Two candidates confirmed for Lib Dem leadership race

Liberal Democrat MPs Ed Davey and Layla Moran will be the two candidates contesting the latest Liberal Democrat leadership contest, the Party has confirmed.

At the close of nominations today both Ed Davey and Layla Moran secured the support required to appear on the ballot.

Voting will open on the 30th July and close on the 26th August, after which the Party will announce the next leader.

Liberal Democrat Party President Mark Pack said:

With two fantastic candidates, I am really excited for the contest for who will lead the Liberal Democrats and champion our vision for an outward-looking, caring country that celebrates

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Lib Dem internationalism in practice – a member’s perspective

Liberal Democrats stand for an open society receptive to new ideas, international trade, law-law rather than war-war, cooperation amongst nations, and universal human rights. Whilst proud to be British, we oppose isolationism, nationalism, protectionism and xenophobia for political gain. We recognise the difficulties of Britain’s colonial past and support making amends.

How do sentiments such as these translate into practice, internationally, and how can members become involved?

It’s a question which is often asked in all kinds of meetups.

The coordination of international activity is undertaken by the Federal International Relations Committee, (FIRC) which is one of the party’s governing, constitutional institutions.  FIRC has a sub-committee on EU exit, known by the acronym CEUB.

There is also a foreign policy group in parliament, and a foreign policy adviser to the Party Leader.

Policy Working Groups established by the Federal Policy Committee also frequently consider UK international policy – on economics, defence, Europe, international development and other dimensions. Such work frequently involves presenting policy motions for voting at party conferences.

Cooperation with other liberal-democratic parties in Europe and the rest of the world, including policy coordination, is mostly undertaken via Brussels-based ALDE, and Liberal International.

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Jo Swinson appointed as Director of PN4E

Partners for a New Economy (P4NE) have announced that they have appointed Jo Swinson as their new Director.

P4NE is a philanthropic donor organisation that makes grants to projects that support new economic thinking. As they say:

At P4NE, we fund innovative projects and build communities that bring new thinking and approaches to traditional economics. These “change catalysts” play a pivotal role in helping to repurpose our economic system, and together they’re helping to build a movement for an economic system that’s fit for the challenges of the 21st Century.

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A theatre of the absurd!

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It was very welcome to see a centre right chancellor acting like a centre left one.” You can tell there are few things to get excited about when you begin to quote…yourself!

This was something I said, and of course it was about Rishi Sunak, in my most recent article. And just when I thought that the operative word for me was acting, as in acting like, what does the chancellor do, he delivers millions to theatres!

So the operative word, in fact, was also centre, as in centre left. This chancellor is the most left wing since Gordon Brown! And just as we  think we are led by a chancer, we see it is the chancellor we must keep our eye on, out for the main chance!

My previous piece was an angry reflection on the awful decision to reinstate tenant evictions and benefit sanctions during the pandemic. But just as the callousness of this emerges from the DWP, so too now does the creative industries support of a billion and a half arrive from the chancellor. “The creative accounting of Rishi Sunak,” might well be the title of this chapter in the story of this man and his government. Creativity beats callousness, but as I said before, also, oh the confusion, of this government! I do prefer confusion, to callousness, but like creativity best of all!

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Budget Response: The most vulnerable are being left out in the cold

Back in March, at the very outset of the crisis, the chancellor Rishi Sunak said that: “Now more than at any time in our history, we will be judged by our capacity for compassion.” That was true then and it is true now. Yet the mini-budget announced yesterday regrettably showed that the government has failed that test. At a time when millions of people across the country are facing the threat of poverty and unemployment, this plan fell far short.

There were some important and welcome measures, in particular, the £1,000 incentive to persuade employers to keep on furloughed staff. But the decision to reduce stamp duty for landlords and second homeowners, for instance, the wrong priority at a time when so many are struggling to get by.

The total projected cost of cutting stamp duty is £3.8 billion. That is money that could have been spent on helping the hundreds of thousands of families being pushed into poverty by this crisis. This measure will disproportionately benefit the wealthiest, while poorer households that rent have been left out in the cold.

While a landlord buying an additional home costing £500,000 or more will now pay £15,000 less in stamp duty, a family of for relying on universal credit will struggle to get by on little more £280 a week. A discounted meal at a restaurant will be little comfort to those struggling to pay their rent each month.

Figures I uncovered yesterday, reported in the Mirror, show the number of families struggling to pay bills has more than doubled since the coronavirus outbreak, rising to almost one in nine. The Government needs to step up and provide extra support to these hard-pressed families, including by scrapping the heartless two-child cap on benefits which is projected to push one million children even deeper into poverty by 2023-24.

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8 July 2020 – yesterday’s press releases

  • Lib Dems: Yet more lies from PM as he tries to dodge blame for care homes crisis
  • Davey: We must match the scale of the crisis with the courage to invest

Lib Dems: Yet more lies from PM as he tries to dodge blame for care homes crisis

Responding to Boris Johnson’s comments during Prime Minister’s Questions that “no one knew early on in the pandemic that the virus was being passed on asymptomatically”, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

Yet again, we are seeing more lies from the Prime Minister. He and his Ministers knew about the asymptomatic transmission of this virus,

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South Lakeland District Council: Climate Action Plan

I very much favour articles that are about climate change, biodiversity etc. and I had a write up from Cllr. Dyan Jones from South Lakeland District council, on climate change, that I thought I would share with LDV readers

Tahir Maher

Wednesday Editor

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Here in Cumbria, South Lakeland District Council takes the business of climate change seriously, and sustainability underpins everything we seek to do.

Declaring our position last year; recognising the emergency, committing to action and unanimously agreeing to make this a public commitment, we set out to inform, influence and implement actions to address this emergency in all areas under our direct …

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Boris on Care: wrong words, right target

The corporate voice of the care sector is up in arms about the PM’s comments on care. Of course, his remarks about care homes, not following procedures were sly and clumsy, but he is right that the care sector should shoulder some of the blame for the virtual decimation of their aged residents.

Clap for carers was a touching display of community empathy for people in the front line but neither this outpouring nor the tragic deaths of care home staff should make the care sector itself exempt from criticism in the forthcoming debate on social care reform.

Just before this crisis …

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Chancellor must act to help those excluded from Government support

After the initial meeting of the APPG for ExcludedUK today, Liberal Democrat MP and Chair of the APPG Jamie Stone has joined with the other co-chairs in calling on the Chancellor to help those who have so far been left out of the financial support measures introduced by the Government.

The APPG has been set up with the help of ExcludedUK to represent the 3 million individuals who have not been entitled to the Government support in response to the coronavirus crisis. The first meeting this morning was the largest of any inaugural APPG meeting, seeing over 150 MPs join online.

In …

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7 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Davey: we need a devolution revolution to drive the green revolution
  • Govt decision on arms sales to Saudi Arabia shows lack of humanity
  • Govt green recovery plans do not match ambition of other countries

Davey: we need a devolution revolution to drive the green revolution

Today Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey has delivered a keynote speech to the Local Government Association outlining his plan for a devolution revolution to drive a green revolution.

Ed Davey called for the government to make £45bn new funding available to local authorities over three years alongside a range of new powers so that local government can …

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Book review: Diane Reay’s “Miseducation – Inequality, Education and the Working Classes”

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I had been seeing a friend and was on my way out when she picked up a book and said – you must read this. I found it a shocking revelation.

Diane Reay published Miseducation Inequality, and the working classes in 2017. The eldest of eight children, her father a miner, she is now an Emeritus Professor at Cambridge and visitor professor at the London School of Economics.

Diane writes that her book is intended to provide an understanding of the working class experience of education together with her sadness and need to make sense of the resulting damage. There is fascinating research, the facts with full details. The book finally comes to a survey by Andy Green on the rise of education systems in England, France and the US, and singles out England as “the most blatant example of the use of schooling by a dominant class to secure control over subordinate group”.

There was that idea from the beginning. The state Education Act of 1870 was due and in 1867 Robert Lowe wrote:

If the lower classes must now be educated they must be educated that they may appreciate and defer to a higher civilisation when they meet it.

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A love that dare not speak its name

On a quiet evening recently I watched the 2015 film “Carol” which is set in the 1950s and based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith.

The “Carol” of the title is a wealthy middle aged woman in a marriage that is breaking up, who has a four year-old daughter she adores. On a pre-Christmas shopping trip she meets a young shop assistant, Therese, and they have a connection. Carol’s husband, who she is divorcing, knows that she has had same sex relationships in the past and uses this as part of a custody battle – citing her ‘immoral behaviour’ to secure sole custody of their daughter.

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I went to the pub…light the blue touchpaper and stand well back

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I figured that last weekend would be a bit crowded in pubs, so I reserved time in my (not-so)busy diary to visit the pub yesterday. Monday is the new Saturday.

All went well. The pub I visited seem to have lots of measures in place, and well-trained staff.

I enjoyed an excellent couple of pints of a local brew (Loddon Brewery’s Citra-Quad, since you ask). I had a meal which was obviously well-familiar with the inside of a microwave but still, as they used to say, “filled a hole”.

So far, so uncontroversial.

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6 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • The PM blaming care homes for his failure is shameful
  • Landmark domestic abuse legislation passes House of Commons

The PM blaming care homes for his failure is shameful

Responding to the Prime Minister’s comments today saying that “we discovered too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have,” Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

For weeks Boris Johnson told us he and his ministers had put a protective ring round our care homes. That was a lie and the public knew it. Today he is trying to shift the blame to those who risked

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Our next leader must condemn Nick Clegg


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Nick Clegg is one of our most well-known figures. But he has abandoned our principles, and we must now condemn him for it.

Splashed across the news are stories of Facebook defying a boycott aimed at getting them to tighten up on hate speech and information on their platform. And just behind Zuckerberg is our former leader, massaging the facts and spreading his own misinformation in an attempt to ameliorate his boss’s critics.

“Facebook does not profit from hate”, he says. This is an obvious lie – Facebook profits from advertising, and so profits from every piece of content and every interaction with the platform. To have hate on Facebook is to profit from hate on Facebook.

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4-5 July 2020 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Health Secretary failing to create comprehensive and trace system
  • Lib Dems secure cross-party support to protect migrant women in “historic” Domestic Abuse Bill

Health Secretary failing to create comprehensive test and trace system

Responding to Matt Hancock’s interview on The Andrew Marr Show, Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and care spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

The Health Secretary talks a lot about wanting to protect our NHS, but the best way to protect it is by actually creating a comprehensive Test and Trace system that allows local authorities to keep the virus under control. Ultimately if we want to avoid a second peak that will put

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Four ways Lib Dem MPs stood up for those with no income

MPs’ inboxes at the moment are flooded with the millions of people who are getting no support at all during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Imagine what that must feel like?

It’s people like self-employed hairdressers, physiotherapists, cleaners, decorators, people who own self-catering holiday homes who have been left with nothing.

Often their income from self employment was not that high anyway so they don’t have any sort of cushion.

After almost 4 months of this, many are at breaking point.

Liberal Democrat MPs have consistently called for more help for people who have been affected like this.

Here are four things that they have done this week:

Christine Jardine pressed the Prime Minister to introduce a Universal Basic Income

There are 3 million people in this country who get no support at the moment because they are self-employed or on contract. Our black, Asian and ethnic minority communities have an unemployment rate that is twice the national average and women are disproportionately affected by covid-19. The Prime Minister said a few minutes ago that he stands ready to help. Will he look at a universal basic income so that these people can get the help that they need now?

Typically the PM brushed off her suggestion, showing how little he cares or understands bout the predicament faced by too many.

Ed Davey called on the Government to scrap changes which would disadvantage contractors as reported by City AM:

Self-employed people face an unprecedented threat to their livelihoods due to the pandemic,” he said.

“The Conservative government’s insistence on their IR35 policy risks making the plight of many self-employed people even worse.

“Delaying the change to next April will do next to nothing to reduce the impact of Covid-19 which will be felt for months – if not years – to come. This is not the time to add to the burden of the self-employed.

And Jamie Stone is starting a new All Party Parliamentary Group which meets this coming Tuesday and aims to advocate for those who have been excluded:

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Do you owe the Young Liberals any money?

There was a bit of late night amusement over the weekend as the Young Liberals publicised this page on their website inviting all of us to pay a penance if we had referred to them by their organisation’s previous name:

(Image shows two tweets, one by me, saying “We have all done this at some point so we should all give something. Everyone deserves to be referred to by their name. My problem is that this has now reminded me of its former incarnation which I thought I had expunged from my brain.” Laura Gordon replies saying “Setting up the page like that is basically entrapment, but, you know what, well played, English Young Liberals.”`)

The reason that this became an issue is that some senior figures in the party who should know better submitted a motion to Conference with the former name in it. I suspect that the Federal Conference Committee will kindly resolve this by way of a drafting amendment so nobody will ever know unless they read this article.

I did give them a small donation, and if we all did that, it would make a big difference to their campaigns on housing and mental health. 

This got me thinking about all the previous generations of the organisation. I joined the Young Social Democrats back in 1983. I think I was the most northern member at the time. It was a bit of a novelty for my central belt based colleagues to have someone up in Caithness. That organisation distinguished itself with the slogan “Have you got the guts to vote SDP?” The equivalent organisation in the Liberal Party was the Young Liberals.

I was instinctively a Liberal rather than a Social Democrat. Primarily it was issues around freedom, civil liberties and human rights that motivated me. However, I chose to join the SDP because in Caithness their average age was around 50 while the average age of the Liberals was a lot older than that.

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Lib Dem Jobwatch – ALDC special

Our friends at ALDC are hiring. They have one job in Wales up for grabs and another two in Salford with closing dates in the next 12 days.  If you fancy them, don’t delay – send off for an application pack.

Development Officer (Wales)

Full Time, Cardiff (with significant travel) £24.000-£28,000     (plus 8% pension contribution after 3 months).

This is a new post, jointly funded by the Welsh Liberal Democrats and ALDC. The postholder will work with council groups, councillors and local parties across Wales in the run up to major elections in 2021 and 2022. This is an exciting opportunity to work with both the Welsh Party and ALDC.

The post holder will be part of a new team whose aim is to ensure more Liberal Democrats are elected to both the Senedd and Welsh councils. To do that you will develop effective local campaigning by Liberal Democrats right across Wales, and for the local elections, deliver a considerable increase in the number of Welsh Liberal Democrat candidates.

Closing date – 5pm Friday 10 July
Interview date – Thursday 16 July (via video conference).

More information and application pack www.aldc.org/about/our-jobs-work-experience-opps/

Office and Events Organiser
Full Time. Salford (Greater Manchester)
£18,795.00 to £21,166.00 (plus 8% pension contribution after 3 months).

Responsible for the smooth running of our office, office systems and our busy programme of events.

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3 July 2020 – the day’s press releases

Govt’s claim of protective ring around care homes “completely bogus”

Responding to the latest ONS figures showing almost 20,000 care home residents have died with coronavirus, Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

The devastating scale of the coronavirus crisis in our care homes is heartbreaking. It shows the Government’s claim that they had a “protective ring” in place was completely bogus.

We must learn the lessons of this crisis in real time. Alongside adequate protective equipment, routine testing for residents and care workers could not be more important. The Government must ensure every care home

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Defining and measuring strategic objectives for the party

I wrote a piece here two weeks ago discussing the need for long term strategic objectives that would be consistent for 10-20 years and would, alongside our values, guide our decision making and enable us to develop a more focussed disciplined organisation. Knowing what our objectives were, and sticking to them over time would also enable us to rebuild a clear positive public identity for the party – in itself something key to long term electoral success and survival. And as others have commented, more important in the leadership election than the choice of specific policies.

The response to the piece might be summarised as “Yes this would be fantastic, but no it’s not really achievable”.  In particular there was scepticism about whether it was possible to move from rather general objectives (5 of which I suggested in my piece) to objectives with enough clarity and measurability to deliver the promise of focus, effectiveness and a long term electoral identity for the party.

This is one step towards showing that this challenge may be answerable. I have taken the five general objectives I set out (relating to climate change, fairness, education, the quality of political discourse, and the UK’s relationship to the world), given them a little more definition where necessary, and proposed how we might measure progress against them (say when we are looking back on the previous 15 years in 2035).  

Let’s start with the objective in relation to climate change – because this is the easiest to define (if not to deliver!)

“Promote /stick to the path to net zero for the UK (by 2045) and the world”

This is as clear as one could reasonably expect. It is not perfect (eg there are important debates about what exactly net zero means for the UK) but it is good enough for long term orientation. It is a long term objective which is not going to go away and needs sustained focus. It is not something we expect the current government to deliver without continual challenge and pressure from us and others. It is measurable.

Can we provide a similar level of clarity for my other proposed candidates for strategic objectives?

Consider fairness.

“Make the UK fairer” is a good general objective – in that it conveys crisply an important priority for our party, which many people will buy into. But it needs small print. Of the many things this might mean I suggest that in 2035 we should be asking ourselves as a party what we have done to;

  1. Reduce the number of people in poverty by 25% – this needs an agreed measure of poverty – of which there are many (a further blog by someone with more specialist knowledge!) and;
  2. Increase the number of those born into low income families who, later in life, are in the top half of the income distribution.

My third proposed objective was “to create one of the best and most inclusive education systems in the world”.

How would we know in our hypothetical 2035 review if we had done this or were moving towards it?

  1. Our schools would be performing well in an international context –eg as measured by the OECD;
  2. The proportion of working aged people who have achieved good further education, apprenticeship or university qualifications would have risen;
  3. We would have at least retained our current high proportion of globally top ranked universities.

Fourthly I proposed we should aim “to keep the political debate in the UK open, honest and fact based”.

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Liberal history online

Like many other party organisations, the Liberal Democrat History Group is moving activities online during the lockdown. So this article brings news of two events you may be interested in, and a summary of the latest issue of the Journal of Liberal History.

General Election 2019: Disappointment for the Liberal Democrats

Our next discussion meeting will take place at 6.30pm on Wednesday 8th July. We’ll be taking a look at the Liberal Democrats’ 2019 election campaign and its outcome in historical perspective. 

The party entered the campaign buoyed by its best opinion poll ratings in a decade, a second place showing in the European Parliament elections, impressive local election results in England and high-profile defections from the other parties. The party had a dynamic, young new leader in Jo Swinson and a simple, clear message: stop Brexit. But the Liberal Democrat campaign gained little traction and the results were hugely disappointing.

Lib Dem Voice readers are welcome to discuss the election with one of the country’s leading psephologists, Professor Sir John Curtice (Professor of Politics, University of Strathclyde), and James Gurling (former Chair, Federal Campaigns and Elections Committee). It will be chaired by Wendy Chamberlain MP.

The meeting will be hosted online on Zoom and also broadcast to the History Group’s Facebook page. You must register in advance to participate via Zoom (and be able to ask questions); to register, click here.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. Participation via Zoom is limited to the first 100 registering – and as I write, there aren’t that many spaces left!

Old heroes for a new leader

During every Liberal Democrat leadership election since 1999, we’ve asked the candidates to write a short article about their favourite historical figure or figures – those that they felt had influenced their own political beliefs most, and why they had proved important and relevant. We placed no restrictions on their choices: they could choose anyone they wanted, whether a Liberal or not.

We’re doing that again this year, and the articles will be published in the summer issue of the Journal of Liberal History, due out in late July. 

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Coalition

Friends, Lib Dems, countryfolk, lend me your ears. I come to bury the coalition, not to praise it.

But I’m not here to damn it either. I just want to move on.

Same-sex marriage. The Green Investment Bank. The tripling of our renewable energy usage. All Lib Dem policies that we should be fiercely proud of. But, if we’re going to celebrate them, we need to acknowledge that they came at a human cost – and that we voted for that.

As a party, we are too quick to brush off these people who we hurt as collateral. We shrug and say compromises had to be made. But those “compromises” were human beings – some of them within our own party. I have nothing but respect and admiration for their resilience and their faith in our movement. However, their forgiveness does not absolve us.

I don’t think it has to be a mark of shame on us forever. But too many people just don’t trust us to not jump back in bed with the Tories. It’s why our refusal to back Jeremy Corbyn at the General Election, whilst electorally wise and the right thing to do, was met with such anger.

By expending all that energy defending the coalition, voters hear “we think working with the Tories was a good thing”. That puts us a step back when we’re trying to convince people we’re not going to do it again.

Furthermore, we cannot expect the public to move on when we refuse to do so ourselves.

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Why social democrats are more left wing than the hard left

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Tories sneer when they use the term “left wing”. They point to the terrible failures of authoritarian states like North Korea. But if left wing is about poverty reduction, why do we let them call North Korea left wing?

In contrast to its northern neighbour, South Korea has had extraordinary success in reducing poverty, whereas “leftwing” oil-rich Venezuela has been a catastrophe.

If some states that call themselves “leftwing” aren’t, the same is true of political activists.

In 2017, Jeremy Corbyn proposed a radical manifesto. But the IFS and the Resolution Foundation found that Corbyn’s manifesto failed to reverse many cuts to the poorest, in dramatic contrast to the Liberal Democrat manifesto.

Poverty reduction is hard. Many well-meaning projects in international development have failed. They needed the warning of dissenting voices. The same is true in the UK, but when anyone pointed out the failings of Corbyn’s manifesto on social media, the red mists of anger descended on the hard left.

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Three things we don’t need in this leadership campaign: a goody, a baddy and more policy

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In politics it’s always tempting to think we can resolve problems by resorting to the same old solutions. That usually involves lionising a goody, demonising a baddy and a rollicking good debate about policy.

In the debate over our leadership, I’m seeing many people seeking to create a goody and a baddy, and loads of people banging on about policy.

But I don’t think we should be focusing on those in this leadership campaign. Here’s why.

Let’s start with the first problem. The traditional good v bad argument. We need to stop this nonsense. The fact that Ed served in the coalition should absolutely not rule him out from being the leader. In fact, we are fortunate to have somebody with his experience in government on the ballot paper. His achievements on the environment are matched by few in modern politics and he has an inspiring, touching personal story to tell too.

Layla is a talented politician, an effective campaigner and an excellent communicator. She may well enable us to access a demographic that has largely ignored us in the past three elections. It’s right that she’s willing to try to talk to people who just want a bit of ‘hopes and dreams’ in their politics and bought into that element of the Labour message. That’s a good thing and we should welcome it rather than deliberately misinterpreting her words.

This isn’t a battle of good v bad, it’s one liberal taking on another. Let’s not engage in the unattractive factionalism that we dislike so much in other parties. That gets us nowhere and gives succour to our opponents.

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The herd and the unheard!

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There is a current running through this government. It is one of confusion. But, despite my best efforts to not impune motives, I am coming to the view that the current running through this government is one of callousness. Not always intentional, but incredible, too.

Sometimes the callousness is because of the confusion.The one caused by the other. So we have loss of life due to Covid-19 in the highest numbers per head of population in the world, caused by lack of testing, tracing, PPE, etc. But that is only a part of it. Confusion here is in the delivery, but what I am more worried about is callousness in the decision making.

It was very welcome to see a centre-right chancellor acting like a centre-left one. It is very surprising to see a centre right PM think he is a New Deal President. But this is only a part of it.

What is the reality now is that we have a government in denial. It cannot see that it is all well and good having support packages, in part through pressure from other parties, but what’s the use, if they are stopped? It is fine to have schemes to rebuild, but what is the point if we tear down the support for people!

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Liberal Democrats in support of black lives and black livelihoods

An open letter to the candidates for Leadership of the Liberal Democrats.

3rd July 2020

Dear Leadership Candidate,

Though the espoused commitment of the Liberal project to achieve racial equality within the UK may indeed be sincere, a lack of diverse representation at all levels of the party betrays the fact that as liberals we have found it inexplicably difficult to practice what we preach.

In a post imperial, post-Brexit Britain, the rightful place for British Liberalism surely, should be at the vanguard of the fight for racial justice and equality. Yet on issues of race, we find ourselves perennially navel-gazing, apparently stuck in a holding pattern of our own making. The pace of change within the party, frustratingly glacial at best.

Martin Luther King taught that though legislation may be effective in restraining the heartless, it has little effect in changing a man’s heart and ridding him of his implicit biases.

If Grenfell, Windrush and Covid-19 have taught us anything post-Macpherson, it is that the cancer of racism is thriving in the UK; albeit, having evolved a degree of invisibility, metastasizing into aversive forms such as silence, stonewalling and political inertia, the manifestations of which continue to be largely ignored.

When Derek Chauvin placed his knee on George Floyd’s neck, hands in pockets, eyes devoid of empathy, emboldened by the wilful and negligent silence of his fellow officers, the cloak of invisibility slipped. The racial animus was evident to all who observed. And on this occasion, could not be hidden, ignored or explained away.

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The Independent View: Overcrowded housing, BAME groups and COVID-19

As the COVID-19 era has progressed, more and more data has pointed towards a deeply harrowing truth – the virus is having a disproportionate impact on BAME groups. According to research from ICNARC, approximately one-third of the COVID-19 patients admitted to Intensive Care Units (ICUs) have been from BAME groups, despite the fact that just 14% of the UK population is BAME.

Added to this, black ethnic groups have experienced the highest diagnosis rates, and both black and Asian groups have experienced higher death rates than the white British majority. In order to understand this disparity, it is important to take a close look at one of the factors thought to play a part: overcrowded housing.

All minority ethnic groups are statistically more likely to live in overcrowded housing than the white British group. Taking the Bangladeshi ethnic group as an example, just short of 30% of households have more residents than rooms. For white British households, this figure stands at just 2%.

Overcrowded housing is of huge significance for two main reasons. Firstly, it dramatically increases the risk of COVID-19 transmission, as the virus can spread easily among those who live in close proximity to each other and share facilities such as bathrooms and kitchens. Secondly, it makes adhering to self-isolation guidelines essentially impossible, as a person cannot minimise their contact with others if their circumstances are such that they did not have enough personal space to begin with.

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2 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Govt making “dog’s dinner” of Brexit negotiations
  • Govt must move faster to improve NHS Test & Trace system
  • Govt woefully underprepared to ensure every young person can return to school

Govt making “dog’s dinner” of Brexit negotiations

Responding to news that the UK Chief Negotiator David Frost has stated that “significant differences” remain as the latest restricted round of talks concludes a day early, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs and Brexit spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

Last month Boris Johnson asserted that he wanted a Brexit deal by the end of July.

But far from putting a tiger in the tank, David Frost appears to be making a

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Progressive politics needs Starmer to ‘definitely’ be a better Labour leader

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Let’s hope that Ed Miliband’s candid admission is right: that Keir Starmer is ‘definitely’ a better Labour leader than he was.  Miliband’s failed strategic approach, after all, helped put the cause of progressive politics back a decade. And as the Liberal Democrats pick a new leader, it’s essential that those lessons are learned – for both parties.

When ‘Red Ed’ snatched the Labour leadership from his heir apparent brother David in 2010, it was in the aftermath of a crushing election defeat: the lowest share of the vote since 1918 and seat numbers back to 1980s levels.  There was resentment, of course, that the Liberal Democrats did not cobble together a coalition to keep Gordon Brown in Number 10 but any rational assessment would conclude this was never going to happen: the numbers simply did not add up and frankly voters had resoundingly rejected Labour after 13 years in office.

There was talk, in those early days of the coalition, with David Cameron’s Conservatives, of ‘New Politics’. That is a new era of cooperation and consensual discourse.  The sort of politics that would come about in a system where all votes count and which represents the views of all voters. This was, after all, the first government since before the Second World War able to claim it represented more than half of all those who voted.  It was an idea promoted by David Miliband who soon left the Westminster stage.  But for Ed Miliband, it was never on the agenda.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 9th Jul - 6:21pm
    I don’t know about bringing “new thinking and approaches to traditional economics”. Surely Rishi Sunak is there already.
  • User AvatarAndy Hinton 9th Jul - 6:17pm
    Lorenzo: The National Theatre, like other producing houses, is very much the exception, not the rule. I know several members of their sound department, so...
  • User AvatarAndy Daer 9th Jul - 6:17pm
    We must thank William Wallace for this concise and penetrating article, detailing and describing the horrifying choice the Conservative Party has made by hitching its...
  • User AvatarFiona 9th Jul - 6:05pm
    @Peter, that's not how I read it. I read it as working on ways to move away from 'traditional economics' and those ways of thinking,...
  • User AvatarGeorgina Sullivan 9th Jul - 5:27pm
    Peter Good question. Let's hope that it's not what it appears to be. perhaps Caroline Lucas ought to be involved as well?
  • User AvatarPaul Reynolds 9th Jul - 5:21pm
    I have been prompted to mention also that the Party has launched an excellent initiative where members can contribute considered policy ideas in each of...