Author Archives: The Voice

Whip issues apology over Trade Bill vote

Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael has issued a statement following yesterday’s vote on the Taxation (Cross-border trade) Bill:

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Rebecca Trimnell picked as PPC for Gloucester

Local resident Dr Rebecca Trimnell has been picked to be the Liberal Democrat candidate for Gloucester at the next General Election.

Rebecca, who lives in the Westgate area of the city, was chosen by Lib Dem party members from a shortlist of two at a selection meeting in the city on Saturday night. She will take on Conservative MP Richard Graham and Labour’s Fran Boait at the next General Election, which could happen at anytime between now and 2022.

Rebecca, 39, who lives in the shadow of St Oswald’s Priory, is a former researcher …

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Swinson: President’s Club trustees should be disqualified for sickening culture of sexual harassment

Back in January, the FT exposed a disgusting culture of sexual harassment at an annual gathering of rich men held under the auspices of a charity.

Madison Marriage’s report outlined some of the abuse that these women had to put up with:

Over the course of six hours, many of the hostesses were subjected to groping, lewd comments and repeated requests to join diners in bedrooms elsewhere in the Dorchester.

Many of the hostesses were subjected to groping, lewd comments and requests to join diners in bedrooms elsewhere in the Dorchester

Hostesses reported men repeatedly putting hands up their skirts; one said an attendee had exposed his penis to her during the evening.

At the time, Jo Swinson called for the Charity Commission to investigate. They have now produced their report which states that women were let down but doesn’t deliver much in the way of consequences.

From The Guardian:

They were also found to have not done enough to prevent staff being harassed or to have investigated the allegations properly afterwards.

“The trustees thought insufficiently about the welfare of the women hired to work at their charity’s event while taking careful steps to protect the privacy of the male guests attending the dinner,” said the regulator’s chief executive, Helen Stephenson.

“Charities and their fundraising events should be places were all people are protected from harm, and where all people are treated with respect and care. It is clear from our findings that the trustees of the Presidents Club failed to put the proper steps in place to ensure the dinner fully met those expectations.”

Jo has said that the President’s Club trustees should have been disqualified from taking on a similar role in another charity in the future:

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WATCH: Vince Cable explain why we need a #peoplesvote

From yesterday’s Victoria Derbyshire programme:

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Come and join Jo Swinson at the Liberal Democrat anti-Trump protest tomorrow at 2pm #LibDemsAgainstTrump

The party’s website carries this invite to an anti-Trump protest tomorrow:

The Government has made the right decision to cancel Trump’s state visit, but this scaled down trip must not be met with scaled down protests.

Protesting against a man with dangerous, misogynistic and racist views is our responsibility. It is our opportunity to stand in solidarity with all the people he has abused and denigrated.

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Layla Moran: Brexit is a mess and we need a People’s Vote

Ahead of this afternoon’s Lib Dem Commons debate on the People’s Vote, Layla Moran has been on Victoria Derbyshire to talk about what a mess Brexit is turning out to be, how people didn’t really know at the time of the referendum exactly what it was going to mean and how we need a People’s Vote on the deal.

See a clip here.

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Jardine: Hunt faces an impossible challenge

Lib Dem Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine clearly doesn’t envy Jeremy Hunt’s task – even if he can’t do any worse than his predecessor:

Jeremy Hunt has been set a devastatingly low bar by his predecessor when it comes to basic competency, with him leaving a litany of errors in his wake. Hunt does, however, also face an impossible challenge when it comes to advocating for Britain around the world at a time when his Conservative government are doing huge damage to our economy and influence in their pursuit of Brexit.

The public demand better from their government than the farce that

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LIVE THREAD: Davis (and Johnson) quit, takes junior ministers with him…

23:59 A fascinating day comes to an end. We hope that you’ve enjoyed our coverage, and do continue the debate via the comments section. Goodnight from all at LDV!

21:34 And I think that that’s it as far as the Cabinet and major posts go, as Geoffrey Cox becomes the new Attorney General.

No women, very little new blood, but it looks as though the Brexit/Remain balance has been broadly maintained.

It does feel like an administration limping from one crisis to the next, but like the grey skies over mid-Suffolk this evening, you can’t rule out thunderstorms. And who’s that coming over …

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Help our MPs choose their Commons debate – last chance to have your say

Lib Dem MPs have a relatively rare opposition day debate this week. They are approaching it a bit differently by giving you a chance to decide the subject.

What’s particularly brilliant is that you get to vote preferentially too. That’ll be useful for next year’s Ashdown Prize organisers to note.

An email from Alistair Carmichael landed the other day:

On Tuesday 10th July, our MPs have an opposition day debate in Parliament.

This means that we can pick one topic and have MPs debate and vote on it in Westminster.

And we want to hear what you think MPs should be

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Jo Swinson tweets first picture of baby Gabriel and his loving big brother

This will absolutely warm your heart.

Lovely to see young Andrew Hames embracing his wee baby brother, Gabriel.

All our very best wishes to Jo, Duncan Andrew and Gabriel.

Vince was bowled over by the photo too.

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Lib Dems force action on empty houses

Research by Liberal Democrats in 2018 identified over 11,000 homes that were empty for over ten years. Vince Cable called it a “national scandal”, at a time when “the homelessness crisis is worsening”. Statistics also show that across the country houses empty for six months or more equate to more than 200,000.

Every now and then we have governments making promises to do something about this, but in practice, they have done little to tackle this problem. MP’s reported, last year, that more than 78,000 families were living in temporary accommodation in England alone.

The Liberal Democrats have taken the lead on this. They have today claimed victory as the Conservative government bowed to pressure to take decisive action on empty houses, by giving new tax powers for councils.

The government has accepted the principle of an amendment from Lib Dem Peers (Baroness Pinnock and Lord Shipley) to set in place an escalator of council tax charges. This would mean that the longer a property was left empty, the more council tax would have to be paid.

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Party statement on data breach

Yesterday, some party members received an email from the Party’s Chief Executive, Nick Harvey, which told them that there had been a data breach at a company used by the party in connection with a recent members’ survey.

Here’s Nick’s statement on the issue:

One of our suppliers, Typeform, informed us that on 3rd May 2018 they suffered a data breach, which they subsequently discovered on 27th June and notified us shortly afterwards.

Data from Liberal Democrat members was among the data affected. You will have received an email if your data was affected.

Typeform have informed us that an external hacker managed to

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Wishing David Ford a happy retirement

David Ford is enjoying the first day of his retirement today. He’s been such a wise, sensible voice in Northern Ireland politics for over quarter of a century.

He explains to the BBC why he’s decided that now is the right time to step down from the Assembly.

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Caroline Pidgeon highlights Oyster “cash mountain”

So, Transport for London has £321 million of our money and is keeping quiet about it. Lib Dem Assembly Member and former Mayoral Candidate Caroline Pidgeon has made the headlines by uncovering the fact that TfL is sitting on this vast sum of money on Oyster cards which haven’t been used for over a year.

From the BBC:

Ms Pidgeon, chair of City Hall’s transport committee, put the “soaring” figure partly down to the number of people switching in recent years to making contactless payments with their bank cards.

She said: “TfL never stops bombarding us with advertisements and information campaigns,

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Vince Cable outlines pragmatic steps to boost housing supply.

In a keynote speech today (below, in full) Vince Cable analyses the failures of the housing market in terms of the poor incentives to developers and banks, and the effect of the planning system, and offers some pragmatic solutions to boost supply and tackle the shortage of housing that is pricing many young people out of homes altogether.

The text below is quite long but you can use these links to jump straight to the analysis of the housing market, building for social rent, the compulsory purchase of housing land for affordable housing, existing stock, comments on the green belt, and homelessness.

Also reported in the Guardian.

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Lib Dems condemn “betrayal” of Swansea Tidal Lagoon cancellation

It was a project which would power 150,000 households for 120 year, a program of lagoons at Swansea, Newport, Cardiff and Colwyn Bay which would create over 34,000 jobs in Wales alone. And Wales does need jobs. It was championed by the Lib Dems in Government, but, as has happened with so many Lib Dem ideas, it’s been cancelled today by the Tories.

Coming on the same day as the the vote on Heathrow expansion, you would be forgiven that the Tories really didn’t give a hoot about what David Cameron is alleged to have once described as “green crap” – and he was one of the more progressive ones.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have condemned the decision as a huge missed opportunity and another example of the Conservatives’ neglect of Wales.

The lagoon was strongly backed by the government commissioned Hendry review in January 2017 and is supported by businesses, councils, MPs and AMs from all parties. The lagoon would have acted as a pathfinder project for other lagoons across Wales including Newport, Cardiff and Colwyn Bay.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds was furious that the opportunity to make Wales a world leader in green energy had been thrown away:

The Conservatives’ rejection of the Swansea Tidal Lagoon is a disgrace. The Swansea Tidal Lagoon would be a vital first step in making Wales a world leader in green energy, bringing untold environmental and economic benefits to the community, Wales and the UK.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have consistently supported the Swansea Tidal Lagoon as a key part of our plans to develop an innovative, radical and ambitious green economy in Wales. It is deeply disappointing the Conservatives do not share our ambition.

When Ed Davey was Secretary of State for Climate Change he was totally behind the project. He called the cancellation an “historic mistake.”

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Update on ‘upskirting’ Bill

(R-L) Vince supports the “upskirting” bill with campaigner Gina Martin, sponsoring MP Wera Hobhouse and Ms Martin’s solicitor, Ryan Whelan

We reported on Tuesday that the Justice Minister had agreed to take Wera Hobhouse’s Bill through Parliament after it was sabotaged by Christopher Chope.

We now have the details about how it will be progressed.

It seems that the Government is using a rare parliamentary procedure to progress the Voyeurism Offences Bill. It will have its first reading tomorrow and is scheduled for its Second Reading debate in a couple of weeks time.

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Know about crime and policing or how to share benefits of economic growth?

The Federal Policy Committee is looking for volunteers to serve on two working groups which will bring forward new policy on crime and policing and on sharing the benefits of economic growth:

The FPC is looking to appoint members of these groups to develop policy in each of these areas.

Both working groups will take evidence in the second half of 2018, run consultation sessions at Spring Conference 2019 and prepare their final drafts over March-June 2019. These will be presented to FPC for amendments and approval. Subject to this approval, the final papers will be published in July 2019, and debated

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Liblink: Baroness Thomas… ‘do away with hostile atmosphere’

Over at Politics Home, Celia Thomas criticises the assessment process for Personal Independence Payments, highlighting the very large number of decisions that are found wrong on appeal and the ‘hostile atmosphere’ for claimants.

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Victory declared for ‘upskirting’ Bill

(R-L) Vince supports the “upskirting” bill with campaigner Gina Martin, sponsoring MP Wera Hobhouse and Ms Martin’s solicitor, Ryan Whelan

The Liberal Democrats have declared victory in their bid to make ‘upskirting’ a specific criminal offence.

Following Tory MP Christopher Chope’s shocking move to block Wera Hobhouse’s Bill last week, the Justice Minister met Wera Hobhouse this afternoon and, on behalf of the Government, agreed to take her Bill through Parliament.

Wera said:

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Christine Jardine: Make medical cannabis available for all who need it

The Home Secretary should make medicinal cannabis available to all who need it, says Christine Jardine, after Sajid Javid granted an emergency licence for Billy Caldwell to be treated with the drug. His supply had been confiscated by customs earlier this week.

Christine is supporting her constituentKaren Gray, whose son Murray has Epilepsy and needs the drug to control his seizures:

Sajid Javid has done the right thing for a young boy enduring unimaginable pain.

These treatments can have enormous benefits for patients like Billy Caldwell and my constituent Murray Gray.

The Home Secretary should now take common sense steps to ensure

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Vince’s message for Eid al-Fitr

Apologies for not putting this up yesterday – it appeared after we had set up for the day – and it was one of THOSE days where we couldn’t get online.

So, a belated Eid Mubarak to all who have been celebrating.

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Triple win in deferred Council election for Lib Dems

Good news from Southwark:

Well done to our new councillors.

In Doncaster, …

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Christine Jardine on why medical cannabis should be legalised

In Christine Jardine’s Edinburgh West constituency, there’s a little boy called Murray. He has severe Epilepsy. Medical Cannabis could make a huge difference to his life, alleviating the seizures he suffered on a daily basis.

Christine has been helping Murray’s mum, Karen, campaign for a change in the law. She writes in the Edinburgh Reporter about why this is so important:

In my constituency a little boy called Murray Gray has won the hearts of the public through his very similar plight. A rare form of epilepsy which could be eased if the law were changed.

“I went to Downing Street with his Mum, Karen, to hand in a petition of more than 150,000 signatures calling for medical cannabis to be made legal.

“If it, or cannabidoil were available on license then Murray would not have to go through the multiple seizures which have interrupted his schooling.

“For Murray it could be life changing.

“And he is not alone.

“How many of us know someone who suffers from chronic pain?

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Wera Hobhouse wins Government support to make upskirting a specific sexual offence

Good news from Westminster – Wera Hobhouse’s Bill to make upskirting a specific sexual offence could closer to becoming law today when it receives its second reading in the Commons. Wera has won Government support for the measure but it requires to get through today without objection before it can proceed.

Wera has been working with campaigner Gina Martin and her lawyer Ryan Whelan on the details of law reform with the Ministry of Justice.

Wera today said she was “delighted” as the Government agreed to support her legislation to close any potential loopholes, in order to better protect victims and increase convictions:

I got involved in politics to change things that my constituents and I care about. I am incredibly grateful to Gina Martin for starting this campaign, and for giving me the opportunity – in my first year in parliament – to do exactly that.

The fact that the Government has listened to our calls is testament to the widespread consensus that there was a gap in the law that needed to be addressed. By working with Gina and ministers on the detail of my Bill, we have demonstrated that when we work together successfully we can make a difference on issues that really matter to people.

We all made the case for common sense. Now if someone is to fall victim to upskirting, the law will recognise them as the victim, and the police will be able to act immediately and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Gina Martin explained how she built her successful campaign:

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An academic Brexodus is upon us

Lib Dem activist Dr Ruvi Zieglar has written for the Cherwell, Oxford University’s newspaper, on the effect of Brexit being felt by universities. Many European staff are leaving because of the uncertainties surrounding jobs, research funding and future prospects.

Ruvi says,

‘Brexodus’ is picking up speed: according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 130,000 EU27 citizens emigrated between September 2016-17, the highest number since the 2008 financial crisis.

Ruvi goes on to explain,

Nearly two years after the referendum, EU27 are still waiting for their post-Brexit rights to be secured….The draft Withdrawal Agreement hardly

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Christine Jardine to cover foreign affairs during Jo Swinson’s maternity leave

Christine Jardine will be covering the Foreign Affairs brief during Jo Swinson’s imminent maternity leave and said she was glad of the chance to continue Jo’s work:

I am delighted to be trusted with this important role. It is an area in which I have always been interested in and I look forward to continuing Jo’s good work.

Jo knows her job is in good hands:

I’m delighted that Christine will be keeping my desk warm and I’m sure she will do a brilliant job making thoughtful interventions on foreign policy.

The forthcoming visit of Donald Trump will give Christine many opportunities to put …

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Jenny Willott gets an OBE in the Birthday Honours

Former Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central Jenny Willott has been awarded an OBE for political and public service in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Jenny was a minister during the coalition years – an assistant whip and she covered Jo Swinson’s job at the Business, Innovation and Skills and as Equalities Minister when she was on maternity leave.

She and Jo were the first Lib Dem women to attend Cabinet.

Congratulations to Jenny.

Let us know of any other Lib Dems in receipt of honours in the comments.

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Surely we should be concentrating our energies on Jeremy Corbyn, not people who are already supporting a people’s vote

Tom Brake has written a letter, a nice letter, to Chuka Umunna and Anna Soubry asking them to support his Amendment, to be debated in the Commons this week, to the EU Withdrawal Bill, calling for a People’s Vote on Brexit. He said to them:

Dear Chuka and Anna,

Over the last two years we have worked cross-party to convey to the country the benefits of the UK remaining in the European Union.

Ahead of next week’s debate in Parliament, I urge you to support my amendment 19a to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill which provides for the people to have the

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Brake: May on the back foot over backstop Brexit

Reading the Government’s plans for the Northern Irish border, you have to think that they are running out of sticking plasters and long grass to kick things into in Downing Street.

The thing is, we need to know the permanent solution to all of this before we actually take the irrevocable step of leaving. The Government shouldn’t get away with thinking that it can just kick all the difficult stuff down the road and then blame someone else when it all goes horribly wrong. Playing Russian roulette with the Irish peace process is not something that any responsible government should …

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJohn Kelly 20th Jul - 3:28pm
    You may be delighted to announce Bournemouth again Geoff but I am disappointed that for the 5th year in a row we'll be on the...
  • User AvatarPeter Watson 20th Jul - 2:57pm
    @David Raw "What’s the difference between Bletchley and Northamptonshire ?" I've no local knowledge, but here (http://britainelects.com/2018/07/18/previews-19-jul-2018/), Andrew Teale (every week!) writes an excellent preview...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 20th Jul - 2:40pm
    What's the difference between Bletchley and Northamptonshire ? Can it be that one broke some sweat and put some effort in and the other one...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 20th Jul - 2:28pm
    Wera could also point out that the Ministry of Defence has got over ten thousand houses standing empty as a result of a privatised deal...
  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 20th Jul - 1:57pm
    A timely article, Paul and would fully endorse your five recommendations. Before embarking on a problem-solving exercise you must first be able to define in...
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 20th Jul - 1:12pm
    Another referendum is the least worst option to be advocated right now. But it has almost as many drawbacks as the alternatives. One, there is...