Author Archives: The Voice

Former Lib Dem MP Colin Breed has died

Colin Breed, who was the Liberal Democrat MP for South East Cornwall between 1997 and 2010 has died.

From Cornwall Live:

On the retirement of the sitting Conservative MP Sir Robert Hicks, Mr Breed was selected to fight the seat at the 1997 general election and won, with a majority of 6,480, three days before his 50th birthday. His first parliamentary job was as the party’s spokesman on competition and consumer affairs, and his report Checking Out the Supermarkets sparked the Competition Commission’s investigation into supermarket profitability.

In October 1999 leader Charles Kennedy appointed him to the Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs Minister; in September 2000 he published Roots To Recovery, a paper on the future of rural Britain. In 2002 he became the junior spokesperson on defence.

Colim Martin, the Leader of the Lib Dems on Cornwall Council, paid tribute to Colin:

Colin gave me my first job in politics, when I came to work for him in Liskeard in 2005, and it soon became clear to me that he embodied so many of the qualities a good MP should have.

He was kind and friendly to everyone. He never took himself too seriously, but he knew he had a serious job to do. He was observant, curious and thoughtful, so he had developed a detailed understanding of the factors influencing everything from the price of a pint of milk to building a bypass, and as well as looking after South East Cornwall he tried to foster a more peaceful world, voting against the war in Iraq and making many visits to the Middle East to promote greater understanding between people of different religions.

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Hina Bokhari is the new Lib Dem Leader on the London Assembly

Our team has announced that Hina Bokhari AM is the new Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the London Assembly. She takes over from Caroline Pidgeon who was Leader for the previous 14 years.

Hina is the first ethnic minority woman to lead any group on the Assembly. She was first elected to the Assembly in the last round of London elections in 2021 (postponed from 2020). She has been a councillor on Merton Council since 2018. Hina taught for 20 years and founded a couple of charities to support underprivileged young people.

We have a quote from her:

It is a privilege to lead the Liberal Democrat Group on the London Assembly and to be the first ethnic minority woman to lead a group on the Assembly.

I want to pay tribute to my predecessor Caroline Pidgeon who led the Lib Dem Group tirelessly for the last 14 years and who was widely regarded as one of, if not the best scrutineers the Assembly has seen since its establishment.

I passionately believe that at its heart, London is a liberal city with liberal values and one that thrives on its great diversity.

It is with these values I intend to hold the Mayor of London to account on the promises he made during the election to ensure that London continues to thrive as a welcoming global city that is safe and accessible and that the challenges currently facing many Londoners are addressed.

To all the women of all backgrounds across London, I hope I can offer some hope that barriers are being broken and politics is becoming more representative of the society we live in.

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Ed Davey at PMQs – asking PM to back “Ann’s Law” on care home staff

Ed Davey today questioned the Prime Minister on whether he would back a proposal to ensure safety for residents of care homes.

The proposed law is named after Ann King, whose abuse while in a Surrey care home was exposed by hidden camera footage captured by her children.

Following her death in October 2022, her children, including her son who is a constituent of Ed’s, are now campaigning for “Ann’s Law” which includes:

A register for care workers.

CCTV in care homes overseen by independent third parties.

New guidance for police and prosecutors on dealing with abuse of vulnerable people.

Ed said to Rishi Sunak:

The abuse suffered by 88-year-old Ann King at the hands of staff in her care home was captured on a hidden camera. The footage is stomach-churning.

Ann died in October 2022, and it took nearly a year before the CQC launched a criminal investigation.

Now, Ann’s children are working to protect other care home residents from being subjected to such appalling abuse. Her son came to see me as his MP, to ask for my help in their campaign.

So will the Prime Minister join me in backing ‘Ann’s Law’ – a proposal that would include a national register to professionalise the care workforce and hold those staff who are abusive to account? And will he meet with Ann’s family and me to discuss this?

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Alex Cole-Hamilton stands for First Minister

Alex Cole-Hamilton’s bid to become Scotland’s First Minister was never going to end in success, unfortunately. It was important that he did it though. The MSPs in the Chamber were not his audience. That snippet on Reporting Scotland where he got the chance to be on the record, speaking to the people of Scotland, was an important part in Liberal Democrats setting out our stall.  Hope, he said, was at the heart of everything the Scottish Liberal Democrats stood for as he outlined our vision for better healthcare, education and giving power back to communities.

Watch here:

The text is below

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Lib Dems up ⬆️ Conservatives down ⬇️

The party has sent out this excellent May 2nd election result summary to members:

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LibLink: Mark Pack’s round-up of local elections results so far

Party President Mark Pack has been recording results and commentary throughout the counts. You can read today’s post here: How are the local elections going for the Lib Dems?

Here are some takeaways:

As of Saturday morning, the results look pretty good.

Before getting into that, it’s important to recognise that’s not the same as universally good. There are, for example, two wards I campaigned in this time around which we lost out on by very small margins. Defeats like those, or losing your seat while others are gaining those on the same council, are in some ways made all the worse by most other people around you celebrating. I hope though that our overall progress means those nursing disappointment this weekend can also take some consolation from the fact that our continued progress means, if they decide to stand again, better times are coming in their ward too.

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Lib Dem MPs contribute to Commons debate on assisted dying

On Monday, MPs debated a petition, supported by Esther Rantzen, aimed at changing the law to allow assisted dying. Several Lib Dem MPs contributed to the debate, all making points in favour of changing the law.

Here are their contributions in full:

Christine Jardine

I was thinking today about all those evenings when I was allowed to sit with my parents and watch “That’s Life!”, and how I could never have envisaged this moment. With all the successful campaigns in which Dame Esther Rantzen has been involved in her astonishing career, there can surely be none that has touched a nerve with the British public in so widespread a way as this one. Her involvement with this petition, which 555 people signed in my constituency alone, shows me that there is a momentum among the British public: a desire to see a national debate on the subject and for their Parliament to reflect their view, which we see in so many opinion polls nowadays. It is not a party political issue, but for the record my party, which believes in the freedom, dignity and wellbeing of individuals, has long supported the idea of a free vote in Parliament and would welcome a free vote in the next Parliament for us all to make the choice.

I find myself in the strange position where my colleague Liam McArthur is currently steering a private Member’s Bill on this issue through the Scottish Parliament. If he is successful, I would hypothetically have a choice denied to so many other people in this room—a significant choice. Another Bill that is about to be introduced to the Scottish Parliament by a Conservative MSP is about improving palliative care. Liam and Miles Briggs are working together, because the two are not mutually exclusive. We should see it as a choice between assisted dying or palliative care not for us, but for the individuals affected. They should have the choice.

The time has come when we need to recognise that there is momentum; other parts of the UK will make decisions on this shortly. I must be honest with Members and say that I do not know what decision I would make. I saw my parents die very different deaths: my father suddenly from a heart attack when very young, and my mother very slowly of a horrible asbestos-related disease. I do not know what they would have wanted. I do not know what I would want, but I do know that I want everybody to have the choice that they want. The time has come when we should recognise this petition and what it asks us to do, and look at a very narrow form of agreement to assisted dying when someone has a terminal diagnosis and has made that decision at a time when they were mentally capable of doing it, and when a medical intervention is involved. Ultimately, they get to make the last, perhaps most important and most personal decision that they could make.

Sarah Dyke

It is an honour to serve with you in the Chair, Mrs Latham. I thank the hon. Member for Gower (Tonia Antoniazzi) for bringing forward this important debate. I also thank the petitioners, including 645 in Somerton and Frome, and everyone who reached out to me ahead of the debate. Your experiences have touched me deeply, as have the experiences of hon. Members here.

One constituent wrote to me about her son, Jonathan, who died in a hospice at the age of 46. His family told me that the tragedy of his death was made so much worse by the lack of provision for assisted dying. Jonathan’s mother, Denise, gave me a quote that I think sums up today’s debate very well:

“It’s not about ending life, it’s about shortening death”.

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Andrew Stunell’s last speech – on Leasehold and Freehold reform

Embed from Getty Images

As part of our tributes to Lord (Andrew) Stunell, who has died, here is the text of his last speech, made in the House of Lords on March 27th this year, in the debate on the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill:

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, and I am sorry that his speech was somewhat interrupted by technological problems.

I declare an interest as a vice-president of the LGA simply because it is one of many organisations which have contributed evidence and views on the Bill. I also want to declare that I am the joint leaseholder of just one residential flat, which I occupy during my parliamentary work, and I am in the same block of construction that the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, referred to, with exactly the same issues; I shall certainly work alongside her at later stages of the Bill. However, that will not be the central point of what I want to say. There have been some powerful contributions so far, and many of the things I want to highlight have already been properly drawn into the debate by people who have created the policies I want the Government to advocate, never mind persuading them to join with me.

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Tributes paid to Andrew Stunell

Embed from Getty Images

Tributes have been paid to Andrew Stunell, whose death was announced today.

Ed Davey has put up this statement:

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Dr. Who? Poll finds half of Brits rarely or never see the same GP

  • Government told “the family GP is a thing of the past” as GP crisis worsens
  • Older people most likely to never see the same GP despite warnings from health groups
  • Lib Dem Leader calls for over-70s and those with long-term health conditions to see the same GP for every appointment
  • New plans would cover around 19 million patients across the country, and be crucial for people with long-term care needs

New polling commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has led to the government being warned “the family GP is a thing of the past”, with people reporting to never see the same GP for every appointment.

Almost half (47%) of UK adults who have been to see their GP more than once in the last couple of years say they have rarely or never seen the same GP for every appointment. Of these, almost one in five (18%) say they have never seen the same GP in the past few years.

This number rises for those aged over 65, with a staggering quarter (27%) never seeing the same GP. This is despite research showing that seeing the same GP helps the elderly avoid hospital admissions and improves the quality of treatment.

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Drama in Scotland – could there be a Holyrood election?

Who would have thought that Scottish voters could face two national elections this year – and the first one for the Scottish Parliament before the too-long awaited Westminster poll?

If First Minister Humza Yousaf is forced to resign in the next few days, if the SNP can’t agree on a successor, if the Parliament can’t agree on a new First Minister within 28 days, then Scottish voters could be going to the polls on 4th July.

The SNP has been sharing power with the Scottish Greens for the past two and a half years with Green Co-Conveners Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater holding ministerial office. This morning Humza Yousaf handed them their jotters in an early morning meeting before announcing to the world that he had decided that the SNP would be better off going it alone as a minority Government.

You have to wonder whether he had thought through the implications for his own future. It wasn’t difficult to imagine that someone would put up a motion of no confidence and equally predictable that the party that he had just unceremoniously booted out of Government would not find it in their hearts to support him.

As things stand, his best hope is a tied vote next week, relying on the casting vote of the Presiding Officer to save him. But even that can only be achieved by doing a deal with Ash Regan, his former leadership rival who went off and joined Alex Salmond’s socially conservative, populist Alba party. And even if he survives the vote, clinging to power by your fingernails is not the best way to lead your party into a UK General Election.

You have to wonder why he let that happen.

There are undoubtedly some in the SNP who have been wanting rid of Humza since he was elected.

Last year’s SNP leadership election was so close with Humza only just beating Kate Forbes. Deep divisions were exposed within the party. Now the SNP can take a fair amount of division. They are a very broad church. But the only thing they really care about is independence and when they are divided on how to achieve that, and the prospect of it ever happening is moving further and further away, they are going to implode.  It’s hard to think of anyone in their ranks who could come close to bringing them together.

Their Government is failing at pretty much everything, as Alex Cole-Hamilton said in no uncertain terms at First Minister’s Questions today.

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Four ways you can help Liberal Democrat Voice

The Voice is only a success because of the interest and support from our readers. For many people just lurking and reading the site is all they want to do – and that’s fine, we’re grateful for people taking the time to read the site.

You can though help us continue to produce interesting content for a growing audience. Here are four simple ways:

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Sunak fails to back Sarah Olney’s call for free court transcripts for victims

Rishi Sunak today failed to back a call at Prime Minister’s Questions from our Sarah Olney, to change the law to give victims access to free court transcripts.

Sarah’s question was on behalf of her constituent, Juliana Terlizzi, who was drugged and raped by her then boyfriend in 2020. When Ms Terlizzi requested a copy of the court transcript to aid with her healing process, she was ordered to pay over £7,000 to access it. Ms Terlizzi, who was in the gallery for the question, branded Rishi Sunak’s response as yet more empty words, adding it was “a slap in the face” for victims.

This is not the only time this has happened One recent case involved a girl who was raped and sexually abused by her father, but whose family were then quoted £6,534 for the transcript of his trial.

Lib Dem peer Sal Brinton has proposed an amendment to the Victims’ and Prisoners’ Bill, scheduled for a vote in the House of Lords on Tuesday 23rd April, which would tackle these costs being charged to victims. It would allow all crime victims to request a transcript of the court’s summing up and sentencing remarks, so long as the trial took place in a court where the proceedings are recorded. This would include all crown court cases where serious offences, including robbery, rape and murder, are tried.

Sarah Olney said:

No victim or bereaved family should be forced to pay thousands to access a court transcript that’s part of their own story. The Prime Minister could easily tackle this injustice, but his government’s continued refusal to do so speaks volumes.

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Rob Blackie holds Khan to account on crime in ITV London Mayor debate

Rob Blackie at ITV London debate. Credit: Andy Sillett

Last night, ITV London held a debate with the candidates for London Mayor. Our Rob Blackie took part and challenged incumbent Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan on his record on tackling crime. He also emphasised that the Conservatives could not win.

You can watch the whole debate here and an extra comment from Rob Blackie here.

At one point, Rob asked Sadiq Khan “Aren’t you ashamed?” at the collapse in the number of sexual offenders being caught.

Rob also called the Mayor out for undermining Transport for London’s finances with election gimmicks, benefitting tourists, pledging to halt bus cuts and get the tube back on track instead.

After the debate, Rob said:

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Ed Davey’s message for Eid

We at Liberal Democrat Voice would like to wish everyone celebrating Eid Mubarak.

In his message for Eid, Ed Davey talked of our collective values of compassion and justice and assured British Muslims that the Liberal Democrats stand with them in solidarity and celebration.

He said:

Eid Mubarak to everyone in the UK and across the globe celebrating Eid.

As we mark the end of Ramadan, let’s reflect on our values of working together, of compassion and gratitude for what we have in common.

I know there are so many of you who have gone through this holy month and are now with your families and friends celebrating this moment.

And I know it has been a difficult time for British Muslims and Muslims across the world with the rise of Islamophobia and the horrible, awful conflict in Israel and Palestine and we commit ourselves to working for the peace we all need.

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Another bank holiday?

Today is Easter Monday – one of a pitifully small number of bank holidays that we enjoy in the UK.  The Republic of Ireland has 10 public holidays each year,  France has 11, Spain has 12, Denmark and Norway have 14 each, whilst Nepal has an astonishing 39. We are right at the bottom of the list with only 8 public holidays per year.

This year the Republic of Ireland introduced a new public holiday on the first Monday in February to celebrate St Brigid, Ireland’s only female patron saint. The date is also known in Gaelic traditions as Imbolc, and it marks the beginning of Spring.

The Government has launched a consultation on adding at least two further public holidays across the UK. The Lib Dem Voice team supports this proposal and would like to gather suggestions from our readers so we can submit a response.

The proposals are:

  1. To identify a public holiday in each of our nations on the date of the relevant patron saint. So England would celebrate  St George on 23rd April, Wales would celebrate St David on 1st March, Northern Ireland would celebrate St Patrick on 17th March, and Scotland would celebrate St Andrew on 30th November.
  2. To identify a further public holiday across the UK. The Government is looking for suggestions for suitable dates.

The second proposal has generated a lot of interest. We have come up with a number of suggestions between us but we would welcome further ideas from you. Please add to the comments below.

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WATCH: Ed Davey’s Easter message

Watch Ed Davey’s Easter message below:

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By-election success – 28th March

We have not received a by-election report directly from ALDC today – it is a Bank Holiday, after all – but they have given the results on their website.

Somerset Council, Somerton

Liberal Democrats (Stephen Page): 1212 (50.1%, -1%)
Conservative: 878 (36.3%, -2.2%)
Labour: 174 (7.2%, -0.5%)
Green Party: 154 (6.4%, new)

Liberal Democrat HOLD

Many congratulations to Stephen Page and the campaign team.

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LibLink: Richard Foord MP demands a better deal on pharmacies

Over on the Midweek Herald, Richard Foord MP writes about the threat to high street pharmacies:

…these important facilities are under threat, and we are risk seeing them disappear from some of our high streets altogether. More than 1,000 pharmacies across England have shut their doors since 2015 and many more are facing an uncertain future as funding for these services has been cut by 30 per cent in real terms over the past seven years. There’s a vacancy rate of 14 per cent in community pharmacies in the West Country, compared to eight per cent across the UK. Communities like Axminster have already seen one of their pharmacies closed, leaving residents having to queue out of the door to get help from the sole remaining pharmacy in town, and in Sidmouth the news that Boots was giving up on their Woolbrook Road pharmacy caused considerable concern.

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Ed Davey launches Lib Dem local election campaign

Good coverage for Ed Davey on the BBC as he launched our local elections campaign in Hertfordshire this morning. Our campaign geniuses came up trumps again with an hourglass which revealed a message for Rishi Sunak.

Ed said:

Time’s running out for Rishi Sunak.

He might have bottled a May General Election

He might hope the tide will turn, squatting in Downing Street for a few more months

But even the Prime Minister can’t deny people across England the chance to have their say in local elections on the Second of May.

When I speak to lifelong Conservative voters, they tell me that the party no longer speaks for them. Time and time again, they are being failed by this appalling Conservative Government.

This Government has plunged our NHS into crisis. Left vulnerable people waiting hours for an ambulance, weeks to see a GP or a dentist, and months to start treatment for cancer.

They’ve made the cost-of-living crisis so much worse.

Sending mortgage rates soaring.

Hitting families with unfair tax rises.

And leaving out pensioners altogether in their Budget this month.

They’ve trashed our precious natural environment, letting water companies get away scot-free, as they dump millions of tonnes of raw sewage into our rivers and onto our beaches.

Rishi Sunak’s government is running out of road because people know it is time for change.

And people are voting for us because it is time for the Liberal Democrats.

We are listening.

This year we’ve already knocked on more than a million doors –

We’ve heard from you about all the things that are broken in our country right now.

We’re ready to get to work and fix them.

And we’re hearing too that so many people, in all parts of the country, are switching to the Liberal Democrats.

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Rob Blackie’s London Mayoral Campaign launch – let’s fix the Met

Lib Dem London Mayoral Candidate, Rob Blackie, launched his campaign yesterday with a pledge to ‘fix the Met’.

Credit: Sillett Photography

The event took place at Pop Brixton, located in the neighbourhood where Rob has spent much of the past 20 years raising his family.

Rob told the media and a group of close supporters that Sadiq Khan does “not deserve” a third term due to his record on crime. He also dismissed the Conservative chances, accusing the party of giving up on London after selecting a Trump-backing candidate.

He added that Sadiq Khan’s failure on crime is the reason he is standing as mayor.

In his speech, he talked about the struggles Londoners are facing with the cost of living crisis and rising crime. With him as Mayor, City Hall would be building houses for social rent, sorting out the Met, changing the culture within the Met and meeting climate change goals.

The full text of the speech is below:

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WATCH: Alistair Carmichael’s speech to Conference

On Sunday morning, Alistair Carmichael gave his keynote speech to Conference. It was as funny, liberal and hard=hitting as you would think.

Governments and babies’ nappies need changing often, much for the same reason, he said.

Liberal Democrats will have no truck with the demonisation of desperate people. We will crush the people smuggling market by giving people safe and legal routes to get here, he promised.

 

He said that Liberal Democrats mustn’t just tell people what we’re against. We must say what we are for. We champion the rights of the individual to do what they like as long as it doesn’t harm others.  We also understand that meaningful freedom means pooling freedoms to form communities and upwards to nation states.

We are a party of law and order, he said, because we can’t be free if we don’t feel safe to leave our homes as he attacked the Conservative record on community policing.

He highlighted how the Conservatives are upping use of facial recognition technology like that used in China and how that had never been authorised properly by Parliament. Any influence we have in the next Parliament will be used to put the money wasted on this into frontline policing.

He warned that we might be sleepwalking into a surveillance state. He tackled that line much favoured by those who want to lead us down an increasingly authoritarian path “If you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear.” We are all perfectly entitled to hide things. It’s called privacy.

He reminded us of some of Labour’s failings on civil liberties – their “authoritarian streak a mile wide” with DNA databases and 90 day detention. We will not support any of that agenda should they go into power.

Liberal Democrats are not about splitting the difference between the Tories and Labour. We trust the people, they want to control them. We demand a change in the way we are governed. We demand a stronger, greener, fairer and more United Kingdom.

We need to get out there and fight of that door by door and street by street as if the future of our nation depends on it – because it does.

Watch the whole thing here:

The full text is below.

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WATCH: Ed Davey’s speech to Spring Conference

There were some very interesting nuggets from Ed Davey’s speech on Saturday. At last we seem to be showing a bit of what we’re about. And what better a place to start than with sorting out our democracy by showing people the harm the current system does to them:

It distorts democracy.

It leaves millions of people feeling powerless and excluded.

Unable to hold those in power properly to account.

Conference, we know proportional representation would be so much fairer…

So much better for our politics and our country.

And a majority of the British people now back electoral reform.

So why hasn’t it changed? Why are we still the only party fighting for political change?

He also mentioned the word Europe in such a way as to send the Daily Telegraph into a tailspin:

Only Liberal Democrats have a clear plan to rebuild this relationship with a better deal for Britain.

To renew the ties of trust and friendship,

To set us on the path back to the Single Market.

Our plan to repair the damage the Conservatives have done,

And, in time, to restore Britain’s place at the heart of Europe. Where we belong.

There’s nothing new in there. It’s been our policy since 2021, but he did say the single market phrase out loud.

Watch here.

The text is below:

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£109bn household debt bombshell to wipe out National Insurance tax cut

  • Debt interest costs to rise by average of £1,917 per household this year, double the amount before Liz Truss’s mini budget
  • The debt bombshell will be ten times higher than the government’s National Insurance rate cut
  • Lib Dems warn Budget was a “Conservative con” with households still paying the price for Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng crashing the economy

Households will spend a staggering £109 billion this year servicing their debt, including mortgages and credit cards, double the figure before Liz Truss’s mini-budget.

Figures buried in the small print of the Budget reveal the enormous household debt bombshell, which is more than …

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Daisy Cooper, Layla Moran and Kath Pinnock in Women in Westminster 100

Two Lib Dem MPs and a Peer have made it into Politics Home’s Women in Westminster 100 for 2024.  The list is made up of prominent women in Parliament and political media.

Daisy Cooper, Layla Moran and Federal Campaigns and Elections Committee Chair Baroness Kath Pinnock are all mentioned.

Daisy Cooper “brings the single-,minded focus of a seasoned campaigner to the Liberal Democrats.” Her citation sets out her campaigning career prior to becoming an MP, working for organisations such as More United, Hacked Off and for human and LGBT rights internationally.

Layla’s personal experience of the terrifying and heartbreaking situation in Gaza is mentioned:

With members of her own family caught up in the war between Israel and Hamas, Moran has found herself at the forefront of public discussions about the conflict. It is not a subject she has shied away from, speaking with compassion, authenticity and depth of understanding about the complexities of the situation.

Kath Pinnock is praised for her work on the levelling up brief, particularly on rights for renters and fire safety:

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Cole-Hamilton to host Russian dissidents event in Scottish Parliament

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP will be hosting a visit from Russian dissident, Ekaterina Schulmann, in the Scottish Parliament following the death of Russian opposition politician, Alexei Navalny.

As a Russian dissident, Ekaterina has been labelled a foreign agent by the Kremlin which means she is unable to work in Russia. She is a high-profile lecturer, a columnist and gives expert commentary to the media. She is also an associate fellow of Chatham House and hosts a YouTube channel on which she commentates on Russian affairs to her 1.2 million subscribers.

On Wednesday, Ekaterina will be delivering a presentation to …

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Welsh Conference Round-up – Part 2

Welsh Liberal Democrats held their Conference in Cardiff this weekend. You can read part one of the round-up here.

Support for farmers

Welsh farmers have been completely done over by both the UK Conservative Government and the Welsh Labour Government in many ways in recent years, not least post Brexit trade deals. Conference turned its attention to the post Brexit reform of payments to farmers.

Conference called for a fairer and more workable farming payment scheme.

Last Wednesday thousands of farmers held a protest in Cardiff against the Welsh Government’s funding proposals, which included the controversial Sustainable Farming Scheme.

In their draft budget for the 2024 financial year, the Welsh Labour Government announced that they were cutting the Rural Affairs budget by 13%, equivalent to a loss of £62 million in funding.

Jane Dodds said:

Our stance as a party has always been to stand up for the interests of our farming communities here in Wales, and this still hasn’t changed.

I know from first-hand experience that many farmers earnestly support the desire to make nature-friendly farming the standard across Wales.

But when they are being presented with something as complex as the Sustainable Farming Scheme, these farmers are at the same time rightfully anxious about the prospect of transitioning.

We must offer them a viable and sustainable scheme that aims to build resilience and bolster thriving rural economies. Whilst at the same time prioritising the Welsh Language.

The current Sustainable Farming Scheme offered by Welsh Labour falls dramatically short of delivering these key priorities.

We cannot afford to alienate our farming community, particularly when they are willing to work with us in transitioning to a greener approach to farming.

Ynys Mon PPC Leena Farhat said:

We as a party recognise that our farms are the lifeblood of Wales, without them, we as a nation would be hopelessly lost.

It is concerning that Welsh Labour have failed to provide a comprehensive long-term plan for agriculture, a core sector of Wales, despite being in government for 25 years.

The future of the Welsh agriculture industry, and rural Wales as a whole, hinges on the presence of a fair, effective, and appropriate funding scheme.

Regrettably, the current Sustainable Farming Scheme, offered by this Welsh Labour Government, not only proves unworkable but also poses a threat to the future livelihoods of numerous families within the sector.

It is disheartening to witness our farmers being made scapegoats by Labour Ministers in Cardiff Bay, who repeatedly demonstrate a profound lack of understanding of rural areas’ needs.

Over the years, their governance has failed to address the fundamental challenges facing our agricultural communities.

The Tories’ claim to champion farmers’ interests is laughable, particularly given their readiness to sacrifice them in favour of expediting questionable trade deals.

Their track record hardly reflects a commitment to safeguarding the welfare of our farmers.

Farmers deserve sincere and transparent support.

They deserve politicians who prioritise their well-being and livelihoods over political expediency.

It is time for a change, a change that places the interests of our agricultural communities at the forefront of policy making.

Industrial strategy

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Wendy Chamberlain highlights under-representation of women in key areas of Police Scotland

Lib Dem MP Wendy Chamberlain has today unveiled new analysis showing that women are under-represented in many areas of Police Scotland and warned that lack of proper funding could reverse progress in increasing diversity.

Analysis by the party ahead of International Women’s Day on Friday 8th March, reveals that:

  • There are almost twice as many male police officers (11,064) as there are female police officers (5,549).
  • Among those ranked Inspector or above, the disparity is even larger, with 900 male officers and 350 female officers.
  • The number of female PCs has actually fallen by 54 since 2021.
  • Despite women outnumbering men by 3,621 to 2,247 among Police Scotland’s civilian staff roles, the top roles remain male-dominated with 58 men reaching Grade 11 and above compared to 34 women.

In 2022 a report by Dame Louise Casey warned that an “anything goes” culture had been allowed to develop in the Met with racists, misogynists and criminals allowed to stay in the force.

On Friday a review was published into how off-duty Metropolitan police officer Wayne Couzens was able to abduct, rape and murder Sarah Everard, which recommended improving vetting and examined the extent to which any issues relating to his behaviour, particularly in relation to women, were known and raised by colleagues.

Wendy, a former Police Officer herself, said:

This is an area where Police Scotland need to do more. It was an area that the 2018 Angiolini Review highlighted and the outgoing Chief Constable agreed.

As Police Scotland goes forward under Jo Farrell’s new leadership, it must reflect on these numbers, closely and carefully, and take meaningful steps to ensure that the police service is as diverse as the public it serves.

Within the service, staff surveys should be regularly on offer so that issues can be identified early on and discriminatory practices and behaviours rooted out.

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Welsh Conference Round-up – Part One

Today Welsh Liberal Democrats debated local government funding and set out their stall for the General Election.

More funding for Councils

According to estimates from the Welsh Local Government Association, councils in Wales are facing funding pressures of £720m in 2024-25, with real term funding for Local government’s being 12% lower in 2023-24 than it was in 2009-10.

The Welsh Lib Dems are now calling on the Welsh Government to to work towards restoring real terms local government funding to 2009-10 levels.

Jane Dodds said:

Our local authorities here in Wales have been left to deal on their own with a severe funding gap, created by the financial mismanagement of the UK Conservative government.

I know many councils have had to make some difficult decisions when it comes to their budgets for this coming financial year, which is why we have passed this motion today.

We as a party are calling for extra funding for our struggling local authorities here in Wales, to stem the tide of public service cuts and increases in council tax.

The Welsh Government must finally get their act together and put in place a long-term manageable plan to help restore local government funding back to where it was in 2009/10.

Welsh Lib Dem PPC for Blaenau Gwent and Rhymney Jackie Charlton said:

I am extremely proud that we have passed this motion today calling for extra funding for local authorities across Wales.

It is no secret that councils across Wales have been presented with the difficult task of setting their budgets for the upcoming financial year in the shadow of an economic crisis that has gripped this country.

Difficult decisions around cutting public services and raising costs have sadly become the reality for many councillors in Wales facing an astronomical funding gap.

The UK Conservative government, through blatant disregard, have completely crashed our economy. And have forced ordinary working people to pick up the pieces and tidy up a mess created by years of Tory government

A fair deal for Wales

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Welsh Lib Dems hold Conference in Cardiff

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are holding their Spring Conference in Cardiff this weekend.

They’ll be debating what makes a fair deal for Wales, childcare, support for farmers, businesses and tourism, local government funding and attracting graduate to Wales. They’ll also debate whether to remove the controversial 2o mph limit on restricted roads across Wales.

Ahead of the Conference, Welsh Leader Jane Dodds said:

“We currently find ourselves in difficult circumstances, surrounded by economic uncertainty and global instability that has clouded our future.

Our economic woes and current deprivation of public services have been fuelled by an indifferent UK Conservative government intent on running our country into the ground.

Never before or since have we been faced with a government so out of touch with the needs of its people.

Meanwhile, Labour have been too busy moving the goalposts and changing their promises to offer anything substantial for the people of Wales.

If you want to get rid of the conservatives, don’t vote Labour.

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