P-4: David Vigar comes to Stoke-on-Trent

When I was growing up in Lincolnshire one of the great ‘urban myths’ in the school ground was that Jimi Hendrix played Spalding. Only recently did it emerge that in fact this was no myth, but a hard solid evidential truth. On Spring Bank Holiday Monday May 29th 1967 he played at the Buld Auction Sheds. Now it is a matter of some legend as to whether people were there or not.

In fact, given the truths emerging in Stoke-on-Trent I am wondering if Paul Nuttall saw Jimi Hendrix in Spalding back then – I better check his website… (joke)

So why is this important? Well in the folklore of Liberal Democrat by-election campaigns I am going to put my neck on the line. In the way that Leeds Central, West Derbyshire and perhaps cruelly given the geography Newcastle Under Lyme were important.

Leeds Central was lost in 1999 by 2,293 votes and felt painfully close
West Derbyshire was lost in 1986 by just 100 votes
And Newcastle-Under-Lyme in 1988 by a mere 799.

Now in all of these instances the Local Party and in fact the entire Liberal Democrat Party has had to go through a process of mourning and claim that they had the badge of honour – “I was at X election.. we nearly won…” and their eyes sink regretfully. Now please help us make sure that Stoke-on-Trent Central is not on that list of regrets.

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

7 bestMany thanks to the  14,700 visitors who dropped by Lib Dem Voice this week. Here’s our 7 most-read posts…

P-9: What Labour just don’t get about Stoke-on-Trent (19 comments) by Ed Fordham

Brexit – a view from the Continent (48 comments) by Robert Harrison

The campaign against Brexit continues (36 comments) by Nick Hopkinson

Breaking: Stoke on Trent Lib Dems challenge Labour to condemn “offensive and illegal texts” (20 comments) by The Voice

Donald Trump, Twitter and Distraction (11 comments) by Caron Lindsay

Labour leaflet: It’s a lie to say Labour opposes Brexit (22 comments) by Caron Lindsay

Tony Blair is on our side. Eek! (64 comments) by Caron Lindsay

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Tom Brake: Plans to divert aid for Brexit negotiations are a disgrace

One of the things we can be most proud of is that we ensured that this country was committed in law to providing 0.7% of GDP in foreign aid to provide things like food, humanitarian aid, water, schooling and protection for women and girls at risk of abuse to the poorest places on the planet.

Now it seems that the Brexiteers in government plan to divert some of that money to EU countries to advance our position in the Brexit negotiations. That doesn’t strike us as being what it’s for.

Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesperson Tom Brake has called the plans a disgrace:

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Vote Leave: Strong democratic case for referendum on the Brexit deal

When Liberal Democrats have talked about offering a referendum on the Brexit deal, they have had tonnes of abuse shovelled at them from outraged Brexiteers. We’re undemocratic, they say. We’re not willing to accept the will of the people. How on earth giving the people a say on whether their government has interpreted their wishes correctly is undemocratic is beyond me, but to the Boris Johnsons, and Iain Duncan Smiths and Theresa Mays of this world, it makes sense. That would be the people with power who don’t want it challenged.

Tony Blair is the latest figure to come in for the disapproval of the Brexiteer zealots, which now appear to include the Labour leadership. I’ll just leave this tweet from Robert Hutton here, just as an aside:

What’s interesting is that Tony Blair didn’t say much different what Nick Clegg and Tim Farron have been saying since the referendum. It’s hardly surprising that both Liberal Democrats expressed approval.

We can be absolutely certain that had the vote on 23rd June been 52-48 in favour of Remain that the Leave campaign would have been arguing for a second referendum already.

But a referendum on the Brexit deal is an entirely different thing. So what did Vote Leave have to say about that? Well, in January 2016, before we even knew the date of the referendum, Vote Leave’s director Dominic Cummings, the guy who came up with the £350 million a week for the NHS pledge which was dumped within hours of the result being known, gave an interview to the Economist. Twitter is full today of how this is still being linked to from the Vote Leave website.

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LibLink: Norman Lamb: Time for honesty about future funding of our NHS

Liberal Democrats have been talking a lot about health and social care this week. In the Yorkshire Post, Norman Lamb argues for an urgent change of direction to give the NHS a sustainable future which meets our needs.

First he seems out the crisis facing the NHS.

But it seems this Conservative Government has become increasingly ambivalent to the state of our health service. In Yorkshire, vital A&E wards in Dewsbury, Huddersfield and Scarborough are all at risk of being closed or downgraded – it’s the same over the border at Darlington. Communities are set to face even longer waits for emergency care, including those in rural areas who may soon have to travel hours to receive treatment. These changes are happening for a simple reason – this Conservative government is failing to give the NHS and care services the cash they need to cope with rising demand. To make matters worse, local people on the ground are not being given a say into these decisions which will have a huge impact on their lives. The stark reality is that we are seeing the gradual downgrading of our health service taking place behind closed doors.

He attacked the use of well-paid consultancy firms drawing up cuts in services with no consultation of the public.

So what is the solution? It’s two-fold. First of all a cross party commission:

Posted in LibLink | Tagged and | 17 Comments

Federal Policy Committee Report – 15 February 2017

Federal Policy Committee met on Wednesday 15th February. The meeting was slightly in advance of our normal cycle (it having been obviously felt that having a long FPC meeting on the evening before the Stoke-On-Trent and Copeland by-elections was a bad idea).

Sadly the combined effect of a Parliamentary recess and half term in some areas of the country led to a lower turnout than at the previous meeting with neither Tim Farron MP nor the regular compiler of these reports Geoff Payne being able to attend. In Tim’s absence the meeting was chaired by the committee vice-chair Duncan Brack.

The meeting as a whole was driven much more by discussion over future process than the previous meeting’s focus on policy matters for Spring Conference. In some ways Federal Policy Committee regards our pre-conference work as “done with”; we are now awaiting the input from conference on the policy papers, motions and consultation papers to shape how FPC will proceed. As such, much of our work this time was on preparation for post-conference work.

The shape of some of our subcommittees and working groups due to report back for Autumn Conference was fleshed out. Belinda Brooks-Gordon was elected as the Chair of the Policy Equalities Impact Assessment Group (of which I am also a member) which will review Policy proposals with an intersectional view of the impact of policies upon all diversity strands.

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P-5: The oatcake crisis at Stoke-on-Trent Central HQ

Problems often arise with a campaign – and today was one of those days when problems came in threes.

1. We ran out of delivery and residents and deliverers complained that we were doing some houses for the second and third time.
2. We ran out of canvassing that we had prepared and printed and ready and now have a data backlog
3. We ran out of bacon, cheese and tomoatoe to go with the oatcakes… yes really.
Given we need to be ready for the rest of the day and tomorrow and the final weekend I can’t talk for long and need to crack on.  The campaign HQ is at The Wheatsheaf Hotel, Sheaf Street, Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 4LW and is open from 10 am – 9 pm daily.  You know where to come… I will leave it there.
Ed
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