Tag Archives: norman lamb

“It’s time to break the silence surrounding male suicide”

Norman Lamb and his son Archie opened up on ITV News about Archie’s depression and thoughts of suicide. In a very moving interview with Mark Austin they say what it is like to live with mental illness.

Archie explains:

It just takes over your head. You can’t think of anything else. When you get into depression you cannot think of anything else apart from the gloom of how you are thinking. In my toughest moments you don’t feel like there’s any escape. … I’ve had those thoughts ever since I can remember. They’re not very nice thoughts to have, obviously. It’s really, really horrible and you feel embarrassed to talk about them. At the time I wouldn’t have spoken to my parents about it, or my friends because it is embarrassing.

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LibLink: Norman Lamb MP: Government must fund equality for mental health

Writing for PoliticsHome, former Liberal Democrat Health Minister Norman Lamb argued that the Government must put its money where its mouth is when it comes to ensuring equality for mental health:

The Spending Review is a critical moment that will shape the Government’s spending for the duration of the Parliament, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer has an opportunity to make a bold statement on the importance of tackling mental illness. I will not be humoured by the warm words for mental health and my efforts as a minister – it’s about time that this Government put their money where their mouth is.

And it isn’t simply a case of investing to improve mental health services or leaving them the way they are. Mental health trusts are under severe financial strain, and last week’s report by the King’s Fund was the latest in a long line of warnings of the impact of neglecting mental health. There is no doubt that services will slip backwards if we do not take urgent action to provide stable funding for mental health, on a par with physical health.

One in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point during their lifetime, and a far greater number will know somebody who is affected.

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Lamb on junior doctors’ vote in favour of strike action: Government has “woefully mismanaged” negotiation

Today, it was announced that junior doctors had voted in favour of strike action by an overwhelming majority. 98% were in favour of action which will begin on 1st December.

Norman Lamb has condemned the Government’s handling of the situation and told Jeremy Hunt to do everything he could to avert the strike:

It’s a serious concern that we have reached a point where junior doctors are prepared to take strike action. The Government has woefully mismanaged this contract negotiation and Jeremy Hunt must act urgently to resolve the dispute. Everything possible must be done to avert the strike which could damage patient care.

It is legitimate to review working practices to ensure they best meet patients’ needs. However these proposals could mean less protection and a cut in pay for those junior doctors expected to work extremely long hours. That is clearly not in the best interests of patients or of NHS staff.

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LibLink: Claire Tyler on Equality4MentalHealth

Baroness-Claire-Tyler-1We have covered the launch of the Equality for Mental Health Campaign this week and we also linked to Norman Lamb’s account of his son’s struggles with mental health. And now our spokesperson in the Lords on Mental Health, Claire Tyler, has written an article in Politics Home.

She outlines the campaign then writes:

Our job now is to hold this Government’s feet firmly to the fire and make sure the promised money finds its way into the system and, crucially, that money earmarked for mental health services is indeed spent on mental healthcare by Clinical Commissioning Groups. In a recent, and very welcome, spate of debates and questions in the Lords I have pushed for more details about where and when the additional £1.25 billion promised for young people’s mental health during this Parliament is going to be spent.

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LibLink: Norman Lamb MP – My son’s struggle with OCD showed me the unfairness people with mental illness face

Norman Lamb has been much in the news this week, having launched a cross-party campaign for mental health to be treated equally with physical health across the health service. Norman has written a piece for the Guardian drawing on themes that will be familiar to party members from his excellent conference speech earlier this year.

Here’s an excerpt:

When our oldest son, Archie, was 16, he was clearly very unhappy. He eventually told us just how distressed and troubled he had become. We got a referral to our local children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) and a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder followed.

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Norman Lamb launches Equality for Mental Health campaign

Today, Norman Lamb launched a cross-party campaign for improved funding for mental health services. He was joined by Alistair Campbell and Andrew Mitchell MP, as well as a very impressive list of other politicians, professionals, celebrities, mental health charities and community leaders.

Ruby Wax said:

It’s unbelievable that it’s 2015 and there isn’t parity between mental and physical health. They don’t comprehend that mental illness is a physical problem – it just happens to be your brain which is another organ.

The Equality for Mental Health campaign has a lengthy petition which reads:

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What made Norman Lamb threaten to resign?

Norman Lamb tells the Eastern Daily Press that he threatened to resign during his 3 year term as health and social care minister.

The issue was waiting time targets for mental health conditions – and he got his way.

You always had the feeling that Norman knew exactly what he was doing on mental health but never quite knew why. Then in March, the Sunday Mirror revealed that Norman’s son Archie suffers with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This is absolutely not about having all the tins facing the same way or the bed linen straight. It’s a daily nightmare for those people who are enslaved by its rituals which protect them from dark thoughts.

When his son Archie, now 27, was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) 12 years ago, the North Norfolk MP witnessed the problems patients in Norfolk and Suffolk continue to face.

He explained: “As a family we were faced with the problems in Norfolk of long waiting times and told he had to wait six months to start psychological therapies.

“For us that was too long and I gave up on the NHS at that stage. We paid for him to get access to counselling, but I’m acutely aware many people cannot do that. I don’t find that situation tolerable.

“It got to the point where Archie couldn’t walk down the street, he was worried there would be something sharp on the pavement. He found it hard to leave the house. In that situation you are constantly checking things because of the dark thoughts in your mind, which you simply can’t escape from.”

He then talked about the targets he introduced and other things he’d done as health minister:

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World Mental Health Day: Farron and Lamb’s contributions

Both Tim Farron and Norman Lamb have taken note that today is World Mental Health Day. As someone who has had lifelong experience of Anxiety and Depression in varying degrees of intensity,I appreciate the way in which they and Nick Clegg before them fought to get this issue to the forefront. It also greatly aggrieves me that the Scottish government is now light years behind England in mental health provision. We don’t have parity of esteem up here and mental health is as much the Cinderella service as ever it was.

Tim tweeted:

Meanwhile, Norman Lamb wrote for the Huffington Post about his mission when he was care minister to improve mental health and remove the discrimination in the NHS:

The truth is that there is outrageous discrimination at the heart of the NHS. If you have suspected cancer you have a right to see a specialist within two weeks – and rightly so. But if you are a teenager with an eating disorder – a condition which can kill – you have no such right. It’s impossible to justify that.

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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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Recent Comments

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    The primary duty of the health service is the safety of patients, ( some of whom will be gay men). What is the evidence regarding...
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    Stephen : no mention in your weekly review of the headlines north of the border. Front page lead in all the papers is that a...
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    Excellent analysis by Paul. On my one visit to Syria I witnessed corruption and ineptitude. The barrel bombs would be enough to land Assad in...
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