Author Archives: The Voice

Single progressive challenger to Tories wins seats

This is an independent view from Compass which is a centre-left pressure group, aligned with the Labour Party.

At the local elections, the Lib Dem vote rose by 14.1% in England where the party was the only progressive challenger to the Tories.

Neal Lawson, Director of Compass said:

“When progressives cooperate they win, when they compete they lose. Despite the party machines insisting on unilaterally standing candidates that can only benefit the right, progressives locally are cooperating to win under the radar. Progressives should only stand where they can win.”

An unprecedented number of contests saw only one progressive candidate standing. By accident and by local design, progressive parties not competing had a stunning impact on the Lib Dem vote, and those of Labour and Greens:

  • The Lib Dem vote rose by 14.1% where it was the only progressive challenger to the Tories.
  • The Labour vote rose by 6.1% where it was the only progressive challenger to the Tories.
  • The Greens vote rose by 20.2% where it was the only progressive challenger to the Tories. The Green figures are less robust because of the sample size but the impact of non-competition for the Green Party is very large.
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Tiverton and Honiton by-election to take place on 23rd June

The Writ has been moved for the Tiverton and Honiton by-election to take place on 23rd June.

The by-election was caused by the resignation of Neil Parish after he was discovered watching pornographic videos during  parliamentary meetings on two occasions.

Ed Davey said that the by-election gave voters the chance to send Boris Johnson’s Government a message they cannot ignore and elect a local Lib Dem champion to fight for them:

People in rural communities like Devon have had enough of being neglected by this Conservative government.

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LibLink: Wera Hobhouse on green mortgages

Wera Hobhouse has been writing for The House Magazine under the headline “A green mortgage drive could upgrade our leaky homes and slash household bills“.

She writes:

With household bills soaring, those hit the hardest are families living in the leakiest homes. Green mortgages could combat the UK’s leaky homes and bring down household bills in the long-run.

Research shows that households living in homes with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of D or worse will be paying an average of £470 per year more than homes rated EPC C or better. That’s more than the average annual UK water bill.

It seems many banks now offer various incentives, including lower mortgage rates, to homeowners who either buy energy efficient homes or who borrow to fund upgrades. However they are still only a small proportion of mortgages.

Wera says:

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Ed Davey: Queen’s Speech shows Conservatives are neglecting rural communities

Ed Davey has said that the Queen’s Speech does nothing to help rural communities:

This Queen’s Speech does nothing to help the millions of families and pensioners facing soaring bills and eye watering inflation. The Conservatives have failed to deliver a cut to VAT that would have saved families an average of £600, failed to help pensioners and failed to help the most vulnerable in our society.

“The Conservatives are continuing to neglect rural communities. There was nothing in these plans to support farmers on the brink, to tackle soaring ambulance waiting times and GP shortages, or to stop the dumping of filthy sewage into our river and seas.

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What Bill would you like to see in the Queen’s Speech?

It’s going to be a very strange Queen’s Speech today, delivered by Prince Charles. The Queen was well over everyone else’s retirement age quarter of a century ago and it has been amazing that she was able to continue with this ceremony until last year.

There is no doubt that the words Prince Charles will deliver, written for him by the most illiberal Government of the Queen’s reign, will be utterly vomit inducing for most people reading this site. Protest rights and human rights under threat, absolutely nothing to address rising poverty and hunger in this country.

Alistair Carmichael had this to say on measures to limit the right to protest:

These dangerous and draconian plans aren’t about stopping guerilla protestors – the police already have the powers to stop them. Instead, this is yet another desperate attempt to distract from a failing Government that is running out of steam.

Last week, millions of people across the country sent a signal to the Conservatives that they were fed up with being taken for granted. Yet now we see they have nothing new to offer.

So rather than wasting time recycling discredited plans, which have already been rejected by Parliament, Ministers should be taking real action to tackle the cost of living crisis which is hurting families across the country.

So we thought it might be an idea to ask you what you would like to see? What one piece of legislation would you introduce to make life better for people and why?

It might be a complete overhaul of our immigration system to ensure that people are treated with dignity and compassion with a presumption that people who love each other should be able to live together, it could be securing the electoral reform that protects against a Government having disproportionate power without legitimacy, it could be measures to tackle violence against women and girls, it could be ensuring that everyone has the basics they need to thrive, not just survive. And then of course there is the not inconsequential matter of saving the planet.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 14 Comments

Ed Davey : Lib Dems are winning again

As of 7:45pm, the Liberal Democrats accordinf to the BBC, have gained 190 councillors in today’s elections in England,  20 in Scotland and 11 in Wales. It’s fair to say that this way exceeds our expectations.

In Ed Davey’s home patch in Kingston, our Council must be doing something right. We achieved 41 seats compared to 3 Tories and an Independent. The final ward is subject to a deferred election because of the sad death of one of the candidates.  This is even better than the Richmond result where we won 48 seats (up 9) with just 6 opposition seats.

As if that wasn’t enough, we then go and gain 20, yes that is 20 not 2.0 seats in St Albans.

We now control 16 councils which is up 3.

And Peter Taylor was healthily re-elected as Mayor of Watford.

We are undoubtedly the big winners of the election across the country.

Ed Davey has been touring the country meeting our new Councillors. Here he is on the BBC with a beautifully arranged backdrop of Somerset councillors:

Earlier in the day, he told a crowd of Wimbledon Lib Dems, fresh from their 12 gains in the ultra marginal seat:

What began as a tremor in Chesham and Amersham, became an earthquake in North Shropshire, and is now an almighty shockwave that will bring this Conservative Government tumbling down.

It is the movement of millions of people who are saying loud and clear: “We have had enough.”

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Scotland’s results – a story of Lib Dem GAINS

There has been very encouraging news from Scotland today. If you had told us at the start of the campaign that we would gain TWENTY seats, we would accused you of being wildly optimistic.

So far we are up 6 seats in Edinburgh, doubling the size of our group.

Sanne Djikstra-Downie wins in Forth ward in Edinburgh:

Longstanding councillor Dobbie Aldridge is joined by Ed Thornley in Drum Brae/Gyle.

It was pretty audacious to put up 3 candidates in a 4 member ward, even if in 2017 Kevin Lang won with the highest ever vote of any councillor in Scotland. But it paid off and Kevin and his sister Louise Young are now joined by Lewis Younie who takes a seat from the Tories.

And we get two in the three member ward of Corstorphine/Murrayfield  with two new councillors, Al Beal and Euan Davidson.

Wins for Jack Caldwell in Leith Walk and Pauline Flannery in Southside/Newington complete our sextet of gains.

In Dunfermline, Aude Boubaker-Calder regained the Dunfermline Central and Crossford ward. She had come so close in a by-election in 2019, losing out by a handful of votes. Her husband James regained his Dunfermline South seat and they both topped the poll.

Elsewhere in Fife, we gained councillors in both St Andrews and the Howe of Fife. Al Clark and Gaz Holt join Jane Ann Liston and Donald Lothian. We’ve also gained Eugene Clark in Leven Kennoway and Largo. Fiona Corps and Sean Dillon make it two in East Neuk and Landward. The total number of gains in Fife increased to 6 with John Caffrey joining Mags Kennedy in Cupar.

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Election results open thread – Lib Dems biggest winners in England

As Andy has already said, it’s been a good night for the Liberal Democrats so far, regaining control of Hull after 11 years and gaining from the Conservatives in places like Colchester and West Oxfordshire.

ALDC has done a great job in getting many of its staff members elected. Its Chief Exec Tim Pickstone has left Bury and won a seat on the new Cumberland Council. Frankie Singleton, Chris Twells, Alex Warren and Tim Verboven are among others who have won.

Today we wait for results from Scotland and Wales, English councils and the rest of London.  And we are off to a healthy start:

The Tories are expected to suffer substantial casualties in Scotland. They won many of their seats under STV on the first count last time. They might struggle to pick up a lot of transfers if their vote falls. If it falls by as much as it did in Tweeddale West in the Borders, 16%, they are in trouble.

Lib Dems held that seat with a new Councillor, Dr Drummond Begg.

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Ed Davey calls for Windfall Tax on energy companies to help people cope with rising prices

Ed Davey went on BBC Breakfast this morning to call for a windfall tax on energy companies as BP announced soaring profits for the first three months on this year. Funds raised would be used to give people who are struggling with high bills “a really big tax cut.” Ed said that the Conservatives were totally out of touch with what was going on in the country.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged , and | 26 Comments

Daisy Cooper highlights failure of Government to support 2 million pensioners

As Boris Johnson showcases his lack of understanding about the problems vulnerable people are facing as energy and food costs soar, Lib Dem Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper has highlighted that 2 million pensioners will not qualify for the Government’s Council Tax rebate.

The Prime Minister’s interview on Good Morning Britain was a further embarrassment for the Government. Susanna Reid told him about Elsie, a 77 year old pensioner, who gets just the basic State Pension and whose energy bills have gone up from £17 per month to £85 per month. She doesn’t qualify for the Council Tax rebate. She is eating just one meal a day and is spending her days travelling on buses to keep warm. Johnson’s first reaction was to congratulate himself for introducing the bus pass that Elsie was using and he had nothing else to offer her to make life easier for her.

Daisy Cooper was quick to highlight that there are over 2 million pensioners who, like Elsie, won’t benefit from the Council Tax Rebate. It is worth reminding ourselves that this is just £150 which barely covers 2 months of Elsie’s fuel increase.

Daisy said:

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Daisy Cooper: PM must tell Neil Parish to resign

Lib Dem Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper has called on Boris Johnson to tell Neil Parish, the Conservative MP alleged to have watched adult content on his phone in the Commons Chamber, to resign as MP for Tiverton and Honiton in Devon.

While Parish himself has said that he will do so if an enquiry into his behaviour finds against him, Daisy says that in any other workplace, an issue like this would be resolved speedily.

If Boris Johnson had any shred of decency left, he would tell Neil Parish to resign immediately.

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Last chance to develop Lib Dem policy on food and farming, international security and training

The Federal Policy Committee is in the process of setting up 3 policy working groups, to report to Autumn Conference in 2023. Any party member can apply to join them. But you need to hurry – the deadline is tomorrow.

The groups will update policy on Food and Farming, Opportunity, Skills and Training and International Security.

In an email to party members, FPC Vice Chair Lucy Nethsingha said:

Below you can see the aims of each working group:

  • Food and Farming
    This group will consider how we can improve our approach to food and farming, including looking at the future of farming and fishing, food security and supply chains, food poverty, nutrition and healthy eating, food production and animal welfare.
  • Opportunity, Skills and Training
    This group will look at giving people the skills to be successful in their lives. This will include vocational education from ages 14-19, careers advice, further education, tackling the Post-Brexit skills crisis, adult education and lifelong learning.
  • International Security
    This group will look at how the UK can strengthen its international security, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This group will address the International Security Institutional Architecture, UK Defence Policy, European Security and Defence Cooperation, Environment and Security (inc Energy Security), Economic security (eg vulnerabilities of supply chains), Combatting International terrorism, Novel threats e.g. Cyber Warfare and Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution.

The groups will start work as soon as possible, with a view to producing consultation papers for discussion at Spring Conference 2023 and final papers for debate at Autumn Conference 2023.

As a member of a working group you’ll work with other members to take evidence, identify the main challenges and develop distinctively Liberal Democrat policy that will appeal to voters and that would be effective in solving the identified problems.

You’re expected to attend regular meetings, contribute to discussion and help write papers (either through drafting or through commenting on drafts). The meetings are currently mostly taking place online, with some meetings in person in London (but with opportunity for online participation). The role is voluntary and the time commitment averages around two hours per week.

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Lib Dem MPs criticise Jacob Rees-Mogg for “get back to office” memo

This week Jacob Rees-Mogg left a very passive-aggressive note on a Whitehall noticeboard in an attempt to guilt-trip civil servants back to work. It is hardly surprising that a man who seems to be allergic to the 21st century can’t see the benefits in modern working practices which were very useful during the pandemic and helpful when infection rates are still so high.

Working from home is good for those with disabilities or caring responsibilities which make it more difficult for them to come into the office. A liberal approach would do all it could to ensure that everyone had the working model that suited them. For some, that will be coming in to the office at least some of the time because they feel better doing that. That liberal approach would also make sure that those who are working from home aren’t cut out of workplace power structures – those water cooler conversations, for example. That’s particularly important for those who changed jobs during the pandemic and are getting to know people in their new organisations.

Lib Dem MPs Jamie Stone and Helen Morgan took Rees-Mogg to task:

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Liberal Democrats: Ban water company bosses’ bonuses until sewage discharges end

England’s water company bosses have awarded themselves almost £27 million in bonuses over the past two years despite pumping out raw sewage into waterways 1,000 times a day, the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

Analysis of Companies House records by the Liberal Democrats shows that executives at England’s water and sewage companies were paid £48 million in 2020 and 2021, including £27.6 million in bonuses, benefits and incentives.

The eye-watering executive pay packets and company profits were made despite the Environment Agency reporting nearly 772,000 sewage dumping events taking place in 2020 and 2021 alone, or over 1,000 per day.

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to ban new bonuses for water company executives until sewage offences are brought to an end. The party is also calling on water company bosses to hand back last year’s bonuses and for the funds to be used to clean up rivers and lakes that have been polluted by sewage.

Posted in News and Press releases | Tagged , and | 16 Comments

Alex Cole-Hamilton launches Scottish Lib Dems local government campaign

Alex Cole-Hamilton and Lib Dem spokespeople and council candidates went up to the top of Calton Hill, overlooking Edinburgh city centre to launch our local government election campaign today.

Here he is talking to the BBC  calling for a cut to VAT, the SNP Government to cut rail fares as it has just taken over the Scotrail franchise and insulation for every home in Scotland.

The themes of the campaign are set out in the party’s Party Political Broadcast, starring Alex, Deputy Leader Wendy Chamberlain and her gorgeous cocker spaniel Tamlyn.  Wendy asked people to vote Lib Dem to get someone who cares about you and your community.

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New policy working groups – apply by 27th April

The Federal Policy Committee is in the process of setting up 3 policy working groups, to report to Autumn Conference in 2023. Any party member can apply to join them.

The groups will update policy on Food and Farming, Opportunity, Skills and Training and International Security.

In an email to party members, FPC Vice Chair Lucy Nethsingha said:

Below you can see the aims of each working group:

  • Food and Farming
    This group will consider how we can improve our approach to food and farming, including looking at the future of farming and fishing, food security and supply chains, food poverty, nutrition and healthy eating, food production and animal welfare.
  • Opportunity, Skills and Training
    This group will look at giving people the skills to be successful in their lives. This will include vocational education from ages 14-19, careers advice, further education, tackling the Post-Brexit skills crisis, adult education and lifelong learning.
  • International Security
    This group will look at how the UK can strengthen its international security, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This group will address the International Security Institutional Architecture, UK Defence Policy, European Security and Defence Cooperation, Environment and Security (inc Energy Security), Economic security (eg vulnerabilities of supply chains), Combatting International terrorism, Novel threats e.g. Cyber Warfare and Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution.

The groups will start work as soon as possible, with a view to producing consultation papers for discussion at Spring Conference 2023 and final papers for debate at Autumn Conference 2023.

As a member of a working group you’ll work with other members to take evidence, identify the main challenges and develop distinctively Liberal Democrat policy that will appeal to voters and that would be effective in solving the identified problems.

You’re expected to attend regular meetings, contribute to discussion and help write papers (either through drafting or through commenting on drafts). The meetings are currently mostly taking place online, with some meetings in person in London (but with opportunity for online participation). The role is voluntary and the time commitment averages around two hours per week.

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The LDV quick guide to non-domicile

So, Akshata Murty is non-domiciled for tax purposes. What does this mean, and how does it work? Luckily, the information is readily at hand…

Domicile is obtained in one of three ways;

  • origin – normally, your place of birth
  • dependence – where the law ascribes domicile to an individual because of that individual’s lack of legal capacity and legal dependence upon another person
  • choice – acquired by physical presence in another territory and the intention to remain in that territory permanently or indefinitely

So, in Akshata Murty’s case, her domicile of origin is India and, unless she indicates her wish to be domiciled in the United Kingdom, she can retain her status as being domiciled in India for the time being, subject to any finding that, by dint of the decisions she takes, she is deemed to have elected for a different domicile by choice.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 14 Comments

Save the date: Two events to remember Erlend on 23 May

News reaches us via Ed Fordham of two memorial events for party legend Erlend Watson, who sadly passed away on 25th January.

Memorial Service for George Erlend Watson (in two parts)

Memorial Service (1)
3pm on Monday 23rd May 2022
St Olav’s, The Norweigian Church and Seaman’s Mission
1 St Olav Square, Albion Street, Rotherhithe, London. SE16 7JB

Memorial Glee Club (2)
5.30pm also on Monday 23rd May 2022
National Liberal Club,
1 Whitehall Place, Westminster, London, SW1A 2HE
(the formal proceedings will be over by 6.30pm)

Donations in aid of The Royal Papworth Hospital Charity, Cambridge.

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Government U-turns on gay conversion therapy, but still allows it for trans people

Yesterday we acknowledged the Transgender Day of Visibility with a post that highlighted comments from a number of Liberal Democrats.

In that post we mentioned that the Government had decided not to ban conversion therapy, to much consternation.

Amazingly, overnight the Government has U-turned again and is now planning to bring forward legislation to ban conversion therapy in the next Queen’s speech. But – and a very big but – the ban will not cover trans people.

On the one hand it is pleasing that gay conversion therapy will at last be outlawed. But it is deeply disappointing that trans conversion therapy will still be allowed.

Now we should start by saying that counselling and psychotherapy should, of course, be made available to all people who are considering transitioning. It is a complex and difficult journey to take, and many will be helped to understand themselves better through professional help. But the key here is “professional” – someone who is fully trained and recognised by their professional bodies. Such people do not approach sessions with any preconceived notions about what the outcome should be for their client, except that they should emerge with a clearer understanding of themselves.

Conversion therapy is different. Last year many professional bodies, including the NHS, signed the updated Memorandum of understanding on conversion therapy in the UK. It states:

Conversion therapy is the term for therapy that assumes certain sexual orientations or gender identities are inferior to others, and seeks to change or suppress them on that basis.

The 2017 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) makes it clear that conversion therapy in relation to gender identity and sexual orientation (including asexuality) is unethical, potentially harmful and is not supported by evidence. It updates the 2015 version released at the Department of Health, which focused exclusively on sexual orientation.

It is truly shameful that the Government now wants to allow the practice to continue for trans people.

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Lib Dems take action to clean up language

Tucked away at the end of the Agenda for Spring Conference we find this constitutional amendment:

In Article 20.1, delete ‘not less than’ and insert ‘not fewer than’ on both occasions.

What is not immediately apparent is that such grammatical errors could result in disciplinary action in future.

In an attempt to smarten up communications the party can now apply sanctions to anyone who violates good grammar in public-facing documents such as Focus leaflets and press releases. Any party member responsible for such errors will have to attend training. If they refuse, they face expulsion.

Here are some examples of the kinds of errors they have in mind.

  • Confusing ‘less’ and ‘fewer’. Hint: ‘less’ goes with a singular noun, while ‘fewer’ goes with a plural.
  • Using ‘different to’ instead of ‘different from’.
  • Misplaced or omitted apostrophes. Hint: an apostrophe usually indicates that a letter has been left out (but not always …) or the word is in the possessive form (but not always …)
  • Semi-colons at the end of bullet points; Or full stops. Or commas,
  • Two or more spaces between sentences.    This is on the insistence of the Party President.
  • Treating data or media as singular nouns.
  • Starting a sentence with ‘But’ or ‘Or’.  Or ‘And’.
  • The Heidelberg colon. This should not be used under any circumstances.
Posted in News | 36 Comments

Liberal Democrats mark Transgender Day of Visibility

Today is the Transgender Day of Visibility, our chance to celebrate transgender and non binary people and raise awareness of the issues affecting them.  Liberal Democrats have a proud history of supporting rights for transgender and non binary people.

Here’s how some in the party have marked the day:

 

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Ed Davey: Boris Johnson must resign over “Partygate” fines

Ed Davey’s response to the news that the Metroplitan Police have issued an initial 20 fixed penalty notices over the Downing Street Parties held during Covid restrictions was short and sharp. (Plain text below.)

If Boris Johnson thinks he can get away with partygate by paying expensive lawyers and throwing junior staff to the wolves, he is wrong.

We all know who is responsible. The Prime Minister must resign, or Conservative MPs must sack him.

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Wera Hobhouse calls for misogyny to be made a hate crime after research reveals women killed by men in 28% of murders

House of Commons Library Research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has today revealed that 28% of all murder cases since 2016 are women murdered by men.

Since the brutal murder of Sarah Everard last year in March, the data shows that 109 women have been murdered where men were the main suspect, representing more than 2 women per week. This is out of 414 murder victims overall, equalling 26% of all murder cases.

Our Women and Equalities Spokesperson, Wera Hobhouse MP has slammed the Government for turning a blind eye to anti-women hatred and refusing to take violence against women and girls seriously.

Liberal Democrats have accused the Government of ‘turning a blind-eye’ to violence against women and girls, choosing to bury their head in the sand.

Wera said:

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Sunak shows he is “out of touch” on fuel poverty figures

Responding to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s failure to answer how many people are being pushed into fuel poverty on the BBC’s Sunday Morning show, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

Rishi Sunak doesn’t even care enough to find out how many people he is condemning to fuel poverty. It shows he is completely out of touch with families worried sick about how to cope with soaring energy bills.

People are desperate for help but the Conservatives’ response is to clobber them with an unfair tax rise.

The Chancellor should use this week’s Spring Statement to put money back into people’s pockets,

Posted in News and Press releases | Tagged , and | 9 Comments

WATCH: South Cambridgeshire PPC Pippa Heylings’ speech to Spring Conference

South Cambridgeshire is one of the “Blue Wall” seats that the Lib Dems are targetting for the next General Election.

PPC Pippa Heylings was given a keynote speaking slot at Conference. This is her speech:

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Ed Davey’s speech to Conference: Lib Dems can defeat this awful Government

A powerful selection on Ukraine, a call for Priti Patel to be sacked, a celebration of Chesham and Amersham and North Shropshire, a tribute to Lib Dem by-election stalwart Erlend Watson, a decent gag about Dick Turpin, an evisceration of the Tories over sleaze and partygate (including a call for a public enquiry into Boris Johnson’s relationship with Lebvedev) and an attack on Tory MPs for keeping Boris Johnson in power, setting out what the Lib Dems offer for health and education and a look forward to the local government elections in May…all this and more delivered by Ed Davey to Lib Dem members gathered in York.

 

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Lib Dems adopt most ambitious policy in UK to help Ukrainian refugees

Ongoing bureaucratic barriers to refugees fleeing Ukraine and the appalling UK Government attitude to them, the bravery of young political activists in Ukraine who are having to defend their country against invasion, the courage of young activists in Russia who are protesting Putin’s actions, the need to end our dependence on others for energy supply, the importance of standing up for the right of sovereign nations to be part of Europe, the chilling prospect of how we respond to escalating brutality from Putin’s army. These were just some of the points mentioned in an emotional and powerful debate on the situation in Ukraine this morning.

This afternoon at 5:40 pm, we’ll be hearing from Kira Rudyk, the leader of our Ukrainian sister party Holos from Kyiv. If you want to hear her, it’s not too late to register here.

The policy we passed today was the most ambitious to help Ukrainian refugees of any major UK political party.

We call on the government to enable refugees from Ukraine to come to the UK without having to apply for a visa, to work with allies to create accessible routes to safety for all refugees displaced from Ukraine, to provide economic, military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and to reverse the international development budget cut.

The party’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Layla Moran said even the government’s latest sponsor scheme would still force Ukrainian refugees to “jump through bureaucratic hoops” to come to the UK.

Ukrainians have been let down by the UK government in their hour of need. Priti Patel is presiding over a chaotic shambles – and the result is that Ukrainians who we should be supporting are being turned away simply because they don’t have the right paperwork.

Even the government’s latest scheme will still leave refugees having to jump through bureaucratic hoops before coming to the UK.

Posted in Conference and News | Tagged , and | 3 Comments

Conference votes for strong action to improve air quality

At Conference yesterday, Lib Dems blasted the Government for its slowness in taking action on air pollution, the cause of thousands of premature deaths each year in the UK.

We passed a motion submitted by Ealing Lib Dems and moved by Hina Bokhari AM which called for a greater empowering of local authorities and the introduction of stricter, legally-binding national limits for particulate matter and other pollutants.

Our spokesperson for the Climate Emergency, Wera Hobhouse said after the debate:

“Air pollution is a killer. Thousands of people lose their lives each year, with many others suffering from ill health because of it. This is no legacy to leave to our children, who are in particular danger. It is heartbreaking and a damning indictment on the Conservatives, who have looked the other way.

“It is high time we put the power into the hands of local people and those who have directly suffered from the Government’s failure to act more quickly and urgently,

“The Liberal Democrats believe that everyone has the right to clean air. It is incumbent on this Conservative Government to do all they can to uphold that right, by tackling the air pollution crisis head on and cleaning up their act.”

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Federal Board reformed in “peak Lib Dem” debate

Chair Duncan Brack remarked late yesterday evening as he opened the debate on reforming the party’s Federal Board, we had reached “peak Lib Dem” as before us we had 4 options, constitutional amendments, standing order amendments, 3 requests for a reference back and 7 votes.

The Federal Board put forward those 4 options – 3 for reform, 1 to keep roughly the same arrangements in response to the Thornhill Review’s criticism of party governance in the 2019 General Election.

The option passed was to have a slimmed down board of 16 people who are:

The President, who shall act as its Chair;

B. The Leader;

C. The Chair of the English Party, the Convenor of the Scottish Party and the President of the Welsh Party;

D. The Vice President responsible for working with ethnic minority communities;

E. Three people who shall be party members elected by all members of the Party except that persons who, at the date of the close of nominations for election under this paragraph, are members of Parliamentary Parties set out in Article 17 shall not be eligible to be candidates for election under this paragraph. Casual vacancies amongst this group shall be filled in accordance with the election regulations;

F. A Vice-Chair of the Federal Policy Committee;

G. The Chairs of the Federal Conference Committee, the Federal Communications and Elections Committee, the Federal Finance and Resources Committee and the Federal People Development Committee;

H. The Chair of the Young Liberals; and

I. A principal local authority councillor, elected Mayor or Police and Crime Commissioner, elected by the principal local authority councillors, elected Mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners of the Party.

This is controversial as it reduces the number of directly elected members of the Board from 15 to just 3.

A request for a reference back made by Board Member Simon McGrath, who criticised the plans here was defeated by a handful of votes.

Conference chose the option to create a Federal Council to scrutinise the work o the Board. Amendments were passed to give it some teeth – eg the ability to call in and overturn some Board decisions. The Federal Council will be made up of:

Posted in News and Party policy and internal matters | Tagged , , , and | 3 Comments

Ed Davey: Cut VAT from 20% to 17.5% as an emergency measure

At 2.15pm on Sunday Conference will be debating a motion F30 Tackling the cost of living crisis.

A swathe of proposals are being recommended, including scrapping the rise in NI, ending the freeze on Income Tax personal allowance, uprating pensions and reinstating the £1000 boost to Universal Credit amongst others. These are in addition to policies that have already been agreed such insulating homes, and taxing income from capital more fairly. Three amendments, which add (or remove) options, will also be discussed.

Ed Davey has today added to the mix by calling on the Chancellor to take the radical step on cutting VAT from 20% to 17.5% for one year. This would save families £600 on average. It would also boost the economy by shoring up consumer spending, supporting local high streets and keeping inflation lower than it might have been.

It would also be simple to introduce and would not require primary legislation.

Ed says:

This is crunch time for the Conservatives and the Chancellor. Their cost of living crisis is hitting families hard and it is about to get worse. Will Rishi Sunak act or will he let families up and down the country suffer more financial pain?

An emergency cut to VAT is desperately needed for the millions of people around the country worried about making ends meet. High street businesses that fear going to the wall would receive critical support, as people who are feeling the pinch spend more at their local shops, cafes and restaurants.

This is a once-in-a-generation crisis, and the government must step up to help struggling households and businesses on the brink. Instead of clobbering struggling families with a tax hike, the Chancellor should be putting money back into their pockets.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 35 Comments
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  • Michael BG
    Steve Trevethan, Cut VAT should be added to your list. Jenny Barnes, If inflation is caused by the economy overheating because there is too much demand...
  • William Francis
    @Brad Burrow's I don't think Putin's Anschluss of Crimea should be seen as evidence of Crimean independence....
  • Michael BG
    Jenny Barnes, Resources are finite so logically economic growth should be finite too. However, this does not seem to be true, because of our ingenuity. I do ...
  • Jeff
    Let them eat cake! Time for Carrie Antoinette to throw another party. On a previous occasion she celebrated with Abba’s Winner Takes It All. This time, I woul...
  • TonyH
    The Met has given substantial help to the PM three times during his partygate crisis. 1. First they said they wouldn't investigate - which was a media 'dead c...