Why I am going to Witney and I want you to go too

It’s not just that I am having withdrawal symptoms from a wonderful four days at Conference that makes me want to rush down to Witney to spend time with more Liberal Democrats.

That may be part of it, but why would I want to risk the guilt-inducing wrath of my dog by leaving her again so soon?

On Monday, I’m travelling 350 miles for a whirlwind 24 hours of leaflet delivery or whatever else needs doing  to help the wonderful Liz Leffman’s campaign. I’m doing so for several reasons;

A good result for the Liberal Democrats is important for party and country

A major theme of Conference is that we’re not going to stand by and see our country ruined while there’s something we can do about it. We are going to stand up and make the case for the closest possible relationship with the EU and for our country to be that generous-hearted, internationalist, collaborative force for good in the world.

This by-election is our chance to show that we are making progress as a party, that we can get public opinion on our side.

The party is taking this very seriously. They are even playing the cute dog card very early on. Seriously, a picture of a local activists’ dog was used to lure us there yesterday.

We are going to be fighting a good campaign and the sooner we do stuff the better.

For Liz

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Lord Malcolm Bruce writes… Liberalism revitalised

I want to respond to the challenges issued by Paddy and Vince during our conference.

Paddy said the party was “intellectually dead.” Vince said our position on another referendum was disrespectful to the electorate.

Let me take on Vince first. We and our predecessors supported UK membership of the European Community from its inception. The SDP was created largely because of Labour’s equivocation over British membership. We campaigned unstintingly for Remain and we remain convinced that the UK ‘s interests are best served by being a key member of the European Union.

Yes, by a narrow margin the country voted Leave but we have not changed our view and, given that there is no clear idea of what kind of relationship people want – in or out of the single market – let alone the hundreds of cooperative agreements built up over the last 43 years.

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ALDC Campaigner Awards 2016 winners

w-2016-overall-winner-plus-best-literature-and-fightback-runner-up-liverpool-300x225The winners of the ALDC Campaigner Awards 2016, sponsored by Midshires, were presented at the ALDC AGM held in Brighton at Federal conference by Willie Rennie MSP, celebrating the best campaigning teams from across the Country.

This year’s winners and runners-up are:

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Grammar schools and Brexit

In England, in the EU Referendum, 53.4% of voters chose Leave. However, in districts with grammar schools, that figure was 56.1%. Imagine, for a moment, that no one at all voted in those areas. It might seem a bit hard on each side to group voters in Kingston and Cheltenham, with some of the highest Remain votes in the country, with those in Lincolnshire and south-east Essex, who recorded the very lowest. Nevertheless, the consequence of their removal would reduce the margin of the Leave victory to just 2%, 51% – 49%.

Obviously, therefore, this is not the full explanation of Brexit, but its implications deserve consideration. The vast majority of voters who had grown up in these districts will not have been to grammar schools. What has been the enduring impact of this division at an early age on their outlooks? Would it be surprising if it made them resentful of the superior life chances that others gained from success in a particular set of tests at the age of 11?

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No, Newsnight, it’s not ok to talk about us when we aren’t there to defend ourselves

We had some absolutely cracking press coverage this Conference.

In her speech yesterday, Sal Brinton read out a newspaper editorial which said lots of nice things about us:

This Sunday, one paper’s editorial headline was ‘Lib Dems’ revival is a blow to sorry Labour’,

and it then went on to say:

‘fair play to the Lib Dems.

under Leader Tim Farron the party has risen from the ashes of electoral oblivion to reposition itself as the only effective opposition…

The Lib Dems have not only capitalised on the fallout from the EU Referendum but also the disintegration of the Labour Party…

They are speaking up for ordinary voters on issues that really matter, such as the NHS and education.’

The Observer on Polly Toynbee’s day off?

The Independent?

No, this, my friends, is the Sunday Express!

I’m delighted that Tim is at last getting the recognition that he deserves, and I suspect that phrase ‘the only effective opposition’ might appear in a few leaflets and tabloids over the next few months.

Tim got loads of coverage, from Buzzfeed to the Guardian to the Standard in the run-up to Conference, and there has been positive coverage of his speech yesterday, too. George Eaton in the New Statesman says:

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Unwelcome behaviour at Conference

As a long time conference attendee, I adore the opportunity to meet Lib Dems, old and new, and engage and enthuse with like-minded people. But sometimes behaviour boundaries are pushed and we need to make a note of them to remind ourselves to challenge insidious sexist behaviour.

On the morning of Saturday 17th September, Lib Dems received a message from the Conference office entitled ‘Conference Guidelines’ which sets out details of what is unwanted behaviour.

Contemplating this, I thought it might be interesting to relate some unwelcome behaviour I encountered. I want to do this anonymously, but am aware others have noticed similar issues and feel it’s important we stand up to and challenge incidents like this when they occur.

On one day I attended the motion on Social Security. Now, it was a strong debate, with lots of opposing views. But when making those views, it should be noted it’s unacceptable to refer to a female speaker as “darlin’”, no matter how well you might know that individual. The language is sexist and patronising. While I believe the comment was made in an attempt at friendliness, it is still derrogatory and quite simply, should be wiped out. It’s on a par to David Cameron’s “calm down dear” episode at PMQs, and where we wouldn’t take the insult from the former Prime Minister, neither should we take it from friends or acquaintances. 

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Labour blocks Trident debate to avoid embarrassment for Corbyn

As if there wasn’t going to be enough fun and games at Labour’s Conference next week, it now appears that they will not get the chance to debate the thorny issue of Trident, which will no doubt upset a lot of people.

Motions on both sides of the argument, including one submitted by a Scottish Labour constituency called on conference to note that cancelling Trident would “result in thousands of redundancies” at “world-class engineering centres” in Barrow, Derby, Faslane and Rosyth.”

A motion from the area which most benefits from the jobs created by the submarine base at Faslane in favour of renewal was rejected.

From the Mirror:

The move follows fears that Mr Corbyn, a former vice chair of CND and a long-standing opponent of Trident , would have lost if the issue was pushed to a vote.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDavid Evans 26th Sep - 1:00am
    Jack, I simply believe that the purpose of education is to enable each and every individual to achieve their full potential, not just to provide...
  • User AvatarDavid Pocock 26th Sep - 12:53am
    I was there! My first time doing anything like this too. Was a good experience I am happy to report thanks to the veterans who...
  • User AvatarPeter Watson 26th Sep - 12:16am
    @Mick Taylor "And Dave Orbison, insulter par excellence complains about that sort of behaviour!" I don't recall Dave Orbison insulting people on LDV (though he...
  • User AvatarDave Orbison 25th Sep - 11:17pm
    @Mick Taylor - what specific economic policy that has actually been articulated by Corbyn is lunatic? What specific civil rights issue has Corbyn articulated that...
  • User AvatarSimon Parker 25th Sep - 11:13pm
    Good to see Charlie hard at work Will try to get my hound put on the campaign trail. Charlie is definitely not Camrron's poodle!
  • User AvatarMick Taylor 25th Sep - 10:34pm
    And Dave Orbison, insulter par excellence complains about that sort of behaviour! Let me say again, Lib Dems cannot easily work with the Labour Party...