Author Archives: NewsHound

Ed Davey profiled on BBC Radio 4

In his usual, often sardonic, style, Ed Davey has profiled by Mark Coles. In this 15-minute broadcast, we hear things we knew and things we probably didn’t. The profile begins with his birth on Christmas Day. Being orphaned. Neighbours leaving food on the doorstep. His school but good exam performance. Setting up a debating society. Being a prog rocker. Falling asleep at parties. In a gap year working in the local pork pie factory before interrailing and on to Oxford for PPE. Despite bad green jumpers, MI6 tried to recruit him. Rescuing woman from path of ongoing train.

And then …

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Moran calls for commitment on rough sleeping

Layla Moran has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging him to “demonstrate a clear commitment” to the Conservatives’ manifesto pledge of ending rough sleeping by the end of this Parliament by rolling out Housing First across England at the forthcoming Spending Review, and by pushing for the scrapping of the Vagrancy Act.

In her letter, Layla says that the “time is right for a new national and political effort to tackle homelessness”, adding that “Because Housing First works, we also know in the long term it saves us money.”

There have already been successful pilot schemes in England, and in her debate on rough sleeping in the Commons last week, Layla urged for the programme to be rolled out.

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Ed Davey to rule out a coalition with Boris

The Financial Times today reports that Ed Davey will use his conference speech on Sunday to position the party as an unambiguously anti-Tory force. He will vow never help to help put Boris Johnson back into Downing Street.

When asked if the Lib Dems would facilitate a Tory government at the next election, Davey replied: “No.”

Davey defended the decision to hold a virtual conference, arguing that planning was done well in advance before it became apparent what the coronavirus situation would be.

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What is Kirsty Williams up to these days?

We miss Kirsty Williams and the fantastic contribution she made as Wales’ Education Minister.

So what is she up to these days?

She gave a couple of pointers as to how she is living her best life on Twitter yesterday:

And then, later, she was sitting in front of CNN to find out the outcome of the Republican attempt to get rid of Democrat Governor of California Gavin Newsom on dubious grounds. Thankfully if tailed, by a lot.

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I regret my involvement in the Salmond Enquiry says Alex Cole-Hamilton

Alex Cole-Hamilton is conducting his early interviews as leader with considerable skill.

There’s a lot of core messaging around the Lib Dems being the alternative to the clash of nationalisms, to the SNP ruining public services and how we offer new hope. We Lib Dems will get utterly sick of these things at some point but we aren’t the target audience. The rest of the public doesn’t hang off every word our leader utters like we do. Well, we don’t really but we pay more attention than most people.  By the time we have heard what he wants to say eleventy million times, it will just be starting to resonate with the voters.

So, he has got the knack of throwing in something new in every interview. It keeps us interested and gets noticed by the wider public.

In today’s interview, with Scotland on Sunday, he reflects on the Salmond Enquiry, on which he was the Lib Dem representative. This was the cross party committee set up to investigate the issues around the complaints process in the Scottish Government used when women complained about Alex Salmond’s behaviour towards them when he was First Minister. Our Alex says that he now regrets his participation.

It was high pressure. I mean, it took up so much oxygen, so much time. But also, I’d been supporting a complainer privately who approached me, and I could see what every twist and turn of it was doing to her.

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LibLink: Rabina Khan: Life as a British Muslim changed forever on 9/11

Writing in the Independent, Lib Dem Tower Hamlets Councillor Rabina Khan reflects on how 9/11 changed things for British Muslims.

She described her reaction on the day. Like our editor Caron Lindsay, she was cradling her baby as she watched events unfold on the television:

She described her sadness, and anger at that the perpetrators had done but also fear about what was coming for Muslims as a result of the actions of a few extremists who would be held to represent an entire religion:

At the same time, I felt anxious, knowing that some people would assume that all Muslims harboured the same views as the terrorists. Extremists are not Muslims and have deliberately skewed the texts to fit their homicidal agenda. They are murderers.

America’s response to that fateful day rewrote not just its own democracy but reshaped our world and the way we live. Our world witnessed the invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq, secret surveillance, increased dawn raids on Muslim homes, the way our children and young people were monitored at school. It became an era of fear and mistrust.

And it was that fear which had a profound effect on her daily life:

How can I forget the countless times I saw the look of dread and panic on people’s faces when I reached for my phone from my bag on the tube or the time when my rosary fell out of my bag during Ramadan? I remember a little after the terror attack my elderly gran’s beloved Adhan clock (the call to prayer) went off in her bag and people in the queue in a shop ran for the door.

Oblivious to the lingering, uncomfortable and judgmental stares in the shop from staff, my gran dressed in her crisp cotton white sari and head covered with a shawl, turned off the alarm, picked up the toy a parent had dropped and handed it back to the cashier. Recently, I was travelling on the tube in London when I was called a “f****** Muslim whore” by another passenger, but there were people who stood up for me.

Things have got worse in the meantime and she’s not optimistic for the future:

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Liberal Democrats table motion to dock Raab’s pay

Today in Parliament the Liberal Democrats are tabling an Early Day Motion to dock Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s pay over his handling of the Afghanistan crisis.

They are also calling for the Government to use the money saved to fund the resettlement of Afghan refugees, following reports of a £557m shortfall in resettlement funding.

Commenting on the motion, Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain MP said:

Dominic Raab is one of the worst Foreign Secretaries in British history.

He has presided over the worst foreign policy disaster since the Suez and decided to spend more time on the beach instead of picking

Posted in News and Press releases | Tagged , and | 22 Comments

By-election report 3 September 2021 – Win in Northampton

As always, a mixed bag of results for the by-elections this week. In three by-elections, we gained under 10% of the vote. But Newshound takes his hat off to Jacqueline Fuchshuber who gained a seat on Northampton Town Council by just seven votes. A win is a win, another Lib Dem win.

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Lynne Featherstone reflects on being left to handle the London riots

We’ve been thinking a lot about when ministers should and shouldn’t return from holiday recently, and the consequences of their decisions.

But the tragic and appalling events in Afghanistan weren’t the first time senior ministers have been away when something big has kicked off and their junior ministers have had to deal with it.

Today Lynne Featherstone tells My London about her experience 10 years ago when the Tottenham Riots broke out. Boris Johnson, then Mayor of London, was off sunning himself somewhere and didn’t come back, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Theresa May were all away, so, for a brief time, Lynne was the face of the Government response to the riots.

I was the ‘duty minister’ that weekend for the Home Office. But this was such a big story, I expected to see the Prime Minister or the Home Secretary,”

She called Nick Timothy, who, with Fiona Hall was May’s extremely unpopular adviser when she was PM and was then at the Home Office. He told her to come in as she was “the only one in the room.”

Lynne assumed that someone more senior would be around:

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Vince Cable: UK needs to take lead on Afghan refugee crisis

Writing in the Independent, former Lib Dem leader Vince Cable talks of harrowing scenes at Kabul airport and asks if Britain is planning to take enough Afghan refugees and whether the Home Office is thinking of treating them with a generous spirit. Some Afghans working for our government will be told they do not have a strong enough connection with Britain, even though the documents showing that connection could qualify them for execution by the Taliban. Are we an overcrowded island? Or will we benefit from people who bring skills, entrepreneurial energy, cultural diversity and a supply of labour to regenerate an ageing country? Or should we simply accept refugees out of compassion?

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: Hydrogen has huge potential for decarbonisation

In her Scotsman column this week, Christine Jardine looks at Hydrogen as a weapon in our arsenal against climate change.

She looks at many potential uses – from fuelling planes to heating homes and highlights the work of the European Marine Energy Centre on Orkney:

EMEC is supporting a project known as HyFlyer which has already achieved the world’s first flight of a commercial-grade hydrogen electric aircraft in September of last year.

ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric Piper Malibu Mirage successfully achieved a 20-minute flight from Cranfield airfield in the UK in which the only fumes it produced were water vapour.

The next phase of the project is targeting a successful commercial-grade flight of a 19-seater craft, potentially in 2023. The green hydrogen fuelling systems required for flight tests will be delivered by EMEC.

Perhaps the best indicator of the potential for hydrogen-powered flight is that the project is backed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK.

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Carmichael accuses ministers of bringing in vaccination passports by stealth

After some nightclubs in England began requiring an NHS Covid pass for entry, Alistair Carmichael, Lib Dem home affairs spokesperson, yesterday accused the government of introducing vaccination passports by the back door.

The government has just committed to vaccine passports by stealth. This deceitful move is deeply shameful.

Carmichael also called for parliament to be recalled to discuss the matter.

Posted in News | Tagged | 19 Comments

Layla slams Government for “opening floodgates to new variants” and failing to protect troops

Good work from Layla Moran in today’s press.

First, the Guardian reports the Commons Library research commissioned by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, which Layla chairs, which shows that the number of positive cases tested for variants has fallen dramatically.

The results suggest that in the three weeks to 17 March, there were an estimated 1,769 to 1,827 positive tests from people entering the UK from red list countries, of which somewhere between 63% and 68% were sequenced to determine the variant involved.

By contrast in the three weeks to 30 June, there were an estimated 445 to 507 positive tests from people entering the UK from red list countries, with estimates of the proportion sequenced ranging from 12% to 33%.

Layla highlighted the dangers of this:

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Voter ID “straight out of the Trump playbook” – Broxtowe Lib Dems win vote

Where America leads, the UK follows is an old and sometime true adage. Suppression of voter rights in the United States is becoming rampant as the Republicans push to introduce legislation that would isolate the most disadvantaged from voting. Joe Biden has said: “Never before has there been an attempt by state legislatures to take over the ability to determine who won. Not count the votes, determine who won.”

Here, the government is determined to introduce voter ID despite no evidence of widespread fraud. Broxtowe was a pilot area for voter ID and the Lib Dems have taken a stand.

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Wera Hobhouse on 100 days to COP26

Yesterday, MPs debated COP26 Conference Priorities in a Westminster Hall debate. The debate was co-sponsored by Wera Hobhouse. Lib Dem MP for Bath. She said this is the biggest opportunity for real climate action since the 2015 Paris agreement, after which we have had a “string of incredibly disappointing COPs”. Wera called for the government to get its own house in order instead of paying to lip service to climate change. The Government has failed to set any direction on how to heat homes in the future, how to expand the electricity grid for increased electricity need, let alone on tackling emissions from heavy industry, shipping or aviation.

COP26 must be a COP of global solidarity. It is time for the Government to put their money where their mouth is. The world is watching to see whether the UK will step up to the plate.

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That 3% rise for NHS staff in England

Lib Dems have been quick to respond to pay rise of 3% to NHS staff in England. Munira Wilson is our Health & Social Care Spokesperson and here she is challenging the Government in the Commons BEFORE the pay rise was announced:

Only a hour later she was tweeting:

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: Football racism shows why those who oppose taking the knee are wrong

In her column for the Scotsman this week, Christine Jardine tackled the racism we saw against the three England footballers after the Euro 2020 final.

A young colleague told me that some black friends had abuse shouted at them while making their way home from the England-Italy game. “It’s always your kind that lets us down.” We all knew it was there, simmering amongst those who booed any team taking the knee this summer.

But watching it boil over against fans, footballers and someone who has made a real and determined difference to the well-being of vulnerable children should be a wake-up call for all of us.

She expressed her admiration for Marcus Rashford and the other players:

A young man, hugely successful, who doesn’t just remember where he came from but carries it with pride and channels his success into making a difference.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 19 Comments

Ed Davey: “The Blue Wall is game on”

In an interview with the I, Ed Davey has announced that the Lib Dems are picking candidates in “blue wall” seats like Chesham and Amersham with the aim of taking seats off the Tories at the next General Election.

Speaking in Guildford, a former Lib Dem seat held by the Tories since 2005, Sir Ed said: “We’re selecting our candidate, do it early and get them on the doorstep.”

He added: “If we get through these selections, which are now going well apace, we’ll have campaigns, we’ll have people who are going out there and knocking on doors, week in week out, listening to people, and the Tory MPs are going to find them getting worried. They’ll start feeling that at the local level but it will feed through to the national level.”

He talked about his experience of knocking on doors in Chesham and Amersham:

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Wera Hobhouse calls for Olympian steps to halt Xinjiang atrocities

In a Commons debate on Thursday, Bath MP Wera Hobhouse warned it would be unacceptable for the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, senior diplomats and officials to attend the Winter Olympics in Beijing next year. To do so would give credibility to a regime that is accused of genocide in Xinjiang. Western countries had to take a stance against China’s human rights abuses.

Hobhouse told MPs is totally unacceptable that peaceful demonstrations during protests on the field of play or in medal ceremonies are barred by the IOC under the threat of sanctions. Given the ongoing human rights abuses, is it at all justifiable for the games to go ahead?

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: A sinister sign our human rights are in peril?

In her Scotsman column this week, Christine Jardine described something worrying that took place while she took part in a protest for Hong Kong democracy in Edinburgh:

A drone. Hovering a couple of feet above the heads of the group was a small grey machine, the single eye of its mounted camera recording the event and everyone there.

This was, it is important to stress, a Covid-compliant, socially distanced, perfectly legal outdoor gathering of a small number of people in Edinburgh’s High Street. Unremarkable even in these times, save for one thing. It was about the threat to democracy in Hong Kong

She asks if we take our civil liberties for granted:

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Howard Sykes condemns “appalling” arson attack on Oldham Council leader’s car

In the early hours of this morning, a car belonging to Cllr Arooj Shah was firebombed. Thankfully, nobody was hurt.

From the Oldham Times:

A force spokesman said: “Police were called just before 1:30am on Tuesday, July 13 to reports of a vehicle on fire in the Glodwick area in Oldham.

“Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service attended along with police, and it was established that the vehicle was deliberately ignited, also causing slight damage to a neighbouring property.

“The fire was extinguished, no-one was injured, and officers are investigating the circumstances.”

Lib Dem Group Leader Cllr Howard Sykes condemned the attack and called on people to stand together in the face of such appalling acts:

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Wendy Chamberlain hits out on cynical tests for overseas aid cuts

Wendy Chamberlain, MP for North East Fife attacked the government’s commitment to reducing the overseas aid budget below 0.7% in the House of Commons today.

It is a straight choice: do we return to 0.7%, as we were all elected to this place to do, or do we fail to be the global leader on this issue that the UK has been to this point?… the poorest will be hardest hit by these cuts. The reality of the covid pandemic is that no one is safe until everyone is safe… The fiscal tests for development spending presented today are the height of cynicism. They are designed never to be met.

The government, which has a majority of 80, won the vote by 35.

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Wera Hobhouse speaks out on fuel poverty

Speaking in a House of Commons debate on fuel poverty on Thursday, Wera Hobhouse, Lib Dem MP for Bath, said no one should have to make the choice between feeding their family or heating their home. The pandemic has made things even worse. People working from home faced an extra £16 a month on energy costs, adding up to £195 a year for those on poor value tariffs. She said the clearest example of the Government’s failure was the scrapping of the green homes grant only five months after it was introduced with only 6% of the budget spent.

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Sarah Teather on equal marriage – “I tied myself up in ridiculous intellectual knots”

Embed from Getty Images

Sarah Teather has written the following public post on Facebook:

Next week marks 8 years since the Marriage (same sex) Act gained Royal Assent and became law. When the proposal for gay marriage came to parliament I tied myself up in ridiculous intellectual knots trying to find a way to navigate official Catholic teaching on marriage and my liberal instincts and campaigning history on gay rights. In the end, I voted against the bill. Wise friends said to me then that it didn’t fit with what they knew of me and I would regret it. They were right. In the years since as friends and acquaintances have got engaged and married I have inwardly cheered and thanked God that I was then in an irrelevant minority. I think this anniversary is a good time to say more publicly that I was wrong then and I am delighted now that gay people have the right to be married.

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Baroness Bonham-Carter condemns plans to privatise Channel 4

Jane Bonham Carter, the Lib Dem Lords Spokesperson for DCMS has attacked government plans to sell off Channel 4, which “was created to be a disruptive, innovative force in UK broadcasting.”

The Conservative plans to try and sell off Channel 4 are disgraceful and will diminish the organisation.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 12 Comments

Christine Jardine condemns winddown of furlough

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Christine Jardine has warned that thousands of businesses are facing uncertainty as furlough begins to wind down and the business rates holiday ends, while restrictions remain in place.

How are businesses supposed to have confidence in a Government that promised to do whatever it takes, but is withdrawing support too soon? Now thousands of businesses are being left facing reduced support while still unable to operate fully to pay their bills.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 36 Comments

Sarah Green on her victory in Chesham and Amersham

Our newest MP has been talking to the Guardian about her landslide victory in leafy Buckinghamshire. She told political correspondent Peter Walker that the Conservative voters in Chesham and Amersham felt ignored by the Tories. They felt they could no longer relate to Boris Johnson and the Conservative party.

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Ed Davey hits right note on Matt Hancock’s dalliance and competence

According to reports across the media, Matt Hancock had an affair with an adviser to his department. This happens all the time and is barely a matter of public concern these days. Unless Gina Coladangelo had been hired, or her hiring, had been influenced by her relationship with the health secretary.

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey hit it spot on in his response on Twitter this morning.

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Norman Lamb writes to the Times on solving adult social care funding crisis

Media reports suggest the Government is to hold off on announcing its plans to reform social care until at least the autumn amid continued disputes within the Cabinet. Boris Johnson this week delayed a meeting with the Chancellor and Health Secretary to discuss the reforms and is said to have ruled out using rises in income tax, VAT and national insurance to pay for social care in England.

In a letter in the Times this morning, Sir Norman Lamb, minister of state for care from 2013-15, calls for the “Dilnot cap” to be implemented and for all parties to work together to resolve funding.

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Ed Davey talks Chesham and Amersham and progressive alliances on Sunday media

Ed Davey did the Sunday morning media round today. He did look a tiny bit smug, but he’s allowed to given Sarah Green’s spectacular win in Chesham and Amersham, declared in the early hours of Friday morning.

First he appeared on Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday:

And then we went on Marr:

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