Jo: Our children deserve better than Brexit Britain

British people don’t often take to the streets in massive numbers. And when they do it twice in six months, you would hope that those who represent them at any level take note.

750,000 in October. Estimates of a million today. From Wick to Cornwall and pretty much everywhere in between.

You would think that if there was a real desperation to leave, there would be another million supporting that cause. But there isn’t. Nigel Farage was surrounded by a couple of dozen people on Sky News.

In contrast, apparently there are still some people to leave Park Lane after the march has finished and dispersed after many speeches in Parliament Square.

Our Deputy Leader Jo Swinson delivered a speech. It is brilliant to see her do so with baby Gabriel in his sling.

Earlier she had spoken to Sky News:

Our former  Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey spoke about how important it was to be part of European efforts to tackle climate change.

This is one of my favourite pictures of the day:

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Excitement builds ahead of pro EU march

They’re coming from all over the country to London to make their voices heard. Have an amazing day, everyone!

Welcome to the party, Clifford.

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Happy marching, everyone – and what you can do if you can’t go

Just over five months ago, I set out for London on a beautiful, sunny morning just so I could walk from Hyde Park to Parliament Square. That relatively short stroll took me about 4 hours. Sharing it with 700,000 like minded people was one of the best experiences of my life.

We were marching then for a People’s Vote. Today, the “Put it to the People” march takes to the streets of London as we face the very imminent prospect of leaving the EU in circumstances which will make us poorer and smaller in spirit as well as pocket. The behaviour of our Prime Minister this week, pitting this rather nebulous concept of “the will of the people” against MPs who are (mostly) trying valiantly to avert disaster, has been a source of national shame. The Prime Minister who says that the people “voted for pain” rather than for £350 million a week for the NHS needs to be shown how strongly we feel about staying in the EU.

I would love to be in London today but a difficult family situation means that I simply can’t be 400 miles from home. I will absolutely be there in spirit though. Those who are marching will show that it is possible for huge numbers of people to gather to make their point with  joy and kindness.

One tweet in particular from the many in my timeline who are heading to London made me very happy indeed:

I suspect that he won’t be the only one.

But what can you do if, like me, you can’t go?

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The two most important questions to ask Lib Dem leadership candidates

My wife keeps up with the news, but she can’t recall the last time she saw a national story about the Lib Dems. As Labour and the Tories struggle to hold themselves together, the Lib Dems fight simply to be heard. For most people in the country there is a fading memory of a liberal voice where the party used to be.

With the party’s leadership election looming, that matters. There will be a big temptation among activists to make the contest a battle of ideologies. “Which candidate is closest to my beliefs?” members will ask, endlessly dissecting policy statements, tweets and voting records.

Don’t do it. Your ideology is really important, but the harsh truth is that it doesn’t matter whether our new leader shares it or not. Other things matter more.

Our new leader being heard by the millions of people like my wife matters more. Our new leader connecting with those people, giving them a sense that the Liberal Democrats is for people like them and is fighting for the things they care about: that matters more. A leader who ticks every one of your ideological boxes but fails to connect with the voters will do your cause no good at all.

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1906 General Election: The zenith of liberalism

As we approach Brexit day, whenever it finally occurs, it is important to remember the struggles and victories that have defined the political liberalism that is at the core of the modern movement in Britain. One such famous example is the landslide victory for the Liberal party in 1906. 

If 1951 was the nadir of our history, then 1906 was surely one of the many high points. The creed which we might call ‘Gladstonian Liberalism’ was at its intellectual apogee, but the new ideas of social liberalism and equality were also beginning to flourish and resonate with the populace, with the rise of the new trade unions and the Labour Party forwarding the cause of worker’s rights and the voice for the less well-off in society. These new ideals were often supported by the Liberal Party, with Henry Campbell-Bannerman saying in 1903 that ‘we are kindly in sympathy with the representatives of Labour.’ 

This new political environment was changing Britain from the Victorian era into the 20th Century, although later moves on the continent would of course lead to disaster. In 1906, Campbell-Bannerman had only been Prime Minister for a month and a half having replaced Arthur Balfour, and consolidated his position as a reformer, with his controversial stand on the Boer War at the turn of the century. 

Balfour had resigned in the hope of seeing the Liberals split as his party had done so, but no such divisions were seen, and the widespread unpopularity of the Conservatives was echoed in the election result. Campbell Bannerman started the campaign with the following speech at The Royal Albert Hall:

Depend upon it that in fighting for our open ports and for the cheap food and material upon which the welfare of the people and the prosperity of our commerce depend we are fighting against those powers, privileges, injustices, and monopolies which are unalterably opposed to the triumph of democratic principles.

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#RevokeArticle50 is now Lib Dem policy

As Theresa May twists and turns in Europe trying to square the Brexit circle, it’s worth noting what isn’t going to happen – any agreement in Westminster on her Withdrawal Agreement today, Friday 22nd March.

The House of Commons petition to Revoke Article 50 notification has become a record breaker with over 2 million signatures,repeatedly bringing the petitions website down and attracting thousands of signatures per minute. Many organisations are shifting to support revocation, and it seems this Saturday’s march will contain more Revoke groups than those supporting a fresh referendum.

Our party leadership has repeatedly claimed that we are marching for a Peoples’ Vote, which they call the “only way out” of Brexit. They have confused the goal – an Exit from Brexit – with just one possible mechanism to deliver it. The debate has moved on, and the party risks looking irrelevant to the Remain movement in these vital days.

The Lib Dems’ Brexit policy has included an option to revoke Article 50 notification since Autumn 2018, when it was introduced by ordinary members as a policy amendment, then opposed by the party leadership. Last week in York, Liberal Democrat members voted for Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake’s policy on Brexit. This updates our option to revoke:

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The Independent Group won’t explain what they stand for, but we need to

In February’s issue of Prospect, Chaminda Jayanetti asked: “We know what the Independent Group are against—but what on earth are they for?” They’re not going to give a clear answer any time soon. Why should they, when being all things to all people will draw in new supporters?

It’s different for us. What we believe has been consistently misrepresented for nine years. We have to explain clearer what are we for, if we are to correct this.

Some think we’ve become the party of Europe, the EU-KIP party. But that’s a short-term issue for the moment. We need to explain about what we are for on the other issues of key concern to the electorate.

In the Social Democrat Group, we’ve been trying to answer this question. To think about social democracy in the Liberal Democrats, and why we are social democrats.

For me, social democracy means three things:
1) Protecting and helping the vulnerable
2) Making this work for the whole electorate
3) Doing what works over the long-term

These are important, and they are in tension with each other.

Who the vulnerable are will vary. Someone may be rich and powerful, but if they are being mugged, at that moment they are vulnerable.

We need to be careful about what kind of help we offer. When asked, those in poverty sometimes define it as a lack of choice and a lack of dignity. In this area, I think the Liberal tradition has a lot to teach social democrats.

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Observations of an ex pat: Frightened of fear

The Beatles sang: “All you need is love”, and young girls delicately placed flowers in the barrels of the guns of National Guardsmen. For a brief period in the 1960’s and 1970s we thought that love would emerge as the world’s overpowering human emotion.  That the words of Franklin Roosevelt—“all we have to fear is fear itself”– would pass into historical redundancy. And that Senator McCarthy’s commies under the bed witch hunt was an uncharacteristic historical blip.

Sorry, it was not to be. Fear is once again the overriding political emotion which is driving the thinking of the electorate and being ruthlessly exploited by the politicians.  In Britain, fear of immigrants, sovereignty and a loss of national identity drove people to vote for Brexit. Conversely, it is a fear of financial loss and political influence which is driving the Remain camp to continue opposing Brexit.  The country is hopelessly divided because both sides are terrified of the consequences of losing the argument.

In the United States Trump supporters are frightened of “invading” Mexicans who will take their jobs, destroy their identity, rape their women, force them to smoke, swallow and inject drugs and murder them in their beds.  The “invaders” from Mexico and Central America are frightened because they are being murdered in their beds, and on the streets, by gangs fighting each other for control of the lucrative drug trade into America.

Trump supporters are also scared of the Chinese, globalism, socialism, liberalism and the growing power of their own government. Opponents of Donald Trump are frightened of Trump. Almost everyone except Trump is frightened of climate change.

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Great hold in Durham with increased vote share

I’m on by-election duty for ALDC tonight. And the first result of the night’s six by-elections was a cracker.

Nicely done, Bev. Congratulations to you and your team.

And in Southend on Sea, there was an advance of nearly 10% for Carol White:

And great to be standing a candidate in Thurroci:

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What happened when Vince went to Brussels

While Theresa May spoke to EU leaders, Vince met fellow Liberal leaders from across Europe in Brussels today .

Here he is with Catherine Bearder afterwards:

Over on the party website, Vince wrote about last night’s meeting with Theresa May and other leaders except Jeremy Corbyn, whose fit of pique he described. He then takes us through his conversations in Brussels, including the applause when talk of revoking Article 50 was mentioned.

I emphasised to the danger the Prime Minister is placing both the UK and Europe in, by arguing for a short extension which simply postpones the cliff edge we have been facing. What is needed now is a long extension to Article 50, to permit a real rethink and a final public say on the deal.

It is very important on these occasions that we get the chance to remind liberals in Europe that the Brexit story is far from over domestically: government ministers will always say they are ‘delivering the will of the people’. In truth, the ‘no deal’ exit Theresa May is threatening us with would be a total distortion of that result, abandoning many Leave voters as well as the 16.1 million who voted Remain. Now, around 60% say they would vote for Remain rather than the deal or ‘no deal’, so the will of the people is changing.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for my European counterparts was when I articulated our own position – agreed at conference just last weekend. If there is no extension, and we are approaching the ‘No Deal’ cliff edge, Liberal Democrats are clear: we should revoke Article 50 rather than crash out. There was a ripple of applause in the room when I said as much. Revocation would be a major step, causing huge unrest, but it is preferable to leaving without a deal.

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First Time at Conference – York

As a new member, my first experience of a Liberal Democrat conference was by and large a positive one. I loved York, and the place I stayed was beautiful and, thanks to the Lib Dems, not at all costly. I am not at all well, having had recent serious health problems, but I hoped to get a few clues as to what the Lib Dems are about, and I did.

What I noticed most about my first experience was the under-representation of the country’s poorest and neediest and the abundance of the middle/upper middle classes. I wasn’t at all surprised – it’s a problem politics seems to have across the board. The people who should be making their voices heard the loudest, shouting and crying about deprivation and poverty, were not. They’re not anywhere, not present in the public discourse, not present on TV or only in passing. Its a deafening absence.

It`s an absence that’s been hitting me particularly hard since I started watching all Charlie Chaplin`s films. The tramp character he portrays represents the current state of the working classes better than any public figure in or out of politics. With his ragged clothes, tiredness, hunger and constant way of searching all his pockets for money in hope rather than expectation.

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Part 2: Rutte, from Cameron buddy to May’s stern advocate

The liberal Dutch parties VVD and D66 have two distinct identities and historical predecessors. The VVD is more a car-loving, classical-liberal party with, since 1990’s leader Bolkestein, anti-federalist EU instincts, and has less of an environmental record than D66, who premièred gay marriage and are electoral reformers, very similar to the Lib Dems.

Contacts between the Lib Dems and D66 (both social-liberal) are warmer and broader than the VVD-Lib Dems. In Chris Bowers’ biography of Clegg, VVD figures once (p. 104), whereas D66 & Lousewies Vander Laan are on pages  102-3, 104 and 266-7 as Clegg supporters, also in the Coalition.

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Supporters Pack now available

Voice received the following from HQ:

On Saturday at our conference, members voted to create an registered supporter’s scheme for the Liberal Democrats.

In the first 24 hours after we launched the scheme, more than 2,000 people joined in almost every single Westminster constituency in Britain.

More supporters are joining every hour.

To help you make the most of these new supporters, the Membership team at HQ have produced some resources for you – which you can access here: https://www.libdems.org.uk/supporters-local-party-guide

The launch pack covers everything you’ll need – from an explanation of what supporters are to template emails and social media graphics to help recruit even more supporters.

It also includes how to find the people that have become registered supporters in your area.

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May gets blunt Brexit warning from old Dutch ally & EU statesman Rutte: Part I

With the “Bercow Bombshell” (BB), his statement to the house on March 18th, quoting Erskine May’s 1844 anthology of Commons’ customary laws and Standing Orders, that Theresa May can’t have an eternal Groundhog Day rotation resubmitting her Brexit Deal, it has become impossible for May to offer anything new to the EU summit of March 21st.

According to Laura Kuensberg (late BBC evening news, March 18th), that means the EU has no reason to grant May a short prolonging of article 50, making it inevitable that the EU leaders will propose a long prolongation; which would result in a much softer Brexit (the UK having to remain subject to more EU directives, procedures and institutions than under the May deal).

To predict the mood of that EU summit, one can quote the French journalist in Newsnight (March 18th), who indicated that Le Monde, on March 15th, lost hope of May rescuing her deal, saying “let’s get cracking, let’s make a do-able (prolongation) arrangement”. Earlier, Macron said on March 13th that “the solution lies entirely in London”, which must offer a reason for prolongation to make him consider that. The French mood looks unwilling to tolerate any more British “one more heave” pleas for a prolongation; and to start asking concessions.

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A fairer share for all – Part Four – Improving working life and skills and investing in local services

This is the fourth and final part of my looking at the consultation paper, A Fairer Share for All. In part three I have set out my thoughts on the work allowance thresholds.

Turning to minimum wages, I believe we need to have regional minimum wages set at 70% of each region’s medium earnings. In 2020 the National Living Wage will be 60% of medium earnings. I believe that it would take about 7 years to increase the regional rates to 70% as some may have to start below 60%.

We should have a policy of providing free training or a guaranteed job to everyone who has been unemployed for more than 6 months. This should be voluntary. The training should be in an area where there are unfilled jobs within a reasonable travelling distance of the claimant. The guaranteed job should be so that the person keeps their skills up to date and not just to give them a job to do.

The paper states, “A 2016 government estimate that 51% of rural households do not have access to a bus route, compared with 4% of urban dwellers. At the same time, 30% of bus journeys outside London are undertaken by those with elderly or concessionary passes”. It also says that “it is now vital to ensure that traditional bus and rail links within and between our smaller towns and rural areas are properly funded to enable everyone to access services and employment opportunities”. However, the paper doesn’t set out that we should increase funding to local government so they can run rural bus services or that we should provide more rail links between towns. It doesn’t even say we should be building better rail links across northern England between Lancashire and Yorkshire.

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May statement open thread.

Well, the crest is still on the lectern. So no General Election then.

But…

And she said absolutely nothing new. Blaming anyone but herself for the mess.

Basically, no say for the people, no participation in the European elections. She wants to be out by June 30th.

She says that MPs haven’t said what they want. Not sure how much clearer our lot could have been – People’s vote…That at least is achievable, even if the Labour unicorns are not.

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Vince tells Sky that Corbyn walked out of meeting with PM because TIG were there

Vince Cable has just been on Sky News to say that the opposition leaders’ meeting with Theresa May was courteous but just went round in circles.

She was not willing to move at all.

So far so unsurprising.

But what was incredible was his revelation that Jeremy Corbyn was going to meet her with them. But as soon as he saw Chuka Umunna and Anna Soubry there, he legged it.

So the country is in crisis and he is not prepared to behave like a grown up. I remember this sort of game playing in student politics days but not when the country is about to crash and burn.

It’s unbelievable.

I can’t actually believe the horrors that we have as PM and Leader of the Opposition.

I could not believe it when Theresa May said at Prime Minister’s Questions today that the Commons should stop indulging itself on Europe. Without a trace of irony.

It’s almost as if she had forgotten that we are in this mess purely because of the self indulgence of her party on Europe. David Cameron called the referendum to face own the right of his party and now we are all paying the price.

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Vince and other (non Labour) opposition leaders play hardball with May

Vince Cable, Liz Saville-Roberts, Ian Blackford and Caroline Lucas have been meeting the Prime Minister this evening. And they went in with intent to argue with her pretty robustly.

They basically said that Parliament should sit in continuous session until they can sort this out. MPs would not be bullied into making a choice between a disaster and a catastrophe.

And they added that they would bring forward a vote to revoke Article 50 “as a last resort”.

They issued a joint statement before going in to No 10.

The Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, the SNP and the Green Party have been working together and meeting regularly for the past two years since the EU referendum.

“We agree that the House of Commons must formulate a plan that will give the EU Council the confidence to agree a longer extension beyond 30th June, so that by the end of next week legislation can be in place to prevent a No Deal exit.

“Parliament should now sit in continuous session until it can reach a decision and set out a clear plan.

“We will be pushing for the House of Commons to support a referendum on remaining in the EU, others will put forward their own positions. If the Commons cannot agree, as a last resort we would be prepared to take steps to secure a parliamentary vote on the revocation of Article 50.

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A fairer share for all – ending poverty in the UK. Part Three

On Friday afternoon at our Federal conference, there was a consultation session on A Fairer Share for All – consultation paper. The consultation period continues until Sunday 31st March. I think members should email their comments rather than answer the questions the working group asks as I don’t think the questions cover all the areas that need commenting on.

The consultation paper doesn’t talk about levels of benefits (which I have done mainly in a-fairer-share-for-all-ending-poverty-in-the-UK-part-two-60199. The working group asks about reforming or scrapping Universal Credit. I think Universal Credit should be scrapped and replaced with a Working Credit for people of working age in work and all the old benefits kept. This new benefit should keep the 63% taper of Universal Credit but apply it to the new rates of benefit I set out in part two, where for every pound of net income a person loses 63 pence in benefit. However, the “work allowances” should be replaced with disregards and they should be the same for people no matter if they are receiving housing benefit. Instead of restoring the three ‘higher work allowance’ rates of £734, £536 and £647 a month I would replace both the higher and lower rates with £140 a week for claimants with children and those receiving Employment and Support Allowance.

Moreover, instead of the £110 a month for those without children, I would set it at £50 a week for each adult who is in work (therefore if both parents were in work they would have a weekly disregard of £190 a week. I wonder if the taper on housing benefit which would be the last element to be reduced should be higher. A very complicated system would be to apply to say a 70% taper to the first £70 of housing benefit a week, 80% of the next £70 and 90% of the rest (over £140 a week). The new Working Credit could be calculated every two weeks or every month as chosen by the claimant.

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This weekend’s march is about so much more than a vote on the Brexit deal

Brexit March Brexit March

In Parliament, MPs have been debating on (and rejecting) this botched Tory deal. Beyond Parliament, young people have been watching on in horror and disbelief. As a wealthy Brexit elite, red in the face, tell themselves to hold their nerve, it’s clear that they’ve got no regard for our future.

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn? They just aren’t listening – they are completely detached from reality. They’re causing embarrassment on an international scale, the world over the country we love is a laughing stock. It’s shameful, and history will look harshly on the perpetrators of this chaotic mess.

I’m 20 years old, less than a month off of voting on the 23rd of June 2016. There are almost 2 million like me who can now vote. The fact is that the UK does not want Brexit anymore, and young people just like me deserve a say on our future. The British people deserve the right to a final say now we’ve got a deal on the table, and not some fanciful, wildly unrealistic ideal.

Before our very eyes, my generation is seeing jobs and investment sapped out of the UK. We’re seeing our futures – lives that should be spent with the right to live, love and work freely across 28 nations, the largest free trade area in human history – all being snatched away from us. It would be dystopian if the last three years hadn’t numbed us all to this warped reality.

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Isabelle Parasram elected as Lib Dems’ first Vice President BAME

Barrister Isabelle Parasram has been elected by the Federal Board as the party’s first Vice President BAME.

I was delighted by this result because I voted for her and encouraged others to do so as I had been really impressed by her clear vision for the role. She talked a lot of sense about how to change the party’s culture. I’ve seen that her previous work, the report into dealing with complaints of sexual impropriety,  has been thorough, clear and fair.

In an email to members, Miranda Roberts, Chair of the Federal People Development Committee, welcomed Isabelle’s appointment.

At our Spring Conference over the weekend, Party President Sal Brinton announced that Isabelle Parasram has been elected as our new Vice President BaME.

This position has been created to encourage more BaME representation and participation across the party.

I am delighted that Isabelle is taking on this new role. Her election is an exciting and important step towards building a more inclusive and diverse party.

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Liberalism and porn

‘Where and how does pornography fit into Liberalism?’ is a question that I asked myself when I was being filmed for a Channel 4 documentary. The three-part programme features five mothers, including me, who are introduced to the problem of easily available online porn for children to watch. While the impact on children was my primary concern, the content that I was viewing was disturbing for another reason. 

Much of it was highly dehumanising and derogatory of women. I found it distressing. Scenes of women being violently grabbed, slapped and shoved raised my feminist hackles. Teenagers were the favoured category of content on these porn sites. Women of colour were stereotyped and highly racialized. 

I saw an inherent immorality but I am mindful that porn, to many others, is recreational.

Porn is watched by women. Many women choose to watch porn either on their own or with their partners. If porn dehumanizes women but women are consumers of porn too what should a Liberal’s conscience dictate? Feminist friendly or ethical porn, as it is also called, could be situated as an acceptable middle ground but these are niche productions. Most people view porn on mainstream hubs. The commodification of the female body in porn is linked to the male gaze. Let’s face it, most of porn is made for men by men. 

My conscience was also pricked by wondering about whether the female porn actresses had consented to being manhandled. Male porn actors, allegedly, are often forced to do things against their will too. Their choice to become porn stars cannot always translate into consent for everything that they are told to do. There is also the question of authenticity. After having been on a real-life porn set, I can say that what people watch as consumers is half the story. 

It would be naïve to attach free will to everyone who works in the industry. If you do that you are choosing to exempt them from your conscience for your viewing pleasure. Thus, the concept of choice is an inherent paradox in Liberalism.  A concept of choice which disregards the reality of people’s social context, like austerity, is a false God. When students turn to sex work to fund their studies and mothers see the sex industry as a way to earn a living, then ‘choice’ becomes something between the devil and deep blue sea. 

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ALDC advice: filling in and submitting nomination forms

We advise that you fill in your nomination forms at the earliest opportunity possible. You’re able to submit them from March 27 onwards and the deadline for returning them is 4pm on Wednesday 3 April.

The following paperwork needs to be completed correctly and submitted on time:

  • Nomination papers
  • Candidate’s consent to nomination
  • Candidates address form
  • Deposit (not for locals)
  • Form for the appointment of the agent
  • Delegated Nominating Officer (DNO) paperwork (for use of the party name and logo on the ballot paper)

Most Returning Officers will supply forms, but some may expect you to supply your own from the Electoral Commission’s website. You should always use the Party’s own DNO paperwork – download it.

Find more information on filling in your forms correctly.

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We must make sure they weren’t just empty words

On Sunday I was delighted that Conference overwhelmingly passed the emergency motion on knife crime and youth work that I was so pleased to propose.

The excellent motion, drafted by our lead member on the LGA Children’s Board, Cllr Lucy Nethsinga, made clear the clear link between the dramatic cut in youth services across the country and the subsequent increase in knife crime.

In passing the motion, Conference reaffirmed the Party’s commitment to invest in both universal and targeted youth work. However, we need this affirmation to lead to more than just empty words, words that sound good in the conference hall but never appear in the manifesto.

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19 March 2019 – yesterday’s press releases

‘Govt treating EU citizens appallingly’ with Settled Status call charges

Responding to reports that thousands of EU citizens are being forced to pay for calls to the Home Office’s Settlement Resolution Centre for help with their Settled Status applications, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

EU citizens in the UK are our neighbours and our colleagues, our families and our friends. But ever since the Brexit referendum, they have been treated appallingly by this Conservative Government.

Making them pay up to 40p per minute to get help navigating the complex Home Office system for applying for Settled Status is just

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1951 – the nadir of Liberalism

The General Election of 1951 occurred only eighteen months into a parliament. It was called by a Labour government with a small parliamentary majority led by Clement Attle then at the head of what was a tired and ageing administration.

For the Liberals led by another Clement it proved to be a very difficult campaign for a party wracked by decades of division and desperately short of money. Liberalism was split with the breakaway National Liberals propped up by the Tories still enjoying parliamentary representation.

A situation that would exist until 1968.

Clement Davies, himself a former National Liberal, led the Liberal Party …

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Ending Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions is the right thing to do for private renters – it can also be a vote winner

I’m a private renter. Nothing unusual about that I’m sure you’ll say, lots of people are. And that’s true, but it wasn’t always that way, and the current situation, of growing numbers of private renters, is a recent phenomenon. The most recent figures from the English Housing Survey show that a fifth of people across England now live in privately rented accommodation.

A third of councils have more than 20% of residents renting privately, and research from the campaign group Shelter shows that at the next (currently scheduled) general election there will be 253 constituencies where more than 20% of voters …

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By Friday, we should be talking about revoking Article 50

Dangerous moments are like buses. You have decades free of them and then loads come along all at once. And every day our country’s future is in the hands of a gruesome coalition of extreme right and left  – the ERG, DUP and the Corbynistas – it gets more and more dangerous as Brexit day just a week on Friday looms.

We’ve kind of running out of road as far as Brexit is concerned. As things currently stand, we crash out without a deal in 10 days’ time.

That’s right. The biggest economic catastrophe ever will be underway next week unless someone does something.

We have constantly been demanding a People’s Vote pretty much since the referendum.

Theresa May has made it clear that isn’t happening.

Our policy passed in York last Saturday was clear:

Conference calls for the Government to revoke the Article 50 notification if the House of Commons has not passed a resolution approving (relating to) the negotiated withdrawal agreement one week ahead of the date on which the UK is due to leave the EU.

So, this Friday, we have to start talking about revocation, assuming nothing else changes.

And we have to be quite loud about it. It is a nuclear option, but we’re in the most dangerous moment for our country in 80 years.

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London Region recruiting a Development officer to boost local campaigns

Looking back to last May, there was much to celebrate in London’s election results. Winning back control of Kingston and Richmond was very welcome , as was retaining our control of Sutton. And then there were excellent results in Haringey – our group grew from 9 to 15 – and Merton leapt up from just a single Lib Dem councillor to 6!

Looking closely at the areas that make such great progress, we can see how beneficial it is to have full time staff – and volunteers – working on our campaigns over a long period. Their hard work and skills correlates with good results.

The other side of this particular coin is in 22 out of London’s 32 boroughs we don’t currently have any Lib Dem councillors, alongside 4 boroughs with less than a handful. In many boroughs we have keen and enthusiastic campaigners, but many people have full time jobs, family responsibilities and maybe long commutes. There may be little time in the evening to prepare for a weekend activity although actually quite amazing stuff does get done! But It’s clear that it’s very difficult to compete when our opponents have more in the way of resources than we do. We feel that if we make things a bit easier we can help those keen campaigners achieve more.

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Four things I want from the next Liberal Democrat Leader

Vince Cable has made the difficult but correct decision to stand down as the leader of the Lib Dems. And now, for the third time in four years, we’re left looking for a new leader.

It’s certainly frustrating for us Liberals to see arguably the worst government and worst opposition in living memory still absolutely trouncing us in the polls.

What is clear in a relentlessly unpredictable political climate is that opposition to Brexit is not an automatic ticket back to the top, and the shadow of the coalition years looms larger than many of us realised.

With a leadership election anticipated …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 22 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User Avatarfrankie 23rd Mar - 10:49pm
    Helen, If you can't see the elephant if Brexit crushing all other issues, then for you a state of puzzlement will be your default state.
  • User AvatarHelen Dudden 23rd Mar - 10:17pm
    I, like many voted as our democracy allows. I still like the idea, and support it fully. It's the Government, arguing and trying to get...
  • User Avatarmarcstevens 23rd Mar - 10:05pm
    An impassioned speech by Ed Davey which definitely puts him ahead in the leadership stakes. Climate change and fracking is a very important issue as...
  • User AvatarDavid-1 23rd Mar - 9:47pm
    There's the imaginary Brexit, which simply is a minor administrative detail that Those In The Know can doubtless figure out, and which will have the...
  • User Avatarfrankie 23rd Mar - 9:15pm
    Helen, You voted to let Nelly the Brexit elephant dance. Well dance she did and pushed every other concern out of the window. No party...
  • User AvatarBruce Milton 23rd Mar - 9:06pm
    Helen so many of your concerns are Lib Dem concerns and like so many things it’s not the concern that divides people it is the...