Author Archives: Caron Lindsay

Harborough Lib Dem Zuffar Haq and Dorchester’s Molly Rennie get MBE in New Years Honours

Leicestershire Liberal Democrat candidate and health campaigner Zuffar Haq has been awarded an MBE in this year’s New Year’s Honours.

From Leicestershire Live:

Another recipient of the MBE was Zuffar Haq, who was awarded for public and political service

Zuffar, of Oadby, is well-known as a campaigner who helped save the children’s heart unit at Glenfield Hospital. He has also stood for election for the Liberal Democrats in Parliamentary elections and runs a medical aid charity.

He said: “I am honoured, and humbled, to receive this award.

“Born and brought up in

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Merry Christmas, Everyone

We hope that wherever you are, whatever you are doing, you are healthy and happy.

We are also thinking of those who have neither. This time of year without someone you love is pretty grim, especially if it is the first time you’ve been on that particular emotional rollercoaster.

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Heartbreaking: Homelessness among children in Scotland rises 22% over 3 years

Homelessness can happen so easily. All it takes is for a landlord to decide to sell the home you have always lived in and you have nowhere to go.

If you are a child in temporary accommodation, your toys and all of your family’s furniture will be in storage. There will be no tree to put presents under.  

You could be in a bed and breakfast with all your family in one room with nothing to cook on. You could be in a cold, damp flat somewhere you don’t know.

You could be moved somewhere else at a moment’s notice.

You’ll be away from your friends.

Imagine what that does to your sense of security and wellbeing. It’s going to damage your health, both physical and mental and harm your development.

That’s hard enough at any time of year but at Christmas it’s devastating.

I’m furious that every year the number of children going through this goes up. We cannot stand for this. Both Scotland’s Governments should be ashamed of themselves

Every Christmas, the Scottish Lib Dems ask Scottish Ministers how many children are included in live homelessness applications. This year’s see yet another rise. 12,858 children are in some sort of temporary accommodation at this time. That’s about a fifth of the size of the town where I live and it’s a 22% rise on 2015’s figures.

Both Scotland’s governments really need to get on with ending this misery. The SNP has to stop making excuses and build more social housing and ensure councils have resources to fix poor housing. There are thousands of neglected and vacant properties across the country which, with the right incentives, could be renovated to boost the housing stock.

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Remembering Paddy

I know that most of you reading this will be feeling the same as I am this morning – so incredibly sad that we have lost one of the best advocates for liberalism we have ever had.

Paddy Ashdown was brilliant – a mix of compelling persuasiveness, charm, wit, and the ability to be a total pain when the occasion demanded it. He stood up for the right things at the right times whether they were popular or not. The architect of the original Lib Dem Fightback will be so, so missed.

Back in 2014, after the Euro election results when the party was falling apart in agony, I found myself in the middle of the argument. Clegg loyalists didn’t think I was loyal enough, Clegg opponents called me every name under the sun for being too loyal to him.

I went on the Today programme in the aftermath of it all trying to spread calm and peace and light. Literally within seconds of getting off air, I had an email from Paddy telling me I was terrific and calm and sane and rational. It meant so much and was a real anchor point in the tumultuous and emotionally draining days that followed.

I’ve been alternating between tears and sad smiles for most of the last 14 or so hours since the news came through as I’ve read so many people’s reflections and memories on social media. That man was so loved.

The Lib Dem family remember him as someone who was utterly authentic, generous, hilarious and nearly everyone has a story to tell about how he inspired them, how he left them with a lesson to apply in their campaign, career or an essential life skill.

Sam Barratt, the Party’s Director of Communications, gave me permission to repeat here what he said on Facebook:

Having ‘done Paddy’s press’ since he adopted me as a point person in my first couple of days in the Lib Dem press office – an experience as terrifying as it was educational – I am heartbroken that we’ve lost him tonight.

He was someone who always had his eyes on the next mountain to conquer, a conspiratorial manner of taking people with him on that mission, and an unashamed passion for his principles and politics that too many liberals shy from.

There are too many memories to begin to recount, but standing on the rooftop at Millbank with him as he decried Cameron’s ‘bastards’ on the BBC Newschannel at 2 in the afternoon is a standout highlight. Accompanying him around Millbank after the 2015 election, and the 2016 referendum were a contrast – but to see how much he cared for what he fought for, and his immediate resolve and determination to overcome the setbacks on each of those occasions was inspiring.

He was an exception to the rule that you shouldn’t meet your heroes – and our whole liberal family will be far poorer without him.

The generous tributes made by political opponents and journalists,  from as unlikely sources as Nicholas Soames, Andrew Neil Nick Robinson and Tim Shipman highlight the high esteem in which he was held. John Major’s wonderful tribute actually made me cry. I mean, really, look at this lot:

And the Archbishop of Canterbury took time out of his evening to praise an “agent of reconciliation.”

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Paddy and the Kooks

There will doubtless be so many personal tributes to Paddy. My Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of them.

There have been so many generous tributes from across politics. Nicholas Soames, for goodness sake, and Iain Dale and Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Paddy was known for not being tribal.

Back in the Summer of 2016, he was involved in setting up More United, a cross party group aimed at getting generous spirited, internationalist people with a social conscience elected. I was initially pretty sceptical and had some questions for them. Paddy was right back at me within 24 hours.

As it happened, the MPs elected with its support have done some darned good stuff, from getting funding for access to elections for disabled candidates to developing a more liberal consensus on immigration to campaigning to restore the migrant impact fund and lots more.

Austin Rathe, once our Head of Membership, worked with Paddy at More United. He has given me permission to share the story he put on Facebook with you all.

Lots to say about Paddy, and we’ll all be to sharing memories in the coming days.

For now, I just wanted to share my favourite Paddy story, from about 18 months ago.

More United had an event for the people who had helped us launch, including Luke Pritchard from The Kooks.

Afterwards Paddy, Corinne Sawers and I go for dinner. The following conversation occurs:

Paddy: “Who was that guy with the curly hair you were talking to?”

Me: “He’s the singer in a band called The Kooks.”

“The Kooks? I’ve never heard of them.”

“Well Paddy, I promise you they’re pretty famous.”

At this point Paddy, unconvinced, turns to a guy at the next table, taps him in the shoulder and says.

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Is the Bollocks to Brexit bus value for money?

Remember those wonderful “Bollocks to Brexit” stickers we see at every People’s Vote march? Some think they’re not too classy, but I think it pithily sums up hw I feel. I have my own stash of the things and keep one on my phone at all times.

Over the last few weeks, a big and bold yellow bus has been touring the country spreading the Bollocks to Brexit message, encouraging people to contact their MPs and emphasising the Brexit is “not a done deal.”

This week it came to Edinburgh:

And photobombed some news coverage:

I certainly think that a bus tour like this gets itself into local papers and attracts attention that way, but does it change minds?

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Of course Jeremy Corbyn should apologise

I first met Jeremy Corbyn back in, I think, 1985. He came to Aberdeen University to speak in a debate in Women’s Week in favour of the motion “This House should ban Page 3.”

Jeremy Corbyn genuinely gets feminism more than most men, to be honest, so I find it hard to believe that he would deliberately make a sexist comment. I do think that there is an issue with misogyny in left wing politics and I think he could do more to tackle it in his party, so this isn’t an entirely clean bill of health, but there are a lot worse than he is.

When I first saw the video of him speaking in Parliament today, it did look like he had said “stupid woman” but I’ve wasted more time than it merited watching it several times since and I think he probably did say “stupid people.”

Most of us have probably found our colleagues irritating at times, even in the best and most mature of office environments. Most of us at least have the sense to express that irritation in private and away from prying cameras. The House of Commons at PMQs is about the most childish and boorish workplace on the entire planet.

In that febrile atmosphere, even the calmest of personalities can forget themselves and say things they shouldn’t. I believe Corbyn and I’ll forgive him his little lapse today.

But I think he has a hell of a lot to apologise for. Not to Theresa May but to the entire country.

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Wanted: A Leader of the Opposition who doesn’t help the Government wreck the country

It’s really hard to imagine an old revolutionary socialist keeping a right wing government in power, enabling them to take a destructive course virtually unhindered.

Really, at the moment, any decent opposition would be miles ahead in the polls. They would be taking advantage of every bit of parliamentary trickery they could to thwart the Government at every stage. Especially a government that doesn’t have a majority.

But, no. Everything Jeremy Corbyn does just helps out Theresa May.

Take his pretendy- No Confidence motion that he said he’s putting down today.. If you want to take down the Government, you do what it says in the Fixed Term Parliament Act and put down a motion of no confidence in the Government. The Commons Library has prepared a useful guide on how to do it. It’s not difficult.

He’s not done that. He’s done the equivalent of taking a marshmallow to a duel by making his motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister. It might succeed but nobody will care.

Nobody knows whether a proper motion of no confidence would succeed. The DUP might well back Theresa May but the Tory MPs from the 17th century could decide to bring her government down so that they can pursue their goal of not very splendid isolation. We just don’t know until we try. I actually think it is unlikely that Tory turkeys would vote for Christmas. Mind you, Corbyn doesn’t actually want to be in a position where he has to sort this mess out because his chances of commanding a majority in the Commons are even less than May’s. If there was an election, what manifesto would Labour fight on?

So, if he put down a proper motion of no-confidence and it failed, he would then have to go to the next thing on the list – a People’s Vote, which is the last thing on earth that an old socialist brexiteer like him actually wants. 

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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #537

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 537th 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 (9-15 December, 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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Lib Dem Lauren Pemberton-Nelson explains why ethnic minority women need a People’s Vote

A couple of years ago, Lauren Pemberton-Nelson, then just 18 years old, stood for us in a by-election in the ward of Faraday in Southwark. She did well – getting an 8.2% rise in our vote share.

This week, she’s written for the Gal-Dem site outlining why women of colour really need a People’s Vote to stop Brexit.

I thought her piece deserved a bit more exposure. Here’s an extract:

Discussions about Brexit at state policy level, as with much political discourse in the UK, has so far been dominated by the perspectives of white men. The Brexit Secretary and his predecessor are both white men and the majority of the current cabinet is made up of white men. Women, meanwhile, have been critically underrepresented in the Brexit debate as well as politics more broadly, and our lack of representation has not been recognised. Only two UK members of the European Parliament and less than 4% of MPs are black and minority ethnic (BME) women. Furthermore, there are no women of colour in the cabinet: there simply are not enough BME women politicians to represent us in the Brexit debate.

As the Brexit negotiations reach a crucial point, it becomes ever more apparent that Brexit will have a major impact on our lives. However, it is also increasingly evident that marginalised people have been neglected from having a say in the process. A minority of politicians have been vocal about the impact of Brexit on ethnic minorities and women, such as Layla Moran and Chuka Umunna who said that the “price” of Brexit has been normalised hatred against BME communities. As it becomes clearer that Brexit could be accompanied with further increasing hate crime whilst reducing the rights and freedoms that ethnic minority women have, it’s more important than ever that all voices are represented in a vote on the final Brexit deal.

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Poll suggests if Labour backs Brexit it could fall behind Lib Dems

Ok, so get your pinches of salt out, because you’ll need them, but a story in The Sunday Times (£) suggests that Labour could lose its place as the official opposition to the Lib Dems if Labour backs any sort of Brexit deal.

The YouGov survey of 5,000 voters, commissioned by the People’s Vote campaign, shows that support for Labour could fall from 36% to 22% if they helped the Tories to pass a compromise deal with Brussels like the one advocated by Theresa May.

Under those circumstances, the Lib Dems would soar from 10% to 26% — their highest rating in any poll since they entered coalition government with the Tories in 2010.

The poll shows that Labour’s supporters want a People’s Vote by a margin of almost three to one — and an even bigger proportion would stay in the European Union if they were given the chance.

Alex Cole-Hamilton urged Labour to think again:

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The Government doesn’t have a mandate for Brexit – the state of play in current and former Lib Dem seats

New analysis  for Best for Britain, Avaaz and Hope not Hate which breaks down the results by constituency, has our most comprehensive picture yet of how the country would vote in a People’s Vote.

The results call the mandate to leave the EU into question. Two thirds of constituencies would now back remaining in the EU.

Our research shows that the country has moved significantly since 2016, with two thirds of constituencies in Great Britain now wanting to stay with our existing deal.

There is majority support for a final say for the people in every single one of the 632constituencies analysed in this research. This research also shows that, in the event of a people’s vote, staying in the EU would win by 56% to 44% leave – the highest level of support for staying in the EU since the June 2016 vote.

For the first time, England joins Scotland and Wales as having a majority of constituenciesthat support membership of the European Union; clear evidence that the question of the 2016 EU referendum needs to be revisited.

So how does this affect current Lib Dem seats.

Those that voted Remain have got more Remainy.

Tom Brake’s which voted to Leave would now Remain.

Norman Lamb’s North Norfolk has seen the Remain vote go up by 6% to 47.7%.

Here they all are…

Wera Hobhouse Bath June 16 68.3% November 18 73.3%

Jamie Stone Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross June 16 50.6% November 18 60.1%

Tom Brake Carshalton and Wallington June 16 43.7% November 18 53.3%

Jo Swinson East Dunbartonshire June 16 73.3% November 18 79.7%

Christine Jardine Edinburgh West June 16 71.2% November 18 75.9%

Ed Davey Kingston and Surbiton June 16 58.45 November 18 65.2%

Norman Lamb North Norfolk June 16 41.7% November 18 47.7%

Alistair Carmichael Orkney and Shetland June 16 59.7% November 18 69%

Layla Moran Oxford West and Abingdon June 16 61.8% November 18 65.6%

Vince Cable Twickenham June 16 66.3% November 18 70.4%

Tim Farron Westmorland and Lonsdale June 16 52.5% November 18 56.8%

And what about seats we have held in the past? Here’s a few random examples from across the country.

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Could the Scottish Tories back a #peoplesvote?

The Scottish Tories could be about to back a People’s Vote says the New Statesman’s Chris Deerin. 

He cites a “prominent” Conservative MSP as saying:

“When I look at what’s going on down south, I feel appalled and embarrassed,” one prominent MSP tells me. “I hate the English party. I’m horrified at the support for no deal being expressed by party members. I’ve stopped reading ConservativeHome.”

And they might back a second referendum if it is clear that Mrs May’s deal can’t get through Parliament:

Senior Scottish Tories believe the UK is on a trajectory to crash out of the EU without a deal, and that this could be fatal for the unity of the United Kingdom. I understand that they will back any measure that prevents no deal, and could publicly express support for a second referendum – if May’s deal can’t pass parliament – as early as next week. I’m told both Davidson and her stand-in Jackson Carlaw are signed up to this position. “No deal would be disastrous and jeopardise the union so we will reluctantly have to go back to the country and ask them,” says a source.

With Theresa May’s days already being numbered, the prospect of an ultra-Brexiteer as leader is not an endearing thought to her party north of the border:

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If you were PM….

An interesting quiz popped into my inbox from those nice people at Unlock Democracy.  You have to imagine that you are PM – after all, that job may well be up for grabs in the near future.

You are presented with a series of policy dilemmas – would you rather do x or y? Actually, in some cases, I was a bit “NEITHER” or “NOT QUITE LIKE THAT” or “BOTH” but that is part of the fun.

It has a serious point:

Every day decisions affecting millions are made by a handful of ministers, while the rest of us struggle to have a voice. By taking the quiz and sharing it afterwards, we can spread the word about the need to bring power closer to the people.

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The hunt for certainty

Theresa May has been telling MPs that they need to vote for her deal to give certainty.

That has always been hogwash because the Withdrawal Agreement kicks so much about our future relationship with the EU down the road as to be virtually meaningless. In fact, the very existence of the much maligned backstop is proof that it resolves very little and leaves us worse off.

But now, Theresa May’s quest to get her deal through the Commons is even more blighted. When she told Conservative MPs that she intended to step down ahead of the next election, she was probably thinking maybe sometime in 2021. The way some of her MPs, even those who supported her, are talking tonight, she’s got until March.

That adds even more uncertainty into the mix. We have no idea who will lead the negotiations shaping our future relations with the EU. Just imagine that Tory members elect Boris who thinks the chaos of no deal is just what this country needs? At least now we can revert to our membership of the EU but after March 29th we won’t have that safety net.

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PM Confidence vote – open thread

I’m going to call it now. Theresa May is going to win and win big tonight. That is not going to mean that all is peace, harmony and love in the Conservative Party. Today’s extraordinary scene between James Cleverly and Andrew Budgen showed the toxicity of the atmosphere.

Even if Theresa May was going to limp home, winning by one vote, she would stay on. Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t even have the confidence of half of his MPs and he manages it. I just hope that the Tory Remainers have extracted some concessions – maybe even a commitment to a People’s Vote – in return for their support. A convincing win would mean that she didn’t have to pander to the ERG anymore and could seek to build bridges across the House. If she’s told Tory MPs tonight that she isn’t going to contest the 2022 election and she can’t be challenged, then she has nothing to lose by going for a much softer Brexit, perhaps EEA, than she had envisaged. Whether she will take that course, because she’s not known for her flexibility, remains to be seen.

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So it looks like there might be a Tory leadership contest after all…..

The rumours have been circulating all evening, but if Kuenssberg and Peston are now saying it, there has to be some plausibility to the story:

Our Layla got a bit over-excited:

How very unlike the Conservative Party to embroil itself in its own self-indulgent civil war at a time of national crisis.

Of course, even if the ERG has managed to get itself sufficiently together to submit the letters and settle on a chosen candidate, maybe even one who has had a haircut recently, getting the letters in is only the first part of the job. They then have to persuade a majority of their Tory colleagues to back them to force a leadership contest. Apparently there was a huge amount of cheering coming from their meeting last night, and we can probably assume that it wasn’t because they were happy that Joe Sugg had got to the final of Strictly.

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Bottle it Day: Lib Dems react

Rather than face certain defeat now, Theresa May shelves plans for a Commons vote on her Brexit deal in order to try to stave of likely defeat in a few weeks’ time.

Lib Dems have been reacting to developments.

Vince Cable confirmed that we would support Labour in the unlikely event that our so-called opposition actually decided to move a motion of no-confidence in the Government.

The Prime Minister’s authority has drained away. It is the duty of Jeremy Corbyn to call a vote of no confidence in the Government, which Liberal Democrats would support.

After that Liberal Democrats will continue to press for a People’s Vote. MPs from all parties should join us in giving the people a final say, with the option to remain in the EU.

Welsh leaderJane Dodds said that the only way to resolve the Brexit embarrassment was a People’s Vote:

Brexit has become a national embarrassment. Negotiations with the EU have been chaotic since day one, but this is a new low. The fact Theresa May has postponed the vote on her deal to avoid defeat shows there is no support for her Brexit deal in Parliament.

Delaying the vote on her Brexit deal is an unprecedented blow to Theresa May’s authority, but it solves nothing. There is no majority for any Brexit deal in Parliament and now no majority for Brexit at all amongst the public. Whilst this remains the case, no Brexit deal will get through Parliament.

The only solution to the ongoing Brexit crisis is going back to the people. We must give the people the final say and the opportunity to choose an Exit from Brexit. This is the only solution and the Prime Minister should immediately back it.

Christine Jardine asked the PM why, if she could change her mind over the backstop, the people couldn’t be given the chance to vote again:

Wera Hobhouse asked how many of the people who voted to leave in 2016 voted for her deal:

Tim Farron was unimpressed with the Labour Party:

And on a lighter note, the Lib Dem Press Office has been on form today:

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WATCH: Vince Cable speak at People’s Vote rally in London, slams “insane, inflammatory and dangerous” talk of riots if Brexit doesn’t happen

After all the earlier discussion about the People’s Vote campaign, Vince actually ended up speaking at their big rally at the Excel Centre this afternoon. 2500 people turned up at the rally which was co-hosted with Best for Britain.

Vince called Jeremy Hunt’s comments that there would be riots if we didn’t leave the EU “insane, inflammatory and dangerous.”

He said that we were moving closer to a People’s Vote, which was now even been talked about by Cabinet Ministers as a possibility.

Watch the whole event here – Vince is on at 8 minutes in.

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Updated: Why is the People’s Vote campaign sidelining Lib Dems?

It’s fair to say that some party members have been expressing concern on social media about a perceived detachment between the Liberal Democrats and the People’s Vote campaign.

Why is it that Caroline Lucas is representing the campaign on the Channel 4 debate tonight? Why was Vince missing from the petition event in Downing Street? It’s not a great way to treat the party who kicked off the campaign for a final say on the deal in the Summer of 2016.

Late last week, Liberal Democrat MPs were criticised by the campaign for putting down an amendment to Labour’s amendment calling for a People’s Vote.

The People’s Vote campaign is not backing the move because they want to wait until the deal is rejected because they think that they will have a better chance of securing a referendum then.

They may be right. But in a febrile and unpredictable environment, why wouldn’t you make sure that you have the option of putting it on the agenda?

Paul Waugh is wrong in this report when he says that:

Crucially, it adopts the prime minister’s proposal and just makes it conditional on a second referendum. Unlike other amendments, it does not reject May’s deal.

It doesn’t. It is an amendment to Labour’s amendment so if both were passed, the motion passed by the House would read:

This House declines to approve the negotiated withdrawal agreement and the framework for the future relationship because itfails to provide for a permanent UK-EU customs union and strong single market deal and would therefore lead to increased barriers to trade in goods and services, would not protect workers’ rights and environmental standards, allows for the diminution of the United Kingdom’s internal and external security and is likely to lead to the implementation of a backstop provision in Northern Ireland that is neither politically nor economically sustainable; declines to approve the United Kingdom’s leaving the European Union without a withdrawal agreement; and therefore resolves to pursue every option, including a public vote as endorsed by the Labour Party Conference 2018, that prevents the United Kingdom’s either leaving the European Union without a withdrawal agreement or leaving on the basis of the negotiated withdrawal agreement laid before the House.

We don’t know yet if our amendment will be debated or even put to the vote but we have at least got a People’s Vote on the order paper so that the House has a chance to get it into the mix.  I think we need to trust our people to know what they are doing. They are the ones having the conversations in Parliament and they will know what is possible. 

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Willie Rennie pulls Lib Dems out of Scottish budget negotiations

While all eyes are on a key vote on a proposal put forward by a minority government at Westminster this week, another political drama looms. On Wednesday  the Finance Minister of a minority government at Holyrood will present his budget.

Derek Mackay is going to have a hard time getting his proposals through. All Willie Rennie asked for as a preoondition to negotiaions for Lib Dem support was that they just drop the idea of an independence referendum in this Parliament, fulfilling a key part of our manifesto. It chimes with what we are hearing consistently on doorsteps – that people don’t want to go through 2014 again. They want to concentrate on getting rid of Brexit.

The arguments that all parties apart from the Conservatives, have united behind in the Scottish Parliament against Brexit apply equally to breaking up the UK. While you don’t expect the SNP ever to give up campaigning for independence, keeping it off the agenda for the time being is as sensible for them as it is good for the country.

The SNP lost 21 seats in the 2017 General Election as Scottish people reacted with horror to the prospect, floated by Nicola Sturgeon, of another poll. All tests of opinion so far suggest that they would lose another referendum, which is why they won’t call one. The problem is that if they explicitly say they’ll delay, their own people will kick off.

So they wouldn’t agree Willie’s pre-condition. And so Willie has withdrawn the Lib Dems from the negotiations.

From the BBC:

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said he had met Mr Mackay and Public Finance Minister Kate Forbes on two occasions “to explore what could be done” with the budget.

Mr Rennie said his party had been willing to “step in to help address the problems that have been mounting since the SNP came to power 11 years ago”.

This included investment in education and mental health services, an improved deal for councils and action to help tackle staffing shortages in hospitals and schools.

But he said the talks ended when the SNP politicians “could not agree to even a short cessation in their independence campaign”.

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Rennie, Cole-Hamilton and a racing car. What could possibly go wrong?

When Willie Rennie and Alex Cole-Hamilton get together in a car, fun and mayhem usually result. Their General Election stunt in a De Lorean was just such an example.

Today they were both at the Scottish Parliament when double Formula One World Champion Mika Häkkinen, showed up with a racing car to launch a festive campaign to encourage Scots to never drink and drive known as #JointhePact. The initiative encourages people to make a commitment never to get behind the wheel if they’ve had a drink. In the 10 years it has been running, 14 million people have apparently signed up around the world.

Willie and Alex were quick to take over the car.

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Stephen Lloyd resigns Lib Dem whip over Brexit deal

According to BBC South East’s Helen Catt.

It’s because of what he called “irreconcilable differences” between what he sees as his obligations to his Eastbourne constituents and the party’s anti Brexit position.

Stephen promised his constituents, a majority of whom voted to leave that he wouldn’t block Brexit. Perhaps the party’s mistake was allowing him to stand on that basis in 2017.

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Why Delia could be the People’s Vote campaign’s most potent advocate

Three weeks on Tuesday, I’ll be preparing my family’s Christmas dinner, as I have done for the last three decades, by following the instructions in my battered and splattered copy of Delia Smith’s Christmas. You know, I bought the updated version a few years back, but it’s the old one I always reach for.

In a dark cupboard, as I write, it’s Delia’s Christmas cake that’s slowly maturing, helped along with the occasional injection of brandy, waiting for me to ice it on Christmas Eve.

We’ve started every New Year for decades with her Filet de Boeuf en Croute. In fact there was one year we didn’t and that was a bloody awful one. We won’t be doing that again.

You get my drift. Generations of cooks have grown up to instinctively trust Delia. Her recipes work and they’ve become engrained in many a family’s rituals.

So when she appears on the political programmes telling us that Brexit is a recipe for chaos and we should have a People’s Vote and choose to stay in, with the same passion as she’s enthused us into buying every cranberry or lime in the country in years gone by, we’re going to listen to her.

Here she was on the Andrew Marr Show this morning:

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Are you stressed out by Brexit?

A social media post by a friend of mine, citing Brexit-induced stress for lack of sleep made me realise this week that I feel the same way. Even if I don’t reach for my phone to check the headlines if I wake up in the middle of the night, the impending disaster facing the country is never far from my mind.

Then this morning an email arrives in our inbox telling us about Headspace’s new meditation packs for stressed out British people with one targeted at the almost three quarters of us who cite Brexit as something that is worrying them.

I’m not sure that a few moments’ meditation will help with the worry about what happens to our already crumbling public services if, as every forecast suggests, we will be worse off and we don’t have the people here to work in them.

I guess those of us who want to stay in the EU should be stressed. While the chance to get out of this mess has never been bigger, there’s a pretty tortuous process ahead over the next few weeks to get there. It’s a bit like the three dimensional chess they played on Star Trek: The Next Generation. When is the best time to play the People’s Vote card? In the Times on Friday, Matthew Parris said that Tory MPs should wait until after the deal has been defeated to come out for another vote and definitely shouldn’t do it now:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 14 Comments

Some thoughts on the passing of a decent President

I’ll be honest, I was distraught when George H W Bush won the 1988 presidential election. I had so been hoping for an end to Republicans in the White House after 8 years of Reagan. I didn’t think his Vice President was going to be much of an improvement. I was annoyed that hard-hitting negative advertising combined with poor strategy and misjudgement of what constituted a good photo opportunity had cost Mike Dukakis.

Four years later, I stayed up all night watching the results, elated as Bill Clinton won a commanding victory. By that time, it wasn’t that I couldn’t stand Bush. In fact, I’d grown to respect his ability to form international alliances and show restraint and generally be a safe pair of hands at a time fo the most amazing global transformation. I was saddened how he had been pushed to the evangelical right by a bruising primary contest in a party which was then showing that it was capable of going to some very dark places.

Of course, as America’s economy suffered and people got poorer, he didn’t respond with the sort of social democrat policies that I would have liked. Then again, neither did Clinton. America just never has been in that place. I have never been able to understand why the provision of health care that’s free at the point of use by the state is such a controversial idea.

But Bush’s presidency had been a force for international good. I was glad that his Secretary of State James Baker was at least prepared to try to curb the excesses of the Israeli Government and to get people round the negotiating table, laying the groundwork for the Oslo Accord. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 12 Comments

Updated: Two strong holds for Lib Dems in by-elections and a GAIN

While Layla was putting in a storming performance on Question Time, her Oxfordshire colleagues were finishing off polling day in Wheatley ward. We were seeking to defend the seat we won by a whisker last year. Could Tim Bearder hold on?

Well, yes. By quite a lot.

It shows how well served the people in the ward have been by our Kirsten Johnson these past 18 months.

We also had a super hold in Aylesbury for Anders Christenson.

We can definitely forgive his Mum her moment of pride:

Typically, the gain happened after I went to bed…congratulations, Dominic Skinner.

And Christina Raven didn’t win, but she made a huge leap forward in Welwyn Hatfield. The Tories will be worried now.

Posted in News | Tagged | 9 Comments

Brexit shambles descends into debate farce

You really couldn’t make up the state of British politics at the moment. The monstrous shambles that is Brexit is bad enough. A governing party riven by toxic split. An opposition that should be 20 points ahead in the polls but is excelling itself only in being more useless than the Government.

In recent days there has been talk of a tv debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn but even that can’t be sorted out. At the time of writing, Theresa May’s going to be on the BBC while Corbyn is cosying up to ITV, saying he wants it all over for the I’m a Celebrity final. I mean, really, the biggest substantive difference between the two is over which channel hosts the debate.

Certainly, if it ends up on the BBC, the trajectory of the evening will be markedly downward from Doctor Who to Strictly to the My Brexit’s bigger than Your Brexit despairathon.

It looks as though David Attenborough’s Dynasties will be booted to a later date. In a quiet but lovely corner of the internet, the wonderful Richard Flowers imagined the debate with an Attenborough voiceover:

Here… in the bleak midwinter… we see the skeletal remains of a Prime Minister being picked over by the vultures from her own Party, whilest a lst sheep in a loose collection of flappy organic rags bleats incoherant mantras about a Jobs First Bexit… And all about them, the country dies…

Vince, Nicola Sturgeon and the People’s Vote campaign are all rightly narked that they are being left out. I mean, after all, why wouldn’t they want to show an alternative opinion that might bring in more viewers?

This evening, Sal Brinton and Nick Harvey have written to BBC Chairman Lord Hall to suggest that the debate as currently planned might breach Ofcom rules. I’m not sure about that, because there’s no actual election, but the party is seeing legal advice. Here’s the text of their letter. 

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

Vince: We stand with women who have experienced physical or sexual violence

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. From now until Human Rights Day on 10th December. there are 16 days of activism against gender based violence.

UN Women suggests 16 ways we an all help, from telling our stories to raising awareness to helping women affected by violence.

Over the next 16 feel free to share your experience or tell us what you are doing to help stop gender based violence. Send any posts to [email protected] in the usual way.

It was really good to see Vince make a statement in support of this today:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 1 Comment

Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #536

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 536th 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 (18-24 November, 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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    "... half-truths of the Leave campaign ..." That's a bit generous, isn't it?
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    People may be interested in an academic paper by Warwick University academics at https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/research/centres/cage/manage/publications/394-2018_fetzer.pdf based on the big Survation poll in November This has two...
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