Author Archives: The Voice

Lib Dems call for recall of Parliament, Jane Dodds calls for PM to go and Rennie challenges Scottish Tories on People’s Vote

Here’s a quick summary of the Lib Dems’ reaction to Theresa May’s statement on the Brexit negotiations yesterday:

Tom Brake called for Parliament to be recalled:

The Prime Minister has had the most humiliating European summit in recent memory and returned with a tattered Chequers deal, making a no deal Brexit more likely than ever.

Two years down the line and the only consensus the PM has made across Parliament and the EU is that Chequers is unworkable.

Instead of pontificating to television cameras, May must now recall Parliament to explain how she got the country into this terrible mess, what her plan is to get us out of it, and when we can have a people’s vote and an exit from Brexit.

Welsh Leader Jane Dodds reckons we need a change of PM:

Theresa May pledged to the country to get the best deal possible but her unwillingness to compromise has left her isolated and now she’s doubling down on her fantasy Chequers deal. You cannot simply keep trying negotiate a deal which has already been ruled out by almost everyone involved and expect an eventual success, politics does not give marks for effort.

Brexit did not, and should not, mean whatever the PM decides it means. It took us 18 months to get the Chequers paper and her religious support of it shows the PM has no realistic plan for Brexit, that’s why she must resign. She has failed to listen to the people, failed to listen to the EU and never quite accepted she lost the General Election. I fully understand the difficulties she faces within her own party, but the buck must stop with her as PM and party leader.

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Watch: Ian Kearns tell Conference why he joined the Lib Dems from Labour




On Saturday, Ian Kearns electrified the Conference rally with a brilliant speech explaining why, in June, he left the Labour Party and joined the Liberal Democrats.

You can watch his speech above and the text is below.

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What’s happening at Conference today? The debates and speeches

Who knows what emergency motions we’ll be discussing today? Will we even have a Government by that stage? Will Theresa May still be PM?

The day starts without expectation of controversy but you never know in a party business session as we look at recognising the new Lib Dem Campaign for Racial Equality.

Policy debates today include promoting a fairer distribution of wealth, and a motion that sets out our demands for a better Britain.

And there will be keynote speeches from Scottish Leader Willie Rennie and Vince Cable.

09.00–09.20 Business motion: Renewal of Recognition of SAOs
Business motion: Recognition of AOs and SAOs

9:20-10:25 Emergency motions or topical issue discussions

10:25-11:30 Policy motion: Promoting a Fairer Distribution of Wealth

11.30–12.30 Policy motion: Demand Better: Liberal Democrat Priorities for a Better Britain

12.30–12.50 Speech: Willie Rennie MSP

12.50–14.10 Lunch

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What’s on at Conference today? The debates and speeches

Europe, housing, the economy, land tax and sustainable development are on the policy agenda today.

Anti Brexit campaigner Gina Miller, not even a party member, will be giving a keynote speech. She’s had some attention as a future leader of the party despite not being a member so her remarks are bound to spark media interest.

The other keynote speaker is Welsh Lib Dem leader Jane Dodds.

And there will, of course, be the debate on membership subscriptions which, with a big increase in the Federal Levy, may actually prove more controversial than usual.

09.00–10.00 Policy motion: An Affordable, Secure Home for All

10.00–11.00 Policy motion: Europe

11.00–11.20 Speech: Gina Miller

11.20–14.10 Lunch

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What’s on at Conference today? The debates and speeches

The controversial migration paper is the most likely opportunity to upset the leadership today. Many Liberal Democrats have expressed alarm at its negative language. Expect passion.

Other debates include ending discrimination in mental health provision, a longstanding Lib Dem priority and a paper on foreign affairs.

Also up today, Vince takes to the stage for the first time for his annual Q & A session. What other party leader would submit to genuine, unscripted questions from members for an hour in public?

There are keynote speeches from Sal Brinton and Jo Swinson.

As far as accountability is concerned, the Campaign for Gender Balance and the Parliamentary Parties come up for scrutiny.

09.00–10.00 Report: Campaign for Gender Balance
Report: Parliamentary Parties

10.00–11.00 Policy motion: Ending Discrimination in Mental
Health Provision

11.00–12.30 Policy motion: A Fair Deal for Everyone: Prosperity
and Dignity in Migration

12.30–12.50 Speech: Jo Swinson MP

12.50–14.10 Lunch

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That Lib Dem Disco setlist

It’s nearly time for the Lib Dem Disco to get underway.

Lib Dem Voice can reveal the setlists that our intrepid DJs will play. And they are amazing. And conducive to some serious dancing.

And we can also reveal the the compere for the evening will be our editor, Caron Lindsay.

So, without further ado, here we go:

Christine Jardine

 

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Vince invites progressives to join us ahead of Conference

Vince Cable will use his speech at the rally at the opening of Autumn Conference to make an open pitch to progressives to back us as the only movement in UK politics for them.

The intervention follows THAT speech in which he set out his ideas for reforming the party. Apparently, since then over 10,000 people have pre-registered their interest to become a party supporter – an average of over 1000 per day.

Vince said:

I want to make an open pitch to the people of this country who are fed up with the extremes of the current Conservative and Labour parties.

Whether you

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What’s happening at Conference today? The debates and speeches

It’s an intense first day of debate at Conference. Abortion, Windrush, animal welfare and power for people and communities form the policy discussions. The day ends with a debate on reforming the Party’s disciplinary processes. Have sufficient changes been made to satisfy those who referred it back in Southport?

Keynote speakers today are Layla Moran and Tom Brake.

09.00–09.05 Opening of conference

09.05–09.40 Report: Federal Conference Committee
Report: Federal Policy Committee

09.40–10.25  Policy motion: Improving Animal Welfare

10.25–11.15  Policy motion: Righting Wrongs: Restoring the Rights of the Windrush Generation

11.15–12.30 Policy motion: Establishing Real Freedom of …

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Vince Cable’s message for Rosh Hashanah

Here is Vince Cable’s message for Rosh Hashanah.

As the High Holidays begin this year I want to send warm wishes to everyone in Britain and around the world marking Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur.

These holy occasions are a time of deep personal reflection, where many will look back at the challenges of the past and prepare themselves to welcome the new season with hope and enthusiasm.

I want to thank the entire British Jewish community for their immense and ongoing contributions to our society. Your hard work is seen in every aspect of British life, from the arts to charity, business

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Vince: Lib Dems are about openness, equality, civil liberties and protecting democracy and environment

Much has been written about Vince’s proposed reforms to our party. However, we thought it might be worth fishing out that bit of his speech where he talked about our values and where he set out what he wants to achieve as leader:

I used the break to give some thought as to the role my party should be playing in the British political system.

The country is bitterly divided over Brexit and the politics of the main parties leaves millions of voters, broadly those in the ‘centre ground’, feeling ignored while they get on with their internal civil wars.

And little attention is being paid to some of the big long-term challenges around climate change, an ageing population, new technologies and stagnant productivity.

To be sure, the sense of political malaise is not unique to the UK.  Ever since the global financial crisis, frustration over the failure of market economies to deliver rising living standards, and a sense of unfair rewards, has fed the politics of extremism.  Parties in the liberal and social democratic traditions have struggled.

Liberal democracy itself is under threat notably in the USA, in Eastern Europe and perhaps here.  Authoritarians and extremists of both right and left are on the march and are coordinating their tactics and propaganda: an Illiberal International.

The problem is obviously not the same everywhere and in some countries – France, Canada, Ireland – there are encouraging counter-currents and we need to learn from them.
But in Britain there is the additional problem of a first-past-the-post voting system which entrenches the position of the two established major parties.

This system has worked after a fashion when politicians aimed for common ground.  But when, as now, the main parties are driven by their party fringes, politics become dangerously polarised.

And when democracy also seems unable to deliver, the frustration opens up a space for various forms of ugly populism.  The summer of 2018 offered us verbal attacks on Muslims and Jews as the staple of political debate.  And, of course, wall to wall Brexit.

It is a worrying picture.  So, as Leader of the Liberal Democrats, I have naturally asked myself how I, and my party, can help protect, and develop liberal democracy in Britain, at a time when it is in grave danger.  Perhaps the gravest since the 1930s.

I see two big steps we need to take:

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Layla Moran: We must stop wasting opportunities to improve cycling infrastructure

This week, Layla Moran held a Commons debate on cycling:

Here’s her speech in full:

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Ed Davey: Brexit threatens our safety

The report, titled ”Negotiating Brexit: policing and criminal justice’, says the failure to secure a new agreement on policing and criminal justice after Brexit will make it harder to extradite dangerous criminals from the UK and reduce the number of people brought back to Britain to face justice.

The report highlights 3 main dangers even if Theresa May’s current position is accepted by the EU:

Extraditing dangerous criminals from the UK would be slower and morebureaucratic. Currently the UK extradites more than 1,000 people a year to the rest of the EU, using the European Arrest Warrant (EAW). Reverting to the previous, politicised, system of extradition would reduce that number.

New barriers would reduce the number of people brought back to the UK to facejustice. Every year, around 100 people are extradited from the rest of the EU to the UK. Without a deal, it will be harder for the UK to bring people who are suspected ofcommitting crimes here, and who have fled to the EU, back to face trial.

Law enforcement agencies would find it harder to get crucial information for investigations, as UK authorities will lose access to huge EU-wide databases. These include the second-generation Schengen Information System (SIS II), which stores information on missing and wanted individuals and objects.

Ed Davey said:

The Institute for Government is absolutely right to raise the alarm about Brexit’s effect on crime and policing.

The Liberal Democrats have long been warning that losing the European Arrest Warrant, information-sharing arrangements and leadership of Europol will make it harder to keep people safe and bring criminals to justice.

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Wera Hobhouse hails progress of bill to stop “vile” upskirting

Last night the bill aimed at stoping upskirting passed its final Commons stage and now goes to the Lords. Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse, who initiated the legislation back in February. It then looked like it was going to fall after Christchurch MP Christopher Chope objected to it. The Government then took it on board so that it would be debated and become law.

Wera said:

I want this Bill to stop the vile practice of ‘upskirting’. It should be a successful tool for prosecution, but it should also act as a deterrent. Zero tolerance, no loopholes.

This Bill has not only highlighted and sought to rectify a gap in the law, but resulted in further parliamentary debate. Debate on serious issues around non-consensual distribution of pornographic images and the production of deep fakes enabled by new technology.

I look forward to working hard on these issues. Liberal Democrats continue to campaign to make sure the law protects victims of all sexually motivated malicious behaviour in this country.

In the Commons she praised the way people had worked together across party to get the legislation through:

From the very beginning of its journey, the upskirting Bill has been the result of brave individuals —particularly women—speaking out. They chose to speak out about a vile crime that was going not only unpunished but largely unnoticed. They courageously spoke out about their experiences, to try to draw attention to the gap in the law. The Bill is the result of their hard work, and each and every individual who helped this campaign to materialise into the legislation before us should feel proud.

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Tom Brake reveals staff exodus from Brexit Department

Tom Brake got some good coverage in the Independent today – the digital equivalent of a front page splash.

He  revealed that 357 members of staff at the Government’s Brexit Department, equivalent to around half of the current staff detail, have left since July 2016

He observed that the new figures revealed the “deep instability right at the heart of the Conservative Government’s failing Brexit operation.”

Figures uncovered by our intrepid Lib Dem Freedom of Information team reveal that as of June 2018 that 357 staff have left the department in the last two years which is pretty incredible given that they only employ at maximum 665 people.

Why does this matter? Well, when you are trying to pull together the most complex piece of work attempted by a government in living memory, surely you want to have some consistency in the people doing it. 

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WATCH: Vince: Theresa May is rattled by People’s Vote movement

It’s a gorgeous day in Cambridge today, which is a good thing given that there is a local council by-election a week on Thursday.

Candidate Sarah Brown had Vince Cable along with her this afternoon:

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WATCH: Jane Dodds on why Welsh Lib Dems are campaigning for a #peoplesvote on Brexit deal

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have been out and about at the Llanfair Caerinion Show with their Brexitometer and their campaign for a People’s Vote on the deal.

Leader Jane Dodds explains why this is so important for Wales

Their Brexitometer tells an interesting story given that Wales voted so emphatically to leave in June 2016. The tide is certainly turning.

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The party proposes to abolish business rates: “Taxing Land, Not Investment”

The party has just published a comprehensive blueprint for replacing the broken business rates system.

Ground-breaking research was led by Andrew Dixon, founder of the Lib Dem Business and Entrepreneurs Network (LDBEN), in response to mounting concerns about the negative impact of business rates on struggling high street businesses and the wider economy.

The report – “Taxing Land, Not Investment” – calls for the abolition of business rates and its replacement with a tax on land values, the Commercial Landowner Levy (CLL). The levy would remove buildings and machinery from calculations and tax only the land value of commercial sites, boosting investment and cutting taxes for businesses in nine out of ten English local authorities.

Andrew Dixon said,

By only taxing land and not the productive capital above it, this reform would remove a major disincentive to investment, boosting productivity and contributing to a necessary revival in UK industry. While separate action is needed to ensure online retailers pay their fair share of corporation tax, our proposals would offer a lifeline to struggling high streets.

I am delighted to support this initiative which I believe would boost business and enterprise across the UK, and I am grateful to members of the Liberal Democrats Business & Entrepreneurs Network for their valuable contributions to this important research.

Key recommendations of the report include:

  • Business rates should be abolished and replaced by a Commercial Landowner Levy based on the value of commercial land only
  • The levy should be paid by owners rather than tenants
  • Non-residential stamp duty should be scrapped to improve the efficiency of the commercial property market
  • Commercial land should be taxed regardless of whether the buildings above it are occupied; the tax should also apply to unused and derelict commercial land

The report also finds that:

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Jo Swinson on the lack of urgency to change Parliament’s voting system

Jo was understandably furious when her pairing arrangement with the Tory chair, Brandon Lewis, was violated. She spoke about the experience at the Edinburgh International Book Festival yesterday evening.

According to the Express and Star, she said:

The mechanism of pairing is outdated and just doesn’t work.

We need a different system, which would be proxy voting, so that when you had an MP that was on parental leave, they would entrust another MP of their choice to vote on their behalf.

This is something that the House of Commons actually discussed earlier this year, and one of the committees went away and did a lot of work on how technically that could work, and produced some motions that parliament could vote on.

But those changes have been “kicked into the long grass” by the Government.

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Shameful! Half of prisoners are abandoned on release

Recent reports based on the Freedom of Information request made by Liberal Democrats highlight the shocking abandonment of prisoners upon release. This is when they are most vulnerable and in need of help to transition into a settled place in society.

Lib Dem Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey MP revealed that more than 100,000 prisoners across England and Wales left prison for “unsettled” or “unknown” accommodation in the last three years, almost half of the 220,411 prisoners released in that period. A full table of figures for individual prisons can be found 

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Vince: Bigots are not welcome in the Liberal Democrats

You can barely turn on the telly these days without seeing some politician or commentator taking a swipe at a marginalised group. If we think things are bad here, it’s exponentially worse in the US where Pod Save America host Jon Lovett described Fox News in the evenings as wall to wall white nationalism.

So it’s refreshing to see a party leader jump into the middle and say “No. This will not stand.”

Vince, in a piece on the main party website, said:

The Liberal Democrats have always been at the forefront of the fight for equality, and we have a record on these issues of which we’re very proud.

But sadly, the truth is that a very small minority of our own members do hold some views that are fundamentally incompatible with our values.

Our party’s constitution is clear:

We reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality.

As a liberal, I respect people’s rights to hold different views to my own, but my message to everyone is that racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, sexism, transphobia and bigotry are not welcome, and not tolerated, in the Liberal Democrats.

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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:

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The article which appeared here has been removed. Comment is free. Facts are sacred. There were factual inaccuracies in that piece which were pointed out in the comments and we have therefore decided that its removal is appropriate.

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Lib Dem Town Council by-election GAIN and hold in Colne

Good news from Lancashire this week – a strong performance in town Council By-elections in Colne.

ALICE MANN Liberal Democrat 394
JAMIE HARGREAVES Liberal Democrat 356
Nathan McCollum CON 187
Linda McCollum CON 186
Tony Harmson LAB 185
Patricia Hannah-Wood LAB 180

One LD gain from Labour and one LD hold.

Congratulations to Alice and Jamie and their campaign team.

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Housekeeping note: Please use a valid email address for comments on Liberal Democrat Voice

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London Liberal Democrats announce timetable for GLA/Assembly selections, positive action for BAME candidates

The next known challenges for London Liberal Democrats are the Mayoral and GLA contests in May 2020. These are unique elections in British politics, with nearly nine million people electing one person to lead the City and twenty-five Greater London Assembly members (fourteen elected from constituencies, eleven from a top up list).

Being the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor is a high profile role needing a candidate of the highest calibre and we will have a rigorous process to ensure that our candidate will cope with the scrutiny that the election will bring.

The London Regional Executive places a great importance on …

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Horizon Europe – a potential blow for British science and technology?

One of the more obscure (at least as far as the general public is concerned) areas of worry resulting from Brexit was British participation in Horizon 2020, the European Union’s Programme for Innovation and Research, which invested significant sums into European research and development programmes, linking researchers across the Union for that purpose. The transitional period appeared to allow British participation until its end, even if Conservative politicians seem determined to put that in doubt.

Now, the European Commission are proposing a new version, Horizon Europe, intended to take the programme forward in …

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LISTEN: To Pauline Pearce talking about finding productive outlets for anger on Woman’s Hour

Liberal Democrat Federal Board member and Hackney mayoral candidate Pauline Pearce was on Woman’s Hour yesterday talking about how she channeled her anger into her campaign against knife crime.

She talked about how she was so angry that the 2011 riots had stopped her doing her community radio show, her escape from chemotherapy and radiotherapy and focus for her campaign. That’s what motivated her to rail against the unfocused

She had been campaigning on knife crime long before her son became victm to it. She described how her personal experience intensified her anger and she had to “put the sensible hat on.”

Her involvement in politics and the Liberal Democrats gave her a bigger platform to campaign on and an understanding of how things worked that helped her anger to be put to productive use.

Listen here from around 25 minutes in.

And if you want more Pauline, listen to her Ted Talk from 6 years ago:

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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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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarChristian de Vartavan 22nd Sep - 10:16pm
    A consultation of the people was made in 2016. Who can swear that it is still valid in 2018?
  • User AvatarChristian de Vartavan 22nd Sep - 9:31pm
    ' May must now recall Parliament to explain how she got the country into this terrible mess, what her plan is to get us out...
  • User AvatarJack Graham 22nd Sep - 8:21pm
    @Roland Why have I to convince myself of anything, we voted to leave in 2016, and in less than 200 days we will be leaving....
  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 22nd Sep - 8:12pm
    Congestion and air pollution is a massive problem across London. When the congestion charge was first introduced it was £5. Traffic reduced by 15% and...
  • User AvatarDavid Becket 22nd Sep - 7:31pm
    I suggest you look at radical proposals that will annoy the Daily Mail, to tackle pollution and congestion. I have just returned from four days...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 22nd Sep - 7:24pm
    @ Michael BG. Since you think Tim should have written a piece pointing out that our policies on jobs, welfare, wages, housing and generally reversing...