Tag Archives: featured

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.

Posted in Op-eds | 87 Comments

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


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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Charles Kennedy 1959-2015

Charles Kennedy by Catch21productionsThat’s something I always hoped I wouldn’t have to write.

I was woken up a few minutes ago by my phone buzzing.  “I just want to send you my condolences” said the message from an old friend. That made me sit up pretty sharpish. It didn’t take long to find out what she meant. If you’re reading this and feeling slightly disorientated and wondering what on earth is going on, the BBC has the facts:

Mr Kennedy’s family said in a statement: “It is with great sadness, and an enormous sense of shock, that we announce the death of Charles Kennedy.

“We are obviously devastated at the loss. Charles was a fine man, a talented politician, and a loving father to his young son.”

I’m sitting here feeling, like most of you will be, shocked, raw and numb. This is a guy whose warmth, wit and wisdom was never more needed. I really don’t like the thought of a world without him in it.

From that day in 1983 when his election in the next constituency showed me that there was a place for young people in politics to his brave decision to oppose the Iraq War to the heartbreaking grace of his concession speech last month, he has been an example to follow.

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Farron and Lamb comment on motion to expel Israel from FIFA

Both leadership contenders have been commenting on the motion to expel Israel from FIFA.

Norman Lamb said:

Trying to resolve complex international issues through the politics of a football organisation mired in allegations of corruption smacks of the worst of kind of student politics. It will take us no closer to the dismantling of illegal settlements on occupied land, to the creation of a truly independent, democratic and economically viable Palestinian state on the West Bank or to the removal of Hamas terrorists from their grip on Gaza. Only international negotiation, greater European involvement and economic development of the region can achieve a lasting peace.

Tim Farron told the Jewish Chronicle:

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Vince Cable’s zero hours contract ban now in force

The Liberal Democrats may no longer be in government but laws we made are still being implemented. Earlier this week, Vince Cable’s ban on exclusivity contracts in zero hours contracts came into force.

It was pretty ridiculous that a company could both have no obligation to provide work and to require that their employees didn’t work for anyone else.

The CIPD, the organisation for HR professionals, wrote about the change on their blog;

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Opinion: Lib Dems take power in York

York swimming pool successThe last few weeks have been an intense time for all Liberal Democrats not least here in York.

After a gruelling campaign and against the national trend, we made gains in the city’s ‘all up’ local elections increasing our seats from the 8 won in 2011 to 12 this time.

These results were down to the hard work and dedication of our candidates and volunteers, such as Local Party Chair Stephen (now Councillor) Fenton, Print Room Supremo Richard Hill, Citywide Agent Derek Wann, along with countless others.

It was also down to a local party which (as I wrote on this website back in June 2013) was forced into a “period of serious self-reflection” following disappointing losses in the 2011 local elections.

What eventually sprung from this was a very localised campaign. Street-based issues filled our Focus, glossy leaflets and target letters with ‘Stronger Economy, Fairer Society’ perhaps getting less of a mention.

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In full: Nick Clegg responds to the Queen’s Speech

The Liberal Democrats worked hard to ensure that the coalition government’s agenda had a clear thread of liberalism running through it – from the priority we gave to mental health and the green agenda, to creating the pupil premium and protecting our civil liberties.

So it is dispiriting – if pretty unsurprising – to see how quickly, instead of building on those achievements, the new Conservative Government is turning its back on that liberal stance.

The human rights we hold dear, our right to privacy in an online age, our future as an open-minded, outward-looking country, are all hanging in the balance again because of the measures announced today.

It is clear, too, that the previous Government’s commitment to fairness is also weakened.

There was little in today’s speech to help the poorest and the most vulnerable; not enough to improve social care; and no plan to build the Garden cities and 300,000 new homes a year our young people need for the future.

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Rennie and Mark Williams and Kirsty Williams react to “unbridled Conservatism” of Queen’s Speech

Scottish and Welsh Liberal Democrat leaders Willie Rennie and Kirsty Williams have reacted to this morning’s Queen’s Speech.

Willie Rennie was unimpressed by the government’s legislative programme. He accused the Conservatives of threatening the economy and punishing the poor.

The UK Government’s programme is unbridled conservatism in action.

The Conservative agenda will undermine our rights, threaten our recovery and punish the poor and vulnerable.

Today’s Queen’s speech demonstrates the need for a liberal voice at the heart of British politics.

The Tories are continuing their campaign of fear with plans for a Snooper’s Charter, threats to our human rights and an attack on benefits.

Policies such as increasing the tax threshold and a focus on childcare and improving mental health services simply wouldn’t be on the agenda without the Liberal Democrats.

It shows why you need the Liberal Democrats to stand up for civil liberties. We will continue to fight for a stronger economy and a fairer society, which creates opportunity for all.

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The Liberal Democrat Voice Queen’s Speech

Liberal Democrats are unlikely to find anything that makes them happy in today’s Queen’s Speech. In fact, many of the measures to be announced will make us cringe with horror.

We thought we’d ask people to contribute their ideas for a Bill they would introduce with a sentence to explain why if they wanted. Do add your own in the comments.

The Leadership candidates

Tim Farron:

I would like a new Great Reform Act – voting reform for  the House of Commons, the House of Lords and local government.

Norman Lamb:

Assisted Dying Bill

Once and for all we should confront the messy compromise that every year denies terminally ill patients, suffering great pain, the right to choose the way they end their life – in dignity and with the support of their loved ones – without travelling to another country.

Suzanne Fletcher

My Government will treat those seeking sanctuary in our country as asylum seekers with dignity, respect and justice.

As a start to this we will this year :

put an end to the disgraceful waste of lives and waste of money in indefinitely detaining people for immigration purposes.

Will further allow those seeking sanctuary in the UK who have been here for more than 6 months to work, allowing them to retain their dignity as well as save the taxpayer money.

Will replace the degrading Azure Card with cash payments giving asylum seekers the freedom to buy essentials for living at the cheapest price.

Duncan Stott

Garden Cities and Urban Extensions Bill – To tackle the housing crisis, we to identify the best sites for a major new housebuilding programme and provide new mechanisms to release this land for sustainable, affordable development.

Andy Myles

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMike Biden 3rd Aug - 3:54pm
    TCO I wholeheartedly agree. It is a warm and generous piece about a very decent man who achieved a great deal more than any other...
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    Oh, I have enjoyed your replies!
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    George, 5% is quite a lot these days!
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    Mike Biden - that simply won't do. The commitment to ever closer union is and always have been in the first line of the Treaty...
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    WG. As for flags and anthems, what about the Commonwealth which has a flag and an "Affirmation"? see http://goo.gl/3FGB4o And NATO and the UN all...