Author Archives: Caron Lindsay

Behind the lurid headlines: What the Scottish hate crime legislation actually says

An author got herself a tonne of publicity earlier this week by posting some very unpleasant, disrespectful and insulting comments on social media. She basically dared the Police to arrest her under Scotland’s new hate crime legislation.

There was never a chance of that happening. The threshold of what actually counts as a hate crime is pretty high and Police Scotland confirmed that no action would be taken against this person.

Perhaps an unintended consequence of this fuss is that it drives a coach and horses through the claims of many on the right that this new law is going to end up with anyone who says anything that isn’t “woke” being put on a list and carted off to jail. This is, to be clear, complete and utter bollocks.

Someone I know had been scared by her GB News addict dad that she could lose her job if she blurted out some of the stuff she comes out with after a few glasses of wine.  To be fair to her, it’s sometimes a bit gross but none of it constitutes either hate or a crime. She was worried nonetheless.

Thankfully, the Equality Network has published a very helpful guide to the new legislation which reassured her. Essentially, to face consequences, you have to commit a crime that is motivated by prejudice:

It is important though to know that many forms of prejudiced or offensive behaviour are NOT hate crimes. It is not a crime to be prejudiced, and the right to freedom of expression means that people may express their prejudice in offensive, shocking or disturbing ways, without crossing the line into criminal behaviour.

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Lib Dems mark Transgender Day of Visibility

This Transgender Day of Visibility, the message to trans people from the Lib Dems, and this site, is very much “we see you, we love you, we have your backs.”

For a community under daily attack in the media, it is vital that we stand with them. Our trans siblings are real live people with lives, ambitions, hopes, feelings and needs, not weapons in a right wing culture war.

My trans loved ones are amongst the bravest people I know and I for one will not stand by and see them vilified and demonised. Wherever the attacks come from, I will be there for them. I hope that everyone reading this site will be with me on that one.

It’s good to see that the party is so supportive of trans people. Ed Davey and senior Liberal Democrats have regular meetings with trans members to learn from them what barriers they are facing and how we can help as a party.  It’s so important to have that dialogue when there is so much wilful misinformation out there.

On Twitter today, the party said:

On #TransDayOfVisibility we celebrate trans people and stand with the trans community against hatred and discrimination. To all our trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming members, supporters, friends and followers: we respect you, we value you – today and every day.

Cllr Chris Northwood, who is our Deputy Group Leader in Manchester, has written for the LGA especially for Trans Day of Visibility. She talked about the toxicity of social media but also said that away from that, people are more concerned with things like road safety and affordable housing. She said:

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Five things to read

Here’s a quintet of things I’ve read this week to entertain you and make you think this weekend:

Gender Budgeting in active travel

Engender’s Feminist Five pointed me in the direction of this article by Tiffany Lam, the Strategy Lead for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Sustrans, the custodians of the National Cycle Network.

She writes about the need for gender budgeting to consider the needs of women if we are going to increase the numbers of women cycling.  Currently, twice as many men as women cycle. Is that because men are less likely to be doing the weekly shop and looking after children? What other factors are at play and how can we make cycling more accessible for women?  She explains how gender budgeting has helped them make 9 recommendations to improve women’s participation. Are they asking the right questions?

Do we just need fewer landlords to solve the housing crisis?

Last year, Lib Dem Conference defied the leadership to call for a national housing target to build the houses we need. This included 150,000 homes for social rent annually which was already in the motion and is supported by the party.

Over on Liberal England, Jonathan Calder suggests that the problem may be the proliferation of private landlords pushing up housing costs for Generation Rent, citing this article in the Guardian by Nick Bano.  While I definitely think that we need more houses for social rent and that leaving housing to the market to sort out is a disaster for many tenants,  there are not enough suitable houses for everyone who needs them and we need much more sensible planning to provide, for example, more lower cost housing for older people and younger families.  Anyway, some of the commenters want to see that argument played out here. What do you think?

A musical about the miners’ strike

It’s hard to believe that it is 40 years since the Miners’ strike. I remember the daily scenes of angry confrontation and worse on the picket lines. As a 16 year old, my instinctive reaction is that there had to be a better way of resolving these conflicts. Scargill’s NUM and the Government just seemed to have an agenda of destroying each other with no regard for the people and communities caught up in it. .

My husband worked in the coal industry at the time. He was a safety engineer at Polkemmet Colliery not far away from where we live now and he has stories to tell about that period. When we first met he told me about how there was a funeral of an old man in the area which nobody attended because he had worked in the General Strike of 1926.

I enjoyed this review in the Guardian of a musical comedy about that time and I would love to see the show:

Churchgoing Olive (Victoria Brazier) and livewire Mary (Stacey Sampson) are both miners’ wives; 18-year-old Isabel (Claire O’Connor) is dating a police cadet. Their stories are an amalgamation of fiction and of people’s memories, shared with Red Ladder theatre company. Early on in the strike, Olive sits alone beside a brazier (represented by an upturned lampshade, repurposed from the opening scene, a deft, agitprop metaphor). “What are you doing?” asks Mary. “Minding the picket line,” replies Olive. “Where are the men?” “Off holding a meeting to discuss whether to allow women on the picket!”

First nation development in Vancouver sparks controversy

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Sunday Show features assisted dying ahead of Liam McArthur’s Bill being published

Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur will this week publish his bill to introduce assisted dying for people with a terminal illness in Scotland.

The Sunday Show devoted its entire programme to the issue today. First, Susie McAllister, who nursed her husband Colin who died of stomach cancer last year, spoke of how grim the last two weeks of his life was and how he wanted to end his suffering.

There have been a number of attempts to change the law in Scotland on this over the lifetime of the Parliament.  Liam said that he could now feel that the political mood was changing. The public, he said, had supported such a change for a couple of decades but now many MSP colleagues were now willing to consider his heavily safeguarded measure.

He says that he is convinced that his Bill could pass although he is not going to take anything for granted. He detects from the conversations he has had that there is now  a willingness to look at reasons to support the bill.

The ban on assisted dying at the moment is leading to too many people facing horrible, traumatic deaths that impact not just them but those that they leave behind and that is despite the very best efforts of those providing palliative care that we need to invest in and provide access to.

He explained that his Bill mirrors measures introduced elsewhere. The diagnosis, by two independent clinicians, would determine that the illness was terminal  and that the patient had capacity and were making an informed choice, having considered all the issues.

He said that this should be part of the end of life choices available for everyone.

He added that doctors would be able to conscientiously object to being involved in the process. However, he did say that the measure had improved relationships and dialogue between clinicians and patients in countries where it had been introduced.

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Lib Dem Councillor Aude Boubaker-Calder highlights toxic culture in public life

Lib Dem Councillor Aude Boubaker-Calder took a motion to Fife Council this week calling for an end to bullying, misogyny and discrimination against women in public life.

Aude described some of the dreadful  behaviours she has experienced, including being mocked because of her Belgian accent.

She told the meeting:

Today, I rise here not just as an elected councillor, but as a woman. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, I think it’s essential to reflect not only on the progress we’ve made but also on the challenges that persist in our society and particularly in politics.

Incidents we have witnessed in Fife the last couple of years, are not isolated occurrences. They are symptomatic of a deeper, widespread issue — a culture of bullying, discrimination, and misogyny that has infected for far too long the political sphere. Today, I say enough is enough and I want to call out these behaviours and urge put an end to them once and for all.

Some may argue that such behaviour are nothing new, that it’s always been a part of politics. While I know that the political “banter” is part of the job, I want to be clear: poor behaviours, personal attacks are never acceptable, they were not in the days of the District Councils, not during the time of Cllr Lavinia Malcom or Cllr Edith Mary Sutton, the first female councillors in Scotland and England, and they are certainly not acceptable now. This are not acceptable in our society, our communities, and in a “regular” workplace why should it be acceptable for women and other protected and underrepresented communities to be bullied and discriminated against in and outside this chamber just because we are elected members?

As Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez aptly stated in 2020, this issue goes beyond individual incidents: it’s cultural. It’s a culture of lack of impunity, of accepting violence and violent language against women, and underrepresented communities. It’s an outdated structure of power that perpetuates this behaviour.

I am considering myself as a survivor of those behaviours. I was spoken disrespectfully by some individuals not only here but also outside. I have been mocked for my speeches either on my delivery or my accent in this chamber. I’ve been criticised for delivering my newsletter with my daughter while my husband has been commended for it. I have been verbally abused, almost ran over by a supporter’s car, questioned about my motherhood, my age, my capacities and my origin. I have been told to go back home to make the dinner and finish my chores. All because I’m a woman born in another country and a young women in politics.

America Ferrera once said that women “have to answer for men’s bad behaviours, which is insane, but if you point that out, you are accused of complaining”. So let me complain then!

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Caron’s Conference Part 1: A glimpse to the future

I’m now back from York, having stayed on for a bit of a tourist break. I’ve spent so much time in the city over the years, but have rarely deviated from the Golden Triangle of the Barbican, Novotel and Mason’s Arms.  I did not know until Monday that I had walked past the grave of Dick Turpin many times.

Thursday and Friday

I am writing this in York on Friday morning in an exceptionally comfortable and cosy room, propped up in bed with lots of plump and luscious pillows. A cup of Earl Grey at my side. It is always strange when I am away to have a whole bed to myself and not to have find a space clinging to the edge of the bed while my husband clings to the other edge and two spaniels take up all the space they can.

I arrived in York yesterday lunchtime and spent an enjoyable afternoon in the pub (me drinking tea I’ll have you know) with my friends.

In the evening we went to Toto’s, the Italian near the Barbican. The food was brilliant and the company stunningly good. I had prawns with avocado and Marie Rose sauce – a very generous portion – and then tagliatelle with a creamy salmon sauces. The Tiramisu was chocolaty and creamy though I would have added more amaretto.

Afterwards back to the Mason’s Arms, traditionally Awkward Squad HQ and where 6 of us are staying. The landlord had kindly bought in supplies of Whitley Neill Black Cherry gin. Jennie Rigg and I had drunk them out of that by the Friday night last year.

It was great to catch up with Our Hero of Rochdale Iain Donaldson and hear all the intel about the by-election and the aftermath. All you need to know is that George Galloway is far from being universally loved on that patch.

My path to the bar was blocked by beautiful border terrier Betty who very much needed a belly rub and that was the most important thing ever.

I got to bed at a civilised hour.

Friday started in very relaxed fashion.

It was Long Covid Awareness Day, I am acutely aware of how much smaller Conference has become for me. I can no longer cope with the whirlwind from day to night. If I don’t rest in the afternoon I pretty much collapse in a heap and that can set me back for days.

So a slow start was essential laziness.

The first thing I had to do was the Social Liberal Forum lunch at 12. I need to plan and pace everything within an inch of its life which does not really come easy to as free and impetuous a spirit as me.

The Social Liberal Forum gave, I very much hope, a glimpse into the future. The three speakers are PPCs in highly winnable seats: Victoria Collins our hope for Harpenden and Berkhamsted, Josh Babarinde for Eastbourne and Bobby Dean for Carshalton and Wallington. The links to their website are included in the hope that you get on to them, donate all the money you can afford to their campaigns and do what you can to help them. They all have so much to bring to the parliamentary party and we need them to get elected.

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WATCH: Layla Moran’s speech to Conference

I wasn’t in the hall for this but you can tell the quality of a speech from people’s faces as they came out. They were full of admiration for Layla, whose wisdom and compassion has impressed people across not just the UK but the world.

Layla’s Mum Randa was in the audience to watch her.

She described her family’s pre 1948 life in Palestine and the catastrophe that followed.

She said that the war was serving the wicked fusion  of Netanyahu’s government, calling their rhetoric genocidal.

Just as Hamas can’t remain in power, she said, Netanyahu and all who back his government must go too. They are all dangers and blockers to peace.

She reaffirmed the Liberal Democrats commitent to an International Criminal Couet investigation.  This is a fight between the extremists and the peacemakers and it’s spilling on to our streets, she said. She said that those flames were being fanned by the Conservative Party as much as anyone else.

Liberal Democrats do not pick a side she said, we stand for compassion, humanity and peace.

She talked about her deep despair for the Gazans who are trapped, her relatives who have spent the  past 5 months seeking refuge in a church. When she went to the area a few months ago, she described how an Israeli peace activist comforted her. She said she was astounded by how many people met chose not the path of anger, but to strive for peace.

She talked about the importance of  UNWRA in distributing aid in Gaza and called on the Government to restore funding to the agency.

She set out the Liberal Democrat approach and announced we are now calling on sanctions to apply to anyone who supports  and enables the “insidious settler movement.”

“No longer should acting with impunity go without consequence. When we say we believe in international law, we mean it.”

She says she is proud of our party and how our MPs have voted for a bilateral ceasefire at every opportunity. She condemned those who played petty party politics with Palestinian and Israeli lives with harsh words for SNP, Labour (who put electoral gain before its moral compass) and the Conservatives. The country, and the world, needs the Liberal Democrats more than ever.

It’s an incredible speech.  I defy you to watch it without getting something in your eye.

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Sunday at Conference: What’s on?

Top o’ the morning to you this St Patrick’s Day!

Here’s what’s on on the last day of our Spring Conference in York. All details, including the text of motions are in the agenda.

09.00-09.45 F16 Emergency motion

Navalny and sorting our pitiful, cruel, brutal asylum system out

09.45-10.25 F17 Report: Federal Board

F18 Report: Campaign for Gender Balance

F19 Report: Federal Communications and Elections Committee

F20 Report: Federal International Relations Committee

F21 Report: Federal Council

10.25-10.40 F22 Speech: Alistair Carmichael MP

10.40-11.25 F23 Policy motion: The Funding Crisis in Local Government

Another one that’s a potential flashpoint. Tony Vickers writes here why he thinks the motion is not …

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What’s on at Conference today?

I’m writing this in my bed in York on Friday morning, propped up in bed with lots of plump and luscious pillow, a cup of Earl Grey at my side.

I arrived here on Thursday lunchtime and spent an enjoyable afternoon in the pub (me drinking tea I’ll have you know) with my friends.

In the evening we went to Toto’s the Italian near the Barbican. Eat there if you get the chance. The food was brilliant and the company stunningly good. I had prawns with avocado and Marie Rose sauce – a very generous portion – and then tagliatelle with a creamy salmon sauces. The Tiramisu was chocolate and creamy though I would have added more amaretto.

Afterwards back to the Mason’s Arms, traditionally Awkward Squad HQ and where 6 of us are staying. It was great to catch up with Our Hero of Rochdale Iain Donaldson and hear all the stuff about the by-election.

Generally the party is in good shape as we approach what might be our last Conference before the General Election. Rishi Sunak has ruled out 2 May, but not 9, 16, 23, etc etc. Honestly, I think most of us wish he’s just bloody get on with it.

We are anxious though. We know that so much brilliant work has gone into building extremely strong foundations in our target seats. We should do well. We know how important it is to get rid of the Conservatives. They are ruining our public services and doing all they can to make people suspicious of each other and worse.

The last thing we want is to wake up the morning after the election to another five years of their incompetence, disdain for ordinary people, division and lack of ideas. We will want to hear an inspiring melody that will attract voters to us.

Our slogan, For a Fair Deal, is not uniquely liberal and we need to have a key USP as part of our offer. It could go the way of Put Recovery First and end up being adopted by everyone and neutralised at the start of the campaign. People vote with their emotions and we need to give them some good ones.

Anyway, here’s what’s on today with a bit of added commentary. All details, including the text of motions are available here. I want to be in the hall at 4pm. It’ll be good:

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Conference Extra out – what’s missing?

Conference Extra, the booklet containing all the amendments, emergency motions and questions to Committees, has now been published ahead of our Spring Conference in York this weekend. You can read it here.

The prize for the most direct question must surely go to Abrial Jerram, who asked Federal Conference Committee:

Please explain your selection of F23, Tackling the Funding Crisis in Local Government, given its lack of substance.

Tony Vickers will be writing more about that later today.

There is one thing missing, though. There won’t be the traditional emergency motions ballot, because only two emergency motions appear on the agenda. There is one on the death of Alexei Navalny and one on a fairer asylum system which is proposed by two key seat PPCs, Danny Chambers and Max Wilkinson.

The emergency motions debate takes place on Sunday morning.

All the papers for Conference can be found here.

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Lib Dems react to Budget

Well, there you go. Another Conservative budget served with more invective directed against the Lib Dems than you might expect. You would be forgiven for thinking that they were frightened of us in the Blue Wall. Tim Farron was quick to jump in on Twitter:

The Chancellor wouldn’t waste his breath slagging off the Lib Dems if he wasn’t terrified of losing to us.

A speech carefully crafted into soundbytes for social media. Lots of impressive sounding numbers, but being a big number doesn’t mean it’s an adequate number. It’s so annoying when politicians of all flavours do this. Here’s £xoo million to build y million houses. Why don’t they express themselves in terms that actually reflect the human impact and the scale of the problem?  Because their solution is simply not good enough.

Anyway, what do our leaders make of the electioneering effort put in by Jeremy Hunt today? Ed says that it’s time to just get on with the Election:

This is a bottom-of-the-barrel Budget from a Conservative government that has given up on governing. Rishi’s recession is being followed by Hunt’s hangover, with years of unfair tax hikes while local health services are stretched to breaking point.

This Budget had nothing to offer for people seeing their mortgage soar due to Conservative chaos or being left waiting for months in pain for NHS treatment.

The public will see this for what is: a desperate last throw of the dice by a Conservative government that has neglected the NHS, trashed the economy and overseen a record fall in living standards. It couldn’t be clearer that we need a general election now so voters can finally kick this tired and out-of-touch government out of office.

The thing is, people still feel under a lot of economic pressure. They blame the Government for it and that is bound to affect their vote.

By-election winner Helen Morgan echoed Ed’s message:

Don’t be fooled by the Chancellor’s efforts to pull the wool over people’s eyes. This budget won’t touch the sides for people facing soaring mortgage bills, paying more at the fuel pump, and seeing the cost of going to the shops rise every week. We need a General Election now.

Helen also mentioned a crucial omission:

The Chancellor spent a lot of time listing parts of the country today (notable exception of Shropshire). Yet the Budget itself includes NO mention of rural areas and NO mention of farming. Further proof the Conservatives don’t care about the countryside.

Alistair Carmichael says that voters are past listening to the Conservatives;

The Chancellor has tried to paper over a Tory recession and Tory tax hikes which have hit families across the country. Ministers have searched for election gimmicks but voters are past listening. Few would take this government at its word after years of falling living standards.

Wera Hobhouse was right to point out that the extension of the Household Support Fund for 6 months was far from enough to tackle poverty when the safety net has so many holes in it that it is barely there any more:

I am glad that the Chancellor has heeded my calls to extend the Household Support Fund in today’s Spring Budget. But for the thousands in Bath who rely on its support to put food on their plates and heat their homes – a sixth month extension simply doesn’t cut it.

Wendy Chamberlain did highlight one Lib Dem win, though:

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Rochdale by-election – Lib Dem Iain Donaldson only mainstream party candidate to maintain vote

Waking up to the news that the divisive George Galloway has yet again been elected to Parliament is not what any liberal minded person ever wants to do.

Galloway topped the poll in Rochdale by over 6000 votes on a turnout of 39.7%. However, he is unlikely to be there for long given that there is a General Election coming very soon.

He won in a bitter campaign where both Labour and the Greens had disowned their candidates.

Here’s the result in full:

George Galloway (Workers Party of Britain) – 12,335 – 39.7% (+39.7%)
David Anthony Tully (Independent) – 6,638 – 21.3% (+21.3%)
Paul Ellison (Conservative) – 3,731 – 12% (-22%)
Azhar Ali (Labour’s disowned candidate) – 2,402 7.7% (-48.4%)
Iain Donaldson (Liberal Democrats) – 2,164 7% (0.0%)
Simon Danczuk (Reform UK) – 1,968 6.3% (Brexit Party got 8.2% in 2019)
William Howarth (Independent) – 523
Mark Coleman (Independent) – 455
Guy Otten (Green’s disowned candidate) – 436
Michael Howarth (Independent) – 246
Ravin Rodent Subortna (Monster Raving Loony Party) – 209

Massive thanks go to our Iain Donaldson and his agent, a veteran of many campaigns, Paul Trollope. If we are looking for positives, we are the only mainstream party to hold on to our General Election vote share which is no mean feat in a by-election like this.

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Important Federal and Scottish Conference deadlines coming up

It’s just 16 days till Liberal Democrats gather in York for Spring Conference. Next Monday,  4th March, at 1pm, is a very important day as it is the deadline for submitting all sorts of things – questions to committees, amendments to motions and emergency and topical motions.

So what are all these things?

Questions to Committees – and the Leader

Each Federal Committee has an accountability session where it presents its report on what it’s been up to since the last Conference. This is an important chance for members to accept what it has been doing or not. It is rare that a report is rejected or amended, but it can be done. For example, back in 2021, the first attempt to streamline the Federal Board by sidelining half its members was overturned thanks to a clever member of the Awkward Squad.

If you want to know what the party’s committees are doing, you can submit a question by the deadline. So if you want to question the Board about how it’s implementing the strategy adopted by Conference, if you want to ask Federal People Development Committee about training, diversity or membership, or Federal Conference Committee about Conference or Federal Policy Committee about their work, get your question in.

There are usually more questions submitted than there is time to take. If it one of those chosen to be asked on the day, you will get the chance to ask a supplementary question in the hall. If it’s not asked in the hall, it will still be answered at a later date in writing in the report from Conference.

You can also question organisations like the Campaign for Gender Balance on their important work.

You can also put in a question to Ed for his leader’s q and a session on Saturday. Don’t, however, do what I did and forget that you have done it and head off for a nap so that you miss it being asked and getting the chance to ask a supplementary. I was kicking myself for that one.

Amendments

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Ed on Kuenssberg: Lib Dems are excited and confident about election

Ed Davey did his first interveiw of the year on Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday this morning. The first question, was, of course, on the Post Office scandal and Ed’s role as Minister.

Her first question : Why did it take you so long to say sorry?

I probably should have said sooner early on.

It’s a huge scandal and our hearts go out to postmasters. They need to get exonerations and compensation quickly and we need to get the truth from the enquiry.

He talked about two sub postmasters in his constituency, one of whom spent 16 months in prison.

I’m going to fight for those and join others in making sure that the Government gives the sub postmasters the fair deal they deserve.

He actually has been fighting for them since there was evidence that there were flaws with Horizon and called for the enquiry back in 2015.

Kuenssberg showed him the letter he wrote to Alan Bates in 2010 saying that there would be no point to a meeting.  Ed replied that he had only been in office for 11 days and  was advised by his officials not to. When Bates wrote to him again, though, he wanted to know more about his concerns and was the first post office minister on record to meet him.

When that meeting took place in late 2010, he said he was concerned about the issues Alan Bates raised about Horizon. He took the concerns to his officials and the Post Office and was given categorical assurances that there was no remote access.

He said that it turns out that the Post Office were lying to him and that conspiracy of lies means that we need systemic change in how we deal with things like this.

Kuenssberg asked him if he’d never stopped to think that there must be something going on here.

He said that he wasn’t asked about it in Parliament. He said that things didn’t really change until the BBC’s Panorama programme found hard evidence in the form of a whistleblower from Fujitsu in August 2015.

Kuenssberg then moved on to the General Election, asking  if we weren’t embarrassed by the results in the by-elections last week.

Ed responded:

What we are seeing in this Parliament is huge success for Liberal Democrats. In those 4 by-elections we had staggering success in true blue areas.

We’ve had some of our best local elections ever and we have had by far the best success in local government by-elections.

We go into the next election with a real sense of excitement. There’s loads of areas where if you want to get rid of your Conservative MP, you’ve got to vote for the Liberal Democrats. I’ve talked about the “Blue Wall” where we are having massive success against the Conservatives and the south west as well, we are coming back there. So we go into this election year more confident than for many a year.

Kuenssberg asked if he was confident that we can be the third party again. His answer was simple. “Yes.”

Earlier she  brought up the Guardian letter signed by 30 prominent party members back in November as we reported here.

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LIb Dems demand that Sunak removes the Whip from Lee Anderson

Lee Anderson has spent most of the past 2 years saying horrible things to excite the Tory right. From telling anyone unhappy with how the UK treats migrants could “f**k off back to France” to saying that people should be able to feed themselves for 30p per day, giving him his “30p Lee” nickname, to horribly transphobic comments about Eddie Izzard, he has been one of the commanders of the Tory culture wars.

Last night, talking to GB News, he took it all a step further by being unambiguously racist and islamophobic about London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan.

From the BBC:

He told GB News Islamists had “got control” of Mr Khan and he had “given our capital city away to his mates”.

His words, which follow pro-Palestinian protests outside Parliament, have also been condemned by Tories.

Not condemned enough by Tories as the same article reports a Conservative source trying to play down what he had said. The fact that he still had the Tory whip 5 minutes after making these comments is an absolute disgrace. As the hours drag on, this looks increasingly like Rishi Sunak is either too weak to discipline Anderson or he agrees with him.

Anyone with an ounce of decency has called on Rishi Sunak to remove the Conservative whip from Anderson for these comments, including Labour’s Annaliese Dodds and Theresa May’s former Chief of Staff Gavin Barwell. Here’s what Lib Dem MPs have been saying.

Daisy Cooper said:

These comments from a Conservative MP are despicable. Rishi Sunak should remove the Conservative whip. There should be no space for this in our country, let alone in our Parliament.

Tim Farron:

This isn’t dog whistle, it’s fog horn. Sunak will remove the whip for this if he has an ounce of either decency or strength.

Munira Wilson:

Utterly disgusted by Lee Anderson’s racist comments. Stirring up hatred and tension in our great capital city in this way is downright dangerous. If Sunak has an ounce of decency and courage, he will kick Anderson out of the Tory party.

Alistair Carmichael:

This is entirely wrong and harmful from Lee Anderson, and comes after a similarly malign attack by the Conservatives in recent weeks. Criticise Sadiq Khan all you like on policy but these dog whistle arguments about his character have no basis and no justification.

Beyond Westminster, Lib Dem AM Caroline Pidgeon:

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Layla Moran’s speech in tonight’s debate: We need to stop this now

I thought about putting Layla’s speech in the last post, but I didn’t want it getting lost. Her clarity and wisdom and persuasiveness, and her liberal desire to bring people together have been a huge credit to her and to this party in recent months. We can all be incredibly proud of her, especially when this has been so personally painful for her.

She spoke in the debate and her words in full are below:

I am speechless at the way this debate began. As the House knows, there has been scant opportunity for me to tell the story not just of my family or the hundreds in the church where they are in northern Gaza, but of Palestinians on the ground and, indeed, those who lost people in the horrendous attacks on 7 October, whether through murder or abduction. I am grateful that we have this opportunity. In the hours of debate in front of us, my first ask of anyone who speaks after me is, please, to hold all those people in their hearts as they say what they say. I believe sincerely that this House is moving towards a right position, and I will explain what I think that is in a moment. On the suggestion that this House is in some way against a ceasefire—I would hope an immediate one, however the semantics play out in the votes later—can we please try to send a message in particular to the Palestinian people perishing in their tens of thousands on the ground, and to those hostage families that, fundamentally, we need this to stop now? I do not care what we call it.

I should have started by drawing the House’s attention to my entry in the register of interests. I sit as an unpaid adviser on the board of the International Centre for Justice for Palestinians.

Last week I went to Israel and Palestine with Yachad, and I will start with a story. On the first day, we went down to the southern border with Gaza, to a place called Nativ Ha’asara, a place I have visited before. We met an incredible woman called Roni, who had lost family members—16 from that kibbutzim had perished. As I went there, I looked across at northern Gaza. I saw the plumes of smoke. I heard the drones and the “pop pop pop” of the gunfire, and I broke down. As I walked back through the village, Roni, an Israeli peace activist, took me to one side, gave me a hug and said, “I’m so sorry”, which I said back. We both cried and held each other.

It is important to remember that although those voices of peace in Israel have been silent for some time, many of the people killed on that day were allies of the Palestinian people who had been calling for decades against the occupation, calling out Netanyahu’s Government, and condemning Ben-Gvir and Smotrich. It is for that reason that I welcome the sanctions on those extremist settlers, because there is a direct link between the right wing elements of Netanyahu’s Government and those extremist settlers. The amendment that the Lib Dems tabled to the motion stated that we should not finish there. We need to continue those sanctions on those people and their connected entities.

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Ed on tonight’s drama in Parliament: We need an urgent end to the humanitarian catastrophe

So I managed to sleep thoughout tonight’s drama.

Waking up to a phone glowing with WhatsApp messages, I realised there had been a bit of a rammy in the Commons. I checked out the BBC summary and my immediate and instinctive reaction is that the Speaker had been right to allow votes on three distinctive positions on such a huge issue. The SNP’s motion called for an immediate ceasefire, the Government’s called for a humanitarian pause and Labour’s had a bit more meat on its bones about how you actually get to a lasting peace. Normally on an opposition day, you’d get the motion and a Government amendment. It is unusual to have a third option, but in this instance, it made sense to reflect as broad a consensus as possible. He could have done better by including a fourth option, ours.

Ours said:

Expresses its devastation at the mounting humanitarian disaster in Gaza with tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians killed, millions displaced and thousands of homes destroyed; calls on the Prime Minister to oppose publicly and at the UN Security Council the proposed IDF offensive in Rafah; further urges Hamas to unconditionally and immediately release the over 100 hostages taken following the deplorable attacks on 7 October 2023; notes the unprecedented levels of illegal settler violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories left unchecked by the Israeli Government; welcomes the recent sanctions by the UK Government against four extremist Israeli settlers who have committed human rights abuses against Palestinian communities in the West Bank; urges the UK Government to sanction all violent settlers and their connected entities; calls on the UK Government to uphold international law and the judgments of international courts under all circumstances; further notes that the only path to regional security is a two-state solution based on 1967 borders with Hamas not in power; condemns Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s repeated assertions that there is no future for a Palestinian state; and further urges the UK Government to call for an immediate bilateral ceasefire in Gaza, which will allow an end to the humanitarian devastation, get the hostages out and provide an opportunity for a political process leading to a two-state solution, providing security and dignity for all peoples in Palestine and Israel.”

You would hope that when discussing one of the biggest humanitarian disasters and most dangerous conflicts we have seen in a long time, the Mother of Parliaments would model generous, collaborative behaviour. It was not beyond the wit of the SNP to work with the other opposition parties to bring together something that truly reflected the will of the House.

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A great gain and 2 strong holds in this week’s by-elections

There were a couple of great results in this week’s local government by-elections.

In the Four Marks and Medstead ward of East Hampshire District Council, Roland Richardson held on to the seat with 62.2% of the vote! Thanks to ALDC for compiling the results.

Also in Hertfordshire, Caroline Smith-Wright held the Tring West and Rural ward on Dacorum District Council with an even greater vote share.

DACORUM DC; Tring West & Rural Ward

🔵 Con, , 21.1%, -3.0%
🔴 Lab, , 7.6%, -0.3%
🔶SMITH-WRIGHT, Caroline, LibDem, , 62.7%, +12.8%
🟢 Green, , 8.6%, -9.6%

EAST HAMPSHIRE DC; Four Marks & Medstead

🔶 RICHARDSON, Roland, LibDem, 1212, 62.2%, +11.7%
🔵 Con, 736, 37.8%, -11.7%

Avenue ward in Hull has been the site of many a good scrap between us and Labour over the years. The ward was represented by ALDC’s Abi Bell until she stood down a couple of years ago and in this year’s local elections returned 2 Labour and 1 Lib Dem Councillor.

That changed on Thursday when Rhiannon Beeson took a seat from Labour:

KINGSTON-UPON-HULL UA; Avenue

🔶 BEESON, Rhiannon, LibDem, 45.7%, +4,3%
🔵 Con, 1.7, -1.3%
🟢 Green, 7.6%, +7.6%
🔘 Ind, 5.3%, +5.3%
🔴 Lab, 39.7%,-8.7%

And thanks to Susan Jay for standing for us and making sure people had the chance to vote Lib Dem in the Rhos ward of Neath Port Talbot

Lab, 137, 14.5%, -30.9%
🔶 JAY, Susan Helen, LibDem, 60, +6.3%, +6.3%
🟢 Green, 15, 1.6%, +1.6%
🟩 Plaid, 242, 25.5%, -29.1%
🔘 Ind, 494, 52.1%, +52.1%

Elsewhere, the two parliamentary by-elections have taken up most of the headlines. The Wellingborough and Kingswood seats were not great prospects for us, but we did have excellent candidates in Andrew Brown and Ana Savage Gunn. We lost our deposits, but that happens in seats where we are not in competition. These were not the same kind of places as the four by-election seats we have gained in this Parliament.

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LIb Dem Lords speak out on conversion therapy

Last week, Lorely Burt’s private members bill aimed at outlawing conversion therapy practices passed its first stage in the House of Lords.

This post highlights the speeches in support of the Bill made by Lib Dem peers, but there were many others made by people like Ruth Hunt, Michael Cashman and Helena Kennedy which are worth reading.

This post is a long one, but it is worth reading to understand why this measure is necessary.

Lorely explained in her opening remarks that conversion therapy s:

any practice with the predetermined purpose of changing or suppressing a person’s expression of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Conversion therapy is barbaric, cruel and harmful.

Listening to the debate, I felt I was back in the 80s and 90s. I remember then being chilled to the bone when I heard prejudice against gay people. That still exists, but the real venom these days is directed at trans people. And it’s quite interesting that some of the opposition now comes from the same people who opposed any liberalisation for gay people then. Our job as liberals is to protect these vulnerable groups from that prejudice, discrimination and from the cruelty of those who try to convince them that it is wrong or them to be who they are.

Here are some of the highlights of Lib Dem members’ contributions. You can read the whole debate here.

“My Bill will not tell people what to think or what to say” – Lorely Burt

There are many people—particularly young people—who may be wondering about themselves. It is not always straightforward to understand your sexuality or gender identity, and grappling with these topics can be confusing and even distressing. What these people need is not a cure, but space—and support—to work things out. This may take the form of speaking with a trusted adult, like a mentor or counsellor, to explore their own feelings in a non-judgmental way.

However, the difference between that and conversion therapy is that the latter has a predetermined goal to change that person. I want to make it clear: my Bill will not criminalise these sorts of open conversations in any way, nor will it tell people what to think or what to say. Freedom of speech and religious freedom are important cornerstones of any liberal society. As a Liberal Democrat, I have always championed these values, and the last thing I would want to do is to unduly curb anybody else’s rights. Noble Lords are free to say what they believe: the rules on free speech are the same here as anywhere else in British law. Noble Lords are entitled to express an opinion, just not to coerce somebody else into agreeing with them and changing their behaviour as a result.

“Hold that child safe until they find their own way forward without bias, prejudice and pre conceived rights and wrongs” – Lynne Featherstone

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Wednesday Debate: What do you think of Governments’ plans to ban a generation from buying cigarettes?

It’s Summer 2049. Peter and his friend Mark are doing their weekly shop in Morrisons.

They stop at the cigarette kiosk on the way out. Peter, born on 31 December 2008, shows his compulsory ID card to prove that he is old enough to buy tobacco products. Mark, born just a day later has never been legally allowed to buy them. Instead, he gets them from various sources, including a dodgy bloke down the pub. Every year, he hires a van and hops over to France to fill it up with an unhealthy supply to keep him going for a few months, paying duty to the French Government rather than the UK Government.

All of this assumes, of course, that we aren’t doing our shopping via Elon Musk’s chips implanted in our brains, but never mind.

In a rare move, this week Governments across the UK announced a plan to prohibit anyone born after 1 January 2009 from ever buying cigarettes. I don’t think any of us think it is ok for a 15 year old to buy cigarettes. But do we really want a situation where 40 year old Mark is legally prevented from doing what 40 year old Peter does legally?

Health charities and organisations are delighted at the Government’s plans. Of course they are, because reducing smoking is obviously going to improve public health. They are doing their job.

The British Heart Foundation’s Chief Executive, on their website, said:

When we have known for many decades that smoking kills, it is utterly unacceptable that smoking continues to take so many lives, causing at least 15,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease every year across the UK.

“On top of this, smoking is a significant driver of health inequalities, disproportionately affecting the health of the poorest in society.

“Tough measures are needed to put a stop to this ongoing heartbreak, and we welcome the UK Government’s bold proposal to create a smoke-free generation by raising the age of sale for tobacco every year.

“It’s right that the Government is taking action to make vaping less appealing. Children and people who have never smoked should never start vaping, which is why we need effective measures that make it harder for young people to buy vapes in the first place.

“There is clear public support for this Bill and we now urge every MP to support this once-in-a-generation legislation when it is brought to the UK Parliament. We hope to see this policy adopted by administrations across the UK.

So what should the Liberal Democrats be saying about this? As a liberal party we hold personal freedom for adults to do things, even if they harm themselves, as a core value. I have to say that I’m surprised that the proposals put forward by three Governments who spend most of their time rolling their eyes at each other have been accepted with so little controversy. Only a few voices, such as our controversial ex Prime Minister Liz Truss, have spoken out, calling the measures “un-Conservative.”

This is one of these issues where you can use liberal principles to reach either conclusion in the debate. You can argue that the health of a generation is more important and that smoking rarely harms just the person doing it and that this measure is important to stop deaths which are entirely preventable.

On the other hand, we know that prohibition rarely works. In the example above, Mark has found ways of obtaining his cigarettes. What is likely to happen is that there will be a flourishing underground market in tobacco products for those who don’t or can’t head across to Europe to replenish their supplies.

As a party, we have long argued for the decriminalisation of Cannabis. Surely supporting this measure would be inconsistent.

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REPRISE: Adventures of a UK Liberal Democrat at the Iowa caucuses Part 3

Editor’s Note: Eight years, at the beginning of the 2016 year of Brexit and Trump Hell, Kevin Lang, now our Group Leader on the City of Edinburgh Council, found himself in Iowa during the caucuses. Across three articles, he gives us a great insight of what happened at the Democrat caucus. 

Much of what he says about the Hillary campaign is worth our own opposition politicians thinking about as we approach our own election later this year. I thought you might like to re-read Kevin’s posts. 

Of course this year it’s the Republicans going mad in Iowa with the front runner, Donald Trump, not bothering himself to take part in the debates.

I always find the Pod Save America podcast, presented by former Obama staffers Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor a great source of information on US politics. Vietor has returned to Iowa to see what’s happening on the ground there with two special episodes of the On the Ground in Iowa podcast. Have a listen here

Over to Kevin:

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 11.10.23Monday 1 February

It’s a polling day of a different kind. Rather than 15 hours of voting, everything is crammed into just 2 hours.
Across the state, individual caucuses will be held in an astonishing 1,681 locations. There is one caucus for every precinct (polling district) with each one requiring a chair to oversee proceedings and a speaker for each of the candidates. It requires a phenomenal level of planning and organisation by both the Democrat and Republican state parties.

I get out during the day and visit the Iowa Historical Museum with its brilliant ‘first in the nation’ exhibition, including memorabilia dating back to the first caucuses in the early 1970s. Geoff, my guide, easily wins the prize for the most overexcited Iowan of my visit so far. He can of course be excused on this, his day of days. He reels off facts and joyously regales the tale of when his neighbour offered his house as a caucus site in 2008, only for it to be overrun with voters in that record breaking turnout year. “He put the Clintons in his front room, the Edwards in his kitchen and Obamas upstairs”, he said, “he was able to fit all the Dodds and Bidens in his bathroom!”

And so caucus hour arrives at 7pm. I’m covering Polk County’s 80th precinct caucus, held in the Wright Elementary School on the south side of Des Moines. It’s a precinct in which Obama beat Romney by over 30% in 2012 so there are lots of Democratic voters for the three campaigns to haggle over.

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Should Ed Davey apologise for his role in the Horizon scandal?

One question which is being widely asked is whether Ed Davey should apologise for his role in the Horizon scandal.

Those who think he should base their case on the need for the victims, who had their lives ruined, to hear a sincere apology from someone. And, as Ed has already said that he regrets not doing more at the time, why shouldn’t it be him?

But what good would that do? Let’s look at where the heat on Ed is coming from. It’s mostly from the right wing press and so-called news organisations such as GB News. So what are they up to?

The Tories want to simplify this whole 20 year scandal down to Ed Davey’s actions in 2 years as a minister for cynical political reasons. They want a clip of him apologising, alongside a clip of Nick Clegg apologising for tuition fees to play ad nauseam to the very blue wall Tory voters both of us need to vote for us in the upcoming General Election. That’s it. It’s not about justice. It’s not about learning lessons. It’s about them fighting as dirty as they can.

Was Ed’s interview with ITV News yesterday the best one he has ever given? No. But Paul Brand’s agenda was very clearly to get a 30 second clip of Ed looking awkward. His line of questioning was more about public scapegoating than it was about actually getting answers.

In recent years, politicians under scrutiny have just avoided any sort of questioning, hiding in fridges or whatever to avoid prying journalists. At least Ed has showed willing on several occasions to proactively give media interviews and to acknowledge that he wished he had one more.

The victims of the appalling scandal deserve better than singling out a scapegoat. It’s not justice for the prevailing narrative to be “It was all Ed Davey’s fault, we can all pack up and go home now.” That is patently not true. There have been around 16 ministers with this responsibility during this time. And we might have a special mention for those in the past 5 years since the court judgement who have moved with the enthusiasm of a glacier to give justice to the victims.

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Farron: Victims of Post Office scandal need compensation, not being weaponised by the Tories

The ITV drama Mr Bates vs the Post Office has highlighted the dreadful injustice suffered by so many sub postmasters, as John Barrett outlined yesterday.

I haven’t seen it yet, but I know it will be very uncomfortable to watch. Yet again in my lifetime, something has gone very wrong with a public service and it takes too long for the victims to be taken seriously. Windrush, Hillsborough, numerous health scandals are just a handful of others. Government needs to find a way of being much quicker to react when things go wrong and not just dismiss concerns until they are forced to deal with them, usually with the involvement of the judicial system.

We’ve seen several instances in the past few days of right wing commentators (former Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie, not known for his listening to people complaining of injustice) among them have decided that this is a good opportunity to have a go at the Lib Dem ministers responsible for the postal service who were in office rather than talk about a way forward.

A letter from Ed Davey saying that he didn’t see what a meeting with the sub postmasters would achieve is being circulated. It’s dated 21st May 2010, which is a few days after he became a Minister. He actually did meet them in October of that year.

In the Guardian this week, Ed was reported as saying that he regretted not doing more when he was a Minister, honesty which is perhaps refreshing in an environment where people try to deflect blame on to others.

Speaking to Times Radio, he said: “I feel that I was deeply misled by Post Office executives … they didn’t come clean. There were definitely attempts to stop me meeting .

“We were clearly misled. I think ministers from all political parties were misled.”

In terms of what happens next he said:

Davey said Post Office executives were now “dragging their feet” and “not bringing evidence to the inquiry”.

He added: “Government ministers need to do more – I hope they watch this series and realise they’ve got to come forward with a proper compensation package.”

In an interview on BBC Breakfast on Thursday morning Alan Bates was given many opportunities to stick the boot in to Ed specifically by the interviewer and didn’t take the chance  to single him out.

Tim Farron took to Twitter last night to make some observations about the scandal, the current Tory blame game and what should happen next.

He said:

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Lib Dem PPC Caroline Voaden calls for “Rape” t-shirt to be withdrawn from sale

Lib Dem PPC Caroline Voaden noticed something horrible online today. One of those design your own t-shirt/hoodie/vest companies had allowed a t-shirt to appear on its website, selling for £18.18, which said, shockingly, Eat, Sleep, Rape, Repeat.

Caroline is a former CEO of Devon Rape Crisis and has called for this t-shirt to be withdrawn from sale.

If you are not on Twitter, you can email the company at [email protected]. I’ve done so, asking them to withdraw this vile product, apologise and put processes in place that stop such designs getting on to their website. Surely this must have been seen by a human at some stage. Why on earth did they not stop it. And if it wasn’t seen by a human, they need some quality control.

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Free to good home – a Liberal treasure from 1969

From a correspondent:

I have been having a clear-out of my shelves, and among the material which I am not going to keep is three issues of New Outlook – A Liberal Magazine from 1969. They may be of interest to some readers of LibDem Voice (not least, perhaps, for the nostalgic pleasure of reading thoughtful and respectful pieces from Conservative MPs John Biffen and John Hunt).
Free to a good home.
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Coming to a seat near you…Ed Davey’s Tory Removal Service

There is nothing like a good hi-viz jacket to show that an election is on the way, but it can’t come soon enough for our Ed Davey.

He’s just been on BBC News, surrounded by a pretty massive crowd in Guildford launching his Tory Removal Service.

Nothing shows what a seasoned political nerd I am like my first reaction to the poster. Not the message, but the font. That’s a new one.

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Will we learn the lessons of 2014 in 2024?

It hit me yesterday that 2024 marks 10 years since the Scottish referendum on independence. How on earth did that happen?  Given the failure of the SNP to manage Scotland’s public services using the extensive powers they already have, you could argue that we had a very lucky escape.

For me, that referendum set in motion the events that led to where we are now. David Cameron learned that a broadly negative status quo campaign could win the day and transferred that experience to the campaign to remain in the EU.  He should have realised that the pro-UK side was lucky to get away with such a poor campaign and should have done so much better. If we had managed to get over 60%, we could have perhaps avoided all the arguments about a second referendum that have paralysed Scottish politics since.

The campaigns to stay in both unions failed to inspire, or offer any sort of positive vision. The Scottish independence campaign cunningly hid the negativity at its core with a frothy, engaging message that touched people’s hearts. The campaign to leave the EU just flat out lied to people and wasn’t effectively challenged either by the media or the opposition.

The Yes campaign and the campaign to leave the EU touched a nerve with people because they felt powerless to change their own destiny. It is also 10 years since our Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper, half a decade before she became an MP, suggested “Take Back Control” as a slogan for us.  It would be a slogan with meaning, too, because so many of our policies are about exercising power as close to the people as possible.  Liberal Democrats could deliver so much more than the non-existent control promised by the Brexiteers.

Liberal Democrats have so much substance in our policies to help deliver a much more equal, happier, sustainable society. From our guaranteed basic income, to strengthening our democracy by cleaning up our politics and making sure people get the parliament they ask for, to restoring our international reputation, to tackling the housing crisis and slowing our rush to climate catastrophe, we have some solid ideas that will make a huge difference to people.

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Ed Davey’s Christmas message

I know we said we were disappearing until after the New Year,  but we thought you would like to see Ed Davey’s Christmas Message.

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Layla Moran talks about her family who are trapped in Gaza Church

Layla Moran has been talking to the BBC about the plight of her family members, who remain trapped in a Catholic Church in Gaza. One family member died last month and her fear for the others is clear.

The Liberal Democrat says her family are “days away from dying” without access to water or food.

Her relatives and the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem say a mother and daughter were killed inside the Holy Family Church complex on Saturday by sniper fire.

Members of Ms Moran’s extended family – a grandmother, her son, his wife and their 11-year-old twins – are Christian Palestinians who sought refuge inside the church after their home was bombed in the first week of the war.

They have been staying on mattresses along with dozens of others in rooms in the Holy Family Church for more than 60 days.

“I’m now no longer sure they are going to survive until Christmas,” Ms Moran told the BBC.

The conditions sound horrific and terrifying:

The five remaining members say they now no longer have access to food or water, and the last remaining generator – which was pumping water from wherever they could get it – has stopped working in the church.

They say soldiers entered the church compound in the last 24 hours and took over a room in a building.

Earlier in the week, the family heard shots being fired and saw bullet casings in the church compound. They say two men were killed on Tuesday while they were coming and going from the building – a bin collector and a janitor.

Layla said there was no indication why the church had been targeted:

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Lib Dems oppose “moral vacuum” Rwanda Bill

When there has been so much discussion around the party’s messaging and whether it showcases our values enough recently, it is a relief to see our parliamentarians speak out so strongly against the bizarrely named Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill as though just writing something down makes it so.

Alistair Carmichael described the Bill as showing a “grim and illiberal mentality” and would replace our asylum system with a moral vacuum. Here’s his whole speech:

I say sincerely that it is a genuine pleasure to follow the right hon. and learned Member for South Swindon (Sir Robert Buckland). He gave a characteristically thoughtful speech for Second Reading and, more interestingly, laid down several markers for future stages, should we get to that point. This is a most interesting and unusual Second Reading debate; we are seeing played out in front of us a tripartite discussion between one side of the Government, another side of the Government and the Treasury Bench. It is a remarkable spectacle to observe, albeit not a particularly seemly one.

I was struck by the reliance that the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Sir Robert Neill) placed on the references made by the right hon. and learned Member for Torridge and West Devon (Sir Geoffrey Cox) to proceedings in relation to the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc. ) Act 2004. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman observed, that was where the concept of safe countries was introduced. The list of safe countries included all the EU countries except Croatia, plus Norway, Iceland and later Switzerland. It was another piece of legislation that restricted the access of rights to appeal for those whose asylum claims had been unsuccessful. There are perhaps lessons to be learned for us all in how that line of legislation has developed ever since.

The enduring lesson I take is not that that Act was introduced by a Labour Government—a Government that had David Blunkett as Home Secretary—but that the Bill was opposed, with some controversy at the time, by the then Conservative Opposition. They described it as “clumsy and draconian”. They were absolutely right about that and, many years later, we can see exactly where that sort of legislation has taken us. What is it about the Conservative party of 2023 that now finds that sort of legislation so attractive?

Let us not forget that we are dealing with the consequence of the refusal of this Government to prosecute the case for safe and legal routes. Why do we not find people from Ukraine or Hong Kong trying to cross the channel in small boats? It is because we offer them safe and legal routes. The Rwanda scheme is unworkable—we know that because it has never been made to work—and the barriers are well rehearsed, but every time they are thwarted, the response of this Government is to throw a foot-stamping tantrum. Anyone who ever had any doubt about the depth and scale of Tory self-entitlement can see it laid bare here today. The Bill is not about making the system work or providing an effective deterrent; it is simply about trying to bring together a disparate range of forces within their own party.

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