Author Archives: The Voice

Ed Davey’s Green Alliance podcast

Ed Davey was interviewed recently for a podcast published by the Green Alliance.

Shaun Spiers, executive director at Green Alliance, asks him about the historical commitment of the Liberal Democrats to environmental policies. Ed talks about his achievements in the Coalition, and the rather tepid support from the Conservatives since then for green issues. He also makes the case for regulation, and the opportunity offered post-pandemic to rebuild our economy on greener lines.

At one point Ed reveals that, after the Coalition, George Osborne took legal advice about cancelling the 15 year contracts set up under the Contracts for Difference scheme, which supported various green initiatives. Osborne was told that he could not unpick them because they were private law contracts – which is exactly what Ed has planned in order to protect them from future Government interference.

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January report from the President

The Party President, Mark Pack, has published his monthly report:

The chaotic incompetence of a government that declares schools safe on a Sunday, sends children back for a day and then closes them is the sort of thing that should be the domain of political fiction.

Sadly and tragically, it’s the government we suffer from in Westminster. It is a reminder about how important it is that we recover as a party, and a spur to our efforts to ensure we do our part in defeating the Conservatives at the ballot box.

The elections due in May across England, Scotland and Wales are an important part of that.

The May Elections

Will the elections be delayed? The simple answer is, we don’t know. But we do know that we need to campaign to do well in them whenever they happen. Other parties can gamble on trying to win an election without much time to campaign beforehand. We can’t.

That is why we need to continue with our preparations and build-up as if the May elections will happen, and treat any extra time as a bonus. Better that than be caught out thinking something wouldn’t happen and then not having time to prepare when it does.

Of course, our work should always take into account coronavirus health risks, and always carefully follow the party’s advice, which is regularly reviewed and updated when necessary.

There is a wide range of free training available to help you hone your campaigning skills and learn how to campaign best in the face of coronavirus. Do take a look at the listings on the party website and on the ALDC site.

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Reminder: deadlines for Federal and Scottish Conference motions coming up this week

Both Scottish and Federal Conferences will be taking place virtually in March. Often, pre-election conferences aren’t so well attended as people prioritise their local campaigns. This time, it’s easier for everyone to take part in at least some of it and not miss out on that all-important leaflet delivery and door-knocking.  Here’s how you can take part:

Scotland (and members from all across the UK are welcome)

Scottish Conference Convener Paul McGarry announced the Scottish event, from 5-6 March, in an email to members:

Spring conference will be taking place on FRIDAY 5th and SATURDAY 6th MARCH 2021.

Like our autumn and special conferences, this conference will be taking place on the online platform HopIn.

We have decided to do conference registration a little differently this time. To register for a general early bird ticket, click here. The early bird tickets are only available until 2nd February 2021. If you would like to purchase an early bird concession or first timer ticket, you will need to fill out this form.

Motions submission deadline coming up on Friday

  • Deadline for submitting motions: 8th January 2021 at noon.

There are some useful tips on drafting a motion here.

Federal Conference

Federal Conference Committee Chair Geoff Payne wrote to members to announce the details of the federal event taking place two weeks later, from 19-21 March:

Registration is open for Spring Conference 2021. Following the success of our online conference in Autumn, Spring conference will again be 100% online.

At our conference you can shape party policy, virtually meet MPs, councillors and members from across the country, hear from experts on a range of topics at our fringe events and learn new skills at our training sessions.

Tickets start from £40 until 13 January, or £10 for full-time students and those claiming benefits.

You can register here.

Motion deadline coming up on Wednesday

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Daisy Cooper: Close primary schools for two weeks to build Covid-safe plan

Lib Dem Deputy Leader and Education spokesperson Daisy Cooper has called on the Government to close all primary schools until 18th January to enable the development and implementation of a Covid safety plan.

We are calling for four things:

  • All primary schools to move to remote learning until Jan 18th, except for vulnerable children and children of key workers.
  • A review of Government plans for Covid testing strategies in schools.
  • A move to single-school transport.
  • A new pupil bubbling strategy to tackle the new Covid strain.

Daisy said:

With the government’s own scientific advisors saying that they cannot provide any analysis on what is required to control the new strain of the virus until mid-January, the Government must think again and adopt a plan to get ahead of the virus.

Time and time again, this Government has squandered opportunities to get ahead of the virus in schools and left pupils, parents and teachers understandably anxious if not terrified about returning next week.

For months, Liberal Democrats have been calling on the Government to come up with a proper plan to keep schools open safely. Instead, this latest botched decision and the Tories top-down attitude has once again led to last minute and inconsistent decisions that are wreaking havoc on people’s lives.

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Willie Rennie: Our children will be astonished that this Government pursued big bang Brexit in the middle of a pandemic

The Scottish Parliament debated whether to give legislative consent to the Bill putting the new trade deal with the EU into operation.

Liberal Democrats voted against, and Willie Rennie explained why:

This debate needs a bit of realism. The deal is going through. It’s going to go through because Boris Johnson has an eighty-seat majority, he has his Euro Sceptics on board and even the bulk of the Labour Party is backing it.

So no deal has, finally, been taken off the table.

But just because we accept Brexit is happening, that there is a deal and it is going through does not mean we have to like it.

We are realistic but we won’t swallow all our deep reservations about Brexit and especially this deal.

In no way is anyone compelled to vote for something they think will be bad for the country.
And after all the Brexit chaos this Conservative Government have inflicted on millions of people for years and after the Scottish Conservatives promised they would never back a deal that gave separate treatment to Northern Ireland, that party is in no position to lecture anyone else today.

There should be no surprise that we can’t support the Conservatives on Brexit today because our support for Europe has been resolute for decades.

From the liberals support for yes in the ‘75 referendum, the Gang of Four in the 80s and Paddy Ashdown bailing out John Major to support the Maastricht Treaty in the 90s to our enthusiastic support for remain in 2016 and our advocacy of a people’s vote for the last four years.

People who believe in a strong relationship with Europe can count on us.

We do not use Europe as a weapon in another battle, to be discarded when no longer useful.

We believe in international partnership and cooperation especially with our closest neighbours.

It is why we support keeping the UK together and believe the lessons from Brexit should be the lessons for those who advocate independence.

This is a bad deal. The Prime Minister ran down the clock in the most cynical fashion to give parliamentarians just three working days to read, analyse, scrutinise and vote on 1246 pages of complex legal text. That is not good government.

Giving companies just a week to get ready is not good business. Where is the sensible easement arrangement?
We will be the first country in the world to put trade barriers up as a result of a trade deal.

The Prime Minister claims no quotas or tariffs on goods. But if the UK diverges, and that was the point of Brexit was it not, there will be heavy punitive tariffs and quotas. Those quotas and tariffs will hang around like a bad smell for years.

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A tribute to Ann Winfield

At Lib Dem Voice we were sad to hear of the death of Ann Winfield.

Her husband, Rif, writes:

My wife Ann Winfield, Liberal Parliamentary candidate in the 1983 General Election for Newham North East, former Assistant Secretary of the London Liberal Party, and Leader of the Liberal Group on Newham London Borough Council from 1982 to 1986, died in Bronglais General Hospital at 8pm on Christmas Eve, 24 December. She was 69½ years old.

Born Ann Spriggs in Ladywood, Birmingham, in mid 1951, she was recruited into the Liberal Party (at the age of 9!) by Wallace Lawler, who subsequently became Liberal

Posted in Obituaries | Tagged | 7 Comments

Third extension for Welsh Pacer trains is a ‘disgrace’ say Welsh Lib Dems

These trains are on display in the National Rail Museum and Iran has ditched them, yet Welsh passengers will continue to use them daily.

Following the announcement today from the Department for Transport that Class 142 trains have been given their third dispensation in just over a year to continue in service, Welsh Liberal Democrats have called on Transport for Wales and Ken Skates to apologise to travellers across South Wales.

Pacer trains were built by British Rail in the early 1980s with a planned lifespan of 15-20 years. Following decades of under-investment in rolling stock, they were given extension after extension but were finally due to be disposed of last year as they did not meet disability regulations that came into force on 1 January 2020. Yet passengers in South Wales face many more months of travel on these unsuitable trains.

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Love from the Lib Dem Voice team

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Joan “Penny” Ewens (1926-2020)

Michael Meadowcroft has kindly drawn our attention to an obituary recently published in the Yorkshire Post

Joan “Penny” Ewens, who has died at 94, was a two-term Leeds councillor and honorary Alderman, having been elected to the council in her late 70s after a lifetime of activism.

Born Joan Penwill, she adopted the forename Penny at her school in Liverpool to differentiate her from five other Joans in her class. She served in the Intelligence Corps during the war and met her future husband, David Ewens, on VE day in London. They were married soon afterwards.

David’s job brought them to Leeds in 1960 and, as a mature student, she enrolled at the James Graham Teacher Training College. After a spell at the Kitson College she settled into a long career at West Park High School where she took a particular interest in careers and in drama.

Posted in Obituaries | Tagged | 3 Comments

Lib Dem legend Frances Alexander remembered in the Guardian

You may remember that former Lib Dem Mayor of High Wycombe sadly died in September. Members of her family wrote a beautiful obituary for us. 

Today, her daughter Louise writes in the Guardian about her mother’s life.

While listening to the debate on the 1967 abortion bill in the House of Commons, Frances heard only men’s voices. No one was telling the stories of the botched abortions that she had seen the results of as a nurse and she knew that parliament needed more women. She joined the Liberal party and stood for parliament three times between 1974 and 1979. She was a founding member in 1980 of the 300 Group for equal numbers of female MPs.

The family had moved to Wycombe in 1970, after which Frances taught first aid, health education and childcare at a local secondary school, Wellesbourne, and went on to be a careers adviser.

In 1991, she was elected to Wycombe district council, going on to become chairman of the council (1997-98) and mayor of High Wycombe (1998-99). Her achievements on the council included pedestrianisation of the high street, protecting a local nature reserve and setting up a charity that gives furniture to recently homed families.

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Ed Davey’s message for Hanukkah

This year’s Hanukkah started on Thursday and goes on until next Friday.

Celebrations will be very different this year, as families can’t be together as they would normally.

Here’s Ed Davey’s message for all celebrating:

 

 

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Your last chance to get drafting advice for Conference motions…

The dates for the Scottish and Federal Spring conferences have been set as we reported last week.

Scottish Conference will meet virtually from 5-6 March and Federal Conference will meet virtually two weeks later 19-21 March.

The great thing about our Conferences is that even in their virtual form, members have been able to submit policy motions and amendments for debate. In our party, we give our members actual power to make policy and set the direction of the party.

This is your reminder that if you want any of the nice people from the respective Committees to help you draft a policy motion, you only have until Tuesday (Scotland) and Thursday (Federal) to request it.

You don’t actually have to get drafting advice and you will still be able to submit motions by the deadlines of 6th January (federal) and 8th January (Scotland).

The Scottish LIb Dems have a really useful guide on how to draft a well-structured motion which you can see here.

1. What does the Committee look for?

A motion should be easy to understand, logically argued and well presented. If the Committee finds it difficult to understand the purpose of a motion or to follow the case it argues, it is likely that conference will also have problems. Equally – though this is harder for anyone drafting a motion to predict – the motion should be in a subject area where it is desirable for the party to develop new policy or make its existing policies or achievements known. Other things being equal, a shorter motion usually has an advantage over a longer one.

2. What features will reduce the chances of a motion being chosen?

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Christine Jardine introduces her puppy, Brora

It is a miserable December morning and we need something to cheer us up.

Step forward Brora, Christine Jardine’s incredibly cute 10 month old puppy. She’s featured in a  Politicians and their Pets article in this week’s Holyrood magazine.

Here she is on a Highland beach:

It’s very clear that from the article that Brora is a Very Good Dog indeed:

What can she do?

That’s quite a difficult one, but she does basically what she is told and is incredibly agile

What do you love about her?

She is a very happy dog who loves people and, it turns out, other dogs. Her coat is lovely and soft and lots of people say she is just like a teddy bear.

What special talents does she have?

She somehow manages to make people laugh at what she does. She is hugely entertaining and the way the curls around her mouth sit, she looks as if she is smiling.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 8 Comments

Compass launches a new Liberal Democrat network

Many of you will be aware of Compass, the progressive organisation headed by Neal Lawson. Although its origins lie in Labour, for many years it has been positioning itself as centre-left and cross-party.

Introducing themselves, the Compass Liberal Democrat Network writes:

Liberal Democrats are natural pluralists, our core liberal values demand nothing less. We are open, empathetic, curious and inquiring. But we are also social. We believe everyone should be able to fulfil their potential and it is the job of the broader society, and through it the democratic and devolved state, to ensure this happens.

These two values combine to point our party in a clear direction, and that is towards a cross-party dialogue on the Centre left. This is not just a desirable outcome but is increasingly feasible and necessary.

At this stage it is not proposing any specific collaborations between parties at national or local level, since these will “vary in relevance from place to place”. Instead:

Compass is focused on building cross-party alliances around values, policies, and action, and welcomes progressives from all parties and none.

The formation of the network has been inspired by this report: We Divide. They Conquer: If Labour struggles to win alone, what is to be done?

Posted in News | 29 Comments

How to get involved with Scottish and Federal Spring Conferences

Both Scottish and Federal Conferences will be taking place virtually in March. Often, pre-election conferences aren’t so well attended as people prioritise their local campaigns. This time, it’s easier for everyone to take part in at least some of it and not miss out on that all-important leaflet delivery and door-knocking.  Here’s how you can take part:

Scotland (and members from all across the UK are welcome)

Scottish Conference Convener Paul McGarry announced the Scottish event, from 5-6 March, in an email to members:

Spring conference will be taking place on FRIDAY 5th and SATURDAY 6th MARCH 2021.

Like our autumn and special conferences, this conference will be taking place on the online platform HopIn.

We have decided to do conference registration a little differently this time. To register for a general early bird ticket, click here. The early bird tickets are only available until 2nd February 2021. If you would like to purchase an early bird concession or first timer ticket, you will need to fill out this form.

Key dates to note:

  • Deadline for feedback on motions: 15th December 2020 at noon.
  • Deadline for submitting motions: 8th January 2021 at noon.

That motions deadline is eye-waveringly close to the Christmas holidays so if you have an idea for a motion, get thinking about it now.

Federal Conference

Federal Conference Committee Chair Geoff Payne wrote to members to announce the details of the federal event taking place two weeks later, from 19-21 March:

Registration is open for Spring Conference 2021. Following the success of our online conference in Autumn, Spring conference will again be 100% online.

At our conference you can shape party policy, virtually meet MPs, councillors and members from across the country, hear from experts on a range of topics at our fringe events and learn new skills at our training sessions.

Tickets start from £40 until 13 January, or £10 for full-time students and those claiming benefits.

You can register here.

Posted in News | Tagged | 3 Comments

Lib Dems support Small Business Saturday

After the year they have had, small businesses need a break.

So many have struggled as a result of the pandemic, either unable to trade or severely restricted.

Think of all those little independent shops who have been closed, open, closed and open again throughout the year.

The weeks before Christmas should be their busiest time.

The first Saturday in December is always Small Business Saturday, a day when we encourage people to support small businesses. This year it has even more resonance. We would miss the vibrant diversity of our local communities if we lost these assets.

Lib Dem parliamentarians have been out and about supporting small businesses in their constituencies. Here’s a flavour of what they have been up to:

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LibLink: Young Liberal calls on Cheltenham’s MP to take action to end period poverty

Over on the Cheltenham Liberal Democrats website, Young Liberal Jessica Jeffries writes to her local MP, calling on him to take action to end period poverty:

The negative impact of period poverty can affect women in many different ways. Physically, there is a high risk of infection due to the repeated use of old sanitary products, and the use of dirty rags/pieces of cloth which many have to use as an alternative. Psychologically, as a result of the stigma, many women feel embarrassment/shame when discussing menstruation and those who struggle financially will face much stress as they choose between feeding themselves and their family or buying period products.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 3 Comments

How 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:

Posted in Op-eds and Site news | Tagged | 4 Comments

Meet Lib Dem candidates for the Scottish Parliament in 2021

Here is the current list of candidates so far selected for the Scottish Parliament elections in May 2021. At the time of writing, they were 23 male and 17 female in the constituencies and 22 male and 17 female on the lists. This is a slight improvement from 2016 but we still need to get to 50/50.  There are also concerns that we need to work on all diversity strands.

Regional lists

North East Scotland

1. Rosemary Bruce

2. John Waddell

Lothian

1. Alex Cole-Hamilton

2. Fred Mackintosh

Glasgow

1. Carole Ford

2. Andrew Chamberlain

Highlands and Islands

1. Alan Reid

2. Molly Nolan

Mid Scotland and Fife

1. Willie Rennie

2. Peter Barrett

Central Scotland

1. Paul McGarry

2. Mark McGeever

South Scotland

1. Catriona Bhatia

2. Jenny Marr

West Scotland

1. Katy Gordon

2. Jacci Stoyle

 

Constituency seats

Posted in News | Tagged | 16 Comments

Lib Dems mark Diwali

Ed Davey has released this message for Diwali, highlighting how friends and family are not able to celebrate as they would wish because of the Covid restrictions:

Layla Moran also posted a message talking about how she in her teaching days would celebrate Diwali with colour and joy.

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Monday morning humour – Saturday Night Live’s take on Biden and Harris’s win

We’re all in need of a laugh these days.

Enjoy Saturday Night Live’s brilliant reaction to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris winning the US election:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 1 Comment

LibLink: Vince Cable on Biden and Trump post election

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Vince Cable has just published an article on The Independent: “Biden faces a war on many fronts – Trump has the tools to make the presidency a poisoned chalice“.  He considers the worrying consequences of Trump losing but still able to call upon substantial support.

Trump’s career in the New York property market owed much to the deployment of batteries of lawyers to intimidate and out-manoeuvre his competitors. Every legal argument in the book will be deployed to block or invalidate the postal ballots which have tipped the balance in key states. If he can get a case in front of the Supreme Court, he calculates that the justices will forget their oath of impartiality and remember their political debt to the president who appointed them.

It is rumoured he then plans to challenge the make-up of the electoral college. There is also the possible scenario I described in this column three weeks ago, where uncertainty generated by the legal challenges leads to people taking the law into their own hands, leading to a state of emergency and – in effect – a coup d’etat.

However, Republicans like Mitch McConnell …

… will have no truck with legal chicanery designed to frustrate the election result.

Even if Trump’s attempts to reverse the result fail, and he reluctantly agrees to leave the White House, he has plenty of options to make life for the new president somewhere between very difficult and impossible.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 11 Comments

Alistair Carmichael’s Commons First “President-Elect Biden”

Alistair Carmichael had a Commons first today. He was the first person in the UK Parliament to refer to President-Elect Biden.

He was presenting his Bill to tackle plastic pollution. When Speaker Dame Rosie Winterton asked him when it would be debated, he said “Nine days after President-Elect Biden’s inauguration.”

If he has tempted fate, he will be in massive amounts of trouble…

So what is his bill about?

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LibLink: Jamie Stone on the digital revolution

Jamie Stone is the Lib Dem spokesperson for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and he has written an article “Ministers must ensure no one is left behind by the digital revolution” in The House magazine.

Talking of his constituents in Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, he writes:

Many still do not have access to any broadband, let alone high-speed broadband. With such poor infrastructure, it is virtually impossible to conceive of how communities like mine can avoid being left behind as this digital revolution continues apace.

But I beg the Government to do more to invest in those communities that are currently not well-served by digital technologies to make sure we do not fall through the net of progress.

To date, in my patch, we have seen post offices, banks and other services disappear at a rate of knots, leaving my constituents strapped for cash (not that anyone is taking cash these days), and unable to access basic financial services without – in many cases – driving for miles and miles. For those who are not mobile, the growing isolation they face is extremely alarming.

He refers to the ways in which jobs are changing as technology evolves:

Many of the millions of people who may face redundancy as a result of Covid-19 will be terrified that they will not be able to find new work, because they simply don’t have the relevant skills to break through.

That is why I am joining my colleague Daisy Cooper, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson, in calling on the Government to back our party’s plan for ‘Skills Wallets’, which would give everyone £10,000 to spend on life-long education and training.

This would be made up of an initial £4,000 Government investment when people turn 25, a further £3,000 when they turn 40 and, finally, another £3,000 at the age of 55.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged and | 1 Comment

Praise for Kirsty Williams from across the board

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A constellation of non-Lib Dems have praising Kirsty Williams, who today announced her intention to stand down at the next Senedd election. Here’s a selection of their praise, including from non-politicians:

Tina Donnelly CBE, former Director the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Wales and Richard Jones MBE, former Deputy Director RCN Wales:

Kirsty has been a phenomenally committed politician – extremely approachable and a politician who acted on her promises. Kirsty worked tirelessly to progress her private members’ Safe Nurse Staffing Legislation which went on to become the first act of its kind in Europe. During this process, we were always confident that with her passion, style and engagement she would succeed.
“We are both extremely sad that she will not be standing again as a member of the Senedd. We as nurses in Wales have gained so much for the safety of our patients in gaining this Act of Compassion and this was due to Kirsty’s leadership. We will miss her very much as will politics in Wales.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 1 Comment

Full text of Kirsty Williams’ letter announcing her decision to stand down at the next election

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Here is the full text of Kirsty William’s letter to Jackie Chalton, her local party chair, announcing her decision to stand down at the next Senedd election:

Dear Jackie

Next May it will have been 22 years since I was first elected to represent the people of Brecon and Radnorshire.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 6 Comments

Welsh Lib Dem Kirsty Williams to stand down at next year’s Senedd election

Embed from Getty Images

Welsh Liberal Democrat MS Kirsty Williams has announced after careful consideration that she will stand down at next year’s Senedd election.

Kirsty has served as the member for Brecon and Radnorshire since 1999, served as Chair of the Health Committee in the first Assembly from 1999-2003, as leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats from 2008 until 2016 and has been the Welsh Government’s Education Minister since her appointment in 2016.

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Wera Hobhouse, Wendy Chamberlain and Christine Jardine on Black History Month

This week, Wera Hobhouse, as Lib Dem Equalities spokesperson, too part in the Black History Month debate in the House of Commons. Watch her speech here:

Christine Jardine also made an intervention, talking about the history of the streets in Glasgow.

On that very point, we have talked before about how in so many communities in this country there are statues, streets and so on that are named after slave owners and colonialists. People like me who come from Glasgow are immensely proud that Nelson Mandela Place is named after Nelson Mandela, but we are completely unaware of the history of the names of the other streets around it. That is the sort of thing we need to attack when we look at education and black history.

Wendy Chamberlain also highlighted the unpleasant history of the streets where she grew up.

The full text of Wera’s and Wendy’s speeches is below.

The debate had one particularly remarkable part where Conservative MP Bim Afolami was basically saying that he had not experienced any problems. Labour MP Tulip Siddiq pointed out that he’d gone to Eton, before acknowledging and recognising her own privileged middle class background. She highlighted the importance of taking an intersectional approach.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 21 Comments

Ed Davey on the Acting Prime Minister podcast

Ed Davey has been interviewed for ITV News on the Acting Prime Minister podcast. If you haven’t seen it before, the interviewee is virtually installed in No 10 for the day and asked what she/he would do.

What personal item would he take into No 10? – the trike belonging to his son, John.

Who would be the first person he would call? – Joe Biden.

What would his first policy change be? – increased support for carers, financially, in their own careers and through respite care.

Where would he go on holiday as Prime Minister? – East Anglia

Downing Street pet? – a cat

Posted in News | Tagged | 1 Comment

Wendy Chamberlain reminds Boris about the Scottish border

Wendy Chamberlain got to question the Prime Minister this week. She asked him to sort out the issue that means that she and other Scots travelling between Scotland and England, and everyone living in the Borders, who may cross from Scotland to England several times a day, to sort out a problem with the respective English and Scottish test and trace apps.

Anyone crossing the border has to manually switch between apps. It doesn’t happen automatically. So you might think that your app is working, but it isn’t if you haven’t made the change between them.

See Wendy in action here:

Boris Johnson sounded pretty clueless in response, as you would expect. He did say he’d sort it, though.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 2 Comments
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