Author Archives: News Meerkat

Borrowing figures: The Government have no economic competence left


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The Office for National Statistics has announced that “Public sector borrowing in December 2022 was £27.4 billion, the highest December figure since monthly records began in January 1993”.

Responding to the new, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

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Lib Dem analysis shows 350,000 patients waiting over 12 hours for a hospital bed in 2022


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A record 350,000 patients, equivalent to the population of Leicester, waited more than 12 hours to be admitted to hospital from A&E in 2022.

The figures were uncovered in new analysis by the Liberal Democrats showing a staggering rise in 12 hour delays at A&E since 2015.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has set out an NHS rescue plan to reduce the shocking A&E delays which he warned are “needlessly costing lives”. This includes recruiting 8,000 more GPs, giving pharmacists more powers to prescribe medicines and boosting funding to get eligible patients out of hospital and into social care. The proposals would mean fewer desperate people turning to A&E after struggling to get a GP appointment.

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“Cynical” move to block Scotland’s Gender Recognition Bill

The Guardian reports:

Rishi Sunak’s government has blocked legislation passed by the Scottish parliament that would make Scotland the first part of the UK to introduce a self-identification system for people who want to change gender.

The Scottish secretary, Alister Jack, announced that he would use section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998 for the first time to halt the gender recognition bill after a review by UK government lawyers.

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London ambulances to stop waiting: Major incident must be declared

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Responding to a leaked email revealing London Ambulance Service crews will now only wait 45 minutes at hospitals before handing over patients due to the current NHS crisis, the Liberal Democrats have called for a major incident to be declared across London.

Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:

“This move shows the shocking reality of the NHS crisis and is yet further proof that a major incident must now be declared across London.

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LibDems highlight people turning to DIY healthcare in NHS crisis

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The LibDems have received widespread media coverage, including in the Guardian and Times, after highlighting that people are turning to DIY medicine because they can’t get a GP appointment.

The Guardian report says:

Almost one in four people have bought medicine online or at a pharmacy to treat their illness after failing to see a GP face to face, according to a UK survey underlining the rise of do-it-yourself treatment.

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Daisy Cooper on the “Zoom parliament”

Daisy Cooper features prominently in a Guardian article about four new MPs and parliament during the Covid restrictions.

Daisy comments:

For a long time we were a Zoom parliament, which means you don’t bump into people in the corridors, or in the tea room or in the voting lobbies. But that is starting to develop now.

Fellow MP Amy Callaghan says:

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Ed Davey – Clean up our air to save lives

On a recent visit to Watford, Ed Davey unveiled the Liberal Democrats’ proposals for a £20billion Community Clean Air fund – part of the party’s £150 billion Green Economic Recovery Plan.

With air pollution causing 40,000 early deaths a year and transport now the country’s biggest source of carbon emissions, the Fund would enable Councils and communities to tackle this and spearhead a local transport revolution

New light rail and tram projects, conversion of bus fleets to hydrogen energy and new council-led clean air zones are three key parts of the plan.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 18 Comments

Despite Covid, the Guardian predicts “no escape” from the Lib Dem disco

The Guardian sketch writer, John Crace, gives a witty mention to our beloved disco in his parliamentary sketch this morning:

A return to normal: 21 June. There would be no escape for those hoping to avoid the disco night at the Lib Dem party conference.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged | 6 Comments

Jamie Stone MP on the biggest trouble he has ever been in

This is worth a view:

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Siobhan Benita slams London Mayor’s mass surveillance roll-out as a real risk to civil liberties

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Responding to the Metropolitan Police’s announcement on Thursday that it will begin to use automated facial recognition surveillance operationally, Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London Siobhan Benita said:

It is unacceptable for a new form of mass surveillance like this to be rolled out onto London’s streets without proper consultation, regulation or oversight.

Facial recognition technology is hopelessly inaccurate. It is biased against women and ethnic minorities. The evidence that it will make us safer is patchy at best, but there is a real risk that it will erode civil liberties and increase distrust and discrimination.

To make London safer we must restore effective community policing, starting with the re-opening of local police stations, which the current Mayor has shut down.

Liberal Democrats do not want London to become a city where innocent people feel as though their every movement is being watched. The fact that Sadiq Khan has given the go-ahead for this undermines his recent claim to share our liberal values.

If Londoners want a liberal mayor with a positive vision for a safer, greener, kinder capital, their best option is me.

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Tim Pickstone named Mayor of Bury

Bury Town Hall
Many congratulations to Tim Pickstone on being named as the next Mayor of Bury, in Greater Manchester and Lancashire.

Tim leads Bury Council’s four Lib Dem councillors. There are 29 Labour, 16 Conservative and two Independent councillors. So Tim’s election is a sign of the respect in which councillors of other parties hold him.

Bury Times reports:

HOLYROOD ward councillor Tim Pickstone has been named as the next Mayor of Bury.

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Ed Davey announces new Liberal Democrat front bench team in the House of Commons

Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey, has today announced the new Lib Dem team in the House of Commons.

The new team will speak up for the millions of people who voted for the party in the recent general election and the millions more who are dismayed with the current Conservative government.

Speaking on the announcement, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

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+++Heidi Allen MP to stand down at the election, citing “nastiness and intimidation”

The Guardian reports:

The Liberal Democrat MP Heidi Allen will not stand at the next general election, citing the “nastiness and intimidation” she has endured as a politician as being behind her decision to quit.

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More from Jo Swinson on this morning’s cross party talks

Speaking after this morning’s meeting of opposition leaders to discuss stopping a no-deal Brexit, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson said:

“This was a positive meeting with a clear objective to stop the nightmare that is no-deal Brexit, which the Government have admitted will lead to medicine and food shortages.

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LibDem council chief: Government ‘must not crucify Portsmouth’ over Brexit

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The BBC reports:

The leader of Portsmouth City Council says he can not allow government inaction to “crucify Portsmouth” in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Gerald Vernon-Jackson said the authority and Hampshire County Council had already spent £4m on preparations to avoid gridlock near the city’s port.

The government has just announced port towns in England will receive an extra £9m to pay for preparations.

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Jo tables motion of no confidence in Boris Johnson’s government


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Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson MP has tabled a motion calling for a vote of no confidence in the new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. She has also written to Jeremy Corbyn urging him to move an official motion of no confidence in Boris Johnson.

Speaking having tabled the motion, Jo Swinson said:

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Breaking news: Welsh Lib Dems select Chris Twells as lead candidate for North Wales

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have selected local campaigner Chris Twells as the party’s lead candidate for the North Wales region at the next National Assembly for Wales election.

North Wales elected a Welsh Liberal Democrat AM at every election until 2016, when UKIP won two seats.

Chris was selected by Welsh Liberal Democrat members living in Ynys Mon, Arfon, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham in an all-member ballot.

Chris was born in St Asaph and brought up in Rhosesmor, Flintshire, attending the Alun School in Mold before going on to study Law at the University of York. He has been an active Liberal Democrat member since joining the party as a student because of its strong pro-European stance and support for human rights.

Caradog Steffan John, a fluent Welsh speaker and former researcher at the Assembly was chosen as the second candidate for the North Wales list and Wrexham Councillor Rob Walsh secured third place. Donna Lalek, a Community Councillor from Flintshire and the second-placed candidate at the recent European election, will be the fourth candidate.

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Vince Cable declines invitation to State Banquet for Trump

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Vince Cable has today declined an invitation to a state banquet with Donald Trump.

In a letter to Palace staff organising the impending state visit in June, Mr Cable said:

I have taken the view that as a party leader I should not support state visits where the government of the day has issued invitations inappropriately.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 59 Comments

Greta Thunberg speech in Parliament today should help everyone to take notice of protecting our planet – Cable


Today, schoolgirl Climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks at the Houses of Parliament. Vince Cable has said that he hopes that this event will greatly increase the profile to our climate emergency.

He remarked:

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Posters: Always be careful where you put yours…

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+++Norman Lamb says he’s considering resigning the party whip

From the Guardian Politics Live:

The senior Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb (he was not far off being elected leader in 2015) has told the BBC that he is considering resigning the party whip because he is so angry about how the Lib Dems acted in the indicative votes last night. Lamb voted for the customs union amendment, but around half of colleagues voted against it along with other MPs who did not want it to succeed because they want a second referendum instead.

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Cabinet minister: ‘It is May’s inability to engage in the most basic human interactions that brought us here’

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BBC Newsnight’s political editor, Nicholas Watt, quoted a cabinet minister last night, providing perhaps the clearest insight yet into the Brexit mess. Here’s what Watt said:

In cabinet, I am picking up complete and utter dispair. I said to one cabinet minister “Why is the Prime Minister holding a vote when she is pretty sure she is going to lose?” and using very strong language, this cabinet minister said to me:

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Brexit would put the brakes on Britain, F1 bosses warn

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Following concerns from Formula 1 team bosses, reported by Autosport magazine, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake has warned that Brexit would “put Britain into the gravel trap”.

Seven of the ten current F1 teams, including world champions Mercedes, are based in the UK.

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Nick Clegg to move to 1 Hacker Way, Menlo Park, California

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The Guardian reports:

Facebook has hired Sir Nick Clegg, the former UK deputy prime minister, as its head of global policy and communications.

Clegg, 51, will join Facebook as it struggles to cope with mounting political pressure over issues including fake news, data protection and the threat of government regulation.

The former head of the Liberal Democrats will move to Silicon Valley in January.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 53 Comments

Vince Cable calls for an “adjudicator” in any Brexit deal referendum, plus votes for 16 and 17 year olds


In a speech to the North East of England People’s Vote rally in Newcastle this afternoon, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:

Some say a People’s Vote would cause aggro, all the lies of 2016 would be repeated. We need to anticipate that. We need an adjudicator who can look at what campaigners say and fact check them properly.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 27 Comments

Vince Cable speech: break-up the big tech monopolies

In a speech in London this morning entitled ‘Taming the Tech Titans’, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable has called for stronger international and domestic regulation of big tech companies. You can watch the speech here.

He has criticised the effective monopolies enjoyed by the likes of Google, Facebook, and Amazon, comparing their market dominance to that of big oil companies in the past, and suggests ways they can be broken up.

The speech also focussed on how start-ups and innovative small and medium-sized tech firms can thrive in a more competitive market.

The text released in advance of the speech has Vince arguing that

Data is the new oil. Data is the raw material which drives these firms and it is control of data which gives them an advantage over competitors. These companies have acquired their pivotal position by providing a service or platform through which data can be extracted, collected and used.

Just as Standard Oil once cornered 85% of the refined oil market, today Google drives 89% of internet search, 95% of young adults on the internet use a Facebook product, Amazon accounts for 75% of E-book sales, while Google and Apple combined provide 99% of mobile operating systems. “

National government and, even more so, supranational bodies like the EU can and should look to break up enterprises where size is detrimental to the economic wellbeing of the country, its citizens and its capacity for innovation.

There is a case for splitting Amazon into three separate businesses – one offering cloud computing, one acting as a general retailer and one offering a third-party marketplace. Other examples would be Facebook being forced to divest itself of Instagram and WhatsApp as a condition for operating in the EU, creating two new social media networks. Divesting Google of YouTube would be another.

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Layla Moran: Conservatives are abdicating their responsibilities on sex education

In interviews with The Sunday Times and Andrew Marr, new Education Secretary Damian Hinds signalled he would encourage restrictions to pupils’ rights to sex education. In the former interview, he is reported to have acknowledged he was reversing the policy of his predecessor, Justine Greening.

Hinds also failed to commit to the reintroduction of maintenance grants for students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds as part of a review of the university system.

Responding, Lib Dem Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said:

The sexual harassment and intimidation scandals – and the resulting need for the #metoo movement – and the shocking rise in homophobic and transphobic attacks are just some of the reasons why compulsory sex education is vital.

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LibDem Jobwatch

Fancy working as a Political Assistant?

Haringey Lib Dem council group are keen to find an assistant on a fixed-term basis until the end of the May, with the possibility the role could be renewed for a further 4 years pending election results, performance etc. The post is an official council role and is politically restricted.

Obviously Haringey Council is an interesting place to work!

Applications close on the 18th January. Further details here.

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Resolution Foundation Report on Autumn Budget

Britain is on course for the longest period of falling living standards since records began in the 1950s, according to a report by the Resolution Foundation.

The think tank found that under plans set out by Philip Hammond in the Budget yesterday, the poorest third of households are set for an average loss of £715 a year by the end of the Parliament, while the richest third will gain an average of £185.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable commented:

This analysis exposes the reality of Britain’s economic future under this Conservative government.

The squeeze on pay and living standards is set to carry

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 7 Comments

Norman Lamb jointly leads cross-party call for long-term NHS and Care review

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Liberal Democrat MP and former health minister Norman Lamb has organised a cross-party group of 90 MPs, including select committee chairs and former cabinet ministers, to write to the prime minister urging the government to establish an NHS and Care Convention to find a sustainable long-term settlement for these services.

The call has been backed by a high-profile group of 15 committee chairs, 22 former ministers, six former secretaries of state, and several prominent ex-shadow ministers and select committee members. The Convention would work on a cross-party basis, engaging with the public and the health and care workforce, to confront the mounting pressures in the system arising from an older population and growing demand for healthcare.

Ahead of the Autumn Budget on Wednesday, the MPs are urging the government to address the short-term challenges in the system, as well as endorsing the proposal for a cross-party approach to put these services on a stable long-term footing.

The initiative has been led by former Liberal Democrat Care Minister Norman Lamb, the Conservative Chair of the Health Select Committee, Dr. Sarah Wollaston, and Labour’s former Shadow Care Minister Liz Kendall.

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