Lib Dem leadership timetable in full

Here is how we get from here until the announcement of our new leader on 23rd July.

The most important date in that is 7th June. If you aren’t a member then, you won’t get a vote. So join here if you like what we are doing.  And share that link around, too. It’s a special one for us.

12th May Nomination forms available

22nd May Opening of nominations

7th June Closing date for delivery of completed nomination papers
Closing date for membership registrations

8th June (4pm) Deadline for withdrawal of candidature
Release of membership lists

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Were you denied the right to vote on Thursday? Let us know

Two Lib Dem MPs expected to stand for the leadership of the party have called for action after EU citizens were denied the right to vote on Thursday because local authorities hadn’t properly processed their applications. The Guardian reports that the Government may face action:

The government is facing calls to launch an urgent investigation into the treatment of EU citizens in the European elections after many people reported being denied their democratic right to vote.

Voters across the country told of their devastation at finding their names crossed off the register due to clerical errors by local councils. Experts said the situation was a “scandal we knew was coming” and that the government may have a case to answer in court.

The affected voters said they felt they were being “silenced” as this was the only election they had a right to participate in, being ineligible to vote in the referendum or general elections.

Our two as yet undeclared expected leadership candidates have had strong words to say on the subject.

Ed Davey put out a call for evidence from those affected.

And Jo Swinson called for an investigation:

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Putting a bomb under it, and other polling day stories

There was a bit of drama in Kingston upon Thames on Thursday morning. Construction workers uncovered a 250Kg unexploded WW2 bomb near the town centre.

A large exclusion zone was set up, and 1500 people were evacuated from their homes.

The area included the town centre campus for Kingston University, two schools – and two polling stations, which had to be relocated.

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Join the Lib Dems and help choose the next leader

Last night, people were joining the Liberal Democrats at the rate of one every five seconds as our Head of Membership, Greg Foster, said on Twitter.

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How Liberal Democrat Voice will deal with the leadership election

After Vince formally kicked off the leadership contest yesterday, announcing that we’d have a new leader by July 23rd. The likely candidates are Jo Swinson and Ed Davey, although neither has, at the time of writing, announced.

They will have to get on with it as the first hustings take place on Friday 31st May in London. In total the candidates will be attending at least ten meetings organised by the party. You can see a full list here.

I’m looking forward to an interesting and friendly leadership campaign which will be about how to consolidate our excellent results in the local elections and to build on the profile we had during the European elections.

This will all be very different from the really tough contest between Tim Farron and Norman Lamb in 2015. During that contest, we were still going through all the stages of grief after the disaster of the General Election and it was at times a bit fractious and horrible. Now, we have a much more optimistic outlook and we have to work out who will best help us make the most of it.

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24 May 2019 – today’s (other) press release

Swinson demands Electoral Commission investigate EU election debacle

Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson has written to the Electoral Commission demanding an investigation after countless EU citizens were unable to vote in the Euro elections this week.

In a letter to Sir John Holmes, Chair of the Electoral Commission, the Liberal Democrat MP said “it is an outrage that so many people were denied the right to vote in yesterday’s European elections.”

She added: “Not only were European citizens turned away at polling stations, but many UK citizens abroad were also disenfranchised due to breakdowns in the postal …

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+++Vince to hand over to new Lib Dem Leader on July 23rd

So Theresa May isn’t the only leader to resign today.

Vince has just sent this message to party members announcing that he will be handing over to his successor on 23rd July.

The difference between the two departures is that Vince is going as part of a managed transition first announced nearly 9 months ago and is going out on a high. We’ll see just how high on Monday when we know all the results of the European elections.

Vince deserves our thanks for taking on the challenge of leadership and building on what Tim Farron had started. When we think of the bloody mess we were in after the last European elections, we can see how far both men took us.

Here is Vince’s email.

Dear Member,

Last night, the British people finished voting in the European elections. We have fought a very strong campaign and when the votes are counted on Sunday, I expect us to do well.

I want to thank the volunteers who have made that possible I was very touched while campaigning around the country by the enthusiasm and optimism of our members and supporters.

Many who kept going through difficult years for the party are now enjoying our resurgence as a major national force.

Our long and proud tradition of success in local government was revived this month by the best local election results in our party’s history. In the last two years, we have gained 780 more council seats and 15 new councils.

And membership is at record levels with a strengthening base of supporters amongst students and young people.

Together, we have rebuilt the Liberal Democrats – thank you.

I said earlier this year that the time would soon come to hand over the leadership of the party to a new generation. That process begins today: I will be proud to hand over a bigger, stronger party on July 23rd.

If you have friends who would want to vote in the election to choose my successor, urge them to join by Friday 7th June. Every new member can help shape our future.

There are major challenges ahead. One is to win, finally, the battle to stop Brexit. Our campaigning has given hope; now we need to secure a referendum in Parliament, and then win it.

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Cable: Conservative Party interest has always trumped national interest

Responding to the PM’s resignation, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

The Prime Minister is right to recognise that her administration has reached the end of the road.

Sadly her compromises through the last three years have too often been with the right-wing of her own party, rather than about bringing the country together.

Conservative Party interest has always trumped national interest, and yet Conservative MPs continue to demand an ever more extreme Brexit policy.

The best and only option remains to take Brexit back to the people. I believe the public would now choose to Stop Brexit,

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+++Theresa May to resign – End of Theresa May open thread

Theresa May has announced that she will resign as Prime Minister on 7 June. (BBC)

The Conservative Party is now expected to choose an even truer Brexit believer as leader and PM, who will move the goalposts even further from the easiest in history cake and eat it deal we were promised before the referendum, and consequently have even less chance of getting an outcome through the House of Commons, never mind past the European Union.

Meanwhile, the UK has an extension on the Article 50 process, which is not to be wasted. Any suggestions what the UK …

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23 May 2019 – today’s press release

Turning EU citizens away feels like a deliberate attempt to silence voices

Responding to reports that EU citizens are being turned away from polling stations and denied a vote, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

It is an utter disgrace that so many EU citizens have been unable to vote in these historic elections.

This feels like a deliberate attempt by the Conservatives to silence the voices of our fellow Europeans.

Liberal Democrats will hold the government to account for this bureaucratic shambles and ensure that the voices of EU citizens are heard.

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It wouldn’t be an election without a Willie Rennie stunt

And here he is, waterskiing to show the Lib Dem wave of support.

Sone people enjoyed it too much.

And there’s video too:

Former Scottish Camapigns director Adam Stachura had his own take

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Time for some Lib Dem sunshine

It’s been a bloody awful three years. Politics dominated by the psychodrama in the Conservative Party over Europe and the splits in a Labour Party which refuses to declare whether it is for Brexit or Remain.

Finally, the sun shows a willingness to break through the storm clouds of British politics. A strong vote for us with a high turnout could see us beat the Brexit Party.

This whole campaign has been an absolute joy. We’ve had the clearest message – vote Lib Dems to stop Brexit – with its fruitier alternative, Bollocks to Brexit – and we have been able, for the first time in years, to approach doorsteps with confidence. It’s been such a good feeling. People have spontaneously told us that they are voting for us and you can see in their eyes that they are pleased about it.

All of you who have been involved in the campaign have played an absolute blinder. Our candidates have been energetic and spirited. In Scotland, Sheila Ritchie has travelled thousands of miles and led campaigning in paces where we haven’t been seen for years. She so deserves to win.

It’s been an exhausting campaign, coming for many people on the heels of the local elections.

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22 May 2019 – today’s press releases

It’s not easy being in a political party’s Press Team when the governing party is in meltdown. After all, Theresa May is seemingly holed up in 10 Downing Street, a chair wedged under the door handle to prevent anyone from getting in. The Leader of the House is gone, and who knows if she’s merely the first of many?

And all this on the eve of European Parliamentary elections in which the Conservatives are expected to take a kicking not dissimilar to that the Liberal Democrats took in 2015…

  • Lib Dems: Botched Apprenticeship Levy implementation hurting most disadvantaged
  • Gove clutching at straws with

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Leadsom’s resignation – is history repeating itself?

Ten years ago, as polls closed in the local and  European elections, it looked like a coup against the unpopular Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown was underway. At 10pm, James Purnell, the Work and Pensions Secretary resigned.

Peter Mandelson, the Prince of Darkness himself, came back from the sidelines to knock heads together and take the temperature of the resentment against Brown down to merely simmering for the remainder of his time in office.

I did wonder if we were about to see history repeating itself when Andrea Leadsom resigned this evening.

We shall see how many of the Cabinet are left in post at the end of Friday. Although if there was a good time for a government to implode on eve of poll, when they are in single digits in some polls and facing a hoofing is probably it.

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Heidi Allen reveals she offered to quit as Change UK Leader over tactical voting row

Heidi Allen gave an extraordinary interview to Channel 4 news tonight. 

You normally use your eve of poll interviews to talk up your own party. Instead, she told of a split within the group over recommending tactical voting to maximise Remain support. Allen wanted the party to endorse the Liberal Democrats outside London and the South East.

You have to wonder if the majority who were against it were the same people who blocked a Remain alliance in the European election.

From the New Statesman:

Allen believes the party should encourage Remain voters to back the Liberal Democrats outside of London and South East, where Change UK are polling strongest and thus stand the best chance of picking up MEPs.

Her fear, shared by Sarah Wollaston, is that Change lacks the requisite support to win seats elsewhere and could instead act as a spoiler. She warns: “Putting all the votes in one direction doesn’t always necessarily create the result that you want. If the next party further down in the polls isn’t still big enough to win a seat, you can end up, if you’re not careful, giving more votes to the Brexit parties.”

In private, she has always been clear that her strong preference is for cooperation with the Lib Dems. Earlier this week she even admitted that there was every chance that Change might not exist in its current form by the time of the next election. On the basis of current polling it is difficult to disagree. The party will be lucky to return a single MEP to Brussels and, faced with a Liberal Democrat revival none of its leading lights had anticipated, has failed to make serious electoral headway. As Allen herself says, it is a “really, really difficult time”.

Allen’s mother grew up in Germany as Hitler rose to power. She had stories about how people revered him because he promised all sorts and she clearly sees parallels with populist parties and people today. She clearly feels a sense of duty to stand up to the populists with what she called calm and moderate politics.

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This is Vince Cable’s Election

Yesterday we were privileged to welcome Vince Cable to Liverpool. It will be one of his last visits as Leader as he intends to step down to allow a contest for a new Leader to take place in June.

I want to put on record just how much I think the Lib Dems owe to this man as we face what is probably the most amazing electoral turnaround (in a positive sense) in our history.

In 2015 we came close to becoming irrelevant. Under Tim Farron we weathered that storm and that was no mean feat. We got our membership base up and steadied the ship. Instead of facing the loss of even more councillors and activist we dug in and strengthened our position in local elections. We did marginally but surprisingly well in the General Election of 2017 increasing our number of MPs from 9 to 12 and crucially getting back into Parliament three heavyweights: Vince himself and the probable contenders for his job next month, Ed Davey and Jo Swinson. Tim did us well despite a General Election stumble over one aspect of his beliefs. We should continue to thank him for that.

Then Vince stepped in. He knew he was a caretaker and we knew that he knew! We were content with that because the Lib Dems needed settling down before a leadership election not least because the two probable contenders needed time to re-establish themselves.

Vince brought five things to us:

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Reject! Reject! Reject! We Demand Better

There is a lot of anger about in British politics today. But I believe we Liberal Democrats are not angry enough.

We write a whole pamphlet on Demanding Better, and pass an entire motion on what we want to Demand Better.

But we don’t condemn. We don’t say what we believe is rotten in the practice of government in Britain and the way it has allowed the decline in the state of our nation.

We won’t convince people about what we want until we say what we reject.

So what do we fiercely reject? These are what rouses most anger in me.

  1. The leaders of both main parties allowing the threat of leaving the EU to go on for nearly three years, and still choosing to risk a no-deal Brexit rather than unambiguously giving the people the final say in a People’s Vote.
  2. That so many top elected politicians appear to scheme for their own and their kind’s advancement instead of putting the needs of the country first.
  3. That the Government squanders the country’s resources on preparing for Brexit while ignoring the wish of ordinary people for secure lives without fear for the future, as well as the despair of industrialists facing continued uncertainty.
  4. The attitude of the Conservative Government in letting the weakest in society go to the wall. So ordering everybody regardless of circumstances to take any job they can find and look after themselves, and refusing adequate welfare benefits to those who struggle.
  5. The lack of response by this Government to the evidence of there being four million children now living in poverty here, and of the increasing necessity for poor families to use food banks, a disgrace in this rich country.
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Voting Liberal Democrat tomorrow: Lord Michael Cashman, former Labour MEP and actor in first British soap opera gay kiss

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Lord Michael Cashman CBE, former Labour MEP who has been very active for decades in the Labour party, Stonewall and Equity, has said he will be voting Lib Dem tomorrow because of our “absolute consistency”. As an actor, he played Colin Russell in EastEnders, a character who was a particpant in the first gay kiss on a British soap opera.

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A Photographic Salute to the Lib Dem Resurrection

I am sending our best wishes from D66 and The Netherlands for the European Elections tomorrow. Here are some pictures from our own European election campaign.

This first picture is a group of big letters “WEUROPE” (pronounce “We Europe”). D66 activists travel around big cities with these letters, to point out that we are the most pro-European Dutch party. The people behind the letters are D66 MP’s and activists.

The second picture is me standing in front of those letters, holding up the famous phrase from the Preamble to the LibDem Constitution.

The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.

The pair are meant as a salute from D66 to your resurrection struggle, as two comrades in arms in the same pro-EU struggle, embracing the same Social Liberal principles. Good luck!

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Former top civil servant Gus O’Donnell explains why he’s voting Lib Dem in the European elections

It’s been really lovely to have all the celebrity endorsements we’ve had in recent days – Katy Brand, Emma Kennedy, Susan Penhaligon, Bamber Gascoigne, Greg Dyke and Simon Callow.

However, when people who know exactly how government works urge a Liberal Democrat vote, then it’s really getting serious.

For six years, Gus O’Donnell served as Cabinet Secretary, the highest ranked civil servant in the country, under three Prime Ministers, Blair, Brown and Cameron.

He now sits in the House of Lords.

In an unprecedented article for Times Red Box (£), he explains why he feels it is his “civil duty” to vote Liberal Democrat on Thursday:

I have made clear that since the executive and parliament have so far failed to find an acceptable form of Brexit, I reluctantly believe the only way to bring the country together is to give the people the chance to approve any final deal in a referendum. My view remains that leaving the EU is on balance bad for the country for economic reasons and because of its impact on our global influence.

So I would be supporting Remain in such a vote, which brings us to the European elections. I am extremely disappointed that while the Brexit party is an obvious choice for dedicated Leavers the Remain vote is potentially spread across many parties.

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Greg Dyke urges Remainers to vote Lib Dem

Greg Dyke, television executive, broadcaster and former Director-General of the BBC, has endorsed the Lib Dems as the party of Remain. He is encouraging all Remainers to vote Lib Dem.

Greg says:

I strongly believe that Britain is better off inside than outside the European Union and will therefore be backing the Liberal Democrats – the leading pro-European party, and the one that has fought longest and hardest against Brexit – in this week’s European election.

If you too oppose Brexit, and favour the UK Remaining in the EU at this crucial moment in our country’s history, I would urge you to vote Lib Dem on Thursday too.

This follows a series of celebrity endorsements calling for remain voters to vote Lib Dem in the European Elections on Thursday. Bamber Gascoigne, Katy Brand, Emma Kennedy and Simon Callow have pledged their support, urging voters to support the Liberal Democrats as the party of Remain.

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21 May 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Moran: Let’s hope more Universities follow Oxford’s diversity drive
  • Hobhouse: End short prison sentences to cut crime
  • Cable: Stop Brexit altogether to end turmoil for British business
  • Chancellor’s warning must trigger No Deal U-turn
  • Cable: Lib Dems “now indisputably the strongest remain party”
  • Lamb: Govt must end abuse of our most vulnerable
  • With no guarantee of a People’s Vote the PM will get no support from the Lib Dems
  • Jenny Randerson: Brexit endangers devolution settlement

Moran: Let’s hope more Universities follow Oxford’s diversity drive

Responding to the news that Oxford University is set to overhaul its recruitment processes, and will commit that at least 25% of students will be …

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Susan Penhaligon backing the Lib Dems this Thursday

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More than four decades on, I can still remember Susan Penhaligon’s performance as Prue Sorenson in Bouquet of Barbed Wire. I watched it far too young and didn’t get most of it as the themes were way too adult but she is up there with Elisabeth Sladen, who played Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who as far as I am concerned.

Susan is the cousin of Liberal MP David Penhaligon who was killed in a car crash in 1986. The shock of that day is another strong memory in my life.

She stopped supporting the party during the coalition years, but, in a tweet tonight, Vince announced that she is voting Lib Dem on Thursday.

Vince had also noticed our earlier post about Simon Callow:

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WATCH: Lib Dem Stop Brexit rally with Tim, former Labour MP backing Lib Dems, Layla and Vince

Well that came round quickly. Although not a minute too soon for my feet and my back and my knees. I am knackered physically and emotionally but there’s just two days left in what should be the most important election of our lifetimes. As Tim Farron says, it’s our chance to change the Brexit story from how we deliver Brexit to how we stop it and bring the nightmare to a close.

So it was (allegedly) the last big Lib Dem rally of the campaign, although my spies tell me that something pretty good is planned for tomorrow.

Watch here – and fast forward through the first few minutes of silence and intermittent chatter.

It’s been a wee while since we were treated to a good old fashioned Farron barnstormer. He talked about his son studying for his history exam, about the cold war. Tim said to him that thanks to the EU, six countries which once had nukes pointing at us are now sitting round the table arguing about fishing quotas. If there were no other reason to stay in the EU, that would be enough, he said.

Yesterday, former Thurrock Labour MP Andrew Mackinlay announced he would be voting for the Lib Dems because of the inability of the Labour Party to prevent a damaging Brexit. Tonight he took the floor at the rally. He likened it to making an offer about a house and then discovering it had dry rot or asbestos and then deciding against it. Despite his great affection for Labour in his half a century of membership, he slammed the lack of clarity about whether it backs a People’s Vote.

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Two thirds of Tory members want a no deal Brexit so voting Lib Dem to stop Brexit on Thursday is more important than ever

There are many reasons to vote Lib Dem on Thursday, but sending an indisputable “Stop Brexit” message, showing that the country has changed its mind, is even more important when you consider the recent YouGov poll of Tory members. 

These people, and these people alone, get to choose the next Prime Minister.

And two thirds of them want to visit on us the catastrophe of a no deal Brexit.

84% of them want to deny us our say on the final Brexit deal.

These mostly affluent, older people are quite happy to play Russian Roulette with all of our lives and there are plenty leadership candidates prepared to promise them what they want.

We’ve been saying all along that a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote to stop Brexit. It sends an indisputable message to the Government. It can’t be confused with Scottish independence. And if you want to Remain, why would you even vote for the Brexit Labour Party?

It is worth dropping everything and doing whatever you can to secure a huge Lib Dem vote in your area.

This election is not just about getting lots of MEPs for us, it is about the future direction of our country. It’s about showing that the public is absolutely and irrevocably opposed to the course Tory members want to take.

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Vince: Lib Dems snapping at heels of Brexit Party

Vince Cable was on the BBC News Channel’s Ask This last night talking about how the Lib Dems would have liked to have been part of a Remain Alliance but it didn’t work out. He said we were best placed to stop Farage’s Brexit Party from winning the election. Watch here:

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Bamber Gascoigne: This is the essential moment to support the Lib Dems

Last week, Katy Brand and Emma Kennedy backed the Lib Dems in the European elections. .

Last night, award winning star of stage and screen Simon Callow said he was backing us as the only party to have offered leadership and clarity on remaining in the EU.

And today, University Challenge legend Bamber Gascoigne adds his voice to the growing list of people saying that they are voting Lib Dem this time – a list that also includes former Tory Cabinet Minister Michael Heseltine and Times columnist and former Tory MP Matthew Parris.

Bamber said:

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21 May 2019 – the overnight press release

No-Deal Brexit will cause continental travel chaos

Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Jenny Randerson has warned that a no-deal Brexit will cause travel misery for thousands of motorists following the publication of a damning report from the Lords’ Committee on the EU internal market.

The report “Brexit: road, rail and maritime transport report” warns that private motorists will be required to apply for an International Driving Permit and Green Card if they wish to drive on the continent if the UK leaves the EU without a deal in place. The IDP and Green Card can only be applied for at a Post Office, …

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20 May 2019 – today’s press release

  • Prime Minister’s Deal is dead – Tom Brake
  • Further Gender Identity Clinic delays unacceptable
  • Davey: Govt is failing in its duty to protect the public
  • Welsh Liberal Democrats only chance for 2nd remain seat

Prime Minister’s Deal is dead – Tom Brake

Responding to comments made by Matthew Hancock, the Health Secretary, on the Today Programme, that the Government will bring forward its bill on exiting the EU, Tom Brake, Lib Dem Brexit Spokesperson said:

The Prime Minister’s deal is dead. They can bring forward votes on that deal and a speculative bill every week, for the rest of the year – it will still fail

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Simon Callow backs Lib Dems in European elections as “only party to have offered leadership and clarity on remaining in EU”

Simon Callow by Mark, Flick CCL

One of Britain’s finest actors has backed the Lib Dems in the European election.

Simon Callow, whose performances include Gareth in Four Weddings and a Funeral, for which he was nominated for a BAFTA, Sir Edward Tilney in Shakespeare in Love and a role which will appeal to many Lib Dems – Charles Dickens in two episodes of Doctor Who – said:

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