Author Archives: Caron Lindsay

A very strong hold in Oxfordshire

Oxford Liberal Democrats pulled off a brilliant hold last night, getting over 60% of the vote.

Congratulations to Cllr Stefanie Garden

There was a bit of a Conservative surge in Bury but we managed to hold our own in terms of vote share as …

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Dinosaur found at Westminster

The BBC’s Nicholas Watt seems to have been trawling the bars of the Parliamentary Estate looking for dinosaurs. And he struck gold.

Oh.My.Days.

I have a list of suspects, although that grows exponentially if we’re including Lords.

I have been saying for a while that we should paint in primary colours, that we should say what we really feel and not be too subtle.

Our Press Office stepped up to that plate tonight. Do not read on if you are easily offended.

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Leadsom, Lewis and Smith in trouble over Jo Swinson pairing scandal

Remember when the Tories cheated in order to win the tight vote in Parliament, just like Vote Leave cheated to win the EU Referendum?

Tory Chairman Brandon Lewis, paired with Jo Swinson who was at home with her two week old baby, should not have voted on Tuesday night. He honoured that in the first few, but in the really crucial ones, on the European Medicines Agency (which the Government lost) and the customs union, (which the Government narrowly won), he cast his vote. Now, had he voted in the earlier divisions, Alistair Carmichael, our Chief Whip, might have noticed …

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George Dunk’s memorial service to take place this Saturday

George Dunk was a much-loved presence on the Lib Dem scene for decades. I first knew him through his wife, Sandra, who was the Party’s fantastic candidates officer. She died very suddenly in 2004. He was such a kind and funny man who always had a story to tell and he is incredibly missed. He died at the end of April.

This Saturday, his memorial service will take place at St James Church, Bermondsey, Thurland Road, SE16 4AA at 11:30 am. It’s just off Jamaica Road, and three minutes from Bermondsey tube station.  There will be a gathering in a local pub …

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Tories cheat like a Vote Leave campaign over crucial customs union vote

This country is currently on a path to economic self-destruction because of a narrow vote to leave the European Union in 2016. Today we discovered that the Vote Leave campaign had cheated. And, by the way, that monumental news isn’t even on the BBC’s front page any more.

Tonight, this country was helped along its path to economic self-destruction  because of a narrow vote – 307-301 against an amendment which would have kept us in a customs union with the EU after Brexit. The desperate Tory government pulled a particularly dirty trick to win that vote.

The pairing system has long been a civilising feature of our Parliament. When an MP is indisposed for some reason or needs a night off, they can be paired with an MP who would vote the opposite way. Imagine the sorts of circumstances that you might need that in – maybe a dying parent, or a sick child, or your own illness, or being on maternity leave. Tonight, Jo Swinson, whose baby is just two weeks old, was paired with Conservative Party chair Brandon Lewis. He voted in the crunch votes. He didn’t vote in the earlier votes.  Jo was justifiably furious:

The incident even got a Twitter moment.

After a couple of hours, Lewis tweeted that it had been an honest mistake:

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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #524


Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 524th 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 (8-14 July, 2018), together with a hand-picked seven you might otherwise have missed.

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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Now is not the time for the BBC to be cutting back its political programmes

This week the BBC announced changes to its political programming. When I say changes, I mean cuts. BBC Parliament will just cover Parliament and the devolved assemblies when they are sitting and the UK wide Sunday Politics is axed.

The main changes are outlined here:

A new team giving better digital and social coverage – including podcasts – of politics and parliament for audiences who are increasingly getting their news online, especially on mobiles. In an era of concerns about misinformation and ‘echo chambers’ this is designed to bring trusted impartial political coverage to younger audiences

A new daily political programme –

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Brexit contradictions and scary polls – how do we escape from the mess?

So Theresa May tells Brexiteers in the Mail on Sunday that they had better back her or there’ll be no Brexit yet on Andrew Marr, she trots out that old phrase “No deal is better than a bad deal.”

We’re all over the place here. The only option that gives us any control at all over what happens, ironically, is staying in the EU. Then we’ll have influence over the rules that affect us. Theresa May’s White Paper is unpalatable to the Brexiteers who see it as tying us too closely to the EU and to Remainers who don’t see the point in something that gives us less than we currently have with no say on any future changes. No deal is akin to jumping out of an aeroplane at 20,000 feet and convincing yourself that if you land in a soft pile of manure you won’t hurt yourself.

Vince had this to say, which is all very sensible

Within a few hours Theresa May moves from saying Brexit might not happen to casting the spectre of ‘no deal’ and all the disastrous consequences that would entail for the country. These mixed messages and confusions show she is not in charge of negotiations – the Conservatives spent two years to reach a chaotic position that is unworkable.

Trump’s ‘advice’ again illustrates how ill-informed he is and that his interest in Brexit is not to help the UK but to create mayhem.

But then I’m finding myself becoming a bit cynical. Could all the confusion be deliberate?

Remember how confusion was a deliberate tactic during the referendum? One minute you’d have Brexiteers saying “But it’s fine cos we’ll stay in the single market” and the next that we’d be free of the EU and not having to abide by any of its rules. Creating that confusion was deliberate because the Leave campaign didn’t care about the issues. They just wanted to create enough anger to persuade people to give the establishment a kicking.  And it worked.

May seems to be trying the same tactic now, generating anger so that people are focused on that rather than the nightmare process of leaving the EU.

How much better would it be to deal with the cause of the discontent as Chris Bowers said earlier and I‘ve been saying for a long time that we need to inspire with a vision of what a liberal society could look like and how it is much more likely to happen if we forget about this Brexit business?

This Government’s approach to Brexit has been criminally irresponsible. Surely when there’s talk of stockpiling food – and not that much each either, as Adam Bernard pointed out on Twitter:

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WATCH: Christine Jardine speaks to anti Trump demo

It was a fine day at the Trump protest yesterday. The photo shows some of the Scottish Lib Dem contingent before we went to the pub to watch sports and drank ridiculous amounts of Prosecco.

My favourite banner was so rude that I definitely can’trepeat it here. To paraphrase, it suggested a name we might like to call the President if only he had warmth and depth.

Our speaker at the demo was Christine Jardine, MP for Edinburgh West. Here she is quoting Bobby Kennedy saying that we don’t need division and hatred but wisdom, compassion and love.

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Why I’m one of the many #libdemsagainstTrump today

I asked on Twitter this morning what the worst thing about Donald Trump was. Many of the replies I got were variations on the theme of “everything.”

It is rare that you find a human being with so little empathy for others and so few saving graces. When that person has so much global power and influence, it’s utterly terrifying.

It’s not just about his racism which leads him to ban people of a certain religion and decry Mexicans as rapists and slag off the most prominent Muslim politician in the UK. It’s not just about the ingrained misogyny which leads him to boast about sexually assaulting women. It’s not just that he is more comfortable with the likes of Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un than he is with Justin Trudeau. It’s not just that he is stitching up the Supreme Court and with it threatening human, reproductive, workers’ rights for generations. (Let’s not forget that his current nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, who spent the 1990s persecuting  Bill Clinton, now thinks that no sitting President should be subject to criminal investigation). It’s not just that he brags about separating children from their parents and detaining them in soulless camps on the Mexican borders. It’s not just that he is doing the work of a deeply unpleasant Russian dictator for him. Who wins if Europe, the EU and NATO are destabilised? Putin, of course. And I’ll just leave here the news that you may have missed amid yesterday’s trail of chaos and destruction the entirely unrelated news that 12 Russians were indicted for interference in the election that Trump so narrowly won.

Any single one of these things is enough of a reason to protest. Together they are compelling.

How good would it have been yesterday if Theresa May had channelled Hugh Grant from Love Actually and ripped Trump a new one in the Chequers press conference? It was never going to happen, because our position in the world is so weakened because of Brexit, but someone has to stand up to the very real danger he poses to every civilised value that we have until now taken for granted.

But what is the point in protesting? It’s not going to change anything, is it?

Well, sitting at home while this appalling man takes a sledgehammer to the values I hold dear isn’t an option for me. Of course he’s not going to change his ways just because a few hundred thousand of the people he can’t stand take to the streets.

I hope that the coverage of the demonstrations gives some comfort to his targets, though. That they will know that people thousands of miles away stand with them.

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A quick shout out to the person who sends out the emails from LDHQ

Much of the information about the Trump protest in London came out in an email to members last night.

I didn’t get it.

This is a very good thing. Because as a Scot, I was getting all the info about the protest in Edinburgh on Saturday at which Christine Jardine is speaking (Meet at the Scottish Parliament at 11:45 am).

Heaven knows, I have whinged when things that affect England only are emailed to Scottish members. We Scots get a bit sensitive about these things.

So, when the lovely people who send the emails get it right, then they deserve the credit.

Thanks!

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What’s your favourite thing about Liberal Democrat Conference?

In just over 9 weeks’ time, thousands of Lib Dems will be packing up and heading to Brighton for four days of serious debate, fun and thought-provoking fringe meetings.

This Saturday, Federal Conference Committee will have a very loooooong meeting to decide how they will fill up four days by the sea.

We’ve had a couple of posts about some of the motions submitted by members. Only a small fraction will make it on to the agenda. If you want to make a pitch for yours, there’s still time – just send …

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Fancy sending a message to our new Brexit Secretary?

Dominic Raab is a staunch Leave MP representing a constituency which voted strongly to Remain.

He was elevated to the Cabinet after David Davies’ resignation presumably because Theresa May was doing everything she could do to avoid giving the job to Michael Gove.

He and the Prime Minister crossed swords before, back in 2011, when he referred to feminist ideas as “obnoxious bigotry”

If you want to learn more about him, he actually wrote on this site back in 2015. The comments tell you a bit more about why.

Later that year, during the election campaign, Tim Farron said he represented

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Lib Dem MPs to use Opposition Day Debate to argue for People’s Vote

Well, it’s been quite a day, hasn’t it?

It takes you right back to 1990 and all the drama of Sir Geoffrey Howe’s resignation- over Europe.  Well, all the drama and none of the class. It remains to be seen whether the same fate befalls this Prime Minister as happened to Margaret Thatcher back then. .

We now have a chaotic situation where the 50 or so Tory Brexiteers won’t back a deal that looks anything like Theresa May’s plan  because it doesn’t go far enough for them and a fairly huge swathe of Labour, the SNP and us won’t back it because it is just ridiculously unworkable and will make all of us poorer. The pro European wing of the Tory party will do what it always does and cave when it comes to actually voting.

You would think that we’d have some idea of where we were going with little more than 8 months to go before we are scheduled to leave the EU. However, the headlines ricochet between “yikes, it’s going to be no deal” to “soft brexit wins the day” all the way back to “yikes.”

Something has to happen to make sense of all this chaos.

Tomorrow, Lib Dem MPs will hold an opposition day debate. In news that will surprise nobody, they are going to call for a People’s Vote on the final deal with the option of remaining in the EU.

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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #523

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 523rd 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 (1-7 July, 2018), together with a hand-picked seven you might otherwise have missed.

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:

Posted in Best of the blogs | 2 Comments

Lib Dem, Green and Labour LGBT organisations condemn transphobic protest at Pride

This morning I said I was excited about Pride in London today. Unfortunately, it has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons after a small number of transphobic protesters were allowed to march at the front and hand out transphobic literature to the people lining the streets. From the Huffington Post:

Organisers of the most “diverse” Pride event in London have hit back at accusations it allowed a group of anti-transgender activists to lead the parade through the capital on Saturday.

The small group, which reportedly only consisted of about 10 people, are believed to have carried signs with slogans such as “trans activists erase lesbians” and distributed leaflets stating “a male can never be lesbian”.

And here’s some more reports from Twitter:

The idea that someone’s rights must be the expense of someone else’s comes straight from the divisive rhetoric of the likes of Nigel Farage. And like Nigel Farage, a relatively small group of trans-exclusionary radical feminists are getting a disproportionate amount of air time, much of it complaining that they are being cut out of the “debate.” There’s a lot of their rhetoric which puts me in mind of the horrid homophobia I came across in the 80s.

A recent Stonewall report into trans people’s lives found that 40% had suffered hate crime in the last year and a third had suffered discrimination in their daily lives. These figures should worry liberals and we should be doing our best to stand up against it.

There is no conflict between women’s rights and transgender rights for the very obvious reason that women can be any combination of cis, trans, lesbian, heterosexual, of all races and religions (or none of the latter). Most women just work together for the good of everyone but there are a few who want to spread hate and there should be no place for that in any organisation which advocates equality.

LGBT+ Liberal Democrats condemned the protest and Pride in London’s reaction to it:

And there was a bit of cross-party consensus:

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Lib Link: Alex Cole-Hamilton: We still don’t value women in public life

If you wander round Edinburgh, you might think that men were the only people who ever did anything important.  Alex Cole-Hamilton has reflected of the lack of recognition for women in a post for the Women 50/50 campaign’s blog:

Well, because all told, statues of animals outnumber statues of women in the city by about 5:1. Walking down the Royal Mile, you couldn’t swing a dead Great Auk around your head for fear of hitting the stone effigy of a bloke who was big during the enlightenment – but there is no sign of the women who built so much of this city and its legacy.

A number of city MSPs and I from all parties have recently taken up the campaign to see Elsie Inglis commemorated on the Royal Mile. Elsie was a leading Suffragist in the late 19th century and was close friends with Millicent Fawcett. As a doctor, she established the Women’s Hospitals Movement which took mobile field hospitals to the bloodiest battlefields of World War 1. She was one of the only women ever to receive a state funeral and there are statues to her in Serbia and in France. Her only recognition in the capital is a small plaque in St Giles Cathedral.

The commemoration of important and trail-blazing women matters. It matters because if we don’t do it then the subliminal impact of public art is to cement the patriarchal view that only men can ever achieve greatness. I want to be able to walk up the Royal Mile with my daughter, Darcy, from the palace to castle, and ignite her ambition by pointing out famous female lawyers, politicians and authors and walk her through the steps she’ll need to take if she wants to be like them. The same is true for TV; modern political dramas, whether it be House of Cards or Designated survivor, idealise the rise of men and show the lead character using his male resources to grasp the reins of power. I don’t know about you, but I would like to see a TV adaptation of the life and career of Mary Esslemont, Barbara Castle or Shirley Williams.

I have a slight quibble with his conclusion, though:

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Enjoy this exciting weekend!

Well, there’s plenty to distract us from the awfulness of Brexit this weekend. I’m probably most excited about the sheer joy, fabulousness and sparkliness of Pride taking to the streets of London. The first time I ever came across a Pride march was in London in 1992 when I was down for a Women Lib Dems Policy Committee. It was one of the happiest things I had ever seen. So much progress has been made since then, but, like all things we hold dear, we have to keep fighting. While LGBT people face hatred and discrimination on the street, in employment, in healthcare, at school, it is the liberal way to stand up for them and change things for the better.

I’m loving that the party has changed its social media avatars to go along with the Pride flags everywhere.

So, happy Pride everyone. For the first time, the Pride flag flies proudly over Richmond, thanks to the new Lib Dem Council there.

There is also the not so small matter of some football match in Russia. I have managed to avoid almost all of the World Cup so far. I mean, if football isn’t Inverness Caledonian Thistle, I generally don’t see the point of it. However, there is hope for me yet. Belgium’s defeat of Brazil last night brought an involuntary smile to me. I won’t feel the need to watch it, but good luck to England. Hope all our readers get the result you want and that you still have fingernails at the end of it. Vince is predicting that it’s going to be tense:

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Vince: PM’s plan weakens Britain

I should have actually written it on here, but I reckoned that the number of Cabinet ministers resigning today would be zero. Whether that holds up when they start to get grief from their constituency associations is yet to be seen.

It was always clear that whatever came out of the Chequers summit today would be less than what we have already.

We can’t get as good a deal as we get from being a full member of the European Union. We should be in there shaping hhe EU response to the challenges facing us all whether they be on security or …

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Lib Dem GAIN Council seat in Bath and North East Somerset

Good news from the West Country.

Congratulations to Cllr Sue Craig and her team.

It wasn’t a good night for the Conservatives as they lost a seat to Labour in Lichfield too – and we got 6.6% of the vote in a ward where we didn’t put up a candidate the last time.

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Tories claim credit for EU Directive giving greater rights to holidaymakers.

So the Scottish and Northern Irish schools have broken up and people are starting to head for the sun. Although, to be honest, they might as well have stayed at home this year. I’ll bet you by the time I head to the Highlands at the end of August, the weather will have well and truly broken.

Anyway, I digress. Anyone heading on a package holiday will have greater rights today. This is not because of anything that the Tories have done, although they show they have the brassiest neck in the history of the universe by claiming credit for it.

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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #522

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 522nd 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 (24-30 June, 2018), together with a hand-picked seven you might otherwise have missed.

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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Baby Hames has arrived!

Just announced by Jo Swinson on Twitter!

We are delighted to welcome Gabriel Peter Kelvin Hames to the world. He arrived, happy and healthy, at 5:53am on Friday, weighing 7lb. Gabriel has two overjoyed parents and one very excited big brother.

Later she had some thanks:

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How to break through when you have little money and a well-established opponent

One of the stories of the week has been the stunning victory of 28 year old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the primary in New York’s 14th district.

She unseated an incumbent 10 term senior congressman, Joe Crowley, the fourth ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives. He certainly seems to have been very complacent.

How did she do it, and what can we as Liberal Democrats learn from this? The New York Times has an analysis of why she won:

She flipped the levers of power he was supposed to have — his status as a local party boss and his

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Why we need to Demand Democracy…

Today, Make Votes Matter have held Demand Democracy events around the country and Liberal Democrats have been out there campaigning for a fairer voting system.

Vince …

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Review: Yes we (still) can, by Dan Pfeiffer

I have avoided reading too much by former Obama staffers because, as I watch the racist, misogynist monster in the White House play havoc with the most basic of human rights, I just get too sad. I definitely appreciated what we had while we had it, making its loss acute. Similarly, watching The West Wing  feels a bit masochistic sometimes.

There is very little point in languishing, though. Obama’s people survived 8 years of a Republican onslaught, from actual bare-faced lies and fake news to serious national and international crises. It stands to reason that they have a lot to teach …

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What chance for British people to retain their EU citizenship?

I guess it is unsurprising, but there has been a jump of more than six times in the number of British people seeking citizenship of another EU country. 

I look at these figures with more than a touch of envy. One of the worst things about Brexit is losing my EU citizenship. It’s not just about freedom to travel. It’s about belonging to an organisation that has democracy, peace and human rights at its heart. The EU flag is the only one I have ever felt comfortable wrapping myself in. There is somewhere on the internet a video of me …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 18 Comments

Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #521

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 521st 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 (17 – 23 June, 2018), together with a hand-picked seven you might otherwise have missed.

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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We’re all horrified at Trump’s treatment of immigrants and children but let’s not forget the UK is pretty terrible too

I tried to avoid hearing the recording of the children crying after being taken from their parents at the US border. I could only imagine their despair and fear at not knowing if or when they were going to see them again. Tiny children, who had no way of understanding what was going on, were thrown into turmoil.

No wonder there were comparisons to torture. Vince had strong, but also salutary words:

It is particularly galling to think that we allowed the Tories to introduce an income requirement for British citizens who wanted to live here with their spouses and children if they came from outside the EEA.

By 2015, this had amounted to 15000 children forcibly living apart from one parent. At least they had the other parent, but even so, this is far from humane.

Since we left the coalition, the Tories have unleashed the full horror of heir anti-immigrant ideology with their “hostile environment.” But could they do the sort of things that Trump is doing. The answer, sadly, is, yes.

Writing in the Metro earlier this week, Celia Clarke, the Director of Bail for Immigration Detainees, described how one man was detained when he reported to the Police while his partner was abroad for a family funeral and his children were taken into care. This was against Home Office policies.

A few weeks ago, a former client of BID’s who had been bailed and reunited with his partner and four children went to report as normal.  His wife was out of the country attending her mother’s funeral.  On reporting the Home Office official told our client that they were going to detain him.  He pleaded with them not to, explaining that he was currently his children’s sole carer.  They detained him anyway and the children were taken into the care of social services, in breach of their own policies and despite BID making representations urging them not to.  In another case, the Home Office sought to justify the deportation of a parent on the basis that the child had already been separated from his parent on several occasions as a result of immigration detention. In other words, they used detention to try and weaken the bond between a parent and child. Unlike the criminal justice system where an independent court has to sanction the incarceration of someone charged with a criminal offence, a decision to detain an individual under immigration powers is taken by an immigration officer and is not subject to judicial oversight.  There is currently no time limit on immigration detention in the UK and no automatic legal representation.

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How Lib Dems have made the news this week – Gosport, upskirting, trains and cannabis oil

It’s worth noting that Lib Dem MPs have featured in some of the top headlines this week.

What does that tell us about the kind of things we do and the people we are?

Well, Norman Lamb spoke about how he ordered the review into the deaths of elderly people at Gosport War Memorial Hospital after the NHS closed ranks.

Lamb told BBC Newsnight: “I just think it’s horrific and there has been a real systemic failure here, a closing of ranks in my view and a sense that ordinary people just weren’t being listened to at all, and an unwillingness by

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarOnceALibDem 20th Jul - 11:16pm
    "we had the best [local election results] overall for us in fifteen years." Well not if you scratch the surface. Net losses in the north...
  • User AvatarCallum Robertson 20th Jul - 11:15pm
    In response to PJ, in your opinion isn’t actually a quantitative test. Can you point me towards any data that backs your point?
  • User AvatarMichael 1 20th Jul - 10:54pm
    @David Raw Thanks for your kind words. If the Bury result was by your reckoning bad for us then it was horrendous for Labour. We...
  • User AvatarAlex Macfie 20th Jul - 10:38pm
    Catherine M: "Saying “Labour did it too” is not a defence" But they didn't, and it's not what we're saying. Labour has been doing something...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 20th Jul - 10:16pm
    Trabbys ? One of the few collectable classics that was completely smelly, noisy, ugly and totally nonbiodegradable. Otherwise, quite fun. IFA Club – Wartburg Trabant...
  • User AvatarAndrew Hickey 20th Jul - 10:13pm
    "Vince has ruled out coalitions" He has also repeatedly called for a government of national unity and talked about working with Labour and Tory centrists....