Author Archives: The Voice

Get your nominations in for the Party Awards

Every year at  Conference we acknowledge those people who have made an outstanding contribution to the Liberal Democrats whether they have achieved elected office or not.

Nominations are open for this Autumn’s awards and close on 16th August.

So what are the awards and who is eligible?

The President’s Award

Eligibility: open to any Party Member elected to public office and who has demonstrated excellence and commitment.

Criteria: the winner will be recognised for outstanding commitment and service to the Party. Local, regional and state parties should be seeking to nominate people who deserve recognition for their hard work, long service, and demonstrable dedication to the party, at whatever level. It is expected to be special awards to be awarded from the Party for whom public recognition is overdue.

The Harriet Smith Liberal Democrat Distinguished Service Award

Background: this award is named for Harriet Smith, who campaigned and worked tireless for the Party, notably alongside Paddy Ashdown, with the Federal Conference Committee, and in the Bath party. A beloved figure, she is also missed from the Conference revue and by the team at the Liberator Magazine.
Eligibility: open to any Party Member never elected to public office.

Criteria: the Harriet Smith Award shares its conditions with the President’s award.

The Belinda Eyre-Brook Award

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Munira Wilson: Coercion is not the answer to vaccine hesitancy

Last night, Liberal Democrat MPs voted against the Government’s Statutory Instrument which made vaccinations compulsory for care home staff.

Munira Wilson, our health spokesperson, had a right go at the Government for its approach, pointing out that the care sector had long been undervalued and the Government’s approach had let down so many staff and residents during the pandemic.

She said that, while Liberal Democrats were absolutely in favour of vaccination, we would not support making it mandatory. She said:

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Tuesday by-election GAIN for Lib Dems

Good news from Wells:

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 3 Comments

Carmichael: Why is the fishing industry having to fight its own government for survival?

Alistair Carmichael knows more about fishing than most, as you would expect for someone representing an island constituency.

He knows how our fishermen have been completely sold down the river by the Brexit deal.

Yesterday, he stood up for fishermen and those in related industries in a Parliamentary debate which you can watch here.

He outlined some of the eye-watering losses suffered by the industry as a result of the Government failing to deliver on its promises.

Here is his speech in the debate:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 16 Comments

Pilates, comedy and an orchestra – Lib Dem virtual conference registration open

When you think of Lib Dem conference, you think of debates, packed fringe meetings with varying quality of buffets and events like the Glee Club.

These things are difficult to replicate on a virtual platform, but the Federal Conference Committee  has flagged up Pilates classes, a comedy night and a classical music concert with an orchestra as just a few of the attractions at this year’s digital Autumn Conference, to be held from 17-21 September.

Registration is now open, as FCC Chair Nick De Costa announced in an email to members:

Posted in News | Tagged | 2 Comments

Lib Dems say “Give firms right to require face masks worn by customers”

Following the Government’s update on plans to ease restrictions on 19th July, the Liberal Democrats have called on businesses to be given the legal right to require customers to wear face masks on their premises.

Sarah Olney MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Business, has heard from businesses who want to protect young staff who have not received their second jab, and those who are clinically vulnerable, by ensuring face masks are worn by customers.

Posted in News and Press releases | Tagged | 73 Comments

Volunteers needed to set the party’s strategic direction on Equality, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

This opportunity has appeared on the Liberal Democrat website:

Hours: 4 hours a month, this may vary.
Location: working from home, occasional meetings in London.

The Party is seeking committed volunteers to help set our EEDI strategic direction. The working group’s inaugural Chair will be the Party’s Chief Operating Officer and will work on actioning the delivery plan that has already been created. This action plan is wide ranging but includes fundamental tasks such as:

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

Liberal Democrats: Keep masks mandatory on public transport a little while longer

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to keep masks mandatory on public transport after 19th July.

Munira Wilson MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Health, believes it would be a small price worth paying to protect others:

Many people, especially the vulnerable, do not yet feel confident enough to travel on crowded public transport. There are millions who have still not been double jabbed, and are therefore at greater risk of both becoming ill themselves and spreading the virus to others.

Keeping masks mandatory on public transport which can often become overcrowded is the right thing to do.

We

Posted in News and Press releases | Tagged and | 77 Comments

Lib Dem Bounce beginning to show nationally and locally

Congratulations to Bill Brisbane who took Chichester Eastward for the Lib Dems yesterday with a swing of 25%

Posted in News | Tagged | 10 Comments

LibLink: Mark Pack’s June report

Party President Mark Pack has written on a number of topics in his monthly report to members for June. Here are some extracts:

Chesham and Amersham

I’m writing this month’s report before we know the result. But we do already know that we’ve had the best candidate in Sarah Green, run the best campaign and had an awesome amount of help from people all around the country.

Westminster selections are up and running

New Parliament, new name: this time around we are ‘tiering’ our seats, so the most winnable seats (aka target seats, aka key seats) are now called Tier 1 seats. Selections have started up, with advertisements going out to people on the approved list and appearing on the members-only section of the main party website.

One of the new things for this Parliament is Project Stellar: a support package for our top candidates from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. Anyone selected in a Tier 1 seat from such a background can automatically qualify for this support, and depending on the numbers, we may also be able support candidates in Tier 2 seats in this way too.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged and | 7 Comments

Priti Patel failing on legal routes for refugees

As Refugee Week begins, the Liberal Democrats have tabled a motion in Parliament calling on the Government to establish safe and legal routes for refugees to come to the UK.

The motion, tabled by the party’s Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP, calls on the Government to resettle 10,000 refugees each year, as well as a further 10,000 unaccompanied refugee children from elsewhere in Europe over the next 10 years.

It follows Home Office data showing that just 353 refugees were brought to the UK last year, compared with 4,968 the year before.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

The UK has a proud history of providing sanctuary to those in need, but now the Conservative Government is turning its back on refugees.

Priti Patel is threatening to punish refugees who don’t come here by safe and legal routes, but at the same time she is failing to provide those routes.

Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to make an ambitious, ten-year commitment to resettle 10,000 vulnerable refugees a year from Syria and other dangerous conflict areas.

That is the best way to combat people smuggling and human trafficking, and to prevent people from making dangerous attempts to cross the Channel.

The full text of the motion is as follows;

Posted in News and Parliament | Tagged and | 1 Comment

And the new chair of Federal Conference Committee is…..

… Cllr Nick Da Costa.

Nick was one of the Committee’s Vice-Chairs and is also a Councillor in Haringey.

In a post on Facebook, he said:

I am delighted to have been elected as Chair of the Federal Conference Committee taking over from the brilliant Geoff Payne who stood down as Chair at the end of May.

Firstly, a massive thanks to Geoff for his hard work for this party as member, Vice Chair and then Chair of the Federal Conference Committee. He has always championed the importance and sovereignty of Conference in our party and will be sorely missed as he moves onto his next exciting work.

My previous position as Vice Chair of FCC will be filled at the next meeting of the Federal Conference Committee on 11th July, which will also be the agenda setting meeting for Autumn Conference.

Posted in News and Party policy and internal matters | Tagged and | 1 Comment

The Economist talks up Lib Dem revival in Chesham and Amersham

There is a buzz of excitement down in South Bucks. The Lib Dems are fighting hard in in the Chesham and Amersham by-election. Sarah Green, our Liberal Democrat candidate, is gaining ground. While not going as far as suggesting she will win, this weekend’s Economist makes much of the leafy commuter belt in South Bucks becoming more socially liberal as younger people move out of the capital.

We could win this by-election. Ways everyone can help are detailed below.

Posted in Op-eds and Parliamentary by-elections | Tagged and | 17 Comments

Simon Hughes wins damages from the Sun

The publisher of the Sun has paid an (undisclosed) substantial sum to Simon Hughes over phone hacking. According to The Guardian:

Hughes claimed “he had been the victim of unlawful information gathering by various journalists and executives at the Sun” who were intent on publishing details of his past relationships with men.

Speaking outside the court, Hughes said: “It went to the top in the Sun – senior editorial people, senior people at the top were clearly involved.”

Asked if he thought Rebekah Brooks, who was editor of the Sun in 2006, knew about how his private information had been obtained, Hughes said: “I have been very clear that we have not named names, but it is clear from all I have seen that it went to the top of the Sun. I think I will have to leave you to draw your own conclusions about that.”

The former MP, who describes himself as bisexual, said he now believes this “private and sensitive information was obtained through unlawful information-gathering techniques and was used with the knowledge and approval of key senior executives at the newspaper”.

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Boundary Commission proposals – what do you think?

Today the Boundary Commission for England released its first stage proposals for parliamentary seats in England. You can read the proposals for every part of the country here. The proposals for Scotland and Wales come out next month.

For Liberal Democrats, there was mixed news.

In Hertfordshire, there is a new constituency which comprises the entire Three Rivers Council area, which should be a good prospect for us as we have run that Council successfully for a long time. This will mean that one ward from Daisy Cooper’s St Albans constituency will move into the new seat but it’s otherwise largely unchanged.

However, the news was less promising in Cumbria where Tim Farron’s seat is proposed to be split with our strong areas of Westmoreland and South Lakes being put into separate seats.

It’s fair to say that Tim was less than impressed:

The overall picture is that seats are being created in the south east and lost in other parts of England.

Posted in News | Tagged | 21 Comments

Long-serving Lib Dem Legend Flick Rea steps down as Camden Councillor

Camden’s longest serving Lib Dem Councillor Flick Rea has decided to step down.

Flick, who was elected 35 years ago, is now in her 80s and her decision to resign as a councillor was in part motivated by the Government’s insistence that local Government resumes in-person meetings.

Camden Lib Dems celebrated her time at the Council on Twitter:

From Camden New Journal:

“I’m ok but not great,” said Cllr Rea, who is in her 80s and has had problems with her eyesight.

“Being asked to go to Mornington Crescent feels too much for me. It’s a hard break for me and I will be sad to be leaving, as I’ve always tried to be a voice for my constituents. They want to know somebody will listen to them.”

The article looks back at her long record of service:

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , and | 5 Comments

Meet Tom Gordon, the new Lib Dem candidate for Batley and Spen

Wakefield Councillor Tom Gordon is the new Liberal Democrat candidate for the Batley and Spen by-election.

He was chosen to fight the seat after previous candidate Jo Conchie stood down for health reasons.

Tom announced the news on Twitter:

The by-election takes place on 1st July and was caused by the election of Tracy Brabin, the former MP, as West Yorkshire’s mayor last month.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 4 Comments

New Lib Dem mayor of Truro: I’m working out how to use my platform to make others suffer less

Last week, Liberal Democrat Steven Webb became Mayor of Truro.

A Lib Dem since his teenage years, he was first elected to Truro City Council in 2017.

In 1991, he was paralysed in an accident.

The BBC has done a profile of Steven.

He talked about what he hopes to achieve as Mayor:

In a time where clinically vulnerable people have had to isolate for so long, I see it as an opportunity to make sure there are no groups left behind and we rebuild from the pandemic together.

There are so many people who have self-isolated and have hardly left their flats.

We’ve got to make sure everybody is included – that will help businesses, that will help Truro and that will reduce suffering.

It’s time we had a vision to keep the amazing heritage of cobbled streets and granite pavements but make it open to everybody.

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Jo Conchie is the Liberal Democrat candidate for Batley and Spen

Well done to Jo Conchie, who has been chosen as the Liberal Democrat candidate in the Batley and Spen by-election which takes place on 1 July.

From Yorkshire Live:

Ms Conchie, who is also a community volunteer, said her first priority would be to “ensure that our small towns and villages are no longer neglected”.

“I am delighted to have been selected to represent the Liberal Democrats in the Batley and Spen by-election,” she said.

My family are based in Birkenshaw and I’ve seen the entire constituency change drastically over the last two decades. With the Tory government and the Labour councils focusing their attention on Leeds, Bradford and Huddersfield, we’re not getting our fair share here in Batley and Spen.

“If elected to be your MP my first priority would be to ensure that our small towns and villages are no longer neglected.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 1 Comment

Lib Dem Amanda Hopgood to lead Durham County Council

Great news from Durham. Liberal Democrat Councillor Amanda Hopgood has taken over as Durham County Council leader after Labour lost their majority (and 21 seats) in May’s local elections. 

From the BBC:

The alliance, made up of Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, independents and a Green councillor, officially took over at the council’s annual meeting on Wednesday.

Ms Hopgood, who leads the Liberal Democrat group, said she was “honoured and privileged” to have been elected leader.

She said: “County Durham is a fantastic place, not just for those of

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 2 Comments

Tim Farron on dog thefts

Embed from Getty Images

Ever since we were able to leave the house at the end of the first lockdown I have been going out for walks with my husband, whenever the weather allows. Just a short drive from our home we have discovered many woods and even lakes that we didn’t know existed even though we have lived here for over 40 years.

On our walks we have met a lot of very well behaved dogs. We don’t have a dog ourselves but have really enjoyed seeing so many beautiful and much loved pets out enjoying the countryside.

But we have also spotted notices warning about dog thefts. One ploy, it seems, is for people in fake uniform to approach a dog owner claiming to be from the RSPCA, with a van badged up so it appears official. Then they say they need to take the dog for a check-up and make off with it in the van.

Dog theft has rocketed recently, largely because pedigree dogs are not at all cheap. So it is good news that the Prime Minister is threatening tougher sentences for dog thieves as well as for those who abandon their pets. But it is not good news that it could be some time before this comes into legislation.

Tim Farron has been campaigning on this issue for some time:

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Lib Dems: Local lockdowns by stealth are completely irresponsible

Responding to the news that local lockdowns have been introduced by “stealth” Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Munira Wilson MP said:

Changing policy by stealth is completely irresponsible. Matt Hancock should have made clear the changes he was making to guidance in advance and communicated it to the public and local officials. He needs to make clear the situation immediately to Parliament.

Clarification on the new rules in these areas is now needed, not only for residents but for those that would normally travel to the affected areas. People cross these invisible boundaries every day for medical appointments or to go shopping.

Posted in Press releases | Tagged and | 6 Comments

Interested in attending the Congress of European Liberals in two weeks time? Then read on…

The 41st ALDE Party Congress, will take place from 11-12 June 2021 online.

Preliminary information about the programme, political deadlines, venues and logistics is available on the ALDE Party website.

The UK Liberal Democrats are currently the second largest voting bloc in the ALDE Party. The Congress is the largest event of the year for ALDE and it is a policy-making event, with policy motions submitted by member parties for debate and voted on during the Congress. The ALDE Party Congress is the biggest annual event gathering Liberals across Europe with;

  • Over 650 members of Liberal parties from around the continent,
  • Top politicians including Prime Ministers, European Commissioners, Ministers, Members of the European and national Parliaments, Members of the Committee of the Regions, and many other delegates,
  • European visibility, acknowledging the role of the supporting party within a European and not only a national political context,
  • Topical debates, high level speeches and policy discussions,
  • Plenty of Networking opportunities.
Posted in Europe / International and News | Tagged | 1 Comment

Liam McArthur elected as Deputy Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament

Lib Dem MSP for Orkney Liam McArthur has been elected as one of two Deputy Presiding Officers of the Scottish Parliament for new session.

While the new Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone is required to relinquiish her membership of the Greens group and be completely impartial, Liam and his fellow DPO, SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing, continue to be members of their groups. Unless they are actually chairing a debate, they can take part in business as normal and vote.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 2 Comments

Hitachi trains: Government failing to address impact on passengers and regions

Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Jenny Randerson has asked the Government to explain what assessment they have made of the social and economic impacts of disruption to services following the withdrawal of some Hitachi high speed trains from service after defects were discovered.

Following the response by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Baroness Randerson commented:

The Government has underestimated the impact of Hitachi on long suffering passengers and totally failed to address the impact of this disruption on individual passengers and regions.

There was no answer at all to my suggestion that the Govt should fund a season of promotional cheap fares

Posted in Press releases | Tagged | 1 Comment

Ed Davey slams “illiberal, catastrophic, sickeningly cruel” Queen’s Speech

Ed Davey condemned many of the measures outlined in the Queen’s Speech yesterday, particularly the measures to make it harder for people to seek asylum in the UK – “sickeningly cruel” he called it.

He slammed the Government for failing to bring forward proposals on social care again.

He also described the voter suppression measures as being straight out of the Donald Trump playbook “the actions of despots.”

He did not hold back.

Enjoy.

The Queen’s Speech comes at a time like no other—after a year in which so many families have suffered the tragic loss of a loved one, when we have all experienced isolation from friends and family, and when so many have lost businesses, jobs and hard-earned savings. That is why we are all so grateful to the scientists, NHS staff, care workers and community volunteers who have delivered the vaccine roll-out and given us all hope. We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.

Before I move on to the Gracious Speech, let me join in the tributes to the people this Parliament has lost in the past year. I shall focus on two remarkable women. The first is our friend Dame Cheryl Gillan, who sadly passed away last month. She was a truly dedicated public servant, warm, friendly, and liked and respected in all parts of the House. My thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time.

The second is Shirley—Shirley Williams. The Liberal Democrat family are not alone in mourning the loss of Shirley. Shirley was a giant of British politics for over half a century. She combined a remarkable intellect and a wholehearted compassion with fierce determination like no one else I have known. Shirley was at once a wonderful human being and an unstoppable force of nature. We already miss her wise counsel, forceful arguments and boundless energy.

I pay tribute to the hon. Members for North West Cambridgeshire (Shailesh Vara) and for South Ribble (Katherine Fletcher). The proposer’s speech was mostly excellent, although I was slightly disappointed by two omissions. First, the hon. Gentleman omitted to tell the House how the Liberal Democrats have removed the Conservatives from power in his county of Cambridgeshire. Secondly, he was a distinguished Northern Ireland Minister, resigning on principle against the withdrawal agreement negotiated by the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May). He argued—I quote his resignation letter—that her withdrawal agreement would mean Northern Ireland being

“subject to a different relationship with the EU from the rest of the UK”.

I was hoping to hear an analysis of how the EU trade deal and the Brexit deal was impacting Northern Ireland, because he voted for that despite the fact that its impact on Northern Ireland is worse than that of the withdrawal agreement.

The speech by the hon. Member for South Ribble was entertaining, but, given her stated passion for a beer, I wish she had told us more about her time as a biology student at the University of Nottingham—my hometown, where there is a great night-time economy, which I am sure she enjoyed. Wikipedia tells us that during her student days she worked as a nursing assistant in an elderly care home, so I hope we can look forward to her support as Liberal Democrats press the Government to deliver on their promises on long-delayed social care reform.

The Government’s programme needed to heal the nation, learn the lessons from the pandemic and prepare our country for the enormous economic, social and environmental challenges ahead. I regret to say that, with this programme, the Conservative Government have failed on every single account. To heal the nation, we first needed to look after people who have been bereaved, especially children. I have been campaigning for a better deal for bereaved families for many years, drawing on my own experience of losing my father at the age of four, when my mother was widowed in her 30s with three boys under 10.

With this pandemic, the need to help bereaved children in our country has never been greater, especially those whose mums and dads were unmarried and who currently get no help at all after losing a parent. The Childhood Bereavement Network estimates that about 3,000 children have lost an unmarried mum or dad during covid. A caring Government would give them support now, yet I have to tell the House that this Government are dragging their feet on even basic help for such children who have lost their mums and dads. They have even fought two court cases to prevent bereavement support from going to families, just because their parents were unmarried—as if the parents’ marital status was the fault of the grieving children. Fortunately the Government lost twice in the courts, thanks to the Human Rights Act—the Act that they ominously want to undermine with their threat in the Queen’s Speech to judicial review.

Even though the Government lost in the courts, Ministers have still tried to escape the rule of law, dragging their feet on obeying the court ruling, so that many children who lost their mum or dad to covid have gone without. That is a scandal. I have raised it with the Prime Minister himself time and again, most recently in a face-to-face meeting last month. He promised me action, but there is nothing in the Queen’s Speech for bereaved families or children. So, I am working on a cross-party basis to amend the Queen’s Speech so that the Prime Minister is forced to obey the rule of law—forced by the courts and this House to help children whose mum or dad has died during covid.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 16 Comments

Lib Dems gain control of St Albans with 5 gains

Good news from Hertfordshire. We have taken control of St Albans District Council.

Chris White has been leading a minority administration since 2019 but we have now made 5 gains to take total control.

Chris was re-elected with 62% of the vote in  Clarence ward.

Here are some of the delighted victors:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 1 Comment

England results: Saturday open thread

We will update this thread with Saturday’s results from England.

A heartbreaking result from Morecombe – we gained a swing of 32%, then lost by 3 votes.

But better news in Cheltenham:

And a whopping 43% swing to us in Shropshire:

We seem to be gaining seats in a number of local councils – Wokingham (+3), Tunbridge Wells (+4), Gloucester (+3), Devon (+2) – and we held all our seats in Watford.

And here’s a cheering result. Well done to colleagues in Wiltshire.

And on Surrey County Council our representation from Waverley has increased from 1 to 4. Congratulations to Penny Rivers, John Robini, Liz Townsend and Paul Follows.

And what about this …

Posted in News | 4 Comments

Good luck everyone!

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Jonathan Davies (1962-2021)

It is with deep sadness, the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel (LDFI) announce the passing of our dear friend and long-time LDFI Vice-Chairman and Treasurer Jonathan Davies, after a year-long illness.

Jonathan, an Oxford graduate and former Partner and Head of the Financial Services team at a large City law firm, was a Liberal Democrat stalwart. On a local level, Jonathan was a phenomenal activist in the London Borough of Barnet. He represented Childs Hill as a councillor from 1994-1998, stood for Parliament in Finchley and Golders Green on three occasions and was appointed the ward’s election agent in the very high profile 2019 election, as well as being elected as Chair of the English Party of the Liberal Democrats in 2010. His talents, dedication and calming influence spanned decades, and he devoted countless hours to campaigning for and supporting the Party.

Posted in Obituaries | Tagged | 4 Comments
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