7 December 2021 – today’s press releases

  • Davey: PM must fess up over Xmas party
  • Williamson party: Met Police must investigate

Davey: PM must fess up over Xmas party

Responding to a new leaked video which shows the Prime Minister’s former press secretary joking about a party in Downing Street last Christmas, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey MP said:

People will rightly be furious with Boris Johnson, not just for holding a party during lockdown, but also for refusing to own up to it. Once again he shows it’s one rule for us and one rule for him, with the Conservatives continuing to take people for granted.

Whilst millions

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Tax to invest, or cut taxes to neglect?

The weekend media have been full again of Rishi Sunak’s promise to return to tax cuts before the next election: cutting income tax and VAT further to win over – as Conservatives hope – wavering voters. But is it possible that the majority of voters would now prefer good public services, and targeted spending on long-term projects, to tax cuts that will squeeze public services further?

Martin Wolf in the Financial Times the other week argued that ‘we have to accept higher taxes to fund health and social care’, pointing out that the UK is still a modest spender on health compared to similar states. But it’s not just health that needs investment. The ‘Levelling Up’ agenda implies a generational commitment to higher investment in education, infrastructure, and economic innovation in the UK’s poorer regions. ‘Red wall’ seats the Conservatives won in 2019 will be lost again if all that happens is a trickle of money for specific local projects.

The contradiction between Sunak’s fiscal austerity and Johnson’s and Gove’s grand ideas about levelling up is becoming the deepest fault-line within the Conservative government, and a major threat to its credibility. November’s announcement of cutbacks in investment for northern rail was greeted across the region as a betrayal of promises to promote economic revival.

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North Shropshire: We’re using actual staples on our leaflets so this is serious


I’m just resting up before another blitz of Focii-ing in North Shropshire early this morning.

The constituency is similar to Brecon and Radnorshire in that you can drive for what seems like hours and still see orange posters, denoting that you are still in the constituency. – A vast and beautiful rural area with some wonderful towns.

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Guardian – vote Liberal Democrat in North Shropshire

It would be fair to say that the relationship between Liberal Democrats and the Guardian has been somewhat lukewarm for some time. The likes of Polly “that Liberal Democrat idea is very good, vote Labour” Toynbee have given us a thorough kicking for doing a bunch of things in coalition that Labour would have probably done had they not lost in 2010. But I digress…

Today’s Guardian editorial, headed “The Guardian view on a byelection test: Labour voters should back the Lib Dems”, is perhaps a sign that the pragmatists are at the editorial helm. In a forceful piece, they note;

But

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UPDATED – two North Shropshire Conservative Councillors defect

Well, well, well, what is happening to the Tories in North Shropshire? It is reported this morning that Anthony Allen, a Town Councillor in Market Drayton, has defected to Reclaim, who have claimed him as their first elected councillor.

Now, as a parish councillor myself, describing Mr Allen as a top Tory councillor, as Reclaim have done, is a bit like describing me as a senior figure in Suffolk local government, but it does give the impression of a Conservative campaign in disarray.

As reported by the Independent;

The 54-year-old cab company owner said his former party had “gone soft on illegal immigration,

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Welcome to my day: 6 December 2021 – “Fire The Cannons!”

Good morning, gentle reader!

It’s a murky start in the Gipping Valley this morning, but your day editor is alert and eager for a new week.

So, where to start? As Iain Roberts, once of this parish, noted on Twitter;

It seems that we’re now into Government as angels dancing on the head of a pin, as ministers desperate try to define the word ‘party’ in such a way as to meet regulations that certainly weren’t broken. The fact that such gatherings were banned altogether doesn’t seem to register but, if reminder was ever needed, it does emphasise that rules are apparently for …

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WATCH: Wendy Chamberlain’s first speech as Scottish Deputy Leader

Wendy Chamberlain has been elected as Scottish Lib Dems Deputy Leader.

 

She spoke to a gathering of party members in Edinburgh:

She said:

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Ed Davey says Lib Dems challenging Tories hard in North Shropshire

With just 12 days to go before the by-election, called after Owen Paterson resigned amid allegations that he had used his parliamentary position to lobby for companies that paid him, Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey spoke to BBC Midlands Today yesterday from Oswestry.

We are getting a sense that it is very close between us and the Conservatives. We are clearly challenging them very hard and Helen Morgan, our candidate, is going on really well. We are focussing on the issues people really care about like ambulance waiting times. Frankly, people feel taken for granted by the Conservatives. So, we

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World Review: French elections, Barbados, Russian security pact, MI6 and abortion rights in America

The French Presidential elections are hotting up. Far-right candidate Eric Zemmour announced his candidacy this week. He is Euro-sceptic, virulently anti-immigrant and possibly the most anti-Semitic Jew in European politics. The 63-year-old journalist claims that he will save France from decadence and minorities that “oppress the majority.” Zemmour is neck and neck with seasoned extreme right campaigner Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Rally Party. Which means that the extreme-right vote is split. The left-wing parties are in disarray and have been effectively written off by the French media in the April presidential elections.

On Sunday, primary elections for the Gaullist-oriented Les Republicains ends. There are five candidates: Michel Barnier, Xavier Bertrand, Eric Ciotti, Philippe Juvin and Valerie Pecresse. In the past Les Republicains were described as centre right. But no longer. Emmanuel Macron has stolen those clothes, especially the economic threads. In response, all five Les Republicains candidates have moved to the right with anti-immigration and Eurosceptic policies. All of the above is good news for Macron, who is staunchly pro-European and staying aloof from the immigration debate. Not that he is popular. His approval ratings have slipped from a high of 48 percent in 2017 to under 20 percent. But he stands alone in the winning circle of the centre/centre right. At this moment the betting is on Macron to win as the last man standing.

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Tim Farron proposes bill to protect farmers from poor trade deals

The Lib Dems have proposed new legislation to protect Welsh farmers from being undercut by food trade deals that do not meet the UK’s environment and animal welfare standards.

A private member’s bill from Spokesperson for Rural Affairs Tim Farron MP would require the government’s Trade and Agriculture Commission to assess the impact of any new trade deal on UK farmers, and guarantee that MPs had the final say on trade deals initiated by the government. This would include an assessment of the impact of new trade deals on farming communities in each region and nation of the UK.

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Lessons from the Stalham (North Norfolk) byelection loss

As the fantastic team of over forty volunteers recovers from our collective disappointment, it’s worth saying how proud I am of the way people rallied around our fabulous candidate in the depths of winter, against a cynical and purposeful Tory opposition.

Disappointing though our loss is, had this not been the case we may not have learnt a vital lesson that I now feel ought to be shared – in particular for the benefit of areas where we are in control of the local council.

My reflection is that we lost, not to the Tories, who got nearly the same number of votes as they did last time, but to motivation. With only a 22% turnout (and a target pool that included soft conservatives on polling day, and was canvassed in full nearly twice), we know our supporters did not switch to the Tories, but it quickly became apparent that they lacked sufficient motivation to go out and vote.

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ALDC by-election report 2 November 2021

With the May 2022 local elections on the horizon, it is paramount the Lib Dems build up momentum going into the spring by ending the year strong and we did just that!

First and foremost, we want to thank all our valued candidates, local parties and an army of steadfast volunteers that gave Lib Dem supporters ample opportunity to support Liberal Democrat Councillors all over the country.

There were two gains in Lancaster, one loss and one gain in Hailsham, a heartfelt loss in North Norfolk and in Breckland.

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Observations of an Expat: Nation v the World

I told you so. In all humility, I was not alone. The WHO issued a veritable flood of dire warnings. Dozens of NGOs did the same. So did an army of globalists who argued that common sense dictated that Covid is a global problem that requires global cooperation to save lives and a world economy of which we are all a part.

We argued that Africa, with poor its health conditions and poorer health facilities, was likely to produce a highly transmissible mutant virus that would find its way north and bite a Europe and America that ignored Africa firmly in the bum.

I may be overstating the case. Scientists are waiting for more data before a judgement on the seriousness of the Omicron variant. So far there appears to be good news and bad news in initial reports from Africa and the 29 non-African countries to which it has spread in a matter of days.

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Ed Davey says Tories show utter disregard for small businesses and calls for tax cut

It is Small Business Saturday. Writing in City AM, Lib Dem leader Ed Davey says the Peppa Pig episode showed that Boris Johnson does not take the business community seriously. He says small businesses need help fast and calls for tax cuts which would benefit the smallest companies by an average of £5,000 each. He also wants the Employment Allowance to be quadrupled to £16,000, allowing a small business to employ five people without national insurance contributions.

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Johnson panic visit to North Shropshire a cynical attempt to gloss over decades of neglect

Commenting on Boris Johnson’s visit to North Shropshire today, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader and Health Spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP said:

The Prime Minister turning up in North Shropshire is nothing less than a panic visit, two weeks out from the election because he’s scared of an upset.

His visit will be seen for what it is – a cynical attempt to gloss over the fact that people are worried sick about ambulance wait times and feel taken for granted.

The people of North Shropshire are ready to send a message to Johnson’s government: their local health services have been failed, local farmers are being

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Ed Davey: Sajid Javid care package for unpaid carers “insulting”

Cash for unpaid carers amounts to 87p a year, Ed Davey told the Independent yesterday. This comment followed the publication of the government’s long delayed white paper on reforming funding for social care.

Ed Davey said that the funding on offer over a three-year period was an “insulting” response to the sacrifices made by millions of people who have cared for disabled or ill family members and other loved ones during the pandemic. They are now at “breaking point” after months without respite.

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Restating our political identity through a new liberal manifesto

Do you remember what you were doing on the evening of 16 April 2015? The chances are you were in front of your telly, as I was, watching the seven leaders’ TV debate in the run-up to the general election. I have a distinct memory of that night: I became aware I could sum of what six of the seven parties stood for in three or four seconds, but the one I struggled with was my own party.

We must be careful not to make too much of the ‘Do people know what we stand for?’ line, as politics is more about which parties feel right and trustworthy. But in a political culture dominated by two main parties, and a media culture governed by two sides to a story, it’s very hard for a third party to create an identity in the minds of the average voter. As a result, the Lib Dems have become in many voters’ eyes a compromise between Labour and the Conservatives, an image we have not shied away from encouraging with slogans such as ‘Stronger economy, fairer society’.

But we are not a compromise, we stand for something! The problem is that what we stand for is not easily summarised, the way being pro-environment is for the Greens or being anti-EU was for Ukip. So, we need to find a way of encapsulating what we offer.

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Low turnout as Tories retain Old Bexley and Sidcup with reduced majority

Conservative Louie French won the suburban London seat yesterday but the vote saw the Tories’ majority of nearly 19,000 slashed to just 4,478. The by-election had been called after the death in October of the well-liked former cabinet minister James Brokenshire. French won 11,189 votes, well head of the Labour challenger Daniel Francis who gained 6,711 votes. The turnout was low at 34 per cent compared to almost 70 per cent in the constituency at the 2019 general election.

Labour increased its share of the vote by over 7 per cent while the Conservatives’ share of the vote fell by more than 13 per cent. Reform UK kept its deposit, while both Lib Dems and the Greens lost theirs.

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North Shropshire’s Helen Morgan talks to LDV about campaign issues

The North Shropshire by-election is two weeks’ today. Yesterday, I spent half-a-hour talking to the Lib Dem candidate for North Shropshire, Helen Morgan. I was impressed by her determination, her grasp of the issues from farming to public transport, and of the biggest issue, health. The first article discussing how the campaign is going was published earlier today.

Helen spoke of the difficulty in getting to see a GP and the queues of ambulances outside the county’s A&E’s. In a very rural part of England, farmers are struggling in the transition from basic farm payments to the new Environmental Land Management System (ELMS). There is space in rural areas for some solar farms and for microgeneration of renewable electricity.

Public transport is a major issue, especially the infrequency of buses. The difficulty in getting housing people can afford is also high on the agenda.

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Young Liberals produce new campaign guide

As Helen Morgan’s campaign in North Shropshire gathers momentum – see last night’s post showing that we are doing even better there than in Chesham and Amersham at the same stage) – party members are flocking to the seat.

The Young Liberals are always a big part of any by-election and have already held several action days there with more to come until polling day on 16th.

You have no idea how much I want those shoes, by the way.

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North Shropshire’s Helen Morgan talks to LDV about the campaign

Yesterday, I spent half-a-hour talking to the Lib Dem candidate for North Shropshire, Helen Morgan.

In this first of two articles, Helen tells us how the campaign is going with just two weeks to go. Sleaze is not a big topic on the doorsteps but trust in politicians is very low. People in Shropshire are fed up with politicians who appear for a photo call during an election but don’t try to solve local problems in between. Helen wants to help restore that trust.

The Conservative vote is very soft. A lot of people are thinking about switching their votes, or maybe even not voting at all, because they are disillusioned with the way they’ve been treated over many decades by their Conservative representatives. A lot of people say that it’s time for a change in North Shropshire.

The canvassing of the postal voters has given really good results:

We can win if we get enough boots on the ground to come and put the leaflets through the door.

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Wendy Chamberlain on QT tonight

Wendy Chamberlain, Lib Dem MP for North East Fife, is on the Question Time panel tonight. The programme is being broadcast from Weston-super-Mare on BBC 1 at 10.35pm.

With her will be Maggie Throup (Conservative MP for Erewash), Thangam Debbonaire (Labour MP for Bristol West), Professor Peter Openshaw (Professor of Experimental Medicine at Imperial College) and Theo Paphitis (retail entrepreneur and Dragon’s Den regular).

Expect questions on asylum seekers, No 10 Christmas parties and the impact of the Omicron variant.

 

 

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Lib Dems mark World Aids Day

Today is World AIDS day. I lived through the 1980s when a Tory Government ramped up prejudice against LGBT people. It was awful. It made so many of my friends fear being open about how they were. It made them suffer bullying and harassment.

Russell T Davies’ drama It’s a Sin brought that horror to our screens earlier this year. I was in bits by the end of episode 1. It’s a very powerful warning against demonising any group of people.

The theme of the day this year is about ending inequalities. You can find out more on the World Health Organisation website here. We have to end inequalities in prevention and treatment. At present more than 1 in 4 people internationally don’t have access to antiretroviral medications. That has to be fixed.

Lib Dems have showed their support for the day:

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Ed Davey challenges Boris Johnson to do more for farmers

Ed Davey took the opportunity at Prime Minister’s Questions today to challenge the Prime Minister to do more to support farmers. He mentioned three places in particular. Feel free to take a wild guess about which parliamentary constituency they are in.*

Farmers across our country are crucial to our nation’s prosperity, as has been shown, once again through the pandemic, but many are now on the brink. Farmers across the country, in villages such as Hodnet, Baschurch and Woodseaves and countless others, are about to see their payments cut by at least 5%, starting this very month. The Prime Minister promised a new support system, rewarding more sustainable farming, but in the meantime he seems prepared to see many British farms go bankrupt. There is an easy solution: stop cutting the current system’s essential payments until the new scheme is fully rolled out. Will the Prime Minister do that, and help our struggling farmers before it is too late?

The Prime Minister’s response will be of very little comfort to farmers who are struggling.

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Lib Dems looking good in North Shropshire according to “confidential” briefing

If you want people to spread some news, the best way to get them to do it is to send them an email marked “Confidential” and tell them not to pass information on because it’s “secret”.

To add a dash of drama, you send it out at 6:03 am, saying that you’ve just come out of the “daily briefing with the by-election team in North Shropshire.”

I don’t doubt for a second that Lib Dem Chief Exec Mike Dixon is an early riser and his cannily timed email to catch party members when they had their breakfast or were on their morning commute was a great way to get the message out that we are doing well.

The news that he was imparting, that our internal polling shows that we are only 10 points behind the Tories in the postal vote, had already appeared on Twitter last night.

This compares well with the Chesham and Amersham situation at the same time.

Certainly this chimes with the accounts of every single person I know (and that’s a lot of people, including some hardened cynics) who has been knocking doors in North Shropshire, and with my own efforts on the phone.

There is a lot of excitement about this by-election and there is a real feeling that we should not limit our ambitions.

Our candidate, Helen Morgan, is absolutely brilliant and is already acting as an MP should:

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Business forums at COP26 revealed what company bosses need from carbon pricing to facilitate decarbonisation – and it is not ETS!

The recent Sustainable Innovation Forum 2021 and Hydrogen Transition Summit revealed that business leaders want to decarbonise but are held back by the lack of price ambition and predictability of the Emissions Trading Systems (ETS) carbon pricing regime. They argued for an economy wide, strong, predictable, preferably global, carbon price to facilitate decarbonisation, ….”The best (thing) governments can do to promote hydrogen is a global carbon tax” Seifi Ghasemi Chairman, CEO and President of Air Products.

The management consulting company Roland Berger advocates a high carbon price to render decarbonisation cost effective, at a level only currently found in Sweden and Switzerland (alongside ETS, with Climate Income in Switzerland). Stefan Schaible, Global Managing Partner, Roland Berger, stated that COP26 had been as he expected, not the lowest or the highest step in the right direction. There was however, a step change in opinion on the environment, (the German government even includes Green Party members!) so there is continuing pressure to reduce emissions targets……“We need action. We cannot go on like this for certain sectors such as energy and transport. Only with carbon at $100 per tonne will profits shrink dramatically or even halve so they (the industry sectors) have to move”.

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LibLink: Christine Jardine Government looks heartless and out of ideas as migrants keep dying

In her Scotsman column this week, Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine accuses the Government of trashing our country’s long tradition of providing sanctuary to those who need it.

It is as if the Government does not know that the word and concept of refugees was created by this country.

Its origins are in the creation of a safe haven, a refuge in London for Huguenots fleeing persecution in 17th century France.

They became known as refugees.

That was the start of a long, proud tradition of this country providing sanctuary for those fleeing persecution or poverty and willing to contribute to our society.

Perhaps the proudest episode was the kinder transports of the second world war which allowed so many youngsters who might otherwise have perished in Hitler’s death camps to build happy, prosperous lives in this country.

She outlined how this current Government is failing in its obligations:

I know individual members of the cabinet will be as shocked and upset as any of us at the horror of what has happened this past few days.

But collectively their response to the issue to date looks heartless and devoid of any compassion.

At best it is incompetence that has led the Home Secretary to announce hopeless policies like the dangerous ‘push-back’ of refugee boats to French waters or the ludicrous proposal to process arrivals in Albania.

There seems to be little if any understanding of what the problem is or any creativity in addressing it.

The cruel and counterproductive Anti-Refugee Bill serves as proof of that and is a nasty piece of legislation that only makes problems worse.

She highlighted the awful conditions of refugees around Calais:

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30 November 2021 – today’s press releases

  • Storm Arwen: Govt “abandoning” rural communities hit by power cuts
  • Zahawi breaks yet another promise as school absences soar by 80,000
  • Bring back work from home to help save Christmas

Storm Arwen: Govt “abandoning” rural communities hit by power cuts

The Liberal Democrats have demanded that the Government provide emergency support to rural communities who have been left without power for days after Storm Arwen.

In a letter to ministers from Liberal Democrat Communities Spokesperson Tim Farron MP, Welsh Party Leader Jane Dodds MS and local North Shropshire candidate Helen Morgan, the party warns that rural communities in areas like North Shropshire are being taken for granted and “abandoned by the Government in their time of need.”

Tim Farron also raised the issue in Parliament yesterday and criticised the Government for failing to make an official ministerial statement on the issue.

The letter calls for ministers to step in and provide food, emergency accommodation and other essential supplies to vulnerable people on the ground impacted by the storm. It also urges the armed forces to be brought in to provide emergency electricity generators to communities until power is restored, and for the Government to provide additional support to engineers working hard to bring back power as soon as possible.

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Cllr Sarah Cheung-Johnson takes the helm of Chinese LibDems

At a virtual AGM last Sunday, South Cambridgeshire Councillor Sarah Cheung-Johnson (pictured) was unanimously elected as the new Chair Chinese LibDems (CLD) for 2022. The meeting was well attended including by members from the Korean and Vietnamese diaspora communities.

This has of course been the vision of CLDs. – To be a network representing not just Chinese people but those of East and SE Asian heritage as well. In fact CLDs attempted a name change to BESEA (British East/South-East Asian) or CESEA in the past year, but the resolution did not pass.

During the formal part of the meeting, attendees received reports on the activities of CLDs over the past year including a virtual Chinese New Year celebration in February with Sir Vince Cable as guest speaker.  Members of the CLD executive Linda Chung, Victoria Collins and Dr Yeow Poon have also been active in the anti-racism campaign (CARG – Covid19 Anti Racism Group) including participation in rallies in London and Birmingham.

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