You Said, What?

A regular complaint about politics is the lack of plain speaking.

Even when truths are unavoidably uncomfortable, a lack of ambiguity (removing any excuse for convenient misunderstanding) will annoy some people. No matter how gently explained, the tone of the varnish can be criticised as, of course, are expletives deployed for emphasis.

Just recently there was much media anguish over whether to describe Russian atrocities in Ukraine as genocide. Now we are all becoming familiar with those invaders being described as terrorists – a term previously reserved for extremists, revolutionaries or liberators depending on your attitude towards incumbent authorities, or their opponents, or any of the ‘others’ imagined for the purpose of blame avoidance.

Only a small linguistic step is needed to reclassify free-market fundamentalists as engaged in global terrorism. But then many would find the invented term ‘toryism’ in that implied context as shockingly offensive – not least because so many of us are complicit in the evolution of unmoderated capitalist systems that are now wrecking our planet. Avoidance of offence is impossible, especially when discussing belief systems like economics.

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Richard Foord makes “maiden intervention” on ambulances and Morgan tables EDM

On Monday, Richard Foord was sworn in as MP for Tiverton and Honiton. The political repercussions of the stunning Lib Dem victory are still rattling around with some suggesting that the Tories are in danger of losing their rural votes.

Foord’s intervention yesterday evening was described by Deputy Speaker as “his maiden intervention—if such terminology exists; it does now.”

Intervening in an adjournment debate on ambulance waiting times at Royal Cornwall Hospital, Richard Foord said:

During the by-election campaign in Tiverton and Honiton, almost everybody I spoke to on the doorstep had their own personal story about having to wait for an ambulance. This is not the fault of ambulance crews, but it is absolutely the system-wide issue that the hon. Member describes. Does she agree that what we really need is a community ambulance fund to alleviate some of the pressures we are experiencing in the south-west, given that we have the longest ambulance waiting times in the country?

The answer from Cherilyn Mackrory, Conservative MP for Truro and Falmouth, responded that it was the responsibility of the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) not ministers.

Helen Morgan has also tabled an EDM calling for immediate action to tackle the ambulance crisis.

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30 June 2022 – the overnight press release

Government neglect shown as quarter of GP posts could be vacant in ten years

Responding to analysis published today by the Health Foundation that says a quarter of GP posts could be vacant in a decade, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson, Daisy Cooper MP, said:

The Conservatives have been running our NHS and our health services into the ground for years. They have taken our health service for granted and that needs to change.

People are struggling to get appointments and GPs are under more pressure than ever, no one wins from this Conservative Government’s neglect.

GP surgeries are

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29 June 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Fraud industry booming on the Conservatives’ watch
  • Independence Isn’t the Answer to Westminster Overreach
  • Defence spending facing £1.7 billion cut by 2025

Fraud industry booming on the Conservatives’ watch

Responding to UK Finance’s Annual Fraud Report, showing total fraud losses up 8% to £1.3bn in 2021, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

On the Conservatives’ watch, the fraud industry is booming. Criminal gangs are lining their pockets at the expense of innocent, often vulnerable people.

People need far better protection from these vile fraudsters, but the Government is leaving them to fend for themselves. Boris Johnson and Priti Patel want to simply pretend

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Why I will vote No in a referendum

Back in 2013, I wrote an article for the Scotsman newspaper outlining what issues were important to me in deciding what way to vote in the then upcoming Independence referendum.

In the end I decided to vote Yes, as at that time I believed the risks involved were worth taking. Nearly ten years on, the circumstances are now quite different and if, as proposed yesterday by Nicola Sturgeon, there is another referendum next year, I would now vote No.

It is very unlikely that the Supreme Court will confirm legality on the new proposals, as it is clear to even the SNP, that without the consent of Westminster the Scottish Parliament will not be able to hold a lawful referendum and as the SNP have already declared that they will then make the next Westminster election a single issue campaign on independence, there is time to consider what is the best way forward. We have seen before how splitting the vote on any single issue can let a party with a minority of the votes win first past the post elections on that issue.

Firstly, we need to understand why the SNP will never give up on their demands for a referendum on independence. It is similar to Liberals wanting a fair voting system and losing a referendum on it. A fair electoral system is at the heart of our beliefs, and regardless of how little support other parties, or the public give electoral reform, we will never give up our call for a system where those elected fairly represent the way people have voted. The SNP have a similar core belief, but they depend on the lack of a fair electoral system to deliver it for them.

There will also be support from those who oppose independence, for a referendum, as the best way to give the public their say and to deal with the question which has dominated Scottish politics for many years. It is a debate that will not go away by refusing to have it.

Since 2014 much has changed, not least the fact of Brexit.

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Populations up and down – bad news for some local authorities

The census data on population in England and Wales makes for interesting reading. The media have homed in on the changes in age profiles and the impact these will have on various public services, especially the NHS and adult social care.

But my attention was caught by the changes in population at local authority level, because government grants to local authorities are based on population. The specific timing of the census during the pandemic means that the population figures may not accurately represent the situation once it is over.

You can read the ONS report here. It usefully includes this interactive map which shows the changes in each local authority.

 

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Welcome to Obs and Gynae

The camera follows a man on a hospital trolley. He gurns at the audience and is wheeled away with his hand up to some unfortunate woman who is screaming.  “Welcome to the NHS” he opines to the audience. We all laugh. It’s the opening of the series “This is going to hurt”. About an obs and gynae ward. We all laugh. Women. Women down there. Women and their unmentionable bits. All intrinsically funny. Apparently.

Not so funny is that during the pandemic the waiting list for gynaecological procedures grew by 60%. During the pandemic many more women who suffer extreme bleeding during their periods or bleed all the time had to go in for emergency blood transfusions because major surgeries like hysterectomies were suspended.

This is not women waiting for something cosmetic or with a few aches and pains. This is about women who cannot work, cannot care for their children or in some cases for themselves they are in so much pain or bleeding so heavily.

The average diagnosis time in the UK for the excruciating condition of endometriosis is an appalling 8 years.

My local trust, for instance, knocks you off the gynae waiting list and sends you back to your GP after a year even if your symptoms are worsening! You then have to have more unnecessary intimate examinations to prove you should have been on the waiting list in the first place.

Of course there are pressures on every single part of the NHS.  However, a recent report from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is adamant that gynae waiting lists are growing faster than other waiting lists and that gynae conditions are often labelled as “benign”. Babies don’t wait to be born so quite obviously the obstetric ward is ever open; gynae is often the first to close its doors when pressures become too much.

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Channel 4: Moran on sewage in rivers

Yesterday evening, Layla Moran appeared on the Political Slot on Channel 4 to discuss the problem of water companies flushing sewage into Britain’s rivers. She said:

Britain’s countryside is something to be proud of. It’s part of our national identity and its beautiful rivers, lakes and streams are no different. But that’s under threat. In part because the water companies are dumping raw sewage into them. And shockingly that’s legal.

The government has repeatedly blocked bids to hold these water companies to account including a Lib Dem proposal to name and shame the water companies if they are found to have poisoned animals like otters or our family pets with these sewage dumps. The whole thing stinks.

During the programme, Moran spoke to Ashley Smith from Windrush Against Sewerage Pollution and Lib Dem member Jo Sanderson who swims in Wolvercote Mill Stream in Oxford.

The full programme.

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Moran: Northern Ireland Bill feels like a bad sequel

Yesterday evening, the Commons passed the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill 295 by votes to 221. Lib Dem spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and International Development, Layla Moran accused the government of reopening old wounds to save its own political skin rather than dealing with the issues facing the country now.

She said the bill will only increase barriers against imports and exports causing prices to rise even further, the last thing that farmers, fishermen and families up and down the country want.

Despots across the world will be delighted. How on earth can we hold others to account when we are tying ourselves up in knots, trying to find loopholes to get out of the agreements that we sign? This is how banana republics act, not Great Britain.

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Richard Foord is sworn in as the new MP for Tiverton and Honiton

It’s official, Richard Foord has now formally taken his seat in Parliament, bringing the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons to fourteen strong.

We’ll cover his maiden speech in due course but, in the meantime, here is the moment we’ve all been waiting for…

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If you want a strong public sector, you’re going to have to compete on pay and conditions eventually…

There is no way in which one can buck the market. – Margaret Thatcher, 10 March 1988

And yet, Governments, especially Conservative ones, keep doing just that when it comes to public sector pay. Even more ironically, there seems to be a belief that, contrary to the notion that there is no such thing as society, people will take an altruistic view when it comes to their own salary prospects in order to work in the public sector.

There may have been a time when the public sector was grossly overpaid in comparison with the private sector. Personally, as a civil servant for well over thirty years, I don’t remember it, but I’m sure that there’s someone out there willing to make the argument.

But, as shortages of nurses, doctors and dentists become ever more noticeable – my own county of Suffolk is increasingly a desert for NHS dentistry, and the issue was a contributory factor in the Tiverton & Honiton by-election – the question of market forces kicks in.

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Welcome to my day: 27 June 2022 – shuffling into the limelight again?

It’s been another good week to be a Liberal Democrat, I’d suggest. An astonishing victory in Tiverton & Honiton, and polling numbers in the low teens indicates that, whilst the Party is not at the levels we saw prior to 2010, we’re certainly relevant again.

It certainly helps that the Conservative government looks to be in an utter shambles, led by a man they don’t really believe in any more, and apparently without any policies designed to address the critical issue of the day – the cost of living crisis. The inability of ministers to take any medium or long term decisions other than to treat minorities and potential enemies as brutally as possible doesn’t much help either.

And there’s little doubt that most of the nation’s problems require some serious long-term thinking – the NHS is not going to be restored overnight, regardless of how much money is thrown at it, nor are public services to be improved without some serious thought as to what is needed and who will supply it.

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Ways To Successful Residents’ Engagement

I remember when I was first elected as a Councillor in 2014, I used to attend our monthly Councillor Surgeries. Although most of the time, they were not well attended, I often found it useful as it gave me an opportunity to talk to my fellow Councillors and discuss many issues, which needed to be addressed.

So much has changed since 2014. It almost feels like we are living in a very different world. We had (and still have!) Brexit, the health pandemic with often no social interaction, and more recently the war in Ukraine. More importantly in this context, the whole digital world has progressed at an incredibly fast pace.

Although many Councillors decided to “ditch” their Surgeries, when I was elected in May 2022, I was really keen to ensure that the dialogue with residents continuously grows. It was clear to me that we can’t only rely on virtual reality. My role as a Councillor, first and foremost, is to be accessible and visible to my community. Equally, I wondered what would be the best and most effective way to ensure effective communication with residents. The “old days” of waiting for people to turn up to a Surgery are long gone. We all have busy lives and therefore elected representatives need to be a lot wiser regarding residents’ engagement. Yes, it is so easy today to pick up a phone, email, or even get in touch via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, however nothing, in my view, will ever replace real human interaction.

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Johnson: Imperious, impervious and delusional

Our prime minister is beleaguered, only he doesn’t know it. He told the press pack in Rwanda that he intended to remain as prime minister until the mid-2030s. With members of his cabinet scheming against him and negative approval ratings in opinion polls, that looks unlikely.

Both Johnson and some Conservative MPs are in denial about the message sent by the government by the public in Thursday’s twin by-election defeats. At least two of Tory MPs have blamed the Tiverton and Honiton defeat on the “girls” (MPs to you and me) that shopped Neil Parish for his tractor porn antics in the chamber. Another said they didn’t see the defeat coming because “people were lying on the doorsteps”. How out of touch can the Tories be?

Other MPs recognised that the bond of trust has been broken between the prime minister, the Conservative party and the voters: “People think he’s a liar and a shady bugger.”

As Richard Foord said on Thursday: “It’s time for Boris Johnson to go. And go now.” The departure of the “shady bugger” is long overdue.

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Is GDP almost everything?

In 1968, Bobby Kennedy made a much-celebrated speech in which he denigrated Gross National Product (GNP, now usually replaced by Gross Domestic Product, GDP) as a measure of America’s well-being. He said:

… counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them … Yet does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials … it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile …

Financial Times columnist Janan Ganesh voices his disdain for this view in a recent article:

Yes – GDP is almost everything: The recession should kill off the romantic idea that growth is a mixed blessing.

He says, rightly, that wealthy countries tend to do better on indicators such as homicide rates than poor countries. Yes, poor countries do badly on a range of social indicators. But Kennedy was talking only about America. The richer we are, the less an increase in wealth boosts our well-being.

Ganesh also says:

The looming recession will be painful. But it will also drive a certain kind of post-materialist humbug from polite discourse. Growth will be harder to dismiss as a bean counter’s tawdry obsession when there is so little of the stuff to go round.

Yes, growth will be missed if it’s replaced by recession – growth is good for the feel-good factor and not everyone is post-materialist.

Recession would hit poor people in the rich world hard but we don’t need growth to eliminate most rich-world poverty. We just need to be fairer and more generous to people whose earning power is low.

Ganesh doesn’t mention the costs of growth – such as the demise of the stable physical climate in which our civilisations have evolved. We seem to be getting into a zone where we lose our ability to limit global warming and where our physical environment deteriorates eventually to where the present human population can no longer be supported. The change may be so rapid that, for one or more generations, perhaps in most of the world, human life will be nasty, brutish and short. Whatever the scale of the resulting fall in GDP, the decline in human well-being would be catastrophic.

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Roe vs Wade struck out as illiberal forces gain ground

There was no surprise about yesterday’s decision by the US Supreme Court to overturn the historic Roe vs Wade decision. The ruling, which ended half a century of constitutional protection for abortion, had been leaked the beginning of May. The ruling, from which three Democrat judges dissented, is expected to further divide the nation ahead of November’s midterm elections.

The verdict does not make abortion illegal in the USA but it does allow individual states to pass their own laws restricting abortion to the earliest weeks of pregnancy or situations such as rape.

The ruling is likely to stoke further tensions in a country that is increasingly polarised. It could also presage the overturning of other rights such as same sex marriage and access to contraception.

The Roe vs Wade decision dates to 1973, six years after Liberal MP David Steel introduced the Abortion Act as a private members bill in the House of Commons. Lord Steel has since argued for further liberation of the law. But abortion remains controversial in the UK with regular protests outside abortion clinics.

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ALDC by-election report, 24th June

Thursday was a brilliant day to be a Liberal Democrat! Building on our strong start to the year, we won every principal authority seat we were contesting, in addition to the ground shaking win in Tiverton and Honiton! The result in Tiverton and Honiton, over-turning a 24,000 vote majority, handed the Tories their worst by-election defeat in history. What a result! Congratulations must go out to all our teams across the country who worked so hard for these results.

We start off on Shropshire Council, where newly elected Lib Dem councillor Mark Williams gained the Highley seat from the Independent – from a standing start! The Lib Dems didn’t stand last time, so this really is a fantastic result. Congratulations to Mark and the Shropshire team.

Shropshire Council, Highley ward
Liberal Democrat (Mark Williams): 630

Conservative: 279
Labour: 239
Green Party:

Next to Waverley Borough Council – Hindhead, where Lib Dem Julian Spence also had a fantastic night – winning 54.6% of the vote and taking the seat from the Conservatives. Congratulations to Julian and the team for a brilliant GAIN.

Waverley Borough Council, Hindhead
Liberal Democrat (Julian Spence): 537

Conservative: 446

We also had another phenomenal night in Kingston, where there was a deferred election on new boundaries. Once again, the team smashed it, taking all three seats that were up for election. Congratulations to Cllrs Mark Durrant, Dongsung (Robert) Kim, and Lesley Heap!

Kingston upon Thames London Borough Council, New Malden Village
Liberal Democrats: 1217, 1184, 1182

Green Party: 827
Kingston Independent Residents Group (KIRG): 724, 703
Conservative: 427, 372, 327
Labour: 436, 429, 37

We also had some fantastic results on both Godalming and Haslemere Town Councils, with Tom Kiehl holding our seat in Godalming, and Conrad Waters gaining a seat from the Conservatives in Haslemere. Congratulations to both teams!

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Victory Rally in Tiverton

You can watch this live (or on catchup) from 11am today on BBC News or Sky News.

“It’s time to show Boris the door”

 

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Tiverton and Honiton: “It’s time for Boris Johnson to go” – Foord speech in full

In a calm, reasoned and powerful acceptance speech, newly elected Lib Dem MP for Tiverton and Honiton has a message for Boris Johnson:

Tonight, the people of Tiverton & Honiton have spoken for Britain. They’ve sent a loud and clear message: It’s time for Boris Johnson to go. And go now.

Ours is a great country and there’s no greater part of it than Devon. But every day Boris Johnson clings to office, he brings further shame, chaos and neglect…

I also have a simple message for those Conservative MPs propping up this failing Prime Minister: The Liberal Democrats are coming.

Foord said the cost of living crisis is hitting hard, including in Devon.

He also paid tribute to Ed Davey for his leadership: “You believed from the start that this result was possible. You rallied our troops and led from the front.” The contrast with Boris Johnson who shied away from meeting voters in Tiverton and Honiton was left unstated.

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Tiverton and Honiton & Wakefield aftershocks: Dowden goes (updated)

There will be news breaking throughout the day as the political establishment cogitates on the results of by-elections and fallout begins.

The first Conservative to fall on his sword is Oliver Dowden, until this morning chairman of the Conservative Party. He told Boris Johnson earlier this morning:

“Yesterday’s parliament by-elections are the latest in a run of very poor results for our party. Our voters are distressed and disappointed by recent events and I share their feelings. 

“We cannot continue with business as usual. Somebody must take responsibility and I have concluded that in these circumstances it would not be right for me to stay in office.”

Is Dowden a sacrifice to distract attention from the failures of Boris Johnson or are Conservatives finally saying enough is enough and walking away from the chaos at the head of the party and government?

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Labour takes Wakefield

Simon Lightwood has won the Wakefield by-election overturning the Conservative majority of 3,358 to deliver a 4,925 majority for Labour. He won 13,166 votes, while the Conservative Nadeem Ahmed received 8,241 votes.

This will be cheering news for Keir Starmer, who has been recently taken flak from his own MPs for being boring. It also begins the process of retaking seats in the Red Wall lost to the Tories in 2019.

Our thanks to Jamie Needle for offering Wakefield voters the option to vote Liberal Democrat.

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Tiverton and Honiton: The results in full

Full results of Tiverton and Honiton by-election which saw a Liberal Democrat gain from Conservatives.

Electorate 81,661; Turnout 42,591 (52.16%, -19.71%).

  • Richard Foord (Lib Dem): 22,537 (52.91%, +38.14%)
  • Helen Hurford (Conservative): 16,393 (38.49%, -21.72%)
  • Liz Pole (Labour): 1,562 (3.67%, -15.88%)
  • Gill Westcott (Green): 1,064 (2.50%, -1.34%)
  • Andy Foan (Reform): 481 (1.13%)
  • Ben Walker (UKIP): 241 (0.57%, -1.06%)
  • Jordan Donoghue-Morgan (Heritage): 167 (0.39%)
  • Frankie Rufolo (For Britain): 146 (0.34%)

The Lib Dem majority was 6,144 (14.43%).

The swing from Conservative to Lib Dem was 29.93%.

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Tiverton and Honiton: “The Major from Uffculme” wins for the Lib Dems

Congratulations to Richard Foord and the Lib Dem team on a convincing win in mid-Devon. Richard took the Lib Dems from third place to a majority of 6,144 votes. It is a stonking win and with Chesham and Amersham and North Shropshire completes a hattrick of by-election victories. Foord comfortably overturned the 24,239 majority won at the December 2019 general election by former Tory MP Neil Parish – who was forced to resign after he was seen viewing pornography in the House of Commons.

One resident is quoted by the Express as calling Richard Foord “the Major from Uffculme, a good local bloke.” That moniker might stick.

Tonight also saw local council gains in Highley, Kingston and Waverley.

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Tiverton and Honiton: Lib Dems call victory

3.00am. The count is still underway. The result not declared. But the Lib Dems are claiming victory in Tiverton and Honiton. Helen Hurford is reported to have locked herself in a room to avoid the media.

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While you are waiting …

While you are waiting for news from Tiverton & Honiton we can also offer you some encouragement from two other elections, on top of the excellent result in Highley in Shropshire.

First, from the London borough of Kingston upon Thames. Last month Lib Dems had a resounding victory by winning 41 of the 45 council seats. But the contest in one ward, New Malden Village, was deferred after the death of an independent candidate just a few days before polling day, leaving the three seats still vacant.

This created a rather odd campaigning environment – our squeeze message evaporated as there was no danger of another party taking control. Predictably, opposition literature emphasised the fact that people could now abandon tactical voting and vote with their hearts. The other parties also homed in on the very small opposition on the Council, which needed to be strengthened – a fact which had also worried the Lib Dems, as we have always seen Scrutiny as a function of the opposition.

This is traditionally a Conservative facing area, the small Labour representation having been wiped out completely in 2010.

So we are delighted to report that not only did we win all three seats convincingly, but the Conservatives were knocked into third and fourth places by a coalition of Greens and Independents.

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Lib Dems take Highley in Shropshire

Some good news to begin the night while we wait for the Tiverton and Honiton result.

Congratulations to Mark Williams who takes Lib Dem number of the unitary Shropshire Council to 14, the second largest party. This was a hard fought campaign for a seat the Conservatives wanted to win, after they lost 12% of their seats in the 2021 all up council elections including the then council leader who was ousted by a Lib Dem. Late last year, the Conservatives lost the North Shropshire constituency to Helen Morgan.

Helen was among the large team of campaigners from across Shropshire and beyond that leafleted and canvassed in the constituency from the day the by-election was called after the resignation of an independent councillor.

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Fantasy dinner party – who would be your guests?

On Monday, the Conservatives held their summer party fundraiser. The top lot was dinner with Boris Johnson and his rivals Theresa May and David Cameron. The Dinner of the Century – so-called to avoid inviting Johnson critic John Major – went for £120,000 to a donor who appears to be too embarrassed to be named publicly.

Setting aside the important point that it is somewhat sick to splash out £120,000 on a dinner when the money could have been more usefully donated to foodbanks, the event has got Newsmoggie thinking.

Who would you select as your guests at your own Dinner of the Centuries? Note the plural here. You are allowed to invite people whose public role was in the last century and even fantasise about inviting long dead people.

Please include a brief explanation for your choice. No essays please!

The best entries will receive an appreciative purr from Newsmoggie.

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Food banks and posh nosh

On Monday, the Conservatives held their summer party fundraiser. The top lot was dinner with Boris Johnson and his rivals Theresa May and David Cameron. The Dinner of the Century – so-called to avoid inviting Johnson critic John Major – went for £120,000.

This was of course a fundraiser and at such events silly things go for silly prices. But the symbolism cannot be missed. Three prime ministers tucking into posh nosh with someone who has £120,000 in spare change while people are struggling to feed themselves and queuing for the food bank.

News of the Dinner of the Century broke on Wednesday, the day before 36 Shropshire organisations, including councils, food banks and support groups, published an open letter on the cost of living crisis. They are pleading for more help for rural communities, for longer term help and for those in relative comfort to think of ways they can help others.

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The polls open in Tiverton and Honiton, Wakefield and local by-elections

It is 7.00am and the polls have opened in the two headline by-elections of today. The Lib Dems have been prioritising their efforts in Tiverton and Honiton in mid-Devon, with hundreds of activists and most of the party’s MPs turning out to deliver leaflets and knock on doors. Labour’s interest of course has been in Wakefield where it hopes to begin taking back the Red Wall seats it lost in 2019.

Both by-elections were triggered by MPs resigned in disgrace.

Keir Starmer has said a victory in Wakefield “could be the birthplace of the next Labour government”. If Labour win, Starmer can face down his critics in the constituency and in the shadow cabinet who describe him as “boring”.

Ed Davey is under no such pressure – the Lib Dems having secured two impressive by-election victories in Chesham and Amersham and North Shropshire within just over a year. He has been very active in all the campaigns, including in Tiverton and Honiton. He is also more social and comfortable with voters than Starmer appears to be.

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Our first year in office

It is now just over a year since I became leader of Oxfordshire County Council following momentous May 2021 election results that changed the political landscape in the county and led to the formation of the Oxfordshire Fair Deal Alliance, led by the Lib Dems in partnership with the Greens and Labour.

The intervening period has proved to be one of real achievement but also huge challenges – indeed the list of national and international developments since spring 2021 alone is quite breath-taking. All of them have had an impact in one way or another on our daily lives and budgets and on the services that we provide locally.

The recent publication of our Annual Performance Report for the 2021/22 council year provides a reason to pause and reflect on what has happened since the Fair Deal Alliance took on the running of Oxfordshire County Council.  We are immensely proud of what we have been able to achieve in such a short time, and the following are just a few examples of our work as Lib Dem led county council.

One of our top priorities on forming our administration was to put action to address climate change right at the very heart of our work. We’ve launched a pilot for Britain’s first zero emission zone in Oxford.  We’ve won a bid for 159 new electric buses which will serve Oxford and its surrounding areas.   We’re delighted that more than 70 villages and some urban areas throughout the county have signed up to request their streets are reduced to 20mph speed limits after an initiative we agreed last Autumn. We have been ranked as a gold tier council in Uswitch’s first annual Green Council Report, which looks at the commitment of local authorities to be more environmentally sustainable

Tackling inequalities in Oxfordshire is another priority that we wanted to focus on immediately. Our award from Stonewall for promoting LGBTIQ+ inclusion in our workplaces and our nomination in the Local Government Chronicle (LGC) awards for the innovative initiatives in our equalities, diversity and inclusion framework show that we are becoming nationally recognised for such work.

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