Young Liberals To Host European Liberal Youth Congress In 2019

Next year is a big year for the UK. With our exit from the EU set to happen at the end of March, Britain is all but guaranteed to see its influence in the world declined. The fact of the reality is that outside of the EU, the United Kingdom matters far less in world politics than we did as a member of it. Unfortunately, this is also true for the Liberal Democrats. Leaving the EU not only deprives us of the opportunity to elect MEPs, but also places us in an awkward position within ALDE. No longer a member of the EU, but still able to influence its policies.

While many in our sister parties recognise that the Liberal Democrats is a party of committed Europeans, Brexit has still changed the way they view us. In last year’s ALDE bureau elections, for the first time, no Lib Dem was elected. While within European Liberal Youth (LYMEC), there are clear signs of anti-British feeling because of the Brexit vote coming from some of its members.

Fortunately, there are many within both ALDE and LYMEC who recognise that Young Liberals and the Liberal Democrats are committed Europeans. That is why I am delighted to announce that Young Liberals will be hosting LYMEC’s Autumn Congress in 2019.

The LYMEC Bureau believes that this is an opportunity for our fellow young European liberals to show support and unity with Young Liberals here in the UK. With LYMEC President, Svenja Hahn telling Young Liberals:

Brexit has become the synonym for insecurity and uncertainty. In times like these liberals have to unite and stand up for each other and our shared values. We want to bring our autumn 2019 congress to the UK to show that the European young liberals will stand with our British friends in European solidarity!

I couldn’t agree more.

As we battle against the increasingly extreme, nationalist and illiberal politics we are seeing in the Labour and the Conservatives, it is more important than ever that we maintain a strong and independent liberal British voice internationally. With around 130 delegates from 33 European countries coming to the UK, next year’s Autumn Congress allows Young Liberals to do just that.

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Weak immigration paper needs to go back to the drawing board

The immigration motion (F16) and policy paper coming to Conference has already rightly drawn the ire of Lib Dem Voice commentators.  It’s weak, indistinct, and includes some seriously objectionable language and ideas. I and the Radical Association, of which I’m proud to be the current chair, will be opposing F16 at conference and demanding a full rethink of this poorly produced and inadequate policy paper.

We’re at a point in rebuilding our party from some bad electoral losses where it’s crucial that we build a clear, separate identity as voices to empower the voiceless, and being proudly pro-immigration is a vital part of that. Passing F16 would undermine rather than support that.

Let’s think about the debates we could – and should – be having over our immigration policy.  We shouldn’t need a conference debate to argue over whether ripping families apart for no crime other than being poor, a system maintained by F16’s ban on recourse to public funds for immigrant families, is wrong. Nor should we need one to tell us that migrants are our fellow human beings and that a motion with calls to “reap economic benefits from the diasporas” is utterly and shamefully inappropriate in its rhetoric.

Liberal Democrat debates on immigration should focus instead on how to best support and empower migrants. We need to show many families struggling with spousal income limits or visa processing fees, or getting wrapped up in red tape just for wanting to live with their loved ones, that we’re in their corner and taking their side. It’s time, too, for a serious discussion on enfranchising permanent non-citizen residents, from whom the UK state happily takes its tax share but who get no say in the system they live under – as sadly borne out in the Brexit vote.

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Vince Cable writes…We need to catch up with our European neighbours in fighting Cancer

Cancer is traumatising. It is universal, leaving no family untouched.

I saw this first-hand. Cancer took my first wife, Olympia, in 2001. To repeat what I wrote in my memoirs, that experience showed me that whatever may be said in criticism of the NHS, the capacity of the system to deliver high quality, sophisticated treatment to the acutely sick is so greatly appreciated by those who receive it.

Living with and caring for a cancer sufferer for 14 years led me to want to help others and to use my political position to do so. I campaigned subsequently for wider breast cancer screening, a screening programme for cervical cancer and the introduction of bowel cancer screening.

So many people work so hard to stop cancer: raising money with bake sales, running marathons, nagging our loved ones to eat better, drink less, stop smoking.

In the 2017/18 alone, there were donations of £192m to Cancer Research UK, a further £153m raised from events and charity shops.

But Cancer Research UK is marking the 70th anniversary of the NHS with a campaign to get the Government to commit to invest in training and employing more specialist staff to diagnose cancer early.

This is because, despite all we are doing, all the money we are raising, the UK is falling behind other European countries in the successful treatment of cancer. Olympia had diagnosis and  treatment that showed the NHS at its best. Others have been less fortunate – an IT glitch meant hundreds of thousands of women in England missed breast cancer screenings. 

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What do you think of “Demand Better”?

So we have our new strapline. Demand Better.

I like it.

It’s active and aspirational. It tells us that we are not stuck with this crap. We can have a fairer, happier, more equal country and we all have a part to play in making it happen.

Optimistic, from-the-heart vision and ambition is long overdue in politics. Clinton and Obama won with strong messages of positivity and hope. We will overcome the negative, divisive, anti-democratic rhetoric from the extremes and solve problems in an inclusive way.

It’s versatile – Demand better for health, for Scotland, for Petersfield, where our excellent Sarah Brown hopes to unseat Labour in a by-election on 13th September.

And we can also think of it as an inspiration and a challenge for us to always push ourselves to deliver the best we possibly can for people. We will never have solved all the problems of the world. We will forever have to come up with creative, liberal solutions to the problems we know about and can predict or new ones that come along. And we can, of course, demand better of our party processes and, for example, any controversial policy papers on migration that might happen to come along.

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Observations of an ex pat: Defeating ISIS

How do you defeat an idea, especially an idea wrapped in the cloak of religious infallibility?

Now add the complications of long-held justifiable grievances against Western society; unbalanced personalities and a communications network which can transmit hate messages to anyone, anytime, anywhere.

This is the problem The West is facing in its battle against Islamic Jihadists.

Following this week’s incident outside the British parliament it was revealed that British intelligence agencies had 10,000 “persons of interest” that they were monitoring in the UK. In the past year they had stopped 13 terrorist attacks from Islamic terrorists and 4 from far right groups.

Almost simultaneously both the Pentagon and the UN issued reports saying that ISIS is far from defeated, despite the claims of Donald Trump and the Iraqi government.

The physical territory controlled by ISIS has shrunk to a pinpoint of its former self which—at its height—was the size of France. But ISIS is still there. The UN and Pentagon estimate that up to 30,000 committed Jihadists remain in Syria and Iraq. Another 5,000 are in Libya. A thousand are in the Sinai and up to 8,000 are active in Afghanistan.

Their tactics have switched from the creation of an expanding geographic base to the more traditional terrorist structure of loosely-tied individuals and small groups united by radical ideas—with differences.  The biggest difference is that the link between the central authority and the terrorist on the ground is increasingly forged through cyber space rather than physical contact.

Computer-based Jihadist recruiters surf the internet in search of vulnerable personalities looking for a cause through which to channel their grievances. These can be anything from prejudice to mental illness. One of the suicide bombers in the 7/7 London bombings is believed to have been spurred into action by a broken love affair.

Once hooked, the would-be terrorist is carefully flattered and cultivated by his digital mentor. He is made to feel a key component in a structure that needs him to don a bomb-packed suicide vest or drive a car into a crowd of innocent bystanders.

Other wannabe Jihadists find their way to the battlefields of Middle East and Central Asia. When defeated many of them return to their European homes and are thrown into prison, or possibly sent to Guantanamo Bay where they brutalized by Western captors seeking an understandable vengeance and further radicalised by Islamic inmates.

The dusty pages of history offer possible solution to this downward spiral.  During World War Two, hundreds of thousands of German Prisoners of War were sent to camps in Britain, the US and Canada.  Their treatment is credited with helping to lay the foundations for today’s successful liberal Germany.

In the United States there were 371,000 German POWs spread across 650 camps. Initially they were treated in the traditional manner. There was a camp commandant who was responsible for keeping them behind barbed wire. Day-to-day activities were controlled by German officers who were by and large, hardened Nazis. The result was that the brutal regime and fascist ideology of Adolf Hitler was mirrored in the camps.

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We’re back to GAINING on a Thursday night…

After disappointment last week, we’ve GAINED a seat tonight:

Well done to David Goode and his team.

And a gain in vote share from a standing start for Andy Minty in Bury:

Sadly we didn’t have …

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Shameful! Half of prisoners are abandoned on release

Recent reports based on the Freedom of Information request made by Liberal Democrats highlight the shocking abandonment of prisoners upon release. This is when they are most vulnerable and in need of help to transition into a settled place in society.

Lib Dem Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey MP revealed that more than 100,000 prisoners across England and Wales left prison for “unsettled” or “unknown” accommodation in the last three years, almost half of the 220,411 prisoners released in that period. A full table of figures for individual prisons can be found 

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Travel for Sport Post-Brexit

Following on from the European Athletics Championships last week in Berlin comes this letter from the Government on the free movement of those involved in sport after Brexit.

It was in answer to a letter from the Chair of the House of Lords EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee, Lord Jay of Ewelme. It begins,

The Home Affairs Sub-Committee of the House of Lords EU Committee recently concluded an inquiry into Brexit: freedom of movement in the fields of sport and culture. The Committee will publish a report on freedom of movement in the field of culture; this letter refers to the evidence that we took on sport, and asks for elaboration of a number of points that witnesses raised.

The inquiry considered how the UK’s decision to end free movement from the EU might affect the two sectors. We received written evidence from a range of individuals and organisations, and held two oral evidence sessions.

He goes on to ask the following questions:

  • Has the Government made an analysis of the number of EU27 citizens working in the UK sports sector?
  • Has the Government considered the effect of ending free movement on sports such as horseracing?
  • Has the Government assessed whether extra Tier 5 or Tier 2 visas will need to be issued for EU27 sportspeople wishing to enter the UK post-Brexit, and if so, how many extra visas might be needed?
  • How will non-elite EU27 sportspeople enter the UK after the end of the transition period? Will the Government introduce a preferential system for EU27 sportspeople, or will they fall under the rules that currently exist for non-EU sportspeople?
  • How, if at all, will the Government protect what Angus Bujalski called the “business of sport” from any negative effects associated with ending free movement?
  • Has the Government given any consideration to introducing a seasonal workers scheme for EU27 workers in the sports sector?
  • Has the Government assessed how UK sports, from the elite to the grassroots level, would be affected should the UK no longer be able to make use of the Kolpak ruling?
  • The Government’s current proposal is for an “association agreement” with the EU. Under the terms of an association agreement, would UK sportspeople be able to play in EU sports teams as “homegrown” players, post-Brexit? And could EU sportspeople continue to play in the UK as such?
  • How, if at all, will the Government protect what Angus Bujalski called the “business of sport” from any negative effects associated with ending free movement?
  • Has the Government given any consideration to introducing a seasonal workers scheme for EU27 workers in the sports sector?
  • Has the Government assessed how UK sports, from the elite to the grassroots level, would be affected should the UK no longer be able to make use of the Kolpak ruling?
  • The Government’s current proposal is for an “association agreement” with the EU. Under the terms of an association agreement, would UK sportspeople be able to play in EU sports teams as “homegrown” players, post-Brexit? And could EU sportspeople continue to play in the UK as such?
  • How, if at all, does the Government plan to ensure that sportspeople, other sports sector workers, and fans, will be able to travel and work in the EU after the transition period?
  • What will the Government offer to the EU in return?
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What IF… We Leave with no Deal

If the Tories throw caution to the wind and somehow manage to leave the EU because they put dogma above the consequences of leaving with no deal, what will the impact of that be for us?  Below is a small account of the possible results of that action. I put this forward to reinforce why the Lib Dems are against Brexit and now (as another possibility has emerged) an exit without a deal.

Currently, there are no queues of countries enthusiastically waiting to trade with us (as the Leavers said they would be) and even if there where it will take …

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Immigration White Paper

Before a mass of Liberal voices condemns the party’s immigration paper and the related motion for party conference, we need to reflect on two underlying issues: first, that global population growth, combined with weak states and intermittent conflicts across the developing world, and exacerbated by climate change, mean that migration to richer and safer countries is becoming one of the most intractable issues democratic nations will face over the next generation; second, that the white working class in Britain (above all, in England) have real grievances, which we cannot dismiss, and which are partly – though only partly – associated with immigration.

Yes, much of the resentment unskilled people in England feel against incomers is unjustified and misdirected.  That doesn’t mean that we should ignore it: politics, sadly, is as much about emotion as about reasoned argument.   However, we can’t reassure them merely by saying that they are mistaken, or ill-informed.  We have to address those grievances, by campaigning for policies that answer them.

The Leave campaign, aided and abetted by Migration Watch and the right-wing media, managed to present the challenge of immigration as coming from the European continent, triggered by EU free movement rules. In reality, migration from other EU countries has never accounted for the majority of arrivals in the UK in any year, despite the surge after east European nations joined.  The real ‘Project Fear’ in the Referendum campaign was the suggestion that the entire population of Romania and Bulgaria would move to Britain, and that 70 million Turks would follow.  The population of the EU-28, in total, is 500 million.  However, the population of Africa has grown by 500 million over the past 30 years, and current expectations are that it will double again over the next 25-30 years. Across the Middle East and South Asia, birth-rates remain high – closely linked to the subordinate position of women and their limited access to education.

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Greenhouse Effect – Global Carbon Trading

In 2005 the EU established a cap for carbon emissions and trade program. This cap set a limit on the CO2 industry and utilities could emit. The cap is to reduce the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. A low cap will cost business, and a high one will have little impact reducing global warming. In 2017 the cap was 1.7 per cent annually that would reduce emissions by 43 per cent by 2030. In the EU carbon targets affect 11,000 energy and industrial plants.

With the trade program, each company has an emit target and can emit

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Boris’s Burka Bashing – Morally Malevolent

A while back my wife decided that she would start to wear the hijab. She never discussed this with me nor did I have any indication she wanted to wear one. She felt that as part of her spiritual journey that she should wear one. I was a bit surprised, but it was her choice. She wore the hijab for about three years and then decided to stop wearing it. Again, she didn’t discuss it with me and made her own choice (this time I was a bit annoyed – as I feared she might have stopped wearing it because of the response she got from the general public or colleagues at work). However, it was more to do with what she felt about her spiritualism than anything else. There are of course people who do require their partners/daughters to wear the hijab or the burka, but in the majority of the cases, it’s a personal choice for those who choose to wear it.

My culture is British, my social reference points are British, and I think in English, but if Pakistan were playing cricket against England, I would support Pakistan (as an English person who lives in Australia would support the English football team if it played against Australia). We live in a free society where we can express our free will as long as it doesn’t impinge on others. I suppose “impinge on others” is the key phrase here, in such instances, I always apply common sense to check my behaviour when considering others. However, for some, there is a robust instinctive intolerance and bigotry that’s devoid of common sense.

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How you can help Sarah Brown win in Cambridge

A Cambridge Council by-election has made national headlines this week after a Labour Councillor resigned because she didn’t agree with the terms of the Equality Act, which has been in force since 2010.

Our candidate in the by-election is former Councillor for the ward and former Executive Councillor for Community Wellbeing Sarah Brown.

From Pink News:

Ahead of the September 13 by-election, the Liberal Democrats picked respected transgender activist Sarah Brown as the candidate for Sinnott’s vacated Petersfield seat.

Brown, a polyamorous transgender lesbian campaigner, previously held the seat from 2010 until 2014.

The candidate said: “Petersfield is where I live and I aim to champion it as I already know how – and as I did before.”

She added: “I am sad to see the campaign to turn the clock back on the city council’s equalities policy, which I will resist.

“It’s right that the needs and rights of transgender people, along with other groups, are recognised here, as national legislation expects.

“Cambridge has led by example on diversity, tolerance and liberal values, and we must defend that leadership from those who seek to divide us.”

It’s good to see the official Lib Dems Twitter account get behind her:

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LibLink: Judith Jolly We must put the best interests of patients first and end the crisis in social care

100,000 people may be having their liberty unlawfully restricted,. That’s a big claim made by Lib Dem Health and Social Care spokesperson Judith Jolly in an article for Politics Home.

She writes about how cross party support is building for amendments to the Mental Capacity Act Amendment Bill aim to ensure that any Deprivation of Liberty Standards are implemented by trained individuals and only after a face to face assessment. It’s scary to think that that doesn’t happen as a matter of course.

I am pleased to see support for these new safeguards building. Indeed, there has been much criticism of the current DoLS system across parliament. The Joint Committee on Human Rights has said the system is broken and urgent action is needed to fix it. The process is overly bureaucratic and lacks the clarity over how DoLS should be implemented and who is responsible for their implementation.

The backlog of DoLS assessments means there are over 100,000 people who may be having their liberty unlawfully restricted, hundreds of care home managers and Mental Capacity Act (MCA) practitioners whose workloads are overwhelmed by process, and thousands of family members struggling to get the best care for their loved ones.

A key part of the reforms gives major responsibilities to care home managers. However, there are currently no provisions in place for how care home managers will manage this new responsibility or deal with any conflict of interests. What the amendments need to ensure is a focus on the resources and training that are necessary to implement a DoLS assessment and to ensure patients’ best interests are met.

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Vince: Bigots are not welcome in the Liberal Democrats

You can barely turn on the telly these days without seeing some politician or commentator taking a swipe at a marginalised group. If we think things are bad here, it’s exponentially worse in the US where Pod Save America host Jon Lovett described Fox News in the evenings as wall to wall white nationalism.

So it’s refreshing to see a party leader jump into the middle and say “No. This will not stand.”

Vince, in a piece on the main party website, said:

The Liberal Democrats have always been at the forefront of the fight for equality, and we have a record on these issues of which we’re very proud.

But sadly, the truth is that a very small minority of our own members do hold some views that are fundamentally incompatible with our values.

Our party’s constitution is clear:

We reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality.

As a liberal, I respect people’s rights to hold different views to my own, but my message to everyone is that racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, sexism, transphobia and bigotry are not welcome, and not tolerated, in the Liberal Democrats.

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How you can help Liberal Democrat Voice

The Voice is only a success because of the interest and support from our readers. For many people just lurking and reading the site is all they want to do – and that’s fine, we’re grateful for people taking the time to read the site.

You can though help us continue to produce interesting content for a growing audience. Here are four simple ways:

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ALDC Campaigner Awards 2018

The annual ALDC Campaigner Awards provide a way for us to recognise the outstanding work of local Liberal Democrat campaigners and campaign teams. And nominations for 2018 are now open (closing 26 August), sponsored by our print partners, Election Workshop. You don’t have to be an ALDC member to enter (but you can find out about membership here).

THE CATEGORIES:

Best local election campaign – We’re looking for local parties that have fought effective and strong 2018 local election campaigns – how did you win, what innovative new ideas did you use, …

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Fun holiday photo quiz: And the winner is…..

Thanks to everyone who took part in our fun quiz on Friday – and to those who thought about it but were stumped by it!

We showed the photo above, which I took on my recent holiday. We asked you to name the location of the photo, which was mentioned wittily in a distinguished Liberal MP’s auto-biography.

The answer was Bergen railway station in Norway, which Jo Grimond, Liberal party leader 1956-1967, mentioned in his auto-biography (see below).

The first person to give the correct answer in our comments threads was Charles Dundas. Charles receives the accolade of “LDV Super Anorak” and a “very good” condition copy of Jo Grimond’s said memoirs.

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Why aren’t we doing much better?

This week’s damning editorial about current Lib Dem performance and prospects in The New Statesman will have struck a chord amongst many Liberal Democrat supporters and activists. I know that the world is unfair, and that we are mass-media-invisible, but nonetheless our lack of progress has to be a real present worry. Mucking up critical votes on what is supposed to be ‘our’ issue above all – opposition to Brexit – only compounds the sense of drift.

I’m glad that Caron Lindsay thought that Sir Vince Cable was ‘sparkling’ on Pienaar’s Politics recently but I fear that such appearances are not …

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An American solution to the second home problem?

Last month, campaigners near where I live won a by-election where the key issue was that of second home owners and their impact on local communities and services.

This weekend, I’m spending a few days in Rhode Island, home of the chicken, and enjoying the tranquility of the shoreline near the Massachusetts border. Whilst doing so, I’ve been discussing some of the issues surrounding how you maintain healthy rural communities, especially in places popular as holiday destinations. As you do, right?

One of the challenges is how you ensure that local workers, whose salaries are often far lower than those seeking to …

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Welcome to my day: 13 August 2018 – switching to a walrus-inspired diet

Welcome to Rhode Island, the Ocean State and the smallest in the Union. First to declare independence, and last of the original thirteen States to join the United States, it’s probably the least remarked upon part of New England. It is, having spent the weekend in a quiet corner near the Massachusetts border, rather pretty and, if you’re in the area, worth a peek.

So, why the steamed clams? They’re something of a delicacy in these parts, and thrive in the absence of walruses, whose diets consists largely of clams. And, despite my …

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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #528

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 528th weekly round-up from the Lib Dem blogosphere … Featuring the five most popular stories beyond Lib Dem Voice according to click-throughs from the Aggregator (5-11 August, 2018), together with a hand-picked seven you might otherwise have missed. The Golden Dozen will be taking its Summer break for the next two weeks, but will be back with a bumper edition on 2 September.

Don’t forget: you can sign up to receive the Golden Dozen direct to your email inbox — just click here — ensuring you never miss out on the best of Lib Dem blogging.

As ever, let’s start with the most popular post, and work our way down:

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When Laura Bates taught Nick Clegg a few things…

If I had known, 30 years ago, that there would be an annual Book Festival in Edinburgh in the last half of August, I’d have put my wedding back a week or two. My lack of foresight means that I’ll be away on a celebratory holiday when both Jo Swinson and Chelsea Clinton are speaking there. Jo is on 22nd August at 18:45 (buy tickets here) and her book, Equal Power, was on sale in the bookshop yesterday.

The tents in Charlotte Square have been my spiritual home in August for some time so yesterday it was great to be there on the first day, especially as Edinburgh Gin seemed to be taking their responsibilities as sponsors very seriously with several new gin bars around the place. For the record, their seaside gin is ok, but not as good as Isle of Harris, which has definitely cornered the market in things that taste like the sea.

I saw Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism project, talk about her new book, Misogynation, which aims to join the dots to highlight the systemic nature of sexism throughout our society. She told some shocking stories – highlighting, for example, evidence that there is the equivalent of one rape every day of term in a UK school.

A lot of the conversation centred around harassment of women in school, online and on the street. She talked about innovative ways of dealing with it. One man, for example, who had recently come to realise the effect of persistent street harassment on his female friends who were having to deal with it, couldn’t work out how to intervene when he saw a woman being crudely catcalled by men on a building site. When they called “Get your t**s out, love” he had a brainwave – and lifted up his t-shirt to make the point that they would never say that sort of thing to him so it wasn’t alright to say it to her.

She also told of a visit to a school where the girls got wind of a plot by the boys to be disruptive and generally unpleasant during her talk. So they left class a few minutes’ early and arranged themselves in every second seat in the hall. So every boy was sitting between two girls so it wasn’t so comfortable for them to heckle. In fact, they actually engaged with the talk.

One of the consequences of the Everyday Sexism project and the hundreds of thousands of examples it has collected over the years is that it has helped to shope policy. The examples of sexual harassment in schools has, finally, forced a change to more inclusive sex education in England – although the devils that will inevitably be in the detail of that are not yet apparent.

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WATCH: Vince Cable at the #PeoplesVote Bristol rally – We can win this

Vince went to Bristol yesterday to speak to the People’s Vote rally. His message was one of confidence and optimism – that the tide was turning in our favour and we could win a People’s vote.

Watch highlights here:

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Study says that a majority of UK constituencies now back staying in the EU

The Observer today suggests that as many as 112 seats may have changed from Leave to Remain.

In findings that could have a significant impact on the parliamentary battle of Brexit later this year, the study concludes that most seats in Britain now contain a majority of voters who want to stay in the EU.

The analysis, one of the most comprehensive assessments of Brexit sentiment since the referendum, suggests the shift has been driven by doubts among Labour voters who backed Leave.

As a result, the trend is starkest in the north of England and Wales – Labour heartlands in which Brexit sentiment appears to be changing. The development will heap further pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to soften the party’s opposition to reconsidering Britain’s EU departure.

What will Corbyn, a lifelong opponent of the EU, do now? Will he bow to the evidence that Labour voters are flocking to stay in the EU or will he hold firm in his opposition even to the customs union and single market.

And what will those in the Labour Party do if he refuses to budge his position? Especially those in Labour seats who are now backing Remain?

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Time to get your amendments ready for Conference

The deadline for amendments and emergency motions for Conference may seem like ages away but, believe me, 1pm on Monday 3rd September will be on us before we know it.

The Conference will be discussing a wide range of subjects, from the controversial migration paper to animal welfare to decriminalising abortion to foreign policy to housing to fairer distribution of wealth to Lib Dem “priorities for a better Britain.”

Your mission for this weekend, should you choose to accept it, is to read all the motions to see which you agree with, which you don’t like and which you think could be made better if it included a particular perspective. In reality, all of them will have some way they could be improved.

Part 2 of that mission is about thinking what our Brexit policy should be from now. Do you think that the People’s Vote thing is a bit mild and we should be going all-out for revoking Article 50? Do you think we should settle for single market and customs union membership? How should our MPs vote on the deal when it is presented? There is currently a Europe sized hole in the agenda because there was no point in submitting a motion in June that might be out of date by September, so you have the chance to craft your ideal Brexit policy.

If you think a motion would be the better for a change, you could draft the changes you think are necessary and then get drafting advice from a member of the Federal Conference Committee. The deadline for asking for that advice is 13:00 on Monday 20th August.

You don’t have to have asked for drafting advice to submit an amendment but it is useful to make sure that you get the format right or to ensure that you aren’t using any ambiguous language or that it’s competent. It doesn’t guarantee selection, of course, but it does make it more likely that it will meet the key criteria.

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Defence of Johnson amounts to a charter for the oppression of a vulnerable minority

Embed from Getty Images

In defence of Boris Johnson’s remarks about the wearing of the burqa and the niqab, his supporters have replied: “You need to read the full article to see the context”. I have now read Johnson’s full article. That is ten minutes of my life I won’t get back. It is remarkable that he gets paid a King’s ransom for such tosh. More galling, he has been doing it (certainly up to 26th July, three weeks after he resigned from the government) at our expense from 1 Carlton Gardens.

David Yelland, who was Editor of the Sun from 1998 to 2003, has tweeted:


Shrouded amidst a rather generalised and vaguely creepy paeon of praise to Denmark, cloaked in criticism of their Burqa ban, was some very nasty and unnecessary verbiage. I quote here his whole passage with the particularly egregious words in bold, so that I can’t be accused of quoting Johnson out of context:

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LibLink Christine Jardine: Hard Brexit makes these people fear for their lives

The headlines about the Government stockpiling medicines in the event of a hard Brexit will pass most people by. They’ll dismiss it as Project Fear.

For people with serious long term health conditions, it’s all pretty scary, though. They know that they could well pay the price of right wing Tory Brexiteers’ folly.

Christine Jardine has a friend with Diabetes, who tells her story in Christine’s Scotsman column, describing how she came close to death when he system got out of balance after a  stomach bug:

After 48 hours alone, dehydrated and struggling to breathe – with sky-high blood sugar – I called an ambulance. “I had become so dehydrated my body was no longer absorbing insulin. I lay in the back of an ambulance, unable to drink water unless it was lacing my lips from a sponge on the end of a stick. I was without insulin.

“Wheeled into high dependency, I grasped the consultant’s hand and asked her if I was going to die. “It was a real fear which I now feel again as I think about what crashing out of the EU might do for my health, and others.

“Every morning as I reach for the milk, I glimpse my insulin in the fridge door. “It used to mean nothing. Now, every morning, every evening, I consider how much I could go without. If I give up carbohydrates and sugar completely, how much Novorapid (the type I take to deal with carbs) would I really need? Could I possibly even change my diet so I needed nothing?

“But then there’s Lantus. That keeps me alive over the course of 24 hours. Latent. In the background. But always there. How little would I need? What could I survive on?”

Christine outlined what she intended to do about this:

Posted in LibLink | Tagged and | 32 Comments

Introducing the General Election 2017 Election Review

After the 2015 election disaster, a comprehensive post mortem led by James Gurling analysed what had gone wrong and made a huge number of detailed recommendations of what should be done differently next time.

However, the snap election of 2017, coming just two years later and out of left field, meant that we were still recovering from 2015 and had not had much chance to implement many of those changes.

Another disappointing result demanded further analysis, although a snap election was a very different challenge. So the Federal Board concluded that a review should be relatively ‘quick and dirty’ and sit alongside the 2015 review in informing future decisions.

Finding someone completely uninvolved in the election to lead the review proved an impossible task, and in the end Gerald Vernon-Jackson failed to dodge the bullet and was appointed just after the Bournemouth conference. Three months having already elapsed since polling day, Gerald was asked to produce something fast. He mustered a strong team and over a long weekend of intensive work they interviewed some 58 stakeholders from across the party.

Their report was produced quickly off the back of that evidence-taking and serves as a candid appraisal of the snap election campaign. It was formally received by the Federal Board and sent to the Federal Campaigns and Elections Committee and Federal Audit and Scrutiny Committee to inform ‘lessons learned’ exercises.

Some eyebrows were raised at the anecdotal character of the report, but in fairness to Gerald and his team it was exactly what it said on the tin: a coherent synopsis of the perceptions of 58 stakeholders and the panel itself, drawing together the common threads from the accounts they heard. It does not purport to be a comprehensive analysis of the sort conducted after 2015, and was always designed to sit alongside the earlier report in providing a route map for future campaigns.

Posted in News | Tagged | 30 Comments

Today’s fun quiz – an extra prize and some clues


It seems I have stumped the complete Liberal Democrat Voice readership with my fun photo quiz from this morning.

Here is a wider version of the scene pictured this morning. This should give you a clue as to the category of location that we are talking about…

I took this photo while on my holiday last week.

Can you guess where it was taken? It is a location mentioned wittily in a distinguished Liberal MP’s auto-biography.

Another clue is that the Liberal MP in question was a leader of the Liberal Party.

Please use the comments …

Posted in Photo feature | 10 Comments
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  • User AvatarPeter Watson 19th Aug - 12:01am
    @John Marriott "How about ‘It doesn’t have to be like this’?" Change it to "It doesn't have to be like that" and the brilliant Erasure...
  • User AvatarMichael 1 18th Aug - 11:48pm
    Thanks to Ben and the YLs for their hard work on this. I am minded to support this - but I offer this as constructive...
  • User AvatarMichael 1 18th Aug - 11:07pm
    @John Marriott A break? Whatever outlandish suggestions will you be coming up with next? A break from berating the good citizens of this country on...
  • User AvatarMartin Land 18th Aug - 9:42pm
    I'm a Spurs supporter so there is not much of problem for us. We're mostly English and we seem to have stopped buying players.
  • User AvatarCharlie Murphy 18th Aug - 9:36pm
    This is awesome news for the Young Liberals and the Liberal Democrats! Thanks for your work Ben, your tireless efforts have really been a credit...
  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 18th Aug - 9:28pm
    @ John Marriot, I Like it. It really doesn't have to be like this, but what is the alternative that politics can offer, and in...