Author Archives: NewsHound

Tim Farron set to run London Marathon for air ambulance charity

Our former leader really is a glutton for punishment. Last year he ran the London Marathon, raising over £5000 for the Brathay Trust, a social enterprise supporting young people in Cumbria.

And tomorrow he plans to do it all again:

This time, he’s fundraising for the Great North Air Ambulance and has already raised more than £3000.

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Tory councillors walk out of cost of living debate

So this is what happened at Westmorland and Furness when Liberal Democrats tabled a motion on the cost of living crisis.

The motion was passed and fully supported by all the remaining councillors.

Tim commented:

Our country is facing the biggest cost of living crisis in a generation – politicians of all stripes need to work together.

For Conservative councillors to abandon the meeting is an appalling dereliction of duty and sadly shows how out of touch their party is with the needs of people in Westmorland, Furness and Eden.

The Conservative Group explained that “the meeting had exceeded its time limit and the chair had invited members of the group to leave the meeting which they did due to having other commitments.” Strange then that it didn’t apply to all the other councillors.

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Davey: Truss must cancel Tory conference to deal with economic crisis

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has called on Liz Truss to cancel the Conservative party conference which begins this weekend, and instead recall parliament to vote to fix the disastrous mini-budget. Lib Dems are also calling on the government to bring forward a rescue package for homeowners unable to pay higher mortgage bills as a result of last week’s budget.

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Davey: We won’t step aside for Labour in West Lancashire but…

Labour MP Rosie Cooper who has represented West Lancashire since 2005 has announced she is stepping down as an MP after 17 years to chair the Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Speaking Kay Burley yesterday, Ed Davey paid tribute to Cooper and said the Lib Dems would not be stepping aside to give Labour a clear run.

What we don’t do is waste money putting it into elections where we are not convinced we can win. We target our resources. We will always give electors a choice. Of course we will have a candidate. That’s the democratic thing to do.

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Lib Dem MPs respond to energy and tax proposals

Lib Dems have been commenting on the plans by Liz Truss, Kwasi Kwarteng and Jacob Rees Mogg to prevent household and business bills zoom out of control over the winter.

This morning Kay Burley interviewed Sir Ed Davey on Sky News about the government’s proposals for business and household relief. Davey said he was worried about the plans to cut corporation tax. Banks and bankers are among those that will get the lion’s share of that.

They are refusing to put taxes up, which I do support. Oil and gas companies are making huge profit… There should be a windfall tax on

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Christine Jardine: The Queen brought reassurance and hope in our darkest times

Christine Jardine used her Scotsman column to pay tribute to the Queen and to describe the atmosphere in Parliament as the news came that the Queen’s health was causing concern.

When the Speaker rose to convey the confirmatory announcement from Buckingham Palace, the feeling in the chamber was like nothing I have ever known or could have predicted.

This was a moment that we all in that place, indeed everyone in the country must have known could not be far off and yet somehow it was a shock.

The immediate priority was focusing on the resumed debate in an attempt to hold back the tears that were threatening to fall.

But the rest of the day was a haze of speculation, changed plans and simply watching and waiting for what was fast becoming the inevitable.

When the news came, it was family that was at the forefront of her mind:

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LibLink: Christine Jardine Will new PM save us or watch as economy is wrecked?

Christine Jardine has some questions for our new PM in this week’s Scotsman column.

For many of us, the question will be whether the new Prime Minister will be equipped to deal with the crises that have gone unaddressed while the country awaited the outcome of their party’s decision-making process.

And does the government actually even understand the extent of the fear being felt across the country at what this winter might bring?

A survey carried out by the Liberal Democrats revealed this past week that almost one in four adults is planning not to turn on their heating over the winter because of the potential cost. That figure rises to more than one in four when they focused on adults with children under the age of 18. Similar research carried out by Savanta discovered that more than two thirds of us will be limiting our use of heating.

What do we need from our new PM?

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Lib Dems react to the death of Mikhail Gorbachev

Lib Dems are giving their reactions to the death of Mikhail Gorbachev. Gorbachev was one of the 20th century’s great statesmen. He gave the world hope, hope that is now threatened by Putin’s ambitions and aggression. Ed Davey said:

Mikhail Gorbachev brought hope to millions as he helped bring the Cold War to an end. His legacy of peace and openness stands in stark contrast to Putin’s regime.

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Surrey Heath by-election speculation has Truss rattled

There is speculation tonight that Michael Gove will stand down from his Surrey Heath seat if Liz Truss is elected leader of the Conservative Party next Monday. The Guardian and Independent report the Liberal Democrats are rushing through plans to confirm a candidate for the seat amid speculation that the former levelling up secretary is considering quitting parliament, triggering a byelection. The Lib Dems are reported as having set a deadline of this week for selection of a candidate for the constituency.

Tory sources are reported as denying that Gove will quit, accusing the Lib Dems of political dirty tricks. There is speculation nevertheless that he will return to journalism.

The Lib Dems in Surrey Heath are reported to have mailed members to explain nominations for the local selection process end on Wednesday evening.

“We always work hard to support seats where there might be a possible by-election,” a Lib Dem source said, adding the party was on “high alert” in the area. The source said:

Given current rumours about Michael Gove quitting his constituency to return to journalism, it would be natural to ensure that Surrey Heath is election ready… Unlike the Conservatives, we never neglect what people are saying locally. We take nothing for granted and know winning a seat like this would be very hard work.

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Vince Cable: Labour and Liberal Democrat silence over Brexit will cost the country

Vince Cable has challenged Labour and the Liberal Democrats to speak up more about the damage Brexit is doing to our country o stop even more damage being inflicted.

The former Lib Dem Leader recently became President of the European Movement and writes in the Independent (£) that support for Brexit is collapsing.

Outside that goldfish bowl, opinion is shifting. An Opinium survey showed that 60 per cent of voters (including 40 per cent of Leave voters) think Brexit has “gone badly”. Ipsos found, in June, that 45 per cent of those surveyed (including 22 per cent of Leave voters) felt that Brexit had “made life worse”. Support for Brexit is collapsing, but its core support remains.

He lists the damage that Brexit has already done:

The economy is measurably smaller than it otherwise would be. Investment, hit by Brexit uncertainty, still hasn’t recovered. Trade is down. Sectors badly hit by Brexit-induced labour shortages are still struggling. Alternative visa arrangements are not in place. And inflation is worse than it should be.

And if that isn’t bad enough:

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Chamberlain’s Carer’s Leave Bill getting widespread support

The Carer’s Leave Bill, a Private Members’ Bill brought forward by Wendy Chamberlain, Scottish Liberal Democrat deputy leader, aims to introduce a new right for employees with caring responsibilities of up to one week of unpaid carer’s leave annually. The bill will receive its second reading on 9 September.

As reported by the Independent and several other media outlets, the right to leave is getting widespread support from MPs, businesses and charities. The bill will give unpaid carers the flexibility to attend routine hospital appointments or help the person they care for recover from a planned operation. There is hope that such flexibility will allow carers to continue at work rather than being forced to give up their jobs.

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One in four expect to never turn their heating on this winter due to rising energy bills

  • New polling commissioned by the Liberal Democrats reveals the public are planning to make heartbreaking decisions to cope with spiralling energy prices this winter
  • Parents with children under 18 set to be hardest hit by energy rises according to new poll
  • Lib Dems warn of “the worst cost of living crisis in a century” if Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak do not scrap the energy price cap rise

New polling commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has revealed almost one in four (23%) of UK adults plan to never turn their heating on this winter. This rises to over one in four (27%) amongst …

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Sewage dumped in shellfish water 29,000 times by water companies

  • New fears shellfish could be contaminated by sewage dumps as over 200,000 hours of sewage is pumped into their habitat
  • The worst offenders are South West Water and Southern Water
  • Tim Farron slams lack of action from the Government: “Why aren’t Government Ministers listening to the public on this? They are ignoring the country’s outrage at this scandal.”

Analysis by the Liberal Democrats has found sewage was dumped into waters containing shellfish a staggering 29,000 times last year. The party has raised fears this could be taking place again this summer.

This equates to 207,013 hours worth of sewage in shellfish waters in England …

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Times: Keir Starmer is “Ed Davey tribute act”

In the Times (£), Matt Chorley points out that Keir Starmer is on a push to steal the Lib Dems’ big ideas:

So the Labour leader is back. And we now know what he was doing in Spain: trying to get on the Lib Dem website using up whatever 4G was left in his mobile package now that free roaming, which wasn’t going to disappear after Brexit, amazingly disappeared after Brexit.

I’ve lost track of where we were with the Starmer Relaunch Roulette game, but whoever had “Ed Davey tribute act” has had a good week. On October 26 last year Davey called for a windfall tax on energy companies. Twelve weeks later, Starmer did the same. And then Rishi Sunak did it. On August 9, Davey called for the energy price cap rise to be scrapped. Five days later, Starmer came back from his hols and followed suit.

And he hasn’t stopped yet:

Also back on August 9 the Lib Dems demanded that parliament be recalled. It took Starmer a few more days to get to that bit of their snazzy new website, but lo and behold, yesterday Labour emailed Boris Johnson demanding parliament be recalled.

Chorley quotes Ed’s tweet:

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Helen Morgan challenges Greg Clark on Community Heating Hubs

On 16 August, Helen Morgan wrote to Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities calling for action to protect those who will not be able to afford to heat their homes this winter. She has also written to Shropshire Council leader Lezley Picton:

Places like libraries and leisure centres could easily be adapted to provide a safe space for people to sit and keep warm during the day, at no extra cost to the tax payer.

Community Heating Hubs are simple, easily implemented and could be a literal lifeline for some households this winter.

In her letter to Greg Clark, Morgan said the country faces a cost of living emergency. She urges him to tackle the emergency this winter by requiring all local authorities to provide Community Heating Hubs, making public buildings available to those who can’t afford to keep their heating on at home.

I’m hoping you will wake this zombie government and take action to help the millions of people being pushed towards poverty by the cost of living emergency. Please ask all local authorities to take this simple step.

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Farron: Avanti Oxenholme lock-in an “unacceptable farce”

On Tuesday night, around 30 passengers alighted from the Avanti West Coast service from London Euston to Glasgow at Oxenholme. Alas, the station was closed. One of the passengers described the situation . They could scale the 8ft high gate, walk across the live tracks or “pick somewhere to try and sleep on a pavement until the morning”. Some reports suggest some passengers “took to climbing the 7-foot spiked gates and fences surrounding the station in order to get out.”

The hour was late but one passenger has the wits to ring Tim Farron, who got onto Avanti. “It was only when someone contacted Mr Farron that any help came, with a Network Rail worker opening the gate 45 minutes after the passengers arrived.”

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Moran: Britain’s response to Taliban is a story of betrayal

Witing in yesterday’s i newspaper, Layla Moran said we must help Afghans in the UK by moving them out of hotels and into homes.

The UK Government promised that our doors would be open to Afghans at risk – including women, LGBTQ+ people and minority groups – but it has shut them as soon as they thought nobody was looking.

What about those who did make it to the UK?… Ten thousand Afghans remain stuck in hotels up and down the country… A significant proportion of these people put their lives on the line to help UK forces during the war and were promised the chance to start a new life here in the UK. Instead, they’ve been left in limbo by the Conservative Government.

A year on government promises to Afghans and to the British public lie in tatters, Moran says. “We will not let those commitments be forgotten.”

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Carmichael accuses SNP of “criminal negligence” over ferries

In today’s Scotland On Sunday, Alistair Carmichael rips through the SNP for their failure to ensure basic ferry services to Scotland’s islands.

Alistair grew up on Islay and now represents Orkney and Shetland so he knows exactly how important this is.

“The fundamental rules of island life and island economics are if you get the transport right, then just about everything else falls into place because without decent transport links you don’t have the access to the full range of medical facilities that the community will need

“You cannot grow your economy because the people who are catching fish or farming fish or raising stock are not going to be able to get them off the island.

“This is absolutely criminal. This just should not be allowed to be happening.

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Alistair Carmichael in blistering form on Any Questions

Alistair Carmichael turned up in 37 degree London in a tweed jacket yesterday morning. He had needed it at the airport in Orkney.

He was on his way to Swindon to record Any Questions. He was on fine form.

I won’t spoil too much for you but he absolutely eviscerated the Tories on education, the environment, their pitiful efforts to help people with rising costs and dentistry.

He even managed to poke a wee bit of fun in Diane Abbott’s direction.

At one point, he talked about water companies getting away with so much while paying their managing directors millions in bonuses. He made the point that if you are going to privatise a natural monopoly, you need to regulate it within an inch of its life. He was speaking from the heart given that he is kicking the backsides of both energy companies and the regulator for their abject failure in installing electricity meters in new builds in the Northern Isles.

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Davey: Conservative candidates in parallel universe on cost of living crisis

Writing in the Express today, Ed Davey called for parliament to be recalled to pass legislation to halt the increase in energy prices that are driving much of the cost of living crisis. With food prices rising and set to rise further, the Lib Dems are calling for a broader package. Davey said we should double the Warm Homes Discount and extend it to more people. Double the Winter Fuel Allowance to give 11 million pensioners up to £600 off their bills. Raise Universal Credit by £20 a week. And thinking longer term, he says the government should begin an emergency home insulation programme, starting with homes in or at risk of fuel poverty.

Energy bills soaring, inflation soaring, interest rates soaring, and as the cost-of-living crisis turns into a cost-of-living catastrophe our government is that of a zombie, limping on – helping no one.

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Scotsman: Lib Dems deserve praise for coming up with what looks like a plan

Praise for the Lib Dems’ call for October’s energy price rise to be scrapped from an unlikely source appears today. The Scotsman leader column says:

Labour’s party political point-scoring about Johnson being in office but not in government might impress some but hardly offers an alternative solution.

Instead it was left to the Liberal Democrats to come up with what sounds like an expensive but effective plan.

They called for the energy price cap to remain at its current rate with energy suppliers recompensed by government for rising wholesale prices to the tune of £36 billion, partly funded by an extended windfall tax on fossil fuel companies. As Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey rightly said, “this is an emergency, and the government must step in now”.

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LibLink: Christine Jardine on how the Scottish Greens are letting voters down

In her Scotsman column week, Christine Jardine takes the Scottish Greens to task. Since they joined the Scottish Government, the future of the planet seems to have taken a back seat to nationalism as they parrot SNP lines on independence.

Like their more senior nationalist partners at Holyrood, the party’s leadership has declared that if there is no second referendum on Scotland’s future within the UK, they will fight the general election solely on the constitutional question.

If they don’t get their way, they will re-define the General Election to suit themselves, calling every vote cast for a Green candidate as a vote for independence.

This is despite fewer their voters being split roughly half and half on the independence issue.

Activists who have spent decades awakening us all to the dangers of global warming now find that those in whom they placed their faith have become merely a bit player in the separatist narrative.

For the past decade and a half of SNP rule, Scottish politics has been governed by two different factors: actual policies and nationalism.

When the first fails the second is rolled out as a metaphorical fire blanket to dampen the anger while a target is found to redirect blame towards.

Usually, they call it Westminster.

Ironically, ignoring the fact that instead of being the stronger voice for Scotland there, which the SNP once promised, they are simply the whining voice of nationalism.

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Welsh Lib Dems call for free train travel as cost of living crisis bites

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have called on the Welsh government to take a leaf out of Spain’s book on public transport. The party is calling for the Welsh Labour government to consider introducing a scheme similar to the one introduced this month in Spain which will see free train journeys for commuter and medium-distance trains between 1 September and 31 December.

The Spanish policy aims to cushion the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on citizens, particularly those who rely on using public transport to get to work. The policy will also see a 30% discount on all other forms of public transport, including metros, buses and trams.

With inflation set to hit as high as 12% in the UK, the Welsh Liberal Democrats are asking the Welsh Government to consider implementing free rail tickets on Transport for Wales services for a limited period.

Besides helping working families cope with the cost-of-living crisis, the Welsh Lib Dems argue it could help reduce pollution and congestion and encourage some people to make the longer-term switch to public transport, especially given high fuel prices

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Scots and Welsh Lib Dems call for action after drug deaths rise

Figures from the Office for National Statistics released this week revealed that the number of drug-related deaths in England and Wales rose for a ninth successive year in 2021, by 6.2% to a record 4,859. The highest rate of deaths was seen in those aged 45-49. While more than 45% of drug deaths involved opiates, the biggest increase over the last decade has been in cocaine-related deaths, up from 112 in 2011 to 840 in 2021.

Jane Dodds in Wales called for a much more holistic approach to those reported for drug offences, treating offenses as a public health issue rather than a criminal one, learning from best international practice. Earlier, Scottish Lib Dems called for radical action to help those most at risk, including ending the destructive use of imprisonment for people misusing drugs and instead diverting them to treatment.

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Cole-Hamilton: SNP must do more to help Ukraine refugees

Writing in the Edinburgh Evening News, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Alex Cole-Hamilton condemned the SNP government for its slow progress in accepting and settling Ukrainian refugees:

Scottish ministers wanted the kudos of being seen to help but did little of the preparation to make it happen. As such, we have homes across Scotland still waiting either to be processed or matched to a Ukrainian guest. We also have Ukrainians placed in remote areas without access to transport.

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: Birmingham games shows sport and politics do mix

In her Scotsman column this week, Christine Jardine reflects how the “multicultural, diverse and joyful” Commonwealth Games opening ceremony reflected modern society and mused on the role sport has had in furthering the cause of inclusion.

The mechanical raging bull, dragged into the stadium by women representing chain makers from the industrial revolution, was almost uncomfortable to watch. A reminder of who we were, the journey we have made and the journey we still have to make.

The statement by Malala Yousafzai about the welcome she had received when she first came to the city that she and her family now call home clearly underlined the message.

And that was not the only thought-provoking aspect. Tom Daley carried the Queen’s baton alongside the LGBT flag, to remind us that in 35 of the countries competing, homosexuality is still a crime. Seven of them have a maximum penalty of death.

Each athlete who carried the baton in turn in the stadium was doing so to raise awareness of a specific cause.

Christine praised the organisers for having one games which included all athletes:

That commitment is enshrined in the organisers’ decision to reject a separate para-games in favour of a single all-encompassing, integrated celebration of sport. That it has taken so long to achieve is the only disappointment.

She highlighted the importance of sporting boycotts and protests in ending apartheid in South Africa and in civil rights and praised the sporting establishment for themselves taking inclusion forward:

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Olney: We are currently in the midst of a zombie government

Newshound has never been a fan of zombie films. Far too scary for a hound that failed an audition for Hound of the Baskervilles for being too nice. But as Sarah Olney says, we now have a zombie government and that’s very, very scary.

Responding to a listener on LBC asking who was running the country during the leadership contest, Olney said: “What we are seeing is a really zombie government. With all sorts of crises occurring over the last few weeks” with queues at Dover, rail strikes, record temperatures, fuel prices, the cost of living crisis and a rapidly unfolding crisis in the NHS.

There is a total vacuum. We are not seeing any ministers. I understand there is still a government but the silence has been overwhelming.

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LibLink: Wera Hobhouse on downblousing

In The House Wera Hobhouse introduces us to the concept of downblousing and calls for it to be recognised as an offence.

Downblousing is the latest manifestation of misogyny enabled by the smartphone era. The law must catch up with the times.

Somehow downblousing is not covered by existing legislation – voyeurism nor revenge porn laws. Downblousing is where someone’s chest is photographed without their consent. An obviously intrusive, disgusting and frankly wrong act that currently carries no consequences.

It is another manifestation of misogyny and violence against women and girls that the law overlooks. It is time that the law caught up with the 21st century. Recently, the Law Commission proposed that new offences are made in England and Wales, following the lead of Northern Irish law. This law would cover all acts of intentionally taking or sharing a sexual, nude or intimate photo or video without consent.

Of course, Wera has successfully tackled others forms of harrassment against women in the past.

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Welsh Lib Dems launch Regeneration Plan for Mid Wales at Royal Welsh Show

The Welsh Liberal Democrats today used the first day of the Royal Welsh Show in Llanelwedd, Powys to outline their proposals for a Regeneration Plan for Mid Wales. The party argues that Mid Wales is all too often the forgotten region of Wales, and neglect by both the Conservatives in Westminster and Labour in the Senedd has contributed to a cycle of decline over the last few decades.

The proposals by the party focus on transforming the economy of the region to take advantage of the changing patterns of employment and economic models following COVID-19.

The plan has six main points:

  • Drastically improving connectivity, in both digital and physical infrastructure.
  • Expanding the Rural Fuel Duty cut to Mid Wales and doubling the discount.
  • Protecting access to physical banking, applying pressure on large banks to invest in bank hubs for rural communities.
  • Improving healthcare access in Mid Wales, advocating for more health services to be returned to local communities.
  • Introducing measures to help businesses in the region grow, including a town rejuvenation fund.
  • Tackling the housing crisis in Mid Wales.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader and Senedd Member for Mid & West Wales Jane Dodds said:

Mid Wales deserves to be an economic force in its own right, connecting North and South Wales, as well as Wales to the Midland, rather than the forgotten territory it has been allowed to have become by the Tories and Labour.

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Vernon-Jackson backs Mordaunt in Tory leadership race

Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem leader of Portsmouth City Council has given his backing to Penny Mordaunt as the Tory leader contest enters its closing stages among the MPs.

Reported in the i, Gerald Vernon-Jackson described Mordaunt as “competent and hard-working” and told the  newspaper that she has been a “pleasure to work with” since she was elected as an MP in 2010.

Inevitably I would like a Prime Minister not to be Conservative, but for a few years there will be – looking at the choices and, from a Portsmouth point of view, Penny would be good.

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