Author Archives: Caron Lindsay

Lib Dem fury at Windrush betrayal

So, under cover of an incendiary and irresponsible statement by the Prime Minister on Brexit, the Home Office slips out a statement announcing that it is betraying the Windrush Generation by denying some of them the citizenship that it rightfully theirs.

From the Independent:

In a statement issued late on Friday afternoon, the Home Secretary said a number of Caribbean nationals who came to Britain between 1948 and 1971 would not qualify for citizenship because they failed to meet the “necessary good character requirement” due to committing criminal offences.

Windrush citizens are supposed to be afforded the same rights as British citizens, so the announcement is likely to prompt renewed accusations that they are effectively awarded second-class status.

You have to bear in mind that the criminal justice system has at times been institutionally racist and a black person going through it would have got a much rougher deal than a white person.

And the “good character requirement” has come under fire this week as, separately, it was revealed that children as young as 10 had been failed on character grounds.

Liberal Democrats have reacted with anger to this news:

The Lib Dem Campaign for Racial Equality said:

Ed Davey said:

The Windrush scandal was caused by Home Office hostility and inflexibility.

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Some thoughts on Vince’s party reforms

I have kept reasonably quiet about Vince’s reforms since his announcement on 7th September because I wanted to let others have their say.

My sense at Conference is that people were interested in what he had to say. Everyone had things they liked and things they didn’t. They were all going to respond to the consultation with varying degrees of pleasure and pain. This is how it is supposed to be.

I do want to slightly disagree with my fellow Federal Board members who have been talking to Politics Home about the process, though. They complained about being “bounced.”

Now, I don’t think that’s fair. Certainly, back in June, there was an attempt to slip in something about a Supporters’ Scheme into the motion of the Federal Levy and Subscriptions to be discussed at Conference. The Federal Board then said “Hang on a wee minute, here.” The Federal People Development Committee was given the job of looking at this in more detail. The Committee’s amazing chair, Miranda Roberts, one of the most competent and patient people I know, has written about that process here and here. The process of holding the leadership back had thus worked.

In between times, after articles had started to appear in the press over the Summer, Vince spoke to a special meeting of the Federal Board in July about what he was thinking about. At the end of August, Federal Board members were asked to contribute their views about his ideas. He hadn’t told us fully what they were, but given that his 7th September speech reflected most of the press coverage, well, you didn’t need to be a rocket scientist.

So, on the last day of my holiday, I had to drag myself out of bed at the crack of bloody dawn to write down my views for Vince. I actually forgive him, because I was able to take this amazingly atmospheric photo of the bay outside the holiday cottage as the sun rose.

By this point the only bit he hadn’t told us was what he was going to say about the future of his leadership. But then that didn’t take a rocket scientist to work out either.

I wrote him an essay of epic proportions which I might actually post on here one day.

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Reaching out and making friends, just like Vince says

Yesterday, Vince Cable told the Liberal Democrats to reach out and appeal to the millions of voters who are alarmed at the extremes of British politics.

A wee while earlier, some Liberal Democrat members had been reaching out in a manner that can only be described as optimistic.

Not the Leader’s speech is an annual tradition that started during the coalition years. A group of the Awkward Squad would gather in a nearby hostelry, watch the speech on Twitter and work out at what point they would have walked out had they been in the hall. There is less cause …

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“Erotic spasm” infuriates Lib Dem conference goers

So, Vince Cable is apparently going to refer to Brexiteers being willing to trash the UK economy for the “erotic spasm” of leaving the EU. Is this really the best we could do when Conference has set out what our plans are for the Brexit endgame – withdrawing Article 50 if there is no deal or an agreement to extend it. We have so far been the grown-ups in the room. We shouldn’t reduce ourselves to being a Carry On film.

Every Conference goer I have met so far – and there have been quite a few – has reacted …

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Controversial immigration paper passes but leadership defeated on key amendment

The controversial paper on immigration passed today, but the only one of the five amendments to it that was opposed by the leadership passed.

Earlier, Ed Davey had reached an agreement with Lib Dems for Seekers of Sanctuary which made the defeat of the paper less likely. The leadership’s acceptance of their amendments meant that the policy on asylum seekers is pretty much what a liberal party should be offering.

The 90 minute debate was heated and passionate and saw some quality  speeches. Opposing the paper, Alex Wilcock, who wrote for us yesterday, …

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The paper on migration, even amended, is not good enough

While there will be lots of chat about Vince’s plans for party reforms, the main controversy on the floor of Conference will be the paper on migration which is being debated on Sunday morning.

It’s a measure of just how controversial it is that there are FIVE amendments.

Even if they all pass, there are still so many structural problems with the paper. I wrote about some of the fundamental problems I have with it over at Liberator and my article is reproduced here with their permission.

It won’t cut it at the hairdresser’s

We should reject timid, half-hearted, apologetic immigration paper

I went to the hairdresser recently. And along with some nice caramel and copper highlights, I was served up some casual racism. 

Everyone in there loved Boris’s comments about the burqa and the niqab and laughed along with his deeply offensive metaphors. Just two days after the attack in Westminster I was told that Muslims didn’t really help themselves. I pointed out that men rape and murder women every day of the week, but we never, rightly, say things like “men don’t really help themselves.”

I pointed out how Boris’s comments, playing to the extremist right, were not consequence free. No, it’s not the fact that he’s had a tiny bit of heat from his own party. It’s the fact that every woman of colour, whether she is wearing a hijab or niqab or not, is more likely to be abused on the street as a result. 

I think that me taking on the arguments directly and robustly had an effect. At the very least it made them think. I looked them in the eye and told them they were wrong. In a very dignified and civilised way, but with confidence and assurance. 

This is not something to be timid about. We have to tackle this sort of prejudice wherever we find it. 

That’s why I and others will be doing all we can to ensure that the migration policy paper coming to Conference does not pass. 

The motion is an exercise in embarrassed shuffling and mumbling. Every vaguely decent policy (and there are a few) comes with an plaintive “but it’ll save us lots of money” caveat. 

It does not compare well with the ideals of the Preamble to our Constitution:

Our responsibility for justice and liberty cannot be confined by national boundaries; we are committed to fight poverty, oppression, hunger, ignorance, disease and aggression wherever they occur and to promote the free movement of ideas, people, goods and services.

There are two particular paragraphs, one in the motion and one in the policy paper, that have become the focal points for criticism. 

The first is in the motion. 

Our goal should be a positive, liberal consensus on immigration, partly by rebuilding people’s trust in the system, and that this requires us to listen and engage with those who do link pressures on public services and housing to immigration and to reject the argument that merely labels such people as racist.

We should never pander to those who scapegoat immigrants as the cause of problems because they are wrong. We should unequivocally argue about the benefits of immigration and show that the real failure is of successive governments to adequately invest in said public services.

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Lib Dem Voice at Conference

We’re looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible in Brighton over the next few days.

Tahir, Kirsten, Paul, Mary and I will be there. Tahir and Mary will also  their Federal Conference Committee hats on so will be very busy indeed.

Come and say hello to us if you see us around – and do come to one of the fringe meetings we are holding and sponsoring.

Everybody wins – how feminist and LGBT organisations work together on equality issues

First of all, on Saturday between 1 and 2 pm in the Sandringham Room in the Metropole, we’re trying to inject some kindness and light into the toxic environment facing transgender people at the moment. Every time you open the Times, or the Mail, or, most annoyingly, the Guardian, there’s some article suggesting that women’s spaces are somehow at risk if transgender women are allowed in them. Actually, it’s been the law since 2010 and it’s been fine, but a new government consultation on making the process of getting a new birth certificate easier for trans people has been used as a vehicle for the most appalling scaremongering. In Scotland, feminist and trans equality organisations have worked well together on these issues, and we’ll have representatives from Engender and the Scottish Transgender Alliance along with the wonderful Sarah Brown (fresh from her by-election campaign in Cambridge) and Party President Sal Brinton showing that when women work together, all women prosper.

Fake News

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Scottish Conference passes groundbreaking policy on ME

A year ago, Emma Walker hadn’t got round to joining the Liberal Democrats. She finally took the plunge in November 2017 and since then has made a massive impact. She’s launching a pioneering recruitment campaign (of which more in due course) and at last week’s Scottish Conference, she proposed her motion on ME. ME Action Scotland were there and tweeted about the occasion. They think it might be the first time a political party has adopted a policy on ME in the world.

Emma has sent us her proposing speech, which you can read below:

Imagine if, sitting in your seat here at conference, you suddenly begin to feel ill. Your vision blurs, you head begins to pound, and it feels like you may be having a heart attack. Maybe you collapse or you can’t remember your name. Your body has essentially crashed. Although it may take weeks. months or even years for you to receive a diagnosis, you are now one of the 21,000 people in Scotland living with M.E. For so many this is exactly how it starts. What’s more – there is no test, no cure and no proven effective treatment.

M.E, or myalgic encephalomyelitis, is an invisible illness in many ways. People who have mild to moderate M.E often look well, despite facing crippling symptoms such as bone-aching fatigue, excruciating pain and the inability to tolerate light or noise. 25% of all Scottish patients are severely affected – which means that they are house-bound or bed-bound, which in turn means that they are easy to ignore.

Only an estimated 5% of people with M.E recover fully, and some doctors question if they were misdiagnosed with other fatigue conditions. A slightly higher proportion learn to manage their symptoms and some return to work, but M.E remains in their system.

In Scotland, M.E affects more people than Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis combined. Yet we do not have a single M.E consultant and there is only one clinical nurse specialist, here in Fife. Shockingly, it’s the most common cause of long term school sickness absence.

This illness is a stigmatised one and it is characterised as being the fault of the patient. That they are not trying hard enough to get better, or that their belief that they are ill is the reason why they are ill. Those children who don’t attend school are often marked down as ‘refusing attendance.’ Parents have been taken to court for not sending their kids to school even though they are ill. GPs often send adult patients away telling them that everyone feels tired now and again. In fact ‘chronic fatigue syndrome’ is a term that is sometimes used for M.E. But it is so much more than that. We would rightly never limit our definition of dementia to ‘chronic forgetfulness’, so why do we limit M.E patients to one symptom?

Two pieces of research have influenced the field. The first, in 1970, was led by two psychiatrists who after simply reading case notes from an ME epidemic that had occurred in the fifties, concluded that ‘mass hysteria’ was the cause. The reason why they concluded that? “The high rates in females compared to males.”

It’s easy to shrug this off as outdated, misogynistic research but this research delegitimised ME as an illness. It created a hysteria narrative which has paved the way for the ongoing dismissal of patients. In fact throughout the 80’s and 90’s, M.E became known as ‘yuppie flu’ or ‘the lazy disease’.

In 2005 the PACE trial came along. It was another bunch of psychiatrists testing various treatments, mainly Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Graded Exercise Therapy. The findings were published in 2011. The data suggested that 64% of patients were improved and 22% were cured by the practices of thinking differently and running around the block. Given that the vast majority of patients regard GET as harmful, doctors and patients with any understanding of M.E immediately disputed the figures, and demanded access to the raw data. It took five years, repeated Freedom of Information requests and a tribunal to eventually access the data.

Independent analysts ruled that the PACE authors’ flawed methodology had been based on their preconceived views that M.E was not a real illness.

13% of the study sample had been recorded as simultaneously sick enough to take part and already recovered! M.E patients who couldn’t walk as far as those with Class 2 heart failure were recorded as being fit enough to return to work.

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A few pre Conference thanks

My Conference preparation has not been entirely successful so far. The biggest failure was the lamination of my voting pass. Somehow I put the bit with the hole at the wrong end. I am going to ask my work colleague to rescue it with a hole punch this norning. The galling thing is that I took the most care I’ve ever taken doing it.

As I vainly struggled with the approximately 723 million items on my to do list yesterday morning, I started to thinking about all the people who make Conference happen and thought it would be a good …

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WATCH: Jo Swinson on cheating pairs, adorable babies and the realities of working and breastfeeding

Here’s Jo Swinson’s speech in the debate on allowing proxy voting for MPs who have had babies.

It was one of the most real and honest speeches I’ve ever heard. Jo talked about her fury when Tory Chairman Brandon Lewis broke their pairing arrangement in July to vote in a key Brexit vote.

She also spoke about some of the appalling comments she got on Twitter after that, including the criticism that she had gone to the Trump demo for 45 minutes but couldn’t manage to vote in Parliament, something which would have meant hanging around for 5 hours.

Jo talked about the intricacies of establishing breastfeeding and how you need to concentrate on it during the early days. Her voice cracked with emotion as she talked about the difficulties she had establishing breastfeeding with her first son. I actually cried too as I remembered what it was like to be syringing expressed milk into my baby, 19 years on. She got there, though, with all the support that she needed.

She was also open about the realities of expressing milk several times a day. I think it’s fantastic that she posted a picture of her breast pump on Instagram the other day.

She talked about the need to have proper breastfeeding and expressing facilities for all nursing babies who work on the Parliamentary estate, recognising it was easier for her as she had her own office and control over her diary.

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Caron’s guide to the craziness of Conference – updated for Brighton 2018

Photo credit: Freefoto.com

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 puppy not knowing whether to play with the squeaky toys or eat all the biscuits.

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.

1. Plan your days

The Conference day starts with breakfast fringes as early as 7 and goes on until the small hours. There’s a comprehensive training programme alongside the debates in the hall. There are spokespeople Q & As. There are competing fringe choices to be made, even though the overall selection has reduced in recent years.  You can guarantee that you will never be bored and that several things you want to see will be on at the same time. If you want to go to the big events ie anything involving Vince, then get there early.

I wouldn’t, of course, be shamelessly abusing my position as editor properly if I didn’t plug the LDV fringes. First of all, on Saturday between 1 and 2 pm in the Sandringham Room in the Hilton Hotel, we’re trying to inject some kindness and light into the toxic environment facing transgender people at the moment. Every time you open the Times, or the Mail, or, most annoyingly, the Guardian, there’s some article suggesting that women’s spaces are somehow at risk if transgender women are allowed in them. Actually, it’s been the law since 2010 and it’s been fine, but a new government consultation on making the process of getting a new birth certificate easier for trans people has been used as a vehicle for the most appalling scaremongering. In Scotland, feminist and trans equality organisations have worked well together on these issues, and we’ll have representatives from Engender and the Scottish Transgender Alliance along with the wonderful Sarah Brown (fresh from her by-election campaign in Cambridge) and Party President Sal Brinton showing that when women work together, all women prosper.

We’ve also co-sponsored a fringe with the Young Liberals on Fake News, with a fantastic panel – Marie Le Conte, freelance journalist, Daniel Pryor from the Adam Smith Institute MP for Edinburgh West and former Journalist, Christine Jardine and our wonderful Paul Walter. That’s in the Edinburgh Suite of the Metropole from 8:15-9:30.

Also in the Edinburgh Suite of the Metropole from 6:15-7:15 on Sunday, we’re co-hosting a fringe with Lib Dems 4 Seekers of Sanctuary asking How should the UK change its family reunification policies for refugees. There will be refreshments….

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 Conference). It allows you to add events to your schedule and is pretty flexible. It also has all the Conference papers on it – but to be honest, I find it way too fiddly for that. I like to have my proper agenda and the paper conference bulletin. 

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Scottish Lib Dems back strategy for Adult ADHD

Yesterday, the Scottish Liberal Democrats passed a comprehensive motion calling on the Government to produce a detailed strategy to deal with undiagnosed and untreated ADHD in adults and to ensure that health professionals and those working within the justice system are trained in the diagnosis and management of ADHD.

I summated the motion. My son was diagnosed with ADHD earlier this year. We are fortunate to live in the only part of Scotland where there is a clinic for adults with ADHD and we are currently on the journey of finding out …

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A must read: The Honourable Ladies Volume 1

I have a new incentive for rewarding myself for completing tasks. An item on my to-do list gets done and I get to read another entry in a wonderful new book edited by Iain Dale and Jacqui Smith which tells us about every woman MP from 1918-1996. It’s a real treasure trove which covers the battles women have fought over the past century for equal pay, against discrimination, for childcare, for rights in the workplace – for things even as fundamental as the right to continue working after marriage or to have your own bank account.

The Honourable Ladies’ profiles are written by women MPs and commentators with a few Liberal Democrats involved. Baroness Liz Barker wrote about Vera Terrington, who was Liberal MP for Wycombe from 1922-24, championing housing, women’s rights and animal welfare.

Jo Swinson wrote about an earlier young MP for East Dunbartonshire, Margaret Ewing, who went on to represent Moray. Her generous portrait makes you want to find out more.

In her profile of Megan Lloyd-George, Kirsty Williams tells about the radical Liberal who felt that the party left her and who joined Labour, about her independent spirit and the solidarity she found with other women – mirroring cross-party solidarity between women across politics that we find today.

Other Lib Dem contributors include Caroline Pidgeon, Lynne Featherstone, Olly Grender, Julia Goldsworthy, Kirsty Williams, Susan Kramer and Alison Suttie.

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Willie Rennie: Join us to stand for fairness, justice and equality of opportunity

Yesterday, Willie Rennie gave his keynote speech to Scottish Conference.

In it he made clear that Liberal Democrat MSPs would not back the SNP’s budget this year unless they took a second independence referendum off the table.

He highlighted the party’s support for a boycott of the SNP Government’s national tests for 5 year olds and said that Scotland should follow other countries where formal education does not start till 6 or 7.

He praised Nicola Sturgeon for the way she handled allegations of sexual harassment against Alex Salmond and criticised the former first minister for running his defence like an election campaign, asking what message that sent to any women who had experienced sexual harassment.

In his final paragraph he invited people to join the Liberal Democrats to make a stand for justice, fairness and equality of opportunity

Our country is on the wrong track.

People who play their part often get left behind.

The rules are stacked in favour of big corporations and the most powerful.

Liberal Democrats stand up to power and privilege to bring fairness and opportunity for everyone.

It’s why we stood up to Amazon and demanded they paid fair wages and paid fair taxes too.

It’s why we stood up for human rights and integrity when the SNP put a grubby Chinese deal first.

It’s why we stood for early education, put mental health at the top of the agenda, and got funding for our colleges;

It’s why we stood against big, hungry central government that grabbed control of our police, our fire and our NHS.

It’s why we put our shoulder to the wheel for Scotland to remain in the UK.

It’s why we are standing up for a final say on Brexit.

This is what we do.

Once a small team, now a growing team we have achieved all this.

With more of us we can do so much more.

This is why I joined the party.

And why more people should join our party.

Vince Cable is opening the door across the whole of Britain.

People who share our values should join our movement.

To challenge.

To stand for the weak against the strong.

For the fishermen, the farmers and the crofters.

Against big government and huge corporations.

For better mental health, better education so that everyone can be all they can be.

To change the world in which we live.

To stand for fairness, for justice, for equality of opportunity.

Liberal Democrats Demand Better.

The full text is below:

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Vince: Creating a movement for moderates – supporters could get right to vote in leadership elections

So now we know the crux of the ideas Vince will be proposing today and it’s not really that much of a surprise. This has been out in the open all Summer. In his speech this morning, he’ll say:

We should widen membership with a new class of ‘supporters’ who pay nothing to sign up to the party’s values. They should enjoy a range of entitlements, including the right to vote for the leadership and to shape the party’s campaigning online.

The Liberal Democrats already have an army of voluntary helpers and deliverers, as well as 200,000 online supporters, who loosely identify with us and campaign with us, but currently have no say in the direction of the party.

Whatever rights our new supporters gain, we as a party aim to be in constant conversation with them, engaging them in campaigns and urging them to begin campaigns of their own. I want these not to be just about stopping things but about growing support for the things that matter to Liberal Democrat voters, and to the vast swathe of voters in the centre ground whom we are yet to persuade.

Groups like More United, 38 Degrees, Avaaz and Change.org have shown us how these regular conversations can happen, how we can engage hundreds of thousands of people online.

I want our party to do that and to offer our movement a political arm within Parliament. So it is not just a protest group banging at the door, but a movement with a voice on the inside – our parliamentary party.

The Liberal Democrats are not a socialist party concerned with extreme-left entryism or a right-wing party trying to keep out extreme right-wingers. We are a centre-ground, pro-European, liberal and social democratic party, welcoming like-minded supporters.

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Have you seen the new-look party website?

The Lib Dems website has had a bit of a makeover to update it with he new “Demand Better” strapline. I was quite surprised by these clever cookies…

The for Caron bit changes to all sorts of things – for schools, for the world, than climate change, for Scotland, for Wales, from the economy.

A revamped policy section sets out what “better” actually looks like.

Go and have a look around and share with all your friends. And see if you can spot yourself …

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Have you downloaded the Conference App yet?

One of the most useful things you can possibly use to help you prepare for a hectic Conference is the Lib Dem Conference app.

It will help you make sense of the numerous choices available. Its timeline session lists everything you could possibly want to do in the auditorium, on the fringe or in the training rooms. It sets out the Conference timetable and allows you to add things to your schedule. You can view it in one list of everything going on or filter it by auditorium, fringe and training.

Unfortunately, it can’t choose for you which of the four things you might want to do at any one time to go to.

It is really worth going through this stuff well ahead of Conference because you seriously won’t have time to do it when you get there.

It will also have details of all the Conference papers so you can see the motions and amendments and reports at a glance. All the Conference Daily sheets will be added as they are produced. 

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Last chance to submit amendments and questions for Conference

If you want to submit an amendment to a Conference motion or to ask a question of the party committees, you only have until 1pm tomorrow to do it.

Submitting a question is easy – you just fill in the online form here. Believe me, the worst thing is trying to fit it into 25 words.

Putting in an amendment is a bit more complicated as you have to get the signatures of at least 10 members or submit on behalf of a local, state or regional party or an SAO like the Young Liberals or the Lib Dem Campaign for Racial Equality.

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What are you doing today to challenge bigotry?

I’m back from a wonderful, blissful and restorative two weeks in my favourite place. Thanks to the team who have worked so hard to keep the site running while I’ve been away.

I’m catching up on all the things I’ve missed while I’ve been reading utter trash and walking up and down the wonderful Rosemarkie Beach with the dog. This story from the Dundee Courier caught my eye.

Lib Dem Councillor Ben Lawrie described a vicious racist verbal assault on his girlfriend, Scottish Environment Spokesperson Mariam Mahmood:

“Mariam told me about incidents of racism that she’s faced growing up – how after 9/11 people threw bricks through her house window in what they must have thought was some sort of revenge attack,” he said.

“I witnessed it for myself earlier this year when the two of us were walking through Dundee and a young woman approached us and screamed the n-word in Mariam’s face.

“It broke my heart. I was even more shocked than her because, sadly, she’s used to it by now.”

Mariam said: “I’ve grown up with this throughout my life when people would use racial slurs almost as ammo against you but Ben had never witnessed it so the bus station incident was shocking for him.

“This girl was standing with a group of friends and just walked over and screamed it right in my face.

“Her friends didn’t look that impressed – but none of them called her out. It’s very disheartening.

“While I thought I was ok at the time, when we got back to the flat I was really quite upset.

“I have a little sister who is just ten years old and I don’t want her to have to endure this sort of thing.”

Ben added: “We can use this experience to shine a light on this sort of thing and in my comments to the committee I was trying to emphasise that if we are to teach our young people to respect one another, we have to start by leading by example.”

I don’t know one single person of colour who doesn’t have to put up with this sort of crap. And when people in the public eye – I’m looking at you, Boris Johnson – make ill-advised comments, the people who carry out this abuse on the street feel legitimised and emboldened.

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Vince: I’m not stepping down (but…)

Vince was on the Today programme this morning mainly to talk about the revelations that HMRC advise against giving honours to tax avoiding celebrities – something that he thought was right in principle.

However, he was also asked about his ideas for reforming the party and, specifically, how much longer he would be leader.

I’m not stepping down. I’m making a speech next week putting forward some reforms to the way the party functions.

So far, so good.

But then he was asked a direct question about whether he would be fighting the next election.

Yes, if there is one in the near future.

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What do you think of “Demand Better”?

So we have our new strapline. Demand Better.

I like it.

It’s active and aspirational. It tells us that we are not stuck with this crap. We can have a fairer, happier, more equal country and we all have a part to play in making it happen.

Optimistic, from-the-heart vision and ambition is long overdue in politics. Clinton and Obama won with strong messages of positivity and hope. We will overcome the negative, divisive, anti-democratic rhetoric from the extremes and solve problems in an inclusive way.

It’s versatile – Demand better for health, for Scotland, for Petersfield, where our excellent Sarah Brown hopes to unseat Labour in a by-election on 13th September.

And we can also think of it as an inspiration and a challenge for us to always push ourselves to deliver the best we possibly can for people. We will never have solved all the problems of the world. We will forever have to come up with creative, liberal solutions to the problems we know about and can predict or new ones that come along. And we can, of course, demand better of our party processes and, for example, any controversial policy papers on migration that might happen to come along.

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We’re back to GAINING on a Thursday night…

After disappointment last week, we’ve GAINED a seat tonight:

Well done to David Goode and his team.

And a gain in vote share from a standing start for Andy Minty in Bury:

Sadly we didn’t have …

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How you can help Sarah Brown win in Cambridge

A Cambridge Council by-election has made national headlines this week after a Labour Councillor resigned because she didn’t agree with the terms of the Equality Act, which has been in force since 2010.

Our candidate in the by-election is former Councillor for the ward and former Executive Councillor for Community Wellbeing Sarah Brown.

From Pink News:

Ahead of the September 13 by-election, the Liberal Democrats picked respected transgender activist Sarah Brown as the candidate for Sinnott’s vacated Petersfield seat.

Brown, a polyamorous transgender lesbian campaigner, previously held the seat from 2010 until 2014.

The candidate said: “Petersfield is where I live and I aim to champion it as I already know how – and as I did before.”

She added: “I am sad to see the campaign to turn the clock back on the city council’s equalities policy, which I will resist.

“It’s right that the needs and rights of transgender people, along with other groups, are recognised here, as national legislation expects.

“Cambridge has led by example on diversity, tolerance and liberal values, and we must defend that leadership from those who seek to divide us.”

It’s good to see the official Lib Dems Twitter account get behind her:

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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #528

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 528th weekly round-up from the Lib Dem blogosphere … Featuring the five most popular stories beyond Lib Dem Voice according to click-throughs from the Aggregator (5-11 August, 2018), together with a hand-picked seven you might otherwise have missed. The Golden Dozen will be taking its Summer break for the next two weeks, but will be back with a bumper edition on 2 September.

Don’t forget: you can sign up to receive the Golden Dozen direct to your email inbox — just click here — ensuring you never miss out on the best of Lib Dem blogging.

As ever, let’s start with the most popular post, and work our way down:

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When Laura Bates taught Nick Clegg a few things…

If I had known, 30 years ago, that there would be an annual Book Festival in Edinburgh in the last half of August, I’d have put my wedding back a week or two. My lack of foresight means that I’ll be away on a celebratory holiday when both Jo Swinson and Chelsea Clinton are speaking there. Jo is on 22nd August at 18:45 (buy tickets here) and her book, Equal Power, was on sale in the bookshop yesterday.

The tents in Charlotte Square have been my spiritual home in August for some time so yesterday it was great to be there on the first day, especially as Edinburgh Gin seemed to be taking their responsibilities as sponsors very seriously with several new gin bars around the place. For the record, their seaside gin is ok, but not as good as Isle of Harris, which has definitely cornered the market in things that taste like the sea.

I saw Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism project, talk about her new book, Misogynation, which aims to join the dots to highlight the systemic nature of sexism throughout our society. She told some shocking stories – highlighting, for example, evidence that there is the equivalent of one rape every day of term in a UK school.

A lot of the conversation centred around harassment of women in school, online and on the street. She talked about innovative ways of dealing with it. One man, for example, who had recently come to realise the effect of persistent street harassment on his female friends who were having to deal with it, couldn’t work out how to intervene when he saw a woman being crudely catcalled by men on a building site. When they called “Get your t**s out, love” he had a brainwave – and lifted up his t-shirt to make the point that they would never say that sort of thing to him so it wasn’t alright to say it to her.

She also told of a visit to a school where the girls got wind of a plot by the boys to be disruptive and generally unpleasant during her talk. So they left class a few minutes’ early and arranged themselves in every second seat in the hall. So every boy was sitting between two girls so it wasn’t so comfortable for them to heckle. In fact, they actually engaged with the talk.

One of the consequences of the Everyday Sexism project and the hundreds of thousands of examples it has collected over the years is that it has helped to shope policy. The examples of sexual harassment in schools has, finally, forced a change to more inclusive sex education in England – although the devils that will inevitably be in the detail of that are not yet apparent.

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

WATCH: Vince Cable at the #PeoplesVote Bristol rally – We can win this

Vince went to Bristol yesterday to speak to the People’s Vote rally. His message was one of confidence and optimism – that the tide was turning in our favour and we could win a People’s vote.

Watch highlights here:

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 9 Comments

Study says that a majority of UK constituencies now back staying in the EU

The Observer today suggests that as many as 112 seats may have changed from Leave to Remain.

In findings that could have a significant impact on the parliamentary battle of Brexit later this year, the study concludes that most seats in Britain now contain a majority of voters who want to stay in the EU.

The analysis, one of the most comprehensive assessments of Brexit sentiment since the referendum, suggests the shift has been driven by doubts among Labour voters who backed Leave.

As a result, the trend is starkest in the north of England and Wales – Labour heartlands in which Brexit sentiment appears to be changing. The development will heap further pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to soften the party’s opposition to reconsidering Britain’s EU departure.

What will Corbyn, a lifelong opponent of the EU, do now? Will he bow to the evidence that Labour voters are flocking to stay in the EU or will he hold firm in his opposition even to the customs union and single market.

And what will those in the Labour Party do if he refuses to budge his position? Especially those in Labour seats who are now backing Remain?

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged and | 59 Comments

Time to get your amendments ready for Conference

The deadline for amendments and emergency motions for Conference may seem like ages away but, believe me, 1pm on Monday 3rd September will be on us before we know it.

The Conference will be discussing a wide range of subjects, from the controversial migration paper to animal welfare to decriminalising abortion to foreign policy to housing to fairer distribution of wealth to Lib Dem “priorities for a better Britain.”

Your mission for this weekend, should you choose to accept it, is to read all the motions to see which you agree with, which you don’t like and which you think could be made better if it included a particular perspective. In reality, all of them will have some way they could be improved.

Part 2 of that mission is about thinking what our Brexit policy should be from now. Do you think that the People’s Vote thing is a bit mild and we should be going all-out for revoking Article 50? Do you think we should settle for single market and customs union membership? How should our MPs vote on the deal when it is presented? There is currently a Europe sized hole in the agenda because there was no point in submitting a motion in June that might be out of date by September, so you have the chance to craft your ideal Brexit policy.

If you think a motion would be the better for a change, you could draft the changes you think are necessary and then get drafting advice from a member of the Federal Conference Committee. The deadline for asking for that advice is 13:00 on Monday 20th August.

You don’t have to have asked for drafting advice to submit an amendment but it is useful to make sure that you get the format right or to ensure that you aren’t using any ambiguous language or that it’s competent. It doesn’t guarantee selection, of course, but it does make it more likely that it will meet the key criteria.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 1 Comment

Disappointment in Cornwall

Disappointing news from Cornwall overnight – our excellent candidate Stephen Daniell didn’t make it in his attempt to hold the seat in a by-election caused by the sad death of Paul Summers. Paul had won the seat in a by-election in July 2016 from UKIP.

Even though this wasn’t a seat we had a long connection with, it is still sad to lose. Commiserations to the team. …

Posted in News | Tagged | 39 Comments

Christine Jardine challenges SNP to back People’s Vote

As everybody from Gary Lineker to the Independent is now backing the People’s Vote campaign for  a referendum on the final Brexit deal – which started out as a Lib Dem idea in the Summer two years ago – there is one notable exception.

The SNP is the third largest party in Parliament. It could make the difference. Yet it continues to sit on its hands on this most important question.

Nicola Sturgeon could have used her meeting with Theresa May to say that the SNP will block the deal and push for a People’s Vote, but she didn’t. It was all …

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 9 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarChristian de Vartavan 22nd Sep - 10:16pm
    A consultation of the people was made in 2016. Who can swear that it is still valid in 2018?
  • User AvatarChristian de Vartavan 22nd Sep - 9:31pm
    ' May must now recall Parliament to explain how she got the country into this terrible mess, what her plan is to get us out...
  • User AvatarJack Graham 22nd Sep - 8:21pm
    @Roland Why have I to convince myself of anything, we voted to leave in 2016, and in less than 200 days we will be leaving....
  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 22nd Sep - 8:12pm
    Congestion and air pollution is a massive problem across London. When the congestion charge was first introduced it was £5. Traffic reduced by 15% and...
  • User AvatarDavid Becket 22nd Sep - 7:31pm
    I suggest you look at radical proposals that will annoy the Daily Mail, to tackle pollution and congestion. I have just returned from four days...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 22nd Sep - 7:24pm
    @ Michael BG. Since you think Tim should have written a piece pointing out that our policies on jobs, welfare, wages, housing and generally reversing...