Scottish Lib Dems launch consultation on social care.

We will all have some contact with the social care system at some point whether it is for ourselves or for someone we love.

Social care policy is devolved to Scotland and the Liberal Democrats have a proud record. Despite what the SNP tried to tell us in their party political broadcast this week, it was the Liberal Democrats, in coalition with Labour, who introduced it back in the glorious days of the early 2000s.

Things aren’t going so well, though, as an ageing population puts huge pressure on the system.

At any one time, around 1,000 patients are stuck in hospital because …

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Tom Brake: CBI pours cold water on Govenrment’s Brexit plans

After Carolyn Fairbairn, the Director General of the CBI, called for the UK to remain in a customs union with the EU, our Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said that this poured cold water on the Government’s plans:

This is an important intervention from the CBI, and pours yet more cold water on the government’s idea that they can rustle up a trade deal that in anyway compares to the economic benefits of being in the EU and maintain the red lines they have set.

The Conservatives are making a monumental mess of Brexit. The approach Theresa May has adopted so far is creating mass uncertainty for

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Vince talks about his attitude to money

Vince has been talking to occasional LDV contributor York Membery for the Sunday Times. The interview focused on personal finances.

He says he is definitely better off than his parents:

Undoubtedly, although they were pretty comfortable by the end of their working lives. My parents, Len and Edith, were factory workers and left school at 15, like most people of their generation. But my father was strong on self-improvement. He became a lecturer at a technical college and through a combination of hard work and savings we progressed from a terraced house with an outside loo to a detached house.

This is not something that younger generations can expect.

His first job was in Kenya:

Working as a finance officer for the Kenyan treasury. I was there for two years from 1966 and was paid as a Kenyan civil servant, so my salary was quite modest. It was a fantastic job and I got married while I was out there but never planned to stay. My eldest son now runs a social enterprise that is doing some great work starting up schools in Kenya, so we’ve maintained the family connection with the country.

Vince says he’s a spender rather than a saver:

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Congratulations, Jacinda

It was lovely to hear that the Prime Minister of New Zealand is pregnant. What more extraordinary proof that women can have it all.

Even for political minnows though going back after six weeks as she plans is a tall order.

Hopefully her eminence means that she will have a fantastic support system in place. For those of us small fry activists who have to write our own leaflets, print them, pay for them and deliver them delivering a baby at the same time and fending off the hostility for having “deserted” our post is pretty tough going.

It is amazing how having a baby exerts such strong feelings in others. Lovely ones like protectiveness, joy and empathy but also hideous ones like jealousy, misogyny and even revulsion. It is salutary to note that pregnancy is a time when women are most in danger from domestic violence. When I was a pregnant parliamentary candidate I could scarcely believe how downright rude people could be: “a walking caesarean”, “oh not another one”, “have you got another one in there?” (and that was just the Lib Dems!) This was a decade ago and I really hoped that the climate had changed so it was depressing to see that very recently the Labour MP Luciana Berger was greeted with derision for supposed absences when she was breastfeeding.

Perhaps a good way forward is to have proper protocols for maternity leave for politicians at all levels. According to a recent report a mind blowing 97% of councils have no formal procedures to allow councillors to take maternity leave.

I drafted the following for our own party and would welcome your thoughts.

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Three interesting facts about this year’s Scottish Liberal Democrats’ Spring Conference

For various reasons, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have been later off the mark than usual at announcing the details of their Spring Conference. However the cat is well and truly out of the bag now. For the first time since 2008, the party is heading to Aviemore to the Macdonald resort in the highland village.

It’s a great venue that can be combined with a family break. I absolutely love it there.

It’s in April

You wouldn’t normally expect to have a Conference in April because there is usually some sort of election to get ready for. For the first time since 2013, there are no scheduled elections this year, so Conference is taking place both in April and after the Easter holidays, on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st April.

There’s an Access Fund

The Federal Party has been running a Conference Access Fund to help people with the costs of attending Conference for the last few years.

It’s great to see this now being done by the Scottish Party, too. Members can donate to the fund although they can’t do it in the same transaction as they register as you can with the Federal Party.

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Good news for disabled people as Government gives up fighting PIP decision – maybe

Good news slipped out in a written ministerial statement on a Friday afternoon. New Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Esther McVey announced that the Government would not continue its appeal of a High Court judgement that its changes to entitlements to Personal Independence Payments for those whose mental ill health affected their ability to get around were unlawful. Ms McVey said:

On 21st December 2017 the High Court published its judgment in the judicial review challenge against regulation 2(4) of the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 S.I. 2017/194. The Regulations reversed the effect of the Upper Tribunal judgment in MH.

I wish to inform the House that, after careful consideration, I have decided not to appeal the High Court judgment. My Department will now take all steps necessary to implement the judgment in MH in the best interests of our claimants, working closely with disabled people and key stakeholders over the coming months.

These regulations went through Parliament last March. Liberal Democrat peers did their best to stop them and would have succeeded if Labour had voted with them. As I wrote at the time:

Not for the first time, you have to wonder what the point of the Labour Party in Parliament is. Should they not just go and sit on the Government benches?

LDV reader Matt wrote last year about how he would lose his support for mobility when he moved from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments and the life-limiting impact that would have for him:

I hardly ever go outdoors, I tend to only go out when it is for a necessity like going to the doctor, psychologist or hospital and then I need my partner or family member to accompany me to keep me safe and to intervene in the event of me having a psychological episode. I can on very rare occasions manage a trip out to the countryside as long as it is a wide open space and there is nobody else about and I can see any perceived threats well in advance and I am able to escape and get back to the car or home quickly. I have become totally disengaged from society; I cut all ties with friends and former work colleagues many years ago. When I am outdoors, if I am confronted with a possible social interaction my brain starts racing at a million miles an hour. I convince myself they are going to ask me personal questions which will cause me distress. My brain starts running through conversations before they have taken place, it becomes sheer manic and panic, trust me when I say it is pure trauma. When I get home, the only way I can deal with this “psychological distress” is to start self harming and deflect my emotional trauma into a physical trauma as a distraction to escape my thoughts. It is hell.

I worry about these changes to disability benefits, not just for myself, but for people like me who suffer from debilitating mental health disorders who rely on the assistance of others and the welfare state in order to try and live an independent life.

So why do I say that this is good news….maybe. Simply because I don’t trust the Tories with any aspect of our social security system.  What will happen now is that all 164,000 claims affected by this ruling will be reviewed. By rights what should happen is that those affected will get their payments – and backdated, too. 

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ALDC’s by-election report – 18 January 2018

A psephologically and geographically pleasing set of 4 local by-elections this week, with 1 Tory, 1 Labour, 1 LD and 1 Independent defence, from Bolton in the North West to Bournemouth in the South West and Rochford in the South East. Also pleasing from our perspective is the full slate of candidates.

A huge thank you to last night’s brilliant team of volunteers who came to 23 New Mount Street in Manchester to make calls at ALDC’s By-election HQ. It’s always good fun with such a lovely team – if you haven’t been yet please come and join our winning team! ALDC’s by-election support and the grants we offer to by-elections are funded through vital fighting fund donations. If you can help us fight in even more wards, please donate here.

 

Rochford DC, Downhall and Rawreth – Lib Dem hold
LD Craig Cannell 794
Con 237
Lab 0 ]
Residents 0 ]​
First we head to Rochford for the first Lib Dem win of 2018, we congradulate soon to be Councillor Craig Cannell and the whole Rochford team for a storming win in a straight up fight with the Conservatives. This result continues the fine Lib Dem tradition in Downhall and Rawreth, with no party putting up a decent fight against us for at least the last 16 years!
Milton Keynes UA, Newport Pagnell North and Hanslope – Conservative hold
 
Con 1604
Lab 749
LD Jane Caroline Carr 672
UKIP 0 ]
Next we head to Milton Keynes where we thank Jane Carr for a solid share of the vote with each party benefitting from the failure (yet again) of UKIP to stand. Continuing the theme of the last few weeks, there doesn’t seem to be a noticable swing from Tory to Labour, with the exception of…
 
Bolton MB, Hulton – Conservative gain from Labour
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRuth Bright 21st Jan - 8:10pm
    Fair enough!!!!!!
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 21st Jan - 8:03pm
    @ The Voice "Social care policy is devolved to Scotland and the Liberal Democrats have a proud record. Despite what the SNP tried to tell...
  • User AvatarRob Wheway 21st Jan - 7:39pm
    Alex Macfie - thanks for the information. It is interesting to note that in other countries prominent politicians do stand for EU elections. It is...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 21st Jan - 7:39pm
    Joe B “It was the Asquith government that expanded the production of dreadnoughts from 1906, and the ships did see action in the Battle of...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 21st Jan - 6:56pm
    How many people on this blog can name even one of their MEPs? I like to think I'm reasonably politically knowledgeable but I've no idea...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 21st Jan - 6:48pm
    @ Michael BG I think your GDP is slightly too high. Maybe the GDP is US$2.6 trillion? But nevertheless your point is well made. At...