Author Archives: NewsHound

Concern over Cardiff Council plans to tackle begging

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have expressed concerns over Cardiff Council and South Wales Police plans to introduce a new begging protocol which would include the threat and use of fines to tackle begging and street homelessness in the city.

The concerns follow an announcement during Council yesterday that Cardiff Council will work with South Wales Police to implement a new begging protocol based on the Operation Luscombe model.

Operation Luscombe was introduced first by the City of London Police in 2018. The system operates on an escalation model where those found begging or rough sleeping are initially invited to attend an intervention hub which is held every week, but if they do not attend this can then be escalated to a community Protection Warning (Amber), followed by a community Protection Notice (Red) (which may include fines) and are then arrestable if the red ticket is breached (Blue).

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have stated that fining people experiencing homeless and engaging in begging has been shown to have a detrimental effect and should be ruled out.

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Richard Foord makes “maiden intervention” on ambulances and Morgan tables EDM

On Monday, Richard Foord was sworn in as MP for Tiverton and Honiton. The political repercussions of the stunning Lib Dem victory are still rattling around with some suggesting that the Tories are in danger of losing their rural votes.

Foord’s intervention yesterday evening was described by Deputy Speaker as “his maiden intervention—if such terminology exists; it does now.”

Intervening in an adjournment debate on ambulance waiting times at Royal Cornwall Hospital, Richard Foord said:

During the by-election campaign in Tiverton and Honiton, almost everybody I spoke to on the doorstep had their own personal story about having to wait for an ambulance. This is not the fault of ambulance crews, but it is absolutely the system-wide issue that the hon. Member describes. Does she agree that what we really need is a community ambulance fund to alleviate some of the pressures we are experiencing in the south-west, given that we have the longest ambulance waiting times in the country?

The answer from Cherilyn Mackrory, Conservative MP for Truro and Falmouth, responded that it was the responsibility of the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) not ministers.

Helen Morgan has also tabled an EDM calling for immediate action to tackle the ambulance crisis.

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Channel 4: Moran on sewage in rivers

Yesterday evening, Layla Moran appeared on the Political Slot on Channel 4 to discuss the problem of water companies flushing sewage into Britain’s rivers. She said:

Britain’s countryside is something to be proud of. It’s part of our national identity and its beautiful rivers, lakes and streams are no different. But that’s under threat. In part because the water companies are dumping raw sewage into them. And shockingly that’s legal.

The government has repeatedly blocked bids to hold these water companies to account including a Lib Dem proposal to name and shame the water companies if they are found to have poisoned animals like otters or our family pets with these sewage dumps. The whole thing stinks.

During the programme, Moran spoke to Ashley Smith from Windrush Against Sewerage Pollution and Lib Dem member Jo Sanderson who swims in Wolvercote Mill Stream in Oxford.

The full programme.

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Moran: Northern Ireland Bill feels like a bad sequel

Yesterday evening, the Commons passed the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill 295 by votes to 221. Lib Dem spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and International Development, Layla Moran accused the government of reopening old wounds to save its own political skin rather than dealing with the issues facing the country now.

She said the bill will only increase barriers against imports and exports causing prices to rise even further, the last thing that farmers, fishermen and families up and down the country want.

Despots across the world will be delighted. How on earth can we hold others to account when we are tying ourselves up in knots, trying to find loopholes to get out of the agreements that we sign? This is how banana republics act, not Great Britain.

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Richard Foord is sworn in as the new MP for Tiverton and Honiton

It’s official, Richard Foord has now formally taken his seat in Parliament, bringing the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons to fourteen strong.

We’ll cover his maiden speech in due course but, in the meantime, here is the moment we’ve all been waiting for…

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Labour takes Wakefield

Simon Lightwood has won the Wakefield by-election overturning the Conservative majority of 3,358 to deliver a 4,925 majority for Labour. He won 13,166 votes, while the Conservative Nadeem Ahmed received 8,241 votes.

This will be cheering news for Keir Starmer, who has been recently taken flak from his own MPs for being boring. It also begins the process of retaking seats in the Red Wall lost to the Tories in 2019.

Our thanks to Jamie Needle for offering Wakefield voters the option to vote Liberal Democrat.

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Tiverton and Honiton: The results in full

Full results of Tiverton and Honiton by-election which saw a Liberal Democrat gain from Conservatives.

Electorate 81,661; Turnout 42,591 (52.16%, -19.71%).

  • Richard Foord (Lib Dem): 22,537 (52.91%, +38.14%)
  • Helen Hurford (Conservative): 16,393 (38.49%, -21.72%)
  • Liz Pole (Labour): 1,562 (3.67%, -15.88%)
  • Gill Westcott (Green): 1,064 (2.50%, -1.34%)
  • Andy Foan (Reform): 481 (1.13%)
  • Ben Walker (UKIP): 241 (0.57%, -1.06%)
  • Jordan Donoghue-Morgan (Heritage): 167 (0.39%)
  • Frankie Rufolo (For Britain): 146 (0.34%)

The Lib Dem majority was 6,144 (14.43%).

The swing from Conservative to Lib Dem was 29.93%.

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Neck and neck in Tiverton and Honiton

From an “exclusive” by David Parsley in today’s i:

“After speaking with 6,000 constituents in the Devon seat over the weekend, pollsters for the Lib Dems put their candidate Richard Foord on 45 per cent of the vote, level with the Tories’ Helen Hurford.

“This latest survey of voting intentions suggests the Lib Dems have closed the two-point gap between themselves and the Conservatives that existed at the same point last week.”

Richard Foord said:

This by-election is a very close fight between myself and Boris Johnson’s candidate.

David Parsley continues:

“If the Lib Dems do reverse the huge Tory majority, it would be the largest by-election turnaround since Labour won Liverpool Wavertree from the Conservatives in 1935.”

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Carmichael: Threat to leave ECHR risks breaking Good Friday Agreement

Writing in The House yesterday, Alistair Carmichael, Lib Dem Home Affairs and Northern Ireland spokesperson, said:

In less than 24 hours Boris Johnson has gone from pretending to be a defender of the Good Friday Agreement, to threatening to remove the legal underpinnings of peace in Northern Ireland altogether.

Carmichael’s comment came as the prime minister and ministers dropped heavy hints that if the law were to get in the way of Rwanda deportation flights, the government could withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The Good Friday Agreement expressly requires the United Kingdom to have the Convention directly enforceable in Northern Ireland.

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Moran: Anything less than a full ban on ‘conversion therapy’ is unacceptable

Writing in Gay Times, Layla Moran has called out those that think being gay is something other than normal and want to convert ‘gay people’ into ‘ordinary people’. Moran wrote:

The LGBTQ+ community is an incredible tapestry of different sexual orientations and gender identities. Each of them is valid and should be celebrated. But practices exist which seek to change, cure, or suppress an LGBTQ+ person’s identity. These practices start from the position that a person expressing an LGBTQ+ identity should be challenged and corrected. They are deliberately harmful and repressive…

Shockingly these practices are still legal in the UK.

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Lib Dems call for fuel duty to be cut in more rural areas

Liberal Democrats have urged the Government to reduce fuel duty in rural areas, after analysis found that households in more remote areas paid £114 in transport costs each week in the year to March 2020, almost £40 more than those in urban areas.

The Lib Dems want an expansion of the rural fuel duty relief scheme, which is currently offered in a handful of remote areas of the UK, including Scotland islands and other areas, Scilly, and Hawes.

The proposal is to extend the relief to places where “public transport options are limited and drivers are being disproportionately hit by rising fuel prices”. This would include Devon, Cornwall, Cumbria, Shropshire and rural parts of Wales. The Lib Dems also want the relief to be doubled to 10p a litre.

Reported by the Telegraph and the i, rural affairs spokesman Tim Farron said:

The Government must act now to help rural families on the brink, by expanding the fuel duty relief scheme.

Ministers need to also crack down on the petrol profiteers who are cashing in on people’s misery at the pump.

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Ambulance response targets for life-threatening calls missed in all Devon

Devonlive reports today that the target for ambulances responding to life-threatening calls is now being missed in all of Devon’s seven local districts. Patients in Mid Devon waited an average of over 15 minutes for life-threatening calls in 2021, longer than anywhere else in the county. Category 1 calls cover the most serious incidents such as a cardiac arrest or heavy bleeding and should be responded to within an average of seven minutes.

The average waiting time for Category 2 calls in the county has more than doubled over the past year to 49 minutes, way above the target of 19 minutes.

The data was obtained by the Liberal Democrats from the South West Ambulance Trust through a Freedom of Information request.

Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson Daisy Cooper called for urgent action from the government to support ambulance services in rural areas like Devon. She said the Lib Dems have set out a rescue plan including more investment in local ambulance services, enabling trusts to bring back community ambulance stations in rural areas and launching a campaign to recruit and retain more paramedics.

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Welsh Lib Dems call for end to Cardiff Airport £210m black hole

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have called on the Welsh Labour Government to outline plans to end what it describes as Cardiff Airport’s blackhole on taxpayers’ money.

Figures released by the Welsh Government yesterday show that passenger numbers at the airport continued to decline in 2021 from 2022, despite less travel restriction being in place. According to the data released, passenger numbers declined by 44 per cent in 2021 to 123,000.

The Welsh Government bought Cardiff Airport in 2013, despite former Assembly Member Eluned Parrott and the Welsh Liberal Democrats warning of the massive risk the purchase posed to Welsh taxpayers.

Since then, passenger numbers have never met the Welsh Government’s own targets and the airport was valued as just £15 million despite being purchased for £52 million in 2013.

Overall, over £210 million of Welsh taxpayers’ money has now been spent on the airport with various Government loans, cash injections and debt forgiveness being introduced. The airport’s high expenditure has caused the Welsh Liberal Democrats to label the project Welsh Labour’s biggest white elephant. The party also argues that the Welsh Government owning and subsidising an airport is incompatible with its climate goals.

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Lib Dems to table motion of no confidence in Johnson (updated)

Early this afternoon, Lib Dem MPs will table an Early Day Motion of no confidence in the prime minister Boris Johnson.

Earlier Davey tweeted:

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Carmichael: SNP’s selfishness over windfall tax shows they are not a progressive, centre-left party

Writing in The Scotsman yesterday, Alistair Carmichael said:

Kirsty Blackman MP, speaking on the BBC earlier this week, made clear the SNP’s outrage that North Sea oil and gas profits might be used to support the wrong sort of struggling family – that is, struggling families who live south of the River Tweed.

Scotland’s self-proclaimed “progressive” party of government has decided that solidarity and support for hard-up people across the country during the current crisis is a bridge too far. In doing so, the SNP have reminded us all of a fundamental truth – nationalism and progressive politics simply do not mix.

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Ed Davey on Queen Elizabeth, jubilees and parachuting monarchs

A week ago, Lib Dem leader Ed Davey joined members of the House of Commons in paying tribute to the Queen.

Davey said: “The whole country will agree that our Queen has more than fulfilled her promises made to our nation. With her sense of selflessness and her steadfast commitment to the nation, these values and her service have defined Her Majesty’s seven-decade reign and will continue to define her. The unwavering nature of her service and duty is made all the more remarkable by the length of Her Majesty’s reign.”

Reminiscing about the silver jubilee, he said: “My strongest memory of 1977 is the Queen’s smile and personal delight as Virginia Wade won Wimbledon. My fingers are crossed that Emma Raducanu might serve up something similar later this year.”

Davey said the highlight of the diamond jubilee in 2012 was watching the Queen parachute down to the opening ceremony of the summer Olympics. Asking Queen Margrethe of Denmark when she was taking up parachuting. She replied: “When I’m over 80.”

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LibLink: Christine Jardine – Thank you Ma’am

In her Scotsman column this week, Christine Jardine looks back at the Queen’s reign and her contribution to our national life.

She looks at the laws the Queen has given assent to over the past 70 years:

In 70 years, the Queen has given Royal Assent to around 4,000 pieces of legislation.

Among them are some of the most significant in British social history on abortion, race relations, equal rights, same-sex marriage and devolution.

And the fact that the Queen is female helped the cause of women’s equality:

Even in the ‘Swinging 60s’, a decade marked by social and sexual revolution in the UK, the perceived wisdom imparted to those of us at school was that the boys would be the doctors, engineers and lawyers. The girls would be nurses, teachers and secretaries until we stopped to have our babies.

Seems madness now, but that is the world our mothers had to deal with, and that we overcame or are at least overcoming.

How important has it been to that change that our head state, the image presented to the world and to us, has been a woman?

She remembers just how young the Queen was when she took on the demanding role of Head of State:

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Davey: We’ll work with others to out this indecent government

In a podcast interview for Politics Home, Ed Davey said there is no formal pact with Labour but it was simply rational behaviour for both parties to put their resources where they have the best chance of winning.

He said the Lib Dems intend to take on Labour in areas where we can think we can beat them.

The interview also covered Partygate, the economy and the cost of living crisis, Tiverton and Honiton, and Lib Dem values.

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Farron: Farmers at sharp end of cost of living crisis need support

Writing in The House yesterday, Tim Farron said:

British farming communities are a crucial cog in the cost of living fighting machine. But farming families themselves are facing an even more acute cost of living emergency.

He said input costs are spiralling making crops and livestock more expensive to produce. In 12 months, the price of animal feed has shot up by 60 per cent. In some cases, fertiliser prices have quadrupled because production uses gas. Twelve months ago, a tonne of ammonium nitrate fertiliser cost £280 – it now costs £1,000.

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Progressive Lib Dem Labour Partnership takes helm in Powys

Powys County Council is to be led by the Welsh Liberal Democrats for the first time since its creation, in a partnership with Welsh Labour. Previous administrations have been led by independents.

James Gibson-Watt, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Group Leader on Powys Council, was elected as Leader of the Council at the Council’s AGM this morning, becoming the first Welsh Liberal Democrat Council leader since 2012.

The agreement between the Welsh Liberal Democrats and Welsh Labour will focus on delivering a fresh and distinctive path to meet the serious challenges the county faces. A Green Party councillor is expected to join the partnership.

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Lib Dems table motion to publish minutes of Johnson and Sue Gray meeting

The Liberal Democrats will today table a motion in Parliament to force the Government to release the minutes of Boris Johnson’s meeting with Sue Gray.

Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain will lay a Humble Address motion in Parliament, calling on the Government to publish the details of the meeting, including who was responsible for arranging it.

The motion will also call for the publication of all contact between Johnson and Gray during the course of the inquiry into breaches of coronavirus regulations in Downing Street.

This step comes following speculation over the origin and contents of the meeting between …

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Welsh Government seriously out of step with the rest of the UK on building safety scandal

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have accused the Welsh Government of being “seriously out of step” with the rest of the UK when it comes to addressing the building safety scandal. The accusation comes after the Scottish Government announced that some of the country’s largest housing developers have agreed to work with the Scottish Government towards the remediation of buildings affected by cladding and fire safety issues.

The announcement follows one by the UK Government last month that major developers will contribute towards remediation costs in England. This leaves Wales as the only GB nation where major developers have not …

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WATCH: Lib Dem campaign launch in Tiverton and Honiton

Yesterday, Ed Davey went to Honiton to eat ice cream, wield some oranges and launch Richard Foord’s campaign to win the Tiverton and Honiton by-election. There were lots of activists there to help.

Local Devon Live reporter Lewis Clarke posted a long video including chats with Ed, Richard and Lib Dem activists on the doorsteps. It’s a lovely watch. And there is a cute dog. What more encouragement could you want to help Richard?

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Partygate: Is that all there is?

After 11 months of investigation involving 12 full time dedicated police officers, with other support and oversight as required, Operation Hillman has concluded at a cost of £460,000. During the inquiry 126 referrals for fixed penalty notices were made. Boris Johnson and his wife will not receive any further fines.

The Met said today:

“A team of twelve detectives worked through 345 documents, including emails, door logs, diary entries and witness statements, 510 photographs and CCTV images and 204 questionnaires as part of a careful and thorough enquiry.”

We now wait for the Sue Gray report.

 

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Southwark Elects LGBTQ+ Campaigner as Leader of the Opposition

The Southwark Liberal Democrats elected LGBTQ+ campaigner Councillor Victor Chamberlain as their new group leader on Monday night.

Councillor Chamberlain is now Southwark Council’s leader of the opposition after his predecessor Councillor Hamish McCallum stood down from the position.

Southwark’s new group leader is an active LGBTQ+ campaigner. He fought to save famous gay bar XXL and helped secure a new LGTBQ+ community centre in in its place at Bankside Yards.

Councillor Chamberlain also campaigned to award British diver Tom Daley the Freedom of the Borough for Southwark.

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Roger Roberts on the Queen’s Speech

Yesterday Roger Roberts, Lord Roberts of Llandudno, spoke in the Lords debate on the Queen’s Speech. It’s not often that Glee Club gets a mention in Westminster, if indirectly.

He said:

My Lords, if we are not able to rely on Ministers and other parliamentarians to tell the truth, then reliable and acceptable government is impossible. The recent police notices to those who had previously denied breaking the pandemic control laws lead millions of people to question the truth on matters of greater importance like, perhaps, the crises in Ukraine or Afghanistan – those that are matters of life and death.

We all know of broken promises. Putin was adamant: “We are not going to invade Ukraine” – we remember that – in spite of a procession of tanks stretching 40 miles, the distance from Chester to Colwyn Bay. Ukraine is in the midst of being invaded in spite of Putin’s denial, creating a hell for millions of children, men, and women. Putin’s assurances are as meaningless as denying being at gatherings that broke Covid laws. Government and the safeguarding of democracy cannot continue if those who lead cannot be trusted or believed. Mr Rees-Mogg tweeted over the Easter weekend, “Christ is risen, Alleluia”, a greeting of hope, while at the same time supporting deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda – a destruction of hope.

The consequences of these lies are the distancing of millions of ordinary people from government. If you cannot believe a word they say, there is no use voting for any of them. Turnout at general elections has fallen from 83% in the 1950s to less than 67% in 2019. We have grown increasingly apathetic about the democratic process, and nature abhors a vacuum.

The Government must change in order to show the British people that the Government can be believed and are engaged in the democratic process. Failing to do so will only increase apathy and sow distrust—something which, because of the unbelievability of the present time, continues to do immense harm. The United Kingdom can serve as an example to others, but not by refusing parliamentary scrutiny—for example, of the deal with Rwanda regarding asylum seekers or the continued lying about parties in gardens during the pandemic. We undermine democracy itself.

At the Liberal Party conference I used to sing the “Land Song”, which goes: “Why should we be beggars with the ballot in our hand?” and “God gave the land to the people!”

Now we have to restore this trust. We must restore the value of ordinary people and their worth and influence in what is a democratic society.

Finally, Paddy Ashdown said:

“The one thing that unfailingly gives me satisfaction in politics is to watch those who have been taught they are the subject of others’ power, rise to meet the challenge of power in their own hands—and then be unbelieving at what they are able to do. To believe in this and make it happen is, for me, the great passion of politics.”

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Farron: Planning changes needed for second homes

Second homes are a growing issue in many rural areas of the country. Although visitors with second homes bring economic benefits, they also reduce local housing stock and drive up house prices by making offers that most locals can’t match. The squeeze on housing availability drives up rents as well as prices.

Yet when second home owners arrive for the weekend, for the week or for a holiday, they rely on local people for their services in shops, pubs and bars. But many people can’t afford to live in a settlement where second homes are popular.

In 2018/19, an estimated 772,000 households reported having second homes.

Speaking during questions on Levelling Up in the Commons yesterday, Tim Farron said:

It is… vital that houses that are given planning permission are then used for the purposes agreed on when the permission was granted. I am talking about second home ownership. Homes that are built for local families become second homes, and that leads to communities being hollowed out. Will the Minister look again at bringing in new change of use rules through the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill, so that second homes and holiday lets fall under a separate category of planning use, and homes in Cumbria can remain for local families, and do not become part of ghost towns?

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: Boris is putting peace process in peril

As Liz Truss prepares to tell Parliament how exactly the British Government intends to ride a coach and horses through the Northern Ireland Protocol negotiated by itself, Christine Jardine writes in the Scotsman about the dangers this poses to the Peace Process.

She starts by writing about how she felt when the IRA first announced its ceasefire back in 1994.

But in that moment it seemed, for the first time, that there might be a bright, positive peaceful future for the people of Northern Ireland. For everyone touched by the euphemistically named ‘Troubles’.

Thirty years later, they have reached a point where they have, to a previously unimaginable extent, put the bitterness and pain of those years behind them.

So to be faced with the realisation that it might all be undermined by an unnecessary dispute born of the Brexit debacle and government intransigence is astonishing.

She condemns the Government for the threat it is posing to the Union.

It is hard to avoid the suspicion that a government, under fire, struggling to get on top of a cost-of-living crisis, is using the most socially and politically fragile area of the UK as a football.

More than that, it often feels as if the Conservatives are playing unacceptable games, not just with the people of Northern Ireland but with the Union.

She outlines the potential consequences of the Government’s actions:

If the Conservatives persist with their ideological approach, it could result in a trade war with our closest allies in the EU.

In the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, and when we need to work together to support Ukraine and oppose Russian aggression in Europe, it is hard to imagine a more self-damaging approach.

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West Oxfordshire Alliance to be led by Lib Dems

West Oxfordshire District Council is to be led by a coalition of the Liberal Democrat, Labour and Green parties after the Conservatives lost their majority last week for the first time in 22 years.

This marks a continuing trend in Oxfordshire, once a true blue wall outside the City of Oxford which remains solidly Labour. The Tories only holdout is now Cherwell in the north of the county.

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Ed, Daisy and Amna on Lib Dems’ local election success

Leader Ed Davey, Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper and Vice President Amna Ahmad have all been commenting on the Lib Dems fantastic election results this weekend.

Ed and Daisy were both on the Sunday morning shows.

On Sunday Morning, Ed said that Lib Dems wanted to get rid of this Conservative Government and the results show we can beat them. Watch the whole interview here from 22 minutes in.

Meanwhile, Daisy was on Sophy Ridge, hailing our fantastic results:

On Friday, Vice President Amna Ahmad was part of a Guardian panel analysing the elections. She said:

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Recent Comments

  • TonyH
    Yes Mark. I love your diary entries, but PLEASE stop calling him Boris....
  • James Fowler
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  • George Thomas
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