Tag Archives: norman lamb

Liberal Reform announces new Advisory Council and housing focus

Liberal Reform advisory councilAs part of the next stage of our development, Liberal Reform has set up an Advisory Council representing a broad group of campaigners and policy experts to advise the elected Board and help ensure our broad Liberal heritage is represented in the party.

I’m delighted that the following prominent Liberal Democrats have agreed to join the Council, with more to follow: Norman Lamb MP, Jeremy Browne, Baroness Jenny Randerson, David Laws, Miranda Green, Julian Astle and Baroness Kishwer Falkner.

Since Liberal Reform was formed a few years ago it has become clear that there is a real appetite in the party for balanced four-cornered Liberalism — personal, political, social and economic — and that all of these elements are needed for us to rebuild the party as a radical, progressive force.

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John Pugh MP writes…Why the Marris Bill on Assisted Dying failed

I voted against the Marris Bill and found the result and the debate strangely heartening even though it’s an issue its hard to feel certain about. I will not rehearse the arguments presented but endeavour to offer a different explanation than offered by Norman Lamb for why the Marris Bill failed.

Firstly there was an implicit dishonesty in the proposal. No-one is against assisting the dying but if you arguing for assisted suicide you should call it that. Words ,as George Orwell said, matter. Conflating state-facilitated suicide with care of the dying even if the former is appropriate conflates a distinction which is both morally and legally important.

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Norman Lamb: ‘It is ridiculous that we still put people in prison for personal drugs use’

Norman Lamb spoke last night in Newbury at a panel discussion on drugs misuse and our current drug laws.

Norman said that he has thought through the “drugs danger” and whether it should receive a criminal response or a health response. He said he has concluded that there should be a health response. He alluded to John Stuart Mill’s ‘self-regarding acts’, where the state shouldn’t interfere and ‘other-regarding acts’ where some state intervention may be justified. He said that it is wrong to criminalise those suffering mental ill health who resort to drugs because of their condition. It is “ridiculous”, Norman asserted, that we still put people in prison for personal drugs use.

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A warning from the Labour party: The difference between leadership and management

Politicians think government is 90% policy and 10% management, in reality it’s the other way round.’ Civil service aphorism

As iron sharpens iron so one person sharpens  another.’ Proverbs 27:17

A lot is being written about the Labour leadership election and rightly so. That a candidate unable to get the support of more than 20 MPs from the fringe left may be about to become leader of the opposition is astounding. Good reasons have been given for this state of affairs but I fear one more than any other has been glossed over.

Jeremy Corbyn is a far better candidate than Yvette, Andy and Liz.

Objectively he makes the best speeches, is the best communicator, has the clearest message and has the most coherent and (at least within the party) popular ideas for changing the labour party. Now whether the rest of the country will warm to him is another thing but one question that has to be asked is how a parliamentary party with 231 MPs to choose from has picked such mediocre mainstream candidates? Compare it with the recent Liberal Democrat leadership election and Norman Lamb and Tim Farron’s impressive campaigns.

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Farron: Enough is enough. It’s time to help refugees in need in response to Independent’s heartbreaking photo of a little dead Syrian boy

As David Cameron goes on the news and tells us all that we can’t take any refugees, but we are doing all we can to make life ok in the countries they come from, Tim Farron has been telling the Independent that we need to take in more refugees.

Cameron knows perfectly well that Syria is far from ok. How can it be when you have a brutally murderous dictator fighting a brutally murderous death cult for control?

Had we still been in Government, Cameron’s comments would have chilled me to the bone. The truth is we haven’t done enough to offer sanctuary to people in need throughout the whole crisis, not just this Summer. Nick Clegg certainly managed to ensure that we did take some people from Syria who needed specialised support but nowhere near enough.

The Independent has published a heartbreaking photograph of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach. They know it’s going to upset people. This is their explanation for so doing:

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Lamb and Williams warn on care cap delay

As Care Minister, Norman Lamb (and his Liberal Democrat predecessor) were pivotal in ensuring that the cap for care costs was introduced. The Conservatives have now delayed its implementation by 4 long years. Norman described this as an “outrageous betrayal of people at their most weak and most frail. He said:

This an extraordinary and devastating u-turn from the Tories and an outrageous betrayal of people at their most weak and most frail with conditions like dementia.

Crippling care costs need addressing urgently. In coalition we designed a solution that would help and was affordable. Local authorities have spent millions already preparing for the introduction of the cap, yet we now hear the Tories are turning their back on it. This delay is a total waste of public money.

The distress and heartbreak that people feel when a loved one is in care, is being exacerbated by the fear of how to pay for it. We must not allow this to continue.

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The men who bankrolled the Liberal Democrat Leadership campaigns

So, I went looking for the Register of MPs’ Interests earlier today. My intent was not particularly noble. My heart was bleeding to such an extent over Tobias Ellwood’s penury that I just wanted to check if there was anything in there that might help help him out. Bless him, he only had the £3.5k for being in the Territorial Army to help supplement his £90k ministerial salary. His wife is only a corporate lawyer, too. I really don’t know how they manage. And, of course, Tobias is so full of empathy for his fellow poor people that he’s more than happy to walk through a voting lobby and freeze their benefits for four years while he picks up a £7000 pay rise.  Can you hear those violins? But at least he will get more of his money taxed at the lower rate this year, as George Osborne has taken pity on him and made sure that he’s increased the amount he can earn before he pays higher rate tax.

It turns out there’s a brand new Register out, released on Wednesday, so I thought I’d look our lot up. Nothing terribly exciting, except that at least some of the donations to the leadership campaigns have now been registered.

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Tim Farron is the new Liberal Democrat leader

BBC News announcement of Tim as leader

Congratulations, Tim, on being elected leader of a party that doesn’t often want to be led at one of  the most challenging times in its history.

And here’s the official tweet:

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Have you got a first class stamp?

tim farron norman lamb squarish by paul walterYou’d be wise to get one if you haven’t yet voted in the Leadership election. The deadline for ballots to be returned in this Wednesday, so put it in an envelope NOW and get along to the postbox.

No … wait … we have some final LibLinks to share with you to help you make up your mind. Huffington Post published articles by both candidates on Friday.

First, Tim Farron wrote under the headline: The Time for Britain’s ‘New Federalism’.

I love the unitedness of our kingdom. Ours is a rich tapestry that is unrivalled in the world, a union of histories and rituals and oddities, stronger together than our individual parts. But our unity should never come at the cost of these individual streaks. We should never confuse togetherness for conformity; never seek to leak the colours away from our towns and cities and shores, for some bland notion of oneness. Union does not mean uniformity.

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Opinion: Ideas or leaflets?

Something that stays with me from Monday’s East Midlands leadership hustings was Tim Farron saying that under him, our arms would ache with the quantity of leaflets we have delivered, while Norman Lamb pointed out that our pounding at the polls was not through any lack of leaflets, and that he wanted us to do more to stimulate liberal ideas, as the party had done in Jo Grimond’s time.

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Two ways to find out more about the Ethnic Minorities Liberal Democrats Leadership Hustings

cropped EMLD logo
Last week, Ethnic Minorities Liberal Democrats held a very good hustings event in London where Tim Farron and Norman Lamb were put through their paces.

You can listen to the whole thing here on Soundcloud.

You can also read Lester Holloway’s report of for The Voice here.

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Liberal Democrat Leadership: Farron and Lamb answer questions on engineering and science

One of the great things about the leadership contest is that every party organisation has submitted questions to the candidates on their area of interest.

The Association of Liberal Democrat Engineers and Scientists is no exception and you can see all Tim’s and Norman’s answers to a series of questions about science.

You can read them all here, but here’s a flavour of one question:

Both of you signed an EDM in 2007 supporting provision of homeopathic medicines through the NHS but then revised your support after a Commons STC report questioned the evidence in favour of homeopathic treatments. What resources would you call on personally as leader in order to obtain expert advice and how could the parliamentary party make better use of evidence?

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Liberal Democrat Leadership: Young activists’ letters of support for Farron and Lamb – and a bit of controversy too

Liberal Youth at Eastleigh - Some rights reserved by Helen Duffett

Young activists have written open letters in support of the respective candidates in  the Liberal Democrat leadership contest.

Earlier this week, 50 young activists, including Sam Bennett, the chair of IR Cymru, Liberal Youth Executive members and members from Scotland, England and Wales, wrote an open letter of support for Tim, saying:

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New Leader to be announced on social media ahead of members’ rally

tim farron norman lamb square5 by Paul Walter

Historically leaders have been announced very formally, with an audience of party grandees listening to the party president read the results.

Not this time. Next Thursday, about this time, we’ll all be refreshing our Twitter like idiots waiting for news for this time the result will be announced on social media at some point in the “late afternoon.”

Then, at 6pm, there will be a members’ rally at a Central London venue where the new leader will make his first speech. As I write, members are being emailed details of how to register.

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Senior Lib Dems react to Budget

This post will be updated during the day as more people respond.

First of all, what did the leadership candidates make of the budget?

Norman Lamb:

Update: 5:35: He has released a fuller statement:

In government under the Coalition, the Liberal Democrats took difficult decisions to tackle our deficit and get our public finances in order. Our financial discipline over five years means that under Coalition spending plans, national debt is set to start falling next year as a proportion of our economy.

But today the Chancellor has set out a wave of new cuts that are ideologically driven, and unnecessary. The idea that you would slash £12bn from support for the poorest working families and in the same breath cut inheritance tax bills for millionaires is beyond belief, and morally reprehensible. This will impact on some of the most disadvantaged people in our society, affecting millions of children and reinforcing disadvantage.

And we have seen vividly how David Cameron’s Conservative government has failed to grasp the existential threat we face as a society from global climate change. Plans to scrap the tariff exemptions that support our investment in tackling climate change and securing the future of our planet are depressingly short-sighted. If the Conservatives are worried about mass migration and instability in the Middle East and North Africa, they need to get serious about action against climate change.”

Finally, this Budget failed to mention mental health once. In government the Liberal Democrats made equality for mental health one of our top priorities, working to rectify the historic discrimination and under-funding suffered by mental health services in the NHS. The Conservatives have discarded equality for mental health along with tackling climate change, supporting working families, and helping children from disadvantaged backgrounds go to university in an ideological mission to cut the size of the state.

Tim Farron:

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LibLink: Norman Lamb and Julian Huppert: Defeating radicalisation and extremism, a battle we must win

On the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 bombings, Norman Lamb and Julian Huppert looked at what should and should not be done in order to tackle the radicalisation and extremism that leads to such awful attacks. They wrote for Politics Home and outlined first the measures we should not take, because they don’t work and are just wrong in principle:

But the 7/7 bombings also presented an existential threat to the sort of liberal society we want to live in – raising questions that many will have asked again in light of last week’s terrorist attack in Tunisia.

Do we address these threats by giving government the power to snoop indiscriminately on every citizen, and the vast resources needed to sift through all that information?

Do we target “at risk” communities and faith groups with increasing scrutiny, limit their freedom of speech, and intervene aggressively in an attempt to clamp down on potential extremism?

Internationally, is it right to believe can we combat terrorism by bombing some of the most volatile regions in the Middle East, particularly if it may be contrary to international law?

To each of these, as Liberal Democrats our answer must be – emphatically, no.  Firstly, it doesn’t work.  In 2005 the Security Services were already faced with too much information, on too many threats, to see the wood from the trees. Remember that if we tread roughshod over disenfranchised faith communities we will earn ourselves more enemies than friends.  And if we spend the next year bombing Syria all we will have to show for it are craters, innocent casualties, and a rising defence bill.

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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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The leadership candidates in the Sunday papers: Compassion for migrants to ageing hippies and winning back the South West

sundaypapsThere’s quite a bit from Norman Lamb and Tim Farron in the Sunday papers today, all of which shows off our two leadership contenders at the best, challenging orthodoxy with fresh liberal thinking based on principles. The Labour leadership candidates (with the exception of Comrade Corbyn) might like to try that sort of  thing sometimes. It really can be quite invigorating.

The Observer highlights Tim Farron’s call for the UK to take 60,000 migrants as part of an EU arrangement to help these desperate people who have been fleeing horrible circumstances.

“We should support this because we are decent people. Our party should not have a mixed message about this. We should not turn people away,” he said.

The former Lib Dem president has written to David Cameron to say the UK should be proud of its record on taking in refugees, citing the admission of many thousands of Ugandan Asians who were expelled by President Idi Amin in 1972.

The policy had benefited all parties, and proved to be in the country’s economic interest. “First and foremost it is about compassion, but also there is enlightened self-interest,” Farron said.

The article also quotes Norman Lamb, who spoke very movingly on Any Questions last week, urging compassion for children who had been stuck for weeks in a refugee camp. He said:

Lamb said he had invited former party leader Paddy Ashdown and Baroness Williams to take part in a new foreign policy commission to address issues such as migration flows and climate change, that were now among the most serious facing political leaders across the world.

On migration, Lamb said: “The truth is that no one has a clear idea about how to address this challenge. We have to map out a way forward, otherwise there is a risk we as a society take a wrong turn with disastrous consequences.

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ALTER Questions the Leadership Candidates
 on the Land Value Tax and Economic Reform

ALTER is an Associated Organisation within the Liberal Democrats dedicated to advancing the causes of the Land Value Tax and other economic reforms. We chose to use the leadership contest as an opportunity.

We are aware that party policy is not determined by the leader, it is instead determined democratically by members at federal conferences. However, it is our experience that the leader has a large amount of influence in terms of which policies are given priority. So although motions and amendments on the Land Value Tax have been regularly passed at conference with near unanimity, the party has largely been quite shy about the policy, leaving it hidden within the small print of our manifesto rather than properly campaign on it.

For this reason we wished to challenge both leadership candidates as to whether they’d be willing to grasp the nettle and get seriously behind LVT, and also take their view on other areas of economic reform including workplace democracy and monetary policy.
We sent our questions and their responses are below.

Land Value Tax

Whenever the Land Value Tax has been debated at a Liberal Democrat conference, support for it is almost unanimous. While the party has consistently supported introducing the Land Value Tax, it has in recent years been highly shy about it. ALTER had to fight for it to even make the small print in our manifesto.

As leader, would you be willing to grasp the nettle and make it a front and centre policy?

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Farron and Lamb respond to questions from Liberal Democrat Lawyers

The Lib Dem Lawyers’ Association asked our leadership candidates Tim Farron and Norman Lamb a number of questions to probe their positions on key legal issue debates. First off we asked about the rule of law as a liberal principle and as you might expect received positive responses. On all our questions both candidates gave good responses, though sometimes with a different emphasis – you can read the responses in full here. There were a number of themes:-

On Access to Justice both took anti-LASPO (the legislation which cut back the scope of civil legal aid) positions – although both at the time voted for the legislation, Norman said “We were wrong…. this was quite possibly our biggest mistake in the last government” whilst Tim said “I don’t think anyone could now defend the LASPO Act’s reforms and we need to think again.” As someone who lobbied all our MPs incessantly on this issue, I’m pleased to hear that, although much damage to free legal advice sector has already been done. On criminal legal aid, Norman also spoke about “modernising the criminal justice system” whist Tim spoke about “ending the deserts in provision.”

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Fourth emails from Leadership Candidates

The leadership candidates have sent their third official emails. You can read the first three here,  here and here.

First of all, the Returning Officer’s information including what to do if you haven’t received your ballot:

Below are the top lines and links in the fourth of four emails from the candidates that I am distributing on their behalf.  I do this in my role as the Acting Returning Officer for this election.

Also please find below contact details for how you can find out more about each of the candidates.

Ballot have already been dispatched so you should receive your ballot paper by post in the next day or so if you haven’t received it already.   If you have not received your ballot paper by Thursday 2nd July please go to  http://www.libdems.org.uk/replacement-ballot-paper to request a replacement.  With your ballot there will also be a copy of both candidates’ manifestos.

Our ballot counters must receive your complete ballot paper by 2pm on July 15th for it to count.

Many thanks for participating in this important election.


Chief Executive & Acting Returning Officer
Liberal Democrats

PS Replacement ballot papers are issued on a case by case basis at the discretion of the Returning Officer.

Tim Farron’s Email

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Report shows how extensively this country fails vulnerable children

Yesterday the UK’s Children’s Commissioners published a joint report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. It makes very grim reading. If a child is poor, bullied, suffers mental ill health, gets involved with the criminal or immigration systems or suffers the effects of domestic violence, this country simply does not provide them with what they need. I seriously recommend that you read the whole thing because a few headlines from the press doesn’t quite give the flavour of the extent to which we should be ashamed of ourselves.

We can have all the arguments we like about austerity measures and to what extent they were necessary but this report provides an extensive list of the sorts of problems that we liberals should be putting all our energies into solving. Top of my list would be access to justice and reversing the cuts to legal aid that prevent children being properly represented in cases that affect them. Second would be mental health. The range of things that affect young people’s mental health is huge and we need to look at prevention as well as treatment when things do go wrong.

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In full: Norman Lamb’s speech to the IPPR: Liberalism needs to be history’s chosen instrument to build the bridge to the future.

Both leadership candidates have given speeches to the Institute of Public Policy Research recently. We covered Tim Farron’s last week. Here is Norman Lamb’s.

I want to thank the IPPR for inviting me to speak here today.

The IPPR has been a leading progressive think-tank since I have been active in politics. Under the leadership of Nick Pearce it has consistently shown a thoughtful and challenging perspective on the issues of the day, not least in the field of health.

I have been particularly impressed with the emphasis on the quality of care and the commitment to making decisions locally. Was rather helpful to me as a Minister – thank you! We owe you a particular debt of gratitude for the fantastic Think Ahead programme, bringing the brightest young people into mental health social work just as Teach First brought a generation of new graduates into teaching.

I also welcome the fact that you – as a charity – work across the political spectrum.

And I congratulate you in that the Liberal Democrat trustees you have had in recent times – Shirley Williams, Kate Parminter and Alison Suttie. All brilliant liberals and I’m proud to report all supporters of my leadership campaign!

Well I hope after all those nice things that this speech goes better than the one that I heard about recently.

The speaker went on for rather too long, sat down to muted applause, very muted.

He turned to the person next to him and asked how they would have delivered the speech?

To which the reply came “Under an assumed name?”

But let me start by saying something about the election.

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Lib Dem Leadership: Farron and Lamb in diversity hustings

Diversity Hustings GlasgowIn a normal election, hustings can be a great place to spot key differences between candidates and find where they stand on various areas of policy. Internally, however, there’s often a lot of overlap between the candidates’ values and hustings can become a little ‘same old, same old’. For this reason, Scottish Lib Dem Women teamed up with Ethnic Minorities Liberal Democrats, Liberal Youth Scotland, and LGBT+ to organise an event in Scotland that wasn’t about policy but was about one specific area instead: diversity, both within and outwith the party.

This is a topic seen far too often as a fringe issue or a minor problem, so it was great to have a full two-hour discussion that allowed us to touch on a great number of areas under the umbrella of diversity. There was a lot of interest in the event so we streamed it online and also took questions through Google Hangouts, Facebook, and Twitter.

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LibLink: Norman Lamb: It would be easy for our party to shelter in our comfort zone but it would be very, very wrong

Norman Lamb has been writing for the Huffington Post about his vision for the future of the Liberal Democrats.

The next few years can’t just be about making ourselves feel better; we must be far more ambitious than that.

That means broadening our policy and political thinking, daring – once again – to be radical and challenging. It is why I am proposing a renaissance in our approach to political action and debate, reaching out to include the many – particularly young people – who share our values and instincts but are put off by closed party structures and, even worse, by tribalistic political thinking.

Our task now is not just to devise short-term tactics or louder opposition. We will succeed when we have a long-term, coherent and persuasive set of strategic ideas for Britain.

The good news is that Liberalism fits our age. Britain has become less collective, citizens and consumers feel more empowered and many individual rights – through equal marriage for instance – are better recognised.

What are his key issues?

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It’s so easy, when you are live-tweeting an event, to give the wrong impression

Last night, Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats held a hustings for the two leadership candidates, Tim Farron and Norman Lamb. They covered the event  brilliantly on Twitter.

Covering an event like that is really challenging – things move on so quickly and you can easily make a mistake. I know that. I once tweeted that Vince Cable was in favour of low pay when he had very clearly said the opposite.

So it was good to see that they corrected a very similar error that they had made last night. They had tweeted that Tim had said that equality was immoral and stupid. Well done to them for sorting it out quickly.

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Green Liberal Democrats question Tim Farron and Norman Lamb


We have published a number of posts in which the two candidates have answered questions on specific policy areas or for particular audiences posed by our readers:

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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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Farron and Lamb: The ALDC Hustings

Last Saturday Tim Farron and Norman Lamb took part in a hustings at the ALDC Conference in Manchester. Here it is in full:

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Lamb and Farron reply to Lib Dems for Seekers of Sanctuary

The Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary (which you can join here) has put some detailed questions on asylum, immigration and humanitarian matters to the leadership candidates. Here are their answers.

 We appreciate that there are now far less parliamentarians, but will you ensure when organising teams that there is a spokesperson that covers asylum related issues?

Norman’s reply:

Absolutely, yes.  I want our party to rebuild the reputation we won under Paddy for speaking out clearly and consistently on the difficult international issues we face as a country.

We must lead the way in challenging the appalling humanitarian disaster across the Mediterranean, with thousands of desperate North African migrants drowning in their attempts to flee civil war and famine, crossing the sea in tiny boats.

We must also keep up pressure to improve our system for handling asylum applications, ending long delays that can leave people’s lives on hold for many months while they wait for a decision.

We have a fantastic team of peers, and I know they are determined to play their part in speaking out for our party on these important issues.

I would also want to work with members of Lib Dem Seekers of Sanctuary to support the group in speaking out itself on behalf of the many members who feel strongly about Britain’s asylum policies.  And as leader I would take a close personal interest, adding my own voice to make sure our party is heard and – most importantly – in working to achieve real change and make sure Britain fulfils its responsibilities to those threatened by violence and conflict around the world.

Tim’s reply:

Yes, absolutely. The Liberal Democrats must make the case for a compassionate, open United Kingdom when it comes to asylum seekers – if we don’t, no one else will

I have frequently raised these issues in Parliament, including as the party’s Foreign Affairs spokesman in the run-up to the election. For example, I wrote an article for the New Statesman about the horrors of hundreds of people dying in the Mediterranean, and the urgent need for Britain to work with our European partners to save lives rather than turning our backs. You can read it here:

So yes, if I am leader I will make sure that a consistent, compassionate Lib Dem voice is heard loud and clear on these issues.

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