20 May 2020 – today’s press releases (part 1)

So many press re;leases today…

  • Lib Dems announce digital conference and fresh timetable to elect next leader
  • Govt must drop ‘dog ate my homework’ approach to Prevent review
  • PM backs Lib Dem calls for COVID hero honours round
  • Govt has no answers for Brexit border issues for Northern Ireland

Lib Dems announce digital conference and fresh timetable to elect next leader

The Liberal Democrats have announced a fresh leadership election timetable and plans to hold an online Autumn Conference – the first for any major political party – in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

At a meeting of the party’s Federal Board last night, the party agreed to holding their leadership election from June through to August. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the contest will make use of online hustings and online voting.

President of the Liberal Democrats Mark Pack, who chairs the Federal Board, also confirmed the Liberal Democrats decision to hold a digital conference in the Autumn follows “careful consideration of the latest expert advice.”

Liberal Democrat Party President Mark Pack said:

Following careful consideration of the latest public health advice concerning the coronavirus pandemic, the Liberal Democrats are planning to run the biggest online conference in British politics.

Conference plays a key role in our democratic party as well as being an important training and information exchange event. I am therefore pleased we will host an online alternative, the first for any major political party.

I am also pleased to confirm the timetable to elect our next Leader. The sad state of our Government today shows how desperately the country needs a vision of an outward-looking, caring country that celebrates diversity and benefits from high-quality public services.

With our party membership at record levels, I urge everyone else who shares our values to join us in the coming days and vote in the leadership election.

Govt must drop ‘dog ate my homework’ approach to Prevent review

The Liberal Democrats have criticised Conservative Ministers for having “dragged their feet” on an independent review of the Prevent counter-terrorism strategy and “now trying to wriggle out of their legal duty”, as the Government introduced a Bill that would scrap the statutory deadline for the review.

Following a cross-party amendment to the Government’s Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill in December 2018, the Government is required by law to carry out an independent review of Prevent and publish its report by August 2020.

However, the Government was forced to remove its initial choice as reviewer, Lord Carlile, after legal action against his appointment. The Home Office then waited four months before launching the recruitment process for a new reviewer in April 2020, with applications closing on 1st June.

Today, the Government is introducing a Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill, which includes a clause that would remove the current August 2020 statutory deadline. It now says the “aim” is to complete the review by August 2021.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

It’s bad enough the Conservative Government had to be forced by Parliament into a review of the Prevent Strategy, but the way Ministers have dragged their feet is appalling.

The Liberal Democrats share the widespread and serious concerns about the impact of Prevent on minority communities, and especially Muslim communities. An independent review should be a vital opportunity to understand these concerns and address them.

Having failed to consult properly with the communities affected by Prevent about who should lead the review and what its terms of reference should be, Conservative Ministers are now trying to wriggle out of their legal duty and delay this badly needed review.

Ministers must drop their ‘dog ate my homework’ approach and get on with this review as soon as possible. Further delays risk undermining public confidence in the review and deepening people’s concerns about the Government’s counter-extremism policies.

PM backs Lib Dem calls for COVID hero honours round

The Government has announced today that it will issue a special honours list in Autumn, following Jamie Stone’s calls to the Prime Minister asking for an additional honours round to celebrate coronavirus heroes.

In his initial letter, Jamie Stone made it clear that any honours round must go alongside an independent review of the salaries paid to those working on on the frontlines of the crisis. Despite taking up the idea to introduce an honours round, the Prime Minister has not announced a salary review for key workers.

Responding to the announcement, Jamie Stone said:

It is great to see the Prime Minister has listened to the calls to officially recognise the bravery of our Coronavirus heroes this autumn.

However, these honours cannot ever be a substitute for properly paying those working on the frontline. There must be a full and thorough review of the pay and conditions for all NHS and care staff when the pandemic is over.

Without a salary review, this honours list will face accusations of gesture politics. The Prime Minister must put his showmanship to one side and allow a review into the pay of health and care staff – it is the very least he can do.

Govt has no answers for Brexit border issues for Northern Ireland

Responding to the publication of the Northern Ireland Protocol, in which the Government has admitted as part of their Brexit plans there will be new checks on some goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Northern Ireland, Wendy Chamberlain, said:

While Gove has now admitted there will be checks on animals and food going from Britain to Northern Ireland as a result of Brexit, there is still significant detail lacking in these documents. Many key questions are still lacking answers, including those on crucial detail such as the added costs and bureaucracy for Northern Irish importers.

These plans are too little, too late. The Government are still yet to come up with any concrete solutions to the many issues thrown up by Boris Johnson’s ideological Brexit plans.

Coronavirus has made it even more apparent how crucial seamless supply chains are between Ireland and the UK. With just weeks to go until the deadline, it is clear that the Government must extend the transition period as a priority. This is the right thing to do for businesses and families across the UK.

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4 Comments

  • John Marriott 21st May '20 - 8:34am

    “The Liberal Democrats are planning to run the biggest online conference in British Politics”. Like Trump’s “greatest testing programme in history”. Why always the hyperbole? Why do you always have to be Number One? I just hope that the website is up to it and doesn’t crash. Mind you, given the size of the party, both in terms of membership and, more importantly, in significance at the moment (6% in one of the most recent polls) and remembering the old joke about all Liberal MPs being able to have a group meeting “in a taxi”, perhaps the Internet won’t be that overburdened!

    However, on the positive side, perhaps the Lib Dems might yet again be ahead of the curve. Quite a few ideas that eventually became political mainstream started life in the machinations of the old Liberal Party Assembly and some even later. As the late Lord Healey was supposed to have acknowledged, “the Liberals“ were there to come up with ideas for the two big parties to claim as their own. I’m thinking of the raising of the threshold of the basic rate of Income Tax under the Coalition, which the Tories were dining out in in recent years, or the free meals for early years in primary schools. I guess our resident liberal historians could list a few others.

  • “the Liberal Democrats are planning to run the biggest online conference in British politics.”
    Don’t mind the hyperbole – need to do something to draw attention to the LibDems, but I do hope you have both relevant technology partners and business consulting experts in virtual meetings/conferences already signed up and trial everything in early summer on a smaller, less public scale.

  • Oddly enough, John, I was sorting out some old papers and came across the 1983 Alliance Budget Manifesto (it was raining). A positive was that my hair was darker then.

    Guess what ? We were going to cut VAT by 2 1/2 %….. and a host of other stuff including indexing income tax, abolishing the earnings rule for pensioners and raising child benefit to £ 6.50..

    Fascinating stuff for political obsessives. It might keep JoeB entertained for hours and the Orange Bookers hair curl. The next twenty years saw Lib Dem penny in the pound income tax policy go up and down like a proverbial yo yo.

    No wonder the poor old electorate get confused and don’t know what the Lib Dems stand for……. especially now when the Lib Dems don’t seem to know what they stand for themselves.

  • Tony Greaves 21st May '20 - 10:56pm

    Recipe for a shambles (digital conference whether or not it’s the largest since the Roman Empire). Mark my words.

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