Author Archives: Caron Lindsay

Moving on after yesterday’s high drama

Lib Dem Conference is at its absolute best when it debates a hotly contested issues.

High quality speeches on both sides of the argument for Conference to decide upon. And if the leadership’s position is looking threatened, they just roll out a big hitter like Tim Farron to deliver a barnstormer and get them out of trouble.

Or, in the case of yesterday’s debate, not.

The issue in question was whether to have a national housing target. This has been debated at two Conferences in the recent past and on both occasions, Conference voted to retain a national annual target, in this case 380,000  homes, with (whatever happened in the debate) 150,000 for social rent. A great policy that many thought would give not just hope but homes to the hundreds of thousands of people who don’t have a secure home that they can afford.

With Conference having made its wishes known, it is odd that the leadership chose to pick this fight in the first place or prosecute it in the way that they did. The Federal Policy Committee was very closely balanced on this issue and, as I understand it, Ed insisted that housing targets were dropped. Inevitably, the Young Liberals put in an amendment to reinstate them.

Policy and research is one of the great strengths of the current crop of young Liberals. Chair Janey Little has already contributed huge knowledge and collaborative working skills on various policy issues, not least on violence against women and girls where she brought all the various stakeholders in and consulted them. She put those skills to good use. On her side of the argument were Council leaders like Stephen Robinson in Chelmsford, Keith House in Eastleigh and former Housing Minister Stephen Williams as well as current London Mayoral candidate Rob Blackie and his predecessor Luisa Porritt.

Unfortunately, the leadership response to this was to produce a series of leaflets rubbishing the Young Liberals’ amendment in a way that was always going to annoy Conference attendees. Certainly,  I had always been likely to support that amendment, but I did so with added passion and fury simply because of the aggression shown by the opposition and the fact that Ed was talking about the issue as though it was a done deal. The manner in which this was done was also a massive hostage to fortune. You know how in the American primaries candidates kick lumps out of each other until one emerges victorious? Well, that process does the opposition research for them. That is a lesson the leadership might like to learn for the future before it puts out simplistic, aggressive literature.

The debate yesterday started well with an inclusive speech from Helen Morgan in which she acknowledged the concerns that the Young Liberals had expressed in their amendment. By the time the argument got to the floor, though, it very much looked like it would go their way. Speeches were around 2:1 in favour of housing targets.

But not to worry, they still had their Trump card, Tim Farron.

Sadly, he took his role too literally and forgot for a moment that he wasn’t Donald Trump. His deeply insulting speech, in which he said that the amendment was the most right wing thing he had seen come to the floor of Conference since we’d sent Liz Truss on her sleeper mission to the Tories drew gasps from the audience. . He accused its proposers of being Thatcherites. This was clearly nonsense, given that the amendment was supported by the Radical Association and many members of the Social Liberal Forum.

It takes a lot to shock a Lib Dem Conference. We’re not a pearl clutching bunch as a rule, but he managed it. But there was no awe to go with it. Rob Blackie stood up and simply said at the beginning of his speech “Tim Farron: That was below you. You are better than that.”

If the amendment had not won before, that speech got it over the line. The vote wasn’t even close in the end.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged , and | 32 Comments

Alex Cole-Hamilton’s speech to Conference

Here, in full, is Alex Cole-Hamilton’s speech to Conference.

Conference, this is the first time I’ve addressed you in person since Willie passed the baton to me two years ago. Can I take this opportunity to thank you Willie for your leadership, your service to our party and your friendship over the years.

Willie mentioned I am the first Liberal Democrat parliamentarian to be officially sanctioned by the Kremlin. My Ukrainian house guest calls that Santa’s good list.

And by the way, if you do nothing else at conference, do not miss Kira Rudik in this hall tomorrow, the leader of our sister party in Ukraine. In over 20 years of attending our conferences, I’ve never heard anything like her speech to us in Dundee earlier this year.

Conference, there are few things in life that cheer me more than the sight that greets me now. I am thrilled to my fingertips to be here.

I love this party. For nearly quarter of a century, I have served it at one time or another in every capacity: activist, staff, candidate, parliamentarian.

Wherever you are I feel at home.

The evidence of my devotion to this party can be found in the pages of a well-thumbed road atlas and a loyalty card for the Starbucks at Charnock Richard Services in Chorley.

It’s why I drove a carload of young liberals 9 hours down the M6 from Edinburgh to North Shropshire. It’s why I drove them 11 hours to Frome.

And why I’ll do it again in the 7 hours it’ll take us to get to Mid Bedfordshire.

Friends, I come with news of the north, and it is good news.

The liberal revival is underway for us too and we have taken such inspiration from Ed’s leadership and your victories in the south.

Last May, as they had done since I took over as leader, the pundits were writing us off – predicting that the Scottish local government elections would see us slip backwards.

Conference, we outperformed every other opposition party and increased our councillor base by a third.

It made me realise that the history of our movement is rooted in local politics and so too lies the promise of our future.

Posted in News | Tagged and | Leave a comment

Caron’s pick of the Conference Fringe – Sunday

It’s day 2 of Conference and I know many of you will be bleary eyed from the disco last night.

Here is my pick of today’s fringe.

Sunday lunchtime 1300-1400

Your get there early warning is for Ukrainian Holos leader Kira Rudik’s conversation with John Sweeney 1pm. It is bound to be PACKED

Christine Jardine speaks at the Hunanist and Secularist Lib Dems’ fringe on assisted dying

Vince Cable is appearing at Compass’s meeting on how progressives can work together. That might grab some headlines.


Sunday early evening 1815-1915

Helen Morgan appears at Shelter’s reception on the housing emergency

LGBT+ Lib Dems and the Lib Dem Disability Association explore problems faced by older people needing social care

Wimbledon PPC Paul Kohler on restorative justice – Mad Dogs and Englishmen is the title of the fringe.

This isn’t an official fringe, but you can still get tickets for Layla Moran’s appearance with Iain Dale and Jacqui Smith’s For the Many Live event. It will be hilarious.

Posted in News | Tagged | Leave a comment

Caron’s pick of the Conference fringe – Saturday

Conference kicks off officially today. The whirlwind of debate and socialising and fringe meetings is guaranteed to have at least three things in every slot that you want to go to.

Here’s my pick of the fringe for today, all of which can be found in the directory:

Saturday lunchtime 1-2:30

Federal Conference Committee invite people to suggest ways of improving disability access at future Conferences.

I suspect the New Liberal Manifesto’s meeting with Sir John Curtice on the need for the party to have bolder messaging will be very busy, so get there early. It’s chaired by Layla and Dick Newby, our leader in the Lords is also speaking.

Social Liberal Forum has Sarah Olney and others on a radical and liberal approach to economics

Saturday mid evening 20:15-21:45

I’m liking the collaboration between ALDES (Lib Dem Engineers and Scientists) and the Young Liberals to chat all things tech

Liberal History Group launch their book asking What have the Liberals ever done for us? Layla Moran, Wendy Chamberlain and Janey Little take part.

Posted in News | Tagged | 3 Comments

Caron’s guide to the Craziness of Conference – updated for Bournemouth 2023

In less than 5 days, after a gruelling 6:40 am flight, I hope to be in beautiful Bournemouth, my favourite Autumn Conference venue. We last met there in 2019. It was fantastic to see my friends in York in March, but Autumn Conference has the length and girth to satisfy even the most ardent activist.

I have revamped my Guide to the Craziness of Conference for this year. Enjoy. And if you have any questions, ask away in the comments.

Federal Conference is probably the best fun that you will ever have in your life. You will thoroughly enjoy every exhausting moment. If you’re new, it can be a bit overwhelming until you get used to the sensory overload. I had a long break from going to them and when I returned, in 2011, I spent the first day wandering round in a state of wide-eyed amazement,  like a child in a toy shop.

So, with that in mind, I thought I’d throw together a fairly random list of tips and hints for getting the best out of the annual cornucopia of Liberal Democracy. If you have any other Conference survival tips, let me know.

If you have any questions, there are lots of places to get answers. There’s Federal Conference Committee helpdesk in the Bournemouth International Centre. And if they can’t help, ask someone on one of the party organisation stalls in the exhibition – if they don’t know the answer, they’ll probably be able to point you in the right direction.

1. Plan your days

The Conference day has a huge variety of things to do. As well as the debates in the hall,  there’s a comprehensive training programme and a massive fringe.  There are spokespeople Q & As. There are competing fringe choices to be made.  You can guarantee that you will never be bored and that several things you want to see will be on at the same time.  Spend some time now poring over the Agenda and Directory to work out what you don’t want to miss.

Some events aren’t in there because they aren’t official conference meetings.  Layla Moran is being interviewed by Iain Dale and Jacqui Smith for their hilarious For the Many podcast. Who knows, they might even say something nice about the Lib Dems! If you want to join us, buy your ticket here.

Be aware as well that you can eat quite well for free by choosing the right fringe meetings – look for the refreshments symbol in the directory.

Believe me, it’s much easier if you sort out your diary in advance. The best laid plans will always be subject to a better offer or meeting someone you haven’t seen for years randomly in a corridor, but it’s best to at least try to get some order into the proceedings. The Conference App is a real help for this. You can download it from whichever App store you use on your phone (search for Lib Dem Conf). Fully updated now for Bournemouth, it allows you to add events to your schedule and has all the papers loaded on to it.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 9 Comments

Peter Kyle knows fine Labour can’t win in Mid Beds

Labour’s new Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology showed that yesterday on the News Agents that he knows absolutely fine that Labour can’t win Mid Bedfordshire.

He made the bizarre claim, on the News Agents podcast that:

“If our candidate was gay, they’d be doing a family values campaign.”

He said that the we were running a “deeply personal” campaign against the Labour candidate in the by-election.

Labour can’t win there, but they can stop us. Is that really their aim?

Our response was:

People in Mid Bedfordshire are disappointed that Labour have chosen a London councillor as a candidate to represent their rural towns and villages. After Nadine Dorries, people want a local MP, not someone who has been parachuted in.

The Labour candidate resigned as a councillor on Waltham Forest Council last week, having been a Cabinet member there until 3 months ago.

Layla Moran took to Twitter to condemn Kyle’s comments:

Disappointing from @peterkyle. Lib Dems are proud to have brought in equal marriage ten years ago almost to the day and are allies of the whole LGBT+ community. To suggest we would weaponise equality issues is a utterly against our values.

And Tim Farron had news direct from the doorsteps in Mid Bedfordshire:

I was in Mid Beds today to support @EmmaMidBeds. On the doorstep, Labour voters were volunteering to me that they were going to switch to vote for Emma this time because she can beat the Tories and Labour clearly can’t. I’m even more convinced now that we can do this.

Of course my take from Mid Beds is partisan, but it’s based on solid evidence. 1) Labour voters are deciding for themselves to vote tactically for us. 2) Disillusioned Conservatives and others in this rural seat are keen to vote for Emma, but would never vote Labour.

The Lib Dem by election campaign team know what they’re doing. It’s by far the smarter, bigger and more engaging campaign. 4) Labour won’t win but they probably won’t lose their deposit and they could stop us winning. 5) Lib Dem activists need to go there en masse!

North Shropshire by-election winner Helen Morgan sent an email to party members:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 27 Comments

Layla Moran to appear with Iain Dale and Jacqui Smith in Bournemouth

Layla Moran MP will be the special guest star on Iain Dale and Jacqui Smith’s Lib Dem stop on their tour of Party Conferences.

The LBC Presenter and former Labour Home Secretary host a weekly podcast, For the Many, which is for me an unmissable hour of politics and outrageous filth. The live shows are a bit tamer. The presence of an audience is usually enough to remind them that someone else is actually listening.  Usually.

As many of you will be planning your Conference diaries in the next few days, make sure you include this show. It is bound to be hilarious. It’s happening on the Sunday night of Conference between 7 and 9 pm at Canvas, 24 Poole Hill, Bournemouth. You can get tickets here.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , and | Leave a comment

Michael Steed 1940-2023

Sad news dropped into my inbox this afternoon. Michael Steed, President of the Liberal Party from 1978-79, died this week.

From Young Liberal anti-apartheid activist who was once prevented by the South African authorities from delivering aid to Sharpeville to eminent psephologist who provided the stats for the British General Election Guides up until 2005 to radical social liberal who was ardently pro-European but not blind to dangers of concentrated power in the way the EU worked, he spent his whole life working for liberalism, and was elected as a councillor in Canterbury in 2008.

He was also one of those brave liberals who fought for gay rights well before it was fashionable to do so. He helped fight the early battles that won the freedoms we take for granted now.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 24 Comments

Vince Cable: The net zero consensus is over

How do you save the planet when we no longer agree on key measures to save the planet? These questions are posed by Vince Cable in his latest column for Comment Central. As Vince often does, he poses questions that some Liberal Democrats will find difficult, particularly in relation to North Sea Oil licences and relations with China.

Consensus between the parties is key to making long term plans to save the planet, he argues.

He sets out how far the Conservatives have fallen on climate change:

It was Margaret Thatcher who originally embraced the global warming issue and wider environmental stewardship and who demonstrated by championing the Montreal Protocol on the Ozone Layer the force of British leadership. David Cameron (initially) and Boris Johnson continued this tradition. The resigning Environment Minister, Zac Goldsmith, has told us, however, that this Prime Minister is simply uninterested. Or hostile. Or cynically preparing for what I call the CAT strategy in the coming election: climate; asylum; and transgender; a culture war campaign.

He outlines a series of uncomfortable trade-offs that he says we must be prepared to make to get to Net Zero.

One of those trade-offs is cost. Nothing fuels populist anger more than regressive levies on environmental bads. For families whose sole practical, means of transport is an old banger, environmental taxes are resented, no matter the impact on the planet or local air quality. Politicians may choose to press ahead but they cannot ignore the negative side effects. In practice, the trade-offs are more complex. The environmental levy paid on fuel bills to provide support for new renewables was criticised for increasing energy bills but has helped to drive down the cost of offshore wind to a point that it is now consistently cheaper than gas.

He says that nuclear must also be part of the package:

Indeed, hostility to this impeccably zero carbon and energy secure domestic source has been led by the same green campaigners who oppose fossil fuel use. What we need is a portfolio of different, low carbon and secure sources including new renewables, nuclear and carbon capture.

This will cheer those within the party who are challenging our longstanding anti nuclear energy policy. Last year a motion to include nuclear power as part of an energy security package was put to Scottish Conference and referred back.

Posted in LibLink and Op-eds | Tagged , , , , , , and | 18 Comments

Nadine finally quits – how you can help Lib Dem Emma Holland-Lindsay win Mid Beds

Nadine Dorries first announced her intention to resign her parliamentary seat “with immediate effect” on 9th June. And then she decides to actually do it 79 days later while I’m out celebrating my 35th wedding anniversary, returning to the scene of the crime for an absolutely delicious meal and some even lovelier cocktails.

So this means that the formal starting gun will likely be fired on the by-election campaign to replace her when Parliament resumes on 4th September. However, the Lib Dem campaign to get our brilliant candidate Emma Holland-Lindsay elected has been going on since the day after Nadine made her original announcement. Within hours, campaigners were gathering and swapping leaflets in supermarket car parks and the like.

If, as expected, the by-election takes place on 5th October, the publication of Nadine Dorries book about the downfall of Boris Johnson on 28 September, and any serialisation before, is bound to grab some headlines.

Ed Davey was questioned on whether the Lib Dems were the challengers on the For the Many Live podcast with Iain Dale and Jacqui Smith in Edinburgh:

He said he was feeling good about the prospect of a Mid Beds by-election as Labour party members there had told them they were voting for us. He said he wasn’t sure that we were going to win, but we were definitely the challengers. There was no way, he said, that people in the predominantly rural constituency were going to vote Labour to get the Tories out. He accused Nadine Dorries of an abuse of Parliament for her behaviour.

Last night, Ed said:

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 2 Comments

An extra million pounds in donations boosts Lib Dem finances

The accounts of political parties with an annual income or expenditure of above £250,000 for the financial year ending 31 December 2022 have been published by the Electoral Commission.

The results show that the SNP and Conservative show a fall in income, while the Liberal Democrats and Labour are in a much stronger position. Figures show that the Liberal Democrats attracted £1 million more in donations than it did the previous year, a sign of success and donor confidence. What is crucially important is that the party has been able to bring in a significant rise in donations at an earlier stage in the electoral cycle, allowing crucial investment in the seats we hope to win at the next General Election.

From the Guardian:

For the Lib Dems, whose profile has been raised by a series of byelection wins, total income increased only marginally, but within this, money from donations rose from £1.9m to £2.9m.

One of the things that adversely affected our income last year was having to cancel our first planned in person Conference due to the period of national mourning when the Queen died.

For the SNP and the Conservatives, things are less healthy:

In contrast, the SNP’s donation income halved from just under £700,000 in 2021 to about £350,000 last year. The party is heavily reliant on membership income, which dropped slightly but still brought in more than £2.2m of the £4.2m total.

The Conservatives’ accounts show the party spent over £2m more than it earned during 2022, with total spending of just over £33m. During the same period, donations, which are traditionally the Tories’ major source of income, fell by slightly more than this deficit, from £20.5m to £18.1m.

You can see all the parties’ accounts on the Electoral Commission website with ours here and the full documents and financial reports filed by the party here.

In their report, the party’s officers say:

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 5 Comments

LISTEN: Ed Davey on For the Many Live at Edinburgh

Ed Davey’s appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe is now available online.

He talked to Iain Dale and Jacqui Smith for their For the Many podcast.

Ed was in cracking form, very funny, bright and relaxed.

He came on stage while Iain and Jacqui were having a bit of a barney about women’s football. I had tweeted Jacqui after Iain told Harriet Harman that one thing that men could do better than women was play football. She got a lot of mileage out of that over the various shows. Anyway,  Ed was full of support for the Lionesses.

Jacqui then challenged Ed to come up with an act of heroism after Keir Starmer helped find a dog while he was on holiday in the Lake District. She might not have been expecting him to come up with an actual example, but he did rescue a woman from the path of an oncoming train.

Jacqui challenged him to get Iain Dale, who has said multiple times that he’s not sure who to vote for at the next General Election, to commit to voting Lib Dem. Ed is smarter than to fall for that trap, and, while he outlined lots of good reasons to vote Lib Dem, he recognised we might not gain Iain’s support.

Iain challenged him on why our national polling isn’t reflecting our by-election success. He pointed to local election success and the fact that we were talking to people about the issues they cared about.

His top task, he said, is to get the Conservatives out of Government.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , , and | 2 Comments

Radio phone-in highlights reality of homophobia

If i’m out and about with my husband and we hold hands, nobody bats an eyelid. If we see something that makes us laugh, we can look at each other and have a hug, we can o so without being hassled.  If he is meeting me off the train, I can rush up and give him a kiss. We can be pretty much as spontaneous as we like.

The stabbing outside The Two Brewers in Clapham on Sunday night, which is being treated as a homophobic incident, shows that not everyone can take the simple act of being out and about with their partner for granted.

In response to this appalling attack, the Young Liberals said:

Our account is run by two LGBTQ+ people who live in south London.

The appalling homophobic attack on two men in Lambeth on Saturday night is an horrific reminder that prejudice is alive and well in our capital.

Our thoughts are with the victims at this incredibly difficult time, and we would like to join @Ben_Curtis_1 and @LambethLibDems in sending our best wishes to the staff at the wonderful @2BrewersClapham for their response.

This incident is a reminder that we need to do so much more to tackle the hatred that our community faces, and we are glad to see the Met Police are treating this with the seriousness it needs.

A Radio 2 phone-in yesterday highlighted the everyday prejudice to which the LGBT+ community is subjected. Gay men described how they wouldn’t dare hold hands for fear of attracting trouble. Lesbians gave horrendous accounts of being sexually assaulted by men who were apparently trying to “turn” them. Even in a country where the majority of people back LGBT rights, too many can’t properly be themselves in public.

A friend told me that he and his partner of almost 10 years hardly ever hold hands in public and if they do, they do a risk assessment first. We also talked about how lesbians face both homophobia and misogyny.

It’s worth listening to the discussion on the programme to understand what LGBT+ people have to put up with.

Earlier this year, the UN’s independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity said that abusive rhetoric from politicians was to blame for a surge in hate crimes against LGBT+ people. In his report, he said:

Bolstered by strong protections of freedom of information in the UK, news media and social media are instruments for advocacy and visualizing violations of the human rights of LGBT persons. On the other hand, government authorities and civil society representatives in the UK informed the Independent Expert that those media channels are also spreading anti-trans discourse and stereotypical imagery of LGBT persons as dangerous, often employing homophobic and transphobic rhetoric.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

Ed Davey calls for action to help those struggling with rising bills

As inflation falls to 6.8%, Lib Dem Leader Ed Davey appeared on Sky News this morning to give our party’s reaction:

While it was positive news that prices aren’t using quite so fast, he said, but they are rising fast,  faster than they are in many other countries and faster than they have for many, many years.

Families and pensioners when they go and do their shopping, when they get their energy bill, when they pay their mortgage, their rents, they are still seeing them go up by huge amounts. And what is worrying Liberal Democrats today is that this month’s inflation figures will be used to calculate rail fares for next year and we are calling for a freeze as some way of helping people who are really really struggling.

Challenged that the Government has to balance the books, Ed said that we always do balance the books and go to the country with a fully costed manifesto, compared to the Conservatives who have been reckless with Government money and that’s why the country is in such a mess.

I listen to Conservative ministers and they seem so out of touch with the realities that most families and pensioners are facing. When we talk about these sorts of figures they seem quite complacent and give themselves a pat on the back when families are really struggling out there. I just want a Government that seems to care a bit more and this lot just don’t.

Let’s just pause a minute there. This “families and pensioners” phrase irks me a bit. It isn’t quite as bad as the awful “hard working families”, but it completely ignores a huge swathe of people who are struggling just as much as the soft Tory voters in the blue wall seats we are going after. They like the “families and pensioners” language because it has a comforting ring of deserving poor about it but that’s no excuse.

We need to make sure that the young people struggling to get by on low incomes, earning less and getting less in benefits despite living costs being just as high feel included, or the growing number of single person households with only themselves to rely on.

What’s wrong with just using people? Our mission as Liberal Democrats is to build a fair, free and open society where NO-ONE is enslaved by poverty, ignorance and conformity and our language should reflect that universality. We have so many good ideas that would help all people who are struggling so it seems a shame to limit our language.

Rant over and back to the interview. Ed was challenged that our plans to help people were not realistic. He said:

The real world is that the economy is struggling and we need to get people back to work. If you took up Liberal Democrat ideas to boost the economy, you would get more people using public transport which is more important for our economy, for the environment and so you have many benefits.

I just think the Government is so out of touch. They don’t seem to get how the combination of  price rises, mortgages, rents, energy bells railway fares, is hitting people.  We’ve calculated that a commuter family is going to be clobbered by an extra bill of £300 every month due to the combination of mortgage, food and rail fares. This is a huge amount and when I hear government ministers saying they can’t do anything. They could do something but they don’t. The fact that they don’t backs up my argument that they are out of touch and don’t care.

He was asked whether the energy price cap should be rethought as it harmed competition:

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged , , , , and | 31 Comments

Review: Vince Cable at the Edinburgh Festival

Our Glorious Former Leader, Vince Cable, came to Edinburgh yesterday to talk to Iain Dale. It was great to see him for the first time Bournemouth  Conference in 2019. He looks well and hasn’t aged even now he’s turned 80.

There was a time when our press office held its breath whenever he came to Scotland. I remember one Conference in particular, ahead of the independence referendum where he said something that wasn’t quite our line which the press and the SNP made hay with. Today, he could not have been more on message, praising what Ed Davey was doing in terms of building the party’s infrastructure and campaigning capacity.

Talking of Ed, he’s going to be here on Saturday at 4 pm, talking to Iain and his For the Many partner Jacqui Smith. You can get tickets here. If you haven’t listened to this podcast, do, it is bloody hilarious and you need it in your life. And if you are going on Saturday, get in touch with me ([email protected]) and I’ll let you know where we are meeting beforehand.

Iain started by asking him about his time as a Labour Councillor in Glasgow in the 1970s. Vince described how he was chief whip at a time when corruption was rife, and four of his group ended up in Barlinnie. He left for the SDP and has never felt  tempted by Keir Starmer’s Labour who are not offering anything positive. He criticised Wes Streeting for saying that it is better to offer no hope than false hope and thinks that they should be doing more to inspire people.

Education, he says, should be the priority at the next election, rather than the NHS. The Tories have failed so comprehensively on it and it desperately needs investment to improve attainment.

He reckoned that there was not much chance of us going into coalition after the next election. We would be heavily outnumbered, and the party would be reluctant to go there again.

Iain asked him if he was “pissed off “that he was seen as too old to go for leader back in 2006. He was, but he accepted the mood to hand power to the next generation

He talked about the coalition years, saying that he winced along with many of us at the Rose Garden scenes.  He says he’s probably the last man standing, though, who thinks that we were right to go in to the coalition and reeled off a long list of things that we had done,  the Green Investment Bank, the industrial strategy, investing in children from deprived backgrounds in school.

He vigorously defended privatisation of Royal Mail saying it was the only option to enble it to modernise as it wasn’t allowed to borrow.  He blamed the union for not co-operating. Iain pushed back on him as he thought the union leader was pretty reasonable from his interviews with him on LBC but Vince said that if they had co-operated, the privatisation would have brought in more money for the taxpayer. He also said that the most recent problems within Royal Mail were the result of bad management rather than the privatisation.

He considered resigning several times during the coalition years – over the  sting when he said some inappropriate things about the BSkyB takeover, when cuts started to hit his department, particularly in the further education sector and  towards the end when it was all going wrong.

He talked about his time as leader and the stroke which led to him stepping down. While he made a full recovery, he decided to stay quiet about it at the time in case it was seen as s sign of weakness.

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

Review: Iain Dale interviews Penny Mordaunt and Harriet Harman in Edinburgh

It’s Festival time in Edinburgh and I’ve been to my first shows since 2019. On Sunday, I went (with my parents, who would, I am sure, want me to make very clear that they are definitely not Lib Dems) to see Penny Mordaunt talk to LBC presenter Iain Dale.  It was probably the first time we had been to a show together since we saw The Great Soprendo in Wick Assembly Rooms circa 1980.

The venue, Edinburgh’s EICC, once the scene of a Lib Dem Spring Conference, is lovely. I was a bit worried that the unusually comfortable seats and low lighting would lull my Dad to sleep in the same way as he denies doing in front of the tv every night. But no, he was paying attention throughout.

There is also an ice cream stand to tempt you while you wait for the show with some very delicious flavours. This one is Lotus Biscoff and vanilla.

It’s worth saying at this point that Vince Cable will be appearing tomorrow at 1pm and Ed Davey on Saturday at 4pm. Click on the links for tickets.

A funny moment just as the show started. Someone’s phone went off and Iain started to berate the offender before realising it was his own.

Inevitably, the first part of the conversation  with Penny Mordaunt centred on her  starring role in the Coronation, how the incredible outfit she wore was designed, how it felt to carry those swords and the surprise of becoming a social media sensation.

The intention of these interviews is not to drag someone to Edinburgh and hand them their backside on a plate. However,  Iain doesn’t pass up the chance for news lines, asking her if she thought she would have been promoted had she not pushed so hard to cause a contest when Liz Truss stood down and if she still wanted to be Prime Minister. She very tactfully got round this by saying that she just makes the best of every opportunity she is given. She did say how much she loved working at the MOD though.  Possibly a job application.

Her long game seems to be to keep out of any of the existential arguments in the Conservative Party and bide her time. I can’t imagine that she would shy away from a third go at becoming Tory leader at some point in the future.  Her strategy seems to be outward looking. At one point she came out with “Everybody is a Conservative, they just don’t know it yet.” Had I not been within range of my mother’s death stare, I might have argued that one.

She slated the SNP for portraying a fierce nation as victims of Westminster and talked about how those of us who want the UK to stay together had to appeal to people’s hearts. She spoke about the importance of kindness and empathy in politics, exactly the sort of qualities  that are almost non existent in the Government of which she is a part.

It was a funny, classy hour with more light than heat. I wanted a wee bit more challenge to her but Mum and Dad loved it.

Yesterday’s conversation with Harriet Harman, however, gave me everything I wanted. The Labour MP has always been one of my heroes. Seeing a young, pregnant woman in a pink dress elected to Parliament inspired 14 year old me to believe that politics wasn’t just for shouty men. 

Posted in Op-eds | 1 Comment

Are you planning on being an agent at the General Election?

If so, you’re an absolute hero. The job of agent, keeping the candidate and campaign on the right side of the law, recording donations and making the returns to the Electoral Commission is essential. It’s hard work and it doesn’t end on polling day. I feel like we need to appreciate those who act as agents more.

For this coming election, all election agents need to be certified by the Party as required by the Electoral Commission.  This is a really good thing as it means that every agent will have been through training and will know where to get help should they need it during the campaign. It also makes the job a lot less scary if you feel that you have the right tools at your disposal.

One or two day courses are being run all over the country in the next few months. I’ve signed up for one in, I think, November in Scotland.

It’s really important that every local party identifies who is going to be their agent soon and signs them up for a course.

Posted in News | Tagged and | Leave a comment

Jo Swinson and Duncan Hames welcome third son

Former Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson and her husband Duncan Hames are getting used to being outnumbered by their children at the moment. On Friday night, their third son, Robin arrived.

Last night, his proud mum announced his arrival on Instagram

Welcome to the world, our baby boy Robin! Born at home on Friday night, a happy and healthy 8lb 3oz bundle of love.
The best things come to those who wait, and though he didn’t appear until 17 days after his due date, he didn’t hang about in the end: first contraction to delivery a very intense 1hr 45mins!
We’ll never know if it was the dates, raspberry leaf tea, curries, pineapple, birth ball bouncing, multiple sweeps, the more fun ways to induce labour or just the fact that he had to come out sometime. But – well – my waters broke 4 hours after @duncan.hames and I watched Barbie, maybe that was #kenough?

Posted in News | Tagged , , , and | 4 Comments

A huge moment in the US

It’s worth taking a moment to think about the enormity of the events in the US.

I remember that day, not far off 49 years ago, when the resignation of a US President was of such monumental importance that there was tv at breakfast time.

Almost half a century on, there’s a 24 hour news cycle and social media to chew over the fact that a former leader of the free world has been charged with trying to fraudulently overturn the result of the election in which he was defeated by Joe Biden.

You can read the whole indictment here on the Guardian’s website.

Its opening paragraphs are shocking:

Despite having lost, the Defendant was determined to remain in power. So for more than 2 months following the election day on 3 November 2020, the Defendant spread lies that there had been outcome determinative fraud in the election and that he had actually won. These claims were false and the Defendant knew they were false. But the President repeated and disseminated them anyway, to make his knowingly false claims appear legitimate, create an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger and erode public trust in the administration of the election.

It’s about as far from the presidential oath, in which he promised to preserve, protect and defend the US constitution as you can get.

The indictment relies heavily on the fact that Trump and his co-conspirators knew what they were doing. A significant part of the evidence is based on the contemporaneous notes of Vice President Mike Pence. Trump had asked him not to declare the results of the election in Congress on 6 January and at one point, when Pence refused, told him that he was “too honest.”

The team from Pod Save America, one of my favourite US politics podcasts analyse the indictment here. Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor were all staffers during the Obama administration and set up Crooked Media in 2017.

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

Party Awards – just over a month to get your nominations in

There’s just over a month to get your nominations in for the party awards which will be presented at Autumn Conference.

You need to get your nominations together by 24th August.

All the information you need about how to do this is here.

The awards being presented in Bournemouth are:

The President’s Award

Eligibility: open to any Party Member elected to public office and who has demonstrated excellence and commitment.

Criteria: the winner will be recognised for outstanding commitment and service to the Party. Local, regional, and state parties should be seeking to nominate people who deserve recognition for their hard work, long service, and demonstrable dedication to the party, at whatever level. It is expected to be special awards to be awarded from the Party for whom public recognition is overdue. Nomination portal

The Harriet Smith Liberal Democrat Distinguished Service Award

Background: this award is named for Harriet Smith, who campaigned and worked tirelessly for the Party, notably alongside Paddy Ashdown, with the Federal Conference Committee, and in the Bath party. A beloved figure, she is also missed from the Conference revue and by the team at the Liberator Magazine.

Eligibility: open to any Party Member never elected to public office.

Criteria: the Harriet Smith Award shares its conditions with the President’s award. Nomination portal

The Belinda Eyre-Brook Award

Background: this award is named for legendary campaigner Belinda Eyre-Brook, whose achievements with the Party include being Ed Davey’s agent in 1997, overturning 15,000 Tory Majority, and establishing one of the party’s longest-serving MPs.

Eligibility: given to recognise and celebrate the efforts of people working for our elected representatives in their local areas – from local party employees to political assistants to council groups, to people working in MPs’ constituency offices.

Criteria: the winner of this award will care about their local area and be committed to the success of Liberal Democrats within it. Turning local political priorities into electoral success, and priorities for elected officials is a key part of the work of successful local Party figures – as is linking with the national party. Nomination portal

The Dadabhai Naoroji Award

Background: this award is named for the ‘Grand Old Man of India’, Liberal MP, and joint founder of the Indian National Congress, Dadabhai Naoroji. His work highlighting the reality of British rule over India and campaign for justice is an example to us all and his place in history, as the first non-white and first Indian Parliamentarian, is assured.

Eligibility: presented annually to the local Party that has done most to promote ethnic minority participants to elected office as Councillors, Assembly Members, Members of Parliament or Members of European Parliament.

Criteria: this award is designed to encourage local parties to work towards the goal of increasing their ethnic diversity to more accurately reflect the areas they represent, and to recognise those that already make a great effort to involve different communities in their work. Nomination portal

The Penhaligon Award

Background: this award is named for former MP David Penhaligon, a cherished former stalwart of the Cornish Party who took the seat of Truro in 1974. David was a prominent figure in the party and the nation and will always be remembered for his succinct advice to local campaigners: “‘stick it on a piece of paper and stuff it through a letterbox’.

Eligibility: any local Party

Criteria: presented to the local party anywhere in the world which demonstrates the most impressive increase in membership and exemplary activities to deliver and involve members and supporters. It recognises the hard work done to build a Party which is attractive and effective at a local level. Nomination portal

The Patsy Calton Award

Posted in News | Tagged and | Leave a comment

Kicking off the weekend

Welcome to the first proper weekend of the Summer holidays,  in England at least. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, we’re about half way through.

Powys Lib Dems help low-income families during Summer holidays

For many of us, it’s a chance to relax and unwind with our families. For others, it can be an incredibly stressful time. For parents on low incomes, the Summer holidays can be a nightmare. In Powys, Liberal Democrats have helped a bit with that, as we reported earlier in the week, by finding the money to continue the vouchers for families entitled to free school meals in their area. It was shocking that the Welsh Government scrapped the scheme introduced by our Kirsty Williams when she was Education Minister.

Labour is doing its best to kick struggling low income families in the teeth with Keir Starmer’s announcement that Labour would not get rid of the two child limit on benefit claims. He’s got himself in hot water with his own party. I have to say that if I had been a single mother with 3 kids in Uxbridge,  struggling to pay the bills, I’d not have been inclined to go out and vote Labour on Thursday. They can blame ULEZ all they like for their narrow defeat, but could they have won if they had had anything hopeful to say to people living in poverty?

Somerton and Frome shout-outs

Of course, it’s always great to wake up on the Saturday after a glorious by-election win. The heroes of the campaign have, I hope, managed to get some sleep. A huge shout out to Paul Trollope, whose arrival in Somerset within 24 hours of the by-election being a reality got the short campaign off to a flying start. Ruth Younger, match fit from 3 by-elections already helped deliver Sarah Dyke’s victory yesterday.

I suspect all of the staff involved had plans for the Summer which probably involved getting some r and r before the build up to a General Election year. For the fourth time in two years, they mobilised and delivered a cracking campaign so well done to all of them.

And to everyone who travelled there, including the fair few who went from Scotland, a massive thank you.

One group of people who don’t often get thanked are the volunteers who host the Maraphones. Richard Huzzey, Jacquie Gammon, Stephanie Ouzman and Hannah Perkin have been running these events at least 4 days a week since June. On polling day, they were joined by Federal Conference Committee Chair Nick Da Costa who just popped in to make calls but ended up pulling a 12 hour shift as a host to help with the many people who joined in the event. Thousands of calls were made during the maraphones, to voters and to members to encourage them to go, which is crucial in the early days of the campaign to build momentum.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , , , , , , and | 1 Comment

What on earth is Keir Starmer playing at by refusing to remove two child limit?

One of the cruellest things that the Conservatives introduced was limiting benefits claims to two children.

Just last week, the Child Poverty Action Group and other children’s charities wrote to all party leaders highlighting the impact of this dreadful measure and calling for its removal.  They said:

The two-child limit is a discriminatory policy which is a clear breach of children’s human rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The two-child limit robs children of the basic joys of childhood. It forces parents to take out a loan to buy a school uniform. Children give up hobbies because of the costs associated, and they miss out on birthday parties as they cannot afford to bring a gift for a friend.

The cost of living crisis has made the impact of the policy even more acute. The number of affected families struggling to pay for gas, electricity and food has risen sharply in the last 12 months.

The two-child limit has a devastating effect on families like Joanna’s.  Joanna works full-time and lives with her partner and three children. Her partner is too unwell to work at the moment. They lose out on £270 a month due to the two-child limit. Joanna has struggled to keep up with rent payments and, in June 2023, her landlord was granted an outright possession order to evict the family. They have just 14 days to leave their home.

Scrapping the two-child limit is the most cost-effective way to reduce child poverty. It would lift 250,000 children out of poverty and mean 850,000 children are in less deep poverty.  This single policy change would transform the life chances of 1.5 million children across the UK, children like Joanna’s, who are currently facing homelessness.

Children deserve the chance to thrive, but continued inaction will permit a cohort of children to grow up in poverty, to miss out on play, to be held back at school and denied a better future. If nothing is done, over half of children in larger families will be growing up in poverty by 2027/28.

So I was genuinely shocked to see Keir Starmer tell Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday that Labour would retain this regressive, poverty increasing measure.

Of all the bad things the Tories have done, surely to goodness this would be one of the first to go?

For the avoidance of doubt, Liberal Democrats would get rid of it. We opposed it when the Tories brought it in and continue to do so.

UPDATE 20 July 9 am

In fact here is Ed telling Kay Burley exactly that yesterday.

As well as being the wrong thing to do morally, Starmer has now put himself in a position where he has picked an unnecessary fight with his party. Scottish Labour MSPs Monica Lennon and Pam Duncan Glancy expressed their frustration on Twitter:

They were joined by constituency Labour Parties, MPs and other MSPs.

Monica Lennon later wrote in the Daily Record:

Knowingly plunging children and their families into hardship is heartless and with the cost-of-living crisis hitting low-income families hard, it’s never been more vital to scrap the cap.

Many of those affected are working families, who despite grafting to provide for their kids, struggle to put enough food on the table in our unequal society. Single mothers are hit the hardest.

It’s no wonder many people are feeling scared and hopeless because the choice between heating and eating is no choice at all.

I agree with every word of that.

Starmer has given himself a problem he didn’t need to have.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 69 Comments

10 years since Same Sex Marriage Act

One of the Lib Dems’ major achievements in coalition was giving same sex couples the right to marry. Today, it’s 10 years since the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 received royal assent. It would be another eight and a half months before the first marriages took place in England and Wales. Scotland would pass its own legislation on 4 February 2014.

Each of the Parliamentary stages saw mostly bright and cheerful vigils outside. The picture comes from the second reading in the Lords on 3rd June.

Brightness, positivity and reasonableness were the …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , and | 1 Comment

Come and see Ed Davey and Vince Cable at the Edinburgh Festival

Vince Cable and Ed Davey  are appearing at the Edinburgh Festival next month.

On Wednesday 9th August at 1pm, Vince will be taking part in Iain Dale’s All Talk and you can buy tickets here.  I went to a few of Iain’s shows back in 2019 and they were very entertaining and aimed at getting past message discipline and exposing the human being. This will be pretty easy with Vince. I say with great affection that message discipline was not always his biggest priority which is probably why he was so well liked. Rumours that the press team will be watching his performance from under a desk are exaggerated. Probably.

Under Vince’s leadership, the Liberal Democrats had some stunning results, winning 16 MEPs and gaining 700 councillors in 2019. We benefitted from a clear message, mission and purpose. And it was all the more remarkable that he led us with so much energy when facing his own health challenges, including having a mini-stroke in the Summer of 2018. However it was his economic credibility, his prediction of the 2008 economic collapse and telling Gordon Brown that he had gone from being Stalin to Mr Bean that he is perhaps best remembered for. He has had a fascinating life, from starting out as a Labour Councillor in Glasgow and the 70s, to marrying his first wife Olympia against his family’s wishes. And of course there was Strictly.

Ed will be appearing on Saturday 12 August, the Glorious Twelfth itself, at 4pm on Iain’s For the Many show with former Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. You can buy tickets here. When his appearance was first announced, I wrote:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 1 Comment

Lib Dems put David Cameron right on same sex marriage

This week David Cameron wrote a gushy article for the Independent on how proud he was to have introduced same sex marriage.

I was prime minister, driving forward a bill that would allow gay people to get married. The opposition was fierce, from the Church, sections of the press, a number of party members (one even tore up their membership card in front of me), and from some of the MPs I was hoping would help to turn the bill into law.

People assume now that equal marriage was inevitable, that the bill sailed through Parliament without difficulty. It’s true that the majorities in favour were ultimately large ones (the House of Commons voted in favour by 400 to 175!). But the antipathy from so many quarters really did make me think on several occasions that we would have to drop it.

Talk about fairweather friend! He actually admitted that he thought he would have to put a stop to the measure.

His self-congratulatory re-writing of history concludes:

It is one of the achievements of which I am proudest (I usually make a joke about my “gay pride”). As with many things, it was tough, but it was worth the fight.

This would have been fine if it had been his fight. This was a Liberal Democrat idea and it was our Lynne Featherstone who made it happen. She did the hard yards before she was moved from the Home Office. She even wrote a book about it, which LGBT+Lib Dems cheekily reminded Cameron:

On Twitter, Lynne Featherstone herself thanked Cameron for supporting it. There’s a but, though.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 1 Comment

Rishi Sunak is as tin-eared as Thatcher

I am absolutely livid this morning. I watched in disbelief as Rishi Sunak, without so much as the tiniest bit of empathy, said we all have to “hold our nerve” as interest rates rise higher than they have been in decades.

That is not going to go down well with the millions of homeowners who face having to find an average of £2900 more a year if they are unfortunate enough to have to remortgage in he next year as their fixed terms come to an end. This is on top of the double whammy of high inflation and energy prices.

A Prime Minister who does not have to worry about money telling people that he’s going to make unpopular decisions for their own good is never going to go down well, but he could at least have tried to do something to show that he was on their side.

I don’t think I have ever heard anything so tin-eared from a Prime Minister since Thatcher refused to listen to reason over the poll tax back in the early 90s and that did not end well for her.

Let’s be clear, people are at risk of losing their homes if they can’t keep up their mortgage payments, whether they are forced to sell or whether their home is repossessed. I lived through that in the 90s where every day I saw people having their homes repossessed. And sometimes it was the tenants, finding out at the last minute that bailiffs were coming to evict them, who would turn up in shock, seeking support and a way out of this horrible situation.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , , and | 24 Comments

WATCH: Lib Dem Mathew Hulbert on LBC’s Cross Questions

Back in the day, BBC Radio Scotland did a panel show that was a bit like Any Questions. Sadly, it fell victim to budget cuts about six years ago, but it was great. And part of the reason was it didn’t just have people from inside the Holyrood or Westminster Bubbles on it. I did it several times over the years and really enjoyed the experience.

LBC have a similar show, Cross Questions, that has the same approach with a good variety of guests

Last night, former Lib Dem Councillor and friend of this site Mathew Hulbert was on the panel and he had had his Weetabix. `He articulated a clear, liberal position with real passion. He also had a go at Labour, saying Keir Starmer was so cautious he was constipated.

You can watch the whole thing here, but here are some of the highlights.


Nowhere is Labour more constipated, to coin Mathew’s phrase, than on immigration. They are a few flights to Rwanda short of the Tories, which is a disgraceful position for any progressive party. So it was good to see some good, proper liberal thinking.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

All the fun of the by-elections

As a Liberal Democrat, possibly the most fun you can have, apart from Federal Conference, is going and helping at a by-election. And there’s plenty to choose from this mad Summer. Somerton and Frome, Mid Bedfordshire (when Nadine eventually gets round to resigning), Uxbridge and South Ruislip and Selby and Ainsty  are all due to happen soon.

There is something very pleasurable about going to a different part of the country and meeting other Lib Dems round every street corner.

I have been to a fair few in my time. And getting in there early is particularly key. Not just because it helps establish the party as the key challenger, but because the team is just getting together and it’s just fun to be around all that.

In 1995, my husband and I decided to pop in at the Littleborough and Saddleworth by-election for a day or so at the start of what we thought might be a week touring the North West. Well, we enjoyed ourselves so much that we ended up staying the entire week there and going home exhausted but happy. We went back for another weekend later in the campaign and I returned for polling week. I met many people there who have been lifelong friends.

Then there was the Dunfermline by-election in the middle of Winter when having no leader and there being a difficult media story every five minutes didn’t seem to matter as Willie Rennie’s positivity won the day. That actually came 4 months after a by-election on my own patch after the sudden death of the much-missed Robin Cook. It’s a completely different experience when you suddenly have to arrange to accommodate all the hundreds of Lib Dems who flock to help you.

Most recently, my trip to Llandrindod Wells in 2019 to help Jane Dodds by car, plane, bus, train and boat (because of course I was going to get off the airport bus at Cardiff Bay,  visit Ianto’s Shrine and head into the city by boat)  led me to a wonderful new friend and got me a bargain in the process. I had been sent out to a gorgeous village in the pouring rain with Margaret:

Margaret told me that this was her first by-election. She joined the party shortly after arriving at Edinburgh University to study medicine sixty years ago. She saw a poster saying “What do Liberals believe?” and thought she might like to find out.

A young man was speaking at the meeting about how we should have more co-operation with our European friends and look after the environment. We are nothing if not consistent. Margaret liked the sound of that and signed up on the spot.

She hasn’t had the time to get involved in active politics but an email from James Lillis inviting her to go to Brecon came at just the right time and she has thrown herself into the by-election since Tuesday.

I only hope that my utterly crap navigation skills have not put her off for life.

She had intended to go home yesterday but stayed over to come to the Pint with Peers featuring Kate Parminter, Dorothy Thornhill and Chris Humphries.

You can read the rest of mine and Paul Walter’s Brecon diaries here.

The pandemic and Long Covid has put paid to my desires to go to the by-elections we have won since the 2019 General Election, but that doesn’t mean I can’t help. On Monday I hosted my first of the Maraphones of the Mid Bedfordshire campaign. Every session, there is a mission we need to complete to help the campaign and if you have never done by-election phoning before, don’t worry. There are lots of people in the Zoom room who can help.

Posted in News | Tagged | 1 Comment

MBEs for Lib Dem Councillors Prue Bray and Heather Kidd

Honestly, you think you know someone, and then you find out they were on Fifteen to One back in the 90s!

I found this out from Wokingham Today’s profile of my friend and Lib Dem Deputy Leader of Wokingham Borough Council Prue Bray who has been awarded an MBE for political and public service.

The Winnersh politician has been active in politics since the 1990s. She moved to Winnersh in May 1989, and was elected to Winnersh Parish Council in May 1995, and served as the Wokingham Liberal Democrat chair between 1997 and 2000.

She was elected to Wokingham District Council in 2000, and carried on as the council became the borough council.

As if that wasn’t enough, she has stood as the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Wokingham in the 2005 and 2010 general elections. She was also a finalist in the 1990 series of Channel 4 game show Fifteen To One.

Prue is, of course, well known for many roles in the English Party and is currently also a member of English Council. She is one of the wisest people I know and I am thrilled to see her work over decades recognised.

Ed Davey said:

Prue has always gone above and beyond for the Liberal Democrats, dedicating herself to voluntary service with little recognition or personal benefit herself.

Always willing to pitch in where needed, her wealth of knowledge has made a significant difference to our party. I am so thrilled she is getting the recognition she deserves.

Lib Dem Councillor Heather Kidd, who represents Chirbury and Worthen on Shropshire Council has been given the same award for services to rural communities. From Shropshire Live:

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 3 Comments

Is it just abortion law that needs reform after woman handed 28 month sentence?

Carla Foster is waking up in prison this morning. Her three children are waking up without their mother for the first time in what will be a 14 month ordeal for them.

Ms Foster was given a 28 month sentence yesterday for inducing an abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy.  There is controversy about whether a custodial sentence was appropriate in this case, particularly as there were so many mitigating factors. Coming just months after a man who repeatedly raped a 13 year old was shown leniency, it seems like yet another instance when women are disadvantaged in the legal system.

You can only imagine how desperate she must have been to take that course of action, under huge pressure in the middle of lockdown.

The Judge, in his sentencing remarks, made clear that she was a good mother to her children, one of whom is described as having “special needs which means he is particularly reliant on your love and support.”

I tend to take the view that you should only imprison people if they are a danger to the public and it is quite clear that Ms Foster is not.  The first step to rehabilitation is to acknowledge and feel remorse for whatever crime you have done and the Judge is clear in his sentencing remarks that she is traumatised by her actions. It’s hard to see what good locking her up does.

What is particularly egregious is the fact that she is actually in prison on a technicality. Had she pled guilty at an earlier stage, her sentence could have been suspended. Surely she would have been taking the advice of her legal team at that time? The consequences of this seem disproportionate. Maybe this aspect of the law needs to be reformed.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 5 Comments

Recent Comments

  • Steve Trevethan
    Is it then in order to understand that there is enough money for banks to put some of it in reserve accounts but not enough money for all children to be well fe...
  • Peter Martin
    I seem to remember similar arguments some 40 or so years ago when computers, computerisation, and automation were starting to generate similar concerns. It didn...
  • Joe Bourke
    A 1p rise in income tax would be expected to raise about 5.5 billion across the year, about 2 weeks debt service costs at the current expected cost of circa 131...
  • Maryam sahrai
    Thank you so much Mrs jazayeri.absolutly agree with you....
  • Martin
    "Northern Ireland, Scotland and Gibraltar voted to remain in the EU." You rightly didn't include the Channel Islands and the Isle on Man in this l...