17 January 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems oppose Johnson’s Parliamentary agenda
  • Fall in retail sales demands a radical rethink
  • PM should seek to bring the country together

Lib Dems oppose Johnson’s Parliamentary agenda

The Liberal Democrats have tabled an amendment to the Queen’s Speech for debate on Monday 19 January. The amendment details the key reasons why Liberal Democrat MPs will oppose Boris Johnson’s agenda for government, including:

  • failure to introduce ambitious plans to tackle the climate emergency;
  • failure to set out measures to tackle poverty and inequality;
  • failure to protect human rights or to strengthen the voice of citizens.

The amendment also urges Government to introduce a system of proportional representation. …

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We need to shift from a class identity debate to a consensus around our core values


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With the dust still settling from the December 2019 General Election, it is necessarily a time for the Liberal Democrats to regroup, refocus and plan for the coming years.

One question which I hear being asked is how the Party can appeal to working-class voters, as part of a strategy to make it more inclusive, representative and, of course, electable. However I believe we need to first take a step back and ask whether the underlying assumption here is valid in 21st Century Britain and, moreover, is it liberal?

With our political rivals in opposition currently locked in heated internal argument as to which of their potential leaders is authentically working-class, it is worth exploring just what that means. Is one born working-class, or indeed middle-class, or does one somehow acquire the designation and accompanying self-identity during one’s lifetime?

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Is being bullied by Donald Trump the future for British foreign policy?

The news, as broken by the Washington Post, that the Trump Administration threatened to levy a 25% tariff on British car exports to the US unless Britain warned Iran of violations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a deal in which Iran would accept strict rules and oversight of its nuclear activity in exchange for being allowed back into the international community, should concern us all.

Of course, it wasn’t just Britain – the French and Germans were threatened too.

But the difference between us and them is that the French and Germans are part of a bigger group, and …

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Sir John Curtice on the Lib Dem general election performance


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Jonathan Fryer has blogged about this week’s presentation at the National Liberal Club by Sir John Curtice entitled: “The 2019 Election: A Tale of Hope and Disappointment”.

Jonathan notes the following points about the drop-off of Lib Dem support during the election campaign itself:

Many commentators at the time also attributed the fall in LibDem support to (1) Jo Swinson’s call to Revoke Article 50, rather than pitching wholeheartedly for a second EU Referendum, and (2) her claim to be a potential PM in waiting, despite the modest number of LibDem MPs (albeit supplemented by both Labour and Conservative defections). However, Professor Curtice said polling, notably from YouGov, did not support that assumption. Instead, he highlighted three conclusions about the election result based on his research:

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Vote share increase for Tara Murray in Bristol

Well done to Tara Murray and team (above with Ed Davey) for an impressive vote share increase in the Brislington East by-election in Bristol yesterday.

The result was:

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Observations of an Expat – Capitalism—New Lease of Life?

The resounding defeat of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has revived the cries for “Responsible Capitalism.”

Corbyn is a not so thinly-disguised old style socialist. He and his supporters believe that the only route to a fair society is through socialism based on public ownership. The problem is that historical experience says otherwise. There have been successful mixed economies, but every attempt at full-blown socialism has ended in political, economic and social disaster.

In every instance they have hit the brick wall of human nature and its hand maiden the survival instinct. Humans are greedy. That greed has dragged us out of damp caves into centrally-heated bungalows. Conversely, the same greed has ignited wars, destroyed the environment and created social inequalities.

The bastion of world capitalism—the United States—is a shining example of these inherent contradictions. Its national entrepreneurial success has created the wealthiest country in the world. But that wealth is not equitably shared. Two-thirds of America’s wealth is owned by five percent of the population. Forty percent of Americans earn less than $15 an hour; five percent earn the minimum wage or less and 28 million Americans do not have medical insurance.

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Future Party Communications and Elections Committee Chair

Each new Federal Board elects someone to Chair the campaigning and communications function of the Party and having been re-elected for a cumulative period of 10 years in the role, I shall not be standing for a further three when the Federal Board elects the next Chair.

I was first elected as Chair of the Campaigns and Communications Committee (CCC) – the precursor to the current Federal Communications & Elections Committee (FCEC) – in the immediate aftermath of the 2010 General Election. Half the time since that the Party has been in Government in Westminster … and the other half seemingly dealing with the consequences.

Constitutional changes in 2016 ended the practice of the Leader appointing different individuals to Chair separate General, Local and European campaigns and transferred the responsibility to the elected Chair of the FCEC. Expectations at the time were that my first general election campaign would be in 2020. I relished the prospect – putting into practice all the learnings from 2015 would be a substantial task – but one which the Party was more than up to. Instead of which, I have served three Leaders and overseen two general elections, each of them called at short notice and in challenging circumstances.

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16 January 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems call on PM to back automatic rights for EU citizens
  • Lib Dems: Tories have failed on knife crime
  • Lib Dems demand more action on gambling addiction

Lib Dems call on PM to back automatic rights for EU citizens

The Liberal Democrats have called on the Conservative Government to back legislation to guarantee automatic rights for EU citizens, as new official statistics show the number not granted permanent Settled Status has risen to more than 1 million.

Liberal Democrat peer Jonny Oates this week tabled amendments to the Government’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill to automatically guarantee EU citizens’ rights in law.

The latest EU …

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Paddy & President Jed Bartlet can’t both be wrong – Education should be our flagship

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Pretty much everyone has a view on why we had a bad election and, more importantly, what we should do next. I’m a member of Barnsley local party and here are my two cents…

Johnson’s Tories look like they have weathered the storm and are in for a few stable years as a version of Trumps Republicans, appealing to the English rustbelt and the odd white supremacist.

They may be untouchable for a while.

We have just experienced our third bad (so very bad) election in a row.

However Labour, by its standards, has had a shocker. They have not won an election now in 14 years.

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LibLink: Our new President/Co-leader on the surprising number of elections coming up in May

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Over on his blog, Mark Pack, our new party President and co-leader, gives us a timely warning about the magnitude of voting opportunities this May:

This year’s round of local council elections are only in England and are the smallest round of that cycle of elections. Which may make you think that it’s a small set of elections and one in which many or even most parts of the country will not be voting.

But…

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15 January 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems question FlyBe bailout
  • Tory minister wrong to promote flying in the face of climate emergency
  • Ed Davey calls for better support for bereaved families at PMQs
  • Government must repeal unlawful Snoopers’ Charter
  • Lib Dems: Prime Minister must now keep his promise to protect Erasmus
  • Lib Dems: PM agrees to work with Lib Dems on human rights abuses in Syria

Lib Dems question FlyBe bailout

Responding to news that the Government intends to bail out Flybe, Liberal Democrat Transport spokesperson, Munira Wilson MP, said:

Flybe provides a vital service in connecting many regions of the UK which are otherwise hard to travel between, not least

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We need to seriously address the issues of work

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Back in 1980 I entered the world of full-time employment as a sixteen year-old school leaver. Relatively secure jobs, with pensions and other benefits (in my case luncheon vouchers), were the norm. Thirteen million people were in trade unions.

But the Thatcher revolution was just beginning. It involved targeting those unions which the self-styled Iron Lady said had become too powerful. As a clerical assistant in the Civil Service, I ended up being involved in one of the initial battles when the government refused to implement the recommendations of an independent pay review body. We went on strike and lost. Others followed, notably the printers and miners, who also lost.

The industrial landscape was being redrawn and times they were changing. After my stint in the Civil Service, I spent 25 years in Royal Mail, where I lived through a heavily unionised workforce grudgingly accepting erosion of pay and hard-won working conditions. For those in non-union workplaces it was usually worse, particularly where jobs were privatised.

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Wendy Chamberlain’s maiden speech

As is traditional, Liberal Democrat Voice is covering the maiden speeches of our new MPs as they happen. Yesterday, Wendy Chamberlain, MP for North East Fife, spoke in the Education and Local Government debate:

I begin my maiden speech, perhaps unusually, by congratulating the hon. Member for Bury North (James Daly) on his excellent maiden speech. We can certainly agree on ensuring that deprived children and those with additional support needs are supported. I note his work on the board of governors of Hoyle nursery and commend its achievements as well as those of Springfield Primary and Bury College. I commend the hon. Gentleman’s commitment to education. I appreciate his telling us about his cricket-playing career and the fact that perhaps it does not live up to expectations. I play the amateur Scottish sport of shinty and would be happy to tell Members all about it. I do not play particularly well, so stand well back. I look forward to hearing from the hon. Gentleman again during his time in Parliament.

It is a great honour to make my maiden speech as the new Member of Parliament for North East Fife. I pay tribute to my most recent predecessor, Stephen Gethins, who served North East Fife with distinction from 2015. It is clear from my few days here that he was well liked and well respected by Members across the House. I recognise the work of his parliamentary team, both here and in the constituency. It is easy to forget in the heat of an election that when Members lose or resign their seat that has a direct impact on their employees, so I wish all of them the best for the future.

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Antony Hook MEP writes… Co-operation to win in 2024? It comes down to four questions


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The 2019 General Election was the sixth since I joined the party as a student in 1998 and its result was by far the most frustrating. The consequences of the 2019 election will be more considerable and long-lasting for our country than any I saw before.

How this happened, and what needs to change to do better next time, will be subject of a General Election Review, which I expect will be rigorous and take an objective, honest view based on evidence.

If I quote a football manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, do not think I am trivialising. Sir Alex understands more about successful leadership (including managing resources and dealing with the press and a support base) than many people in politics. One of his maxims was “defeat does not matter, what matters is how you come back from defeat.”

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Confessions of an amateur activist


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I confess. I came late to the Party, almost three years late after post 2016 referendum ruminations on what life might be like on this small island, stranded at sea from our nearest European neighbours, reliant on our back gardens and allotments for a staple diet of root vegetables and tuber crops. We were taking back control of our borders, our people, our values, hell, even our bangers. As our nostalgia for the post-war period grew, so did our ability to stomach xenophobia in all its ugly guises, holding our metaphorical noses at the whiff of French saucisson or its bigger, brasher Bratwurst cousin.

Well, bollocks to that. Like nearly half of the electorate who voted Remain, we too felt stranded. We had a fight on our hands to stop Brexit and stand up for progressive pro-European liberalism. I joined the Liberal Democrats in early 2019 and took part in a couple of marches, the first time I had taken to the streets since my student days in the late 80s protesting against Maggie and the Poll Tax.

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Are we fiddling while Australia burns?


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The good news for Australia is that temperatures have fallen and rain is forecast.

I was born and brought up in Australia, so can imagine all too vividly what it is like to live through the horror of out of control bushfires. I’ve seen one from a distance, and even though I was safe it was frightening. Having to flee to the nearest beach in order to save yourself from burning to death is terrible to contemplate.

Although bushfires have always been part of the Australian experience, the number and intensity of the fires has increased. In the 1950s and 60s we had bush fires, but no ‘bush fire season’, as there is now.

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14 January 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Tories should be cutting emissions, not air passenger duty
  • Lib Dems call out Johnson duplicity on Iran Nuclear Deal
  • Home Office cover up slammed by Lib Dems

Tories should be cutting emissions, not air passenger duty

Following the reports that the Conservative government is considering cutting air passenger duty on domestic flights as part of a plan to save regional airline Flybe from collapse, Liberal Democrat Transport spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

Flybe looks set to follow Thomas Cook, despite only being “rescued” last year. The way to ensure our businesses stay afloat is to provide certainty, rather than the chaos the Conservatives have presided over

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Daisy Cooper’s maiden speech

As is traditional, Liberal Democrat Voice will be covering the maiden speeches of our new MPs as they happen. First up, yesterday, was Daisy Cooper in the Queen’s Speech debate, responding to Dominic Raab on the subject of Britain in the World…

It is a great honour to make my maiden speech following many other accomplished and passionate speakers. My constituency of St Albans is very proud of its contribution both to Britain’s history and to Britain’s place in the world. Alban himself is the first recorded Christian martyr and Britain’s first saint. He was executed for giving shelter to

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14 January 2020 – the overnight press release

Tories failing to keep people safe

Responding to the HM Inspectorate of Probation report, which has found that the National Probation Service (NPS) is hampered by staff shortages, stretched middle managers and poor facilities, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:

This Conservative Government is failing in its most important duty: keeping people safe. Staff shortages in the Probation Service mean that high-risk individuals in our communities are not being properly supervised.

This alarming report shows that ending private probation contracts and unifying the system, while clearly necessary, will not be nearly enough to fix the major problems in probation.

Liberal Democrats are calling

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13 January 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Treasury must act on rural ATM charges
  • UK facing worst slowdown since aftermath of financial crisis

Treasury must act on rural ATM charges

Jane Dodds has joined Kirsty Williams AM and Cllr James Gibson-Watt in calling for the UK Treasury to take action to abolish transaction charges at rural ATMs.

Transactional charges are becoming increasingly common across Wales as more and more banks cut back on support to ATM providers, meaning the running costs are being passed onto the customers. The ATM at Hay Post Office is the most recent local example of this, with customers now being charged 99p per transaction.

Jane Dodds, Leader …

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Our MP voted against helping child refugees – and I’m angry

Our MP’s work on behalf of their constituents – or at least they are supposed to. That’s supposed to be an important principle of our democracy. But in recent days Cheltenham’s MP, Alex Chalk has voted and supported the government in NOT providing help to unaccompanied refugee children. I’m saddened, disappointed and upset, let me explain why.

Cheltenham has bucket-loads of kindness, empathy and compassion. This I’m sure is replicated across the country, and throughout our history this has been highlighted time and again in how we all have responded to natural disasters or humanitarian crisis.

Whenever and wherever …

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Instilling a fear of failure will return us to pointlessness

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The Apple Lisa – a famous failure

I’ve worked in the computer industry for almost the whole of my adult life.

My first experience fixing one was at 11, maybe 12 years old. My childminder’s husband had a computer I was allowed to play on so long as I asked whenever I wanted to change the program (so I didn’t break it) but, of course, I did. And then, it stopped working. At that moment I knew I either had to fix it, or tell her husband what I did.

I fixed that computer bloody quickly. In hindsight, it was an obvious problem – but also, one I didn’t make again. But I’ve made a lot of mistakes since – indeed, you could say that the entire repertoire of my knowledge and experience is grounded in failure, learning from failure, and building that in to success.

In the computer industry we have a saying – “fail fast”. It’s probably also a saying in other circles, but it embodies a culture that all successful companies strive for – enabling people to take risks, try new things. Put simply, they’re empowered to fail.

Whole companies – start-ups – are empowered to fail. It’s expected; an investor will pick some “sure things”, some that are a little risky, and a few “moon shots” – companies financed to try something they will probably inevitably fail at, but if they do succeed they could disrupt and reconfigure an entire sector of the economy. And one of them will, inevitably, succeed.

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13 January 2020 – the overnight press release

Welsh Lib Dems reducing infant class sizes

The Welsh Liberal Democrats’ Infant Class Sizes Fund has been found to be ‘making a real difference’ a new report published today has shown.

The £36m Infant Class Sizes Fund is a Welsh Lib Dem policy that was implemented as part of the Progressive Agreement between Kirsty Williams and the First Minister. The policy targets schools that would most benefit from smaller classes, such as those with high levels of deprivation.

The report shows that the percentage of all infant classes and learners in classes over 30 has reduced since the introduction of the grant, with …

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11-12 January 2020 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Govt must back Lib Dem bill for family reunion rights for child refugees
  • Lib Dems demand statement on arrest of British ambassador to Iran
  • Lib Dems demand reform to protect High Street retailers

Govt must back Lib Dem bill for family reunion rights for child refugees

Responding to an NGO report calling for child refugees to be given the right to sponsor close family members to join them, the Liberal Democrats have urged the Government to support their bill that would do just that.

Without My Family, a report published today by Amnesty International, the Refugee Council and Save the Children, criticises the …

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How you can help Liberal Democrat Voice

The Voice is only a success because of the interest and support from our readers. For many people just lurking and reading the site is all they want to do – and that’s fine, we’re grateful for people taking the time to read the site.

You can though help us continue to produce interesting content for a growing audience. Here are four simple ways:

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Will we ever move forward if failure is seen to be richly rewarded?


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I worked in the computer industry for my career.

I count myself lucky that I survived in a job that long.

But you have to be careful in industry.

I should imagine if a business manager spread a budget of £20 million over five times the area it should have been spread, with the result of modest failure rather than modest success, then she/he would be consigned to a dusty office with “special projects” written on the door for the rest of their career.

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Federal Policy Committee report January 2020

Our meeting this week covered a number of areas.

We had firstly a very useful chat with Neil Stockley, chair of the working group on utilities, which is still at an early stage and whose timetable has been heavily disrupted by the excitements of the autumn. We reviewed the use or, if you like I suppose the utility, of this exercise in the rather changed political circumstances since we decided to set it up last year. We agreed that it remains a helpful area for us to focus on, not least as it has a clear direct impact on people’s everyday experiences – and costs – in a way which some policy areas do not. A full discussion concluded that it was helpful to retain its planned focus on utilities, not to expand it into consumer affairs more generally, and that while it shouldn’t exclude consideration of rail as a utility, it would not aim to be a full rail or transport paper, which there is a good case for but which we will come back to for further consideration.

We reviewed a draft motion on constitutional reform we are submitting for spring conference, in discussion with Wendy Chamberlain MP, the party’s new spokesperson on constitutional affairs. We felt this was a useful area to focus on following the constitutional issues arising from the autumn’s shenanigans, and one where as Liberal Democrats we generally have a clear and strong view. A full discussion took the view that it would be most useful to narrow the initially planned quite broad scope of this to focus specifically on the electoral reform aspects. The intention of this motion is to highlight clear Liberal Democrat answers to the issues here, rather than to develop major new policy. We have submitted this motion for spring conference and it will be up to FCC whether they select it for debate. This discussion also threw up a useful early review of how we might approach some of the important and tricky challenges around UK and English federalism and devolution, which we will come back to.

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It must be the right people who fall on their swords

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In October 1805 Napoleon was in what is now the Czech Republic and desperate to engage the armies of Austria and Russia, which had converged, before they became too strong to overcome. The Russian commander-in-chief, Kutuzov, also realised that Napoleon needed to do battle, so he counselled retreat. But the Austrians and Tsar Alexander, buoyed by what they believed was reliable reconnaissance information, overruled Kutuzov, who was demoted. Napoleon, by various stratagems, lured the Austrians into a battle on terrain of his choosing, near Austerlitz.

You can see where this is going.

French reinforcements, of whom the Austrians were unaware, arrived unexpectedly. Napoleon won one of his greatest victories, and an awful lot of people got killed. The Holy Roman Empire effectively came to an end a year later.

This is what happens when the top command makes the wrong decision.

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10 January 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems: Fight against upskirting is far from over
  • Nine prisons overcapacity by more than 50%

Lib Dems: Fight against upskirting is far from over

Responding to data revealing that incidents of upskirting have been reported to the police at a rate of almost one a day since it became a specific sexual offence, Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse, who originally proposed the Bill, said:

This horrifying statistic serves to show how necessary a change in the law was. Victims across the UK were failing to get justice and perpetrators of the crime were walking free.

The change to make upskirting a specific sexual offence

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Rumour: Jo Swinson set to be awarded a peerage

Jo Swinson wins "Best use of e-campaigning 2009"

This fortnight’s edition of Private Eye is proving to be quite a goldmine. I thoroughly recommend buying a copy at your local newsagent or similar outlet.

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Recent Comments

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    If we are to consider the reason for the results we must also consider the enthusiasm of the volunteers who are the main resource that...
  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 18th Jan - 1:52am
    Capitalism vs. Socialism is a false dichotomy. The late Gertrude Himmelfrab. a historian of Victorian Britain spoke of "paradox of liberalism" - the idea that...
  • User AvatarWilliam Francis 18th Jan - 1:02am
    YouGov did some polling in November on this issue. The Lib Dems poll twice as well m with people who identify as middle class than...
  • User Avatarfrankie 18th Jan - 12:13am
    To quote a famous politician "This Sucker Could Go Down" as Depeffle fiddles. O well "Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make...
  • User AvatarHywel 17th Jan - 11:37pm
    "I know the review will be robust, detailed and insightful." Rather a big platitude. How do you know this?
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 17th Jan - 10:12pm
    Gordon, the policy-making structures of the party just aren't as top-down and inaccessible as you make out. If sometimes one can't altogether see why a...