Author Archives: The Voice

PODCAST: Climate change conference fringe event

Lib Dem Voice hosted a fringe in Bournemouth at the party’s annual conference to discuss the impact of climate change (see photo above).

Our speakers were Baroness Cathy Bakewell, Lib Dem Lords Spokesperson for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Luke Murphy, Head of IPPR’s Environmental Justice Commission; Lib Dem Deputy Leader Ed Davey MP; Mark Campanale of the Carbon Tracker Initiative; and Paul Sheeky from Extinction Rebellion; The panel was chaired by LDV’s own Dr Kirsten Johnson.

Use this link to download podcasts automatically in your podcast app and see our previous podcasts and media content here.

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WATCH IN FULL – Jo Swinson’s speech to conference today

Here is the ITV version of Jo’s speech:

You can also watch the Guardian version as follows, with cutaway shots, by sliding the bottom time slider to 33’31”:

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Full text – Jo Swinson’s first conference speech as leader

Embed from Getty Images

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Vince Cable’s speech to Conference

The convention that an outgoing Leader gets a valedictory speech at Conference was adhered to. It was a gentle, self-deprecating affair, but it attracted a thoroughly deserved standing ovation…

Thank you for your warm welcome.

It is one of our traditions that former leaders have a last hurrah at Conference before we leave the stage.

It gives me a chance to thank people who have helped me along what has sometimes been a rocky road and to answer those people who are asking me “what are you doing next”.

On the precedent of previous leaders I should be expecting an offer

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Wera Hobhouse’s speech to Conference

Yesterday, climate change spokesperson Wera Hobhouse delivered this keynote speech to Conference. Here it is in full.

Good morning everybody

It is wonderful to see you all here at the start of a great conference.
We are in a very good place.
Look at what we have achieved since our last conference only 6 months ago.

Number of councillors UP
Number of MEPs UP
Number of MPs UP
Membership UP
Polling UP.

Is there anything that can stop us now?

Here is an easy question: Who in this Hall is a Liberal Democrat?

And who in this hall believes the Climate Crisis is the biggest challenge of the future and we have a moral duty to solve it?

Think about it.
This is who we are.
Being a Liberal Democrat and being an environmentalist go hand in hand.
Our values for a free open tolerant and globally fair society place us right in the centre of the fight against global climate chaos.

Let me remind you of the preamble of our constitution.
‘The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair free and open society in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty equality and community and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty ignorance or conformity.’

We fundamentally believe that all people are equal and have an equal right to freedom and prosperity.

That freedom and prosperity for all has to be fought for and safeguarded because it is easily threatened.

Nobody can be free who lives in poverty, nobody is free when displaced or threatened by war.
The Climate Crisis will affect us all. If we allow it to get worse it will create huge global inequalities.

Some parts of our planet will be much worse hit than others, creating extreme poverty and hardship, displacement and possibly war.

We Liberal Democrats make no distinction between people on the basis of race gender or religion.
It matters deeply to us how other people are doing not just in this country but anywhere in the world.

That is what makes us an internationalist party. People in China or Argentina or Nigeria or Iran are our neighbours.

That is why we call out against human rights abuses wherever we witness them.

And that is why we feel particularly called upon to avert a climate catastrophe.

This is our call!

This is who we are!

This is why each and every one of us should be proud to be a Liberal Democrat!

The rise of populist and nationalist leaders across the world directly threatens our democratic values.

It threatens the institutions that have guaranteed our rules based international order.

But additionally what is staring us in the face now is that these populist nationalist leaders also threaten our efforts to tackle the climate crisis.

Whether it is Trump or Bolsanaro or Putin or any other dictator across the world, they all actively encourage activities that create environmental chaos, division, social instability and economic disruption.

Because these are the conditions on which they thrive.

Populist leaders create and deliberately exaggerate the fear of foreigners.
They use this fear for their own personal and self-centred ambition.
Fear is a powerful emotion that blocks out any rational argument.

We cannot ignore the huge dangers to international peace and cooperation that these authoritarian leaders pose.
Climate breakdown will play into their hands.
The potentially huge displacement of people give the perfect excuse for populist leaders to shut down the borders and pull up the draw bridge.
The cry of each and every one of these leaders is ‘my country first’.
They do not care about anyone else.

Look at the devastating destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
It would be naïve to think Bolsanaro turns a blind eye for mere short term financial gain, and has no regard for the long- term global implications of such destruction.
More important to realise is that burning down the rainforests and exacerbating the climate crisis is consistent with his disruptive political agenda.
It matters to stand up against these populists and nationalists.
Not just because of the threat to our open society but because of the threat to our planet.

We must fight this.
That is why we are in politics.
That is why we are Liberal Democrats.

Our Liberal Democrat resurgence in the local and European elections give me great hope.
There are millions of people who will not lie down in the face of populism and nationalism.
We must stand with them, and lead them.

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Revealed: That Lib Dem Disco set list

We are sparkling with excitement here at LDV Towers. Lib Dem Disco is about to get underway in the Marriott.

It means that Mikey Smith from the Mirror has to stay up late and watch Lib Dems do strange things on the dance floor but I’m sure he enjoys it really.

Tonight, Jane Dodds, Christine Jardine, April Preston and James Spiby are the guest DJs. Will CJ be able to equal Jo Swinson’s triumph and win two years in a row?

I have to say that there are some mighty fine tunes on the set list.

And I have another reveal at the end…..

Jane Dodds

Katrina & the Waves – Walking on Sunshine

Beyoncé – In Da Club

Duffy – Mercy

Christine Jardine

Spice Girls – Wannabe

Bonnie Tyler – Holding Out For A Hero

Proclaimers – 500 Miles

April Preston

Deee Lite – Groove Is In The Heart

Pulp – Common People

Madonna – Like a Preyer

James Spiby

Mark Ronson – Uptown Funk

Ray Parker Jr. – Ghostbusters

Ricky Martin – Livin La Vida Loca

And that reveal..

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Sal Brinton’s speech to Conference

This is Sal Brinton’s last speech to Conference as Party President. It contains joy, celebration, tributes, challenges and report.

And here is the text in full.

Well, hello Conference and hasn’t everything changed since we last met in March!

Wow! Just wow! 

We asked you to all go on the Stop Brexit march on 20 March to make it clear we are the strongest Remain party. 

You did that. 

It was my privilege to help lead thousands and thousands of Liberal Democrats along with Vince Cable at that march that had over a million people on the streets of London. 

We asked you to go out and give us the best results ever in the local elections. 

You did that. 

We made over 700 gains, and now control 18 councils. We’re still making gains in by elections too.

We  then said please go out and campaign for our best ever European Elections results, in a snap election, with very little time. 

You did that. 16 MEPs.

I’ll say it again. 

Wow! Just wow! 

And then we said (after all of that!), please go and help Jane Dodds and our Welsh colleagues in Brecon and Radnorshire. 

So you did that too! 

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Karen Ward to fight North Norfolk and Munira Wilson to fight Twickenham for the Lib Dems

Two key selection contests  have concluded this week. Last month both Norman Lamb and Vince Cable announced that they would not contest their seats in the General Election we know is just around the corner.

Karen Ward will contest the North Norfolk seat which Norman has held since 2001.

From the Eastern Daily Press:

Ms Ward added: “I will also fight for decent affordable housing for local people, better education and training for our children, and a new deal for social care funding for the elderly.”

The key areas she hopes to address are climate change, social housing, people-led town development and sustainable rural communities.

She said the government was “in crisis” and warned of the effects of a no-deal Brexit on Norfolk businesses, farmers and fishermen.

Ms Ward added: “Working as a councillor and running my own business, I have seen the massive risks of a no-deal Brexit. We desperately need fresh leadership to end the chaos over Brexit.”

Sir Norman praised his successor and said she has a “fantastic record of standing up for north Norfolk”.

He said: “I am delighted that Karen Ward is standing to succeed me. It has never been more important that North Norfolk has a strong local voice.”

He added he would do “everything I can” to get Ms Ward elected in the next general election.

Karen had a busy start to her candidacy:

Twickenham has been represented by former leader Vince Cable for all but two years since 1997. Last night, Munira Wilson was selected as his potential successor.

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Layla Moran on Question Time tonight

For once, in a week when the Liberal Democrats have attracted two new MPs and played a huge role in the cross party efforts to pass the legislation to protect us from a No Deal Brexit, the party will be represented on Question Time.

Layla Moran will be representing the party. The other panellists include Iain Dale, whose fringe show she appeared on in Edinburgh, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, Labour’s Emily Thornberry, Conservative Minister Kwasi Kwarteng and the Brexit Party MEP Richard Tice.

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Nick Harvey to stand down as Lib Dem Chief Executive

Nick Harvey, who has been the party’s Chief Executive for two years, is stepping down later this year.

He told Mark Pack:

After the heat and dust of an election has settled, we will be at a natural change point. It will be the right moment for me to pursue new paths, and with a new Leader, a new President from January and a new Parliament, time for a new Chief Executive to complete the team to take the party forward for the next five or ten years.

I have given notice so the party can plan ahead, but am here and very much up for excitement, challenge and opportunity of the election.

Nick was our MP for North Devon until 2015 and our own Kirsten Johnson hopes to win that back at the election whenever it comes.

The job ad is up – and has a very short turnaround time. Applications are wanted by a week today with interviews happening the week of Conference.

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Phillip Lee MP joins the Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats have announced that Bracknell MP Phillip Lee has joined the party.

Phillip Lee, defecting from the Conservatives, joins the Liberal Democrats, having held the seat since 2010.

He is the fourth addition to the Liberal Democrat parliamentary party in the last few months.

Speaking after joining the party, Liberal Democrat MP Dr Phillip Lee said:

Over 27 years ago I joined the Conservative & Unionist Party led by Sir John Major. Since 2010 I have had the privilege of representing the Bracknell Constituency. The Party I joined in 1992 is not the Party I am leaving today.

This Conservative Government is aggressively pursuing a damaging Brexit in unprincipled ways. It is putting lives and livelihoods at risk unnecessarily and it is wantonly endangering the integrity of the United Kingdom. More widely, it is undermining our country’s economy, democracy and role in the world. It is using political manipulation, bullying and lies. And it is doing these things in a deliberate and considered way.

That is why today I am joining Jo Swinson and the Liberal Democrats. I believe the Liberal Democrats are best placed to build the unifying and inspiring political force needed to heal our divisions, unleash our talents, equip us to take the opportunities and overcome the challenges that we face as a society – and leave our country and our world in a better place for the next generations.

Welcoming Dr Phillip Lee, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson said:

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Vince Cable to stand down as an MP at the next election

The BBC reports:

Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable is to step down as an MP at the next general election.

Sir Vince has represented Twickenham since 1997 and served as business secretary in the coalition government.

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+++Jo Swinson requests a meeting with the Queen to discuss the constitutional crisis

Today the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, has written to Her Majesty the Queen to ask for a meeting following the reports that the Government is expected to suspend Parliament from mid-September.

Liberal Democrat Leader Jo Swinson said:

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+++Jo Swinson: PM is trying to remove the voice of the people

Responding to the reports that the Government is expected to ask the Queen to suspend Parliament from mid-September, Liberal Democrat Leader Jo Swinson said:

Shutting down Parliament would be an act of cowardice from Boris Johnson. He knows the people would not choose a No Deal and that elected representatives wouldn’t allow it. He is trying to stifle their voices.

By suspending Parliament to force through a No Deal, Boris Johnson and the Government would remove the voice of the people at the most important time. It is a dangerous and unacceptable course of action which the Liberal Democrats will strongly oppose.

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Former Labour Sheffield Hallam MP arrested on suspicion of fraud – BBC

The BBC reports:

MP Jared O’Mara has been arrested on suspicion of fraud, according to multiple sources.

The independent MP for Sheffield Hallam was arrested at the same time as his chief of staff Gareth Arnold, the BBC’s Next Episode Podcast found.

Electronic equipment was confiscated in the South Yorkshire Police inquiry, the BBC also understands.

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Lib Dem hold Rokeby and Overslade ward

New councillor Glenda Allanach (third from right) celebrating her win

Lib Dems in Rugby are celebrating after holding Rokeby and Overslade ward in a by-election yesterday.

The winner, Glenda Allanach, was the first black woman to be elected to Rugby Borough Council in 2000. She returns after a fourteen year break with a 56% share of the vote.

Many congratulations to Glenda …

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In Full: Jo Swinson’s letter to Jeremy Corbyn

Jo seems to have offended the Corbynista who are doing their thing and attacking her on all forms of social media.

But look at the letter she wrote to Jeremy Corbyn tonightL

Dear Jeremy,

Thank you for your letter of 14th August 2019 in relation to stopping a damaging “No Deal” Brexit.

We are determined to do whatever it takes not only to stop “No Deal” but also to stop Brexit.

Since becoming Leader of the Liberal Democrats, I have travelled across the United Kingdom speaking to people in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to discuss their concerns and worries. It is clear that a “No Deal” Brexit is a bad for our environment, bad for our NHS, bad for rural Britain, and bad for our family of nations.

So, in this moment of national emergency, I stand ready to work with anyone to stop Boris Johnson and his hard-line Brexit government in pursuing “No Deal”. My party has already been working with the Labour Party and other opposition parties to do this for many months now. That will continue under my leadership.

As I said before the start of the summer Recess, the Liberal Democrats will support a motion of no confidence in the government if it is brought before the House of Commons. If the motion is successful and a new Prime Minister is sought, our constitution operates on the principle that that person must command majority support of the House of Commons.

Based on on-the-record statements that have already been made, at least seven MPs on the opposition benches have indicated they would not give you confidence in these circumstances.  Regardless of how my party were to vote in those circumstances, in order for you to command the confidence of the House, at least eight Conservative MPs would need to support you in taking office. For this and other reasons, I do not believe your plan is viable. I would be interested to know whether eight or more Conservative MPs have indicated to you that they will support you in these circumstances.

However, there are clearly other senior members of the House who could potentially command a majority in the House. Today I suggested that Ken Clarke or Harriet Harman, the Father and Mother of the House, could lead an emergency government.

They are the most experienced Members of the House, widely respected on both sides, and neither are seeking to lead a government in the long-term. I would be interested to hear your suggestions. I can understand that you would have a preference for a Labour alternative. Indeed, if she can command the support of the House of Commons Harriet Harman would be Labour’s first female Prime Minister.

Obviously, we hope legislative measures in the House of Commons will be successful in securing an extension to Article 50 to ensure that the UK does not fall out of the European Union with No Deal and no long-term security or stability.

Finally, a People’s Vote on any Brexit deal is vital. I hope that you can reassure me, and everyone campaigning for a People’s Vote to give the British people the final say on Brexit, that you are doing all you can to can to persuade the 25 or more Labour MPs who have previously voted against it to now back it in a Commons vote. I hope that we can now count on the full support of all Labour Members of Parliament.

I am ambitious for the Liberal Democrats, as you are for the Labour Party, but we are facing a national crisis and we may need an emergency government to resolve it. This isn’t the time for personal agendas and political games. We cannot allow party politics to stand in the way of Members from all sides of the House of Commons working together in the national interest. What matters right now is a plan that works and will stop a “No Deal” Brexit.

With this in mind, I would be happy and keen to meet in the coming days to discuss how our parties can work together to stop “No Deal” and who else might be able to lead an emergency government.

I look forward to hearing from you.

My door remains, as ever, open.

Yours sincerely,

Jo Swinson MP

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Standing against Boris Johnson

Elizabeth Evenden-Kenyon is the Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate in Uxbridge and South Ruislip.

Here she is talking in the about the experience of standing against Boris Johnson, and the potential of a Remain Alliance.

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Jo Swinson visits Irish Border

Back in 2017, LDV held a fringe meeting at the Bournemouth Conference where we talked about the areas that could be most harmed by Brexit – the Irish Border and Gibraltar. We heard that the manufacturing process for some products could involve crossing that border five times. You can just imagine the chaos Brexit brings to that process.

Today, Jo Swinson, who has barely had a break since being elected leader 3 weeks ago, headed to the Irish Border to hear from the people who would be amongst the worst affected by any Brexit.

She went one better than Boris Johnson who has never bothered himself to actually go and find out what havoc he is so cavalier about wreaking. Here is the interview she gave to BBC News.

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Jo Swinson’s message for Eid-al-Adha

As Muslims celebrate Eid, Jo Swinson says that as Leader she will continue to make sure our party defends Britain’s Liberal values against Islamophobia and discrimination in all its forms. On the party’s website, she wrote:

For those who have taken part in Hajj, this is a season of new beginnings and Muslims across the globe will be taking time out to reflect on the significance of their faith in their own individual lives.

Sadly, we are witnessing a horrifying rise in Islamophobia which is often accompanied by exclusionary, right-wing nationalism. Islamophobic tropes are becoming commonplace and attacks on Muslims have been espoused by the man who has just become our Prime Minister. This is unacceptable. We must confront this poisonous rhetoric which, if left unchecked, will permeate our communities in the most extreme and hateful ways.

As Leader of the Liberal Democrats, I will continue to defend our country’s liberal values and will redouble our Party’s efforts to defeat discrimination in all its forms.

As we celebrate Eid, let us let us recognise the enduring and valuable contributions of Muslim communities across the country and let us refuse all attempts to divide our nation.

My warmest wishes to all those celebrating. Eid Mubarak!

In London, Cllr Hina Bokhari, Mayoral Candidate Siobhan Benita and Cllr Sam Foulder-Hughes went to a celebration in Kingston and recorded this video:

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Government forced to publish data showing less than 3 in 10 UK exporters are prepared for ‘no deal’ Brexit

New data obtained by the Liberal Democrats from HM Treasury shows less than 3 in 10 exporters to the EU are ready for a ‘no deal’ Brexit. Figures suggest most will not be ready until the beginning of 2021.

In a no-deal Brexit, businesses that currently only trade with EU countries will need to apply for an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number to trade goods into and out of the UK. HMRC uses this number to identify the business and collect duty on their goods.

Various business lobbying organisations have been warning for months of a serious lack of …

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“Is he all talk and no trousers?” Jo’s first question to PM Boris

Jo Swinson had her first chance to question Boris Johnson today, as he made his first statement as Prime Minister.

Here’s the full exchange from Hansard:

The 3 million EU citizens are our family, our friends, our neighbours, our carers, yet for three years they have been made to feel unwelcome in our country. They deserve better than warm words and more months of anxiety. They deserve certainty, now. The Prime Minister has made assurances, so will he back the Bill of my Lib Dem colleague Lord Oates, which would guarantee in law the rights of EU citizens? Or is he all talk and no trousers?

The answer pretty much confirmed that that was indeed the case.

The Prime Minister
I congratulate the hon. Lady on her own election and join her in insisting on the vital importance of guaranteeing the rights and protections of the 3.2 million who have lived and worked among us for so long. Of course, we are insisting that their rights are guaranteed in law. I am pleased to say that under our settlement scheme some 1 million have already signed up to enshrine their rights.

Jonny Oates explained earlier this month why his Bill was much better than settled status.

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LibLink: Layla Moran – We must talk about Palestine, without being antisemitic


Embed from Getty Images

Over on the Guardian website, Layla Moran has written an opinion piece which says that the anti-semitism scandal in Labour is creating a fear among MPs of speaking out for the Palestinian right to equality, justice and statehood. Layla writes:

My mother is Palestinian. These issues are deeply personal; we still have family in the West Bank. I am very worried that, at this critical juncture in the history of the region, activists, parliamentarians and journalists feel that they cannot speak out for fear of being branded as antisemitic. My plea is that we must speak more about Palestine, not less, and in this current climate it is something members of both houses of parliament have confided that they are more fearful than ever to do.

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Final chance to vote for Ed or Jo

If you haven’t yet voted in the leadership contest, you had better get your skates on as the ballot closes at 1pm today.

If you are still trying to make up your mind which of our excellent candidates to vote for, our Liberal Democrat Leadership election tag, with our Ed’s Day and Jo’s Day series and other things might help.

Their BBC2 hustings from Friday night is here. 

If you can’t find your ballot paper, you need to email [email protected] quickly for a replacement – but act NOW.

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How to help Jane Dodds win Brecon and Radnorshire

Here is all the information you need to know if you are able to come and help in Brecon and Radnorshire.

There are two HQs – one in the south at Brecon and one in the north at Llandrindod Wells. They are both open every day from 10am until 7pm:

Brecon HQ: 26 High Street, Brecon, LD3 7LE

Llandrindod HQ: Haslemere, Park Crescent, Llandrindod Wells, LD1 6AB

If you can’t come in person you can make calls from home by e-mailing: [email protected]

How to find us:

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Lib Link: Christine Jardine MP on the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing

Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine has written in the Scotsman of her memories on the first moon landing fifty years ago. She writes,

For many of my parents’ generation, it was the ultimate fulfilment of John F Kennedy’s promise to explore the stars and send a man safely to the moon and back by the end of the decade. That generation had lived through World War II as children, endured the fear and tension of the Cuban missile crisis as young parents and the grief of lost opportunities with the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King.

And she recognises that the science developed in the course of space exploration benefits us all:

Those missions ultimately brought CAT scans, water purification, memory foam, equipment used to cut victims out of vehicles, and so many other things.

But even more importantly, Christine argues that the lunar missions gave people

confirmation that humans have an almost infinite capacity for invention and achievement.

She concludes that

Our planet currently faces a challenge that will demand all the passion, experimental science and technological advance we can find to save it from the damage we have done. Fifty years on, Neil Armstrong’s small step onto the moon should give us the belief that if we have the will, we can.

You can read the full article here.

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WATCH: LBC LIb Dem Leadership Debate

Iain Dale has spent much of the last few weeks going round the country chairing Conservative leadership hustings.

In what must have been a refreshing change, with a much higher quality of candidates, he put Ed and Jo through their paces in an hour long debate last night.

Watch it here.

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Vince Cable: Why I changed my mind on assisted dying

In the final of our three MPs’ speeches in favour of assisted dying, Vince Cable explains what prompted him to change his mind on the issue.

I thank the hon. Member for Grantham and Stamford (Nick Boles), my right hon. Friend the Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb) and others for giving us the opportunity to debate this subject. Members have spoken movingly and from experience about their views.​

I am someone whose views have radically changed. Until recently I was a vehement opponent of assisted dying, but I have changed my views and think I should explain why. That change is partly based on an understanding of why I was previously opposed to it, which was due to my own personal experiences. Two of those experiences were relevant, and I think they will resonate with many Members of the House.

One experience concerned my elderly mother who descended, as many do, into confusion and dementia, compounded by mental illness and depression. One week she would say, “Please, please end my life. I am a burden. I want to go”, but a few weeks later she would be enjoying the simple pleasures of life. I could see all too clearly that under a permissive system of assisted dying, people like my late mother would be extremely vulnerable.

My conviction at that time that assisted dying was the wrong route was compounded by my experience with my late wife, who contracted breast cancer and had a very long illness. She eventually died at home with good palliative care, surrounded by a loving family. She was vehemently opposed to assisted dying and wanted to live her life to the full. I guess that I took the view that that was her choice but should also be everybody’s choice.

I came to realise, however, that there are very different situations we need to understand. One thing on my conscience is that in my 20 years as an MP, two constituents came to see me to request help and political support for a campaign in the High Court to be allowed to die through assisted dying and, although I expressed sympathy, as one would expect, I declined to support their campaign. I was very wrong to do so. Both suffered from motor neurone disease, and I think many of us know of such cases. One has surfaced today: a man called Richard Selley in Perth, in Scotland, who is fighting for the right to assisted dying. I think we all know the nature of this condition. Although some people live with it, Professor Hawking being a famous example, in most cases it involves the physical degeneration of all bodily functions combined with absolute clarity of mind and very great suffering. It seems to me that we should consider the position of those living with it and similar conditions.

The argument that is deployed against doing so is that hard cases make bad law. That was quite well summarised by Lord Sumption, who gave the Reith lectures a few years ago, when he said assisted dying should be criminalised but that the criminal law should be broken. That is a somewhat strange way of putting it, but essentially what I think he was saying was that we should keep the law but turn a blind eye to exceptions and treat them compassionately.

I have thought about that argument, but it seems to me that the evidence is very strongly against it for a variety of reasons. However sensitive the Director of Public Prosecutions or the police might be—I am sure they are; the 2015 guidance is very humane—the sheer process of going through a criminal investigation and a caution is deeply traumatic, and probably the most difficult period of any person’s life. It is probably also difficult for the police who have to implement it.

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Christine Jardine: MPs have a free vote on assisted dying. We should not deny choice to those who deserve it

Last week the Commons debated assisted dying. In a moving debate, MPs outlined some heartbreaking situations. Three of our MPs, Norman Lamb, Christine Jardine and Vince Cable, spoke. We’ll be publishing their speeches this weekend.

Christine Jardine outlined one particular irony: MPs have a choice that they don’t extend to those who are in the situation where they need it.

This is undoubtedly a hugely emotive and controversial subject, but I thank the hon. Member for Grantham and Stamford (Nick Boles) and my right hon. Friend the Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb) for giving us the opportunity to discuss it. I am convinced that I have not just a right, but a duty to work for changes in the law that will make it possible for people to have the individual right to choose their own time and manner of death. I am talking about people who, otherwise, will face a situation that will soon be very painful and that will also cause a great deal of stress to their family members. I have been lucky: I have not had to go through the sort of experience that we have heard about from other Members of the House.

Two years ago, I had a conversation with my husband about a friend who, we had just heard, had been given a terminal diagnosis. It was January. We said, “This year will be difficult. Christmas will be difficult. We will have to think about how to deal with it, but it will not be easy for him or for his family.” The irony of that conversation has never left me, because neither my husband nor the friend actually lived until Christmas, but the difference was that my husband died very suddenly. Our friend went through a long, painful, lingering death. If there had been a way that he could have been spared that, I would have wanted him to be offered that choice. There is also an irony in the fact that had I had the choice for my husband, I would have chosen the death that he had, rather than the one that our friend had.

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Jo Swinson and Ed Davey speak out on LGBT rights

Jo Swinson and Ed Davey have both spoken out in favour of LGBT rights on London Pride weekend.

In an article for Pink News, Jo stood up for trans rights:

As a cis woman, I can’t pretend to understand the experience of questioning one’s own identity, nor do I face the same potential risks or dangers when I speak up about these issues. But that doesn’t take away my passionate belief that trans rights are human rights. I’m a feminist, and I hate hearing that I’m not allowed to believe both in women’s rights and the rights of trans women. Trans women ARE women.

The Liberal Democrats must continue to lead the campaign for self-identification. As Leader, I would champion trans, non-binary, genderfluid, and self-defined gender identities – making clear that there is no equality or liberty without defending the rights of everyone.

Trans people should be able to legally change their gender without the current medicalised hoops to jump through; their own experience should be enough.

And she touched on the need for mandatory inclusive sex education:

At the same time, we must teach children about LGBT+ matters in schools. This is a key part of building equality and inclusivity into the foundations of our society. Education should help our children negotiate the world and understand the communities they’re a part of. We owe it to them to provide them with the best information we can to live their lives happily, safely, and without discrimination.

I respect everyone’s right to their own religious beliefs, but for me, this cannot extend to our education system treating some people’s lives and identities as if they are less worthy of respect. We must also acknowledge that there are many LGBT+ people in faith groups for whom their sexuality and faith are both central to their identity. They need our support and protection.

Ed called for better representation of LGBT+ people on children’s programmes on the BBC, writing to the Director General:

Dear Lord Hall,

I am writing to urge you to ask BBC officials to conduct a review into equality and diversity in children’s programming.

I think the case for doing so is clear.  The anti-equality protests in Birmingham have put in stark relief the need for young people to be taught about the diversity of families and relationships in our society, in an age-appropriate way.

I think we should be seeing more LGBT+ characters in television, including on some of the most popular shows. The BBC can be a trailblazer in this area, making sure that children at a younger age understand equality and tolerance.

In the U.S., campaign group GLAAD are calling for 10% of series regular characters on primetime scripted broadcast series to be LGBTQ within the next two years. I think this is a target which deserves consideration here at home too.

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