There has never been a place for racism: “We are all children under god’s sun”

This day cannot pass without commenting on those comments by a now ex member of the royal household.

I am sure I am not alone in having wanted to throw a brick at my radio, in my case an Alexa, listening to Radio 4 PM last night. The racist comments by Lady Susan Hussey were enough to make anyone angry. And then Petronella Wyatt defended her ladyship on the programme. It was sickening. There is no defence for racism. Wyatt’s defence was that Lady Hussey was old and that somehow excused it. No. It doesn’t. Many of my friends are elderly to the point of being ancient. They don’t have a racist thought in their heads.

Racism has no place in society.

 

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The horror of black mould in social housing

Some details in this article have been changed to ensure anonymity and safeguarding.

Last week, I got a message from a young woman with a two year old in a social property built around 1990. Her son had been seriously ill and in hospital with bronchial issues. She had been complaining to the housing managers about black mould for a long while. This case is proving to be the tip of the iceberg.

The death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak in Rochdale has heightened concerns. Tenants have always known that black mould is dangerous to health but housing associations and councils have too often blamed the issue onto tenants or failed to make it a priority.

Since Rochdale, we have had a steady stream of cases coming in via messenger. A baby not yet two months old and returned home on oxygen into a house riddled with black mould. I can’t publish details or photos but they made me cry.

A decent home is fundamental to health and happiness.

We are getting a positive response from the housing associations. One chief executive, currently away, emailed me in the earlier hours to ask for the priority cases, which we have sent. There are many more.

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NHS workers will strike to protect patients not harm them

LDV editor Charley Hasted writes in a personal capacity on the reasons that dedicated NHS workers have voted to strike and the pressures that have led them to vote for industrial action.

Tuesday brought the news that Unison Members in North East, North West, London, Yorkshire and South West Ambulance Service Trusts have voted for industrial action. They were joined by their colleagues in the GMB Union where members in South West, South East Coast, North West, South Central, North East, East Midlands, West Midlands, Welsh and Yorkshire Ambulance Service Trusts. Unite the Union members in Ambulance trusts have also voted to join Unison, GMB and our colleagues from the RCN in threatening industrial action.

As an Ambulance Dispatcher and Unison member I spent a lot of time thinking about how to vote. I didn’t sign up to stop people getting help when they need it after all. Nor did any of my colleagues. The NHS has spent years being staffed on goodwill and our desire to help people. We’ve put up with underfunding, insulting pay rises and being alternately sainted and damned by the government depending on which way the wind is blowing on any given day.

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The Independent View: Groundhog Day in the Lords?

Paul Tyler’s recent letter to the Guardian about reforming the House of Lords raises at least two meta questions about British politics.

He suggests Keir Starmer revives the 2012 Lib Dem legislation but before we do that should ask why did that initiative fail and why should things be different in 2024.

The truth is it, it failed for the same reasons that every previous attempt failed, starting in 1911 but most conspicuously in 1999 when a cohort of counts and their ilk managed to stay on in the second chamber.

Britain is very good at self-sabotage, at not learning from its previous mistakes. This is because its guiding constitutional principle is tradition, which is both infallible and a way of predicting the future.

There are 18 reasons/obstacles (maybe more) why reform failed in the past. If Starmer’s team is serious, it will have to dismantle these obstacles first.

There is not space to explain all the hobbles on Lords reform but I will give you three of them.

As soon as anyone progressive announces that they really are going to finish off the Lords, no ifs and buts, a stock objection will be made: there are more urgent priorities to deal with. The economy, stupid. The next government will inherit a crises in living standards; the NHS and the environment. These will take up all its time and money.

Related to this is a second objection: it is never a good time for constitutional reform which is widely seen as both unnecessary – if it ain’t broke you can’t fix it: unbelievably the Lords in its present form has its apologists – or risky. Throw out umpteen centuries of trial and error and there is a good chance that you’ll make things even worse.

Thirdly, the interests of a party in Opposition are very different to the those of a party in government. Win an election and you go from outsider to insider. The system is yours for a while; you can do what you want.  You lose interest in changing even the tiniest aspect of the system that has put you where you are. Why would you want to share or devolve power that you have just won unfairly and unsquarely?

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Antidisestablishmentarianism

Yesterday’s report from the ONS showed that less than 50% of the population of England and Wales identified as Christian in the 2021 Census. This had led to calls for the disestablishment of the Church of England. It also gives me the opportunity to use the longest word in the English language. The fact that the word dates back to the 19th century shows that there is a long history to the call to reduce the formal role of the Church of England in public life – and opposition to it.

Note that disestablishment only relates to the Church of England. It does not refer to the worldwide Anglican communion, which includes the Church in Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church of Ireland. To confuse things further, we all noticed that at his Accession King Charles sign a declaration of protection of the Church of Scotland, which is Presbyterian and not Anglican.

A personal disclosure – I am an active member of the Church of England. However, as you will see, that does not mean I support its current political role.

I imagine we all know the 500 year history of the origins of the Church of England. Henry VIII enacted the Brexit of his day, and separated the English branch of the church from its Roman “masters”. Of course, the English Church had existed for over a thousand years before that, in its former Catholic form, and had had a huge impact on the culture, from its amazing buildings, its ancient learnings, its art and music, to its moral direction. However, Henry politicised the church in a way that hadn’t happened before.

Whilst the history is fascinating it has led us to a situation which in some ways is not in tune with today’s values.  The established church in England is central to many aspects of our cultural life including major public ceremonies from Remembrance Sunday to Coronations, and there is a question mark over all of these. In August the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper on The relationship between church and state in the United Kingdom. It covers all the attempts at reform over the past century.

However the current arguments for disestablishment tend to focus on two areas – membership of the House of Lords and compulsory worship in schools.

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Brexit non-opportunities

Peers are asked to give speeches at all sorts of occasions.  It’s particularly important for LibDem peers to accept invitations to a range of events while we have so few MPs, to maintain our visibility as a serious political party. So last Friday I spoke at the ‘Christmas Gala’ dinner of a UK bilateral Chamber of Commerce for one of the member states of the EU.

An official responsible for trade policy gave an upbeat presentation of the prospects for UK trade with EU countries.  I followed with a mildly critical interpretation of the situation, mentioning that I was a Liberal Democrat and had been sceptical of the promise of ‘Brexit Opportunities’ from the start, and a promise that the Lords would do everything it could to prevent the forthcoming Retained EU Law Bill from diverging too far from common regulations with the EU Single Market.

I was struck by the response from British business people there.  One rushed up to me after I had sat down to urge me and my colleagues to do everything we could to stop the government from deliberately diverging from EU regulations, as Jacob Rees Mogg and right-wing MPs are pressing it to do.  (I have passed his name on to our fund-raising team.)  Two others told me that their companies had now transferred staff and functions to Amsterdam, in order to operate within the EU Single Market; one added that his company is now paying more tax within the EU than in the UK as a result.  The sense of impatience with the bone-headedness of the Conservatives came across strongly.  Business people, it appears, are beginning to abandon the Conservative Party.

The message for Liberal Democrat activists is clear.  You should be visiting local employers to ask them how their business has been affected by Brexit, and how it would be affected by further barriers to trade with our neighbours created by deliberately incompatible standards and regulations being introduced.  And you should tell them that Liberal Democrats in both Houses will fight hard to limit the damage and bring the UK back to a closer relationship with the EU.  And you should tell the local voters how much the whole fiasco of pursuing the hardest possible Brexit, against the illusory promises made before the Referendum, is now costing local businesses and the national economy.

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Alex Cole-Hamilton presses Sturgeon for action on violence against women

On Sunday 20th November, Scottish newspaper the Sunday Post outlined the most horrific failures of several public services towards Adrienne McCartney, a victim of domestic abuse who died by suicide earlier this year.

The paper reports how the Police dismissed her calls for help and then arrested her, holding her in dreadful conditions, over a social media post.  Then prosecutors  did a deal with her husband to drop the most serious charges before failing to ask for a non harassment order. And then when she tried to get help for her deteriorating mental health,  the NHS could not provide it.

Adrienne’s lawyer told the paper:

“In all my years working in the field of domestic abuse, this case is the worst. Adrienne was let down by every agency she turned to. It is unforgivable.

“She should be here today and the fact that she is not is an indictment of the system and how it addresses domestic abuse. What happened to Adrienne keeps me awake at night but tragically she is not the first and, unless there is dramatic change, she will not be the last.”

He also described his frustration on the night Adrienne was arrested:

“She eventually ­managed to get a phone call to me. When I told officers that I would happily bring Adrienne to the police station myself to answer any questions they had, I was told to ‘f*** off’. That is also currently the subject of an official complaint.

“So a young mother is taken from her home late at night, in front of her children, handcuffed, only to be released after several hours without any charge and this, it has to be stressed, is a ­documented victim of domestic abuse.”

This week’s Sunday Post had details of a letter Scottish Lib Dem Leader Alex Cole-Hamilton wrote to the First Minister after reading Adrienne’s story, alongside calls for action from MSPs from all parties. Alex repeated our call for a Commission to look at ways of ending men’s violence against women in all its forms:

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Does your hospital have dedicated baby loss facilities?

Imagine you have just heard the news that every parent to be dreads – that you are losing your much wanted baby.

Then, you have to give birth, or support your partner giving birth on the labour ward in your hospital. You can hear the sounds of newborn babies crying and the associated sounds of joy, intensifying the agony you are going through.

When that happened to Louise Caldwell from Lanarkshire, she determined to change things. Her campaign for dedicated baby loss facilities has already been successful in her local hospital and the Gilbert Bain Hospital in Shetland where she also experienced the loss of a baby.  The Scottish Government has said that all hospitals will have these facilities within two years.

Next week she’ll be in Westminster talking to MPs about her experience and her campaign in the hope that such facilities will be introduced across the UK?

From the Daily Record:

Louise, from East Kilbride, told Lanarkshire Live : “I never imagined when I started the campaign that I, a mum from East Kilbride, would be speaking to MPs at Westminster.

“To achieve the new unit at Wishaw – which will hopefully open in the coming months – is a fantastic achievement but there is still so much to do – and I can’t do it on my own.

“I want to see the promise by the Scottish Government to have these facilities in hospitals elsewhere fulfilled and I want to see them replicated across the UK.

Shetland’s Lib Dem MSP Beatrice Wishart was the first to raise this issue in the Scottish Parliament and she recently talked about it during Baby Loss Awareness Week.

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Christine Jardine: Donald Trump is a warning, not an inspiration

Christine Jardine has been sharing her dream in her Scotsman column this week. And it isn’t pretty:

In this sleep-induced scenario, some Donald Trump sound-alike was holding court in Edinburgh, draped in tartan, surrounded by saltires and spouting endless meaningless slogans. Fortunately, they had stopped short of wearing a bright blue Tam O’Shanter bearing the motif “Make Alba Great Again”.

And people in the crowd which had gathered were not all there to cheer and applaud the separatist dream being espoused at the flag-laden centre of events. No. Many of those in the imaginary demonstration were instead calling for help for the nurses and other health workers who have to cope with long shifts looking after wards with too many patients and too few staff.

This echoes the feeling of many Scots that the Scottish Government needs to sort out the crisis in its public services instead of looking to populism to stoke up division over the constitution.

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Sal Brinton and Paul Scriven defeat Government in Lords over NHS procurement

Lib Dem Peers Sal Brinton and Paul Scriven helped inflict a defeat on the Government in the House of Lords last night.

Their amendment to the Procurement Bill would ensure that the NHS came under the provisions of the Bill and would not give the Health Secretary the power to make up their own rules at their whim.

Sal told Peers:

The Health and Care Act adds new Section 12ZB to the National Health Service Act, which says:

“Regulations may make provision in relation to the processes to be followed and objectives to be pursued … in the procurement of (a) health care services … and (b) other goods or services”.

The problem is that the new section goes on to say:

“Regulations under subsection (1) must, in relation to the procurement of all health care services … make provision for the purposes of ensuring transparency; ensuring fairness; ensuring that compliance can be verified; managing conflicts of interest”.

That is a very different bar of compliance than the Government want to see for every other part of the public sector covered by the Bill.

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29 November 2022 – the overnight press release

Sunak China speech is remarkably tone deaf

Responding to Rishi Sunak’s speech on China, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Layla Moran said:

In the summer, Sunak talked tough on China – now he’s U-turned at the first possible opportunity. Rowing back on his previous stance is remarkably tone deaf given it comes just days after a British journalist was subject to disturbing treatment at the hands of the Chinese authorities.

The British public will be rightly concerned that the Conservative Government looks set to continue its record of failure when it comes to holding China accountable on everything from

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Sewage dumped on Wales’ Blue Flag beaches 579 times, lasting 6,757 hours

A new analysis of Environment Agency data by the Welsh Liberal Democrats have revealed that Welsh Water has dumped sewage onto our Blue Flag beaches 579 times, lasting an astonishing 6,757 hours

The worst incident was on Poppit Sands Beach near Cardigan with sewage dumped 79 times lasting 1,518 hours. South Beach in Aberystwyth had the highest number of incidents at 142.

Preseli Pembrokeshire ranks as the constituency with the highest number of sewage dumps in the whole of England and Wales with 6754 dumps in 2021 (79,501 hours). Carmarthen East and Dinefwr and Dwyfor Meirionnydd come a close second and third.

The …

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@ALDEParty Council to meet in Bratislava – the preview

And so, once again this year, I find myself heading for Bratislava, this time as a member of the Party’s delegation to the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Party Council meeting which takes place on Saturday morning. Here’s what’s on the agenda…

Preparations for the 2024 European Elections

A tricky, and somewhat painful, agenda item for us, given that we won’t be fighting them and don’t have a vote on the manifesto, but work is underway on designing the campaign, drafting a Europe-wide message and building stronger links with non-ALDE members of the Renew Europe group in the European Parliament. Our position as a European nation which doesn’t have any formal arrangement with the European Union, nor ambitions to join, does leave us a bit like a small boy with his nose against the outside of the shop window.

Finance

The Commission is being difficult about receipts from third countries (for example, us), and there are suggestions that our rights within the ALDE Party are in jeopardy. Indeed, the key European Regulation 1141/2014 does offer challenges in terms of having non-EU member parties. But it does seem strange that the Commission would discourage participation from EEA states (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland), Schengen micro-states such as Andorra, or even candidate nations such as Bosnia-Hercegovina or Moldova.

I would expect quite a lot of horse trading before this resolves itself, but we will continue to make the case for wider inclusivity within all European political families.

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28 November – 2 December: this week in the Lords

It’s a full week ahead for the Liberal Democrats in the Lords, with business on all five days but, before I start, I should note the sad loss of Nigel Jones, who passed away three weeks ago. Max Wilkinson has written movingly about him, and our Leader in the Lords, Dick Newby, offered his own thoughts. Our belated condolences go out to his family and friends.

Sally Hamwee chairs the Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee and, on Monday, introduces its report, “Technology rules? The advent of new technologies in the justice system”. The report looks at the use of Artificial Intelligence by police forces and draws some worrying conclusions. Tim Clement-Jones, Sarah Ludford and Brian Paddick will also be reflecting their concerns during this Grand Committee debate.

In the main Chamber, the Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill, sponsored by Green peer, Jenny Jones, reaches its Report Stage, whilst the Government’s Procurement Bill also reaches its Report Stage.

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Liberal Democrat Disability Association elects new leadership

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Annual General Meeting of the Liberal Democrat Disability Association (LDDA) on Saturday afternoon.

Guest speaker Wendy Chamberlain spoke about her Private Members’ Bill, the Carer’s Leave Bill, which has passed through its Committee Stage in the House of Commons. The Bill, if passed, would give employed carers the right to a week’s unpaid leave each year to provide or arrange care for a dependent suffering from a long-term condition. She noted that, whilst it didn’t go as far as she would like, this was a change consistent with the manifesto …

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Welcome to my day: 28 November 2022 – lifting one’s eyes to the horizon…

It’s been a somewhat trying week for your Day Editor, as we’ve come under fire for doing pretty much what we’ve always done from people who’ve previously taken no interest in what we do but would now really rather we did it in a way that they approve of.

In fairness, when you take on a role like this, you expect some criticism. We’re too loyal to the leadership, or not loyal enough. We don’t address the big issues, or focus too much on perceived minutiae. We don’t allow freedom of speech or our moderation is too lax. And, sometimes, that …

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26-27 November 2022 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Manston diphtheria scandal: Braverman must resign
  • Stealth Tax: Lib Dems propose law forcing Government to write to every taxpayer facing a tax rise

Manston diphtheria scandal: Braverman must resign

Responding to the Sunday Times report of 70 suspected cases of diphtheria among asylum seekers moved from the Manston facility as well as a suspected untreated gunshot wound, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson, Daisy Cooper MP, said:

Liberal Democrats in the Commons and Lords have been questioning Ministers and repeatedly received assurances on the quality of healthcare for asylum seekers.



The UK is better than this. The Conservative Government should be ashamed of their callous complacency over

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Wera Hobhouse’s bill to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace passes Committee stage

We’re now into the annual 16 days of activism against gender based violence which runs from the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November through to International Human Rights Day on 10th December.

We will be bringing you a series of articles to mark this important annual event, including a horrific story of the death of a young woman in Scotland after she was let own by all of the services who should have been there to protect her.

Today we report on the Committee Stage of Wera Hobhouse’s Bill to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace, which took place on Wednesday. It would make employers liable for sexual harassment of their employers by third parties, eg contractors, as well as their co-workers.

Introducing the Bill, Wera said:

Workplace sexual harassment is a blight on our society. It remains widespread and vastly under-reported. Half of British women and a fifth of men have been sexually harassed at work or a place of study. Too many people have been left to suffer for too long. The question of whether employers have taken adequate steps to prevent sexual harassment arises only as a defence if an incident of sexual harassment has already occurred. Employers are therefore not required to take actions to prevent sexual harassment. That leaves individuals with the burden of challenging it.

The Bill, which passed its Second Reading last month, introduces two new measures to strengthen protections for employees against harassment. The first is the introduction of explicit protections for employees from workplace harassment by third parties, such as customers and clients. The second is the introduction of a duty on employers to take all reasonable steps to prevent their employees from experiencing sexual harassment.

Fellow Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine emphasised why the Bill was needed:

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Vince Cable destroys Braverman’s anti international students rhetoric

This week’s net migration figures have driven the Government to set their sights on reducing the numbers of international students. Suella Braverman has had them in her sights for a while, saying last month:

“We’ve also got a very high number of students coming into this country and we’ve got a really high number of dependents. So students are coming on their student visa, but they’re bringing in family members who can piggyback onto their student visa. Those people are coming here, they’re not necessarily working or they’re working in low-skilled jobs, and they’re not contributing to growing our economy.”

As Business Secretary during the coalition years, former Lib Dem Leader Vince Cable was in charge of international student numbers and had numerous battles with then Home Secretary Theresa May about them.

Writing on Medium, he has taken Braverman to task about her anti student rhetoric.

Preoccupied by the headline numbers, she has promised a ‘crack down’. This is to take the form of cutting visas for dependents — that is, married students — and for those seeking ‘low quality’ degrees. I recall the same pejorative language being used to dismiss any university not in the Russell Group. Other than sheer academic snobbery, it is difficult to see the substance behind this distinction. In ‘left behind’ parts of Britain it is often the less fashionable and less prestigious, but good quality, new universities which are a mainstay of the local economy. It is reassuring to hear that the Chancellor is warning that the proposed ‘crackdown’ will ‘harm the economy’ and that the Education Secretary is committed to defending British universities.

He highlights the benefits that international students bring:

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25 November 2022 – today’s press releases

Apologies, press release fans, but broadband to my village was lost due to a BT fault this evening. It’s supposed to be restored in a fortnight’s time, so I’m reduced to the internet equivalent of two tin cans and a length of string temporarily.

  • Sunak reappoints controversial Trade Minister he sacked last month
  • Raab allegations can’t be swept under the carpet

Sunak reappoints controversial Trade Minister he sacked last month

The Liberal Democrats have demanded that reappointed Trade Minister Dominic Johnson urgently publishes his Register of Interests, warning that he has a duty to be “open, transparent and accountable” and avoid a conflict of …

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ALDC by-election report, 24th November 2022

There is only one place to start and that’s on the Isle of Wight where newly elected Lib Dem councillor Nick Stuart won Brighstone, Calbourne & Shalfleet ward from the Conservatives with a 23.5% increase in vote share.

Congratulations Nick and the Lib Dem team in the Isle of Wight – an amazing victory that goes to show that hard work pays off.

Isle of Wight UA, Brighstone, Calbourne and Shalfleet
Liberal Democrat (Nick Stuart): 526
Conservative: 239
Green: 153
Independent: 36
Labour: 31

In Warrington we also put in a really good performance in Rixton & Woolston ward where Lib Dem candidate Brian Meichin increased the Lib Dem vote share by 5% to finish a strong third with over 200 votes. The Conservatives narrowly held the ward by just 3 votes!

Warrington MBC, Rixton & Woolston
Conservative: 648
Labour: 645
Liberal Democrat (Brian Meichin): 219

The final principle election with a Lib Dem candidate was on Bassetlaw DC. Thank you to Phil Ray for standing and giving voters a Lib Dem option on the ballot paper in Sutton ward. Labour won the ward from the Conservatives on the night.

Bassetlaw DC, Sutton
Labour: 301
Conservative: 224
Liberal Democrat (Phil Ray): 12

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A marriage made in Portsmouth

One of our readers came across this BBC Parliament documentary about the merger of the Liberals and the Social Democrat Party in 1987-88. It was first broadcast in 2008 to mark the 20th Anniversary.

Enjoy!

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It’s probably not the budgie

Katie (not her real name) put out a desperate plea on her community Facebook page, the battle cry of a mother at the end of her tether. A tenant of one of the region’s largest housing associations, she was living on the ground floor of a newly built block of flats in the ward I had represented for just a few weeks.

It was 2017 and Katie had lived for 3 years in the two-bedroom ground floor flat with her partner and their two tiny children, one 3 years old and the other a fragile 3 month old newborn who’d been born prematurely. The baby had had multiple trips to hospital with bronchitis in his very short life, and multiple courses of antibiotics.

Katie was convinced that the source of her baby’s health issues was the mould and damp in their flat. Shoes and toys left overnight on the floor went mouldy. The soft furnishings had had to be replaced twice in three years because they were rotting into the damp carpet. Katie spent every day cleaning, bleaching, and washing, and overnight the mould would return to anything left on the ground. Walking across the carpet in socks led to wet socks.

Katie’s mental health was suffering badly. She was cleaning all day, wiping down surfaces obsessively, but still failing to keep her children safe and healthy. She could get nobody who ought to have cared to take any interest. She felt judged at every turn. She feared being kicked out by the housing association for complaining too much. She felt as though she had no rights.

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Rodney Berman announced as Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Cardiff Central

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have announced Rodney Berman as their candidate for Cardiff Central for the next General Election.

Cardiff Central is currently held by Labour but was previously held by the Liberal Democrats from 2005-2015.

Rodney Berman is a Cardiff Councillor in Penylan and served as Leader of Cardiff Council for eight years between 2004 and 2012, during which he oversaw a massive increase in the recycling rate and the money given to schools. He is proud to have been awarded an OBE for his services to local government and the community in Cardiff in 2013.

Rodney has lived in Cardiff for most of his life after taking up a research role at the university in the early 90s.

Currently working in health policy, Rodney represented the interests of doctors during Covid-19 and provides advice on public health issues and is passionate about reducing health inequalities.

Rodney Berman and the Welsh Liberal Democrats have stated that Labour has taken Cardiff for granted over recent years at all levels, presiding over failures in the healthcare system, the cladding crisis and public transport. The party believes that it can offer a positive alternative to both a Labour-dominated Wales and the chaotic mismanagement of the economy by the Conservatives.

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24 November 2022 – today’s press release

  • Government ‘must get a grip’ as asylum backlog soars to 143,000
  • Raab emails: Lib Dems write to Cabinet Secretary demanding investigation
  • Michelle Mone: Lib Dems table amendment to scrap VIP lanes
  • Richard Foord MP raises sewage report in Parliament after his son fell sick swimming in Devon river
  • Full Review in Social Services in Wales Needed After Logan Mwangi Report

Government ‘must get a grip’ as asylum backlog soars to 143,000

Responding to new official figures showing that the asylum backlog has risen to 143,377, with 97,717 waiting more than six months, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

The Home Office is a disaster zone, and it’s clear who is to blame. By their own admission, the Conservatives have broken our asylum system and shattered public trust in it.

Tens of thousands of refugees have been waiting months for a decision, banned from working or renting their own home. The Conservative chaos at the Home Office is wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money every day.

The Government must finally get a grip. It should take asylum cases away from the discredited Home Office and set up a new independent unit to make decisions quickly and correctly.

We need a fair, effective asylum system that treats everyone with dignity, and that everyone can have confidence in.

Raab emails: Lib Dems write to Cabinet Secretary demanding investigation

The Liberal Democrats have written to the Cabinet Secretary asking for an investigation into reports that Dominic Raab has been using his personal email for Government business.

Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain, who wrote the letter, commented:

The public deserve answers, not more cover-ups.

The drumbeat of allegations against Dominic Raab is relentless. From reports of bullying to allegations he has followed in the footsteps of Suella Braverman by using his personal email for government business, it is obvious that investigations are needed.

The Deputy Prime Minister cannot be relaxed about national security, especially at a time when Britain’s enemies are stepping up their cyber attacks. It is only right and proper the Cabinet Office investigate these reports and determine immediately if overseas enemies could have seen national secrets sent by Dominic Raab.

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The Party in England Responds to the Change in the Party’s Definition of Transphobia

No regular visitor to LDV can have missed the growing debate over trans gender issues. Here we publish the response from the English Party to recent events in full. Given the sensitivity of the subject we will be pre-moderating all comments in line with our editorial policies.

The English Council Executive, meeting last weekend, have agreed two motions in support of trans rights and in response to the Federal Board changing the Party’s definition of transphobia.

  1. A motion of censure for the appalling communications calling for an apology and a plan to make sure nothing like this happens again.
  2. A motion calling on the Board to seek further advice, in consultation with LGBT+ Liberal Democrats, and suspend changing the definition until that advice is received and/or Federal Conference can vote.

The motions were passed with strong support from everyone who spoke, and no one spoke or voted against. This represents a wide consensus from regional chairs and members across the country.

Just under two weeks ago, the Federal Board met for the last time and, with Federal elections still under way, chose to amend the Party’s definition of Transphobia.

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How we should have responded to the 2022 Autumn Statement

Assuming that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had stabilised the money market last month, his main task was to try to ensure we are in recession for the shortest period possible by reducing inflation while not deflating the economy. Therefore his biggest concern should have been the energy price increases forecast for next year. He failed to deal with this issue adequately. He has said that ending the price cap freeze would increase inflation by 5%.

He has increased the energy price cap from next April by £500 to £3000 and this means that every household has to find this £500. This will also allow inflation to increase by 1% – see page 15 of the OBR report (PDF). He has failed to provide enough support for households for next year. He has scrapped the £400 for every household and the £150 for those in Council Tax band A to D properties. List of the help available next year and current support (PDF).

These means that a pensioner if they have the average household energy bill will have to find a further £1050 to pay for their energy. However the new state pension is only increasing by £972.40 for the year. Where are they supposed to find the extra money to pay the £1,050 extra energy bill and the increased prices of everything else?

A couple on Universal Credit will have to find a further £800 to pay for their energy but the 10.1% increase in Universal Credit is only £637 for the year. Where are they supposed to find the extra money to pay the £800 extra energy bill and the increased prices of everything else?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 6 Comments

We have positive answers on asylum issues – let us shout them out

There is no need to go into the detail of the current crisis in the asylum system. Everyone is talking about it but are the Lib Dems pushing and promoting our well thought out policies, agreed by the party, that have positive solutions?

After two policy papers that an enormous of work had gone into, we can talk honestly and with passion on the issues, but do we? Parliamentarians, policy units and members put in a lot of work, but was it worth bothering?

I alternated between shouting at the radio and despair on hearing Yvette Cooper on the Today programme yesterday morning. I have a lot of respect for her usually but she was refusing to commit to the right to work for asylum seekers, had little to say about safe routes for refugees, had no mention of humanitarian visas, and only vague swipes at the decision making process.

But where are our voices on these issues?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 19 Comments

The Supreme Court decision on a Scottish Referendum

The Supreme Court has delivered the judgement everyone expected from it – the obvious statement that, under the law as it stands, the Scottish Parliament does not have powers to call a referendum on Scottish Independence without the consent of the UK parliament. This judgement presents one opportunity and one threat to Liberal Democrats.

The opportunity is the chance to cut through the squabbles between Conservatives and the SNP by pushing our own policy – that of a truly federal UK. A Federal UK has been Liberal policy for over a century and to my mind we do not emphasise it sufficiently often or strongly. Voices in other parties (including respected former ministers such as Malcolm Rifkind and Gordon Brown) have from time to time hinted at support for a watered-down version of federalism, but we are the only party which can authentically present the idea as fully worked out and our own.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 20 Comments

23 November 2022 – today’s press releases (part 2)

  • Senedd Member Calls for Action on the Cambrian Line
  • Raab bullying inquiry: Sunak must sack him if allegations upheld
  • Debate on Nurses Pay – Liberal Democrats Back Calls for Higher Nurses Pay Offer
  • Conservative MPs break manifesto pledge by voting against business rates review

Senedd Member Calls for Action on the Cambrian Line

Concerns have been raised today in the Senedd over the rail service on the Cambrian Line which runs through Mid Wales.

Speaking in the Senedd, Welsh Liberal Democrat Member for Mid & West Wales Jane Dodds raised delays in the much anticipated hourly service between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury, stating that the delays were just another sign of Mid Wales being forgotten about by the Labour-Plaid Cymru partnership in Cardiff Bay.

An hourly service between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury was announced in 2014, but has faced repeated delays since, with the latest delaying the introduction from 2022 to 2024.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have stated that an hourly service stopping at all stations along the Cambrian Line is essential to encourage more passengers to use the railway instead of cars and for businesses given it will also play an important role in making connections from Shrewsbury easier.

The Party has called on the Welsh Government to prioritise the introduction of the service and tackle delays head-on.

Commenting Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said:

We really need the Labour-Plaid Cymru partnership in Cardiff Bay to prioritise this route, it is essential for businesses and the public in Mid Wales.

The fact it has been continuously delayed for almost a decade shows that once again Mid Wales is being forgotten about by Labour.

With Transport for Wales now fully nationalized and owned by the Welsh Government, there is no excuse.

If Labour wants to put a ban on all new roadbuilding the least they can do is ensure we have well-functioning public transport networks.

I am calling for the Welsh Government to prioritise the rollout of this service and put an end to repeated delays once and for all.

Posted in News and Press releases | Tagged , , , , , , and | 1 Comment
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