WATCH: Ed Davey talks about his life as a young carer and death of his parents

Yesterday Ed Davey gave a really open and moving interview to Radio 5 live about how he was a young carer to his mother for 3 years before she died when she was 15. His dad had died when he was 4. He talked about the key moment of his life, coming a few months after his Mum died, realising that he was doing things for himself and not her any more.

He said that it has affected his attitude to politics – caring for the most vulnerable is what politics should be about, he said.

He said it informed the way he thought about other people and about the health service and the importance of helping each other. Curries from the Indian family across the road gave him and his family practical help during that time. Watch here.

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Sheila Ritchie heads Scottish European list

As he launched the Scottish Liberal Democrats list of candidates or the European election, Willie Rennie stressed that every vote for a Lib Dem MEP will help stop the division and damage imposed by Brexit.

The list includes a partner in an Aberdeen law firm who has spent 20 years supporting start-up businesses and entrepreneurs in the North East, the former head of the European Parliament’s office in Scotland, and an EU citizen who represents the hundreds of thousands of people who have made their home in Scotland but whose futures are put at risk by Brexit.

The list is as follows:

  1. Sheila Ritchie
  2. Fred Mackintosh
  3. Catriona Bhatia
  4. Vita Zaporozcenko
  5. John Edward
  6. Clive Sneddon

Willie said:

I am delighted to announce our list of candidates for the European elections. We have a strong group of people who are committed to protecting our place in Europe.

This election gives voters an opportunity to demand an end to the constitutional chaos we’ve endured for years. People are fed up with Brexit and listening to all the arguments. It has divided our country and damaged our economy for long enough.

A vote for Scottish Liberal Democrats is a vote to stop Brexit and will send a message to the SNP on their unwanted independence plans. Every MEP we gain in Scotland will help make the division and damage stop.

Sheila Ritchie said:

I am thrilled to be leading the fight to secure Lib Dem seats in Brussels and a chance to stop the chaos of Brexit dead in its tracks. This election provides us with a tremendous opportunity.

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Posters: Always be careful where you put yours…

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Extinction Rebellion isn’t funny or clever

Well, I suppose they might have been that day when they made their protest in the Commons chamber. It was a visible reminder that we are preoccupying ourselves with Brexit when the entire future of our planet is in doubt. And it was quite funny watching MPs trying to maintain their composure and keep their faces straight.

But the recent spate of protests by the climate change campaigners are doing their cause more harm than good. Ok, so they get attention, but what on earth is the point of gluing themselves to trains, for goodness sake?

I thought public transport was a good thing. Obstructing it, potentially making low paid people with not much power in their workplaces late, is neither big nor clever.

And holding up the traffic might grab headlines but it doesn’t do much for air quality in the vicinity.

The powerful message of children walking out of school to tell us to secure their future is so much more persuasive.

And I think Extinction Rebellion went a bit foo far yesterday by attaching themselves to Jeremy Corbyn’s house. 

People’s homes are off limits for this kind of stuff, whether there are politicians or heads of companies. If you want to protest go to their public offices. Nobody’s family should have to feel like they are under siege.

Back in 2012, UK Uncut organised this mass protest of 400 people outside Nick Clegg’s house, a move I criticised at the time.  

The Clegg family was not home – but what if they had been? What about their neighbours? Whatever you might think about Government decisions, politicians’ partners and children should not have had their lives disrupted.

Imagine if they had been home when these 400 people descended? The children are 10, 8 and 3. To a 3 year old, people outside having a go at your daddy, however nice they think they’re being, could be really scary, the stuff of weeks of nightmares.

Now, note that I am not saying that such protests should be illegal, but with rights come responsibilities. UK Uncut have done their cause no good whatsoever this weekend – and that’s a shame because when it comes to some of the welfare reform cuts, as you know, I agree with them.

UK Uncut will have had to have distributed Nick Clegg’s private address to a fairly large number of people, for a start, the 400 there and anyone they tell. How can they guarantee the conduct of every single person who would turn up. It was ok this time, but at some point, if this continues, someone will turn up with malevolent intent.

And that was before an MP was murdered. In the current, febrile climate, when you have emboldened fascists taking to the streets, going to politicians’ homes is not a good look.

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18 April 2019 – the overnight press releases

Tories’ high-stakes testing culture pushing children out of school

Responding to the EPI report revealing that over 50,000 pupils who took their GCSEs in 2017 were removed from the school roll for unexplained reasons during their time at secondary school, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran said:

This is yet more worrying evidence that the Conservatives’ high-stakes testing culture is letting down our most vulnerable children.

The desperate drive to secure a better Ofsted grade or climb up the league tables has given schools a perverse incentive to push children they regard as difficult on to other schools, alternative providers, or let

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17 April 2019 – today’s press release

Govt forced to act on requirement to disclose minor childhood offences

Responding to reports that Sajid Javid is considering changing the rules on criminal record disclosure, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

It’s odd to hear Sajid Javid now suggesting changing the rules that require people to disclose minor childhood convictions throughout their lives, given that he and other Tory Ministers recently fought against a court judgement saying exactly that all the way to the Supreme Court.

Javid’s change of heart is welcome, but he should be honest about it. This is not some great brainchild of the Home

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Young Liberals need your help!

Young people are such an important part of our party. Not only do we offer an army of eager campaigners and young candidates, we also help speak up for youth issues and ensure the party has this voice on things it may otherwise overlook.

The Young Liberals are committed to ensuring that the voices of all young people are heard and represented, and this is why we need your help.

At our Spring Conference in Glasgow, we passed a motion to explore increasing the age range of our membership.

The way it works at the moment is that you are automatically a member of the Young Liberals if you are under 26. This is significantly lower than our European counterparts, who’s youth wings tend to encompass everyone under 35.

We feel this limits our ability to represent the issues facing young professionals and those who don’t attend University. This is due to those people who leave University taking a step back from the Young Liberals, failing to see how we are relevant to them given they’ll age out soon anyhow.

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The Liberal Democrats’ class of 2022: who they are and what they think

The New Statesman gives a sympathetic account of the selection of Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidates in an article headed “The Liberal Democrats’ class of 2022: who they are and what they think“, focusing on our target seats.

It includes a paragraph about Lib Dem Voice editor Kirsten Johnson:

Kirsten Johnson, a pianist who is contesting North Devon, said she entered politics to push for more money for mental health services and reduce the gap between rich and poor. “The Liberal Democrats stand for equality across all sections of society, whether economic, gender or any other equality. I think we need to have more people from all walks of life.”

And another about Daisy Cooper:

Daisy Cooper, who has a background in international affairs and is standing in St Albans, described herself as the anti-Brexit, pro-People’s Vote candidate. “I’m internationalist, pro-business, pro-environment – increasingly these are the values that will guide the future of the country.”

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On Mr. Assange and Truth and Security?

“Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards”, and “Ha, ha, I hit them”, said the crew of a US helicopter as they machine-gunned Iraqi civilians, including a child, in Baghdad. (12/07/07)

That is part of what Chelsea Manning exposed and Julian Assange published, for which they are prosecuted and punished, apparently unlike that crew.

There appear to be two types of charge against Mr Assange. One relates to rape and one to accessing information about particular behaviours of a nation’s rulers. They are both to do with security – individual, group national and international.

Security matters to all of us and our descendants, for always.

Can citizens be secure when governments connive at atrocities such as that above, work to hide them, and prosecute the truth tellers?

Security needs equitable law, proportionate and accountable force, a well-educated and informed citizenry and a courageous independent main stream media.

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What should we be campaigning for in the European elections?

So we are almost definitely going to fight the European elections – independently, or in some form of coordination with other Remain-committed parties. But what – beyond ‘Remain’ – should we put forward in our campaign?

First and foremost, we have to make the case for continuing British participation in managing relations among European governments, warts and all. We should not risk getting bogged down in discussions about how to ‘reform’ and improve Europe’s current institutions. They don’t work very well – but neither do our national political institutions, and they work much better than any other international institutions (think WTO, UN) so far created.

Our neighbours across the Channel are our closest partners in almost every way: they are our most important trading partners, they share our democratic values (with some backsliding, but then there’s some of that within the UK as well), they are vital to Britain’s safety and security. Liam Fox may argue that Australia and New Zealand are emotionally much close to Britain than the Netherlands and France – but they are much further away, and much smaller, and we can maintain close relations with them as well as our European neighbours.

Brexiters like Mark Francois wallow in the myths of Britain standing alone in World War Two while those on the other side of the Channel collapsed ‘and we saved them’. We need to go for that myth wherever we hear it. The largest contingent of foreign pilots in the Battle of Britain was from Poland; there were also many Belgian pilots, then and throughout the war. The idea that we can pull Britain away from countries which have been entangled in British history since Roman times, and follow the Trump Administration in the USA and maybe also the Russian government, is absurd.

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+++European Election candidate lists announced for England and Wales

Today the Liberal Democrats announce the list of MEP candidates in England and Wales for the EU elections on the 23rd May (Scotland should follow later today).

The diverse list of candidates includes former MEPs, current Councillors and other hard working community activists.

The Liberal Democrats will fight the elections as an unapologetically pro-European Party campaigning hard for People’s Vote with an option to remain in the the EU.

Vince Cable commented:

Today we’ve announced a strong, diverse mix of candidates, from those who’ve joined the Liberal Democrats recently to those with long experience of the European Parliament.

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16 April 2019 – today’s press releases

Lib Dems: Time to end period poverty wherever it exists

Free sanitary products will be offered to girls in all primary schools in England from early 2020. This follows Chancellor Philip Hammond’s announcement last month of funding for free sanitary products in secondary schools and colleges.

Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson, tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons last month calling on the Government to extend its policy on free sanitary products to primary schools, colleges, universities and NHS GP surgeries.

Commenting on the announcement, Layla Moran said:

It is brilliant news that children in primary schools in

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15 April 2019 – yesterday’s press releases

My apologies for the delay in getting these to you – a combination of jet lag caused by a five hour time difference and family stuff is complicating things…

Tories must enact wholescale reform to fix rental market

Responding to the news that landlords will lose the right to evict renters without a reason at the end of their fixed-term tenancy, Liberal Democrat Housing Spokesperson Tim Farron said:

The housing crisis has left many renters at the mercy of their landlords in an unfair and distorted rental market. Section 21 notices have allowed landlords to turf out tenants without reason, leaving many too

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LibLink: Vince Cable: May’s local elections should be about housing, social care and the environment. Not Brexit

In an article for Politics Home, Vince Cable sets out what should be the priorities for this year’s local elections:

The first is housing. The dearth of affordable housing for purchase or rent is an issue almost everywhere, and is felt by young people in particular. The depletion of the stock of council housing through ‘right to buy’ and the lack of social house building because of central government restrictions has contributed to extreme problems, including homelessness, at the bottom of the housing ladder. Yet good councils have used the planning system and their borrowing powers to get housing, especially social housing, built and have made sure that there is a safety net of hostel accommodation for the homeless (as I have recently seen in York, Watford and Somerset with Lib Dem-led councils).

A second is social care. It is now generally recognised that many of the pressures with in the NHS are caused by the inability of cash-strapped local councils to provide adequate social services support – through domiciliary care or residential homes – resulting in ‘delayed discharge’ (it used to be called ‘bed blocking’) for many sick and elderly people. The failure of central government to confront the social care issue is resulting in mounting problems, and local government is bearing much of the burden.

Thirdly, there is the environment. Those who are motivated by the big environmental issues of the day – climate change, plastics recycling and air quality – realise that local communities and individuals can and do make a contribution in either direction.  Environmentally aware local councils are rightly declaring climate emergencies; there is a race to install electric charging points for zero emission vehicles; and recycling rates and methods are under scrutiny.

But the b-word will get in the way – which will also be good for us.

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How to get Lib Dem Voice by email

Why not join hundreds of other Lib Dem Voice readers in getting our latest headlines by email?

Some people like regularly visiting a site to see if there’s new stories of interest. But if you prefer email, you can instead sign up to get a daily early morning email with a summary of the previous day’s posts from Lib Dem Voice, complete with a note of how many comments each post has got and convenient links to click on if any take your fancy and you want to take a read.

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Of course Shamima Begum should get Legal Aid

There seems to be some horror in the right wing press that a teenage girl is likely to get help to challenge the decision to take away her British citizenship.

At the time Sajid Javid made his decision, Lib Dem Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

Membership of a terrorist group is a serious crime, as is encouraging or supporting terrorism. But Shamima Begum should face justice for those crimes in the UK.

It is not only hard to see Ms Begum and her baby as constituting a serious threat to national security, but it also seems a huge wasted opportunity. We can learn lessons as to why a young girl went to Syria in the first place; lessons which could improve Britain’s security by helping us prevent this happening again.

The decision to deprive her of her citizenship, potentially rendering her stateless, was shameful.

At Scottish Conference, Jo Swinson said:

And while we’re on the subject of the depths Tories will stoop to. Shame on you Sajid Javid for your decision on Shamima Begum, throwing human rights out the window to further your career.

The decision to strip someone of their citizenship should never be in the hands of a Minister.And it’s in the hands of Ministers like him that our country’s future rests.

It is a fundamental principle of liberalism that decisions made by the state should be open to challenge. Everyone should have access to justice and if they can’t afford to do it, they should receive help to get the advocacy they need.

It’s not a fair fight if the government can make life-changing decisions about you and there is nothing you can do about it.

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Moran: Time to end ‘teaching to the test’ culture

Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran today used a speech at the National Education Union to demand an end to the ‘teaching to the test’ culture by scrapping league tables, Ofsted and high-stakes testing in primary schools.

Speaking at the conference, Ms Moran warned that the Government cannot create an education system that gives every child the “opportunity to flourish” when teachers are “over-worked, under-paid and pressured to the point of sickness.”

Ms Moran also encouraged delegates to contribute to her newly launched independent Education Commission’s call for evidence. The Commission intends to develop a vision for the school system of …

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When it comes to mental health, all’s fair in love and leafleting

We all feel it. Brexit is a battleground. It’s muddy trenches that stink to high heaven whichever side of it you’re on, and like sticky quicksand it’s near impossible to escape.

What’s more, the confrontational atmosphere is contributing to a mental health crisis in our political system, one that needs addressing fast.

For someone used to running fast-paced action days and writing punchy election literature, sometimes it can be hard not to view politics like a war. Elections become a battle of attrition. Your opponent is your enemy. Your leaflets are your ammunition. Your voters are a vital resource you must …

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13-14 April 2019 – the weekend’s press release

Two old parties hopelessly divided ahead of Euro elections

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake has accused Labour and the Conservatives of being “hopelessly divided” and said only the Liberal Democrats have a “clear offer” ahead of European elections.

The comments come after Iain Duncan Smith called on the Prime Minister to resign and Jeremy Corbyn was warned by Labour’s MEP group leader that he must back a People’s Vote or lose a generation of young people.

Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake said:

At this time of national crisis, people are demanding real leadership. However, the Tories only offer internal party plotting while

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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #546

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 546th weekly round-up from the Lib Dem blogosphere … Featuring the five most popular stories beyond Lib Dem Voice according to click-throughs from the Aggregator (7-13 April, 2019), together with a hand-picked seven you might otherwise have missed.

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

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

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Lib Dems mark Vaisakhi

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LibLink: Jo Swinson: 100 years after the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, will the UK Government do the right thing and apologise?

Yesterday marked 100 years since the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in Amritsar, India.

A British General ordered his troops to open fire on crowds gathered in a park to celebrate a Spring harvest festival and at the very least estimates, hundreds of people were killed.

In the Independent this week, Lib Dem Deputy Leader Jo Swinson called on the UK Government to apologise for this atrocity:

This centenary year falls at a time when the term ‘Global Britain’ is increasingly being touted by the Conservative Government as they point to the Commonwealth in the wake of the Brexit shambles. But what weight does that term carry if Britain refuses to comprehensively repudiate and recognise its responsibility for such atrocities? Refusal to help heal the wound left by the Amritsar Massacre by not issuing an apology only serves to demonstrate a pig-headed stubbornness that harks of an inward facing island, not a progressive, outward-looking country.

The massacre is a shameful stain on the history of British foreign policy. It is a wrong that continues to mark our foreign policy for as long as the Conservative Government refuse to apologise. Acknowledging what happened, the gross abuse of human rights and the rule of law, and issuing a formal apology is long overdue.

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Lib Dem MPs join calls for Assange to face Swedish justice

The four Lib Dem women MPs this weekend signed a letter to the Home Secretary asking him to co-operate with the Swedish authorities should they seek to extradite Julian Assange to face extradition requests.

This is particularly important given that there is a statute of limitations on these allegations which expires next year.

From the BBC

In their letter to Sajid Javid, 70 parliamentarians – chiefly Labour MPs and peers – urged him to “stand with the victims of sexual violence” and ensure the rape claim against the Wikileaks founder could be “properly investigated”.

“We do not presume guilt, of course, but we believe due process should be followed and the complainant should see justice be done,” the letter said.

I have very little sympathy for Assange generally. Using transparency as an excuse to put people in harm’s way, when a much more responsible approach could have highlighted the problem is just not acceptable as far as I am concerned.

I don’t agree with those, mainly on the left, who treat him as some sort of hero.

I think Dani Garavelli, as she often does, summed it up perfectly in today’s Scotland on Sunday.

Indeed, in the last few days, Assange has served as a useful barometer for a certain kind of misogyny. If your immediate response to his capture was to refer to him as “a political refugee protected by international law” – à la John Pilger – or to quote Orwell as saying: “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act,” then you are most likely a brocialist happy to throw women under a bus in pursuit of your own agenda.

It was this issue, and Corbyn’s poor response to it, that finally led my friend Cat Headley to leave the Labour Party on Friday.

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Just when you thought the Home Office couldn’t get any worse..

…a story in the Sunday Times (£) today tells how details from a suicidal young girl’s medical notes were used to deny her family asylum. And what’s worse, an immigration judge found in favour of the Home Office and the family faces deportation.

The girl, who lives in the northeast and cannot be named, had been given a “sugar-coated” version of why her family had to flee Albania for a new life in Britain. Her father did not tell the child about an alleged assassination attempt on his life by the local mafia.

At an interview with a psychiatric nurse, 48 hours after the girl overdosed in 2016, the child said her family came to Britain to “have access to better healthcare for dad”.

The Home Office was assessing the family’s asylum application at the time and learnt that the girl was “experiencing medical issues”. It requested access to her records for “safeguarding” purposes. But officials found the nurse’s psychiatric assessment and, in an unprecedented step, used it to argue that her father was lying about his reasons for coming to the UK.

If you are in a vulnerable situation, you need to know that you can talk openly to those giving you care in confidence. Of course parents aren’t going to burden their children with dangerous realities if they can avoid it, particularly if they have reason to be worried about a child’s mental state.

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Layla: A vote for the Lib Dems in the EU elections is a vote to Stop Brexit

Our Layla Moran was reviewing the papers on the Andrew Marr Show today and she did her job in getting one very simple message across.

As Vince has said, the Lib Dems are the party of Remain.

Her message was actually echoed by the awful UKIP leader Gerard Batten, who said that Remainers have a clear option in the elections – the Liberal Democrats. Now, I’d not go as far as to say that a Batten is a stopped clock who is right twice a day, but he was certainly right about that. It was the only thing he said that bore any relation to reality. He showed the misogyny endemic in his party by referring to a comment about rape by one of his MEPs was just satire.

Layla talked about a dearth of Tory activists in the Vale of White Horse council elections in Oxfordshire and said that we hoped to take control of it from the Conservatives. She spoke of real anger towards the Conservative Party from its voters over Brexit. She spoke with great joy about putting up stakeboards yesterday – which my autocorrect then changed to skateboards. That would be fun!

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You have to understand intersectionality to break the vicious circle of disadvantage

This is the first in a series of articles commissioned by the Diversity Sub Committee of the FPDC (Federal People Development Committee) and a group of Party campaigns and SAOs on intersectionality – examining how different layers of diversity, discrimination or disadvantage combine. Ray Lewis is our first contributor. He joined the Party earlier this year and runs the Eastside Academy in London.

Disadvantage ruins lives. I live and work in East London, running a Leadership academy for young people from local disadvantaged communities. I have seen for myself the difference that can be made when we can break the vicious circle that condemns so many of our young people.

But there are differences in the disadvantage that people face. When I first set up the Eastside Academy, the primary concern among politicians and educators was for young black boys from poor areas. There was a feeling that they were being left behind and being born into a future of exclusion. 

Then society’s focus shifted onto the wider BAME agenda, which included an acknowledgement of the hardships that so many young girls are faced with. From specific issues like FGM and breast ironing through to the daily challenges of just being female – lower wages, lower prospects and harassment.

Now society is recognising the many layers of intersectionality. In particular we are starting to have the challenging conversations around the meeting point of religious belief and the importance of acceptance of people who identify as LGBT+. Some BAME communities struggle to reconcile their devout faith with acceptance of their LGBT+ friends and relatives. These individuals have the struggles that all BAME people face, of racism and discrimination. And then they also have the struggle for acceptance of their sexuality or gender identity. This is intersectionality.

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European Elections aren’t about the Lib Dems, they are about Remain

Tim Farron rightly gets lots of criticism for his lack of clarity on one issue. Unfortunately, this tends to obscure the huge credit that he should receive for his boldness – back on 24th June 2016 – in being the first to argue that there would need to be a final vote for the British people on whatever deal was eventually strike. I’m biased, but that looks visionary: not only was he clearly right but it gave the Lib Dems a raison d’etre, at a time when they might otherwise have seemed wholly irrelevant.

The Lib Dems now find themselves, increasingly, on what appears to be right side of history. Whether or not a people’s vote is achieved and ultimately Britain votes to remain, the party holds a position that will be a key determinate of how people will vote for decades to come.

And yet, the Lib Dems have frequently been right in the past without reaping political rewards. Even at this moment of greatest opportunity, going into EU elections, the party runs the risk of annihilation.

Yesterday’s Today programme carried two set-piece interviews about the forthcoming EU elections: the first with Nigel Farage about the launch of his Brexit party and the second with Anna Soubry MP about Change UK’s campaign. News is called that for a reason: what is new always trumps what is old.  And the Lib Dems are old.

The emerging media narrative for the EU election campaign is a fight between, on the one hand, the two new parties as the champions respectively of leave and remain, on the other, more broadly between the old parties and the new. Despite three long years of championing the remain cause the Lib Dems simply have no place in this narrative – they are irrelevant.

And yet despite what must now be viewed as an existential threat going into these elections, it feels uncomfortably like ‘business as usual’ for the party: 

There is some griping about the unwillingness of TIG to form a pro-EU alliance, but why would they? They see our brand as fatally tarnished. Whether they are right or wrong, they aren’t ready to do deals.

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Liberalism in the deep south

If Berkshire where I spent most of my life is in the South then West Sussex where I now find myself could reasonably be called the Deep South. Here on the Downs we are only ten miles from the coast the closest I have ever been to the sea, something that I am very happy about. I have now settled into my new surroundings and completed my research on the political landscape already knowing that I found myself in a Tory heartland. We have Conservative MPs with big majorities and local authorities dominated by Tories. My own MP Nick Herbert happens to be one of the founders of the Countryside Alliance and currently sitting on a majority of nearly 24,000. So in this sea of blue it has been a relief to find that the flame of Liberalism is still burning.

In the Arundel and Horsham constituencies we have prospective parliamentary candidates in place Alison Bennett and Louise Potter. Both are young women with real energy and commitment to the cause, while also being firmly rooted in their communities. When the General Election comes the blue team better watch out because they are going to get a run for their money. First though we have all out Local Elections this year and the Lib Dem campaign in Horsham District got off to a great start with a hustings in the market town at the beginning of this month. Our council group leader David Skipp was pitted against spokespeople for the Conservative and Labour parties (the Greens were invited but failed to appear) in a well attended meeting.

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12 April 2019 – today’s press releases

Lib Dems: No woman should miss out on education because of period poverty

Reports in The Independent this morning that Daisy Wakefield, a student at the Univeristy of the West of England spent her entire student loan on sanitary products to distribute to poorer students, has reignited calls to end period poverty.

Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons last month calling on the Government to extend its policy on free sanitary products to primary schools, colleges, universities and NHS GP surgeries.

Commenting on Daisy’s campaign for the University of the West of …

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The democratic case for resolving Brexit

Since  the 2016 referendum, we Lib Dems have been slightly on the back foot about the democratic implication of having a new people’s vote. I firmly believe that, had the matter not been put to the public in 2016, the government would have said some time in 2017 or 2018, ‘OK folks, Brexit was an interesting idea, but it’s clearly not going to work so let’s abandon it and stay in the EU.’ But because the people did vote, and they chose by a small but clear margin to leave, the whole principle of democracy appears to be undermined if we ask the people a second time.

Actually the opposite is the case – the case against having a confirmatory people’s vote is the undemocratic one. This conclusion is based around three core arguments:

1. The vote in June 2016 was based on a Leave campaign that was a blank canvas. There was no vision for how we would leave or for which variation of leaving. If you go back to the referendum debate, you’ll find advocates of Leave ranged from the anti-everything-that-begins-with-‘Euro’ brigade to very mild Leavers who wanted the UK to stay in the internal market and the customs union but not to be members of the club. That’s why when a Leaver screams ‘This isn’t what we voted for in 2016,’ it’s founded on nothing but their own perception of what they were voting for. Given that the margin of victory was less than 52-48, the only plausible mandate from the 2016 referendum is for a Brexit that involves staying in the internal market and customs union.

2. The Leave campaign cheated. This has been proven, the campaign has been fined £70,000 (and Arron Banks’ company has been fined more than that for data abuses related to the Leave campaign), and it is not appealing. Moreover, a professor of psephology told the High Court that the extent of the advantage Leave gained by cheating could have affected the overall result. If you have a public vote and one side cheats significantly, the result cannot be considered reliable, certainly not reliable enough to provide a mandate for the UK to leave the economic and legal bloc it has been a member of for 44 years.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarTony Greaves 18th Apr - 11:48pm
    Elliott Dodds would approve! (I suppose I would too though it would have saved me a load of grief.)
  • User AvatarMichael Sammon 18th Apr - 11:31pm
    I think this is a good article. I can't get behind Extinction R. The way they are behaving goes against a democratic principle. It just...
  • User AvatarRoland 18th Apr - 11:23pm
    @Peter - I think you need to get out more! :) It has even recently begun to dawn on Mogg that remain is a valid...
  • User AvatarRoland 18th Apr - 11:01pm
    Whatever we do on these islands will have little impact on the environment unless giants such as... @John Marriott - forgetting the slogan that was...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 18th Apr - 10:10pm
    Whatever we do on these islands will have little impact on the environment unless giants such as the USA, China and India come on board....
  • User Avatartonyhill 18th Apr - 9:09pm
    I forget the context, but he was once famously referred to as Sir Crapley Onslow.