19 July 2019 – live from Brecon, today’s press releases…

  • Lib Dems bring forward legislation to protect EU citizens
  • Lib Dems: Govt must provide urgent clarity on teachers’ pay
  • Lib Dem legislation to protect victims of crime passes second reading
  • Davey: Govt must fund police pay rise
  • Umunna slams economically incompetent Tories
  • Swinson: This is a time for cool heads in the Gulf

Lib Dems bring forward legislation to protect EU citizens

Today, the Liberal Democrats have brought forward a bill to safeguard EU citizens’ rights.

The Bill brought forward by Liberal Democrat peer Jonny Oates would provide a guarantee that, regardless of the outcome of Brexit, the rights of EU citizens and other EEA nationals living in …

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19 July 2019 – the overnight press releases

Lib Dems: Funding uncertainty for schools and colleges must stop

Responding to the publication of today’s report by the Education Select Committee, which calls on the Government to commit to a 10-year, multi-billion cash injection for schools and colleges, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran MP said:

Over the past few years, our schools and colleges have been cut to the bone, as funding levels failed to keep up with spiralling costs and increased pupil numbers.

Teachers have been forced to buy resources out of their own pockets, teaching assistants have been let go, and tens of schools have been shutting their

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18 July 2019 – yesterday’s press releases

There was a bit of a glitch yesterday, as the press releases ended up in my spam folder for some reason. Things seem to be back to normal, so the usual service resumes here…

  • Welsh Lib Dems – time to embrace zero-carbon housing
  • Lib Dems: EU resolution a vital step in UK’s duty to stand up for people of Hong Kong
  • Davey demands urgent action as knife crime epidemic continues to spread
  • Umunna: OBR report shows No Deal Brexit would be unforgivable
  • Lib Dems: Johnson’s ‘fishy tales’ have no plaice in Number Ten
  • Lib Dems: Milestone victory to block no-deal
  • Gauke talks the talk but can’t walk

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How to help Jane Dodds win Brecon and Radnorshire

Here is all the information you need to know if you are able to come and help in Brecon and Radnorshire.

There are two HQs – one in the south at Brecon and one in the north at Llandrindod Wells. They are both open every day from 10am until 7pm:

Brecon HQ: 26 High Street, Brecon, LD3 7LE

Llandrindod HQ: Haslemere, Park Crescent, Llandrindod Wells, LD1 6AB

If you can’t come in person you can make calls from home by e-mailing: [email protected]

How to find us:

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A Lib Dem GAIN, three strong Holds, and a leap forward

There have been six by-elections this week, and five have seen fantastic performances from the Lib Dems.

Last night’s big news was a stonking gain in Daventry. Wow, Cllr Jonathan Carter!

In Cardiff in a rare Tuesday by-election, we held a seat in style.  Congratulations to Rob Hopkins and team.

Another good hold in Wiltshire for Carole King

And in East Sheen in Richmond, Julia Cambridge gained almost 13% in a brilliant hold.

And in Ceredigion we took a good chunk out of Plaid’s majority. Michael Chappell did a great job!

Thanks to Adrian Gee-Turner for flying the flag in more difficult circumstances.

All  in all, a …

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Caron’s Brecon and Radnorshire diary

Today started at 6 am when I dragged myself out of bed and headed to Edinburgh Airport for the first leg of my journey to Brecon and Radnorshire.

The flight to Cardiff (yes, I know, but train was twice the price and I don’t do it very often) was uneventful. When I realised the airport bus went to Cardiff Bay, I decided to take a wee detour.

 

It’s remarkable to think that this shrine to a fictional character still exists ten years after the events in the chilling Torchwood: Children of Earth.

i decided to take a boat trip back to the centre of Cardiff just so I could say that I had been on plane, train, bus, automobile and boat.

 

 But it was all going too well. When I got to Cardiff Central station I found that my train had been cancelled and the next one would get me to Llandrindod Wells at 8pm.in

However the nice people at Transport for Wales arranged for me to travel to Shrewsbury and then get a taxi with some others who had been similarly delayed.

I got thanks to a very pleasant Shrewsbury taxi driver called Wayne, not much later than planned. After booking into my hotel, which had been chosen for its cheapness alone but turned out to be across the road from the station and 6 minutes walk from HQ, I headed to our office.

 

It transpires  the building where where we are hosting our by-election campaign is replete with Lib Dem lore. Previous MPs  Roger Williams and Richard Livsey had used it as their base. Their photos and that of current AM Kirsty Williams.

Let’s hope that they are soon joined by Jane Dodds.

After some delivery I had the most delicious meal. It was the fish curry on the menu at Nasra and Fabian Veiyra’s restaurant Fabian’s Kitchen that got me through the door. The artwork on the walls is bold and beautiful and there is even a Naughty Corner.

The fish curry was beautiful – aniseedy and coconutty and deep. I didn’t much care for the chut

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Liz Jarvis on gaining the confidence to stand as a parliamentary candidate

This weekend, a group of Lib Dem women will gather in a hotel in Milton Keynes for a weekend which, for some if not all of them, could be life-changing.

The third Future Women MPs weekend in the last year or so takes place. I remember going on a weekend like that back in the 90s and I made friends for life as well as learned valuable skills.

Caroline Voaden, now an MEP, went on one of these events last year along with a load of young Scottish women.

As this takes place, Liz Jarvis, a London writer who joined us last year after a lifetime of supporting Labour, has written for The Parliament Project about her experience in the party and how a Parliament Project initiative helped her develop the confidence to stand:

Through Lib Dem Women I found a mentor from the party’s Campaign for Gender Balance; she was incredibly encouraging and gave me lots of invaluable support and advice for what I needed to do to achieve my goal of becoming an approved parliamentary candidate. She also helped me see that my imagined barriers to standing – my age, the fact I haven’t been a career politician – could actually be turned into positives. I also discovered the Parliament Project via Twitter, and was thrilled when I was accepted on to the 12 week online Peer Support Circles at the start of January.

The sessions were every fortnight, which was manageable, and I loved ‘meeting’ the other women and sharing our political journeys, as well as the assignments we were given, which were fun and challenging. Each session felt as though we were making progress and exchanging ideas and experiences was incredibly rewarding.

And it’s helped her on her journey in the Lib Dems:

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Living Standards Audit 2019

The  Resolution Foundation has published its annual report on living standards. Key findings include:

• Average disposable household incomes have roughly tripled since 1961, after accounting for inflation. But the last two-year period (2017-18 and 2018-19) looks to have been the worst on record outside of recessions.
• This period of weak growth post-referendum comes on the back of both the financial crisis as well as an earlier mid-2000s slowdown for some, with only a short period of healthy income recovery between 2012-13 and 2016-17.
• The groups most at risk of relative poverty have also changed. Parents living in couples, up …

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17 July 2019 – today’s press releases

May’s Govt has treated victims of child trafficking appallingly

Following reports that hundreds of child trafficking victims have been refused the right to stay in the UK, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

Theresa May said that modern slavery is the greatest human rights issue of our time, but these revelations show that her government has treated victims appallingly.

The Government has a clear moral obligation to support children who have been trafficked to this country and held in slavery. The Conservatives’ failure shames our whole country.

The Liberal Democrats demand better protections for vulnerable people. Anyone who has

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Von der Leyens promises to address some of the UK’s direst needs: Poverty, Social Security, Clean Air Cities

The speech by German minister Von der Leyen (VDL), the proposed president of the European Commission, appealing to the sceptical centre parties (Liberals, Social Democrats, Greens) in the European Parliament, brought the Brexit Party MEPs to howls of both approval and anguish, according to Dutch media.

When she regretfully accepted that the UK appears on the way out, Farage’s bench applauded wildly. But when she added that she is ready to extend negotiations beyond Halloween, those cheers instantly turned into jeers.

And in his response, Farage again trotted out the “EU = Soviet Eastern Bloc” trope, to which VDL responded “we can probably do without what you have got to say here”. Dutch media quoted VDL responding to Farage’s Orbanite allies:  “I didn’t expect to get your support”.

In her speech, and in the accompanying resignation of controversial EU insider/super-technocrat Martin Selmayr, many saw new points that address failings in the present EU procedures, decision-making and legislation:

  • Giving the European Parliament the right to initiative; possibly heralding a critical review of EU nomination, decision and policy making procedures;
  • Opening up a formal debate about transnational party lists and “Spitzenkandidaten” at the next European elections; and
  • Starting, in this Trumpian era, a debate in the EU Human & Civil Rights agenda about sexual violence and its female (and LGBTQ+) victims.

Which beggars the question: why leave the EU just when it finally addresses shortcomings and failures of its democracy and human rights?

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Radical yet practical ways to improve food production

The RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission has published its final report, setting out radical yet practical ways to improve food production in the face of current challenges. They say

The actions we take in the next ten years, to stop ecosystems collapse, to recover and regenerate nature and to restore people’s health and wellbeing are now critical.

Our Future in the Land makes fifteen recommendations. First, under the headline “Healthy food is every body’s business”, they suggest a greater commitment is needed to growing our own food using sustainable agricultural practices. Increasing UK food production would help reconnect people to nature and boost all of our health and well-being. Further, community food plans should be established, bringing people together to meet their area’s needs.

The second headline, “Farming is a force for change, unleashing a fourth agricultural revolution driven by public values” includes recommendations such as establishing a National Agroecology Development Bank and formulating a ten-year transition plan to fully sustainable farming by 2030. In addition, the report highlights the role of farmers, saying that innovation by farmers should receive more backing and that every farmer should have access to advice through farmer support networks.

The report includes reference to the need to implement the ten elements of Agroecology as set out by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. These were developed by the UN to achieve Zero Hunger and other Sustainable Development Goals. I’m keen on the promoting the Circular and solidarity economy, to

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Lib Link: Christine Jardine MP on the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing

Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine has written in the Scotsman of her memories on the first moon landing fifty years ago. She writes,

For many of my parents’ generation, it was the ultimate fulfilment of John F Kennedy’s promise to explore the stars and send a man safely to the moon and back by the end of the decade. That generation had lived through World War II as children, endured the fear and tension of the Cuban missile crisis as young parents and the grief of lost opportunities with the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King.

And she recognises that the science developed in the course of space exploration benefits us all:

Those missions ultimately brought CAT scans, water purification, memory foam, equipment used to cut victims out of vehicles, and so many other things.

But even more importantly, Christine argues that the lunar missions gave people

confirmation that humans have an almost infinite capacity for invention and achievement.

She concludes that

Our planet currently faces a challenge that will demand all the passion, experimental science and technological advance we can find to save it from the damage we have done. Fifty years on, Neil Armstrong’s small step onto the moon should give us the belief that if we have the will, we can.

You can read the full article here.

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16 July 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Umunna: Ministers asleep at the wheel in the face of online shopping time bomb
  • New Lib Dem leader to hold Brexit talks with Barnier
  • Lib Dems: New PM must not delay Domestic Abuse Bill

Umunna: Ministers asleep at the wheel in the face of online shopping time bomb

The introduction of Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) will lead to two-factor authentication for all online purchases. The aim of this is to cut down on fraud and improve digital security, however the Government have failed to both support retailers or inform consumers about this change.

Furthermore, it is estimated that around 2 million people do not have …

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Ed Davey MP writes….My reflections from the Campaign Trail

This map may resemble the route of one of Ian Botham’s never-ending charity walks or the British leg of the Tour de France where the organiser forgets to place a finishing line. But it’s actually a record of my campaigning odyssey over the past year, through our fantastic local and European elections onto my campaign to become leader of our party.

I’ve loved every minute – from Aberdeen to Penzance. Like my hero Paddy Ashdown and indeed most Liberal Democrats, I’m happiest out of Westminster meeting people – or, when with our brilliant Brecon candidate, Jane Dodds, meeting the odd sheep while clambering barbed wire fences. (Have you been to B&R yet?!)

I’ve been gate-crashed in Nottingham by Steve Bray, the amazing Stop Brexit campaigner – so we performed a great Stop Brexit duet; I’ve climbed a wind turbine in North Cornwall whilst campaigning to decarbonise capitalism; and I’ve endured the vagaries of the rail network – as I’m calling for rail improvements to discourage internal flights, my campaign is flight-free, to the occasional frustration of my diary manager.

On Sunday, after a head-to-head with Andrew Marr, I sacrificed all prospect of watching the Cricket and Wimbledon to go and speak to members in Oxford – and was welcomed by a healthy crowd, despite the competition!

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WATCH: LBC LIb Dem Leadership Debate

Iain Dale has spent much of the last few weeks going round the country chairing Conservative leadership hustings.

In what must have been a refreshing change, with a much higher quality of candidates, he put Ed and Jo through their paces in an hour long debate last night.

Watch it here.

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Helping parents with the cost of school uniforms is a great campaign

For an example of the real difference Liberal Democrats in government can make to peoples lives, look no further than the announcement by Kirsty Williams of new guidance on school uniforms in Wales.

There’s no doubt that the cost of school uniforms can be a real issue for poor families and the tendency of some schools to make arbitrary decisions which put up the cost are an example of how arbitrary decisions by the state can adversely affect people lives.

The Children’s Society have issued several reports on this, highlighting the high costs caused by schools which have over complicated uniforms …

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16 July 2019 – the overnight press release

Lib Dems: Govt must stop inaction to protect British farmers and the planet

Responding to the RSA Food, Farming & Countryside Commission report outlining a transition to a more sustainable food system and a new deal for the rural economy, Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson, Alistair Carmichael, said:

Farming has a vital role to play in tackling the climate emergency and reversing the tragic loss of biodiversity. This report presents tangible steps to help transform our farming industry to one that works with the environment to produce sustainable, healthy food for the future.

Farmers must be placed at the heart of

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15 July 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Law Centre closures show legal aid cuts have gone too far
  • Lib Dems: Honouring Turing ‘a painful reminder’
  • US trade deal delay more evidence of Brexit false promises
  • Home Office accused of deliberately lying to deport slavery victims

Law Centre closures show legal aid cuts have gone too far

Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Jonathan Marks QC has called on the Conservative Government to reverse £500 million of legal aid cuts, as new figures showing that the number of legal advice centres has halved since 2014.

The figures, reported by the Guardian today, show that the number of Law Centres in England and Wales has fallen …

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Draining the British Swamp

It’s not been a good week for British politics has it?! Our Ambassador to the USA was forced to resign because Johnson wouldn’t publicly support him for doing the job we paid him to do. Labour anti-Semitism was exposed in great detail on the Panorama Programme with a response from Labour that attacked the messenger and tried to excuse their behaviour by saying that the Tories are just as bad. The Tory Leadership contenders have been exposed as either liars or fools.

Then there was the Brexit MEP who thought we should do a ‘Belgrano’ and sink foreign shipping craft within …

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13-14 July 2019 – the weekend’s press releases

FSB no-deal warning reinforces Tory irresponsibility

Responding to the warning this morning on Sky from the Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Mike Cherry, that a no-deal Brexit would be disastrous for small businesses in the UK, Liberal Democrat Business and Treasury spokesperson Chuka Umunna MP said:

The uncertainty of Brexit hangs over all businesses in the UK. Small businesses spent millions preparing for the UK’s exit from the EU on the 29th March this year, but they do not have the resources to do so again.

The Conservatives have failed to put the interests of the country ahead of the

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Vince Cable: Why I changed my mind on assisted dying

In the final of our three MPs’ speeches in favour of assisted dying, Vince Cable explains what prompted him to change his mind on the issue.

I thank the hon. Member for Grantham and Stamford (Nick Boles), my right hon. Friend the Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb) and others for giving us the opportunity to debate this subject. Members have spoken movingly and from experience about their views.​

I am someone whose views have radically changed. Until recently I was a vehement opponent of assisted dying, but I have changed my views and think I should explain why. That change is partly based on an understanding of why I was previously opposed to it, which was due to my own personal experiences. Two of those experiences were relevant, and I think they will resonate with many Members of the House.

One experience concerned my elderly mother who descended, as many do, into confusion and dementia, compounded by mental illness and depression. One week she would say, “Please, please end my life. I am a burden. I want to go”, but a few weeks later she would be enjoying the simple pleasures of life. I could see all too clearly that under a permissive system of assisted dying, people like my late mother would be extremely vulnerable.

My conviction at that time that assisted dying was the wrong route was compounded by my experience with my late wife, who contracted breast cancer and had a very long illness. She eventually died at home with good palliative care, surrounded by a loving family. She was vehemently opposed to assisted dying and wanted to live her life to the full. I guess that I took the view that that was her choice but should also be everybody’s choice.

I came to realise, however, that there are very different situations we need to understand. One thing on my conscience is that in my 20 years as an MP, two constituents came to see me to request help and political support for a campaign in the High Court to be allowed to die through assisted dying and, although I expressed sympathy, as one would expect, I declined to support their campaign. I was very wrong to do so. Both suffered from motor neurone disease, and I think many of us know of such cases. One has surfaced today: a man called Richard Selley in Perth, in Scotland, who is fighting for the right to assisted dying. I think we all know the nature of this condition. Although some people live with it, Professor Hawking being a famous example, in most cases it involves the physical degeneration of all bodily functions combined with absolute clarity of mind and very great suffering. It seems to me that we should consider the position of those living with it and similar conditions.

The argument that is deployed against doing so is that hard cases make bad law. That was quite well summarised by Lord Sumption, who gave the Reith lectures a few years ago, when he said assisted dying should be criminalised but that the criminal law should be broken. That is a somewhat strange way of putting it, but essentially what I think he was saying was that we should keep the law but turn a blind eye to exceptions and treat them compassionately.

I have thought about that argument, but it seems to me that the evidence is very strongly against it for a variety of reasons. However sensitive the Director of Public Prosecutions or the police might be—I am sure they are; the 2015 guidance is very humane—the sheer process of going through a criminal investigation and a caution is deeply traumatic, and probably the most difficult period of any person’s life. It is probably also difficult for the police who have to implement it.

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Beatrice Wishart will fight Shetland by-election for the Scottish Lib Dems


The Scottish Liberal Democrats have today announced Cllr Beatrice Wishart has been selected as the parliamentary candidate for Shetland.

I am absolutely delighted at this news. As Alistair Carmichael’s caseworker and as a local councillor, Beatrice knows exactly what she needs to do to improve people’s lives in Shetland. I’ve known her for the better part of 20 years and think she would be a fantastic MSP.

Beatrice is the Depute Convener of Shetland Islands Council,  a trustee of Women’s Aid in Shetland and an active campaigner for the State Pension rights of women born in the 1950s.

Beatrice said:

I am thrilled to be standing as the Liberal Democrat candidate in Shetland. I’ve lived and worked in Shetland most of my life and I’m keenly aware of the issues that need to be addressed.

Islanders want to see fair funding for our ferries, more NHS services provided at home in Shetland, swift improvements to broadband coverage and all nurseries being given the resources and support they need to increase the amount of childcare available in our communities.

I will be a tireless champion for Shetland. It’s an honour to be given the opportunity to stand to represent my home.

She was endorsed by outgoing MSP Tavish Scott:

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Observations of an ex pat: The special relationship

One of my barometers for the health of the Special Relationship is a weekly broadcast I do for American talk stations. The host is Trumptonian Lockwood Phillips who also happens to be an old schoolmate. I am referred to as the Looney London Liberal by the vast majority of my 500,000 listeners who are staunch Trump supporters. They are just the sort of people I want to reach.

The purpose of the hour-long show is to provide a European assessment of American politics and to analyse events in Europe that should be of interest to American audiences. Normally the discussion between Lockwood and myself is reasonably civilised, although it occasionally slips into the gutter. Not so this week. It went straight to the gutter and stayed there. We were both shouting: “you’re wrong” or “you don’t know what you are talking about”several times, possibly more by me than Lockwood.

The cause of this plunge in civility was Ambassador Kim Darroch’s leaked confidential emails in which he described the Trump Administration as “inept” and “dysfunctional”. Actually the real cause of my anger was President Trump’s reaction in branding Ambassador Darroch as “pompous” and “widely disliked” and said that the White House would refuse to work with him during the six months before the ambassador’s retirement.

I know Kim Darroch. He is not pompous and he is widely liked and respected. So chalk that part of the tweet up as another presidential lie. But more importantly, why can’t the president keep his mouth shut? Why does he feel obligated to respond to every criticism? What drives him to escalate every political conflict into a personal attack?  Why can’t he perform the statesman’s role of taking it on the chin and uttering the words: “No comment?” Or at least avoid personal insults.

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Brecon and Radnorshire – a real test for the Liberal Democrats

I didn’t know when I joined the Liberal Democrats aged 15, that it would change my life dramatically. I’ve lived in Brecon and Radnorshire my whole life, which means I am incredibly lucky to have had at least one Liberal Democrat representative for my life so far. 

However that day in 2015, when we lost Roger Williams as the Member of Parliament was one of the worst days. It was not what he deserved for being a devoted MP for fourteen years. However Liberal-voting to its core, I knew then that Brecon and Radnorshire would be orange once again.

I don’t know about anybody else but, I am certainly so grateful to have been given this opportunity – the opportunity to have another Liberal voice in the House of Commons, fighting to remain in the European Union. This could not have been done without the recall petition and the 10,000+ people in Brecon and Radnorshire that supported it. We’re also very lucky to have a candidate like Jane Dodds, she is unapologetically a Welsh Liberal and will make an excellent MP for the area, something we are desperately in need of.

To top it off, the Liberal Democrats are currently polling at their highest percentage in a long time and the whole country is watching us. The results will be hugely important in showing that the Liberal Democrats are back, a legitimate political force again. A win at this by-election will prove that the fightback is real.

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Biscuits in Brecon….

This weekend, Liberal Democrats have been flocking to help Jane Dodds win Brecon and Radnorshire for the Liberal Democrats.

This time next week, I’ll be there. I am so excited because I have never been out of Cardiff before and I’m so looking forward to seeing more of Wales.

Here are just some of the people who have been helping.

Cambridge PPC Rod Cantrill said:

Great to be back again in Brecon with two car loads of activists from Cambridge door knocking for Jane Dodds on the Brecon Ro(a)d trip!

Alex Cole-Hamilton’s wife Gill may well be annoyed that they decided a long time ago to go to Wales for their Summer holiday. Alex made his second trip today and found two more Lib Dem parliamentarians to play with:

And he revealed that he has some family history in the area.

Amid reports of copious supplies of cake, Lib Dem Friends of Biscuits hit back in style:

And Dominic Buxton gives us a glimpse of how gorgeous it is there:

I don’t see any canvassing going on here…

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Response to Nick Harvey “inside leg” comment shows Party has made some progress

Last Sunday morning, I almost choked on my tea when I read something Nick Harvey had written in an article remembering Paddy Ashdown in the party’s Ad Lib members’ magazine. Nick had included an anecdote that was undeniably sexist. Nobody needed to know about his inside leg measurement at all, let alone who had measured ti. The rest of the article had some lovely memories of the Paddy we all know and love, but this was beyond the pale.

So I wrote Nick an email that, when I read it back later, was much ruder than I intended.

I was not the only one who sent him similar messages.

Even three or four years ago, anyone complaining about that sort of thing would have been basically told that they should grow a sense of humour.

What actually happened is that Nick emailed back a few minutes later very sincerely acknowledging his mistake. The offending anecdote was pretty quickly removed from the online edition of Ad Lib and an apology from Nick put in its place.

This story has now made its way into today’s Times (£).

It is also really encouraging that both leadership candidates gave quotes to the Times which were unequivocal in saying that this shouldn’t have been published and committing to making a more inclusive party.

Jo said:

These comments are totally unacceptable and it is right that Nick has apologised for them. We need to build an inclusive culture in the party to show that we can represent modern Britain, and comments like this make it harder to show we are a welcoming party.

And Ed said that the remarks were inappropriate:

Sir Ed Davey, the other candidate in the race to be party leader, said that the remarks were highly inappropriate. Sexism was a scourge on society that too many women still faced daily, he said, and those in leadership positions had to be held to the “highest standards”.

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Grey areas: Norman Lamb describes the nightmare ordeal of a family over Mum’s death

This weekend we are publishing the speeches of Lib Dem MPs in the recent debate on assisted dying.

Norman Lamb described at length the nightmare a family went through as doctors and police reacted to their terminally ill mother’s attempt at suicide.

It brings home the reality of the issues people face.

Should we really be putting grieving relatives through police interrogations? As Norman says, this family’s experience shows the need for a change in the law.

It was a pleasure to join the hon. Member for Grantham and Stamford (Nick Boles) in applying for this debate. I want to use my time to tell the stories of two constituents. The first is Vonnie Daykin, who has come to Parliament today to hear the debate. She has talked about how she witnessed her uncle and her father die of Parkinson’s and her mother die of motor neurone disease. She says that her mother went through living hell, but ultimately had no choice and was forced to suffer “until the bitter end”.

I also want to spend a little time quoting my constituent, Zoe Marley. Her words deserve to be heard in Parliament, so if I may, I will quote from an email that she sent me. She says:

“In January 2018 my mum Judith Marley was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer…She had nursed her own mother with cancer and had seen numerous ‘bad’ deaths. From the outset, she announced that she would not let the cancer do its worst, but would formulate a plan to escape the terror. No matter how marvellous the palliative care, she didn’t want it.”

That is her right, incidentally.

“She was a very private person; her death should have been a private affair instead of the circus that it became. On a warm July afternoon in 2018, she took a framed picture of her mum, a bottle of Drambuie and approximately 70 sleeping pills into the garden and in this most cherished place, she proceeded to attempt to take her life.”

After some considerable time, her daughter found her there; she had not died and then started to come round. Zoe was then placed into an impossibly invidious position, not knowing whether to call an ambulance. Her mother had already given her lasting power of attorney and did not want resuscitation—her legal right. Ultimately, however, because of the impossible situation that her daughter was in, she had to call an ambulance. Zoe says:

“Her wishes to stay at home and not be admitted to hospital were my priority as her LPA. But was I technically assisting her suicide? My lack of action could be considered supporting a suicide. I was terrified of the consequences of my inactivity. We waited but no change, the day was cooling down and I wanted her to be comfortable.”

In the end, an ambulance was called, and a doctor also attended.

Zoe writes:

“The doctor was unsympathetic. He said he had spoken to an on-call psychiatrist and that he was within his rights to call the police so they could take her to hospital. He was threatening and arrogant, telling me if Mum died there would be a police investigation and she would have a full autopsy. It all made me sick to my stomach. All this time my beautiful Mum laid outside while my ​daughter held her hand. I had somehow found myself embroiled with a medical team that had no understanding of how to interpret the law. The doctor called the police and three officers arrived. I have never had the police come to my door. It was demeaning and frightening. Once again I showed them my Mum’s paperwork and begged them to bring her inside. They seemed unsure of what to do, the expression ‘grey area’ was used a lot.”

To answer the point of the hon. Member for Cleethorpes (Martin Vickers), grey areas cause enormous distress, as in this case. Zoe continues:

“After much confusion they insisted they take Mum to hospital. I was now indignant and focused on what Mum wanted. I made it very clear I would obstruct them. I felt everyone was ‘trying to cover their backs’ which meant disregarding my Mum’s wishes.

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12 July 2019 – today’s press release

Pro-Trump PM could damage relations with Iran

Commenting on the escalating situation in the Gulf, Liberal Democrat Defence Spokesperson Jamie Stone MP said:

We must not allow the next Prime Minister to blindly follow Trump into a volatile anti-Iranian coalition.

It has become increasingly clear that Boris Johnson’s plans for a “global Britain” are just for the UK to be the lapdog of the US.

The EU have been principled and clear in standing firm on the Iranian nuclear deal, which Trump so petulantly tore up. Liberal Democrats will continue to urge the Conservative government, regardless of who the next PM is,

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Ed and Jo talk to the Electoral Reform Society

The Electoral Reform Society has been talking to both our leadership candidates about their plans for constitutional and political reform.

We are delighted to publish their interviews with their permission.

Here’s Ed’s

The transcript is available here. 

And Jo’s

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Christine Jardine: MPs have a free vote on assisted dying. We should not deny choice to those who deserve it

Last week the Commons debated assisted dying. In a moving debate, MPs outlined some heartbreaking situations. Three of our MPs, Norman Lamb, Christine Jardine and Vince Cable, spoke. We’ll be publishing their speeches this weekend.

Christine Jardine outlined one particular irony: MPs have a choice that they don’t extend to those who are in the situation where they need it.

This is undoubtedly a hugely emotive and controversial subject, but I thank the hon. Member for Grantham and Stamford (Nick Boles) and my right hon. Friend the Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb) for giving us the opportunity to discuss it. I am convinced that I have not just a right, but a duty to work for changes in the law that will make it possible for people to have the individual right to choose their own time and manner of death. I am talking about people who, otherwise, will face a situation that will soon be very painful and that will also cause a great deal of stress to their family members. I have been lucky: I have not had to go through the sort of experience that we have heard about from other Members of the House.

Two years ago, I had a conversation with my husband about a friend who, we had just heard, had been given a terminal diagnosis. It was January. We said, “This year will be difficult. Christmas will be difficult. We will have to think about how to deal with it, but it will not be easy for him or for his family.” The irony of that conversation has never left me, because neither my husband nor the friend actually lived until Christmas, but the difference was that my husband died very suddenly. Our friend went through a long, painful, lingering death. If there had been a way that he could have been spared that, I would have wanted him to be offered that choice. There is also an irony in the fact that had I had the choice for my husband, I would have chosen the death that he had, rather than the one that our friend had.

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