Author Archives: The Voice

Lib Dems and Labour won’t contest Southend West by-election

The Liberal Democrats have stated that, along with Labour, we will not contest the forthcoming Southend West by-election caused by the shocking murder of Sir David Amess MP on Friday.

From the Evening Standard:

PA news agency understands that Labour is set to follow the principle established after Jo Cox’s murder in 2016 when parties which held Commons seats declined to select candidates in the subsequent Batley and Spen by-election, which was won by Tracey Brabin.

As a result of that move five years ago, it is understood Labour will refuse to contest the by-election in which voters will be asked to elect Sir David’s replacement after his tragic death on Friday.

A Liberal Democrat spokesman confirmed to PA that the party will not fight for the seat either when a polling date is set.

This is the second time in five years that the two parties have made this decision after an MP has been killed in violent circumstances.

It’s very different from the 80s and 90s when the parties stood in by-elections following the murders of Sir Anthony Berry and Ian Gow. In the 1979 General Election, held weeks after the assassination of Airey Neave, Labour and Lib Dems contested his Abingdon seat.

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Lib Dems react after David Amess MP dies in stabbing (updated)

Sir David Amess, Conservative MP for Southend West, was stabbed as he met constituents at a regular surgery this lunchtime.  Sir Ed Davey said: “A truly terrible day for British politics but most importantly of all our prayers are with all the people who loved David.”

It is getting ever scarier to be in the public eye. MPs, councillors too, usually have no protection. But it would change the way that elected representatives work if we need to throw a shield around ourselves. However, this event will inevitably lead to a debate on what level of protection our representatives need.

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Naomi Long speaks at joint Scottish/Welsh Lib Dems Conference

One of the benefits of online meetings is that you can bring together people who are geographically distant and who otherwise might not meet. So someone in the Scottish and Welsh Lib Dems had the imaginative idea of joining forces for the Saturday of their Conferences last weekend.

To add to the diversity they invited as a guest speaker Naomi Long MLA, Leader of the Alliance Party, which is our sister party in Northern Ireland.

You can watch her terrific speech here.

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WATCH: Jane Dodds’ speech to Scottish and Welsh Conference

Jane Dodds addressed Scottish and Welsh conference yesterday. She said that the Lib Dems were opposed to Labour’s failure to tackle poverty and the Conservatives’ Universal Credit costs.

She praised Kirsty Williams, highlighting international recognition of her work as Education Secretary.

She accused the Conservative Government of suffocating the Welsh economy which is lagging behind with lower productivity, lower incomes and greater poverty. She blames Boris Johnson directly for the lorry driver shortage and says that those who are poorest will suffer most from his Brexit.

And she has some gorgeous flowers in the background. Enjoy! The full text is below:

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Ed Davey calls for extension of Warm Homes Discount scheme to help poorest with soaring energy costs

On Trevor Phillips on Sky this morning, Ed Davey did a fantastic job of taking down the Conservatives over their “cruel” cuts to Universal Credit.

As a former Secretary of State for Energy, he speaks with some authority on rising fuel prices and how to help the poorest through that.

He called for the Warm Homes Discount, currently worth £140 to those on certain benefits or low incomes to be doubled or tripled and for eligibility to be extended.

He also highlighted how he had continued the insulation programmes in place when he took over, but the Conservatives had failed to keep that work going.

He was also asked about the story this morning that the UK Government had not paid France what it owes for border work. Ed spoke about how people needed safe and legal routes to come to this country to settle as refugees or to be reunited with family.

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Ed Davey: Lib Dems focus on the realities of people’s lives

This weekend Scotland and Wales have combined their Autumn Conferences. On Friday, Scotland held its Autumn Conference, yesterday there was a day of joint Scottish and Welsh panels, debates and keynote speeches and today there is a Welsh Conference.

Yesterday, Ed Davey gave his keynote speech, contrasting the Lib Dems as fighting for a fair deal for people with cruel, out of touch Conservatives.

He highlighted our fight against illiberal, impractical vaccine passports:

Friends, we show through our federal party the best of what a federal United Kingdom can be.

“Understanding that each nation, region and community must often respond to its own challenges in its own way.

“But also working together in close partnership, united by our shared principles and our shared values.

“Just look at how Liberal Democrats responded to vaccine passports – or Covid ID cards, to call them what they really are. And compare our principled response across the United Kingdom with the other parties’.

“Liberal Democrats have always been clear. Covid ID cards are unworkable, expensive and illiberal.

“They are not a real solution, and they would place an unfair extra burden on local businesses who’ve been through so much already.

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WATCH: Alex Cole-Hamilton’s first leader’s speech to Scottish Conference

Full of ideas, passion, sincerity – watch Alex Cole Hamilton’s first leader’s speech to Scottish  Conference:

He delivered it from his home to the online event.

There were a few more policy initiatives – a commission on a just economy led by Jeremy Purvis to report to next year’s Autumn Conference:

If that great liberal William Beveridge could see us now, he would think his transformational work at the end of the war had been for nothing. We are the inheritors of his legacy and we need to do something about it. That is why I am today announcing a Commission for a Just Economy, to re set our liberal vision for Scotland. This will be chaired by Jeremy Purvis and will present recommendations to our conference in a year’s time. This will be rooted in liberal values, like social justice, sustainability and above all human rights.

A railcard with a 50% discount to encourage people back on to public transport and a package of measures to tackle the climate emergency:
Dramatic cuts in rail prices to encourage rail usage.
Ripping up the SNP’s signed agreement with Heathrow airport
Using powers over air passenger duty to tackle people who fly more and fly further.

He also talked about his supported for Liam McArthur’s bill to introduce assisted dying:

if there is a movement in the political firmament that exists to safeguard human rights, then it is ours. But we live in country where legislation guarantees rights that cover every aspect of your life, apart from one and that is your departure from it. Too many Scots are denied a good death, wracked by pain and indignity.

I want to know that if I am terminally ill and in agony beyond the reach of palliative care that I could say “this far and no further” and be supported to end that suffering in comfort and dignity.

I am so proud that my good friend and colleague, Liam McArthur is stewarding the Assisted Dying Bill though parliament in his name. A Liberal parliamentarian, who may finally allow Scotland to join the ranks of other progressive nations that already offer their citizens this final act of compassion.

Some of you may disagree with me. And you know what, that’s fine. I only ask that if we disagree on this or on other things, that we disagree well. Because one of the things that I love about our party is its plurality.

He argued that the SNP’s proposed National Care Service is a really bad idea – you need to increase wages and improve conditions for workers instead:

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How do you solve a problem like Dominic Raab?

This morning Dominic Raab, the Justice Secretary, exposed his own ignorance on live television:

Lib Dem Women and Equalities spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:

“It’s little wonder the Conservatives are failing to tackle misogyny when their Justice Secretary doesn’t even seem to know what it is.”

“These comments are an insult to the millions of women and girls impacted by misogyny and show just how out of touch the Conservatives are on this issue.

“Women and girls deserve better than these callous remarks. The Government must make misogyny a hate crime so that police forces take these crimes more seriously and support women and girls who are being so desperately let down.”

This is, of course, the very same Dominic Raab who, when Brexit Secretary, said the following:

“We are, and I hadn’t quite understood the full extent of this, but if you look at the UK and if you look at how we trade in goods, we are particularly reliant on the Dover-Calais crossing.

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Wendy Chamberlain on how the Police can regain public trust

Wendy Chamberlain is the only female former Police Officer in Parliament. We are very lucky to have her. She gave a brilliant interview to Sky News yesterday about the murder of Sarah Everard and what the Police needs to do now to regain trust.

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Ed Davey calls for Royal Commission to look at ways of ending men’s violence against women and girls

Following yesterday’s sentencing of Sarah Everard’s murderer and further revelations about the Metropolitan Police, Ed Davey, has called for a Royal Commission into male violence against women and girls and for misogyny to be immediately declared a hate crime.

Ed said:

Enough is enough. Since Sarah Everard’s tragic death, 80 women have allegedly been killed at the hands of men. It is time to treat this issue with the most serious response possible.

The undermining of the authority of the police around the safety of women means that only the most senior form of inquiry into this matter will do.

Alongside immediate action to make misogyny a hate crime, a Royal Commission is the best way to bring long lasting change.

The Conservatives promised a Royal Commission in their 2019 manifesto to look into the criminal justice system, in their first year in office. While they failed to deliver then, they should now establish a Commission with a more focused remit, specifically into men perpetrating violence against women and girls.

Violence by men against women and girls is like a pandemic and should be treated with the same attention and urgency. After so many heartbreaking events this year alone it beggars belief that too many women still feel unsafe just walking alone. We can’t live in a country where half of the people in it feel unsafe and under threat both in the street and for too many, tragically, in their own homes.

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Willie Rennie highlights impact of Universal Credit cut

This week, the Scottish Parliament debated the £20 per week cut to Universal Credit that will be hitting already struggling families from tomorrow.

Willie Rennie highlighted the number of families on Universal Credit in the constituencies of Scotland’s Conservative MPs in his speech.

He also set out how some families, affecting up to 8000 children, would lose much more. If their entitlement to Universal Credit is £20 or less, then they lose entitlement to so many other benefits, including the Scottish Child Payment. A briefing from the Child Poverty Action Group explains:

Mhari is 23. She and her partner have a two year old son. Mhari works part-time and her partner works full time at the National Minimum Wage, earning just over £1900 between them. They get £19.45 per week from universal credit (UC) and are entitled to £10 per week Scottish Child Payment. If UC is cut by £20 per week they will lose entitlement to both their UC support and Scottish Child Payment. This means their household income will drop by £1531 per year. They will lose an £18 every four weeks Best Start Foods payment card and they will not be entitled to the Best Start Grant early learning payment, worth £250, when their two year old turns three.

This highlights that for some families the £20 cut to UC will result in a much larger loss in overall household income.

Here is Willie’s speech in full:

Andrew Bowie has 3,620, David Mundell has 6,050, David Duguid has 6,280, John Lamont has 7,150, Alister Jack has 8,190 and Douglas Ross has 6,110. Those are the numbers of families in those politicians’ constituencies who will be directly impacted by the cuts to universal credit. The politicians can stand by and watch that happen to their constituents or they can stand up for them now, make their voices heard and, more important, make their votes count against the cut.

The measure could mean a £1,040 cut to people’s income or 22,000 people being plunged into poverty across the UK, according to the Child Poverty Action Group. The £20 is not a treat; it is a necessity for families, whose costs continue to rise. Their costs have not gone down just because the impact of the virus is potentially waning. Their costs are going up and at such a time they need more support, not less.

The Trussell Trust is right to point out that the move could force 82,000 people in Scotland alone to use food banks, one in four people to skip a meal, one in five to be unable to heat their home and one in five to be unable to get to work. That is especially ironic because, apparently, the cut is designed to get people into work. If they cannot get to work, they will not earn any more money than they are earning now.

The Conservatives seem to be concerned about the cost of the £20 rise to the overall Exchequer, but they have also said that work is the best route out of poverty. If they had any confidence in their multibillion-pound so-called work plan, they would not be cutting universal credit, because if all those people went into better-paid work there would not be a demand on universal credit. Therefore, their plan does not work.

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LibLink – Vince Cable: Keir Starmer needs a miracle – he has nothing to lose by being brave

Embed from Getty Images

Over on the Independent, Vince Cable argues that Labour needs to “turn around the oil tanker of negative public opinion about Starmer, and to erode the remorseless Tory lead, which seems to persist no matter how many errors Boris Johnson presides over”:

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Ed Davey: Prioritise NHS and care workers for fuel

The government must ensure that health and care staff, teachers and other essential workers are given priority access to fuel, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has said.

The former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change warned that the government mustn’t “allow their incompetence to damage people’s health and undermine our children’s education.”

It comes amid a warning from the British Medical Association that as pumps run dry “there is a real risk that NHS staff won’t be able to do their jobs”.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

Nurses and doctors are struggling to get to work, vulnerable people

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Lots of new hope in Scottish Party Political Broadcast

It’s a new era in Scotland, so a brand new Party Political Broadcast is going out as you read this.

It is a thing of beauty. Enjoy.

If the words “new hope” mean nothing to you, you haven’t been watching closely enough.

A lot of this was filmed at his leadership launch speech on 20th August.

We love the ending:

“If you want a party that is dedicated to fighting the climate emergency with ferocity without the baggage of nationalism, come with us.”

“If you want a party that is focused on human rights at home and abroad, come with us.”

“If you want a party that

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Jane Dodds’ speech to Federal Conference

Welsh Lib Dem leader Jane Dodds gave her first speech to Federal Conferece since she was elected as a Member of the Senedd for Mid and West Wales in May.

Here is the text in full:

I want to take you back to May 1999, and the first-ever elections to the then Welsh Assembly.

Almost 600 years after the first Welsh Parliament was established in June 1404, the people of Wales once again had its own national democratic institution.

Wales was entering a new dawn – an opportunity to meaningfully hand power to people, to communities, away from the corridors of power.

It was an opportunity to cast off the dust and to set about creating our own destiny here in Wales.

Our job here in Wales is made all the more difficult by Conservatives in Westminster and their assault on devolution and our national parliament.

But that quiet earthquake in 1999 has passed many people in Wales by. 22 years on and that radical, reforming streak that ushered in a new era has, in too many ways, been replaced by a steady incrementalism, slow to move when the world is hurtling on.

Now, granted, even after 1999 Wales operated with two hands tied behind its back and we don’t yet have all the tools we need to shape a fairer, greener, more liberal Wales. And our job here in Wales is made all the more difficult by Conservatives in Westminster and their assault on devolution and our national parliament.

It is our job, as liberals, and my job as the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, to make the case for a new relationship between people and parliament and between the nations of the United Kingdom.

We need to rediscover our radical, progressive voice and offer new and inspiring ideas – and we have work to do.

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WATCH: Alex Cole-Hamilton’s speech to #ldconf offering #newhope

: Yesterday, Alex-Cole-Hamilton gave his first speech as Scottish Leader to Conference. It was delayed, despite being pre-recorded. Some technical hitch meant that we had to vote to allow the agenda to change so they could sort it out.

Watch here:

Filmed outside Holyrood in the sunshine, he paid tribute to his predecessor Willie Rennie and other Scottish Liberal legends Jim Wallace, Jo Swinson and Charles Kennedy.

He talked about how the party under him will offer new hope to a Scotland whose public services were struggling due to SNP neglect even before the pandemic.

“We are a people trapped between flags” he said of the SNP’s Scottish Nationalism and Boris Johnson’s Brexit nationalism.

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Government must ‘not let the sun go down’ on the UK performers

Liberal Democrats have backed calls from Sir Elton John for the UK Government to urgently resolve the growing crisis facing the UK cultural sector.

At their national Conference today, the party has unanimously backed calls for swift action to address the red tape and paperwork that is stopping UK artists, performers, and musicians from being able to tour and perform in Europe.

Sir Elton has been a vocal critic of the Government’s failure to resolve this issue, which was caused following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU without a full scheme in place to enable paperless travel for performers.

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Liberal Democrats call for radical new approach to Israel/Palestine conflict

The Liberal Democrats have called for more trade with Palestine and Israel, more resources for peace and upholding of international law by ceasing trade with illegal settlements.

Liberal Democrat members have today passed a motion at party conference calling for a new approach to the Israel/Palestine conflict.

The motion, the first on Israel/Palestine at Lib Dem conference since 2017, reaffirms the party’s call for immediate recognition of the state of Palestine alongside calling on the UK Government to commit further resources to peace.

The Liberal Democrats have become the first UK political party to formally support the creation of a peace fund for the region to build trust between Israeli and Palestinian communities, modelled on similar schemes previously used in Northern Ireland.

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WATCH: Ed Davey’s speech in full

WATEd Davey has just spoken to Federal Conference. He had a specially invited live audience of around 100 people at a venue in Canary Wharf.

Here is the text in full:

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Davey announces flagship Catch-Up Voucher policy

Today Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has announced a new flagship Education policy on the third day of the party’s conference – Catch-Up Vouchers.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for a £15 billion package of education catch-up funding, as recommended by the Government’s former Education Recovery Commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins.

As part of this, the party is calling for a £5 billion programme of Catch-Up Vouchers for every school child, putting the money directly into parents’ hands to spend on whatever their children need most: tutoring in reading, writing or maths; music lessons; swimming classes or other physical education.

This idea of a three-year programme of education Catch-Up Vouchers would become the world’s biggest ever parent-listening exercise.

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Daisy Cooper: Liberal Britain needs you

In her conference speech, Daisy Cooper – MP for St Albans since 2019, deputy leader and Lib Dem spokesperson for education – tackles liberty and rights. She talks about how how individual liberties and freedom of expression have been eroded by Labour and Conservative governments. And about how Liberal Democrats have challenged and protested over decades. Rights and liberties are under attack again from a nationalist Tory government which is attacking our right to peaceful protest and weakening the right of every individual to take the government to court when it fails them. A liberal Britain would give people the freedom to be whoever they want to be and live their lives as they choose. There will be more power to people to make decisions in their communities, at work and in their everyday lives.

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Moran: Introduce Health Data Trust to protect private medical data

Today, at their Conference, the Liberal Democrats have backed ambitious plans to safeguard private health data.

The party is calling for the establishment of a five-point ‘Health Data Charter’, which will set out key tests for whether data sharing is in the interest of the public and the NHS.

They also propose a ‘Sovereign Health Data Trust’, which would bring together experts, clinicians and patient representatives to oversee the implementation and observance of the new charter.

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Lib Dems urge sanctions and Olympic boycott on China over Uyghur genocide

The Liberal Democrats have passed a motion at their party conference that calls for sanctions on Chinese officials and a boycott of the Winter Olympics.

The motion also calls for family reunification of those forced into “re-education” camps and calls on the Foreign Secretary to grant asylum to Uyghurs fleeing persecution.

Liberal Democrats have consistently called on the UK Government to take urgent action against those perpetrating these atrocities, including the use of Magnitsky sanctions.

Ahead of the vote at their party conference Lib Dem Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Layla Moran has written to every UK Government Minister urging them to back a boycott of the Winter Olympic games due to happen in February 2022.

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Paul McGarry talks of his “chaotic” youth in debate on support for care leavers #ldconf

Earlier today, Conference passed a motion calling for better support for care leavers up until the age of 25.

During the debate, Scottish Lib Dem Housing spokesperson Paul McGarry talked about why the measures outlined in the motion were so important and would have helped him. He describes the terrifying experience of being homeless at 16 after a “chaotic” childhood.

He has kindly sent us his speech so that readers can understand the reality our young people have to go through.

Conference I am one of a small group within our party with a lived experience and today I want to speak specifically about my experience, and how it relates to the importance of resolution 4.

Too many children are experiencing turmoil in their day-to-day existence, dealing with parents who have addictions, their parents broken relations, physical, emotional and sexual abuse within the home.

My own experience was a childhood that was disrupted and chaotic and a constant fear that we might be taken into care. We received support and my mum received support, we had neighbours and people in the community helping us, in fact my first contact with the Lib Dems was when we stayed with a Lib Dem MP and his wife, when my mum was particularly unwell.

Life was chaotic but I mostly was not permanently in the care system though my brother was.

This came to a head and at 16 I was homeless, homeless and terrified.

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Lib Dems call for Care Leavers education support

The Liberal Democrats have agreed upon a new deal for Care Leavers at their party conference today. The package calls for support measures for Care Leavers particularly in the area of education.

The party is calling for further provision to support carers right the way through their education, with support measures proposed from the early teens right the way to further education.

The motion calls for young people and Care Leavers to have specialised mentoring, extra exam support and tuition. The package also calls on the Government to increase the Care Leaver Bursary from £1,000 to £2,000.

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The Guardian on Lib Dem strategy: Bringing down the “blue wall”

In an almost effusive leader column, today’s Guardian praises Ed Davey, Lib Dem strategy and calls the Chesham and Amersham victory stunning. It says the Liberal Democrats are determined to make that win just the first step in bringing down the Conservatives’ “blue wall”. Boris Johnson can’t be ejected from Downing Street without a Lib Dem revival. Although Ed Davey will not be telling delegates to go back to their constituencies and “prepare for government” there are good reasons to believe something is happening, including the May by-election results.

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WATCH: Alistair Carmichael’s Conference Speech in full

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael spoke on the opening day of the Party’s Autumn Conference. In his speech he discussed Covid ID cards, Priti Patel’s Home Office failures, the labour shortage crisis and refugees. And the video is spectacular.

 

I don’t know if our Home Secretary lacks the empathy or imagination to put herself in the place of these desperate people who take these risks to get to our shores.

But I DO know that her response to that growing crisis shames our country…

This summer we saw Tory MPs queuing up to criticise the RNLI… for doing what they exist to do, saving lives at sea.

a government led by a Prime Minister who considers himself to be above the rule of law. A government that rules for the benefit of the elite… Whatever challenges present themselves in the weeks and months to come we shall continue to take the fight to this government.

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Lib Dems call for immediate ban on conversion therapy in all forms

The Liberal Democrats have called for a total ban of conversion therapy in the UK, with no exemptions for religious practices.

The party also wants to see a criminal ban on referrals, transportation of minors overseas, and advertising and promotion of any conversion practices as well as a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of conversion therapy.

The call comes in the same year as the Government have met with the Evangelical Alliance who advocate religious exemptions for gay conversion therapy and LGB Alliance who argue that affirming a child as trans is a form of conversion therapy, whilst failing to honour their promise to ban the practice.

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Christine Jardine: Government breaking promises and backbone of our economy

Christine Jardine slammed the Government’s proposed increase in National Insurance constributions in the debate yesterday.

The full text of her speech is below:

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Conference amendments now out

In the olden days, all the amendments to Conference motions and questions to party committees would be published in a separate booklet and you would have to juggle between the two of them and, quite often, the Conference Daily sheet as well.

We’ve now adapted for the online age and the Conference Extra stuff has now been incorporated into the agenda document itself which will make things much easier to navigate. You can see at first glance on pages 11-14 which motions have amendments and you can just click through to them.

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