Tag Archives: featured

Geeky Alistair Carmichael secures Commons debate on English votes

Just over an hour ago on his Facebook page, Alistair Carmichael wrote:

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Opinion: Regaining lost trust – the five-year campaign trail ahead

 

We all know the gloomy picture: I don’t need to re-hash the scale of our losses, or present you with the same statistics you know so well. Let’s leave it like this: we don’t just have to win back seats and votes.

We have to find a way to win back lost trust, in the face of anger, disappointment and – perhaps worst of all – plain disinterest.

That means finding a way to signal a clear break with the past, but without disowning the party’s achievements in government. It means offering a distinctive alternative to the Tories and Labour, but without chasing after protest votes. And above all, it means working out what we can say to make people listen, when many don’t even want to give us the time of day.

So – how should we go about it?

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Opinion: Should we bomb ISIS positions in Syria?

 

Thursday’s news reported Michael Fallon’s statement to the House of Commons raising the possibility of another Commons vote on bombing Syria. Friday’s zoomed in on the one minute of silence to honour the victims of the shooting in Tunisia.

Quite how bombing ISIS positions in Syria would prevent a gunman doing crazy things near the other end of the Mediterranean is not quite so clear. Announcing this just before a public marking of the deaths sounds like a plea for revenge.

Later on Thursday Radio 4 interviewed two Conservative MPs about the possibility of bombing Syria, one who voted for this and one who voted against in 2013 — overlooking the idea that the proposal now is to bomb the positions of ISIS, who oppose President Assad’s regime.

photo by: The U.S. Army
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Social Liberal Forum holds hustings for Farron and Lamb

The Social Liberal Forum Conference ended yesterday with a 90 minute hustings between Tim Farron and Norman Lamb. Both men turned up dressed in very similar clothes. As I tweeted at the time, if they had been women, we’d never have heard the end of it.

It was a lively event, not least because they did allow questions from the floor that hadn’t been submitted in advance – and they allowed supplementaries. The candidates were both put under more pressure than they had been at any other event I’d seen so far. There is nothing wrong with vanilla ice cream, but if the other hustings were that, then this one was Chilli and Dark Chocolate ice cream – rich with flavour and full of warmth. When I say warmth, I am not referring to the temperature in the room. The air-conditioning was broken, leading Nick Barlow to make one observation:

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Russia, ISIS, globalisation and the EU – Norman and Tim answer foreign affairs questions

LDV recently put some questions on foreign affairs to the two leadership contenders. Here are their responses.

1. Can you summarise in around 100 words what a liberal foreign policy looks like in your view?

Tim Farron:

Liberals are proud and passionate internationalists because we believe in the rights of all people – no matter what they look like, what they believe or where they are – to live in peace, free from poverty, ignorance and conformity. We understand that only by working with other countries through strong international institutions can we make that a reality and build a fairer, greener, freer world.

It is in neither Britain’s interests nor the world’s to close ourselves off, but also that intervention abroad must be rooted in international law, decided through international institutions and clearly justified on humanitarian grounds.

Norman Lamb:

Our Party is proudly internationalist. Our leaders have often been lone voices, Paddy demanding rights for British citizens from Hong Kong, Charles opposing the Iraq War, Nick in taking on Nigel Farage‎

I share these courageous liberal values‎. Liberal values are universal – they do not respect borders.

For me Britain should play a global role and prompt Europe to do more for peace, in tackling poverty and climate change, and in standing up to oppression.

We must also be able to defend those who need our protection, our allies, and ourselves. Enduring adequate funding for our armed forces means debating Trident’s future when our world is far more threatened by terrorists and cyber attacks than by nuclear war, and pursuing reform to make sure our forces are effective and efficient.

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Guardian revelations about Clegg, Cable and the Lib Dem election catastrophe

Well, as the ballot papers get sent out in the leadership election, the Guardian publishes a series of revelations tonight about the last year of the coalition and the aftermath of the European elections.

Apparently Nick Clegg was ready to resign in the wake of the European elections and was talked out of it by, among others, Paddy Ashdown and Tim Farron. Certainly at the time, the feedback that Federal Executive members gave at our post Euro disaster meeting was that there was no appetite in the wider party for a leadership election, but they did want things to change.

Vince Cable, it transpires, did know about the Oakeshott polls.

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Liberal Democrat leadership: So what happens at a Lib Dem hustings meeting?

newcastle bridges by ratherbewalking
I was peeved when I saw that the Scottish leadership hustings were taking place this coming Saturday as I knew I had to be in London for a Federal Executive away day. In a moment of madness, though, I decided that I would make a trip to Newcastle for the hustings last Friday night. I am, after all, the FE liaison person for the North East region so it would be good to meet people there.

After a 90 minute train journey, a delicious Chicken Fajita in a place called Zapatista and a quick look at the Centurion pub next to the station to see the amazing Victorian tile work (honest), I headed to the Station Hotel a full hour before the hustings started. It was already buzzing with people. They were expecting so many to turn up that they had had to arrange a bigger room.

I managed to get one of the last seats in the room even though I’d got there so early. Strictly speaking, I might have spent too long drinking gin in the bar with my friend of two decades, Jo, where I also found out something about Tim Farron’s past that I didn’t know. I am now hunting down the evidence and when I find it, you will be the first to know. It’s not scandal, unless you count crimes against fashion in that category. 

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Lib Dem Leadership: Big name endorsements for each camp as ballots are posted to members

Ballots for the Liberal Democrat leadership hit members’ doorsteps from tomorrow.

With that in mind, both camps have unveiled big name endorsements. From the Lamb campaign, he kind of unveiled it himself in his inimitable style:

It isn’t the biggest surprise in the whole world. During our Spring conference, he was pretty critical of Tim. Paddy becomes the latest party establishment figure to support Norman Lamb.

At the start of the campaign, Tim Farron unveiled a list of over 100 parliamentary candidates who had supported him. On Monday he announced the support of over 200 councillors, council group leaders and elected mayors like Dorothy Thornhill and Dave Hodgson. The Westminster Bubble may have gravitated towards Norman, but Tim has significant grassroots support.

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Opinion: I’m a liberal so why should I feel excluded?

I am a Liberal, not just a Liberal Democrat, but a deep rooted Liberal. I believe in freedom of choice, freedom of expression. I believe in an individual’s right to privacy, to making choices that don’t hurt others. I believe in the self determination of life and of the right of the individual to end that right. I believe that everyone should be allowed to choose to live the way they are born and the way they choose, and for that to change as they grow and understand themselves better.  I believe that an individual should have the right to defend themselves against accusations and the right to a fair trial that starts from the premise of innocent till proven guilty. I believe in the individual and providing an opportunity for everyone to succeed no matter their background and without having to be measured by my understanding of success.

With all of this and more I am without a doubt in my mind a Liberal and I believe that the Liberal Democrats are the right place for me to express those beliefs and to fight for those beliefs. Yet at times, recently, I have felt like an outsider and at times been made to feel like I don’t belong in this party. I’m not a new member either, I’m chair of my Local party, have been on a number of welsh party committees and spoken at a number of our conferences. So why do I feel like I’m not welcome? Because I’m a man of faith.

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Opinion: The Tim I know and why I am backing him

It seems a long time since I sat in a Kendal pub and talked with a young 32 year old parliamentary candidate who had dreams of being our local MP. The Tories had been in power here for just short of 100 years and we thought that was enough. The District Council had a Tory leader and I was there to see if I could be persuaded to stand as a Liberal Democrat for my local Ward, to bring us a little nearer towards taking control.

It’s 13 years since that meeting, Tim’s now our MP and we run the Council. We’re building homes for local families, who previously were being forced out of South Lakeland, and we’re helping create jobs by having a strong local plan. Our targets are 1,000 new affordable homes to rent and 1,000 new jobs. We came into politics to change lives for the better and we’re doing that in South Lakeland.

We used to run many more councils across the UK, all with a good story to tell, and if we are to rebuild our party we need to take these councils back! That’s why I’m writing to ask you to join me in backing Tim Farron as our new party leader.

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Norman Lamb MP writes…We must renew, restructure and simplify the way our party works

I believe a priority for the new Leader of the Liberal Democrats is to renew, restructure and simplify the way our Party works. Some parts of the Party work well – others do not. Good practice should be shared and problem areas tackled.

As Liberal Democrats, we rightly set high standards for ourselves on tolerance, equality, openness, accountability, and diversity.  But our party often doesn’t live up to them.

During this campaign people have been telling me that there wasn’t enough accountability within the party.  People had concerns about our central message and the way we fought the election – but it felt like there was no easy channel to get those messages through.  And where mistakes were made, it wasn’t clear who ultimately was responsible.

Few party members really understand how our party works.  There are so many committees with overlapping responsibility.  The process for election to many offices within the party is arcane.  If no-one knows how our party structures work, there cannot be effective accountability.

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Jim Wallace on Charles Kennedy: We loved you, we miss you, will we ever see your like again

I was expecting last night’s memorial service for Charles Kennedy at Glasgow University to be a fitting tribute to the man, to be dignified and formal. It was all of those things, but I didn’t expect it to have such a strong under-current of emotion and affection. A series of heartfelt tributes were punctuated with beautiful music and poignant poetry and the whole thing was woven together perfectly by the University Chaplain, Rev Stuart MacQuarrie. At each stage, he talked very personally about the aspect of Charles’ life that the next item would reflect.

What was so clear was the enormous love and affection that senior management, students and academics alike had for Charles. The students clearly felt that he had their backs. The Presidents of the Glasgow University Union and the Students’ Representative Council both spoke about his approachability and his work on their behalf.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell sat together. Each did a reading. Willie Rennie read a poem. Jim Wallace gave a superb tribute to Charles, talking about their experiences as Highland MPs and how they all travelled to each others’ constituencies to get a shared understanding of the challenges faced by each area. He also spoke about the example Charles in his manner towards others and how we could all learn from him:

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Video: Watch Farron and Lamb in action at leadership hustings

A few weeks ago, Tim Farron and Norman Lamb took part in a hustings in London for several hundred new members of the party. The video footage has finally been put online. It’s two hours long, so get yourself a cup of tea, put your feet up and enjoy. It’s particularly useful for those of you who can’t get to a hustings meeting. I’m particularly thinking of those in the Highlands who would have to travel to either Aberdeen or Edinburgh. The full list of official hustings events is here and there are other unofficial events where both candidates will be appearing.

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Baroness Kath Pinnock: Childcare Bill must focus on impact on children’s lives

Kath PinnockThe Childcare Bill had its Second Reading in the Lords yesterday. Liberal Democrat peer Kath Pinnock, in her first major speech in her new role as spokesperson for Children, outlined her concerns with it. Her long experience in local government gives her an understanding of how these things work and who has to organise them that many MPs will not have. She also made a very important point. The Conservatives often talk about childcare as being a mechanism to get women back to work without looking at either the practicalities for the women concerned or the impact of the lives of their children. She argued that the Bill must address more than the economic argument.

She also gets that often women work in low paid, unstable jobs either early in the morning or outside school hours and the system needs to be flexible enough to cope with that. She also outlines the cost of childcare in the school holidays, particularly the Summer.

The House of Lords will be particularly important in this Parliament as the Government does not have a majority there. They have a real opportunity to improve poor legislation.

Here’s Kath’s speech in full. 

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Lord Paul Tyler writes…Tackling the Tory Democratic Deficit

The advent of a Conservative government might once have meant no reform at all to our political system.  However, David Cameron is almost accidentally opening the door to a review of party funding regime, the electoral system and the procedures of the House of Commons.  During the Queen’s Speech debates, the Lib Dem team in the Lords has been tackling all three issues.

The Government wants to dry up some of the money available to Labour by placing restrictions on trade union funding.  The principle that trade union members should consent to their subscriptions funding a political party is quite right.  Yet it will be totally unbalanced to introduce that reform without something on the other side of the ledger, namely a cap on the large individual donations which fund the party arms race in spending.

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Congratulations to Liberal Democrats on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List

Many congratulations to the Liberal Democrats honoured into today’s birthday honours list.

We’ve already mentioned Simon Hughes, who is knighted.

Duwayne Brooks (pictured) receives an OBE for public and political service. Duwayne was our very prominent and energetic candidate for Mayor of Lewisham in 2014. He has been a councillor in the London Borough of Lewisham, serving as the lead member for the Liberal Democrats on the Safer Communities Board at the Local Government group, where he has also been Community Cohesion and PREVENT Champion. He has run a charity supporting victims of crime. Duwayne is a great example of a Liberal Democrat rolling their sleeves up to make their community better.

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Arise, Sir Simon!

Simon Hughes is one of a thousand people recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list today, receiving a knighthood. Many congratulations to Simon on an award which is very well deserved after a lifetime of skilful and devoted public service.

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Closed for a funeral

The sun was shining today in Caol, making for some wonderful photos of the gathered throng around St John’s church with Ben Nevis looming majestically in the background. A film director couldn’t have wished for a more photogenic scene.

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Building a diverse party: the Leadership Candidates respond to Daisy Cooper’s questions

Tim Farron MPNormanLambOn 17 May, I set out my challenge to the Leadership candidates in an LDV blog, asking each of them whether and to what extent they would commit to some achievable measures to build a more diverse party. Here are their answers – presented without comment.

1)   Will you promise to take a zero tolerance approach to inappropriate behaviour, insisting that all elected representatives and everyone in your team has a “responsibility to act” on any and all anecdotal and substantive evidence that reaches them?

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What does the party believe?

 

The aftermath of a general election is always a good time to reassess what the party is about – why we are Liberal Democrats, what we mean by Liberalism (or, if you prefer, Liberal Democracy) and what this implies for our politics over the next five years. The party carried out this exercise after the 2005 and 2010 elections, but the catastrophic result of this year’s election, coupled with the huge, and very welcome, influx of new members, make it a vital part of the fightback this time.

So the Federal Policy Committee is proposing a series of activities to set a framework for discussion and debate throughout the party. In agreement with the Federal Conference Committee, we plan to use a number of sessions of the autumn conference to discuss the basic beliefs and values of the party – its philosophy. These will be structured round a consultation paper we’re working on now and which will be available in July, soon after the conclusion of the leadership election.

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Memorial Service for Charles Kennedy

Charles_Kennedy

A memorial service to mark Charles Kennedy’s remarkable contribution to public life will be held in the Bute Hall at the University of Glasgow, G12 8QQ on Thursday 18 June at 7pm.

It is expected that members of the public, politicians from across the spectrum, students old and new, academics and university leaders, friends and colleagues from the world of entertainment and the media will attend this service which is open to the public.

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Opinion: Why we should care about Care

The declining state of residential and nursing care system in this country is, like so many services, something that has been bundled into the welfare cuts introduced by the Coalition – and now that the Conservatives have a majority it is set to worsen.

While the Tories have promised billions of pounds to the NHS an equally pressing (and in many ways the more important) concern is the lack of social services support on which most preventative and after-care services rely.

In the case of the elderly, if a person living alone has a fall within their own home and are taken to hospital they are not allowed to return until a social worker has done an appraisal to make sure they will be safe living alone. Due to the pressure this puts on already over-stretched local social services not all of these assessments can be undertaken promptly and  leads to elderly patients (who do not have anything physically wrong with them) taking up hospital beds in a number of departments – and more critically in A&E departments.

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Charles Kennedy on Desert Island Discs

The BBC’s Desert Island Discs has a wonderful archive of most of their past programmes. Charles Kennedy appeared on the show on Sunday 26th October 2003, in conversation with Sue Lawley. It’s a fascinating dialogue, with some very searching questions from Ms Lawley and excellent answers from Charles.

You can listen to the programme on the BBC’s Radio Player here. And here’s what the BBC said about the programme:

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Charles Kennedy on Question Time

Bless the BBC. They’ve put together this fantastic selection of clips from Charles Kennedy’s incredible 42 – yes 42 – appearances on Question Time. It’s well worth a watch.

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Charles Kennedy on Have I got news for you

Here are a few available clips of Charles Kennedy on Have I got news for you.

Firstly, this was when he presented the show in 2002, courtesy of the Guardian:

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LDVideo: Commons tributes to Charles Kennedy from Cameron, Clegg, Farron, Lamb and others

It is usual, after the conclusion of Prime Minister’s Questions, for the chamber of the House of Commons to quickly, and noisily, empty. Yesterday, however, the House remained full, in sombre, reflective quiet to hear tributes from members to Charles Kennedy. The Speaker, John Bercow, shared his reflections first, followed by David Cameron, Harriet Harman and Nick Clegg.

You can see the full one hour and thirteen minutes in the video below, or via this link, and below the video are the times at which you will find various speeches from a selection of MPs.

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In full: Nick Clegg’s Commons tribute to Charles Kennedy

Nick Clegg gave this tribute to Charles Kennedy in the Commons today:

A few days ago I got in touch with Charles because I was looking for a telephone number of someone we both knew.

His friends will not be surprised to learn that we were texting each other. He was notoriously bad at answering his phone but famously fluent by SMS.

He said he didn’t have the number on him – but he would get back to me this week – because he was spending time with his beloved son, Donald, during his half term break.

While we all remember Charles as a formidable parliamentarian and a much-loved politician, it is worth remembering that he retained his greatest pride and devotion for his family. He lived next door to his parents and latterly his brother in his grandfather’s croft house near Fort William and cared for them through sickness and old age.

Much though he was wedded to politics all his life, I think Charles would have wanted to be remembered as a kind and loving father, brother and son first; and an accomplished politician second.

And my thoughts and condolences are with all his family and friends today.

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Charles Kennedy on the night of the long sgian dubhs

As part of our tributes to Charles, we’re republishing this piece, which he wrote for us just after the May general election. You can see the article in its original form here. Between 7am and 11.30am today this article has been viewed on Liberal Democrat Voice over 6400 times, as a result of being linked by the Independent and on Twitter.

I am very fond of political history. If nothing else, we can all reflect on and perhaps tell our grandchildren that we were there on “The night of long sgian dubhs!”

I would very much like to thank my home team. They have been so energetic, dedicated and selfless to the task. Indeed, with them, I would like to thank the very many over the years who have made possible the previous seven successful general election campaigns locally.

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Charles Kennedy – a life in pictures

This was put together with tears in our eyes.

Scroll down to view. Hover your mouse over the image to see the caption and click on it to see similar pictures on Getty Images.

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Tributes to Charles Kennedy

Pretty much everyone is paying tribute to Charles Kennedy and we’ll bring them to you on here.

Tim Farron was on Breakfast a while ago and sounded like he was fighting off tears as he talked about his good mate. I suspect that the tributes will take up several threads today. Feel free to add your own in the comments.

Nick Clegg

Charles’s untimely death robs Britain of one of the most gifted politicians of his generation.

Charles devoted his life to public service, yet he had an unusual gift for speaking about politics with humour and humility which touched people well beyond the world of politics.

He was a staunch internationalist and passionate believer in Britain’s role in Europe, yet he was a proud Highlander, Scot and British Parliamentarian.

He was one of the most gentle and unflappable politicians I have ever known, yet he was immensely courageous too not least when he spoke for the country against the invasion of Iraq.

He led the Liberal Democrats to our party’s greatest electoral successes, yet he always remained modest about his huge achievements.

Whenever I asked him for advice, he was unfailingly kind and wise.

Most of all, I will never forget the pride and love with which he would talk about his own family, most especially his devotion to his son Donald.

My heart goes out to his sister and brother and to Sarah and Donald at this tragic time.

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