What you need to know about GDPR

With one month to go until the introduction of GDPR the focus for many is rightly the local elections. The team at LDHQ is still working hard and we recognize the importance of breaking down the legislation into smaller chunks. So we have developed a short, three-step process for handling data:

Download, Use, Delete.

We have been mentioning our new mantra recently in training and comms, but it would probably help if we took some time to explain in a bit more detail.

In short, we are trying to describe the ideal journey of data through your computer or personal files. To clarify, below we are talking about Lib Dem data exported from systems on the soon to be released Approved Supplier list.

Download

All information we use should be coming from a limited number of sources. For example: Salesforce for members, Connect for canvassing and Nationbuilder, Prater Raines or other approved platforms for online email sign-ups.

All of the above provide safe storage for data at rest, which from a data security standpoint is important.

Before downloading anything make sure that you have identified opt-outs and unsubscribes. It may sound a bit simplistic but it’s hugely important to do so.

Use

When using information, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Firstly, where did it come from and why was it collected. Data should only be used in accordance with the reason specified when first collected. We must respect where we have only gained consent to contact a person about a named campaign.

Secondly, think about who will be seeing the raw data, and whether you absolutely need to share it. For example, a printer obviously needs to see a list of names and addresses to produce a targeted mailing. However, the supporter delivering the same mailing not so much.

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We need to ban upskirting

Lib Dem members yesterday would have received an email from our Bath MP Wera Hobhouse asking for support in her campaign to get upskirting banned.

If you want to sign the petition, the link is here.

What is upskirting? The OED defines it as “the action or practice of surreptitiously taking photos or videos at an angle so as to see up a woman’s skirt or dress.”

It is sickening and appalling that people even think they have the right to do this!

Wera is calling for upskirting to be made a criminal …

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New report out shows more paediatric consultants needed

As a mother of three, we have been to A & E more times than I would have liked and have had help from paediatricians and other consultants. The NHS is wonderful!

But sorely understaffed.

A report out today by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, “Facing the Future Audit 2017”, has recommended drastic increases in staff to meet need. Up to 752 more paediatric consultants are required across the UK: 520-554 in England; 84-110 in Scotland; 84–91 in Wales; and 30-31 in Northern Ireland.

There are clearly not enough paediatric consultants …

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Will Brexit Affect the NHS

We all remember Boris’s epitaph on the side of the Out-campaign bus saying “Let’s fund our NHS instead”. This related to the £350 million a week that we supposedly pay to the Europe Union (the net figure was of course significantly less). The question is, is the NHS going to be worse off because of Brexit?

Currently, we don’t know how the negotiations are going to end. The government talks about leaving without a deal suggests that they can start trading with the EU on World Trade Organisation tariffs or the complicated agreement implied by May’s Florence speech. With no overall …

Posted in News | 9 Comments

How to get Lib Dem Voice by email

Why not join hundreds of other Lib Dem Voice readers in getting our latest headlines by email?

Some people like regularly visiting a site to see if there’s new stories of interest. But if you prefer email, you can instead sign up to get a daily early morning email with a summary of the previous day’s posts from Lib Dem Voice, complete with a note of how many comments each post has got and convenient links to click on if any take your fancy and you want to take a read.

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Mick Clark selected for Yeovil

Another former Lib Dem seat has selected a candidate for the next General Election. Getting a candidate in place early on to lead campaigning boosts our chances.

Members in Yeovil, formerly held by Paddy Ashdown and David Laws between 1983 and 2015, have selected Mick Clark to fight the seat. Like Paddy, he has a record in the forces:

From the Chard and Ilminster Times:

Born and bred in Yeovil, Mick served in the Royal Air Force and NHS.

He said: “I cannot wait to get started.

“I’m looking forward to meeting local residents across the constituency in the coming weeks and months to

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LibLink: Ed Davey: New Data Law could lead to more Windrush scandals

There’s a nasty little clause in the Data Protection Bill soon to be finalised by Parliament which means that the Home Office is under no obligation to tell people why they’ve made their decisions.

The Home Office has a fairly consistent record of showing that it needs much more accountability rather than less.

In an article for Politics Home, Ed Davey sets out the issues:

This “immigration exemption” clause would allow the Home Office to cover up its mistakes – indeed, not even find out when it had made a mistake. Because the applicant to the Home Office – or more likely their lawyer – wouldn’t be able to get access to their file, the very information used to make a decision on their future.

So, if the Home Office acts incorrectly, as they have done with Windrush documents, an individual wouldn’t be able to challenge the decision – because they won’t be allowed to know the reasons why they are being thrown out of the country. By using the new law to block the “Subject Access Requests” lawyers use to check the Home Office has got the right information on their client – and even the right person – the Home Office will become party to huge injustices. This could lead to hundreds of deportations of people who have the right to be here – people who are British citizens.

MPs who work week in, week out, know the sheer scale of the mistakes the Home Office make, every day. Latest figures from the Law Society revealed how the Home Office lose 50% of cases on appeal. And specialist lawyers have provided MPs with plenty of examples of gross Home Office errors, where the Home Office gets the wrong identity, reads their own files incorrectly and doesn’t even acknowledge the decisions it previously made about an individual.

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Layla Moran: Public Accounts Committee report shows Government in Brexit chaos

In a report published today, the influential Commons Public Accounts Committee slams the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s approach to Brexit. The Chair, Meg Hillier, had this to say.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy appears to be operating in a parallel universe where urgency is an abstract concept with no bearing on the Brexit process.

The Department is responsible for around a fifth of the work streams the Government must complete as the UK leaves the EU. It is an extremely important, challenging and time-sensitive workload.

Yet the Department told us it had not re-prioritised its overall programme of work, had not begun procurement for around a dozen essential digital systems and could not provide vital information about its workforce.

We have grave concerns about this apparent complacency, compounded by the lack of transparency on the Department’s progress with what in some cases will be critical projects.

Our Layla Moran is a member of the Committee, said that all that BEIS had done was add to the sense of chaos surrounding Brexit:

A functioning business and energy department is crucial to the future success of our economy, the fact that there is no confidence about its preparedness for Brexit is deeply concerning.

The Liberal Democrats have asked BEIS on several occasions how it will spend allocated funds on Brexit but so far we have not been given any substantive information.

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What the Lib Dems offer Manchester

Manchester Liberal Democrats have launched their local elections manifesto. Details of their policies on subjects like homelessness,housiing,  refugees and schools follow.

The Liberal Democrats hope to make gains on the Labour-suffocated Council. Labour currently has 95/96 seats. The 96th is held by our own indefatigable John Leech, who was MP for Manchester Withington until 2015. There are all-up elections next Thursday.

John said of the manifesto:

Our campaign is about everyone and everything that makes Manchester the great city it is today; a strong local community, a celebration of diversity and non-conformity.

Liberal Democrats care passionately about our local communities because it’s where we live and it’s what we believe in. We will always put local people first and it’s about time our council did too.

On the 3rd May, we have a chance to elect a council that leads from the front; that cities around the world look up to; where we celebrate diversity, house the homeless, welcome the desperate and build a future for our children. But only a vote for the Liberal Democrats can break this one-party state and build that vision.

Key Pledges:
ON REFUGEES AND OUR MORAL DUTY:

  • Immediately develop plans to house 50 at-risk families from refugee camps. In the long-term, we will also investigate how best to house as many orphaned child refugees as possible.

ON EU CITIZENS:

  • Demand the Brexit secretary guarantee the rights of EU citizens and maintain our stance on a referendum on the Brexit deal.

ON TRANSPORT AND ROADS:

  • Use some of the estimated £50million Manchester Airport dividend to establish a SmartTransport Development Fund dedicated to offsetting heavy carbon transport.
  • Introduce for a young commuter’s price cap, so they never pay more than half the hourly living wage rate to commute to work.
  • Crackdown on lazy road re-surfacing.

ON HOUSING:

  • Demand all developments over 15 dwellings meet the 20% affordable quota, and where not economically viable, force the developer to contribute financially to the benefit of the local community.
  • Guarantee safe, affordable housing for young people transitioning from foster care to adulthood.

ON HOMELESSNESS:

  • Launch an investigation into all emergency housing applications to make sure that no one slips through the net.
  • Use council-owned premises to house every rough sleeper in Manchester before approving any further city centre developments.
  • Provide an administration address to every homeless person so that they can take the first step in getting their life back on track – this means they can begin applying for jobs.
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Update on the party’s immigration policy consultation

Regular readers of this site will probably be aware that the Party has been consulting members about the development of new policy on immigration, refugees and identity.

As the chair of the working group, I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to respond to the consultation: we received around 100,000 words in written submissions and over 900 members responded to our online survey. The working group has been working through your responses and last Wednesday we met to discuss what you have told us and how it will inform the development of our policy paper on immigration.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | 20 Comments

OFSTED should not ostracise children who choose to practise faith

Amanda Spielman the Head of Ofsted is right to promote social cohesion, but wrong to achieve that by ostracizing children who choose to wear a headscarf.  Demonising Islamic teachings about modest dress is not becoming of a regulator whose task is to broaden minds, not close them.

Ofsted is properly troubled that contrary to Islam and the best interests of children, some very young girls could be being forced to wear a hijab or fast during Ramadhan. The right way to deal with that is to challenge false notions about religion. The wrong way is to penalise innocent children’s right to free choice.

Islam does not require very young or primary aged girls to wear headscarves. If women choose Islam as their faith, the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad said that such coverings are only required in teenage years when full physical maturity is reached. Head scarves are not unique to Islam either; they are also found among orthodox Christians and Jews.

If a young Muslim girl freely chooses to wear a headscarf because she is inspired by her mother as a positive role model, she should be allowed that choice.  When a Muslim girl speaks with other children about her headscarf and the inspiration she gets from her mother, children develop social skills, empathy, vocabulary, cognitive skills and learn about decision making. These are core to educational development; skills that Ofsted should encourage.

Inappropriate questioning of young children about their religious beliefs by Ofsted Inspectors can be a source of confusion, stress and future mental health issues.  The Mental Health Foundation reports that having a sense of belonging in their family, school and community keeps young people mentally well.  It also reports that experiencing discrimination because of race or religion is a specific mental health risk factor.  Ofsted do engage with children on a one to one basis. When they do, it cannot be right for Ofsted Inspectors to challenge very young girls about why they wear a headscarf.  Questions directed at secondary school girls should be sensitive and should not make them feel isolated or discriminated against. Nothing should serve to make any Muslim child, or a child of any other belief or ethnicity, feel as though there is something wrong with their religion or culture.

Posted in Op-eds | 12 Comments

Manchester Together – Liberal Democrats launch powerful campaign video

Manchester Liberal Democrats produced a campaign video for their Council election campaign. In 2016, former Lib Dem MP John Leech was elected as the only opposition councillor to Labour. That’s right, it was just him and 95 Labour councillors. He punched well above his weight, though, frequently exasperating the Council leadership by subjecting them to some serious scrutiny.

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How an opposition Councillor can make a difference: My School Uniform Grant Story

Last May I was delighted to be elected to represent Dunfermline South in Fife Council after many years hard work. Of course, after the campaign, the important work of representing my constituents began, and I joined an excellent team of councillors holding the SNP/Labour coalition to account. With great enthusiasm, I was given the role of our education spokesperson in the Council.

A few months into the job, I noticed something in a national news report that concerned me. The Scottish Government had a recommended School Uniform Grant for all children from the least well off families, but that different …

Posted in Campaign Corner | Tagged and | 5 Comments

Publication of Report on Sexual Impropriety Complaints Handling – an update from Special Investigation Counsel, Isabelle Parasram

In November 2017, I was appointed by the Federal Board of the Liberal Democrats as Special Investigation Counsel to conduct an investigation and produce a Report on the handling of sexual impropriety complaints within the Party.

I am pleased that, after a period of being embargoed, the report has now been published and you can access it here.

My appointment was one of a number of steps taken by the Federal Board in response to concerns expressed by members of the party towards the end of last year. These concerns related to allegations of sexual impropriety that were, at that time, …

Posted in News and Party policy and internal matters | Tagged and | 2 Comments

LibLink: Derek Laud on the Windrush debacle

The investigative work of Amelia Gentleman in the Guardian has uncovered the implications of Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’, and let us not kid ourselves with talk of Amber Rudd’s resignation, responsibility for this falls squarely upon the head of our Prime Minister.

Former Conservative speechwriter, and now a member of the Liberal Democrats, Derek Laud wrote for the Guardian over the weekend. In his powerful piece, he highlights that the impact of Government policy on Windrush pensioners is not an isolated error;

It cannot be incidental that some of the most important issues facing us today are about matters of freedom,

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So, what does being an English Liberal mean?

One of the things about being an Englishman by birth, but not by parentage, is that your perspective of what it means to be English can be slightly different from that of those whose English heritage can be traced back through generations.

For me, at least, with an Indian father and a Scots mother, there is a desire to fit in to some extent, and that manifests itself in a generalised belief that people are broadly reasonable, given the opportunity to be so, and that the eccentricities of life here – queuing, cricket, …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 21 Comments

Welcome to my day: 23 April 2018 – there’s never a dragon around when you want one…

It’s St George’s Day today, the anniversary of Queen Anne being crowned at Westminster Abbey (1702), and of the chartering of Connecticut as an English colony in 1662. And, coincidentally, on this day in 1516, Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria endorsed “The German Beer Purity Law”, which I think we could all support.

I’ve been spending the weekend celebrating a significant anniversary, and clearly you’ve all been outside enjoying the fine weather (except our Scottish colleagues, who’ve been at their Conference), or campaigning for elections, as we’ve got precious little in the kitty …

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The highlights of Scottish Conference

Scottish members left Conference at Aviemore in upbeat mood, motivated to get out there and make sure that we secure a vote on the final Brexit deal.

We had some lovely weather in a beautiful location and an agenda full of interesting fringe meetings, a bit of controversy in the Conference hall and some highly informative training. We were also really thrilled to welcome a fair few members of federal party staff who met with key seats and provided training in campaigning, the new data protection legislation and fund-raising.

Staffing and office bearer changes meant that this Conference was put together on a much shorter timescale than usual. Huge thanks are due to new party manager Jenny Wilson for her excellent work in organising everything and to Conference Committee Chair Paul McGarry. Conference Committee members Callum Leslie, Rebecca Bell, Vita Zapooroczenko and Ross Stalker never seemed to stop working. Laura Thomas seemed to spend her entire conference helping out at the registration desk as did Oliver Mountjoy – and the Young Liberals also stepped in first thing on Sunday morning when there was a gap in cover.

You can watch BBC Scotland’s Conference programme here. Towards the end, three of the brightest and most talented young people in our party are interviewed – former youth president and campaigning genius Jenny Marr, environment spokesperson Mariam Mahmood and Cllr Ben Lawrie who won a Council seat last year in an area where we’ve never had a Councillor and who has made an excellent short film about his experience of Depression and Anxiety.

Here are some of the key decisions.

Syria

Am emergency motion talked about the need for parliamentary approval of military action. Christine Jardine explains why this is so important, to ensure that constituents’ views are repreaetned and that we have consulted as widely as possible as we attempt to do the right thing:

Those are just some of the decisions taken this weekend. I’ll write more about the fringe later.

Protecting puppies and kittens

Some may have mocked a little

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Scottish Liberal Democrats back abortion clinic exclusion zones and decriminalisation

When I first saw that a motion on decriminalising abortion had been put on the agenda for Scottish Conference, I was delighted, but unsure that it would pass. We’ve tended to shy away from what many people feel are issues of conscience, although the Scottish Party has form for leading the way on equal marriage before the 2010 election. The issue of abortion is an emotive one, though and was bound to provoke more controversy.

The motion was written and presented by Jess Insall, the 15 year old activist who persuaded us to adopt policy calling for gender neutral school uniforms 

Jess’s motion called for the Scottish Government to do five things

  • remove all criminal sanctions for receiving an abortion.
  • remove all criminal sanctions for appropriately registered and regulated medical professionals providing a safe abortion.
  • provide funding so that users of reproductive healthcare services are provided with enough specialist advice to make fully informed decisions.
  • enforce safe zones around abortion service providers so that those visiting can travel to them free of any harassment or pressure on their decision, and to make intimidation or harassment of abortion service users outside clinics, or on common transport routes to these services, illegal.
  • provide funding to enable abortion clinics to provide their services free of charge to service users regardless of country of nationality or residency.

It’s worth reading her entire proposing speech which was sensitive, authoritative and persuasive:

Conference, our world is changing. The 21st century has brought great new ideas, innovations, and inspirations. But now, more than ever, we know of the threats that new technology can create. The anonymous trolls of Twitter and Facebook spout misogyny, racism, and transphobia from every orifice. The corrupt practices of Cambridge Analytica are a real threat to our democracy, and the online purchase of illegal abortion pills is on a very worrying rise.

In 2013, just 5 doses of illegal abortifacients were seized being delivered to UK addresses, but this sharply increased to 180 doses in 2014. The rise continued, with 270 doses seized in 2015, and in 2016, the government seized 375 doses of unregulated, unreliable, illegal abortion medication. Despite the fact that self-induced abortion is punishable by life imprisonment, many women are driven to take this dangerous decision because current abortion legislation is outdated and ineffective. These women are not criminals worthy of life sentences, they are vulnerable individuals who have been let down by the system. This is only one of the many reasons we need to make abortion fair, legal, and free from judgement. We need to establish a real freedom of choice.

Leaving abortion in the criminal justice system is not fair. Unnecessary appointments are needed just to jump through legal hoops such as the requirement that two doctors authorise an abortion. These are mere inconveniences for women on higher incomes who have the time, money, and resources to attend them, and for women who have supportive partners or families. But for women on low incomes who can’t afford to miss work, can’t afford care costs for existing children or ill relatives, and can’t afford travel to and from clinics, it can realistically seem easier to seek dangerous illegal alternatives. This is also true for women trying to hide an abortion from unsupportive family, or victims of domestic violence who may well be carrying an unwanted pregnancy as a result of rape.

These vulnerable groups of women are even harder hit by the outrageous postcode lottery that Scottish abortion provision currently is. Although the legal late term limit on abortion is 24 weeks, providers in Scotland will normally only authorise abortion before 18-20 weeks, and some providers won’t authorise abortions as early as 16 weeks. This means approximately 200 Scottish women every single year have to travel to England just to access a legal abortion.

Scotland, that is unacceptable.

Our wonderful NHS is already stretched to breaking point, and the unnecessary criminalisation of abortion is wasting time, money, and resources that could be used to save lives. Doctors are apprehensive to specialise in abortion out of fear of prosecution simply for doing their job. Contrary to some beliefs,decriminalisation does not mean deregulation. Abortions will still be regulated to the exceptionally high standards that other medical procedures are, and we can trust our incredible NHS staff to maintain these standards.

Posted in Op-eds | 8 Comments

Don’t be fooled by Labour’s posturing on #peoplesvote

In the last few days we’ve had some tantalising hints that Labour may be willing to support a public vote on the Brexit deal. John McDonnell said on Friday that Labour weren’t ruling it out. Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said on Marr that if there were sufficient public demand, Labour might think again.

So should we all breathe a sigh of relief and think that this might happen any time soon?

Not a chance.

For a start, Emily Thornberry’s threshold to determine what might be a suitable level of public demand to get them to change their minds was 80-90%. You don’t get 80-90% of people backing anything. Even the Monarchy at the height of the much loved Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations  was only getting 75% support.

So let’s not hold our breath waiting for the Labour leadership to back a vote on the deal. But why are they doing this? It’s all part of their deliberate tactic of making their policy as ambiguous as possible. This is exactly what the Leave campaign did, too. Nobody understood what Brexit would mean because they tried to make sure that the details were as non-existent as possible.

The reason they’re drip-feeding it all now is because there are some important local elections coming up. A lot of them are in Remain voting metropolitan areas in places like London and Manchester. They must be getting some indication that their stance on Brexit is costing them so they are trying to make it sound like they might just go for the vote on the deal.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 18 Comments

WATCH: Vince Cable’s speech to Scottish Conference

Here is Vince Cable’s speech to Scottish Conference yesterday. He challenged the SNP to back a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal, saying that their silence on the issue was embarrassing. He said he had been working with them perfectly well on issues like the customs union and he single market and called on them to put the national interest above their party interest.

He also made it clear that the Scottish Conservatives, without whom Theresa May would not be able to form a Government, are wholly signed up to the hard right Tory-UKIP agenda.

He said that he was optimistic about our party’s future, saying that we are on the right side of history. We can stop Brexit, which he said would be a nightmare for EU nationals and said that there was no solution for the Irish Border that didn’t involve staying n the customs union.

Enjoy:

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My first year as Director for People

It’s been just over one year since the Snap General Election was called on my first day e as Director for People. It was one heck of a start and it’s been a heck of a year. Out of the window immediately went my careful plan for membership development, training for volunteers, online fundraising and candidates. The roadmap to 2020 was suddenly obsolete. It was terrifying, but fast paced and fun.

This job is not dull. Working for the party is challenging and can be frustrating but ultimately rewarding.

One year in and …

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Vince Cable as you have never seen him before

We’re used to seeing Vince outlining his Liberal Democrat vision in typically thoughtful style. Action shots are more likely to be gliding effortlessly across the dance floor in a graceful and flawless foxtrot.

We’re used to seeing Willie Rennie dialling the fun in any photo opportunity up to the maximum level.

When Vince came to Aviemore yesterday to speak at Scottish Conference, he got a taste of photo-ops, Rennie style – and he loved it. He threw himself, quite literally, into the spirit of the occasion when he found himself next to a sign saying “Jump and Smile Adventure Park”

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Brexit: No cake, but let’s welcome the prospect of a nice big bit of fudge!

Embed from Getty Images

Along, I’m sure, with many LDV readers, I’ve read hundreds of articles on the subject of Brexit over the last couple of years.

But one piece of writing has finally encapsulated a precise sensible solution to the whole sordid, messy business.

David Shariatmadari is a writer and editor for the Guardian in London. In a post yesterday entitled “On Brexit, the views of the 48% must be respected too. That’s democracy”, he argued that:

Given that the UK is split, it’s only fair if the government delivers ‘Brexit in name only’, as is looking increasingly likely.

After explaining that the Irish impasse will probably lead to the UK “both in a customs union and closely, if not entirely, aligned with the single market”, he concludes:

Posted in Op-eds | 50 Comments

WATCH: Willie Rennie’s speech to Scottish Conference

Here is Willie Rennie’s leaders’s speech to Scottish Conference. In it he talks about how the Liberal Democrats have influenced Scottish politics and policy in education, mental health and justice, calls on the Health Secretary to resign, tells us we can stop Brexit and has a huge challenge to Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader.

The text is below:

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Future Women MPs Weekend – DEADLINE EXTENDED

DEADLINE EXTENDED: The location for the Future Women MP’s Weekend has now been confirmed as Milton Keynes. Apologies for the delay! Given this we are extending the deadline by 48 HOURS so applications will now close on Tuesday 24th at 23:59 https://bit.ly/2GD3w0F

Female? An aspiring MP? This is the event for you!

Normally an annual event, the Campaign for Gender Balance and the Candidates and Diversity Team will be running a second Future Women MPs Weekend to support and develop female talent within the party.

Empowering and thought-provoking, this intensive training weekend for aspiring female MPs will provide you with the knowledge and skills required to run as a successful candidate.

Many current and former female Lib Dem MPs started their journeys at an FWMP event and you could be next!

The invaluable opportunities, skills and advice you will gain include:

  • How to plan and win your seat
  • How to strategically plan a career in politics
  • Personalised guidance from experts in the field
  • Building a network of useful contacts and engaging with other aspiring women.
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What’s happening at Scottish Conference today

Here’s what happened yesterday at Scottish Conference:

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LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League: manager of the month for March

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Our prepenultimate update from the LDV Fantasy Football League. Congratulations to Paul Noblet, our Manager of the Month for March.

His Fisher FC scored an impressive 295 points, just edging out Alan Worthington’s Iheanacho Cheese (288) and James Ludley’s Mercedes-Baines (286).

Here’s the full league table:

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Let this be the last first past the post election in London Boroughs

On 3rd May all the Borough Council seats in Greater London are up for election, which happens every four years. The Borough I live in is typical and has 18 3-member wards. Each voter votes by putting up to 3 Xs on the ballot paper. In each of these wards the top three candidates in terms of Xs on the ballot win. Hence F3PTP rather than FPTP (First Past The Post).

So what’s wrong with that? Five national parties are contesting the borough election, plus around four parties with Residents’ Association in their name, who are active in their own patches. Usually, a party sees its whole slate of three elected, but sometimes one candidate impacts more on the electorate, positively or negatively, and the result is a ‘split ward’. But I have seen nine candidates from three parties having each around 30% of the vote, but only one party gets the councillor seats. Natural justice suggests that they should have had one councillor each. With three councillors of one party, we KNOW that they were NOT the first choice of 70% of the electorate; at worst, the three victors could be the LEAST favoured candidates of 70% of the voters.

It gets worse. Some parties are so entrenched in certain seats that the others have given up. A friend of mine expressed it as ’If you put up a feather duster for XXXX party in YYYY ward, it would get elected.’ Two national parties contest all 54 seats, but the presence of the parents, spouses and children of local party worthies on the ballot papers gives a strong hint of what they think. The voters in such wards show what they think by not turning up to vote for the council, which, more than any other body, delivers government services to them.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 28 Comments

Observations of an ex pat: The Commonwealth

Ten years ago a Commonwealth-wide poll revealed that support for the political descendant of the British Empire was highest among the developing countries.

Not surprising, they had the most to gain from aid and trade. Support from the developed Commonwealth countries was half of that of the developing world. Britain was at the bottom.

That is changing. Brexiteers have conveniently rediscovered their imperial roots and are now pushing for a revival of the Commonwealth as a replacement for lost European markets. It is, after all, the home for a third of the world’s population and a total GDP of $17 trillion. This may seem like a lot until you compared it to the $60 trillion GDP of the EU.

Nevertheless, the British government gas rolled outLondon’s red carpet for this week’s biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting—usually referred to by the inelegant acronym CHOGM.

But the Brexiteers will find that the former colonies may be reluctant to jump back onto the British wagon.   They have long memories. Many still lodge bitter resentment  at being left in the lurch when Britain was lured away by the siren call of Brussels.

All of the countries have adjusted to a life without Commonwealth trade preferences. Canada has increased its business with the United States. Australia and New Zealand are now focused on China, Japan and other Asian countries. Singapore has become a Far Eastern entrepot. The developing countries in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific have gained access to EU aid and trade.

As one Commonwealth head of government told me: “When the British want us we are expected to jump. When we want them they are too busy to bother.”

Trade will not be the only issue on the table. Climate change, Syria, plastic pollution, cyber security and the election of a new titular head are all on the agenda.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 11 Comments
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    Michael BG - Congratulations! You behaved just like a council officer with something to hide. I clearly express a quote you make and draw a...
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    I did not intend to sound carpingly critical of the LDV postings- I understand time constraints, hence my late reply! Thanks for the pointers for...
  • User Avatarsuzanne Fletcher 26th Apr - 2:47pm
    Also encourage people to sign the petition here, and spread the message around those likely to be affected https://www.libdems.org.uk/coverup?utm_campaign=windrush_1b&utm_medium=email&utm_source=libdems
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    The personnel department came up with a very reasonable policy on targets, for instance they should be "achievable". Line managers then said that targets should...
  • User AvatarLaurence Cox 26th Apr - 1:49pm
    It is good to see a posting on this subject. GDPR is changing the way we campaign and it is essential that Party members take...
  • User AvatarAndy Hinton 26th Apr - 1:43pm
    Thanks for this, Sanjay. Are the new opt-in consent wordings for Fair Use Notice type stuff available somewhere yet? I had a look on the...