I now know I have PTSD and it is Liberating

I am not quite sure when I first encountered the ‘Black Dog’ but he has pretty much been on the premises for the last ten years. The crash as I like to call it came on 9th October 2009 when the pressures of a full-time job and caring finally took their toll. I remember waking at 3 am, not normal for the heavy sleeper that I always was back then. A trip to the GP surgery, anti-depressants and eventually counselling followed. On Christmas Eve 2010 my employment situation was finally resolved with a redundancy package and with the caring position fairly stable I began the process of coming off the tablets.

In the next five years my sister died aged forty, Daphne’s health worsened resulting in a move to full-time residential care and the senior officer at my old job gave me the run around after I suggested a return in a part-time role. Pretty hard to take from an organisation I gave my life to for more than twenty years. 2015 brought a return to the medication and when Daphne died in 2017 eventually some more counselling. With everything that had happened to me, the professionals had difficulty in identifying my condition so in the circumstances the focus became my recent bereavement.

It was only in the winter of 2018 when I accessed the Time To Talk service again that PTSD was mentioned and everything fell into place. The trauma caused by my work situation was still haunting me particularly through nightmares, whilst the pain of bereavement was easing. Bingo, this new diagnosis was uniquely liberating. On the downside, I waited months for the specialist counselling. The fact that someone has put the finger on what was causing my illness was strangely uplifting.

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Global Climate Strike this Friday

Before us lies an opportunity, to be leaders and advocates of climate justice.

Across the world, young people have been school-striking to raise awareness of the climate emergency. We have reached a stage whereby billions of people now know about the causes and impacts of climate change, yet apathy is preventing our governments from acting. Empty goals of decarbonising by 2050 are not enough, especially when we’re failing to meet targets set by the Paris Accord. The consequence of inaction is being complicit in worsening the lives of hundreds of millions of people.

If we don’t act, then we are causing poverty, death and destruction.

As a party, I believe that we should be more ambitious when it comes to the climate emergency. The Green New Deal shows that it’s possible to decarbonise the economy within 10 years whilst bringing about social justice. This could create millions of clean, prosperous jobs across the country- reducing poverty whilst helping the planet. It will require us to invest in people that have been left behind by society, wildlife habitats that we have willfully destroyed and a society that is resilient to the guaranteed impacts of climate change. Is this not the embodiment of a “fairer society, stronger economy”?

Acting now and supporting a Green New Deal means supporting the most vulnerable in society, developing our economy and safeguarding the environment.

Climate change is often overlooked as an important issue, perhaps because it doesn’t have immediate and catchy headlines for the mainstream media or we still don’t fully understand what will happen. It exposes how vulnerable the lowest in society are and the frightening future that we will be leaving to future generations. When we recognise the climate crisis as a social, economic, environmental and political problem then we must feel compelled to act and act soon.

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Brexit? Scrap-it.

Revoking Article 50 was proposed by Chuka Umunna before he joined the Lib Dems, but nobody was listening to him in those days. Now its time has come, and it is set to be our bold new policy.

It has at least two advantages over a final say referendum:

  1. It is not open to the accusation that we want to re-run the original referendum because we didn’t like the result.
  2. Unlike No Deal, or the agony of another bitterly fought referendum, it really is a clean break. Whereas no-deal ushers in interminable years of haggling, in which the hapless public will never hear the last of the B-word, revoking cancels out Cameron’s fateful mistake and allows us to address the real problems facing the country.

Fateful mistake? Yes, the one thing most people will agree on, Leavers and Remainers alike, is that it would have been better if David Cameron had never inflicted the referendum on the country, causing nothing but division, trouble and strife. Nobody asked for it, nobody wanted it, it was foisted upon us as his bright idea to deal with the internal problems in his own party.

So if we cannot travel back in time and dissuade Cameron from plunging the country into chaos, scrapping the whole sorry business is about as close as we can get.

But surely Brexiters will not melt away and disappear, surely they will continue to agitate? Yes, but much of the force will go, once our course is settled and there is no immediate prospect of turning back. Because revoking can only be done if it is done in good faith, if it signifies a genuine intent to remain. We cannot revoke merely to obtain another 2 years of negotiating time.

Of course, we should be prepared for the inevitable cries of “undemocratic!” We hear this for instance from Stephen Kinnock, whose group of MPs are pressing for a soft Brexit, whilst Polly Toynbee accuses us of extremism.

Yes, it would certainly be undemocratic to revoke article 50 without a vote, but in the context of an election it is a perfectly reasonable option. And indeed, I predict it will prove very popular. A simple no-nonsense message, direct and unashamed, which takes the Brexit bull by the horns.

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Let’s get our messaging right on Revoke…

Sadly work commitments meant that I could only spend the weekend in Bournemouth this year, but it was well worth the travel (even the post-Disco train journey home). I was impressed by our new MPs and struck by the time they were spending with members as they build connections within their new political home.

I did manage to stay for the Europe debate and although I am happy with the final result, I did think that the opponents to ‘Revoke’ did win the debate in the hall, if not the vote. Niall Hodson (rising star) and Simon Hughes (established hero) were especially memorable and raised clear and credible concerns regarding this sudden shift in policy position. Sadly I do not think their comments were properly addressed during the debate and this left real concerns with some groups within our party; especially I suspect those from the social democrat legacy who rightly raise concerns over how such a divisive position may damage to our communities. It also does not help equip our activists with the messages needed to combat the inevitable attacks we now face from Labour and the Tories.

At the same time, I have been canvassing over the past two weeks, including tonight, and I am personally very comfortable in being able to defend this General Election position with voters on the doorstep. My own conversations currently focus on the two main lines of attack we currently face.

From Labour, we are now seeing accusations that we are overruling the will of the people as unthinking extremists no more tolerant than Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson. Notably they are going to some lengths to misrepresent our position missing out some rather key information. It is therefore very important that we note:

  • As a party we are still prioritising delivering a People’s Vote ahead of a General Election.
  • However, due to Labour’s failure to support a People’s Vote over the past three years, it does now look most likely that we will have a General Election.
  • Therefore, in that scenario we are going put Remain on the ballot paper by recognising a MAJORITY Lib Dem government as a mandate for revoking Article 50 (and stopping this unbearable madness as quickly as possible).
  • Labour MPs in remain areas (including my own) are talking about revoking Article 50 but only to select groups in the now standard approach from their party in which they will say whatever they think the people you want to hear (our MP has also argued for a Norway model and supported Labour’s Brexit plan in the indicative votes earlier this year).
  • We are therefore being honest and clear; setting ourselves up in a strong position to support Remain in a referendum whilst giving the electorate a choice and a chance to Stop Brexit now.

From the Anarchist Party (formerly known as the Conservatives), there are similar attacks on “defying the will of the people”, but with more focus on this being somehow undemocratic. My response in these conversations are:

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What would you think are the odds on the Liberal Democrats winning most seats in a general election?

Given that we have 18 MPs right now, you wouldn’t expect the odds on the Liberal Democrats being the biggest party in the House of Commons to be that good.

Maybe 100-1, maybe 50-1 at best.

Well, not so much.

Look here and you’ll see a range between 9-1 and 16-1.

That reflects the fact that we have left Bournemouth with a clear path ahead.

We know that our primary objective at the moment is to stop Brexit in order to make creating the more caring, more equal society that we want to see so much easier.

We are clear that if the Liberal Democrats win a majority at the next General Election before we have left the European Union, the very first thing that Jo Swinson will do if she enters Downing Street as Prime Minister, before she even puts the kettle on, will be to revoke Article 50.

The political earthquake that it would take for us to go from 18 seats to 326 would be more than sufficient mandate.

If we don’t win an overall majority, we would go for a people’s vote with a Brexit option and the option to Remain.

Over the last few days, Jo Swinson has shown herself to be a calm, capable, infectiously enthusiastic, likeable and determined leader, surrounded by a talented team.

She has been in the job for less than 2 months and already she tops the popularity ratings.

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Conference pays heartfelt and fulsome tribute to Paddy

There were 20 minutes set aside this morning in the main hall to pay tribute to Paddy Ashdown.

In the front row for the session were Jane, Kate and Simon Ashdown.

(Baroness) Liz Barker presented the salute to our founding leader with a quiet and heartfelt voice. She emphasised that this was a tribute to a partnership – Paddy and Jane.

The section started with a video on the big screen. Relaxed and sincere tributes came from Ed Davey, Nick Clegg, Tony Blair, Jane Ashdown and (Baroness) Cathy Bakewell (who worked with Paddy during his early days as an MP in Yeovil).

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The Ronseal of British politics – A storming speech from Jo

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I was “up in the gods” for Jo’s speech this afternoon in Bournemouth.

The first thing to say is that the speech seemed to me to be visually very powerful. Jo is a commanding, strong presence on stage. She stands centre stage, with no lectern or notes, barely glancing visibly at the distant autocues. Her posture and gestures are bold and decisive.

And her speech was bold and decisive.

In the round, I thought her speech was a barnstormer.

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WATCH IN FULL – Jo Swinson’s speech to conference today

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Full text – Jo Swinson’s first conference speech as leader

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ALDC hosts ground-breaking Gin Tasting

Alistair Carmichael MP has hosted a Whisky Tasting at conference (and elsewhere) for many seasons.

This year, the Association of Liberal Democrats (ALDC) responded to the recent explosion in the gin market by hosting a Gin Tasting – called “Ginning Here”. This was heralded as the first political gin tasting ever.

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Glee Club remembers Paddy


This was the lovely cover of the new edition of the Liberator Song Book, circulated at last night’s Glee Club.

One of the hosts quipped during the proceedings:

You know, at this point we could really do with someone telling a ten minute joke.

There was such a void.

We just needed Paddy to walk in and announce that he was telling his joke:

For positively the last time.

Paddy, you are sorely missed.

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+++Now Sam Gyimah sings “The Land” at Glee Club

Sam Gyimah is the third recent defecting MP to get up on stage this evening at the Glee Club. He said that his wife had told him that under no circumstances should he try to sing. But, bless him, he joined in singing “The Land” as our video below shows. So he is now the third defecting MP to do his initiation and become a proper Liberal.

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+++The first defectors are initiated in the Liberal Glee Club tradition

Live from the Conference hotel:

Sarah Wollaston and Luciana Berger have just had the guts to be subjected to initiation by Glee Club. They got up front to sing a special new version of “‘Twas on a Monday morning…” which has been adapted to the continuous flow of defectors to the party….

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In full: Chuka Umunna’s speech to Conference

The Liberal Democrats have taken Chuka Umunna pretty much to our hearts since he joined in June. He seems really happy and comfortable in his new surroundings

Today he gave a keynote speech to Conference.

Here it is in full.

Conference, it is an honour and a pleasure to be addressing you as a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament and as your Shadow Foreign Secretary.

Now, I’ve been to a few parties and I hope I don’t sound immodest when I say my experience of joining this party underlines that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made since going into politics.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for making me feel so welcome. I could not be more at home in the wonderful Liberal Democrat family.

And the decision to join was not made out of crude self interest…If self interest or climbing the greasy poll is your goal, I would not recommend following my example.

The truth is, all the incredibly difficult decisions I have made on the journey I’ve been on this year were routed in my values and principles. I joined this party out of conviction.

As you know, I am a Remainer and proud of it – we have spent far too long apologising for being pro-European in this country. Because you cannot be pro-Britain and put our national interest first without seeking to put Britain at the heart of Europe.

But, even more importantly, I am a social democrat with liberal values. You see, to be a Remainer is not only to be an advocate of our continued membership of the European Union; it is to hold a set of liberal, internationalist values of which we Liberal Democrats are the champions and defenders in Britain.

In an attempt to smear those of us who have an internationalist outlook, Theresa May said “if you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere”. What utter garbage. We are citizens of the world and – just you watch – at the next election you will see Liberal Democrats taking seats from the Tories in every part of the country as so many people are flocking to us, the strongest and biggest Remain party.

Be in no doubt: this is the battle of our time and it goes far beyond Britain’s borders.

What it is to be a liberal

Our party exists to build and defend a fair, free and open society, a society in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity……That was taken straight from our constitution – as you can see, I’ve done my homework.

In essence, the society we seek to build is one where if you work hard and play by the rules, you should be free to lead a happy, prosperous and secure life free of domination of either the state or the market. And we want to ensure future generations can do the same by preserving our planet for the long term continuity of life in all its forms.

I grew up in world in which we took these values for granted.

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Musings on the Cinderella part of “tax and spend”

Unlike a lot of you, I was in the conference hall on Saturday morning for the debate on business tax. It was nice to see this issue being debated, but it is a reflection of political debate in general that the Hall was pretty quiet and that speakers cards were few in number. It seems that, for Liberal Democrats, as for politicians of other stripes, spending money is much more politically sexy than raising it.

The motion itself was relatively anodyne. Could anybody seriously contest the proposal that corporate taxation would benefit from simplification? Of course not. Would greater transparency of …

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Jane Dodds’ speech to Liberal Democrat Conference

Cynhadledd, diolch yn fawr.

Before I get going today, I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who came to Brecon and Radnorshire to help during my campaign. Whether you came during the recall petition or the by-election or even both – thank you. Without all of you, and the wider party and beyond, I would not be standing here today as the MP for Brecon & Radnorshire.

I want to particularly thank the local party, whose volunteers provided accommodation for campaigners for 2202 nights. Thankfully, our Welsh tradition of ironing bed sheets did not last long in to the campaign.

This victory was a team effort, and one which signalled to both Wales and the UK, that the Liberal Democrats can win.

Winning council seats.

Winning our largest ever group of MEPs.

Winning Parliamentary seats across the country.

Conference, there has never been a better time to be a Liberal Democrat.

I also want to express my thanks to Plaid Cymru and the Green party, who took the difficult decision to stand aside in Brecon & Radnorshire – in order to help further the fight against Brexit.

They put the national interest first, and because of this cooperation, this alliance of parties, we were able to win.

We are believers in pragmatic, collaborative politics. I want to see us work with people in other parties – and none – to achieve the aims we have in common.

Sometimes this may mean we have to be prepared to make sacrifices, but when it comes to issues like Brexit, the risk is too high to not work together.

Now, although I am the newest elected Member of Parliament, I am not the newest Liberal Democrat MP.

One week after I was elected, we were joined by Sarah Wollaston. The day I took my seat in Parliament Phillip Lee came to sit alongside me, and shortly after that both Luciana Berger and Angela Smith joined too.

And they’re not the only ones joining. Since my election thousands people have joined our party too, taking us to our highest ever membership. And day by day, we keep growing.

To everyone who’s joined the party in recent months, croeso! And to those who are still on the fence about joining, what is stopping you?

If you’re fed up of the endless back and forth, the empty rhetoric and the hollow promises of the other parties… then why not come make your home in the Liberal Democrats, as so many others are doing?

As Jo Swinson said, “if you’re fed up of shouting at the TV, then get up and do something about it”.

Conference I am proud to be a Liberal Democrat because we are the only party offering a bold and optimistic vision for the future of our country.

In Wales Kirsty Williams is putting this vision into action.

As Education Minister she is cutting class sizes, protecting our rural schools and, overhauling our curriculum to make it fit for the 21st century, including making sure relationship education is LGBT inclusive.

This is what the Liberal Democrats are championing, a society which gives everyone the opportunities to make the most of their talents and potential, and which ensures everyone is included and supported throughout their life.

We are also the only party fighting to keep all of our nations part of the United Kingdom, and the whole UK part of Europe.

Rwy’n sefyll yma, Gynhadledd, fel Cymraes balch, a rhywun sy’n credu’n gryf mewn datganoli pŵer i’r bobl.

I stand before you today as a proud Welsh woman and a staunch believer in devolution. I want to see devolution not just to the nations and regions, but to local government as well – to bring power as close to the people as possible.

I am also proud to be British AND European. All of these identities are what makes me who I am and are rooted in my belief that there are things we do better together – in the same way as there are things we do better as part of the European Union or as part of the United Nations.

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Prue Bray writes: Why I am running for President

In all my 25 years in the Liberal Democrats I  never imagined that we would reach a point in 2019 where not just our membership of the EU but parliamentary democracy itself would be under threat, with us as the only UK party offering any sane solutions.  People are flocking to us, as our fantastic local and European election results show.  They are looking to us to provide hope and to stop the mad descent into the nightmare that British politics is rapidly becoming.

It is absolutely crucial that we continue to rise to the challenge.

We have had a huge influx of members.  We welcome them to our army of activists, and now need to harness their skills and enthusiasm alongside the knowledge and experience of our existing members.  If we can succeed, and can equip everyone with the tools they need in the 21stcentury, we will have built an unstoppable fighting force of activists.

To weld the party together, from Penzance to Lerwick, from Cardiff to Margate and everywhere in between, is not an easy task.  We need more multi-way communication, we need to use information better,  we need to spread knowledge and best practice, raise money, and support each other’s campaigning across England, Scotland and Wales.  We need to attract even more members and voters by looking more like the country we wish to represent, and we need as a party to show that we embody our values of fairness, openness and respect for others in our own behaviour and practice.

A president cannot do all that by themselves.  But they can lead the way.  I want to be a president who enables others, who encourages, facilitates, and builds teams.  A president who empathises and listens to individuals but holds the line on rules and procedure, needed to protect us all.   A president who wants decisions at all levels to be based on evidence, sound financial practice, expert knowledge and risk assessments.  A president who ensures that all voices are heard and all views considered.

I have already led a major committee in the party, as well as having had a wide range of roles from Local Party Chair, to Council Group Leader and parliamentary candidate. You can judge my ability to deliver on these aspirations on my record and my past actions and behaviour.

The Preamble to the Federal Constitution says that as a party “we champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. We aim to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity. We believe that the role of the state is to enable all citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the decisions which affect their lives.“

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Could we at least be told which particular disused Cornish tin mine our donations to the party are being thrown down, please?

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My wife and I once gave a small donation to a Nuns’ mission in Kenya that helps the desperately poor. A week or so later we received a hand drawn card which had been signed by all the nuns in that mission, thanking us most effusively for our donation. It was the nicest thank you we have ever received and we treasured that card for months.

Recently I made a donation to a re-wilding project in Scotland. I received not one, but two personally signed thank you letters, one from the treasurer and one from the chair of the project. They were both long letters, explaining how my money would be spent. One of them said: “Your donation arrived at a crucial time for us, so was particularly welcome.”

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Vince Cable’s speech to Conference

The convention that an outgoing Leader gets a valedictory speech at Conference was adhered to. It was a gentle, self-deprecating affair, but it attracted a thoroughly deserved standing ovation…

Thank you for your warm welcome.

It is one of our traditions that former leaders have a last hurrah at Conference before we leave the stage.

It gives me a chance to thank people who have helped me along what has sometimes been a rocky road and to answer those people who are asking me “what are you doing next”.

On the precedent of previous leaders I should be expecting an offer

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Reforming Private Renting – Making it fairer for all is within our grasp 

For those of you who follow my occasional posts this probably won’t be news, but for everyone else, yea, I’ve made a motion.

On Tuesday, at 11:10 I will be in the auditorium, moving a motion with a simple call, for our party to back the removal of Section 21 of the Housing Act (1988). For a small piece of legislation S21 (as we like to call it…) has a big impact. It’s the cause of many evictions, including so called ‘revenge eviction’, where landlords quite legally turf out tenants that they no-longer want with only two months’ notice… and often because those tenants have complained about something, such as faulty electrics or leaking walls or rooves.

S21 makes many private renters second class citizens, forced to endure circumstances that compromise their health or risk their safety, because they are poor or low waged or can’t get a foot on the ‘property ladder’. It threatens young and old, single folks and families, and as the size of the private renting population grows, it’s reaching into more of our communities. 

Even Theresa May recognised its invidiousness and promised to scrap it. But in typical Tory style, her passion for improving our lot only ran as far a running a consultation on the matter (I urge you to respond to it –  which our new overlord is less than likely to honour. And certainly not unless progressive parties, of which we are the epitome, hold his feet to the fire. Tim Farron has written to the new Housing Secretary to do just that. 

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Wera Hobhouse’s speech to Conference

Yesterday, climate change spokesperson Wera Hobhouse delivered this keynote speech to Conference. Here it is in full.

Good morning everybody

It is wonderful to see you all here at the start of a great conference.
We are in a very good place.
Look at what we have achieved since our last conference only 6 months ago.

Number of councillors UP
Number of MEPs UP
Number of MPs UP
Membership UP
Polling UP.

Is there anything that can stop us now?

Here is an easy question: Who in this Hall is a Liberal Democrat?

And who in this hall believes the Climate Crisis is the biggest challenge of the future and we have a moral duty to solve it?

Think about it.
This is who we are.
Being a Liberal Democrat and being an environmentalist go hand in hand.
Our values for a free open tolerant and globally fair society place us right in the centre of the fight against global climate chaos.

Let me remind you of the preamble of our constitution.
‘The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair free and open society in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty equality and community and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty ignorance or conformity.’

We fundamentally believe that all people are equal and have an equal right to freedom and prosperity.

That freedom and prosperity for all has to be fought for and safeguarded because it is easily threatened.

Nobody can be free who lives in poverty, nobody is free when displaced or threatened by war.
The Climate Crisis will affect us all. If we allow it to get worse it will create huge global inequalities.

Some parts of our planet will be much worse hit than others, creating extreme poverty and hardship, displacement and possibly war.

We Liberal Democrats make no distinction between people on the basis of race gender or religion.
It matters deeply to us how other people are doing not just in this country but anywhere in the world.

That is what makes us an internationalist party. People in China or Argentina or Nigeria or Iran are our neighbours.

That is why we call out against human rights abuses wherever we witness them.

And that is why we feel particularly called upon to avert a climate catastrophe.

This is our call!

This is who we are!

This is why each and every one of us should be proud to be a Liberal Democrat!

The rise of populist and nationalist leaders across the world directly threatens our democratic values.

It threatens the institutions that have guaranteed our rules based international order.

But additionally what is staring us in the face now is that these populist nationalist leaders also threaten our efforts to tackle the climate crisis.

Whether it is Trump or Bolsanaro or Putin or any other dictator across the world, they all actively encourage activities that create environmental chaos, division, social instability and economic disruption.

Because these are the conditions on which they thrive.

Populist leaders create and deliberately exaggerate the fear of foreigners.
They use this fear for their own personal and self-centred ambition.
Fear is a powerful emotion that blocks out any rational argument.

We cannot ignore the huge dangers to international peace and cooperation that these authoritarian leaders pose.
Climate breakdown will play into their hands.
The potentially huge displacement of people give the perfect excuse for populist leaders to shut down the borders and pull up the draw bridge.
The cry of each and every one of these leaders is ‘my country first’.
They do not care about anyone else.

Look at the devastating destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
It would be naïve to think Bolsanaro turns a blind eye for mere short term financial gain, and has no regard for the long- term global implications of such destruction.
More important to realise is that burning down the rainforests and exacerbating the climate crisis is consistent with his disruptive political agenda.
It matters to stand up against these populists and nationalists.
Not just because of the threat to our open society but because of the threat to our planet.

We must fight this.
That is why we are in politics.
That is why we are Liberal Democrats.

Our Liberal Democrat resurgence in the local and European elections give me great hope.
There are millions of people who will not lie down in the face of populism and nationalism.
We must stand with them, and lead them.

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Sam Gyimah explains why he joined the Liberal Democrats

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A few hours before his stunning unveiling as the latest Liberal Democrat MP, Sam Gyimah told The Observer why he has joined the Liberal Democrats:

Centrists are being cast out of both main parties. Lots of people are politically homeless. Who can you work with to build a movement?

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Revealed: That Lib Dem Disco set list

We are sparkling with excitement here at LDV Towers. Lib Dem Disco is about to get underway in the Marriott.

It means that Mikey Smith from the Mirror has to stay up late and watch Lib Dems do strange things on the dance floor but I’m sure he enjoys it really.

Tonight, Jane Dodds, Christine Jardine, April Preston and James Spiby are the guest DJs. Will CJ be able to equal Jo Swinson’s triumph and win two years in a row?

I have to say that there are some mighty fine tunes on the set list.

And I have another reveal at the end…..

Jane Dodds

Katrina & the Waves – Walking on Sunshine

Beyoncé – In Da Club

Duffy – Mercy

Christine Jardine

Spice Girls – Wannabe

Bonnie Tyler – Holding Out For A Hero

Proclaimers – 500 Miles

April Preston

Deee Lite – Groove Is In The Heart

Pulp – Common People

Madonna – Like a Preyer

James Spiby

Mark Ronson – Uptown Funk

Ray Parker Jr. – Ghostbusters

Ricky Martin – Livin La Vida Loca

And that reveal..

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Sam Gyimah MP joins party at thrilling conference rally

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I have been staggering along to more conference rallies than I care to remember. But tonight’s conference opener was the most thrilling rally I have been to.

Hard on the heels of Sal’s fantastic presidential swan song, Tim Farron was on fire as he started it.

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Sal Brinton’s speech to Conference

This is Sal Brinton’s last speech to Conference as Party President. It contains joy, celebration, tributes, challenges and report.

And here is the text in full.

Well, hello Conference and hasn’t everything changed since we last met in March!

Wow! Just wow! 

We asked you to all go on the Stop Brexit march on 20 March to make it clear we are the strongest Remain party. 

You did that. 

It was my privilege to help lead thousands and thousands of Liberal Democrats along with Vince Cable at that march that had over a million people on the streets of London. 

We asked you to go out and give us the best results ever in the local elections. 

You did that. 

We made over 700 gains, and now control 18 councils. We’re still making gains in by elections too.

We  then said please go out and campaign for our best ever European Elections results, in a snap election, with very little time. 

You did that. 16 MEPs.

I’ll say it again. 

Wow! Just wow! 

And then we said (after all of that!), please go and help Jane Dodds and our Welsh colleagues in Brecon and Radnorshire. 

So you did that too! 

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The opportunity for electoral reform

In the present political turmoil, there is increasing recognition that our present electoral system should carry much of the blame, Amber Rudd being the latest convert to this point of view.  If the opportunity to replace it suddenly opens up, we need to be ready to seize it.

Fortunately, the kind of proportional system for Parliamentary elections that the Liberal Democrats have long believed in has the added advantage that it could be implemented quickly. Constituencies for elections using the Single Transferable Vote (STV) can be based on local authority areas, mostly electing 3 to 6 MPs, as the attached map illustrates.

Aligning constituencies with community boundaries in this way helps maintain a strong local connection: it is good for both voters and representatives, avoiding division of responsibility and duplication over local issues.  And while some will regret the loss of having a single local MP, there will be many others who rejoice in at last having at least one MP they actually voted for, and a choice of whom to approach over any specific issue.

Another advantage is that boundaries would need to be changed only very rarely; changes in the number of voters can instead be accommodated by changing the number of MPs for the constituency.  And the scheme is very easy to keep up-to-date, using the current year’s electoral register.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 26 Comments

Take 2: Mark Pack writes…Why I want to be Party President

Apologies to Mark – we accidentally crashed his time at the top of the page with an ad for our fringe (do join us at 1pm in the Dorchester North at the Marriott asking what sacrifices we are prepared to make for the planet.). So it returns to the top of the page for an hour or so. 

Although Liberal Democrat conference has only just started, I already feel a bit like a child who has wandered into a chocolate shop, bubbling with excitement at what they can see all around. Here in Bournemouth, that excitement comes from bumping into so many brilliant – and wonderfully diverse – prospective candidates, so many of whom many even be MPs by Christmas. What a Christmas present that would be for them, their communities, the party and the nation: a massively expanded voice for liberalism at the heart of Parliament.

Many are people I’ve campaigned with for years. Such old friends will, I hope, forgive me for being just as excited about how many are new to the party, bringing in a new generation of talent in the last few years. Melding together the old and the new – in members, in campaign tactics and in the ways we organise ourselves – is crucial for our long-term success. 

That’s why, at this pivotal moment in the party’s development, with a new leader, so many new members and such a huge increase in our political potential, I believe there’s a vital role for our next Party President in making this happen.

It’s very natural for the Leader and Chief Executive to get drawn into focusing so strongly on the next Westminster general election. It is crucial. But it’s not the whole story. We need to remember the other types of elections out there. And that there will be a general election after the next one too. 

We need to think broader and longer-term to bring the sort of sustained long-term success that will deliver a liberal society, a safeguarded environment and high-quality, responsive public services.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 4 Comments

Jo Swinson arrives at Conference

It was a truly impressive site as Jo Swinson led a group including newly elected MEPs, key seat candidates and other key party figures such as Isabelle Parasram, our Vice President BAME down the hill in the sunshine towards the Conference Centre.

Shaffaq Mohammed, Yorkshire and the Humber MEP and HazelGrove PPC Lisa Smart were on either side of her in a group that included our own Kirsten Johnson as PPC for North Devon and Wendy Chamberlain, who is challenging for the most marginal seat in the country.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 9 Comments

We must create a non Brexit dividend

The Liberal Democrats have been the proud standard-bearers of the rearguard action from the 2016 EU referendum. That Britain is still in the EU, and we as a party are enjoying a revival from the drubbing of 2015, are direct results of our commitment to what looked at the time like a lost cause.

But if, as seems likely, we go into the next general election with a policy of revoking Article 50 without another referendum, it will become absolutely vital for us to present to the electorate a ‘non-Brexit dividend’ – otherwise we will fail the very society we have claimed to bat for over several decades.

Last year I wrote in LDV that our party’s approach to the most pressing issue of our time should be summed up by paraphrasing Tony Blair’s dictum from his time as shadow Home Office Secretary – we should be ‘tough on Brexit, and tough on the causes of Brexit’. We have been brilliant at the first but not so good at the second. That must now change.

There are no policy disagreements here. Whatever the question was, Brexit isn’t the answer. The EU is far from perfect, but the idea that we’re better off outside than inside is preposterous. But precisely because Brexit makes no sense, we have to look at why so many people voted for it. And to dismiss it as just years of anti-EU hectoring by the press won’t bring people round to understanding our view.

Our line to date has been that we want a people’s vote. In other words, there is so much doubt about what the 2016 Leave vote meant, and how legitimate the mandate is, that we have to put it back to the people. But if we’re not now putting it back to the people, we have to show that we’re as tough on the causes of Brexit as on Brexit itself, or we really will leave ourselves open to accusations that we are illiberal and undemocratic.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 15 Comments

Come to our Lib Dem Voice fringe at lunchtime!

Lib Dem Voice is sponsoring a fringe event (yes, free food!) from 1:00 – 2:30 today at the Highcliff Marriott, Bournemouth, in the Dorchester North room.

Focussing on climate change, our panellists will be asked “What sacrifices are you prepared to make for the planet?”

We have Ed Davey, MP, now Deputy Leader of the party, coming to give his ideas of policy areas that could help shift society’s habits. Joining him will be Baroness Cathy Bakewell, our Lib Dem Lords Spokesperson for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Luke Murphy, Head of IPPR’s Environmental Justice Commission; Paul Sheeky from Extinction Rebellion; and Mark Campanale of the Carbon Tracker Initiative.

There will be lots of time for questions to our panellists – and also the opportunity to give your own ideas of what sacrifices you would be willing to make to save our planet.

Please come and be part of the discussion. I hope to see you there!

Posted in Conference | Tagged , , , , and | 1 Comment
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Recent Comments

  • User Avatarnigel hunter 18th Sep - 3:07pm
    Health and well- being will be better for EVERYBODY if more effort was made to identify and prevent/identify problems BEFORE they get to admission to...
  • User AvatarBarry Lofty 18th Sep - 2:59pm
    I must admit to a tiny niggling doubt about the revoking of article 50 policy,although Ed Daveys' robust explanation of it on Politics Today Tuesday...
  • User AvatarMick Taylor 18th Sep - 2:53pm
    In every election in my lifetime (19) I think, with 2 exceptions, one party has won a majority and has been accepted as the winner,...
  • User AvatarDaniel Walker 18th Sep - 2:38pm
    @Peter Hirst "So, if we revocate we must also commit to designing a better set of rules and then rerun the referendum" Unfortunately, the case...
  • User AvatarDavid Becket 18th Sep - 2:37pm
    @ John Payne No No No. This is a risky policy, but possibly the correct one, providing we have a CLEAR majority. No clear majority...
  • User AvatarPeter Hirst 18th Sep - 2:18pm
    Whatever we do or don't do we must show that we respect that a referendum has occurred, however badly it was designed and conducted. So,...
Thu 10th Oct 2019