Tiverton and Honiton by-election to take place on 23rd June

The Writ has been moved for the Tiverton and Honiton by-election to take place on 23rd June.

The by-election was caused by the resignation of Neil Parish after he was discovered watching pornographic videos during  parliamentary meetings on two occasions.

Ed Davey said that the by-election gave voters the chance to send Boris Johnson’s Government a message they cannot ignore and elect a local Lib Dem champion to fight for them:

People in rural communities like Devon have had enough of being neglected by this Conservative government.

Posted in News | Tagged | Leave a comment
Advert

Farron: Planning changes needed for second homes

Second homes are a growing issue in many rural areas of the country. Although visitors with second homes bring economic benefits, they also reduce local housing stock and drive up house prices by making offers that most locals can’t match. The squeeze on housing availability drives up rents as well as prices.

Yet when second home owners arrive for the weekend, for the week or for a holiday, they rely on local people for their services in shops, pubs and bars. But many people can’t afford to live in a settlement where second homes are popular.

In 2018/19, an estimated 772,000 households reported having second homes.

Speaking during questions on Levelling Up in the Commons yesterday, Tim Farron said:

It is… vital that houses that are given planning permission are then used for the purposes agreed on when the permission was granted. I am talking about second home ownership. Homes that are built for local families become second homes, and that leads to communities being hollowed out. Will the Minister look again at bringing in new change of use rules through the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill, so that second homes and holiday lets fall under a separate category of planning use, and homes in Cumbria can remain for local families, and do not become part of ghost towns?

Posted in News | Tagged and | 6 Comments

LibLink: Christine Jardine: Boris is putting peace process in peril

As Liz Truss prepares to tell Parliament how exactly the British Government intends to ride a coach and horses through the Northern Ireland Protocol negotiated by itself, Christine Jardine writes in the Scotsman about the dangers this poses to the Peace Process.

She starts by writing about how she felt when the IRA first announced its ceasefire back in 1994.

But in that moment it seemed, for the first time, that there might be a bright, positive peaceful future for the people of Northern Ireland. For everyone touched by the euphemistically named ‘Troubles’.

Thirty years later, they have reached a point where they have, to a previously unimaginable extent, put the bitterness and pain of those years behind them.

So to be faced with the realisation that it might all be undermined by an unnecessary dispute born of the Brexit debacle and government intransigence is astonishing.

She condemns the Government for the threat it is posing to the Union.

It is hard to avoid the suspicion that a government, under fire, struggling to get on top of a cost-of-living crisis, is using the most socially and politically fragile area of the UK as a football.

More than that, it often feels as if the Conservatives are playing unacceptable games, not just with the people of Northern Ireland but with the Union.

She outlines the potential consequences of the Government’s actions:

If the Conservatives persist with their ideological approach, it could result in a trade war with our closest allies in the EU.

In the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, and when we need to work together to support Ukraine and oppose Russian aggression in Europe, it is hard to imagine a more self-damaging approach.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , , , and | 1 Comment

Challenging cultural and ethnic stereotypes

A week or so ago, I was asked to give a talk about how faith relates to politics and vice versa. I remember when I first came to the UK, I was told to avoid talking about both subjects and therefore I knew that running a workshop in relation to both topics might be a bit tricky!

For some, both faith and politics go hand in hand. Our political choices are guided by our religion or faith affiliation. Our beliefs often become our moral compass, which “dictates” in many cases the way we vote, or decide who to support at the polling station.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 4 Comments

Welcome to my day: 16 May 2022 – the cat is, so to speak, out of the bag…

I spent part of my weekend in strangely familiar territory, with leaflets in hand. Honiton feels a bit like Stowmarket, my neighbouring town here in mid-Suffolk. For, whilst the surrounding countryside is agricultural, the town itself is not obviously prosperous – we’re not talking “touristy” here. Indeed, a bit like mid-Suffolk, any tourists are likely to heading onwards.

And, whilst the Guardian has discovered that a campaign has already broken out – really, guys, was that a surprise? – Liberal Democrat social media is abuzz with people either in Tiverton and Honiton or working out how to get there and when.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Sarah Dyke Selected as Lib Dem Candidate for Somerset and Frome

The Liberal Democrats have selected Cllr Sarah Dyke as their candidate for the Somerton and Frome constituency.

Sarah lives in the constituency and is from a Somerset farming family which can be traced back over 250 years to the local area. Sarah worked in the agricultural industry and is Portfolio Holder for the Environment on South Somerset District Council where she is spearheading rewilding programmes, investment in electric vehicle charging points and the council’s zero-carbon targets.

Last week Sarah was elected to Somerset County Council to represent Blackmoor Vale, beating the head of the Conservatives’ dedicated anti-Lib Dem unit.

Posted in News and Press releases | Tagged , , and | 8 Comments

See an Award Winning Movie and Help Ukraine

The Lloyd George Society and Rights-Liberties-Justice are sponsoring a showing of the film Mr Jones at the National Liberal Club on 20 June. The movie tells the story of Gareth Jones, a Welsh journalist and former employee of Lloyd George, who travelled secretly to the USSR to uncover the truth about the Holodomor, the great famine of 1933 under Stalin’s regime in the Ukraine. Jones witnesses appalling conditions, including starving people whose grain has been forcibly taken away for consumption elsewhere, villages whose entire populations have died or just vanished and ‘horrifically, he stumbles across examples of cannibalism. Yet despite his evidence, Jones finds it hard to get the matter taken seriously once back in Britain.

Posted in Events, London and The Arts | Tagged , , and | 2 Comments

Tom Arms’ World Review

The Irish question has bedevilled British, European and American politics since… well, forever. It played a role in the Council of Whitby in 664. In 1169 England’s Norman rulers invaded and started centuries of direct conflict.

All this was supposed to end with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. Well two events this week have brought it back from a shallow grave: The emergence of Sinn Fein as the largest party on both sides of the border and British refusal to accept the Northern Ireland protocol. The two political incidents have also brought the possibility of a united Ireland a giant step closer. Sinn Fein is totally committed to a referendum in the north on a united Ireland. The long-term stranglehold of the Protestants on the politics of the six northern counties has been a major stumbling block. That has ended.

The Northern Ireland Protocol is also pushing the two halves together. It has tied Northern Ireland economically to the EU and the southern part of the island and weakened trading ties with Britain. The Protestants are, of course, opposed to the protocol. The conservative Boris Johnson government is trying to reverse it because of their traditional links to Protestant parties and commitment to a divided island.  But the Protestant establishment – in the form of the Democratic Unionist Party – is no longer in the majority. And the majority of Northern Irish voters see their future in Europe and that means linked with the Republic of Ireland. But they still have to contend with die-hard Protestants, who, if they cannot win at the ballot box, could easily turn to the terrorist tactics of their IRA counterparts.

Britain was the driving force behind the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in 1949. It pushed for the alliance to quickly admit former Warsaw Pact members in the 1990s and has taken the lead in arming Ukraine. This week British PM Boris Johnson was in Sweden and Finland to sign “mutual assistance” treaties with Sweden and Finland. The three countries are now pledged to come to each other’s aid in the event of a crisis. The treaties are a symbolic first step towards full-fledged Swedish and Finnish membership of NATO which is expected to be finalised at next month’s heads of government summit.

Vladimir Putin is furious and has promised retaliation. NATO expansion, Putin has repeatedly asserted, is one of the main reasons for his invasion of Ukraine.  But for Sweden and Finland, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is THE reason for their decision to end 200 years of neutrality for the Swedes and 67 years for the Finns.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , and | 6 Comments

Ukraine won Eurovision. Now we have to win a war.

Eurovision is an acquired taste. Many people regard it as a pleasure. War is an enforced taste. Very few people regard it as a pleasure.

The win last night at the world’s most popular, and often cheesiest, song contest is a mood boost for Ukraine. The jury had put the UK entry, Space Man by Sam Ryder at the head of the pack. In an ordinary year, Sam Ryder would have given the UK the winner that has eluded it since Katrina and the Waves.

This is not an ordinary year. Last night’s event opened with a Rockin’ 1000 rendition of the anthem “Give Peace a Chance”.

The public vote, especially in Europe and Australia, was in favour of Stefania, performed by Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra. Without the war, this performance might have won in its own right. However, this was a night where politics blended with music. As the crowd roared its approval, Oleh Psiuk pleaded: “Please help Ukraine, help Mariupol, help Azovstal right now.” Ukraine duly won Eurovision for a second time.

President Zelensky said on hearing the result: “Our courage impresses the world. Our music conquers Europe! Next year Ukraine will host Eurovision!”

That’s ambitious but the world needs to do everything it can to ensure that ambition is fulfilled. That means winning a war first.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 10 Comments

Chamberlain and D’Souza launch food bank inquiry

There are more than 2,000 food banks in the UK and the number of food parcels they give out has risen enormously. The Trussell Trust, which represents 1,300 food banks, issued 2.1 million food parcels in 2021/22, a staggering increase on the 40,000 it issued in 2010.

Not everyone believes these statistics. Tory MP Lee Anderson for one. After a row brewed up over his Queen’s Speech remark that there was not a “massive” need for food banks in the UK, he told Times Radio: “The actual foodbank usage is exaggerated.” He is undoubtedly right that some people do not know how to cook but he is wrong that his local food bank insists on people having to sign up for a cooking course. And he is talking nonsense when he says that food bank use is exaggerated. As for his remark, “we can make a meal for about 30 pence a day, and this is cooking from scratch”, that is very hard to achieve in a home where cooking in bulk is not possible.

With such ignorance in parliament, it is timely that members hold an inquiry into the issue. On Wednesday, Wendy Chamberlain and Baroness D’Souza announced an inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Ending the Need for Food Banks.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 10 Comments

Observations of an expat: Australia’s King Coal  

Australians are one of the worst-hit victims of climate change, and their government’s policies are having a detrimental impact on them and rest of the world.

Federal elections scheduled for next weekend will do little to save the situation.  The two major parties appear united in putting financial gain before survival.

Climatologists predict that temperatures Down Under are set to rise by nearly 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century. The bushfire season is already nine months long and the flames have so far destroyed 14.6 million acres – territory roughly equal to twice the size of Pennsylvania.

One in six of the country’s wildlife face extinction in the next few years, according to the WWF and the vital coral banks of the Great Barrier Reef are being bleached white by rising sea temperatures.

But despite these apocalyptic facts and figures both the Australian Labour Party and the ruling coalition of the Liberal and National Party remain committed to protecting the dirtiest, most polluting, fossil fuel of them all – coal.

Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal – 427 million tons. The fossil fuel is also Australia’s biggest export and 50,000 jobs rely on it.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | Leave a comment

Mark Pack reports: A brilliant set of election results

We’re winning

What an amazing outcome from this May’s local elections:

  • Three more Liberal Democrat majority councils, taking us back to where we were before going into Coalition in 2010;
  • net gain of 224 councillors, making this the fourth set of net gains in a row, something we’ve not achieved since the Iraq war;
  • 19% vote share (the national equivalent vote share, i.e. what it would have been if there were elections everywhere); and
  • The lovely bonus of seeing our sister party in Northern Ireland, Alliance, gaining seats and votes to move up to such an impressive third place.

Our successes weren’t just handed to us. They happened because of a huge amount of hard work, smart campaigning and dedication over a long period of time. Thank you to everyone who made that happen – and to their families and friends for supporting them through it.

Before going into the details, thanks and sympathies for those who weren’t successful this time. Missing out on winning never feels great, but it can be even tougher when others around you are celebrating. So thank you to everyone who tried and didn’t make it this time. I hope that our successes elsewhere help give you confidence that we can bounce back in your patch too.

Breadth and depth

A particularly promising part of our successes was the breadth of them. We made gains in Scotland, in Wales and in England. We also made gains in areas where last time we elected no councillors, including from Labour. In London, for example, we won council seats on four councils where we’d won none last time around – including one of the very last councils to declare on Sunday (!), Croydon. Many of our smaller small council groups grew too.

But alongside that, in our stronger areas – and especially those where we can hope now to win at the next Westminster Parliamentary election – we also progressed. For every MP we currently have, there was more than one other constituency where we topped the poll last week.

We’ve still got a long way to go to build up our local government base to where we want it to be. But we took a big step forward last week, again, and have now made a cumulative gain of 1,207 council seats in the May elections since 2015 (compared with 628 loses for Labour and 1,095 for the Conservatives).

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 3 Comments

LibLink: Wera Hobhouse on green mortgages

Wera Hobhouse has been writing for The House Magazine under the headline “A green mortgage drive could upgrade our leaky homes and slash household bills“.

She writes:

With household bills soaring, those hit the hardest are families living in the leakiest homes. Green mortgages could combat the UK’s leaky homes and bring down household bills in the long-run.

Research shows that households living in homes with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of D or worse will be paying an average of £470 per year more than homes rated EPC C or better. That’s more than the average annual UK water bill.

It seems many banks now offer various incentives, including lower mortgage rates, to homeowners who either buy energy efficient homes or who borrow to fund upgrades. However they are still only a small proportion of mortgages.

Wera says:

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 2 Comments

Can the UK recession be avoided?

Just before polling day the Bank of England published the May Monetary Policy Report as well as increasing the Bank Rate to 1%. They expect the Bank Rate to continue to increase and peak at 2.5% by “mid-2023”. They state, “That predominantly reflects the significant adverse impact of the sharp rises in global energy and tradable goods prices on most UK households’ real incomes and many UK companies’ profit margins.” They expect unemployment “to rise to 5½% in three years’ time”.

They state, “CPI inflation is expected to peak at slightly over 10% in 2022 Q4, which would be the highest rate since 1982”.

“Total real household disposable income is projected to fall in 2022 by the second largest amount since records began in 1964 before picking up thereafter” they forecast. Total demand in the economy will fall below total supply by the fourth quarter of this year. They quote an ONS survey of March where 42.5% of people, “said they had cut spending on non-essentials” due to lower real incomes.

This means that people will be able to buy fewer things. Demand for items will decrease. This leads to businesses producing less and unemployment increasing.

The Monetary Policy Committee produce different projections based on different assumptions. Their main projections are based on the assumption that the Bank Rate “rises to around 2½% by mid-2023, before falling to 2% at the end of the forecast period”. However, they also state that, “In projections conditioned on the alternative assumption of constant interest rates at 1%, activity is projected to be materially stronger than in the MPC’s forecasts conditioned on market rates. As a result, unemployment remains close to its current rate over the forecast period, instead of rising by around 1½ percentage points. CPI inflation is forecast to be significantly higher, with inflation projected to be 2.9% and 2.2% in two years’ and three years’ time respectively.” Also economic growth in the second quarter is higher – in 2023, 0.3% compared to 0%; in 2024, 0.6% compared to 0.2%; and in 2025, 0.9% compared to 0.7%. With their main projections they forecast negative growth of 0.2% in the first quarter of 2023 and 0.8% in the third quarter. Also with this forecast it is likely that economic growth in 2023 will be either zero or close to zero.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 18 Comments

Tiverton and Honiton: Pundits and voters favour Lib Dems

It is early days yet but the Lib Dems are firm favourites to win the forthcoming Tiverton and Honiton by-election. A hattrick of Lib Dem wins could be in the offing.

One betting odds checker puts our probability of winning at more than 70 per cent. The probability of Boris Johnson’s demoralised Tory party winning is given as 25 per cent. Mike Smithson of Political Betting said: “The pace and the betting has been quite extraordinary given that at GE2019 the LDs came in third 46% behind the Tories.”

A focus group for Times Radio earlier this week, reported in the Times this morning, found that voters in the Devon constituency who supported the Tories in 2019 are swinging towards the Lib Dems. The focus group had harsh words for Boris Johnson, referring to him as a lying buffoon, an idiot, liar, self-promoting arsehole and a selfish, greedy man. He continues to be the gift that keeps on giving to the Lib Dems.

 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 7 Comments

West Oxfordshire Alliance to be led by Lib Dems

West Oxfordshire District Council is to be led by a coalition of the Liberal Democrat, Labour and Green parties after the Conservatives lost their majority last week for the first time in 22 years.

This marks a continuing trend in Oxfordshire, once a true blue wall outside the City of Oxford which remains solidly Labour. The Tories only holdout is now Cherwell in the north of the county.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 8 Comments

Do the Liberal Democrats have a captivating Big Idea?

At the weekend Daisy Cooper was interviewed by Matt Frei on LBC about the local election results. Daisy was fluent and informative until Matt asked her to spell out the Liberal Democrats’ big idea.  Matt did not accept Daisy’s answer about dealing with the cost-of-living crisis. He rightly pointed out that the electorate were looking for more than another politician’s solution to another problem. They want to feel a vision, something that defines the Party and sets it apart from the two tired, rival beasts in the room.  Daisy had no answer, except to say that any big idea would be in the manifesto.

While congratulations are well-deserved, the results are unlikely to translate into general election success without a vision that captures the public imagination and can be shared in a few words.

Over the past decade, charismatic and strong person campaigning, often wrapped around a false narrative, has delivered populist election victories. Boris Johnson achieved this with ‘Take Back Control’.  Bongbong Marcos, son of the corrupt and repressive dictator, this week won a landslide in the Philippines with the slogan ‘Together, we shall rise again.’  Donald Trump remains hugely popular with his concept to ‘Make America Great’ again, and so on.

There is nothing shameful or cheap about a big idea. Indeed, this was the basis on which the United Nations, the European Union and NATO were founded.  The thought behind this particular one was that we must never go to war again. (Note how the populist ideas pay tribute to a mythical past, whereas the founding of the U.N. was to avoid a real and catastrophic past.)

With Ukraine, we are now in a parallel situation in which voters crave to see a way through to a new and different future.  The Conservatives and Labour, buffeted by infighting and extremism, are living on discredited ideas of nationalism and socialism in atmospheres riddled with corruption and racism.

The Liberal Democrats, therefore, have a unique opportunity.  Let us define our big idea and begin arguing its case now so that by the time the next general election is announced it will be embedded in the national conversation.

Posted in Op-eds | 58 Comments

And so we remembered Shirley Williams

I was very fortunate to be able to attend the Memorial Service for Shirley Williams in Westminster Cathedral yesterday.

I should point that I really did mean Westminster Cathedral, not Westminster Abbey. The Cathedral is the mother church of Roman Catholics in England and Wales and is located near to Victoria Station.

I arrived early, and as I hadn’t visited it before took the opportunity to look around. It is a large, handsome building with extensive use of decorative brickwork, typical of the late Victorian period when it was designed. The inside is lined with a series of chapels dedicated to various saints, and the ceilings of almost all of them incorporated stunning gold mosaics. The ceiling in the chapel dedicated to the fisherman, St Andrew, shimmered with fish scales.

The seats started to fill up with the great and the good of the party and beyond –  mainly peers, because the MPs were still debating the Queen’s Speech – plus a smattering of other Lib Dem campaigners from across the country.

It was good to see the two remaining members of the Gang of Four – Bill Rodgers and David Owen – as well as David Steel who brokered the Alliance between the SDP and the Liberals.

I also spotted John Bercow, and, rather surprisingly, Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 5 Comments

Queen’s Speech: Conversion therapy “ban” does not go far enough

This Morning, Charles, Prince of Wales delivered the Queen’s Speech.

Among the many measures to be introduced by the Conservative government is a bill  to ban conversion therapy, referring to the immoral pseudoscientific practice of trying to change a person’s sexuality from homosexuality or bisexuality to heterosexuality, or trying to change a person’s gender identity from transgender or non-binary to cisgender.

There is one main issue with this pledge, however; the government has already failed to ban gender conversion therapy, and fully ban gay and bisexual conversion therapy.

The Conservatives have faced controversy on this issue previously, reneging on their promise to ban LGBT+ conversion therapy. Resulting in pushback across the political spectrum, including members of their party, the government u-turned and promised to ban gay conversion therapy – making a point of NOT banning gender conversion therapy.

Despite further backlash to include trans and non-binary people within their legislated ban, once again from members of their party – including their LGBT+ and One Nation Conservative wings – this government has decided to continue their attack upon the trans and non-binary communities by refusing to do so, with Justice Secretary Dominic Raab defending the decision: “we should be able to discuss these sensitive issues with mutual tolerance”.

The issue with Raab’s statement is that “mutual tolerance” is missing from the government’s legislation. There is nothing mutual or tolerant about conversion therapy. It is the outright denial of identity as if a trans person or non-binary person is confused and must be forcibly changed to conform with society, rather than allowing them to live their lives as individuals.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 5 Comments

Ed Davey: Queen’s Speech shows Conservatives are neglecting rural communities

Ed Davey has said that the Queen’s Speech does nothing to help rural communities:

This Queen’s Speech does nothing to help the millions of families and pensioners facing soaring bills and eye watering inflation. The Conservatives have failed to deliver a cut to VAT that would have saved families an average of £600, failed to help pensioners and failed to help the most vulnerable in our society.

“The Conservatives are continuing to neglect rural communities. There was nothing in these plans to support farmers on the brink, to tackle soaring ambulance waiting times and GP shortages, or to stop the dumping of filthy sewage into our river and seas.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

What Bill would you like to see in the Queen’s Speech?

It’s going to be a very strange Queen’s Speech today, delivered by Prince Charles. The Queen was well over everyone else’s retirement age quarter of a century ago and it has been amazing that she was able to continue with this ceremony until last year.

There is no doubt that the words Prince Charles will deliver, written for him by the most illiberal Government of the Queen’s reign, will be utterly vomit inducing for most people reading this site. Protest rights and human rights under threat, absolutely nothing to address rising poverty and hunger in this country.

Alistair Carmichael had this to say on measures to limit the right to protest:

These dangerous and draconian plans aren’t about stopping guerilla protestors – the police already have the powers to stop them. Instead, this is yet another desperate attempt to distract from a failing Government that is running out of steam.

Last week, millions of people across the country sent a signal to the Conservatives that they were fed up with being taken for granted. Yet now we see they have nothing new to offer.

So rather than wasting time recycling discredited plans, which have already been rejected by Parliament, Ministers should be taking real action to tackle the cost of living crisis which is hurting families across the country.

So we thought it might be an idea to ask you what you would like to see? What one piece of legislation would you introduce to make life better for people and why?

It might be a complete overhaul of our immigration system to ensure that people are treated with dignity and compassion with a presumption that people who love each other should be able to live together, it could be securing the electoral reform that protects against a Government having disproportionate power without legitimacy, it could be measures to tackle violence against women and girls, it could be ensuring that everyone has the basics they need to thrive, not just survive. And then of course there is the not inconsequential matter of saving the planet.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 14 Comments

A story of a Polish migrant winning an election – how did it happen?

It really has been a long campaign! It has been a well-planned and executed campaign. It has been a campaign during which I met hundreds, if not thousands of residents. It has been a campaign, which started in October 2021. The outcome? A commanding victory for a number of candidates in Welwyn Hatfield, including Handside ward in Welwyn Garden City!

Although I’ve already once had an opportunity to be as a Cllr, I feel a lot better prepared this time to serve my constituents. I still feel a bit tired, however overall I am happy and I feel privileged and proud that as a Polish migrant, local residents voted for me as their newly elected Cllr.

What was the success of our campaign? It would be a surprise if I say that starting canvassing early was very important. Just before the polling day, I counted and since October 2021, I’ve personally completed 59 door-knocking sessions. Quite a few of my friends, work colleagues think that I am probably insane, however as someone who simply enjoys social interaction, I must admit that each conversation, each opportunity to introduce myself, talk to residents about local issues (and often national and international), helped to recharge my batteries and gave me a huge amount of joy.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 4 Comments

Ed, Daisy and Amna on Lib Dems’ local election success

Leader Ed Davey, Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper and Vice President Amna Ahmad have all been commenting on the Lib Dems fantastic election results this weekend.

Ed and Daisy were both on the Sunday morning shows.

On Sunday Morning, Ed said that Lib Dems wanted to get rid of this Conservative Government and the results show we can beat them. Watch the whole interview here from 22 minutes in.

Meanwhile, Daisy was on Sophy Ridge, hailing our fantastic results:

On Friday, Vice President Amna Ahmad was part of a Guardian panel analysing the elections. She said:

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , and | 9 Comments

Alliance success: shooting for the stars

Shoot for stars, for if you fail you will land in the clouds, we are told. Well over the last 2 days of watching the count in Northern Ireland I’m not quite sure whether it is Cloud 9 or some new star that the Alliance Party has found themselves on.

Going into this election, our Northern Irish sister party, the Alliance Party were in a familiar position for them the 5th largest party in the Assembly,  although only just behind the Ulster Unionists and SDLP. However, there was ambition, there was vision and there was determination to do better.

Each of the 18 seats in Northern Ireland selects 5 MLAs by STV. In the past Alliance has entered two candidates in each of their target seats as much as a means of vote management rather than, with the exception of East Belfast and the hope in North Down, to return 2 MLAs. As the first preference votes started to come in Friday afternoon, those of us making our own spreadsheets starting to see something, and we kept checking and double checking as the counts progressed that we weren’t just wearing rose tinted glasses.

You see Alliance were running 24 candidates, meaning they were running two candidates in only 6 seats. East Belfast, South Belfast, North Down, Lagan Valley, East Antrim and Strangford. All of these are in the Belfast commuter belt and have returned Alliance MLAs on a consistent basis. However, this time things were looking different and good. In the first three their two candidates combined for the most first preference votes of any party, they were second in Lagan Valley and East Antrim and even Strangford a close third with 23.1%.

In all six as well the vote management, who to vote 1 in which ward, had both candidates placed well to survive long into the transfer process. Indeed, the first declaration of all was in Strangford where Kelly Armstrong was returned on First Preferences and gave Alliance an early lead on the seat counter at the bottom of the screen.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 33 Comments

Wallace: Undermining the roots of our democracy

If you’ve read Sally Hamwee’s account last week of the way that the government pushed the Nationality and Borders Bill through both Houses of Parliament, and of the failure of the Labour Party in the Lords to stand up against some of its most illiberal elements, you won’t be surprised to hear that the same happened at the end of the parliamentary session to the Elections Bill – rightly condemned by Alastair Carmichael in an article for the Times as ‘undermining the roots of our democracy.’

The Bill arrived in the Lords with a report from the Commons Committee on Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs, drafted after it had been through the Commons, which declared the Bill ‘unfit for purpose’. Ministers simply ignored the committee’s criticisms. They similarly ignored the recommendations of the Committee on Standards in Public Life on Political Finance, published last summer, and the earlier warnings of the Intelligence and Security Committee’s Russia Report that the Electoral Commission needed stronger powers to prevent foreign funding and influence corrupting UK campaigns.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 14 Comments

World Review: Strange bedfellows in France, Ukraine, Roe v. Wade and Belarus

French politics have been thrown into confusion with an unprecedented “Stop Macron” alliance of the left for next month’s parliamentary elections. The  concordat has been forged by France’s elder statesman of the Left, Jean-luc Melenchon who just missed being included in last month’s presidential run-offs. He has persuaded the Communists, Greens and Socialists to join his France Insoumise (LFI, France Unbowed), to stop Macron’s pro-business, pro-EU legislative agenda. But Melenchon’s pre-election coalition does not spell a foregone victorious conclusion for the French Left. The latest opinion polls show a three-way split between the left-wing alliance, Macron’s La Republique en Marche and the right of centre conservatives and Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally.

The Socialists and Melenchon make strange bedfellows with opposing views on the EU and NATO membership. They do, however, agree on the bread and butter issues of lowering the retirement age, raising the minimum age and capping prices on essential products. On the other end of the political spectrum, it is uncertain whether the Republicans will support Macron or Le Pen in the new National Assembly. The political map is further complicated by France’s two-round electoral assembly which appears to give Macron’s party a slight advantage in the run-off vote on 19 June. The only thing that is clear at the moment is that the National Assembly elections are making life complicated for the newly re-elected President Emmanuel Macron and the results may make his second term very difficult.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 15 Comments

Observations of an Expat: Biden Pivots Back

President Joe Biden is attempting a pivot back to Asia. After months of being forced by Ukraine to re-focus on Europe, the American president is organising an Asian month and his first presidential trip to the region.

It starts next week with a US-hosted summit of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) leaders on 12-13 May and ends with visits to South Korea and Japan on 20-24 May and finally, a “Quad” summit in Tokyo on 24 May.

The trips to Seoul and Tokyo are an opportunity for President Biden to hold his first face-to-face meetings with Asia’s new diplomatic kids on the block—South Korean President Yoon Suk-Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 4 Comments

East of England – let joy be somewhat unconfined…

Greetings from an election-free Gipping Valley, where it gives me great pleasure to report on events in the East of England. In truth, you can pretty much divide the region into two halves today. In Norfolk and Suffolk, only the county towns saw election action, and Bedfordshire sat this one out altogether. That left Cambridgeshire, Essex and Hertfordshire to fight, and the results have been pretty good.

We’ll start with Essex, which saw gains in Brentwood (2), Colchester (2), Rochford (2), Epping Forest and Southend-on-Sea, as half of the councils were up, which indicates that progress is being made. The Conservative/Independent coalition running Colchester is expected to be replaced with a Liberal Democrat/Labour coalition of partners, with the Liberal Democrats holding one more seat than Labour. Will Quince, no replacement for Bob Russell in truth, should be looking over his shoulder for next time, although the split opposition might be his salvation.

Posted in Local government and News | Tagged and | 2 Comments

Ed Davey : Lib Dems are winning again

As of 7:45pm, the Liberal Democrats accordinf to the BBC, have gained 190 councillors in today’s elections in England,  20 in Scotland and 11 in Wales. It’s fair to say that this way exceeds our expectations.

In Ed Davey’s home patch in Kingston, our Council must be doing something right. We achieved 41 seats compared to 3 Tories and an Independent. The final ward is subject to a deferred election because of the sad death of one of the candidates.  This is even better than the Richmond result where we won 48 seats (up 9) with just 6 opposition seats.

As if that wasn’t enough, we then go and gain 20, yes that is 20 not 2.0 seats in St Albans.

We now control 16 councils which is up 3.

And Peter Taylor was healthily re-elected as Mayor of Watford.

We are undoubtedly the big winners of the election across the country.

Ed Davey has been touring the country meeting our new Councillors. Here he is on the BBC with a beautifully arranged backdrop of Somerset councillors:

Earlier in the day, he told a crowd of Wimbledon Lib Dems, fresh from their 12 gains in the ultra marginal seat:

What began as a tremor in Chesham and Amersham, became an earthquake in North Shropshire, and is now an almighty shockwave that will bring this Conservative Government tumbling down.

It is the movement of millions of people who are saying loud and clear: “We have had enough.”

Posted in News | Tagged and | 3 Comments

Lib Dems power ahead in Powys but not yet in control

In 2017, the voters in Powys elected 30 independent councillors, though that was down on previous elections. The Conservatives had 19 seats and the Liberal Democrats 13.

Today us Lib Dems have 24 seats, not enough to control the council but negotiations on how the council will be run are getting underway.

This is a major advance for the Lib Dems in the Welsh Marches. We have 14 councillors elected as Lib Dems in Shropshire, including seven in the south west, which is next door to Powys.

 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 2 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • John
    A motion has gone in for the next Labour Conference from Compass members entitled "Only Stand to Win", aimed at party constitutional change so Labour are able t...
  • John
    Cherwell DC now has a mere 2 seat Tory majority. I now have a LibDem councillor for Bodicote, Adderbury & Bloxham for the first time in 20 years at least. ...
  • John
    It is no co-incidence that Farage stood down hundreds of Brexit Party candidates where a Tory held the seat, to ensure the Tory got elected. Tory complaints ...
  • Fiona
    @Expats - you raise some of the issues I had in mind when I said there would be arguments on how it would be set, but length limits for comments discourages det...
  • David Langshaw
    Roland makes a very important point. I don't object to foreigners owning British land, but they shouldn't be allowed to use off-shore vehicles to do so - for o...