Lib Dem pre-manifesto launched: includes policies to reform drugs laws and bus pass discount for under-21s

pre manifesto documentLast week’s pre-manifesto launch by the Lib Dems was postponed owing to the international situation. Thankfully no important news has broken over the past couple of days which might over-shadow today’s launch. Unless, that is, you think the potential break-up of the UK or a new Royal Baby are headline-grabbing events.

You can read the Pre-Manifesto in full below.

The party trailed its publication today with a couple of announcements intended to highlight key policies:

  • ‘Exclusive: Liberal Democrats to announce decriminalisation of all drugs’ headlined
  • Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 32 Comments

    Opinion: The power of the state to confiscate your passport and citizenship

    The British Prime Minister has explained that there is a significant risk to our security, due to Muslim residents of the UK travelling to fight with IS/ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and returning radicalised to the UK.

    The remedy, supported by Lib Dem parliamentarians, is for the government to follow the USA and give itself the power to stop people travelling out of the UK, and to generate ‘no fly lists’.  In addition, it has also been explained that the UK government is seeking the power to strip people of their acquired UK citizenship, if you travel to Syria or Iraq with the potential intention to fight.

    The rationale for these sweeping authoritarian powers for the state, seems pretty flaky. Why does it apparently apply to Muslims travelling to Syria and Iraq and not the more numerous other religious zealots travelling to other countries to fight ? How is ‘intention to fight’ defined, even if it can be ? And are we to believe that persons travelling to countries they have no connection with to die for their religion are not already radicalised ?

    The problem we are told is global jihad. But why commit people to legal limbo in countries abroad where they are prey to all sorts of folk ? If we know who they are, isn’t it better to have them identified and under watch in the UK after they return, than getting up to who-knows-what in the Mid East ? If such returnees commit terrorist acts in the UK won’t that be an intel failure ? But if they cannot be identified in the first place then all these new measures are useless anyway.

    As eminent senior counsel at BIICL’s Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law have shown, such powers are routinely used more widely than intended, and in this case it is likely that they will eventually be used against those merely disagreeing with the UK’s foreign policy, rather than militarised religious extremists.

    Posted in News | Tagged , and | 24 Comments

    Opinion: A new constitution won’t deliver the social change people think they’ll get with a yes vote

    As a Scottish Liberal and a lawyer, I have been inclined at times to get too involved in the minutiae of constitutional issues.  I can explain how to count several forms of PR and I have firm and detailed views on written constitutions.  Enduring two years of referendum campaigning in Scotland, however, has woken me up to the dangers of over-emphasising constitutional issues.

    When you read much of what comes from the Yes campaign, you are lefd to believe that every social problem – real and perceived – that has ever occurred in Scotland will be solved by changing the constitutional settlement.  Scotland will become a land of milk and honey where all social problems melt away (or, at the very least, are showered with unending supplies of healing money) and a raft of social services will be presented as being “free”.

    Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 7 Comments

    The Independent View: Liberal Democrats back industrial action by midwives

    Midwives in England are in dispute right now with their employers after the rejection of a 1 per cent pay rise, recommended by the independent NHS pay review body. It is the first time in our 133-year history that the Royal College of Midwives has balloted members over whether or not to take industrial action.

    Eighty per cent of the British public would support giving NHS staff the 1 per cent rise, according to a ComRes poll we commissioned to gauge public opinion. Opposition stands at just 9 per cent (11 per cent answered “don’t know”). Despite this, the recommendation has so far been rejected by NHS employers. Full details of the poll’s findings, including data tables, are available at the ComRes website.

    Regardless of how one divides up those who took part in the poll – by gender, age group, whether they work in the public or private sector, which party they support, or which region they live in – there is an absolute majority in favour of the recommended 1 per cent pay rise for NHS staff being implemented.

    Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Tagged and | 18 Comments

    Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #389

    Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 389th 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 (31 August – 6 September, 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:

    Posted in Best of the blogs | Leave a comment

    How do those of us who want Scotland to stay in the UK turn things around after Yes poll lead?

    The news that the Yes campaign has taken the lead in a You Gov poll just 11 days before the referendum on Scotland’s independence is worrying. Everyone is nervous and jittery. Yes campaigners, daring to hope that they are on the verge of an historic victory will be motivated and scared in equal measures. For those of us who don’t want to see our country split up, it’s, well, squeaky bum time. However there is another poll today which shows No slightly ahead. The news is not all bleak.

    This is far from over, though. The atmosphere is tense and febrile. Yes supporters confidently display their badges and posters but I’ve lost count of the times I’ve spoken to enthusiastic No voters who say they won’t put up a poster because they are worried about it being vandalised. It was noticeable in Edinburgh yesterday that “No thanks” posters were appearing, but on the top floors of tenements, out of stone and egg range. People shouldn’t have to feel like this.

    So how do pro-UK supporters regain the momentum? Only a month ago, after the first debate, we were 22% ahead in the polls. At the moment we are anywhere between 6% ahead and 2% behind.

    I don’t intend to rehearse the many failings of the Better Together campaign. That can, and should, be done at leisure after 18th September. The on-the-ground Better Together campaigners are fantastic but they have been let down by strategic decisions and organisation which combine the worst of Yes to AV with the best of The Thick of It.  They just don’t seem to be on the same wavelength with the Scottish public. How anyone could have thought the recent Party Political Broadcast featuring a woman’s clumsy and contrived monologue was in any way appropriate is beyond me. Robust analysis of the Yes campaign’s proposals was always going to be necessary but every bass needs a melody to make it palatable and that just hasn’t happened.  Given that there is so much to inspire about our shared history, heritage, culture and achievements, that is a tragedy.

    Posted in News | 61 Comments

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

    7 ver 4 fullMany thanks to the 15,300  visitors who dropped by Lib Dem Voice this week. Here’s our 7 most-read posts…

    One from June: Yes Scotland is a bit late to realise that Wings Over Scotland is bad news (24 comments) by Caron Lindsay

    Postponed: Lib Dem pre manifesto launch delayed owing to international situation (30 comments) by Stephen Tall

    Posted in Site news | Leave a comment

    ‘Yes Scotland’ takes first poll lead of campaign. Peaked too soon or Big Mo timed just right?

    st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TTwo polls in the Scottish independence referendum debate were published last night. The one that’s (understandably) getting all the attention is YouGov’s showing a wafer-thin Yes lead, 51% to 49%. It’s only the second poll to have found a pro-independence majority (the previous one was over a year ago). The other poll, commissioned by the SNP, continues to show No in the lead, 48% to 44%.

    Peter Kellner in the Sunday Times has a good summary of the factors that will likely decide the outcome in the final 10 days’ campaigning:

    Factors that could favour a Yes vote

    Posted in News | 39 Comments

    David Rendel selected as Lib Dem PPC for Somerton and Frome

    David Rendel - Some rights reserved by Martin TodCongratulations to former Lib Dem MP for Newbury, David, Rendel, who was last night selected by Lib Dem members in Somerton and Frome as the party’s parliamentary candidate for the May 2015 general election. David will be attempting to retain David Heath’s seat, won in 2010 with a majority of 1,817 over the Tories.

    The party has previously selected a PPC for the seat. Sarah Yong was selected in February this year, but stood down five months later. There had even …

    Posted in News and Selection news | Tagged , , , and | 10 Comments

    Jim Wallace outlines his case for Scotland remaining in the UK

    For 6 years, Jim Wallace was Deputy First Minister in Scotland. On three occasions, he stood in as Acting First Minister. That Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition at Holyrood governed with a can-do attitude at a time of optimism. It delivered some pretty revolutionary things. Free personal care, decent freedom of information, no tuition fees, land reform, getting rid of Section 28 (or Section 2A as it was in Scotland and introducing proportional representation for local government which demolished old Labour fiefdoms. The 8 years of that coalition was focused on what could be done. The 7 since has been focused on what Holyrood can’t do as the SNP claim that they need more powers to deliver the society they want. Their arguments would have a great deal more credibility if they had come close to using the powers that they have. Wallace and his Labour First Ministers almost wrung the neck out of the Scotland Act and if it was found wanting, they found a way to deliver their plans.

    To date, nobody has used the tax varying powers that Holyrood has, though and next year brings a whole swathe of new responsibilities and powers in the largely forgotten Scotland Act. That may all be irrelevant in 10 days’ time if we’re looking at a Yes vote in the referendum. I will write more later about what I think the pro UK side has to do to turn the swing to Yes around, but for the moment, have a look at what Jim Wallace told the Church of Scotland this week. He talks a lot about his own personal faith, which may not be for everybody, but stick with it to the end because there is real vision and passion in there about social justice and about giving power back to communities.

    Posted in News | Leave a comment

    Liberal Youth Elections 2014… Policy Officer: Ryan Mercer

    liberalyouthLiberal Youth policy matters. It’s how we, as young Liberal Democrats, can make a clear and credible case for change on the issues we care about. The disengagement from politics by so many young people has made it easy for the views of our generation to be overlooked. Despite this, the Liberal Democrats have long been the strongest advocates in both tackling the challenges young people face and building the future society in which we want to live. The unique perspective Liberal Youth provides can help to ensure the party will continue to listen to young people and be that advocate for our generation.

    In May, I stood as the Liberal Democrat candidate in a Norwich City Council Ward formerly held by Norman Lamb MP. The ward has a young population and standing gave me a real insight into how big a challenge we face showing other young people what we stand for and that we’re on their side.

    I’m standing as a candidate for Liberal Youth Policy Officer partly because I believe in the essential role that Liberal Youth policy needs to play, but also because I believe more has to be done to engage our members in our policy making. With more young members adding their voices our policies will be better informed and have the support behind them to be taken seriously.

    Posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters | Tagged , and | Leave a comment

    Liberal Youth Elections 2014… Membership Development Officer: Naomi Farhi

    liberalyouthVoter apathy has never been higher  among students and young people.

    Liberal Youth should be a clear voice in a political wilderness.

    To the disillusioned youth, politics appears to be a static and increasingly wearisome battlefield, with each side wasting a lot of time and gaining very little ground. Many cannot see the progress that is being made by groups just like Liberal Youth.

    It is my vision to make this progress clear.

    I joined the Liberal Democrats in 2013 because I was fed up of entrusting the way my country is run to ‘people who knew better than me.’ Young people are the future and Liberal Youth is the voice of a future where equality and fair treatment is achievable for all. I am willing to invest my time and energy in ensuring this will happen – but we need others to do this too.

    That is why I am running for Membership Development Officer. As a previously politically apathetic young person, I understand why so many are feeling left out of the picture and I believe I know how to make them feel included. I am now Press and Publicity Officer for the Cambridge Student Liberal Democrats and currently organising our representation at the Freshers’ Fair, which means appealing to over 15,000 students. As such, I am accustomed to dealing with a wide pool of potential members.

    Posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters | Tagged , and | Leave a comment

    LibLink: Charles Kennedy: Scotland’s energy considerations benefit from the UK

    Photo of loch Sloy hydro electric scheme by paul walterCharles Kennedy is one of a handful of politicians on the pro-UK side never to have put a foot wrong in the independence debate. Labour’s Kezia Dugdale, always passionate on feminism and social justice is another. Better Together could do a lot worse than leaving all the talking to them for the next 12 days.

    On his own website, Charles has written a typically thoughtful article about Scotland’s energy needs, what we gain from being part of the UK and how independence would affect us.

    Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 8 Comments

    Typo of the Week award goes to Mark Pack

    Mark PackMark wrote a piece about a Conservative Councillor being disqualified after conviction on a firearms charge.

    Spot the wonderful typo.

    If he’s corrected it, here’s the screen grab:

    Posted in News | Tagged , and | 4 Comments

    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 | Leave a comment

    Farron name checks Liberal Democrat PPCs Julie Pörksen and Vikki Slade in Commons Bedroom Tax speech

    "Frozen Poetry" - Houses of Parliament, LondonDuring the debate on Andrew George’s Affordable Homes Bill yesterday, Tim Farron name-checked the two Liberal Democrat candidates whose motion on the Bedroom Tax was passed with just one vote against at Party Conference last year.  Julie Pörksen, PPC for Berwick and Vikki Slade, PPC for Mid Poole and Dorset North, argued strongly for the sort of reform to the policy that has now appeared in Andrew’s Bill.

    Here’s what Tim had to say:

    I am proud of my hon. Friend the Member for St Ives for bringing this Bill forward, and I am proud of my party for pushing us all collectively to reflect on the proposals before us today. I would like to mention Vikki Slade and Julie Pörksen, who proposed at our conference a year ago that we look again at this policy. Frankly, Members of all parties would do well to admit that, on reflection, things could have been done better. Given that we were put in this economic crisis in the first place, it would be lovely to see from Opposition Members a change of heart and an admission that things did not go as well as they could have done.

    He then looked at the practical reasons why the Bill should be passed. It should be noted that it’s not all about the Bedroom Tax. It’s also about the wider issue of the lack of housing which drives rents and consequently Housing Benefit up.

    photo by: Gaurav Pradhan
    Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , and | 4 Comments

    Opinion: Why I’m voting “Yes Scotland” on September 18

    September 14th "Welcome to Scotland"I have recently returned to Scotland after 27 years working for the European Commission in Brussels. After 18 September, I plan to campaign hard for the Scottish Lib Dems, irrespective of the outcome of the independence vote.

    At the moment, though, I am in something of a limbo, finding myself on the “wrong” side of the referendum debate vis-a-vis my own party. As I am half-English and half-Scots, with family in Devon, I might be expected to vote “No”, but after a lot of soul-searching, I realise that it has to be a “Yes”. There are three key reasons for this.

    photo by: amandabhslater
    Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 36 Comments

    LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League: how it stands after Week 3

    Congratulations to Jon Featonby, who leads the LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League after the third week, with 198 points. It’s an impressive tally which means he’s in 2,550th position in the global league of 3.2 million players (ie, the top 0.08%). And he’s done that even with Wayne Rooney as his team captain.

    But George Murray (189 points), William Jones (187) and Lucy Keating (186) aren’t far behind: in fact, just six points separate the next six places. You can see the full top 10 below.

    There are 144 players in total in our league and you can still join it by clicking here.

    Posted in Fantasy Football | Tagged | Leave a comment

    ‘Bedroom Tax': Lib Dem Andrew George’s Affordable Homes Bill wins key Commons vote backed by Lib Dem / Labour MPs

    andrew georgeA year ago Lib Dem members voted at the party’s conference for an urgent review of the impact of what’s termed by critics the ‘Bedroom Tax’. Two months ago Danny Alexander announced he’d be recommending a major U-turn on the policy. And this afternoon, as the BBC reports, Lib Dem MPs teamed up with Labour to vote through reforms which mean that tenants who cannot be found a smaller home will be exempt from the cuts, as well as disabled people who need a spare bedroom or who have adapted homes:

    Liberal Democrat and Labour MPs have joined forces to defeat Conservatives in a Commons vote to partly overturn housing benefit changes. MPs backed the Affordable Homes Bill at second reading by 306 votes to 231.

    Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 27 Comments

    By-election update: Labour’s Oxford by-election tactics slammed

    Election count progressingThere were three principal Council by-elections this week in Oxford, Shepway and Surrey Heath.

    In Carfax ward (Oxford City Council) Labour held on with 168 votes (44.2%; +15.6%). Tony Brett, the Liberal Democrat candidate who finished fourth in May’s local election, came a respectable second with 101 votes (26.6%) and increase of 9% since May. The Green Party slipped from first in May to third on Thursday with 16.6% (-14.2%). The Conservatives and UKIP both polled 24 votes (6.3%).

    Turnout in the ward was a record low of just 8.6%. …

    Posted in Council by-elections and News | Tagged , , and | 23 Comments

    Opinion: The Lib Dems should make open primaries a coalition demand

    82813332_89f5e4ceb0_zThe Liberal Democrats are likely to make proportional representation for local government elections a red line in 2015 coalition negotiations. Needless to say, for any liberal this is a thoroughly good and idea that will transform local government. Given neither party is likely to budge on national PR, it is a good way to implement radical reforms which might actually be accepted by either of the other main parties.

    Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 28 Comments

    Opinion: Our seaside towns and the challenge of UKIP

    Clacton beach huts photo by Nick PageIt now looks set that Duncan Carswell will win the forthcoming by-election in Clacton and become the first UKIP MP. Whilst enjoying the Tory discomfort, I’ve been thinking a lot about what we need to do to counter UKIP and their simplistic appeal.

    In a poll last weekend, immigration was identified as the top concern by 57% of people who intend to vote for UKIP in Clacton. As with many of UKIP’s other target seats the number of immigrants living in Clacton is actually very low – just 4%. What there is in Clacton though is a struggling local economy, high unemployment, low pay, former B & Bs being used by the Council for temporary accommodation and poor educational achievement.

    Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 28 Comments

    ++Vince Cable to vote for Bedroom Tax reform

    Posted in News | 34 Comments

    Harm reducers hit back against WHO e-cigarette denormalisation

    Various outlets are reporting research by University College London indicating that for every million smokers who switch to electronic cigarette, 6,000 lives per year can be saved. This follows WHO advice that vaping indoors in public places should be banned in order to maintain the culture war against smoking.

    Posted in News | Tagged | 36 Comments

    With what song would you open Liberal Democrat Conference?

    The national convention of the US Democratic Party traditionally begins with Aaron Copeland’s famous, uplifting composition, ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’. If you don’t know the piece a recording of it is here.

    Posted in Conference | 64 Comments

    The Independent View: What are the most ‘Ukip-friendly’ Liberal Democrat seats?

    revolt on the right ukipIn our recent book, Revolt on the Right, we compiled a list of the most demographically receptive seats in the country for Ukip. This allowed us to rank all seats in the country according to how favourable their populations are for Ukip, using the most recent census data.

    The ideal seats for Ukip share key characteristics: they have lots of ‘left behind’ voters who we also know from our research are the most receptive to Ukip and its policies. These ideal seats also have very low numbers of voters who have, instead, tended to remain resistant to Ukip, including university graduates, ethnic minorities and people in professional and economically secure occupations. This is a useful first exercise in filtering through all seats to find those where -if Ukip stood a strong candidate and knocked on plenty of doors – they would probably find the most voters receptive to their message.

    Posted in The Independent View | Tagged , and | 40 Comments

    Cardiff Council under Lib Dems: Clear leadership, effective financial management. Cardiff Council under Labour: Fragmented leadership, weak performance

    One of the most heartbreaking things about the last four years has been seeing really good, outstanding Liberal Democrat Councillors lose their seats and Liberal Democrat councils losing office through no fault of their own.

    This stuff matters because, frankly, if the quality of services a Council provides deteriorates, people suffer.

    Compare and contrast the Wales Audit Office reports of 2011, when the Liberal Democrats were in power, and 2014 when Labour were two years into their term of office.

    Posted in News | Tagged , and | 9 Comments

    How to get Lib Dem Voice by email

    Why not join hundreds of other Lib Dem Voice readers in getting our latest headlines by email?

    Some people like regularly visiting a site to see if there’s new stories of interest. Some people like subscribing to its news feed (RSS) and checking that way. But if you prefer email, you can instead sign up to get a daily early morning email with a summary of the previous day’s posts from Lib Dem Voice, complete with a note of how many comments each post has got and convenient links to click on if any take your fancy and you want to take a read.

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    Opinion: Time to consider all-women shortlists?

    I find myself changing my mind on the subject of all-women shortlists. I’ve always been somewhere between agnostic and sceptical on the basis that it’s fairer to have open candidacies in which the best person gets chosen. If the playing ground needs to be levelled, it is best to do it in training and support rather than fixing the rules for appointments. I based this partly on my now shaken belief that, whatever happens in the other parties, the Lib Dems are nice, our hearts are in the right place, so self evidently good choices will be made.

    But three things have shaken that belief. Firstly the Rennard affair, and not just the issue itself but the number of people vigorously defending the status quo; secondly, the endemic sexism still visible in society at large, catalogued in visceral detail at Everyday Sexism; and thirdly, the two separate reports published recently on the shape of the elite in our society – still overwhelmingly male. Patriarchy remains alive and in rude good health, in the party as well as in society at large. The playing field remains permanently tilted against women (as well as against BAME people), and the only way in which we can be fair about that situation is to tilt it back. And niceness won’t cut it. All women shortlisting seems a crude tool but I know of no better one at the moment.

    Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 58 Comments

    Call Clegg: A well-informed 9 year old, empathy with the Kings and the moral dilemmas of dealing with terrorists

    Nick stopped off at LBC on his way to the NATO summit in Newport. As an aside, my heart has been warmed by the lush and beautiful Welsh countryside, but who have planning permission for that building in the middle of it? Could they not have built something with more of a soul?

    The star of the show was 9 year old Rowan who was incredibly well-iinformed about the school meals policy, telling Nick that his school meals weren’t that healthy and that the evidence of their efficacy in improving learning was a) marginal and b) more relevant at Key Stage 2 than 1. It is worth listening to the whole exchange. Nick said that it’s difficult to target by areas because 4 out of 10 children in poverty don’t qualify for free school meals. He said that the evidence is that if you want all children to do well, having them share a healthy meal together at lunchtime it has a dramatic effect. Sadly, though, it means that Rowan’s sister at his old school is missing out on her gym class because the gym is being used for dinners. It was absolutely brilliant to see a 9 year old completely confidently arguing with the Deputy Prime Minister. We need more of them. Nick referred Rowan to read Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent’s School Food Plan. I have the feeling we haven’t heard the last of that young man.

    Posted in News | Tagged and | 12 Comments

    Recent Comments

    • User AvatarJohnTilley 17th Sep - 12:26pm
      Green Voter I agree people should decide for themselves. What I actually said was --- "This theme that you keep repeating that the YES campaign...
    • User AvatarEddie Sammon 17th Sep - 12:01pm
      Liz Lynne sounds the strongest, followed by Daisy. A left wing approach of introducing material discrimination against white men is not fair. We should be...
    • User AvatarSimon McGrath 17th Sep - 11:54am
      @Joshua - can you show us your evidence that candidates are not selected on merit - ie that BAME candidates are statistically less likely to...
    • User AvatarMr Wallace 17th Sep - 11:52am
      @ PSI "Mr Wallace “In fact, why don’t Liberal Vision, the Orange Bookers and the rest of them go join the Tories…” Probably because they...
    • User AvatarSadie Smith 17th Sep - 11:49am
      There are practical issues. The UK has a bridge built to win an election! Tidiness is very difficult mostly because of the centralisation of Whitehall...
    • User AvatarJoshua Dixon 17th Sep - 11:49am
      It does amuse me that Liz thinks candidates are already selected on merit.