Author Archives: Jane Dodds

Defiant in the face of the storm, Welsh Liberal Democrats meet in Aberystwyth

When  some of Aberystwyth beach is on the road outside the venue of the Welsh Party conference, you know things are not quite right. The rain and wind in Wales this weekend has been dire, with roads closed, train lines down and houses flooded. At least two of our party members experienced flooding of their houses, and those of us who travelled to and from the conference experienced delays, and many did not even get to us.

But, along with the exceptional weather, we had an exceptional Autumn conference. Vince Cable and Sal Brinton battled to get to us and we are so grateful. Two campaign Federal Party staff also endured bus replacement services to be with us to support us. Your Liberal Britain ran two workshops. Welsh superstars (the Williams’ trio) – Kirsty Williams, Roger Williams and Mark Williams were in attendance.

We had debates on protecting rural Wales, a more equal Wales, dumping of nuclear waste, prostate cancer. We had a Q and A with the only Liberal Democrat in the country changing lives of people from government, in Kirsty Williams, our Education Cabinet Secretary; she told us of the newly launched  rural school scheme called ‘e-sgol’ (Welsh word for school is ysgol, which means ladder) – using IT to connect children in rural areas to teachers in specialist subjects.

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Universal Basic Income and the Welsh Perspective

In Wales, like the rest of the UK, we are seeing increasing homelessness and food bank usage. The UK Government continues to roll out a Universal Credit system that will exacerbate this poverty. No compassionate politician can resign themselves to worsening poverty. We need to look for progressive solutions and to continue our opposition to government policies that demonise the poor.

One possible solution is a Universal Basic Income (UBI), an idea that has been the subject of much debate across the political spectrum, including within our own party. UBI is a conviction that people seek purpose, and – if given the opportunity and freedom – will usually make the best decisions about their lives – a great Liberal principle. It must be a conversation about how we live, not just how we earn.

Opponents of UBI argue that it would damage economic growth by leading fewer people to work, but I think this view underestimates people. Money is only one factor driving us to work. I suspect that most who work primarily for money would take UBI as an opportunity to make more money, rather than not work at all.

While many would likely choose to work less, this is not necessarily bad. They may do so to spend more time with their family, achieve a better (and healthier) work/life balance, upskill themselves, undertake charity work or care for loved ones.

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Jane Dodds writes….Wales has a by-election and we need your help

There is a by-election for the Welsh Assembly in the North Wales constituency of Alyn and Deeside on February 6th.

This is an opportunity for the Welsh Liberal Democrats to begin their revival and renewal after a challenging time.

The election is being fought in difficult circumstances following the suicide of the Labour politician, Carl Sergeant in November, and his son has been selected as the Labour candidate in the by-election.

We have a brilliant candidate in Donna Lalek, who joined the party just over a year ago, was born and brought up in the constituency,is a founder member of the Liberal Democrat inspired “Everyone Matters” movement and is a community councillor.

This is a plug for your support as we desperately need more help in every part of campaigning.  Sal Brinton has been to support us, and Vince Cable comes up at the end of January.

You will be warmly welcomed if you can make it up to North Wales, so please think if you can join us.

The by-election is not only an opportunity for us to build capacity as a party, but is the first opportunity in a constituency election to consider how issues such as how the Brexit negotiations are beginning to impact on an area that voted out. 

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Jane Dodds’ New Year Message: Welsh Liberal Democrats are fighting back

Dymuniadau Gorau i chi gyd dros y Blwyddyn Newydd/ Best Wishes to you all for the New Year.

2018 will be the year of the Welsh Liberal Democrat fight back, with renewed energy in our activists, key policies which will change the lives of Welsh people, and a focus on winning seats.

We want to see a Wales that has social justice as its backbone – rethinking a punitive benefits system which wages war on the poor.  We want to see a Wales that looks out to Europe – leaving the EU would be a disaster for Welsh farmers and businesses.  We want to see a Wales that  welcomes refugees – building on its proud history of internationalism.  We want to see a Wales that has a health system that is fair – English people have waiting times for planned operations that is half that of Welsh people.  We want to see an economic plan for Wales that will breathe new life into its urban and rural areas – promoting innovation in green industries.  

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Reprise: What Jane Dodds wants for the Welsh Liberal Democrats

This is a re-run of the article Jane Dodds wrote for us during the Welsh Lib Dems’ leadership campaign, setting out her hopes for the party.

I have to start by saying that I am not that happy to be standing against Liz Evans, a colleague for whom I have enormous respect.  My only comfort is that the Welsh Liberal Democrats will have a Welsh speaking woman from mid-Wales as their next leader.

I believe that the Welsh Liberal Democrats have the talent, the drive, the enthusiasm and the ambition to start winning again, but we need to rebuild the party.  We need more members, more councillors and to win seats in the Welsh Assembly elections in 2021 and in the next Parliamentary elections.  The Welsh party needs to work with the Federal Party to forge a relationship that helps us to transform ourselves.  And Wales needs the Welsh Liberal Democrats to offer real, meaningful, and Liberal solutions to the deep seated inequalities people face.

Progress has been too slow.  As a social worker, I have seen at first hand the inequalities in our society and the hardship suffered by people as they face a lack of good quality homes and a paucity of well-paid and full time employment. People in Wales have health services which are well below the standards in England, and we need improved access to mental health provision.  We need to sustain our support to our Education Cabinet Secretary in Kirsty Williams as she continues to deliver progressive policies to improve educational standards for Welsh children.

We need an economic plan that breathes life back in to Wales, and to put green policies and renewable energy developments at the forefront of our strategy. We need to be an outward looking Wales – welcoming refugees and helping those in need, as well as joining Vince and all other Liberal Democrats in challenging Brexit.  

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Welsh Lib Dems’ Leadership: Jane Dodd writes “I want to lead a party that is radical and reforming”

I have to start by saying that I am not that happy to be standing against Liz Evans, a colleague for whom I have enormous respect.  My only comfort is that the Welsh Liberal Democrats will have a Welsh speaking woman from mid-Wales as their next leader.

I believe that the Welsh Liberal Democrats have the talent, the drive, the enthusiasm and the ambition to start winning again, but we need to rebuild the party.  We need more members, more councillors and to win seats in the Welsh Assembly elections in 2021 and in the next Parliamentary elections.  The Welsh party needs to work with the Federal Party to forge a relationship that helps us to transform ourselves.  And Wales needs the Welsh Liberal Democrats to offer real, meaningful, and Liberal solutions to the deep seated inequalities people face.

Progress has been too slow.  As a social worker, I have seen at first hand the inequalities in our society and the hardship suffered by people as they face a lack of good quality homes and a paucity of well-paid and full time employment. People in Wales have health services which are well below the standards in England, and we need improved access to mental health provision.  We need to sustain our support to our Education Cabinet Secretary in Kirsty Williams as she continues to deliver progressive policies to improve educational standards for Welsh children.

We need an economic plan that breathes life back in to Wales, and to put green policies and renewable energy developments at the forefront of our strategy. We need to be an outward looking Wales – welcoming refugees and helping those in need, as well as joining Vince and all other Liberal Democrats in challenging Brexit.  

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Congratulations to the Welsh football team

So Wales did not get beyond the semi finals in Euro 2016. Or rather; Wales got through to the semi finals of Euro 2016. An awesome performance which highlighted real teamwork and courage. They had tenacity in the face of people expecting so little of them. They believed in themselves and gave it everything.  They stood out as a team who felt privileged to be in the contest, wanted to make their mark and will come home to Wales with their heads held high having made it to the semi finals. Llongyfarchiadau Cymru/Congratulations Wales.

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My highlights of the Hay Festival

Living in mid Wales, we are able to pop along to the Hay Festival, and take in a day of culture, politics and new ways of thinking.

On Saturday June 4th, I did 4 contrasting bite size chunks of life – past and present. The day started with Erwin James, a convicted double murderer, sentenced to life imprisonment 32 years ago, and former Guardian columnist. He started his session by saying that for the first 12 months of his sentence, he was locked up for 23 hours a day, which forced him to think about whether he was made to be a criminal or life had made him that way.  He produced no conclusions, save that he had a good childhood to 7 years old, and after his mother was killed, his life careered down the path of criminality, culminating in his conviction. He has chosen never to speak about his crimes in detail,  respecting the families of the victims, and a constant theme in his talk was that he will never be able to make up for taking the lives of two people.  He has a book out (as do most authors at the festival) called Redeemable, a title chosen because he feels all prisoners are redeemable. He even had a good word to say about Michael Gove, a Justice Minister who has commented on how society needs to value prisoners more and see them as assets to society.

Moving on to the next session and definitely not a good word to say about the Conservatives, nor any government of the past 20 years; Refugee Tales told the stories of refugees in the UK, experiencing multiple dawn raids, a dispassionate asylum system, and shocking treatment of children detained ( and we still do lock up child asylum seekers with their families in a place called Cedars – please don’t think that as Liberal democrats we have stopped this practice as this report explains.) A comment from a Welsh GP in the audience produced many nods when she stated that successive UK governments have aimed to have an asylum system that is as difficult and as incomprehensible as possible to deter people from seeking sanctuary.  The aim of this session was to raise the profile of a campaign to limit the detention period of asylum seekers – currently indefinite – to 28 days – just as it is for any other UK citizen.

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A visit to Calais

Jane Dodds Calais

Last week I left Welshpool with my car rather more heavily loaded than usual- with sleeping bags and tarpaulins, all donated by caring Montgomeryshire people wanting to help refugees living in the cold of a Calais winter.

I’ve reported in full on my visit to the Calais refugee camp last week in several posts and videos on my facebook site. Please click the link to have a look.

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A Minister for Youth Affairs is needed to stop young people being driven out of rural life

Jane Dodds BridgeIn our part of the world, rural Powys, driving is often the only practical way to get around, especially for young people. The proposals this week to improve young driver safety could have a severe impact on the job prospects and lifestyles of young people in rural areas like ours.

Montgomeryshire in mid-Wales is the least densely populated county in England and Wales; 59.3% of us live in isolated, rural hamlets and isolated dwellings. Getting access to health, education, housing and jobs is a challenge for anyone living in a rural community like this. Add on to that the challenge of being a young person and the barriers mount up.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 17th Oct - 9:44am
    Good luck, mate; but don’t give up the day job yet. The NHS is going to need you for quite some time to come!
  • User Avatarchris moore 17th Oct - 9:29am
    Congratualtions on your selection, Rajin. Delighted to see another (relatively) new member as a PPC.
  • User AvatarDavid Evans 17th Oct - 8:00am
    Darren, I acknowledge what you have said and the prevalence of academic studies supporting it, but they only address the intellectual side of the argument....
  • User AvatarChit Chong 17th Oct - 7:49am
    Hi Merlene. Well done for trying to break through in the City both as a Chinese woman and as a Democrat. As a Green I...
  • User AvatarArnold Kiel 17th Oct - 7:21am
    As almost all facts around Brexit are now clearly exposed, it is no longer about exchanging arguments but purely about psychology. Remainers must shed all...
  • User AvatarDavid Evans 17th Oct - 6:57am
    Today's Press Release - Canada (under Liberal Justin Trudeau) legalises use of Cannabis and its regulated sale. Surely we are due an article on this...