WATCH: Jo and Layla at the Rally for the Future – We have to do better for the next generation

On Saturday, the first big Lib Dem election rally took place. The main subject was our policy of providing free childcare to children from 9 months of age – which will make life so much easier for families. What was really good is that this event was family friendly. Babies, toddlers, teenagers were in the audience including Jo’s own two sons.

The speeches were punctuated with toddler babble. It was a joy.

Jo and Layla spoke.

Watch here:

Layla remarked that she had never known such a friendly reaction on the doorstep.

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Luciana Berger: Being in the Liberal Democrats is so refreshing and so positive

When I saw Luciana Berger at Conference  in September, she looked happy and relaxed as she toured the stalls in the exhibition. She said then that she felt very welcome in the Liberal Democrats.

Many of us hoped for a long time that she would come across to us.

In an interview with the Independent, she contrasted her new life in the Lib Dems with the appalling, horrible abuse she suffered in when she was in the Labour Party:

Being in the Liberal Democrats is so refreshing and so positive. I can have disagreements with people and we do so in an adult way where people don’t shout and scream at you and hurl abuse in your direction.

Her last meeting in the Labour Party was very different:

I attended my last Labour Party meeting in October last year and vowed never to go back because it was so unpleasant – it was so toxic, there was no humanity in the room.

The attitude was very much that she should be more loyal:

She says the abuse was regularly dismissed by Labour members in her Liverpool Wavertree constituency, who responded to her recollections by sitting stony-faced and suggesting that she should be more supportive of Jeremy Corbyn.

The instances of anti semitic abuse from the far right, far left and Brexiteers made her physically ill at one point this Summer. You would think that anyone hearing the sorts of things outlined in the interview would react with compassion and empathy.

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Christine Jardine: Brexit is sucking the life out of our politics

Christine Jardine was on Sophy Ridge this morning talking (among other things) about how Brexit was sucking the life out of everyone meaning that we couldn’t concentrate on the huge issues of the day like Brexit and the NHS.

The amusing thing is that this clip is both being promoted by the party on its social media channels and trashed on Guido Fawkes.

Guido reckons that Christine is saying that Brexit is more important than the union. Which is a cheek given that Brexit as proposed by the Conservatives is more of a threat to the union than anything I have seen in my lifetime.

If we stop Brexit, we strengthen the union.

Sophy Ridge asked Christine about the leaders’ debates.

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New issue of Liberator out

Issue 398 of Liberator will soon be on its way to subscribers and the free sample articles for this issue Liberalism After Brexit, by Bernard Greaves, and Another Capitalism is Possible, by Paul Hindley, are available here.

And for those facing the rigours of a winter general election, here is the front cover illustration.

Other articles in this issue are:

Answering To A Higher Authority – Tim Farron chose to join a notably hardline Christian group, and then wondered why his views were wildly incompatible with being Lib Dem leader. Liz Barker seeks answers in his new book

Army Dreamers – The west’s counter-insurgency strategy sees the UK and its allies are pouring money into the questionably effective armed forces of repressive governments, says Rebecca Tinsley

Ukraine’s Comedian is No Comic – As America’s impeachment hearings centre on President Trump’s relations with Ukraine’s comedian president, Kiron Reid looks at how the latter got elected

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A question to Federal Conference Committee as they open registration for Spring Conference

Despite the general election, our conference timetables have to proceed as normal. So this week, registration for Spring Conference in York opened.

You will definitely want to be there. Even when our party was out its lowest ebb, Conference is still the best fun you will ever have in your life. And it’s in York, which is a gorgeous city. And the food and beer at the Mason’s Arms, just down the road from the Conference Centre is delicious.

You can register here.

But I have a question for the Federal Conference Committee. If you register now, you get your conference pass for £60.  After 20th December, just 8 days after the election, the cost rockets up to £95.

Now, most of us are knocking ourselves out campaigning for the General Election. We’re out in the cold and dark on a daily basis. Campaigning is not cheap. You have to pay to travel -and many of us are travelling to our nearest target seats. And we’re all getting asked to contribute to local and national campaigns. 

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Scottish Liberal Democrats’ bright campaign launch as party overtakes Labour in poll

The Scottish Liberal Democrats launched their campaign in Cramond on Thursday mornings. The bright umbrellas provided a contrast to  damp  grey  surroundings.

Alistair Carmichael and former Leader Lord Campbell of Pittenweem joined Willie Rennie, North East Fife candidate Wendy Chamberlain and many activists.

Willie Rennie told the assembled crowd:

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Sunday poetry

Boris is playing mind games

Cummings is showing him how

The chaos theory of conquest

Is up and running now

 

We’re now aware of their tactics 

We must band together to fight

Demonstrate the strength of the British 

Backing all MPs doing right

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Lib Dem Jobwatch: Do you want to work on the Lib Dems’ election campaign?

The Lib Dems are looking for field organisers to work for the party in the run up to the General Election.

The party is looking for people who have the following skills:

Essential Skills and Experience

  • A positive attitude with the ability to inspire others.
  • An enthusiastic approach to the job.
  • An open and approachable personality.
  • Confident talking to new people, both volunteers and members of the public.
  • The ability to work in a fast-paced environment.
  • Strong verbal communication skills.
  • Sympathy with the aims and objectives of the Liberal Democrats

.Desirable Skills and Experience

  • A full clean driving license and access to a

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Remembrance Sunday reflections

Charles Homer Bosworth was my great grandfather. In his face, I can see my Dad, my Uncle Bob, my Uncle Peter. My Dad was called after him. Known as Homer, he lived in Codford in Wiltshire. Born in 1888, he served in the First World War and gets a mention in the Codford Roll of Honour:

Charles Homer Bosworth served in the British Army during World War 1 and spent time in Russia as part of his service.

Until last year, that was as much as my sister and I and our cousins knew about his first World War Service. Then we got in touch with our Dad’s cousin in the US and he was able to tell us some more details. Apparently, Homer’s time in Russia involved being captured by the Bolsheviks and held in a cattle train car. Thankfully, he and his colleagues managed to escape, otherwise I would not be here today.

Homer continued to serve this country, joining the RAF. By the time World War 2 broke out, he was 51 years old and could have retired. Just two weeks in, he was one of 519 people killed after HMS Courageous was torpedoed off the course of Ireland.

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Jo Swinson’s statement for Remembrance Sunday

Here is Jo Swinson’s statement for Remembrance Sunday

Today we remember all those who gave their lives so that we can live in freedom. We also give our heartfelt thanks to those members of our armed forces, to veterans and their families, for all they do and the sacrifices they make to keep us safe.

We know it is so hard for people to be away from their loved ones and we owe them a debt of gratitude. We should also pause to reflect and remember today how fragile peace can be and how important it is that we all continue to stand up alongside our allies to preserve it.

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My favourite election moment of the week

It’s a toss up between Jo Swinson and arriving at a visit in Auchtermuchty and Willie Rennie and Alex Cole-Hamilton being, well, themselves.

Yesterday, Jo visited North East Fife

The typo in this, from a Courier reporter, is very amusing, but I just loved the exuberance of it.

The baby is Daphne Grint, 5 month old daughter of Scottish Lib Dem environment spokesperson Rebecca Bell.

And it’s Willie himself who provides the other iconic moment along with Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton. And there wasn’t a farm animal in sight.

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A quick canter through some Taxpayers’ Alliance polling

I’ve spent the last two days being less than warm towards the Taxpayers’ Alliance, but even where I doubt the sincerity of their aims in the generality, the data they produce is nonetheless in that it tells you much about the voters you are trying to convince. And yes, whether or not you can come up with a persuasive argument to reflect their wishes, or if you even want to, you still need to understand their motivation. So, here are some of my personal highlights…

Reducing the basic rate of corporation tax from 19% to 12.5%, the same level as Ireland

Those …

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Boost free childcare to build a brighter future

The Liberal Democrats will today (09/11/19) announce bold plans to introduce free childcare from 9 months, transforming the lives of parents and children across the UK.

Today’s high cost of childcare means that too many parents are unable to return to work without risking real financial hardship. With the average cost of 25 hours nursery care for a child under two running to more than £6500 per year, many parents are effectively excluded from work due to the burden of childcare costs.

A Liberal Democrat government will build a fairer economy by providing free, high-quality childcare for every child aged two to …

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9 November 2019 – the overnight press release

Lib Dems respond to NEU schools league table

A new NEU league table reveals that Boris Johnson’s funding plans will see 83% of schools receiving less money per pupil in April 2020, in real terms, than they received in 2015.

Responding to the report, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Education Layla Moran said:

These figures reveal how the Conservatives are failing the next generation. Schools are already struggling to cope with catastrophic budget cuts, with headteachers having to ask parents for donations for basic resources like paper and textbooks. This chronic underfunding is only set to get worse, denying children up and down

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8 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems: If the PM thinks NI deal is so good – why doesn’t the rest of the UK have it?
  • Lib Dems: BBC now complicit in establishment stitch-up to exclude Remain voice

Lib Dems: If the PM thinks NI deal is so good – why doesn’t the rest of the UK have it?

Responding to comments made by Boris Johnson that Northern Ireland has got a great deal by keeping access to the Single Market and free movement, Liberal Democrat Shadow Brexit Secretary Tom Brake said:

The Single Market and freedom of movement are a great deal – even Boris Johnson

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Mark Pack writes…Parrots, canvassing and factsheets

Parrots feature more often in canvassing that you might expect. 

A few years back, Kelly-Marie Blundell revealed her canvassing experience one day in Guildford:

“Canvassing flats, often elderly people will call out through the door before opening as a measure of precaution. When I was canvassing some flats in Guildford, I knocked on one such door, or so I thought.

“‘Excuse me, can I help you?’ came the thin, elderly lady’s voice. I replied, ‘Yes, my name is Kelly-Marie Blundell and I am your…’

“But then she repeated it, speaking over me. So I spoke a little louder and clearer, presuming she was hard of hearing. ‘Yes, my name is Kelly-Marie…’ Then I heard it again, ‘Excuse me can I help you?’

“Rather baffled, I started again. ‘My name is Kelly-Marie…’

“And then I heard a squawk. That’s right. The repeated phrase was clearly coming from a parrot!”

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Some thoughts on taxation, as inspired by the Taxpayers’ Alliance…

Yesterday, I wrote slightly cynically about an approach from those lovely people at the Taxpayers’ Alliance. But, you know, they’re entitled to their view, even if they’re highly unlikely to admit who funds their research and their interest in seeing key tax rates lowered (the answer being, probably not people like you, gentle reader…). But I did promise to take a look at their findings, and thus give you an opportunity to comment.

But, before I do, here are some base statistics from their research;

  • 40% of respondents stated that they were “relatively comfortable financially”
  • 9% stated that they were “very comfortable

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Three poll boosts for Lib Dem candidates

Three constituency election polls put Lib Dems in touching distance of taking Dominic Raab’s Esher and Walton seat. This is great news for Lib Dem candidate Monica Harding.

The polling work was done before the announcement that Esher and Walton was part of the Unite to Remain arrangement.

Another poll put is on course to win South Cambridgeshire where Ian Sollom is our candidate

And with just under 5 weeks to go, Dr Phillip Lee is only 4 points behind John Redwood in Wokingham.

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Observations of an ex pat: Trump is right

Trump is right. He is wrong about most things and there is insufficient space to list them all in this article. But he is bang on the money when he says that the deal that Boris Johnson has negotiated with the EU makes a US-UK trade deal less likely—at least the “great deal” that the public have been promised by governments on both sides of the Atlantic.

Boris has dismissed Donald’s claims. His friend the president, he said, is “patently wrong.” The deal that he negotiated with Michel Barnier allows Britain to do trade deals with whomever they want. Well, yes and no, but in practical terms mainly no as far as the US is concerned.

The deal is in two parts, the withdrawal agreement which sets out the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union and is politically binding. That includes such things as the cost of the divorce bill and the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU.

The second half is the political declaration which is not legally binding and is meant to set down the parameters for a future UK-EU free trade agreement. Included in the political declaration is a clause which under Theresa May’s deal was in the legally binding withdrawal agreement. It says that that both sides will keep the same high standard on state aid, competition, social and employment standards, the environment, climate change and relevant tax matters.

It is this clause that bothers Trump. He does not like the EU restrictions which he regards as non-tariff barriers that can put a block on controversial American exports such as chlorinated chickens.

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8 November 2019 – the overnight press releases

  • UK family of nations must work together to stop Brexit
  • Jardine: The Tories visa plan is a tax on nurses

UK family of nations must work together to stop Brexit

Liberal Democrat Leader Jo Swinson will tomorrow make the case to Remain voters in Scotland to back the Liberal Democrats to protect Scotland’s place at the heart of the EU, as she visits North East Fife as part of her Leader’s Tour of the UK.

Jo Swinson will be visiting Crafty Maltsters Farm in Auchtermuchty alongside Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie. Speaking ahead of the visit, Jo Swinson said:

Voters in Scotland who despair

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7 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems are the party of real change, not Labour
  • Davey: OBR pulling public finances forecast “smacks of political interference”
  • Unite to Remain agreement will deliver Remain MPs across England and Wales
  • Davey: Tories and Labour writing promises on cheques that will bounce
  • UK growth prospects suffer as a result of Tory Brexit chaos
  • Brake: Labour offers nothing to the millions of people who voted Remain

Lib Dems are the party of real change, not Labour

Ahead of Labour’s unveiling of the slogan ‘it’s time for real change’ on their campaign bus, Chuka Umunna, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Foreign Affairs, said:

Jeremy Corbyn’s claim to

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The Lib Dems’ two aims in this election

Liberal Democrats should have two main aims in this Election. The first should be to convince a majority of the electorate that to remain in the EU is right for our country, and that no form of Brexit is acceptable. The second must be to point out why this diseased Tory government needs to go, to be replaced with a government where Jo Swinson and our party have major influence which can address the causes of the Brexit vote.

Focusing on the European Union, we need to make the point much neglected in recent debates: the absolute value the EU gives our country, in the past, now, and, if we succeed, in the future.

This is the greatest alliance of peace-loving nations that the world has seen. It has kept the peace in Europe and promoted its prosperity since its foundation. It has protected the freedom and rights of its citizens, promoted good employment and environmental standards, fostered the economic growth of member states, furthered international co-operation for refugees and migrants, developed scientific advances, and shown how democracy and freedom can co-exist with order and security, through shared institutions and respected legal systems.

Britain led by Brexiteers has been prepared to disregard all this, including the benefits of the single market which makes the EU our largest economic partner. Currently we are valued by countries such as Japan as a means of access to the whole EU.  Once we are no longer in the single market the benefit for international companies of moving production to the UK will be lost. The Brexiteers claim that FTAs with individual countries will generate the same amount of trade and UK production as will be lost by leaving, yet the EU has already made 67 free trade agreements which we share.

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James Gurling writes…The Unite to Remain Agreement

Our Party is deservedly recognised as the UK’s lead Party of Remain.  Today we have announced a series of agreements – facilitated by the independent “Unite to Remain” group – designed to maximise the number of Remain supporting MPs at the coming snap election.

Unite to Remain is comprised of the three unequivocally pro-Remain parties with MPs elected in the House of Commons:- Plaid Cymru, Greens and ourselves.

In some seats, we have agreed that our candidate will stand aside to allow another Party to  have a clearer run in the election. In other seats, either Plaid Cymru or the Green candidate (sometimes both) will stand aside for us as the Remain candidate.

It is the sort of arrangement we successfully arrived at in Brecon & Radnorshire and which enabled our Welsh Leader, Jane Dodds, to defeat the pro Brexit Conservative and bring Welsh Liberal Democrat representation back to the House of Commons. 

These negotiations have been extremely complex and cover 60 seats between the three Parties – each with their own priorities and internal accountabilities. Significant amounts of time have been dedicated to this cause by Party President Sal Brinton, Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael and Director of Campaigns Shaun Roberts.  Together we have battled to ensure the best outcome both for the Party and for the cause of Remain.  Were that it had been possible to achieve this outcome without any seat Lib Dem seat being given up! Equally we would have dearly loved to have been able to expand the agreement to include more of our seats as beneficiaries.  But negotiations are not like that, and time has been of the essence.

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Full details of historic Unite to Remain arrangement announced

Full details of the seats affected by the Unite to Remain arrangement have been released.

The Liberal Democrats will stand aside in 17 seats while the Greens and Plaid Cymru will stand aside in 43 seats across England and Wales.

This will give us a better chance of getting more Remain MPs elected.

Scotland is not part of this because we are the only party advocating remaining in both the EU and the UK and so could not step aside for the SNP who are wanting an early independence referendum.

The seats affected are as follows:

Green Party: Brighton, Pavilion, Isle of Wight, Bristol West, Bury St Edmunds, Stroud, Dulwich and West Norwood, Forest of Dean, Cannock Chase, Exeter (9)

You will notice a lot of familiar names in this – seats we hold and key targets:

Liberal Democrats: Bath, Bermondsey and Old Southwark, Buckingham, Cheadle, Chelmsford, Chelsea and Fulham, Cheltenham, Chippenham, Esher and Walton, Finchley and Golders Green, Guildford, Harrogate and Knaresborough, Hazel Grove, Hitchin and Harpenden, North Cornwall, North Norfolk, Oxford West and Abingdon, Penistone and Stocksbridge, Portsmouth South, Richmond Park, Romsey and Southampton, North Rushcliffe, South Cambridgeshire, South East Cambridgeshire, South West Surrey, Southport, Taunton Deane, Thornbury and Yate, Totnes, Tunbridge Wells, Twickenham, Wantage, Warrington South, Watford, Wells, Westmorland and Lonsdale, Wimbledon, Winchester, Witney ,York, (40)

Wales

Green Party: Vale of Glamorgan (1)

Liberal Democrats: Brecon and Radnorshire, Cardiff Central, Montgomeryshire (3)

Plaid Cymru: Arfon, Caerphilly, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr Dwyfor, Meirionnydd, Llanelli, Pontypridd, Ynys Môn (7)

In addition to these arrangements, we can confirm that we are also stepping aside in three further seats: Beaconsfield, Broxtowe, Luton South

This arrangement gives us the best chance of not just getting Remain MPs elected, but a good number of Liberal Democrats.

Speaking after the details were announced, Jo Swinson said:

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We’ve had an e-mail from the Taxpayers’ Alliance…

Naturally, here at Liberal Democrat Voice, we receive a great many approaches from individuals and organisations, inviting us to publish something from them on our site. Many of them are the usual spam, telling us how wonderful the site is, how much they enjoy it and that an article on property renovation is exactly what our readers would most need. Oddly, we tend to ignore most of them so, if you’re one of those people, and you are reading this, please stop.

Yesterday, we had an e-mail from a (presumably) young man at the Taxpayers’ Alliance, headed;

New polling from the TaxPayers’ Alliance shows tax cuts are key to winning working class votes

I can almost hear you thinking, “Well, there’s a surprise!”. But I’m a generous soul, and so I responded, noting that, whilst the polling appeared to quite conclusively demonstrate that voters want to pay less tax, there didn’t seem to have been much effort to spell out the consequences, i.e. more tax in other areas or cuts to public services. The (probably charming) young man replied by saying that their methodology was the same as the NHS spending polling over the summer – and the recent Oxfam/Tax Justice UK poll from September on wealth taxes – i.e. they had tested propositions, not the implications of each proposition.

You may conclude, as I did, that he hadn’t really answered the question. And so, gentle reader, I turned down his offer to write something for us.

However, the polling is, in itself, interesting, if only to know how voters think when the consequences of the offer before them are not signposted. Here are the highlights as suggested by the Taxpayers’ Alliance;

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Liberal Democrats set out bold green plan to build a brighter future

The Liberal Democrats have set out ambitious plans to tackle the climate emergency by generating 80% of electricity from renewables by 2030 and insulating all low-income homes by 2025.

As one of the party’s key priorities in their ‘Plan for a Brighter Future’, the Liberal Democrats have committed to raising the energy efficiency standards for new homes alongside investing £15 billion over the next Parliament to retrofit 26 million homes. This would save the average household £550 a year on energy bills.

The party has also announced a Liberal Democrat government would prioritise accelerating the deployment of renewable power generation, …

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7 November 2019 – the overnight press release

Lib Dems: Javid has more in common with the Labour party than he thinks

Speaking ahead of Sajid Javid’s speech tomorrow, Liberal Democrat shadow Chancellor and Deputy Leader, Ed Davey said:

The most significant economic policy divide in this election is between Brexit economics and Remain economics. The uncomfortable truth for Javid is that the Conservatives and Corbyn actually agree on Brexit.

Brexit, whether red or blue, will be disastrous for Britain, threatening businesses and livelihoods right across the country.

And the Conservatives and Labour also both want significant shifts in the direction of Britain’s economic policy – one to

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That Remain Alliance is go…

So it looks like the efforts of Unite to Remain are about to bear fruit.

For some months, difficult negotiations have taken place. Now, a result has been achieved in tens of seats which will see Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru or Greens stand down in favour of one Remain candidate. Details fo the seats in question will be announced tomorrow.

Jo Swinson said:

We are delighted that an agreement has been reached.  We would like to thank Unite to Remain for making this possible.

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6 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems: Missed budget shows extent of Tories’ Brexit mess
  • Lib Dems: Swinson visiting businesses, while Johnson’s Brexit damages their prospects
  • Lib Dems enter into historic arrangement to elect Remain MPs

Lib Dems: Missed budget shows extent of Tories’ Brexit mess

Today was the intended date of Sajid Javid’s first Budget as Chancellor. Responding to this, Liberal Democrat shadow Chancellor and Deputy Leader Ed Davey said:

Today should’ve been the Conservative’s budget day, but if anything, the fact it’s not happening shows that the Conservative Party are not fit for office.

The mess they have got us into, with Boris Johnson’s ridiculous do or die promise

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Norman Lamb: My job was to give people a voice

The thing I was most scared about during the 2015 election was not having Norman Lamb as a Minister any more. He had done so much for mental health and I was worried that some Tory (because I feared they would win) would just undo all his work.

A House of Commons without Norman in it is a poorer place. Yesterday he gave his valedictory speech in the Commons, and he talked about how important it was for politicians to give those without power a voice and change the system to give them power.

Norman, all the very best with whatever you do in the future. We have not always agreed, but you have been one of the best Government Ministers I can remember. Your compassion and understanding towards mental health and those who suffer mental ill health was an example we should all seek to follow. Thank you.

I very much endorse the remarks of the right hon. Member for Aylesbury (Sir David Lidington) about the nature of our political discourse and the importance of treating each other with courtesy and respect.

The right hon. Member for Derbyshire Dales (Sir Patrick McLoughlin) talked about the truths that he was told by his wife in private and the very own special relationship that he had with his wife. I want to start by thanking my partner for life, my wife Mary, and our two sons Archie and Ned for the support that they have given me throughout the 18-plus years I have been in this place. There is no doubt that the work that we do here takes its toll on our families and our loved ones. We always have to remember that and acknowledge the enormous sacrifices that loved ones make as we try to do our work here.

I also want to thank my amazing parliamentary staff, in my constituency and in Parliament, who have shown such loyalty and dedication to me over so many years. I thank the Lib Dem party activists in North Norfolk who have shown me enormous loyalty throughout the time that I have fought there. I have spent 29 years campaigning in North Norfolk because it took me 11 years to beat that lot over there to win my seat the first place. So many people have stuck with me through that period, and I am enormously grateful for it.​

I thank the teams that have supported me in my role as Chair of the Science and Technology Committee and during the time that I was privileged enough to be a Minister of State in the Department of Health. Everyone will understand that, as a Liberal, I did not imagine for one minute that I would become a Minister, and then suddenly I found myself responsible for something that I cared a lot about in the Department of Health. It was the most invigorating time of my professional life, but it was made possible by amazing people who showed great dedication and commitment in supporting me through that journey.

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