Ed’s weekend – 16 June 2019

For Ed, the Nottingham hustings were a return to the place of his birth.

He spoke to the local newspaper.

I’ve always been very fond of Nottingham and I’m actually a Notts County supporter. It’s been a very difficult year for us but hopefully we’ll bounce back.”

He faced a challenging time aged 12 when his mother developed secondary bone cancer, and he became her carer for the next three years, before her death.

He was then brought up by his grandparents.

He added: “I was extremely fortunate to earn a scholarship to study at the Nottingham High School for 10 years, before I moved on to university.”

There’s a barrier between him and Ken Clarke, though:

“I am an admirer of Ken Clarke as a Conservative who has stood by his beliefs with Europe. Only problem is, he’s a Forest fan.”

Ed remembered Jo Cox on the third anniversary of her murder:

And he’s not impressed that some funders of the Johnson and Hunt campaigns are climate change deniers.

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Jo’s Weekend – 15-16 June 2019

It’s the third weekend of the campaign and that means hustings. From the north west on Friday night, the hustings train moved to Leeds on Saturday morning and Nottingham in the evening.

She took time to remember Jo Cox, the Labour MP who was murdered 3 years ago today.

This Radio 4 profile featured some familiar voices and you can find out which band she liked as a teenager, listen to a  fascinating excerpt from a school essay and find out the first song at her wedding – as well as some anecdotes from her first election campaign.

And there’s always room for a Douglas Adams reference:

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Sal speaks on the momentous steps forward for the Lib Dems

In her monthly column on the Lib Dem website, Sal Brinton talks about how far we’ve come in the last month!

One thing is evident: the high calibre of our councillors and MEPs. We are back with a campaigning zeal and will be able to fight for residents, our country and against Brexit. I certainly plan to keep campaigning until we stop Brexit so they can stay there for the full five years until 2024 and I know you will too!

And on Friday we welcomed Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham, to the Liberal Democrats. He has worked with us over the last three years to help fight Brexit, and defeat the Government. He recognises that we are the pro-European, liberal, centre-ground party and I am delighted he has made the decision to join us. He’s already working with his local Liberal Democrats!

I also want to welcome to the more than 20,000 new members of the Party this newsletter is going to for the first time!

She talked about our very clear message and how this has helped us cut though.

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A good reason to check your emails

If you are a party member and you don’t know about the leadership hustings taking place between Ed Davey and Jo Swinson tomorrow night, you might want to check your emails as you will have an invitation to them.

You will need to RSVP in order to be sent the link to the proceedings.

It’s taking place tomorrow night at 7pm. If you can’t make it then, it will be uploaded to the party website after the event.g

Here’s the two in action at the London hustings to whet your appetite:

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Googling guide dogs in your lunch hour: Jenny Marr on the constant anxiety of living with Diabetes

You think you know someone and have some understanding of what they are dealing with.

And then they write something that makes you realise that you have no idea.

Jenny Marr is one of the most wisest, most competent people I know. She’s a great leader and team builder and one day she’s going to represent the Borders in Parliament. She has the sort of drive that reminds me of our very best campaigners.

I always knew Jen has Type 1 Diabetes and I will never forget the early morning phone call during the 2017 election when I learned she was in hospital because of it. Thankfully, she was home in a couple of days and all was well, but it did bring home how the line between good health and crisis was more finely balanced than I’d appreciated.

The theme of this year’s Diabetes Awareness Week is “seeing Diabetes differently.” Jenny has written a piece for the Scottish Lib Dems website which, as she puts it, aims to help  us “see Diabetes in its entirety.”

If you read nothing else today, read and understand this. 

As she says, there’s a lot more to living with the condition than not being able to binge-eat chocolate:

We’re more at risk than others of losing our sight. Translation: if you get something in your eye, you wonder if it’s the beginning of the end. On bad days you’re googling guide dogs on your lunch break.

Wake up with pins and needles. Translation: have I got it so wrong, my circulation is starting to fail? Could I get around in wheelchair? You assess all your usual haunts and whether you could continue as normal.

I’m in a meeting and I’m tired. Translation: is my blood sugar too low? I’m too anxious to leave, too anxious to check my blood in front of people. Do I just eat something and risk making the wrong decision? There is only anxiety.

On the worst of days I have sat at my desk gripped by fear and unable to work because I think I’ve taken too much insulin.

Paralysed for hours, the only work completed is the Oscar nominated performance of “normal girl in office” I have to play so everyone thinks I’m fine.

And then there’s the constant working out that balance between food and activity and the effect it might have. Imagine the mental energy that takes up:

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Caroline Pidgeon writes…Who is the real Boris Johnson?

Just who is the real Boris Johnson? 

Is it the man who for eight years was the Mayor of one of the world’s most multi-racial cities, or instead the man who in his 2002 Daily Telegraph column included racist insults against black people, citing “regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies” in the Commonwealth and referring to “the tribal warriors… all break out in watermelon smiles”.

Is it the man who now argues in favour of a no deal Brexit, or instead the Boris Johnson who declared in his Daily Telegraph column: “It is also true that the single market is of considerable value to many UK companies and consumers, and that leaving would cause at least some business uncertainty.”

Or indeed the Boris Johnson of 2012 who stated that whenever he considered the prospect of Britain leaving, he always came down “narrowly” in favour of Britain staying.  And the Boris Johnson who took full advantage of the cheap lending from the European Investment Bank to fund London’s transport infrastructure.

Within a few weeks Conservative party members will be making a decision on whether they want Boris Johnson as their leader. They have to make a decision over a man whose views over the years have had more twists in them than a corkscrew.

Yet examining his contradictory and insulting statements on so many issues only gets us so far.  In contrast the actual record of Boris Johnson is clear cut.  

As someone who witnessed and scrutinised his activities at City Hall for eight years I have a clearer recollection of events than the Conservative MPs now scenting the chance of a ministerial post.

When examined in the round, his record was one of inactivity, missed opportunities and an immense waste of public money.  Always putting himself before anything else. 

Yet his supporters, such as Jacob Rees Mogg and James Cleverly are now peddling the idea that his record of Mayor of London was that of unbridled success and huge achievement.

It is said that a lie can get half way around the world before truth has even got its boots on.   

We now run that risk with some of the fanciful claims being made by Boris’ supporters will start to be believed.  We cannot allow that to happen.

The Olympic and Paralympic Games

Incredibly some people seek to credit Boris Johnson with the overall success of the 2012 Games.  His contribution to their success was in fact minimal. The hard work and the groundwork at the Olympic Park started long before he arrived at City Hall.  London won the bid for the 2012 Games in July 2005, three years before he became Mayor. There was a huge amount of work undertaken in preparing our bid in the years before that.  His biggest contribution was waving the flag at the opening ceremony.

Crime 

It is claimed during his time at City Hall that great progress was made in tackling crime. The reality is that there was serious rioting across the capital in the summer of 2011, wrecking many high streets and small businesses. His supporters also overlook the fact that knife crime was increasing in the last two years of his office.

Housing

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Mistaken identity.

Oh dear.

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Jo’s Day – 13 and 14 June 2019

She took Boris to task on how he had put a British woman in peril and separated her from her young daughter.

In a Politics Home interview, she said that she wanted to be Prime Minister.

I’d love to be Prime Minister,” she says. “I’m not underestimating the scale of the challenge but equally politics is more volatile than I’ve known it, so who knows?”

She also took apart the double standards over drug use:

“Not particularly Earth-shattering, lots of people did and still do,” she says. “We ought to change our drugs laws because they don’t work. We don’t treat drug abuse like a public health issue and we should.”

She hits out at what she sees as the hypocrisy from Conservative leadership candidates on drugs. She does not name Environment Secretary Michael Gove, but seems to have him in mind: “You’ve got people who get criminalised and the full weight of the law comes down on them and yet for cabinet ministers it’s just like ‘okay, fine then’. That double standard is really troubling. They pursue these drugs policies, the so-called war on drugs, trying to act tough even though they don’t work.”

On Friday, Jo remembered those who died at Grenfell:

And standing up for trans rights at the North West hustings:

And finally, on a more light-hearted note…

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Ed’s Day – 13 and 14 June 2019

So, Mr Umunna’s arrival, welcome though it was, kind of put paid to our scheduling plans. So we’ll be catching up with the leadership campaign over the next two nights.

Thursday seems such a long time ago now.

It started for Ed with local success:

Before he expressed that he was, shall we say, less than impressed with  the man who looks like he is going to be our Prime Minister.

On Friday, he remembered those who lost their lives in Grenfell Tower:

And then up north to the hustings in Manchester

And then he wrote for the New Statesman (£) reprising a catchphrase from Blair, Tough on Brexit, tough on the causes of Brexit.

The Liberal Democrats actually have myriad policies to tackle regional, racial, class and generational inequality. The pupil premium, free school dinners and the national apprenticeship scheme were landmark Lib Dem achievements that have helped profoundly. But we need fresh ways of fighting structural inequality, and then proclaim them.

That must mean (no ifs, no buts) an end to austerity now.

It should be no surprise that so many voted Leave – successive governments, of all persuasions, have often felt powerless in the face of vast global and historic forces. This has left an underclass further cut adrift from the rest of society than at any point since the Rowntree report more than a century ago inspired the New Liberalism of Asquith and Lloyd George to found the Welfare State. Progressive politics needs a re-boot every bit as radical today to give a stake in society to everyone who lives in it. If that were not challenge enough, we must tackle the calamity of climate change and the racist nationalism of Farage and Johnson that fires hate.

And he talked to the New European about putting a stop to some really scary stuff going on with the Russians and the Tories back in the days of the coalition:

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Save the date – October 12th for a massive People’s Vote march in London

The People’s Vote campaign have announced a Summer of campaigning which will take in many towns around the country, Labour and Conservative conferences and another big march in London on October 12th.

I travelled down from Scotland for the march last October. I was gutted that I couldn’t go when a million took to the streets in March.

The campaign set out their plans:

These protests will mobilise all those who feel their voice is being ignored by politicians hell-bent on imposing the hardest possible form of Brexit on the country without the public being given final say.

This will be the most intense and sustained programme of campaigning activity undertaken yet by a campaign that earlier this year organised a march that brought 1 million people on to the streets of London. Now a series of rallies and actions, including at the party conferences, will reach every corner of the country before a vast march and rally in London on October 12.

The “Let Us Be Heard” campaign is designed to generate relentless popular political pressure ahead of the crunch decision on Brexit that will decide our country’s future. At its heart is the recognition it is vital our voice is heard first in the towns and cities of Britain, including areas that voted Leave in 2016, before being taken back to Westminster in the autumn.

The protests will begin with a huge rally in Leeds on June 22 – three years almost to the day since the last referendum – before moving to 15 towns and cities including Sunderland, Luton, Newport and Glasgow. The campaign will then head to the Labour and Conservative Party conferences in Manchester and Brighton, before reaching a climax with our fourth People’s Vote march in London on October 12.

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Chuka joining the Lib Dems is good for him, the Lib Dems and UK politics

Chuka Umunna becoming a member of the Liberal Democrats is good for him, the Liberal Democrats and politics in the UK. There are several and important, obvious and not as obvious, reasons why this is so.

Chuka Umunna is clearly an able, dynamic, eloquent personality. Anybody who has seen him relate to and engage with people, can see this. At home on television, with interviewers, on platforms, he is a communicator who is a good talker and listener. And he is as at ease with school kids and young people in their turf as he is in the Westminster bubble.

He brings with him knowledge of and a background from, South London and its diverse communities. I am from South London and have been a resident of Streatham too. I know he has a high reputation there.

He has in his biography, some remarkable elements, not as often alluded to. His African father Bennett Umunna, came to the UK with no money. He started and built a successful import and export business. He became involved in Nigerian politics, and his stand against corruption brings some to the conclusion that his tragic demise, in a car accident when young Chuka was in his early teens, was no accident. Bennett had met and married  Patricia Milmo, a solicitor. Chuka’s mother is the daughter of Sir Helenius Milmo, a prosecuting lawyer at the Nuremberg trials. What few know, is, they are also descendants of a great Liberal politician Samuel Morley.

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Markets, politics and tackling climate change

The government is committing to  Net Zero” greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. This is good news but the means of achieving it are critical. Global reduction is not being achieved but it would be wrong to suggest that nothing has been done and certainly panicking would not be a rational response. Global CO2 emissions per unit of GDP have been decreasing at annual rate of about 1.8 percent for the last 80 years but economic growth means that global emissions have still been increasing at 2.6 percent per year. 

The figures above are taken from “The Climate Casino” by William Nordhouse, the recipient of the 2018 Nobel Prize for Economics. Nordhaus presents a scientifically informed overview of the climate dilemma and the solutions to it. The efficient solution is carbon pricing. This is not a view restricted to a some academics but is the consensus of main stream economists, as Tim Harford has pointed out. Carbon pricing can take two forms, as a tax or through setting emission targets and providing tradable permits to cap the GHG emissions. According to the analysis presented by Nordhaus “Carbon Tax” is the more efficient mechanism but “Cap and Trade” is a good approach if implemented effectively. Cap and Trade is also easier to sell politically. For example the EU has implemented such a scheme but  it has not priced GHG emissions at a high enough level to drive the changes required. 

Importantly a carbon tax corrects the market failure that has allowed pollution to continue because the polluter does not pay for the consequences. The effect is not merely punitive but more significantly it allows the market mechanism to function as the principal driver of climate change mitigation as well as providing revenue to compensate hardship and to fund needed technology.  It makes renewable energy sources more competitive without the need to introduce piece-meal subsidies or other ad hoc or even authoritarian government interventions. The other important contribution of the competitive market mechanism is innovation. This is important for efficiency and essential technological breakthrough, such as carbon capture and storage.

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#LibDemDivest can shift £billions out of risky fossil fuels and create climate smart pensions

With news of Climate Emergency getting more troubling every month its easy to feel hopeless and wonder what you can do. May has announced Net Zero Carbon a UK by 2050, but can we really trust the Tories to deliver when they’ve effectively banned onshore wind, supported fracking, sold off our Green Investment Bank and scrapped our Zero Carbon Homes law?

You might have decided its time to take matters into your own hands, having meat free days and recycling your food waste, but did you know, up to 20% of your pension might be invested in climate wrecking fossil fuels? When the House of Commons digital engagement team put this question to an online poll ahead of a Westminster Debate on the topic, 73% of people expressed concern about the risks of these investments.

Despite four times more oil and seven times more coal than we could ever use already sitting on the books of companies like BP and Exxon, it is likely that our retirement funds are being spent, in part, to explore for even more fossil fuels.

Why? Because pension funds are used to managing money for short term returns and crossing their fingers that long term returns will follow. They are not listening to the voices of younger savers that expect returns and a planet to spend them in – not too much to ask!

To top it off the average fossil company is spending just 1.3% of CAPEX on renewable energy investment. A reckless strategy for our pensions and our planet.

Today, its a lottery for pension holders as to whether their trustees and the fund managers who their money is invested with are taking these issues seriously. The majority are not. Yet unpicking this risky position is too complex to achieve for the average individual pension holder.

Lib Dems are already making progress on the issue, Sir Ed Davey has this month started a process this month of debating in Westminster how we can compel all pension funds to manage these risks on behalf of pension holders and also addressed 500+ investors in the City this week with a simple message – the UK is aiming for Net Zero Emissions by 2050 – banks and investors operating in the UK should now be subject to the same requirements.

After all, 250 MPs have signed the DivestParliament pledge to ask their own pension trustees to remove risky fossil fuels from their own portfolio. All these MPs should prioritise the same changes for every pension holder in the UK. And things are happening already. In a speech made by Pensions Minister Guy Opperman this week he praised the “very important debate on the nature of long-term investment of pension funds” but the ministers solution? In his words, to ’nudge’ the industry along is not nearly enough given that in London we finance businesses responsible for 15 times the emissions of the entire UK.

A Lib Dem government would go much further, according to plans being finalised this month for a new Climate Change policy. This includes compelling companies and their investors to align with the climate goals of the UN and those that the UK Government have now committed to: to be net zero by 2050.

The good news is that clean, high returning investments exist. So carbon-free pensions won’t just be solving the climate emergency, they will also be helping pensioners switch out of increasingly risky carbon assets into much safer climate smart investments.

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Ed and Jo on Chuka joining the Lib Dems

Both the leadership candidates have warmly welcomed Chuka Umunna to the Lib Dems:

Ed said:

Stopping Brexit is my number one priority and I welcome Chuka to our benches as a key player in this fight. He has shown huge courage, and will make a major contribution to the Liberal Democrats.

Liberal Democrats are back in the game, and the only viable force for pro-Europeans across the UK. Join us.

Jo said:

I have said all along that growing a liberal movement means reaching out to bring more people into our party, and I am delighted that Chuka has decided to join the Liberal Democrats.

I have worked with Chuka on the People’s Vote campaign, and I know the passion, intellect, and energy he will bring to our party, and our campaign to stop Brexit.

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Chuka: Lib Dems offer the best chance to improve the lives of the people I represent

I am convinced the Liberal Democrats, as the spearhead of a broader progressive movement in civil society, offer the best chance to improve the lives of those I represent as well as countless other citizens across our country.

The time has come to put past differences behind us and, in the national interest, do what is right for the country. So I urge others to join the party too.

So says the newest Lib Dem MP Chuka Umunna in an article on the Lib Dem website. He’s also been on the Today programme this morning (at about 7:12 am if you want to catch him on catch up) knocking it out of the park, to be honest. It was a very strong and positive interview in which he described how, as a social democrat with liberal values and a passionate internationalist, his values matched up to ours.

In his article and interview, he tackled his prior criticism of the Liberal Democrats’ role in the coalition.

I found it hard to come to terms with the impact of the public spending cuts which were instigated by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government of 2010-2015.

I did not disagree with the need to reduce the public sector deficit and debt – indeed Labour’s last Chancellor Alistair Darling accepted this.

But I did disagree with the speed and severity of fiscal consolidation, and the extent to which cuts to public spending as opposed to tax increases were made to carry the burden.

Four years on from their time in office, things have changed.

The Liberal Democrats have voted against every Tory budget since 2015. They stood on an anti-austerity manifesto in 2017 with, for example, commitments to end the public sector pay cap, increase tax to pay for the NHS and reverse cuts to housing benefit and Universal Credit.

Senior figures – including Vince – have since said that, although they curbed George Osborne’s worst excesses, they should not have allowed measures like the bedroom tax to be introduced.

They also accept that a major mistake was made in making and then breaking a pledge on university tuition fees, which should never happen again.

Most importantly, the biggest impediment to ending austerity currently is pressing on with Brexit.

It is worth pointing out that many Lib Dem members were incredibly unhappy with some of the things we allowed to go ahead as part of the coalition – including me – even if we did see some of the good that we were doing.

His experience since leaving the Labour Party has taught him the importance of having an established party structure:

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The Lib Dem Lowdown – a guide to the party for new members, Welcome Chuka edition

Welcome to the 20,000 people who have joined the Liberal Democrats in the last few weeks, and a special mention to our newest MP.

At the time of writing, there’s no traditional Greg Foster gif to mark the occasion so here’s one he made earlier.

It’s actually been really heartwarming to wake up every morning for the last few weeks and see a whole rush of “I just joined the Lib Dems” posts on Twitter.

You might, by the way, have noticed the wee orange diamonds some people have on their Twitter posts to show that they are Lib Dems. Here’s how to get one:

You basically copy the code from here and then go into your Twitter profile paste it next to your name.

Every so often I roll out this post, which is basically a rehash of an article that I first wrote in May 2015 when many joined the party in the wake of the General Election result. I thought it might be useful to tell you a little bit about how our party works and give you a bit of an idea of the opportunities open to you. If you are not yet a member, if you like what you read, sign up here.

What do we believe?

Before we get into the nitty gritty of organisation, the best statement of who we are and what we’re about can be found in the Preamble to our Constitution which underlines how we believe in freedom, opportunity, diversity,  decentralisation and internationalism. Here’s a snippet:

The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. We aim to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity. We believe that the role of the state is to enable all citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the decisions which affect their lives.

We look forward to a world in which all people share the same basic rights, in which they live together in peace and in which their different cultures will be able to develop freely. We believe that each generation is responsible for the fate of our planet and, by safeguarding the balance of nature and the environment, for the long term continuity of life in all its forms. Upholding these values of individual and social justice, we reject allprejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality.

We have a fierce respect for individuality, with no expectation that fellow Liberal Democrats will agree with us on every issue. We expect our views to be challenged and feel free to challenge others without rancour. We can have a robust debate and head to the pub afterwards, the very best of friends.

Obviously, our priority at the moment is to stop Brexit, but there is so much more to us than that. That bit about no-one being enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity shapes everything that we do.

Your rights as a member

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ICYMI: Chuka Umunna joins the Lib Dems

Embed from Getty Images

In case you had an early night last night and are wondering what’s going on, last night Chuka Umunna joined the Liberal Democrats.

Here’s the official announcement which came just after 10pm last night.

The Liberal Democrats are delighted to announce that Streatham MP Chuka Umunna has joined the party.

Chuka joins the Liberal Democrats, having held the seat since 2010. The Liberal Democrats recently topped the poll in London during the European elections and are extremely excited to gain this seat.

Commenting on his decision, Liberal Democrat MP Chuka Umunna said:

I have chosen to join the Liberal Democrats because it is at the forefront of a renewed, progressive and internationalist movement in British politics that shares my values.

Labour and the Tories are committed to facilitating Brexit, and Brexit makes ending austerity virtually impossible.  The Liberal Democrats are not – they were arguing for a People’s Vote and to remain in the EU from the very start.

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Lib Dems GAIN two Council seats in Broxtowe

It was a night of solid progress for the Lib Dems on the by-election front.

In Anna Soubry’s Broxtowe constituency, we regained two Council seats we’d lost in 2015.

And a good solid result from a standing start in North Devon, too.

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13 June 2019 – today’s press releases

For obvious reasons, I’m leaving out today’s big story, but otherwise…

Failed Tory policies lead to nine-year knife crime high

Responding to the Ministry of Justice’s latest knife and offensive weapon sentencing statistics, published today, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

The UK is facing an epidemic of knife crime, but the Conservative’s cack-handed response is to repeat policies that have completely failed in the past.

Branding young people as criminals – whether by locking them up on destructive short prison sentences or giving them one of Sajid Javid’s gimmicky new knife ASBOs – traps them in a cycle

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+++Breaking…Chuka Umunna joins the Liberal Democrats

 

 

In an interview with the Times tonight, Chuka Umunna announces that he has joined the Liberal Democrats and becomes our 12th MP.

Chuka said:

“Time and time again when I was speaking to voters around the country and in my constituency, people were saying, ‘Well, look, why don’t you just join the Liberal Democrats? Why don’t you all come together in the progressive centre ground?’ ”

So he has swallowed his pride and joined the effort to make the Liberal Democrats the spearhead of a “new progressive movement in this country”.

Urging others to join him, he said the party’s success in the European elections showed the potential: “I think we’ve got to grab the chance to fundamentally change the system for ever now. And if we don’t do so, I think history will be a poor judge of us.”

A hugely warm welcome to him.

I might be a little annoyed that the Mail on Sunday got it broadly right but I am happy to see Chuka join us.

Vince, who also took part in that Times interview,  said that more MPs could follow the Streatham MP to the Lib Dems:

There are lots of conversations going on, some more intimate than others,” the outgoing party leader added. “Chuka joining us today is a big event in itself but there may well be others. I’m not going to make commitments on others’ behalf, they will make their own decisions in their own time.

“We have a very, very good relationship with members of the independent group,” he added in a clear hint that other members of the breakaway outfit are considering joining his party.

He said that the approaching threat of a no-deal Brexit would drive as many as 20 MPs out of the Tories. “I think there are probably a dozen to 20 who have mentally crossed the Rubicon that they can’t stay in the Conservative Party in its current form.”

From what I’m hearing, the local Lib Dem party have been absolutely brilliant as all this has been unfolding. Helen Thompson, who was selected as PPC for Streatham earlier this year, has just tweeted:

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LISTEN: Alex Cole-Hamilton on Good Morning Scotland talking about medicinal cannabis

Karen Gray lives in the west of Edinburgh. Her six year old son, Murray, has a rare form of Epilepsy called Doose Syndrome which causes him to have multiple seizures every day. She has been battling to get Medicinal Cannabis for Murray.

The drug was licensed last year but Karen faces challenges trying to get it prescribed.

The BBC followed her to the Netherlands a couple of weeks ago, where she brought stocks of the drug back to this country, which is still technically illegal without an import licence.

You can see the difference the drug has made to Murray’s condition:

You can watch the whole documentary, which was broadcast last night, here.

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Ed’s Day – 12 June 2019

Ed’s first email to party members was published.

Climate change’s devastation won’t respect borders – you have to work internationally, with other countries, if you want to save our planet.

That’s what I did, as Energy and Climate Change Minister. At the European table and at the UN, I fought for tougher targets to cut carbon emissions.

And I won.

Now – just as we are leading the campaign to Stop Brexit – I want us to lead the fight to solve the Climate Change Emergency. With my radical economic plan, for carbon-free capitalism.

Then he took the Business Secretary to task over the Government’s record on the environment, dismantling a lot of what he did as Energy and Climate Change Secretary:

In wholeheartedly welcoming this statement, may I ask the Secretary of State to do two things? First, will he reverse the Government’s decisions to abolish the zero-carbon homes regulations, to ban onshore wind, and to proceed with a third runway at Heathrow? Secondly, will he agree to meet me to discuss how we can decarbonise capitalism, particularly in the City of London? Given that the City funds 15% of global fossil fuel investment, if we can decarbonise the City, that can have a massive impact on the whole world.

And in an article for the Times (£), he said he’d take Lib Dems into a Government of National Unity to stop Brexit.

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Jo’s Day – 12 June 2019

The candidates did their first emails to party members. Read Jo’s in full here.

My aim as Leader is to build on our 700+ gains in the local elections and our fantastic success in the European Elections to change Britain’s politics.

As Leader, I will win us the cut through we need to get our strong liberal message across.

As Leader I will reach out to the next generation, bringing new and vibrant talent into our party.

And as Leader I will ensure that the Liberal Democrats lead the liberal revival that our politics so desperately needs.

On BBC Politics Live, she was pretty robust on Boris’ lack of suitability for the top job:

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: The Women’s World Cup is a fantastic force for equality but it is only the start

The Women’s World Cup is on at the moment. Christine Jardine writes for the Independent about what this means for equality in sport.

As a child I loved playing football, and nagged my parents until they bought me my own football strip. But there were few people who didn’t find my girlish enthusiasm either amusing or something to frown upon.

This is why the knowledge that six million viewers thought it worthwhile to tune in to watch two teams enjoy a platform previous generations could only dream of filled my heart with joy.

But we are still far from equality – prize money, for example, is still much higher for men than for women:

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12 June 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Leaked memo confirms no-deal Brexit medicine fears
  • Farron calls for new deal to fix broken social care system at PMQs
  • Lords pass Lib Dem law to raise age of criminal responsibility
  • Lib Dems: We must ensure next PM cannot shutdown Parliament

Leaked memo confirms no-deal Brexit medicine fears

Responding to a leaked Cabinet note revealing the UK will not be ready for a no-deal Brexit by October 31st because is will take “six to eight months” to build up supplies of medicines, Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine said:

This Government document will be extremely concerning to people who rely on medicines like insulin to stay

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , and | 4 Comments

Homophobia today

One of the genuine achievements of the Coalition government was the introduction of the Marriage Equality Act, the piece of legislation that made same sex marriage legal in the UK. It is a law that is heralded as the culmination of decades of campaigning by the LGBT community, a symbol of the progress we have made as a society in regards to sexuality and sexual rights.

But has progress truly been made? All over the world and, indeed, in Britain, individuals are still discriminated against in their day to day lives, they are still subject to harm, and their existing rights, so hard won over so many years, are under threat.

Recently, the country was exposed to the image of a lesbian couple who had been beaten by a gang of youths. It was a taste of what lies underneath the tolerant and accepting facade that has been built. The great, sweeping reforms of the past twenty years have still not broken through into parts of our culture. Indeed, incidents of “queer bashing” and other such crimes have been rising for the past few years. The London attack needs to be analysed – who did the attacking and why did they do it? It was a gang of youths, male (at the time of writing), the motive being that the couple would not engage in the group’s fantasies concerning lesbians. There is something deeply insidious in this attack, that these men believed that all they had to do was throw money at these women and they would do as they were told.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , and | 12 Comments

What really happened at the Euro-elections?

Reading the media coverage, you would have thought the forces of Leave led by the Brexit Party had swept to victory. The Remoaners had been routed. However, taking a look at three key indicators, the truth is more complicated.

The BBC has looked at three key indicators – seats won, vote share, and vote share change (there’s a pretty graphic here but it’s without Northern Ireland. So let’s use these three indicators to tell us what really happened.

On vote share, the picture isn’t clear in Great Britain. You’ve probably seen the likes of this being shared around the internet:

Even allowing for the exclusion of Northern Ireland (which we shouldn’t, congrats to Naomi Long and the Alliance), I’m not impressed by this. The problem is both sides are treating votes for parties as if they were blocks.  A small minority of Lib Dems want to leave.  Even a few protest voting Brexiters want to Remain!  Professor John Curtis observes this is particular problem with one third of SNP voters wishing to leave.

So, we can draw no clear conclusion here.  It depends how you want to calculate the figures.

Posted in Op-eds | 16 Comments

Why we don’t need a “remain alliance”

As somebody who joined the Liberal Democrats primarily to fight Brexit, I have since come to appreciate even greater the importance of fighting for liberal democratic values. What’s more, it is evidently how important this is for the entirety of the United Kingdom.

I used to be more sympathetic towards electoral pacts, in fact, at one time I was well on board with it. I’m still desperate to stop Brexit and so disappointed at what the leave campaigns achieved; especially as my wife is a EU citizen with only EU treaty rights currently protecting her status in the U.K. This really hurt us both and fuelled me to do what I could to stop Brexit. I am also thinking of my twin brother, Eddie (some here may know him), who is now living in France.

However, an article Mark Pack published titled “Standing for election isn’t just about winning”, encouraged me to stand as a paper candidate in the local elections and removed any doubt from me that electoral pacts are a bad idea. It drove home to me the importance of standing in every seat we can. This way we can build our core vote, keep track of potential target areas and give voters the choice they need for the good of democracy.

After all, if people cannot vote Lib Dem, what is the chance they will join? Or simply just lose the habit of voting for us? It could destroy our local bases for a long time.

I am aware that people have pointed towards past success for electoral pacts but is this a viable long term plan for a party of government? I am sceptical. Given our recent electoral successes; we are clearly the party for remaining in the EU, for the environment, for the economy and for liberal values.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 30 Comments

Why summer surveying should be your next campaigning activity

Now that May’s two sets of elections are successfully out of the way, it’s time to move our campaigning activity onto summer surveys.

Why survey?

Surveys are a fantastic way to generate voter ID, campaign issues and contact with local communities. If they’re used properly, they will establish you and your local Lib Dem team as hard-working, locally focused and approachable. And with proper follow up they can drive your campaign and messages.

The more you know about your residents, the better you can be as a community campaigner/councillor. There’s a lot of useful information you can gain from surveys and record in Connect for future voter contact, e.g. writing target mail.

Five reasons to survey now:

Posted in Campaign Corner | Tagged and | Leave a comment

Lib Link: Wera Hobhouse MP on banning exports of plastics

Wera Hobhouse had a piece published on Politics Home yesterday on banning the export of plastics.

It goes without saying that the wealthiest countries, like us, who have the privilege of the means to be able to sustainably deal with waste, need to accept responsibility instead of shipping plastic waste around the world for poorer countries to deal with.

This begins with increasing and developing our recycling facilities. If we cannot recycle it, we shouldn’t be using it. 

In the article, Wera also discusses the Plastic Pollution Bill, presented to Parliament in February by Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael. It sets out to

  • ensure that by 2042 no plastic which is not capable of being recycled is
    produced or used
  • eliminate the use of non-essential plastics by 2025; and
  • progressively reduce plastic pollution.

Just as Lib Dems led on the 5p plastic bag charge, we are leading the fight against plastic pollution and fighting for measures to protect our environment.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , , and | 2 Comments
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    David is already back in the party: https://bradford.moderngov.co.uk/mgUserInfo.aspx?UID=2158
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