with the suffering of those we remembered. I mean no offence to the wonderful people who give so much of their own time and emotion to organise TDOR, but we deserve better. We deserve better coverage in newspapers. We deserve better recognition at the political level. We deserve to feel like it is not just trans people who are moved and outraged by the culture of violence and abuse towards us here and around the world.

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Tim Farron MP writes…Green Climate Fund shows this government is leading the world

We often forget to say thank you, because we’re straight on to the next thing. But today, I want to say thank you to everyone – from  our members, activists, staff, councillors, MPs and Peers to Ed Davey for the success we’ve seen as a party on the Green Climate Fund. Even if climate change doesn’t get your heart racing, if you want evidence that the Lib Dems in the Coalition are alive and kicking – look no further. Cameron’s “green crap” attitude hasn’t stopped us leading the world on climate change. We’ve got a lot more to do – but this is good news that should give us confidence.

Set up five years ago at the Copenhagen climate conference, the Green Climate Fund is designed – over time – to replace the spaghetti system of existing funds, and become the main channel for finance to help developing countries reduce emissions and protect themselves from dangerous climate change. It was one of the outcomes which saved the Copenhagen climate conference from complete failure.

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Opinion: Sticking up for the entrepreneurs of the future

I spoke at a Global Entrepreneurship Week event at the University of Exeter last night, and I was asked to define the qualities of an entrepreneur.

It was an event for more than a hundred or so eager undergraduates who have already decided that the corporate world is not the life for them, and who were trying to gather as much information as they possibly could, to help them start their own entrepreneurial journeys, post-graduation.

University entrepreneurship isn’t limited to Exeter, universities all over the country have growing entrepreneurship societies and NACUE (National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs) have done fantastic work promoting them.

Whilst entrepreneurship societies thrive on campus, Lib Dem University societies struggle having taking much of the frontline flack for the tuition fee compromise.  In a previous post for LDV, I drew comparisons between the values of an entrepreneur and Lib Dem members. I think we’ve got even more to say to entrepreneurial students who are making their own way in life.

But how do we say it?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 68 Comments

Opinion: TTIP and the inversion of the Free Trade debate

The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership provides an interesting case study as to how the very meaning of ‘Free Trade’ is changing. The treaty itself is on the rocks with increasing opposition from France and Germany alongside a powerful combination of unions and anti-globalisation advocacy groups. Nothing about that is particularly unusual but a crucial difference is the arguments these groups are making. For the first time they are talking about consumers.

Traditionally trade deals meant hitting producers to help consumers with the abolition of tariffs, subsidies and protectionist legislation. Although there is an element of this in the TTIP the majority of it is actually about the harmonization of consumer standards and it is this which flips the traditional free trade debate so firmly on its head.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 48 Comments

The Independent View: Save our safety net

Four children are left home alone for five days. Social services step in to move the kids out to live with their father. But there’s a problem: the council have found a flat for the newly formed family, but it is unfurnished. The dad lives on a low income and does not have the savings to buy five beds and mattresses, and all the other furniture that is needed. If the property isn’t adequately furnished, the children will have to be taken into care. (See case study here).

Situations like this exist up and down the country. In this case, the family were awarded a loan from the local welfare provision (LWP) scheme run by their local authority which allowed them to start again after this period of massive instability. But if they lived in a different part of the country their local provision might not have been as generous, or the local council simply may not have established a scheme at all. And with central government funding to councils for LWP currently under threat, support of this type is likely to be even more limited in the future.

Posted in The Independent View | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

Baroness Olly Grender writes…Tales from the Rochester campaign trail

image004Sometimes being a Liberal Democrat is like walking into a bitterly cold prevailing wind with soggy leaflets in one hand and a disappearing map in the other. By-elections can be the epitome of that experience. Especially by-elections where our vote is being squeezed ‘til our eyes water. Which makes every person who turns out in those battles a hero in my eyes. Yes yes we can all cheerily dry out our wet socks on the piping hot radiator of victory at an Eastleigh experience, but it is Rochester that’s character forming!

The team in Rochester are out every day building up a campaign for the future. They are in a part of Kent where UKIP are on the rise but every day on the doorstep they are hearing the message “anything but UKIP”; we almost need a new column on the connect data. And let’s face it, our party is the opposite of UKIP in almost everything we stand for. Last weekend YouGov published a poll which showed that people understand with absolute clarity that the Liberal Democrats are a party that is vastly different from UKIP (see chart below).

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 46 Comments

Final Reminder: All votes in party committee elections must be cast by noon tomorrow

Here’s all you need to know:

How do I vote?

Voting papers were distributed by email to all those federal voting representatives for whom the party had an email address on the morning of Monday 3 November. It came from Electoral Reform Services and has a two part security code and a link to enable you to vote.

Those for whom the party did not have an email address were sent a letter advising them how to vote online and if they weren’t able to do that, to contact LDHQ for advice.

If you haven’t had either of these and you are a Federal Conference voting representative, contact [email protected] as soon as possible.

When do I have to vote by?

Thursday, 20th November at noon. That’s tomorrow to you and me. In fact, it’s 17 hours from now. Best do it before you go to bed tonight. NB this is not the same as for the Presidential election which closes on 26th November. 

Posted in News | Tagged | 4 Comments

My proudest day as a Liberal Democrat

fordham and eaglingAccording to the cash receipt slip I was given by the membership secretary of Stanford and Spalding constituency local party I have been a member of the Liberal Democrats for 26 years 4 months and 25 days. I have experienced the lows and highs of losing and winning elections, I have been involved in conference debates, fringes, attending key speeches and declarations, delivering leaflets, knocking on doors, influenced government policies, and when I married Russell Eagling on 5th July this year I was the direct beneficiary of the Liberal Democrats in Government.

Yet today Tuesday 18th November 2014 will go down as one of the days on which I was proudest to be a Liberal Democrat. The two instances could not be more related and yet more different.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged , and | 9 Comments

Shirley Williams promotes Community Award in memory of West Midlands student

Shirley Williams groupCommittee member of West Midlands Lib Dem Youth and local party diversity officer, Stephen Sherwood died aged 25, earlier this year. Despite having two kidney transplants and losing his sight, Stephen was involved in his local community and planned to stand for Herefordshire Council in 2015. Everyone who met him was amazed by his ambition and determination to overcome the obstacles that life had thrown at him.
Herefordshire Lib Dems have launched a new community award competition in memory of Stephen.

Posted in News and Party policy and internal matters | Leave a comment
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