Author Archives: NewsHound

Luisa Porritt selected as our candidate for London Mayor

Luisa Porritt has tweeted this today:


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LibLink: Jane Dodds We must fulfil our moral duty and embrace refugees who seek safety and sanctuary

Jane Dodds makes a compelling case for a compassionate and welcoming approach to seekers of sanctuary in a column for Nation Cymru this week.

She challenges the “invasion’ narrative put out by the right:

With Nigel Farage decrying an “invasion” of our shores and Sarah Atherton, Conservative MP for Wrexham, calling for the Royal Navy to stop “huge scale” crossings, you could easily be led to believe we were seeing hundreds of thousands of people coming to the UK every day.

But the numbers of people seeking asylum are not increasing; despite the rhetoric which wants us to believe we are being invaded.

By allowing this dangerous narrative, which tells us we are under attack, we are directly putting lives at risk.

This is far from hyperbole – earlier in the summer Abdulfatah Hamdallah, a refugee from Sudan, tragically lost his life trying to cross the channel in an unsafe makeshift vessel.

When did we become so heartless and cruel, she asks:

Five years ago I travelled to Calais to donate tents, tarpaulin sleeping bags collected from across concerned people in Powys and saw first hand the living conditions these people were in and heard about the horrors they were escaping from. Just like Abdulfatah they weren’t coming to the UK to “scrounge” or to “take our jobs” they were doing what anyone of us would do if we found ourselves I n that situation – striving to make life better and safer for them and their loved ones.

I am a child protection social worker by profession. I have spent years supporting vulnerable people all around the world, particularly children seeking refuge and do you know what? I have never met a single family who does not have a heart breaking story for why they’re making the journey.

We hear a lot of talk about how “we’re full”, that we should “look after our own” and “have enough problems already to deal with”. Since when did we become so heartless and cruel?

These are people’s lives we are talking about, people who have nothing and are risking their lives to travel to a place where they feel is safe.

And she points out that those who come here seeking asylum contribute to our country too:

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Over 100 East Midlands Councillors sign letter calling for halt to Unitary Council plans

Over 100 Liberal Democrat councillors from across the East Midlands have signed a letter to the Secretary of State for Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP, calling for a halt to controversial Government plans to abolish Borough and District Councils across the region and replace them with larger Unitary authorities.

The letter, signed by 118 Councillors, was jointly authored by Lib Dem Hinckley and Bosworth Borough and Leicestershire County Councillor Michael Mullaney and Leader of Chesterfield Lib Dem Councillors Paul Holmes.

Michael Mullaney said;

Abolishing Borough and District Councils and creating huge unitary authorities would be disruptive at anytime. But to be considering this

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Welsh Liberal Democrats response to Plaid Cymru’s Independence Commission report

Responding to Plaid Cymru’s Independence Commission report which has been published on 25 September, Welsh Liberal Democrats described the report as a mix of fanatical politics and pie in the sky economics.

Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds said:

Politics isn’t working for Wales or the UK as well as it could right now, I understand why independence looks attractive, but it isn’t the answer.

There are far too many uncertainties, too many unknowns and too many risks with independence. We don’t know nor are Plaid proposing solutions to questions such as: What currency we would use? Would we still have

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LibLink: Malcolm Bruce – Why a polarised world is in need of Liberals

Writing in the Press and Journal this week, Malcolm Bruce argued that liberals are an essential and critical part of the fightback against the polarised world we find ourselves in.

Much of society has degenerated into angry, polarised camps, brooking no compromise and demanding people conform to their woke identity slogans or resign themselves to being the “enemy”.

This is not the stuff of a civilised society. It prevents genuine exchange of views. Evidence is discarded in favour of fake news and alternative facts, leading to rash decisions.

He wonders why the other parties are so vicious in their attitude towards us:

In an ever-more complex, challenging and divided world, once-great parties are offering simplistic, irrational, glib solutions. By the same token, the political debate has sought either to trash the Liberal Democrats or sneer at their irrelevance – displaying uncertainty of intent. Why are other parties so splenetic about the Liberal Democrats? My guess is it is because we get in the way of simplistic, hardline, ideological identity politics.

Liberal Democrats believe in the freedom of individuals to express themselves in their own way, free from pressure to conform. We celebrate diversity and pluralism in an electoral system that has the deliberate intention of forcing people into camps.

He says that there is another way:

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The party’s preparations for elections


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The party’s website carries a report from the Communications and Elections Committee by Lisa Smart and Iain Donaldson. We reproduce the report in full here:

Last week we officially welcomed our newest member – Director of Strategy, Research and Messaging Mimi Turner.

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LibLink: Vince Cable: Labour and Lib Dems have to work together to beat Tories

In his Independent column this week, Vince Cable talked about the need for Liberal Democrats and Labour to set aside their differences and work together to oust the Tories in 2024.

He didn’t call for a formal pact, but for the sort of non aggression agreement struck up by Paddy and Blair pre 1997.

He waded into the broad appeal vs ideology argument:

The two centre-left parties are currently at very different levels. But they face essentially the same two problems: how to connect with a public which is confused, frightened and divided; and how to translate support into seats in parliament to effect a change in government.

As to the first, both parties have the same destructive tendency, in different ways: each gets hung up on abstract debates on values and principles. Labour has a long history of sectarian feuding over the relative merits of “social democracy” or “socialism” (now represented respectively by the Blairites and Corbynites). Starmer is smart enough to realise that the public has little interest in “isms”, is impressed by people who seem both practical and optimistic, and doesn’t like extremes. The Lib Dems, by contrast, don’t have ideological feuds but love talking to themselves about “liberal values”, which are either very vague or targeted at microscopically small groups. The tough lesson for both is that Britain’s most successful centre-left leaders – Wilson, Blair and, long ago, Lloyd George – were pragmatic to a fault.

He had a couple of ideas on economic policy:

Aligning capital gains and income tax, removing generous tax reliefs on pension pots, and removing perks for well-off pensioners. All this sounds like Lib Dem “alternative budgets” proposed over the years, and certainly too much to swallow for the Tory backwoodsmen. Ed Davey, in particular, with a strong economics background, has an opening to occupy the centre-ground while the right of the Conservative Party squabbles.

Then there is the wider issue of the direction of the British economy once it is cut loose from the EU. As it happens there is an immediate challenge: what to do about Britain’s only major global tech company, ARM, designer and maker of advanced microchips. Opposition leaders should be shouting from the rooftops to save it. Without a clamour, it is likely to be gobbled up by a predatory American company and then spat out in Trump’s new cold war with China. One of the successes of the coalition was seeing off a (Pfizer) takeover for Astra-Zeneca, now key to the work on a Covid-19 vaccine, and the wider revival of industrial strategy. Keeping ARM British is a campaign that could create a popular front page for both left- and right-wing press.

And a warning on how we should save the union:

And all the unionist parties risk a failure to appreciate that Scottish nationalism is rooted in emotion, and will not be vanquished by talk of pounds and pennies alone. One respect in which the Lib Dems can make a major contribution is to refresh its thinking about home rule within a federal UK. This would be welcome north and south of the border since many English people also reject our horribly over-centralised, London-dominated, system of government.

He warns that we leave the Tories to govern if we don’t work together:

A serious agreement could be done with a lot of self-discipline, but to be credible with the electorate it would need a common “offer”, as well as common candidates. The risk of such an approach is that it looks like a “stitch-up”, which could turn voters off. There should be serious discussion about how to cooperate, but where I suspect we shall finish up is a tacit understanding about priority constituencies, as in 1997, when Blair and Ashdown made a breakthrough for both parties.

The growing numbers who are angry and disillusioned with this government will expect no less than intelligent cooperation between “progressive” opposition parties. Both need to remember that pragmatism is the path to power, while continued self-righteous airing of differing “values” and “principles” will gift the Tories another decade in office.

You can read the whole article here (£).

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Jo Swinson on the impact of the pandemic on gender equality

Former leader Jo Swinson highlighted the ways i which the covid-19 pandemic could adversely affect gender equality in the workplace.

She was giving a lecture on the future of work to Cranfield School of Management which was reported on Personnel Today.

There are some inequalities there which might well be a lasting legacy of the pandemic, despite the fact that there are other elements which ought to make things better for people who have caring responsibilities, by making it more accessible to work flexibly and to work from home,” she said.

She set out her concern that marginalised groups may find themselves at the sharp end of poor employment practice:

Swinson was concerned that those in groups that are already marginalised, such as BAME workers and those with disabilities, will experience greater challenges in the turbulent jobs market that is likely to be seen over the coming months.

My fear is that employment prospects, which are looking pretty stark for the next few months particularly as the furlough scheme and support for jobs comes to an end… will be restricted as the number of applicants per job sky rocket. There is a danger that we will go backwards ,” she said.

In times where employers can recruit very easily there’s less of a market pressure for them to make sure they are valuing each employee. Good employers will recognise the benefits of doing that… but there’s no doubt there will be employers who will look for the opportunity to slash costs to the bone, to not treat their employees well, and easier to get away with it.”

But there may, said Jo, be a positive aspect from the new ways of working we’ve found during the pandemic.

However, Swinson thought that the new ways of working brought about by the lockdown have the potential to increase the employment rate among certain groups, such as those with long-term conditions or disabilities who are unable to commute or work long hours.

“The idea that everybody needs to be working the same hours will recede because if people are going into the office they still might prefer to go in earlier, or at half past 10 when the public transport will be quieter,” she said.

“In the UK we notoriously work very long hours – is that what people feel is required?”

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LibLink: Malcolm Bruce Scotland’s unionists need a new vision

This is one from a few weeks ago, but worth sharing.

Malcolm Bruce, a former leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, wrote in the Scotsman about the need for those who want to stay in the UK to build a stronger and newer vision of why it is so essential to Scotland’s interests.

He argues for a federal UK as the best option. It’s all about focusing on the positives of staying together:

The SNP clearly articulate the disruption that Brexit brings. The same arguments apply in spades to Scotland opting in a fit of pique to leave the UK.

I dislike intensely the ideology of the Brexit-obsessed Conservative Party and despise the cheery incompetence of the privileged clique that constitute the present Government.

But my reaction is to face reality and recognise that the people who share these islands – which whatever the constitution we will continue to do – will need to regain our senses and work for a better shared future.

So what do Liberal Democrats want?

The Liberal Democrats want to build a federal United Kingdom by recognising what we can do together, not concentrating on what drives us apart.

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LibLink: Vince Cable Disbanding Public Health England is the last thing the Government should be doing right now

Writing in the Independent this week, Vince Cable condemned the Government’s decision to shut down Public Health England.

He suggested that it was the scapegoat for the Government’s policy failings before setting out why it is such a bad idea:

Aside from practical questions about who is to deal with other public health issues like obesity and sexual health, the long-term challenge for the new agency and its network of local public health officers is to make Britain better prepared for serious pandemics in future. They must be ready, too, for the more predictable annual rounds of flu, which though they are sufficiently understood to be countered by vaccination still affect 15 per cent of the population, and each year kills 10,000 people in the UK and a quarter to half a million people worldwide.

He talks of the need to look at environmental factors at an international level to limit future pandemics:

But prevention cannot be achieved by any one country working alone when we are considering the complex origins of zoonotic viruses which have jumped species. Blame for Covid is placed on Chinese wet markets and dietary preferences which fits the politically convenient narrative of Chinese culpability. But there are deeper problems.

Some scientists point to the impact of deforestation which is bringing humans and domesticated animals into closer contact with previously unknown species and viruses. As forest cover disappears, the species face mass extinction but the viruses contained in the fauna can strike back. And once new, dangerous, viruses are in circulation, growing connectivity means that local outbreaks become global very quickly. Worryingly, there is little sign that the necessary lessons about unsustainable lifestyles are being drawn.

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Ed and Layla set out electoral reform hopes

It wouldn’t be a leadership election if we didn’t talk about PR at some point.

Layla and Ed have both written for the Electoral Reform Society setting out what they want to see in terms of changing our rubbish voting system.

Here are some highlights:

Layla

Under my leadership, the Liberal Democrats would therefore look to establish a common cross-party statement of support for legislation for PR ahead of the next elections.

The aim would be to establish a firm pre-election commitment to PR with support from across different parties. Keir Starmer has voiced his support for a fairer, proportional voting system, and it’s becoming clear that Labour is being increasingly disadvantaged by First Past the Post. This means there is an important opportunity for all those who believe in electoral reform to deliver on it.

I believe that under my leadership, the Liberal Democrats would be better placed to have these discussions with Labour and other political parties, and to help build a cross-party consensus for electoral reform.

Electing me as leader would send a strong signal that the Liberal Democrats are refreshed as a party and have put coalition behind us. That is why I am urging all those who believe strongly in electoral reform to support me at this election, so we can move forward together as a country and build a voting system in which everyone has a voice.

Ed

In respect of elections it is shameful that the United Kingdom continues to use the antiquated, First Past the Post System. I believe we should look to introduce a proportional system to both Westminster and local elections, at the earliest possible moment.

This is not just because the system is needed for both, but because the problem in some local areas is acute. There are areas which have become almost ‘one party states’ with votes for all mainstream parties being ignored and authorities left with little or no opposition scrutiny.

I am passionate about devolving power – all the more reason to make sure the scrutiny of these bodies is representative and effective. I believe there is an appetite to devolve powers from some in other parties and think making common cause on reforming our electoral process as we pursue this is a way to secure the changes we need.

Other areas around how we run elections are ripe for reform – we should introduce automatic voter registration to make it easier for people to vote and scrap the ridiculous plans to require voter ID at polling stations. The Conservatives’ desire to require ID creates another barrier and ends up with more people – likely from minority communities – not exercising their democratic right: it is indefensible.

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Last minute Northern lockdown is “beyond comprehension”

Responding to the Government’s change in guidance stating that separate households will not be able to meet indoors from today in Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

Throughout this crisis, the Government’s communications have been an utter disaster. To announce a regional lockdown of millions of people not only just hours before it’s enforced, but with no clarity on the new rules coming into place, is beyond comprehension.

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New party director of strategy appointed

The Liberal Democrats have appointed Mimi Turner as the Party’s new Director of Strategy, Messaging and Research.

Mimi started her career as a journalist, and has since worked across PR, brand and strategy roles for digital and media organisations.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged and | 14 Comments

Chancellor must act to help those excluded from Government support

After the initial meeting of the APPG for ExcludedUK today, Liberal Democrat MP and Chair of the APPG Jamie Stone has joined with the other co-chairs in calling on the Chancellor to help those who have so far been left out of the financial support measures introduced by the Government.

The APPG has been set up with the help of ExcludedUK to represent the 3 million individuals who have not been entitled to the Government support in response to the coronavirus crisis. The first meeting this morning was the largest of any inaugural APPG meeting, seeing over 150 MPs join online.

In …

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Caroline Pidgeon: Government must act to avoid another Grenfell

Caroline Pidgeon was on Sunday Politics London today calling for action on cladding. Three years after the Grenfell tragedy, not enough has been done to remove the  cladding that caused the fire to spread so quickly. She described how people were frightened to go to sleep in their own homes.

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Lib Dems propose support package for employers to keep workers safe as lockdown eases

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to help businesses draw up risk assessments to keep their employees safe as they return to work, and to establish a Coronavirus Safety Hotline for whistleblowers to report unsafe workplaces.

The party has emphasised that anyone who can work from home must continue to do so in line with the current public health guidance, and that this must remain the case until the Government has scaled up testing and tracing sufficiently to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The measures, set out today by Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey, are …

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“Indefensible for statue to be standing in Bristol in 2020” – Lib Dems speak out on Colston

Leading Liberal Democrats have been speaking out on the controversy surrounding Sunday’s public removal of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol.

Wera Hobhouse, who is MP for neighbouring Bath, wrote on her website:

…it was indefensible for the statue to be standing in Bristol in 2020. Protestors literally took things into their own hands and toppled the statue. This was a symbolic act.

History is dynamic. It is not fixed. Yesterday was part of the history of race relations, not only here in the South West, but for our nation as a whole.

We must face up to, accept and learn from all aspects of our nation’s history. Not only the parts of our history that we are proud of, but the parts of our history that are corrupt and that we are ashamed of.

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The Bristol Liberal Democrats’ view on the Colston statue toppling

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On their website, Bristol Lib Dems have published an article titled “Calling time on Colston statue”. With their permission, we reproduce it here in full below:

Lib Dem candidate and equal rights activist Tara Murray said:

I want people to see beyond this statue being taken down by protesters. This statue was a symbol of how Bristol as a city still venerated a slave merchant that ruined tens of thousands of African lives and made his money off the backs of these slaves to step up the financial and aristocratic ladder of his time. The actions during his lifetime should’ve been rebuked and for a city with such vigour, multiculturalism and diversity it made no sense for us to still have him at the heart of our city. The people felt they needed to do something as there was a lot of uncertainty around this topic. The history will not be lost with him being removed, what happened is ingrained in the history of the slave trade and of the city but the removal of the statue signifies us as a community ending the acceptance of these matters and growing forward as a community. This act has now added a new chapter on the history of Bristol and will hopefully educate all that don’t know and will help more people understand the comparisons from late 17th century racism and racism in today’s world.

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Layla Moran: Government must step up its support for people who have to self-isolate

Over on the Torch website, Layla Moran explains why the Government needs to do more to support those asked to self isolate because they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. She was prompted to do so after seeing members’ views on one of the many social media groups.

Employees who have to self-isolate under the scheme are currently only entitled to receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) of £95 a week. That is around five times less than the £460 net income a week received by a worker earning the maximum of £2,500 a month under the furlough scheme. And while the minimum isolation period is two weeks, some people may have to wait longer for their test or be asked to self-isolate several times. I’m therefore advocating for the Government to step up its financial support workers required to self-isolate under the coronavirus test and trace programme and ensure they receive the same level of support as furloughed employees.

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: We need to change the Domestic Abuse Bill

Christine Jardine has written for the New Statesman (£) on why the Government’s Domestic Abuse Bill needs to be changed in order to make sure that migrant women get the support that they need to escape abusive relationships.

Imagine this. You’ve moved halfway across the world with two children, leaving behind everyone you know and love, to be with your partner in a different country. But instead of starting a new life, he starts to abuse you emotionally, financially and physically. That’s what happened to one of the women who now campaigns for others like her to have better rights and protections.

Eight months after she moved to the UK, her partner turned violent. She fled from the house with her eldest child. But when she went to the Home Office for help to return to Brazil because her visa had run out, she was told she would have to wait for seven days. She was given no financial support or accommodation and had no choice but to sleep on the street. Her situation is still precarious – living from one short-term visa to the next. Because of her immigration status, she can’t access public funds.

This is why she and the Lib Dems are supporting amendments to help those in this situation:

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Wera Hobhouse sets out her plans for a progressive alliance

Wera Hobhouse has set out her plan for a progressive alliance on her website.

She wrote:

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Jamie Stone MP: I have become a second-class MP due to the government’s ending of the virtual parliament

– That is a video from Jamie Stone MP which was tweeted last night. In the Guardian, he has spoken to Rajeev Syal about the invidious choice he is facing because of the Government’s move to end the House of Commons hybrid rules, which have allowed for remote voting and virtual debates during the Covid-19 crisis.

Jamie reveals poignant details of his private life which explain why he is faced with an impossible choice. His wife, Flora, is disabled and needs care. Prior, to the Covid-19 crisis, this care could be combined with Jamie’s role at Westminster. However, the pandemic has meant that Jamie has become Flora’s carer. This means that returning to Westminster, as per the Government move, will mean Jamie facing almost impossible choices:

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Wera Hobhouse: A new direction for the Liberal Democrats

Wera Hobhouse has set out her vision for the party on her website.

It’s about making a clean break with the last decade and abandoning one key element of our strategy and reigniting another.

The time for equidistance is over:

The mistake was to see our party in the political centre, standing equally between right and left. In this day and age, the biggest threat to liberalism – not just in Britain – comes from the right.

Our reasons for entering coalition with the Conservatives in 2010 were well intended, but we ended up undermining our values. We ultimately legitimised the Conservatives’ long-term

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LibLink: Layla Moran A once in a generation opportunity to make our country fairer and more liberal

With the announcement of the revised leadership election timetable starting in two weeks’ time, there are three expected candidates. Ed Davey has yet to formally declare, but everyone expects him to be standing. Layla Moran and Wera Hobhouse have already announced that they are standing.

LDV is, as always, neutral in these things and will report equally on all the candidates.

Layla Moran has outlined her leadership pitch in an article for the Independent (£) which you can also read on her website.

For me, the best leadership is calm, measured and purposeful. It is open, transparent and direct. Good leaders spell out what they and their parties stand for, allowing people to grasp the ideas, embrace change and move forward together.

She outlines her position in three policy areas: economy, environment and education:

When I reimagine the education system, I picture more investment in the early years, to reduce inequalities before children get into a classroom. More power for teachers to design a world-class education system, which recognises and supports children with practical skills as well as academic. And, a nationwide adult retraining programme to get people back on their feet and into work.

Our economic approach also needs urgent change. As the country recovers, we mustn’t leave anyone in our society behind. A universal basic income is necessary to support those who fall on hard times. We must invest in education, health, social care and public services, and give all frontline workers the support they deserve. And let’s prioritise our wellbeing and mental health alongside economic growth, because now more than ever, we need to move forward positively and compassionately.

We have an opportunity to steal a march on the environmental crisis, too. In the past months, travel has reduced, and the demand for coal and oil has plummeted. This presents us with a precious opportunity to flatten the climate curve.

I want to see a UK which is not just carbon neutral but carbon negative. Young people, given they will have to carry this burden for us all, should be involved in the decision-making processes for achieving this ambitious goal. We must acknowledge the part that biodiversity catastrophe plays in pandemics, and recognise that to build resilience, we need to talk about habitat as well as carbon.

And what does the party need to do?

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Ed Davey: Johnson must sack Cummings now

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Shortly after Dominic Cummings’ extraordinary media conference, acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey, said:

Countless people have lost loved ones and made enormous, heartbreaking sacrifices every single day since lockdown began.

Dominic Cummings has shown that these sacrifices by millions of people don’t matter to him. His refusal to have the decency to apologise is an insult to us all. It reveals the worst of his elitist arrogance.

The bond of trust between the Government and the people has well and truly been broken. The buck stops with the Prime Minister. By failing to act, he risks his Government’s ability to tackle this awful pandemic and keep people safe.

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Ed Davey: PM’s own judgement now in question

Responding to the Prime Minister backing his scandal-hit aide, Dominic Cummings, at today’s press conference, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

Millions of people who’ve made huge sacrifices to keep to the rules will be astonished and angry at how the Prime Minister is now bending the rules for his closest aide.

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LibLink: Siobhan Benita: We can’t afford to let today’s acts of kindness become tomorrow’s memories

Lib Dem London Mayoral Candidate Siobhan Benita writes for Mental Health Awareness Week on her website.

As we went into lockdown in March, the UN released its World Happiness Report. It ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be.  As in previous years, Nordic countries dominate the top slots, scoring strongly across all six measures: GDP per capita, social support, life expectancy, autonomy, generosity and absence of corruption.

Reflecting on the success of the Nordic countries, the report concludes that there is no “secret sauce” to their happiness. Instead, there is a “general recipe” that everyone can follow:  non-corrupt, high-quality state institutions able to deliver what is promised and generous in taking care of citizens.

The Covid19 pandemic is a tragedy.  Families and communities have lost loved ones to the virus and fear of contamination, financial uncertainty and social distancing are having a serious impact on the mental health of the nation. At the same time, the pandemic also creates a unique opportunity for us Brits to consider how we can create a better “recipe” for our citizens in the future.

The togetherness and community spirit we’ve seen during the pandemic must become permanent, she argues:

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LibLink: Cllr Rabina Khan: This Eid, technology will ease loneliness and bring people together online.

Eid Mubarak to everyone who is celebrating this weekend.

To mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Cllr Rabina Khan has written about how technology will help as people who would normally be together have to spend this special time apart:

This year, under Covid-19 restrictions, Eid will mean that families and communities will not be able to come together in each other’s homes or any other public places. They will pray and eat Eid food without being together, but they can be connected to each other’s lives through technology. When I was a child, the technology to connect people worldwide through a phone or iPad did not exist, so we are incredibly fortunate today to have these tools at our disposal.

She remembers those who don’t have access to technology, though.

Muslim garment workers in Bangladesh face no pay and the prospect of begging for food after western retail giants cancelled hundreds of millions of pounds worth of orders. Some companies, however, have taken a more ethical approach and have honoured all existing contracts, such as H&M and Zara.

Without access to technology, these workers will be completely alone. This brings to mind Imam Shaykh Ahmad Faruq Siddiqi, chaplain at the Royal London Hospital, who spent the last seven weeks facilitating last farewells via Zoom for dying loved ones and their families. He may well be experiencing another difficult day.

She talks about the significance of Ramadan and hopes for the future:

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LibLink: Daisy Cooper MP: Any contact tracing app must respect privacy and maintain public trust

In an article on Politics Home, Lib Dem Culture spokesperson Daisy Cooper sets out the flaws in the Government’s plans for a contact tracing app to slow the spread of Covid-19 and highlighted LIb Dem plans for a law which would underpin safety and privacy.

The public won’t use an app if they don’t trust it, she said as she highlighted criticisms of the government’s plans.

These problems stem from the Government’s decision to reject plans for a “decentralised” app – as recommended by the Information Commissioner and many technology experts, and being implemented in many other countries – and pursue a “centralised” one instead.

Under the first system, information about the other phones you “meet” is recorded on your smartphone and the contact matching happens on your device; under the centralised system, all of that information is uploaded to a central server owned and run by the Government.

Ministers must urgently explain why they have chosen a system that many are warning will make the app less effective and less safe.

What would the Lib Dems do about it?

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LibLink: Alistair Carmichael: It’s now time to consider a Universal Basic Income

Last week, Alistair Carmichael wrote an article for the Herald calling for a Universal Basic Income to be considered as a key part of the strategy for an economic recovery.

He cites practical examples of the people who are falling through the Government’s various support plans:

Thousands of families will face financial hardship in this crisis due to the current gaps in Government support.  The small building firm in Shetland that I have been trying to help in recent weeks illustrates the problem well. It is owned by the two men who started it and runs as a limited company.  The owners take most of their income though dividends. Their four employees have been furloughed and their position ought to be secure.  As things stand, however, there is no adequate help for the two owners of the business. The purpose of the furlough scheme is to protect jobs now for when productive work restarts.  Unless we find a way of helping these business owners, and thousands like them, there will be no business to which the employees can return.

While he is not yet totally convinced by UBI as a long term strategy, he thinks it needs to be properly considered as a way to remedy inequality – and says that the State Pension is essentially a form of UBI for older people:

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