Author Archives: Mark Valladares

I’m a veteran Party bureaucrat, having joined the old Liberal Party at university. And, perhaps not entirely surprisingly, I’ve held a range of positions since then - everything from Secretary-General of the Young Liberals to being a member of the ALDE Party‘s Financial Advisory Committee. Returning Officer, Presidential consort, committee secretary, you name it, I’ve probably done it. These days, I’m a parish councillor in a (very) small rural village in Suffolk’s Gipping Valley, and a member of the Party’s Federal International Relations Committee. Never let it be said that life is dull…

5 December 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems Slam Unacceptable Delay in Support for Off-Grid Homes
  • Gordon Brown Review Shows a Lack of Ambition for Wales
  • Michelle Mone: Lib Dems demand publication of PPE contract

Lib Dems Slam Unacceptable Delay in Support for Off-Grid Homes

Government delays support for off-grid homes until 2023

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have slammed delays by the UK Government in rolling out a scheme designed to support people living in off-grid homes.

The Conservative minister responsible for energy bill support has announced that off-grid households will not receive any help with their spiraling bills until at least 2023, despite MPs from all parties calling for urgent action throughout 2022.

The UK Government is also yet to establish the full details of how hard-hit residents will be able to access the help they need due to taking months to develop what has been described as an “over-complicated and under-generous” scheme.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have been campaigning for a price cap on heating oil and LPG to ease the pressure on the many families in rural Wales living off the national gas grid.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS represents Mid & West Wales which contains areas such as Ceredigion where 74% of properties are estimated to not be connected to the gas grid. In Powys the figure is 55% while in Pembrokeshire it is 41%.

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ALDE Party Council – so many thoughts, so little time…

It was grey and dank as I strode briskly through the quiet morning streets of Bratislava en route to one of those modern, efficient hotels that are so much a feature of European city centres these days. I was a man on a mission, eager to contribute my knowledge and wisdom to the cause of European liberalism. And then I arrived at the ALDE Party Council meeting…

In fairness, the meeting started with a tribute to our fallen colleague, Robert Woodthorpe Browne, with contributions from the co-Presidents, Ilhan Kyuchyuk and Timmy Dooley, Phil Bennion (Chair of our Federal International Relations Committee) and Manfred Eisenbach, who likened his friendship with Robert to that of Stadler and Waldorf from the Muppet Show.

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Welcome to my day: 5 December 2022 – “would the last Tory to leave the building…”

It’s shaping up to be a pretty miserable winter, with key groups across the economy either already intending, or considering, strike action in an attempt to maintain living standards in the face of inflation rates above 10%. I’ve written here before about the effect of real terms pay decreases in the public sector over more than a decade, but whilst opposition politicians can, and do, call for the Government to do better, there seems to be little long-term thinking about its future.

Our politics is so often about change, about big ideas for reform, yet government is, ironically, underpinned by the ability to manage what is already there. It isn’t “sexy” or exciting, it is unlikely to cause voters to rush to their polling stations overwhelmed with enthusiasm, but the concept of competence in government should be at the core of any political party’s offering. For Conservative supporters, the events of the past year have been a salutary reminder of the need to demonstrate that virtue.

Whilst Labour are attempting to recreate the conditions that led to the 1997 landslide, treading carefully in order to avoid offending anyone, there is an opportunity to talk about how you maintain a healthy, efficient public sector in the face of the challenges that now exist. And, just as in 1997, it seems that the public agree that greater investment in those services is necessary. But new, shiny buildings are only part of that reinvention – establishing a conveyor belt of new recruits into teaching, nursing and the rest of the services that underpin civil society is a long-term, slow burn primary task for any incoming government.

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Robert Woodthorpe Browne MBE (1943-2022)

The unexpected death of Robert this week, in the run-up to an ALDE Party Council meeting, the scene of so many of his contributions to the Party’s international work, has cast a shade over the work of our delegation this weekend.

Robert Woodthorpe Browne, the former veteran Chair of the Party’s International Relations Committee, latterly Federal International Relations Committee, died on Tuesday morning, following a stroke the previous week. An internationalist to his fingertips, his reputation as one of the leading players in global liberal politics was a tribute to hard work, an almost uncanny ability to make deals and a sense of pragmatism that stood him, and the Liberal Democrats, in good stead over many years.

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@ALDEParty Council to meet in Bratislava – the preview

And so, once again this year, I find myself heading for Bratislava, this time as a member of the Party’s delegation to the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Party Council meeting which takes place on Saturday morning. Here’s what’s on the agenda…

Preparations for the 2024 European Elections

A tricky, and somewhat painful, agenda item for us, given that we won’t be fighting them and don’t have a vote on the manifesto, but work is underway on designing the campaign, drafting a Europe-wide message and building stronger links with non-ALDE members of the Renew Europe group in the European Parliament. Our position as a European nation which doesn’t have any formal arrangement with the European Union, nor ambitions to join, does leave us a bit like a small boy with his nose against the outside of the shop window.

Finance

The Commission is being difficult about receipts from third countries (for example, us), and there are suggestions that our rights within the ALDE Party are in jeopardy. Indeed, the key European Regulation 1141/2014 does offer challenges in terms of having non-EU member parties. But it does seem strange that the Commission would discourage participation from EEA states (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland), Schengen micro-states such as Andorra, or even candidate nations such as Bosnia-Hercegovina or Moldova.

I would expect quite a lot of horse trading before this resolves itself, but we will continue to make the case for wider inclusivity within all European political families.

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28 November – 2 December: this week in the Lords

It’s a full week ahead for the Liberal Democrats in the Lords, with business on all five days but, before I start, I should note the sad loss of Nigel Jones, who passed away three weeks ago. Max Wilkinson has written movingly about him, and our Leader in the Lords, Dick Newby, offered his own thoughts. Our belated condolences go out to his family and friends.

Sally Hamwee chairs the Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee and, on Monday, introduces its report, “Technology rules? The advent of new technologies in the justice system”. The report looks at the use of Artificial Intelligence by police forces and draws some worrying conclusions. Tim Clement-Jones, Sarah Ludford and Brian Paddick will also be reflecting their concerns during this Grand Committee debate.

In the main Chamber, the Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill, sponsored by Green peer, Jenny Jones, reaches its Report Stage, whilst the Government’s Procurement Bill also reaches its Report Stage.

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Liberal Democrat Disability Association elects new leadership

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Annual General Meeting of the Liberal Democrat Disability Association (LDDA) on Saturday afternoon.

Guest speaker Wendy Chamberlain spoke about her Private Members’ Bill, the Carer’s Leave Bill, which has passed through its Committee Stage in the House of Commons. The Bill, if passed, would give employed carers the right to a week’s unpaid leave each year to provide or arrange care for a dependent suffering from a long-term condition. She noted that, whilst it didn’t go as far as she would like, this was a change consistent with the manifesto …

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Welcome to my day: 28 November 2022 – lifting one’s eyes to the horizon…

It’s been a somewhat trying week for your Day Editor, as we’ve come under fire for doing pretty much what we’ve always done from people who’ve previously taken no interest in what we do but would now really rather we did it in a way that they approve of.

In fairness, when you take on a role like this, you expect some criticism. We’re too loyal to the leadership, or not loyal enough. We don’t address the big issues, or focus too much on perceived minutiae. We don’t allow freedom of speech or our moderation is too lax. And, sometimes, that …

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26-27 November 2022 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Manston diphtheria scandal: Braverman must resign
  • Stealth Tax: Lib Dems propose law forcing Government to write to every taxpayer facing a tax rise

Manston diphtheria scandal: Braverman must resign

Responding to the Sunday Times report of 70 suspected cases of diphtheria among asylum seekers moved from the Manston facility as well as a suspected untreated gunshot wound, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson, Daisy Cooper MP, said:

Liberal Democrats in the Commons and Lords have been questioning Ministers and repeatedly received assurances on the quality of healthcare for asylum seekers.



The UK is better than this. The Conservative Government should be ashamed of their callous complacency over

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25 November 2022 – today’s press releases

Apologies, press release fans, but broadband to my village was lost due to a BT fault this evening. It’s supposed to be restored in a fortnight’s time, so I’m reduced to the internet equivalent of two tin cans and a length of string temporarily.

  • Sunak reappoints controversial Trade Minister he sacked last month
  • Raab allegations can’t be swept under the carpet

Sunak reappoints controversial Trade Minister he sacked last month

The Liberal Democrats have demanded that reappointed Trade Minister Dominic Johnson urgently publishes his Register of Interests, warning that he has a duty to be “open, transparent and accountable” and avoid a conflict of …

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24 November 2022 – today’s press release

  • Government ‘must get a grip’ as asylum backlog soars to 143,000
  • Raab emails: Lib Dems write to Cabinet Secretary demanding investigation
  • Michelle Mone: Lib Dems table amendment to scrap VIP lanes
  • Richard Foord MP raises sewage report in Parliament after his son fell sick swimming in Devon river
  • Full Review in Social Services in Wales Needed After Logan Mwangi Report

Government ‘must get a grip’ as asylum backlog soars to 143,000

Responding to new official figures showing that the asylum backlog has risen to 143,377, with 97,717 waiting more than six months, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

The Home Office is a disaster zone, and it’s clear who is to blame. By their own admission, the Conservatives have broken our asylum system and shattered public trust in it.

Tens of thousands of refugees have been waiting months for a decision, banned from working or renting their own home. The Conservative chaos at the Home Office is wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money every day.

The Government must finally get a grip. It should take asylum cases away from the discredited Home Office and set up a new independent unit to make decisions quickly and correctly.

We need a fair, effective asylum system that treats everyone with dignity, and that everyone can have confidence in.

Raab emails: Lib Dems write to Cabinet Secretary demanding investigation

The Liberal Democrats have written to the Cabinet Secretary asking for an investigation into reports that Dominic Raab has been using his personal email for Government business.

Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain, who wrote the letter, commented:

The public deserve answers, not more cover-ups.

The drumbeat of allegations against Dominic Raab is relentless. From reports of bullying to allegations he has followed in the footsteps of Suella Braverman by using his personal email for government business, it is obvious that investigations are needed.

The Deputy Prime Minister cannot be relaxed about national security, especially at a time when Britain’s enemies are stepping up their cyber attacks. It is only right and proper the Cabinet Office investigate these reports and determine immediately if overseas enemies could have seen national secrets sent by Dominic Raab.

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23 November 2022 – today’s press releases (part 2)

  • Senedd Member Calls for Action on the Cambrian Line
  • Raab bullying inquiry: Sunak must sack him if allegations upheld
  • Debate on Nurses Pay – Liberal Democrats Back Calls for Higher Nurses Pay Offer
  • Conservative MPs break manifesto pledge by voting against business rates review

Senedd Member Calls for Action on the Cambrian Line

Concerns have been raised today in the Senedd over the rail service on the Cambrian Line which runs through Mid Wales.

Speaking in the Senedd, Welsh Liberal Democrat Member for Mid & West Wales Jane Dodds raised delays in the much anticipated hourly service between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury, stating that the delays were just another sign of Mid Wales being forgotten about by the Labour-Plaid Cymru partnership in Cardiff Bay.

An hourly service between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury was announced in 2014, but has faced repeated delays since, with the latest delaying the introduction from 2022 to 2024.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have stated that an hourly service stopping at all stations along the Cambrian Line is essential to encourage more passengers to use the railway instead of cars and for businesses given it will also play an important role in making connections from Shrewsbury easier.

The Party has called on the Welsh Government to prioritise the introduction of the service and tackle delays head-on.

Commenting Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said:

We really need the Labour-Plaid Cymru partnership in Cardiff Bay to prioritise this route, it is essential for businesses and the public in Mid Wales.

The fact it has been continuously delayed for almost a decade shows that once again Mid Wales is being forgotten about by Labour.

With Transport for Wales now fully nationalized and owned by the Welsh Government, there is no excuse.

If Labour wants to put a ban on all new roadbuilding the least they can do is ensure we have well-functioning public transport networks.

I am calling for the Welsh Government to prioritise the rollout of this service and put an end to repeated delays once and for all.

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23 November 2022 – today’s press releases (part 1)

  • Full Inquiry Needed into Gwent Police
  • Supreme Court decision: First year law student could have predicted this
  • Gambling: Conservative Inaction Leaving More People Vulnerable
  • Braverman is out of her depth

Full Inquiry Needed into Gwent Police

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for a full inquiry into misconduct in Gwent Police stating that the evidence that has come to light warrants a full independent investigation if trust in the Force is to be restored.

The Party has also questioned whether Labour’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Jeff Cuthbert, should still be in place.

Calls for a full inquiry come following an investigation by the Times that revealed a culture of misogyny, corruption, abuse and racism in the force.

Wiltshire Police Force is currently set to investigate the claims.

The latest scandal comes after three officers were dismissed from the Force over summer due to inappropriate behaviour. The Welsh Liberal Democrats had previously criticised how long this process took.

Commenting Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader and the only female party leader in Wales, Jane Dodds MS said:

Trust in the Force has clearly been undermined to a point where a full independent inquiry is required.

The failure to tackle this appalling behaviour on the part of some officers is failing the public and the majority of brave police who put their lives at risk to keep us all safe.

What has been revealed over the course of the last few weeks is deeply disturbing.

It has also not yet been made clear whether Labour’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Jeff Cuthbert was aware of any of these allegations before the story broke in the Times. If not, how was he able to oversee a Force with such serious problems without being aware?

It is difficult to see how he should remain in post.

With allegations of serious misconduct in a multitude of police forces, including the Met, I do not believe an investigation by another police force is sufficient.

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22 November 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Debt figures: Conservative Chancellors have blown black hole in Britain’s finances
  • Welsh Liberal Democrats to Vote to Withhold Legislative Consent on the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill
  • OECD forecast: Damning verdict of the Government’s economic record
  • Sewage: Budget means almost £500 million less to tackle the sewage crisis
  • Levelling Up Bill: Conservative chaos to blame for cancellation of vote

Debt figures: Conservative Chancellors have blown black hole in Britain’s finances

Responding to new ONS figures showing the scale of UK government borrowing in October, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney said:

These figures reveal just how badly the long list of Conservative Chancellors have trashed our economy. This Government has blown a massive black hole in Britain’s finances and is now expecting hardworking families to pick up the bill.

It is a national scandal that big banks are getting massive tax cuts whilst the squeezed-middle gets clobbered with endless tax rises.

The sensible way to solve this is surely to tax the richest companies making bumper profits. We can’t trust this Conservative Government to clean up their own mess. They should never be trusted to run our country’s economy.

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21 November 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Mortgage ticking time bomb: Homeowners facing biggest interest payment hike on record
  • Jane Dodds Responds to FIFA’s Decision to Force Team Wales not to wear LGBT+ One Love armbands

Mortgage ticking time bomb: Homeowners facing biggest interest payment hike on record

  • True cost of the mortgage ticking time bomb revealed by Liberal Democrat analysis of OBR figures
  • Homeowners are paying the price for the Conservative Government crashing the economy

British mortgage owners will face the biggest hike in interest payments on record, the Liberal Democrats can reveal.

Buried in the OBR Budget documents is the stark forecast detailing that mortgage interest payments will double over …

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Review: “Treason: People, Power & Plot” at the National Archives

Treason. It’s a word with connotations of vindictive kings putting potential rivals to death. But, with talk of potential revisions to the existing legislation, it’s perhaps an interesting choice of subject for the new exhibition at the National Archives.

I was lucky enough to take part last week in an in-depth exploration of the exhibition with Dr Neil Johnston, one of the team behind it, as we examined key pieces of original source material and discussed how accusations of treason were used to secure and maintain power over the centuries, from the passing of the Treason Act in 1352 to the …

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19-20 November 2022 – the weekend’s press release

Barclay interview: Jumble of jargon can’t hide Conservative failures

Responding to Health Secretary Steve Barclay’s interview on the Laura Kuenssberg show this morning, Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP said:

This Conservative Government cannot continue to blame the coronavirus pandemic for years of neglect and mismanagement of our NHS.

Patients are being failed as waiting times skyrocket and hospitals crumble. Health workers are on their knees struggling to keep up with growing pressures and shrinking budgets.

Social care is in dire need of drastic reform and consecutive Conservative Governments have proved time and time again that they will not deliver it.

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Welcome to my day: 21 November 2022 – showing a little heart…

It’s been an interesting week here at Liberal Democrat Voice. As readers may be aware, we rewrote our editorial policy to reflect what, I would acknowledge, has been the way that we’ve managed the site for some time.

I first became involved in the editorial side of things about a decade or so ago and, as it turned out, it was harder than I had thought at the outset. I came back about five years ago because, well, the team were short-staffed and somebody needed to step up. I have, however, consistently spoken of my personal preference for a culture of mutual self-respect and inclusion. I’m a liberal, obviously, and believe in freedom of expression. And balancing those two concepts has proved… difficult.

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18 November 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Squeezed middled pushed to the brink by Conservative’s Cost of Chaos budget
  • IFS analysis: Conservative ministers are economic vandals

Squeezed middled pushed to the brink by Conservative’s Cost of Chaos budget

In response to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s morning round following yesterday’s Autumn Statement, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney said:

Struggling families who have worked hard for years have had their security stolen by this Conservative Government. While non-doms and big banks got off lightly, the already squeezed middle are being pushed to the brink.

Those working day-in, day-out are having to choose between food or heating, mortgage payments or fuel for

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17 November 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Wales Ambulance Waiting Times – Emergency Lights Should be Flashing for Labour
  • Budget: Everyone being forced to pay the price for Conservative chaos
  • Cancer Treatment Waiting Times Intolerable
  • Conservative giveaway to big banks set to cost taxpayers £18 billion
  • 5 Hidden Horrors in the Autumn Statement

Wales Ambulance Waiting Times – Emergency Lights Should be Flashing for Labour

Responding to the news that Welsh ambulance response times have hit their slowest on record ever for red calls Jane Dodds MS said:

When someone is in a moment of crisis and chooses to call 999, they want to know that there will be someone at the other

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16 November 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Inflation stats: Families struggling to get by because of Government’s inaction and incompetence
  • Raab: Ethics advisor must be appointed to stop a whitewash report
  • Raab investigation: “another Conservative stitch up”

Inflation stats: Families struggling to get by because of Government’s inaction and incompetence

Responding to the latest ONS figures showing inflation has reached 11.1%, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney said:

This Government’s biggest economic failure has been their disastrous attempts to get inflation down. Families are now struggling to get by because of this Government’s inaction and incompetence on spiraling prices.

After inflicting so much chaos, the latest Conservative Chancellor is now expecting the public to clean up their mess with grossly unfair tax rises. Our crumbling hospitals and run down classrooms are on the brink of savage cuts all because the Conservative party crashed the economy to fund tax cuts for the richest companies. The country will never forgive them for this.

This week Jeremy Hunt should target the oil firms and banks making bumper profits to fill the blackhole in Britain’s finances, rather than inflicting more pain and misery on struggling households.

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15 November 2022 – today’s press releases

  • ONS earnings figures: Economic mismanagement is leaving pay packets stretched further than ever
  • Vaughan Gething Qatar Press Briefing – More Soundbites Rather than Real Solidarity
  • Liberal Democrats Raise Concerns Over the Impact of Australian and New Zealand Trade Deals on Wales
  • Conservatives failing to count cost of windfall tax loophole

ONS earnings figures: Economic mismanagement is leaving pay packets stretched further than ever

Responding to the latest ONS labour market and earnings figures which show pay falling in real terms, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

This Government’s economic mismanagement is leaving pay packets stretched further than ever before just as bills spiral out of control.

This is the worst cost of living crisis in a generation and Thursday is judgement day for the latest Conservative Chancellor in post. He cannot make the same mistakes as his predecessors who crashed the economy and left families to pick up the bill.

Thanks to the Conservative party’s botched budget and reckless mismanagement of the economy, homeowners are being forced to pay hundreds of pounds more a month on their mortgage whilst their take home pay is eaten away by inflation. The public will never forgive Conservative MPs for this.

Vaughan Gething Qatar Press Briefing – More Soundbites Rather than Real Solidarity

Responding to Vaughan Gething’s press conference where he continued to defend the Welsh Labour Government sending a delegation to Qatar during the World Cup, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said:

I am not convinced by the arguments set out today by Vaughan Gething nor previous arguments from the Welsh Labour Government seeking to justify this morally unjustifiable trip.

The Welsh Government should be upfront about its intentions going to Qatar, it is not to ‘support Team Wales’ but is to seek investment.

These tainted investment opportunities are going to come at the cost of providing diplomatic legitimacy to Qatar’s hosting of this tournament despite the country’s atrocious human rights record that has left over 6,500 migrant workers dead, punishes being gay with execution or imprisonment and treats women as lesser human beings.

Vaughan Gething has stated that the Welsh Government will “proactively use Wales’ place in the World Cup in Qatar to promote our strong Welsh values”, yet today has again not provided any evidence on how the Government will do this.

The last time I checked, unless the three ministers have been promote to Team Cymru itself and are going to be on that pitch, their presence isn’t going to affect how our national team performs and our national team are already upholding our values.

If Labour actually wanted to show solidarity with those living under Qatar‘s poor human rights record, or the families of the victims that have died during the construction of World Cup stadiums, they would cancel their unjustifiable trip immediately and instead join the vast majority of fans who will be watching the games from home, and to show some consistency on “saving them air miles” that was used to justify the Welsh Government not attending COP27 last week.

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11 November 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Welsh Liberal Democrats Statement for Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday
  • GDP stats: People will never forgive this Government for crashing our economy during a cost-of-living crisis
  • Conservative stealth cuts leave up to 110,000 children without a free lunch
  • Dominic Raab behaviour: Cabinet Office must investigate immediately

Welsh Liberal Democrats Statement for Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday

Commenting Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said:

Today and on Sunday we pay tribute to all who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country during its darkest hours.

Their sacrifice has allowed us to live in a society based on both freedom and liberty.

Today we think of not only the lives that were lost, but of the wish of survivors of both World Wars that we should strive to build a world free of war and violence.

This year as we remember those who fought for freedom and liberty during previous conflicts, many of us will also be thinking of the brave men and women of Ukraine, who are at this very moment standing in face of tyranny with winter approaching.

We remain ever thankful to those who stood to protect our country. We will remember them.

GDP stats: People will never forgive this Government for crashing our economy during a cost-of-living crisis

Responding to the latest GDP figures which reveal the UK economy contracted 0.2% in the third quarter, marking the first step towards recession, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

Today’s figures show the Conservative Government is leaving our economy smaller and all of us poorer.

People will never forgive this Government for crashing our economy during a cost-of-living crisis and putting up their mortgages by hundreds of pounds a month. The Conservative party can never again claim that they are the party of sound money.

Ministers must now do whatever it takes to protect households from the economic downturn they have caused, starting with a mortgage protection fund to ensure nobody loses their home this winter.

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9-10 November 2022 – the press releases…

Apologies, press release fans, as I got rather caught up in the drama of the US midterms yesterday. So, without further ado…

  • Gavin Williamson anti-bullying video exposes ‘rank hypocrisy’ of Conservative Government
  • Lib Dems: Strip Gavin Williamson of his knighthood if found guilty of bullying
  • Sunak failing the next generation as he refuses to protect education budgets
  • Welsh Liberal Democrats respond to Nurse Strike Action
  • The Government have failed cancer patients
  • Home repossessions increase significantly as budget sets off a mortgage ticking time bomb

Gavin Williamson anti-bullying video exposes ‘rank hypocrisy’ of Conservative Government

Responding to the resurfaced Government anti-bullying video recorded by Gavin Williamson MP during his time as Secretary of State for Education, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Education, Munira Wilson MP, said:

This exposes the rank hypocrisy and double standards at the heart of this Conservative government.

Gavin Williamson himself admitted that bullying is never acceptable.

Schools rightly have a zero tolerance approach to bullying. But once again it seems it’s one rule for Conservative ministers and another for everyone else.

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US Midterms: Democrats defy the odds in the House contests

Going into yesterday’s elections, the expectation was that the Democrats would be hard pressed to repel the five seat swing required by the Republicans to win control of the House. But, as it turned out, the task is made easier if you have extremist candidates carrying the red banner, and you threaten abortion rights in a country where the majority favour abortion rights with some, usually mainstream, restrictions.

And so far, that’s how it seems to be playing. Of the sixty-four seats judged to be in play by the Cook Political Report, forty-five Democrat-held to just nineteen Republican-held, as I write …

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US Midterms – we’re probably not going to know the Senate result for a while yet…

Good morning, and welcome to our further coverage of the critical US midterm elections. Many thanks to Paul Walter, who set the scene yesterday.

On the plus side, it looks as though the ‘red tsunami’ only just made it to the shoreline, but the prospects still look on the gloomy side. We’ll start with the knife edge that is the Senate, where just one flipped seat (net) would hand control to the Republicans. Starting with Paul’s ‘five to watch’:

New Hampshire was, traditionally, a Republican bastion in New England but, as the southern part of the state has seen a population shift from Massachusetts in search of lower housing costs and lower taxes, voting patterns have shifted. The preferred Republican candidate was Governor Chris Sununu, the son of John Sununu, a former Governor and George Bush’s Chief of Staff, but he chose to seek re-election. That left the Republicans with Don Bolduc, a retired US Army Brigadier-General, whose primary victory was founded on a strong anti-abortion stance and a belief that the 2020 Presidential election was “stolen”. The fact that, having won the primary, he then almost immediately started rowing away from both positions probably explained his subsequent lack of success, as incumbent Maggie Hassan is currently 50,000 votes ahead with about 120,000 left to be counted.

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8 November 2022 – today’s press releases

It’s been another day in which the apparent total lack of understanding of governance has been the undoing of another Conservative minister, and today’s press releases reflect how quickly that can play out…

  • Williamson comments: Independent Cabinet Office investigation needed now
  • Welsh Liberal Democrats Only Party in the Senedd Making a Stand on Human Rights
  • Gavin Williamson resigns: Sunak’s integrity left in tatters

Williamson comments: Independent Cabinet Office investigation needed now

The Liberal Democrats have demanded an immediate independent Cabinet Office inquiry into remarks made by Gavin Williamson, in which he told a senior civil servant to “slit his throat.”

It comes after Number 10 confirmed today Rishi Sunak has full confidence in Gavin Williamson.

The Liberal Democrats said a full and independent inquiry must be carried out immediately by the Cabinet Office Propriety and Ethics team, and the findings must be made public.

Liberal Democrat Cabinet Office Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

The Conservatives must not be allowed to mark their own homework. We need an independent inquiry now to address these damning allegations about Gavin Williamson’s conduct.

Anything less would be an abdication of leadership from Number 10, and make a mockery of Sunak’s promise to govern with integrity.

The findings must be made public – if the Conservatives have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear.

Every day this scandal drags on means more endless infighting while the Conservatives fail to tackle the pressing issues facing the country.

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7 November 2022 – today’s press release

‘Full Confidence’ in Williamson shows same old Conservative sleaze

Responding to the news that Rishi Sunak has ‘full confidence in Gavin Williamson despite knowing about the complaint made, Liberal Democrat Cheif Whip Wendy Chamberlain MP said:

Different Prime Minister, same old Conservative sleaze.

If Rishi Sunak, had any sense of public duty, he would sack Gavin Williamson now. In any other workplace, someone who behaved as he did would have been rightly dismissed for gross misconduct.

Instead Williamson is being let off the hook by a Prime Minister happy to let his integrity be brought into question on a

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7-9 November – this week in the Lords

A short week in Parliament, with the short November recess starting on Thursday, but there’s plenty of Liberal Democrat interest.

Monday starts with the usual oral questions, this time including a question from Shas Sheehan regarding Government steps, as President of COP26, to acknowledge and address greenhouse gas emissions by developed countries, in the light of recent flooding in Pakistan.

The Seafarers’ Wages Bill receives its Third Reading, with Ros Scott from our benches expected to pursue the issue of how the legislation sits with international agreements in the maritime sector. So far, there’s been little sense that the Government gets this, but given their persistent disregard for such things, it’s unlikely that they’ll change their mind at this stage. And there’s Day 4 of the Committee Stage of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, with Jeremy Purvis, Alison Suttie, Sarah Ludford and Dee Doocey attempting to prevent a blatant power grab by the Government, allowing them to, effectively, rewrite the legisaltion as they go along.

In Grand Committee, the Electronic Trade Documents Bill has its Second Reading, with Chris Fox up for our benches.

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Welcome to my day: 7 November 2022 – the hypocrisy of a “free market”

With the news that nurses have voted to take strike action – and it should be borne in mind that the result of the strike ballot isn’t official yet, merely rumoured – the Sunak administration faces an early test of its popularity (or lack thereof).

Offering 4% would, in most recent years, have been seen as rather good given the ongoing squeeze on public sector pay since 2010. But, with inflation hovering above 10% and effectively higher for those on lower salaries, it comes as another blow to a workforce which knows that it’s running to stand still. Of course, a private sector operation in such a position would have the choice of cutting services or increasing pay to address shortages such as the NHS has – 40,000 nursing vacancies, exacerbated by the loss of EU freedom of movement and the additional costs now incurred by foreign nurses who might think of working here.

Sadly, the Government appears not to understand that the free market applies to public sector jobs too. If you don’t pay competitive salaries, and you require staff to effectively compromise standards in order to achieve throughput, you shouldn’t be surprised when recruitment and retention become a problem. And there comes a point when blackmailing them with “but think of the customers!” doesn’t cut it any more.

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    Fully support this article....
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