Author Archives: The Voice

Lib Dems bid to pave the way for safe street cafe culture in Scotland

Scottish Liberal Democrats have proposed an amendment to the latest coronavirus emergency legislation to help pave the way for more cafes, restaurants and bars to use closed roads to enable social distancing between customers, once they are permitted to re-open. Alex Cole-Hamilton will lead on this when the vote takes place on Tuesday.

The amendment confirms that it shall not be an offence to place tables and chairs in the road outside a premises, provided it is done with the local authority’s consent and doesn’t cause an obstruction to disabled people.

Scottish Liberal Democrats will also ask the Scottish Government to publish advice to alert businesses to these possibilities and help local authorities prepare their own plans for the reopening of these businesses when the time comes.
This comes as Lithuanian capital Vilnius is to be turned into an ‘open-air cafe’, with businesses allowed to use nearby plazas, squares and streets free of charge.

Australia this week allowed restaurants and cafes to open but have initially limited the number of people dining inside to 10, causing some to reportedly say it isn’t worth their while to re-open at this stage.

Alex said:

Once it is safe and they are permitted to reopen, it seems inevitable that cafes, restaurants and bars will need to operate at a much reduced capacity to enable social distancing.

Embracing a new street cafe culture with more covers outside could for many make the difference between their business being viable or not.

Temporarily allowing these businesses to use nearby streets and other open-air spaces would help them lift the shutters when the time is right, protecting jobs and keeping people safe.

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++Breaking news: General Election Review

In an email to all members, Mark Pack, the party President, writes:

… today our independent review of the general election has published its report.

We asked for this, to be frank, thorough and challenging – and it is. More than 20,000 of you contributed your views to Dorothy Thornhill and her team. Thank you to everyone involved.

This review challenges us to change as a party and to change the country for the better.

It makes a series of clear recommendations about how we can improve our campaigning, plan better, build on what worked well locally, and win more votes and seats. You

Posted in News | Tagged | 77 Comments

Non-publication of SAGE minutes could mean that the government are taking decisions contrary to the scientific advice and we won’t know it until it is too late


Embed from Getty Images

Over on the Debated Podcast there is an excellent interview with Judith Bunting, a scientist by training, who was PPC for us in Newbury and West Berkshire in 2015 and 2017, and also MEP for the South-East of England from 2019-2020. Will Barber Taylor engages with Judith on the following topics:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 15 Comments

Wendy Chamberlain MP: Census must reflect diversity to make sure all people count

This week, Parliament debated the Census which will take place next year. Wendy Chamberlain highlighted the need to ask the right questions to make sure that all people are taken into consideration when planning future public services. She also talked about the need for everyone to be able to take part. As the census moves online, how will people who don’t have access to computers take part?

She also took the opportunity to challenge Liz Truss’s remarks on health care for transgender people, saying how important it is for members of the government to watch that their language does not exclude people.

Watch her speech here. The text is below.

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Lib Dem Councillor calls for gay and bi men to be allowed to participate in Covid-19 trials

“Discriminatory, arbitrary and regressive.” Those are the words used by Liberal Democrat Councillor Victor Chamberlain to describe the decision to exclude the plasma of gay and bi men being used in the trial to try to find a treatment for Covid-19.

Victor has written to the Health Secretary to ask him to reverse this ban. He cites a similar trial in the Netherlands which doesn’t mention sexuality at all.

It’s great to see a Liberal Democrat councillor taking a leading role in this.

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Rennie calls for UBI summit to help those who can’t get government support

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has today called for an intergovernmental summit on a universal basic income to take place to ensure that support is urgently made available for those who have fallen through cracks of the current furlough and income support measures.

He highlighted the plight of self-employed workers who were not trading for the entirety of the last tax year, PAYE freelancers,  self-employed workers who are paid in dividends, people who work from home and those who have recently changed jobs as examples of people who have experienced a sudden and dramatic loss of income as well as those struggling to access existing anti-poverty measures.

Across the UK, the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimate that roughly 675,000 people will be ineligible for the government’s Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, which mirrors the 80% wage subsidy scheme for the employed.

The IFS says another 1.3 million people with some self-employment income are likely to be ineligible because they received less than half of their income from self-employment last year.

His call comes as the The Poverty Alliance, Scotland’s anti-poverty network, has identified a number of shortcomings in the current crisis responses, including a lack of targeted social security support for families with children at either the UK or Scottish level, limited access to community care grants and gaps in employment protection programmes.

Willie said:

I fully understood and supported the decision to use the existing tax and spend apparatus to help people financially. Time was short and we needed to act fast. Now that those schemes are getting into place we need to take the next steps.

With economic uncertainty destined to loom for the foreseeable future, we need to ensure that everyone can afford to keep a roof over their head and a meal on the table.

We should be adopting the principles of a universal basic income: no one should be left behind. The UK Government has acted swiftly to back businesses and support furloughed workers but too many are slipping through the cracks and there’s a real risk that furloughed staff will lose their jobs when the current scheme ends.

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Dick Newby: Individual stories of Windrush victims shame politicians who use pejorative language and stoke up resentment

In the Lords recently, Dick Newby talked about the lives of Windrush Generation people damaged because of the actions of the Home Office and the need for a compensation scheme.

His whole speech is below:

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Christine Jardine won’t stand for Lib Dem leadership

In a post on Facebook on Thursday, Christine Jardine told Scottish Lib Dem activists that she wasn’t going to go for the Lib Dem leadership.

The Edinburgh West MP’s remarks were reported in the New Statesman:

“After considering all the suggestions and requests, I have opted not to go for the leadership,” Jardine wrote. “Perhaps it’s lockdown but I realise my personal and family life has taken quite a hit in the past three years, and perhaps the people around me deserve a wee bit more of my time. I also don’t have a burning desire to be leader. I got into this to make a difference and I don’t have to be leader to do that.”

The current declared candidates are Wera Hobhouse and Layla Moran with current interim co-leader Ed Davey also expected to stand.
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Our President welcomes new and renewed members

Our Party President, Mark Pack, has posted the following upbeat message on Instagram today:

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged and | 7 Comments

Lib Dem peers highlight problems with social care

The House of Lords debated how Covid-19 affected social care this week and Lib Dem peers made several contributions on such issues as DNRs being inappropriately proposed to local authority financing and the needs of charities helping seriously ill children and PPE in care homes.

Sal Brinton as Health and Social Care spokesperson summed up the Lib Dem stance on these important issues.

Here is her speech in full:

On behalf of the Liberal Democrat Benches, I also thank all the staff and volunteers working across the wider social care and community sector. Frequently low paid but definitely not low skilled, these amazing people show us their professionalism and big hearts, day after day.

Back in mid-February, we on these Benches asked the Minister repeatedly about care. On 26 February, the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, said in Hansard that

“we are planning … a massive communications campaign on how to protect people, particularly vulnerable people, in our population.”—

The evidence of recent weeks shows that those most vulnerable in our communities and care homes have been seriously and tragically let down.

Others have covered plenty of the detail, which is symptomatic of the centralised way in which Whitehall, the Department of Health and Social Care, and the NHS have treated anything not in hospitals as a second or even third order of priority. My noble friend Lord Shipley explained the problems that have arisen since Whitehall took over the supply chain for the social care sector and then decided to create a separate system, known as Clipper, that we were told was due to come online on 6 April, but yesterday discovered is still three to four weeks away from going operational.

Worse, where providers and local resilience forums have ordered their own PPE, it has been confiscated by government and rerouted centrally for hospitals first, leaving community settings high and dry. This includes lorries being stopped at border ports and drivers being rerouted. Consequently, a lack of PPE and a policy of moving patients from hospital into care homes without any testing has meant that Covid-19 has spread rapidly in the social care sector.

I support my noble friend Lady Jolly’s call for clarity on DNRs and echo her concerns about GPs asking disabled and learning-disabled people completely inappropriate questions. It is very clear from the government advice, NICE advice and all good palliative care advice that the way in which this happened was inappropriate. I hope that this DNR factor will be examined as part of any inevitable public inquiry. It seemed to happen in groups. Were CCGs asking GPs to ring their patients and find out whether they wanted to go to hospital? To do it all in one conversation is completely inappropriate. For many disabled people, it was completely inappropriate to even ask them this, if they do not have the clinical frailty that my noble friend Lady Jolly spoke of.

However, the Government’s lack of understanding of the wide range of other disabled people, and extremely fragile people, living within our community extends ​completely in the opposite direction. As a result, people who have ventilators or tracheostomies, for example, have found that their care support is entitled to only the most simple and flimsy face masks, because they are regarded as exactly the same as the standard care in residential homes. The Government’s PPE for the social care sector is almost always designed for the elderly.

Matt Hancock said last week that health and social care workers should not overuse PPE. The gasp that went through the social care community when he said that could be heard across the country. Most community orders are receiving a tiny fraction of what is ordered and needed. My noble friend Lady Barker summarised well the problem between the department and local government.

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WATCH: Kingston Lib Dem councillors supporting their community

Kingston’s Lib Dem councillors have put out a wonderful video showing what they are doing during lockdown to support local residents and to get through these very stressful times.

Enjoy.

It’s lovely to watch – emphasises the importance of staying at home, but has lots of suggestions for ways to get – and give – help.

And our councillors have some really, really cute animals.

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+++Plans for Lib Dem autumn conference on hold – online options to be explored instead

The chair of the Federal Conference committee, Geoff Payne, has posted the following text in the Lib Democrat Federal Conference Facebook group:

In the light of the coronavirus epidemic, the Federal Board has decided to put on hold plans for the preparation of a traditional party conference in the autumn and will make a final decision on whether to cancel the event in May.

In the meantime, the Federal Conference Committee will consider the feasibility of an online event, which might include some elements of a formal conference. Part of that will be the way in which the key elements of party accountability might operate online if a traditional party conference did not go ahead.

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Leadership election postponed

The Federal Board met remotely yesterday and agreed to postpone the election for the Leader of the party until next year. The party’s President, Mark Pack,  issued this statement:

Not only are we going through what could become the country’s biggest crisis since 1945, but we’re also entering a very new world that will persist once the immediate crisis is over.

I’m proud of what we have achieved so far by championing NHS workers and pressing the Government on issues such as offering a better deal to the self-employed.

Throughout our history, we have always put the national interest first.

Our Federal Board has

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Ed Davey asks for more help for self-employed people during Coronavirus pandemic

The Chancellor has announced unprecedented levels of support for British business in the last few days. However, one group of people are not getting what they need to survive.

Self-employed people have been told that they can claim for Universal Credit at the rate of SSP, which would give them a derisory £94 per week.

Today Ed Davey called on Rishi Sunak to do much more to give our self-employed friends and neighbours, the people who clean our homes, cut our hair, walk our dogs and do so much to make our lives easier.

An article on the Lib Dem website sets out the practical help we want to see:

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Lib Dem reaction to Boris Johnson’s speech

Lib Dems have been reacting to the Boris Johnson speech earlier this evening, in which he imposed a strict lockdown.

Ed Davey,our acting co-leader said:

We must do all we can to stop the spread, and I urge people to play their part by following these measures, and not risk their own or others health by ignoring them.

Many people will be anxious about the steps the govt has taken, but it is the right decision to restrict our normal way of life to tackle this crisis.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 58 Comments

+++Boris Johnson announces strict lockdown

Embed from Getty Images

Here is the text of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s address to the nation tonight:

Good evening,

The coronavirus is the biggest threat this country has faced for decades – and this country is not alone.

All over the world we are seeing the devastating impact of this invisible killer

And so tonight I want to update you on the latest steps we are taking to fight the disease and what you can do to help.

And I want to begin by reminding you why the UK has been taking the approach that we have.

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Ed Davey launches Coronavirus Community Taskforce

Acting leader of the party,Ed Davey has sent the following communication to party members:

On Monday, I emailed asking members to pause their normal campaigning and prioritise community action to help those affected by coronavirus. Since then I’ve been overwhelmed by the response.

Day in, day out, Liberal Democrats all over the country do all they can for their communities. But now, when it counts more than ever, you’re stepping up to protect the most vulnerable in our society. I couldn’t be prouder to be a Liberal Democrat today.

Our team has put together a resource kit to help you help your community. We’ll be adding to this kit all the time – please share it widely.

But as this outbreak worsens, there’s more we need to do. This coming weekend should have been our huge National Action Weekend for the elections this spring. In light of the cancellation of those elections, we need to turn our people power and resources to the matter at hand.

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Ed Davey converts party campaigning into community helping

Ed Davey, our Co-Leader, has written tonight to members asking them to convert their campaigning zeal towards helping their local community in this time of crisis:

We can all make a difference – each and every one of us.

One of the many things that unites Liberal Democrats is our campaigning zeal for our communities. Our drive to change things for the better. A way of working that engages local people in our campaigns.

Today, I’m asking you to turn your campaigning zeal wholeheartedly towards helping your community during this Coronavirus crisis.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 13 Comments

Ed Davey’s coronavirus update to members

Ed Davey has sent this email to party members:

Munira Wilson MP and I have just returned from a meeting at COBRA with senior officials in charge of managing the Coronavirus response.

As a party that believes in listening to experts and scientists, we continue to support the approach of the Chief Medical Officer and his team, whilst doing our job of asking reasonable questions.

Like many of you, we wanted to understand why the Government isn’t following our European neighbours – including Spain, Denmark and France – by implementing more stringent social distancing measures.

The Government must be more transparent about how they

Posted in News | Tagged and | 83 Comments

Advice for campaigners during coronavirus epidemic

ALDC (Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners) has updated its advice for canvassers and campaigners in the light of the Government’s announcement yesterday.

CAMPAIGNING ADVICE

A lot of members have asked us for advice about campaigning in the light of the COVID-19 virus. This is our current advice. This may change if Government, NHS and professional guidance changes at which point we will issue new guidance.

DO – KEEP CAMPAIGNING

Our current advice is that we should keep campaigning the normal ways that Liberal Democrats campaign, including delivering leaflets and knocking on doors.

DO – TAKE SENSIBLE PRECAUTIONS

When campaigning

Posted in Campaign Corner and News | Tagged | 9 Comments

Breaking: Spring Conference cancelled

The Party’s Federal Board has tonight decided to cancel the Spring Conference due to take place this weekend.

In a joint statement, Party President Mark Pack, Chief Executive Mike Dixon and Federal Conference Committee Chair Geoff Payne said:

Following careful consideration of the latest health advice and risks, the Federal Board has tonight decided to cancel our federal conference this weekend.

It’s not a decision that was taken lightly as conference plays a key role in our democratic party as well as being an important training and information exchange event. However, the health of our members and supporters, the staff who work on conference and the wider public is far more important.

We have noted today’s announcement from the WHO, treating this as a pandemic and calling for “urgent and aggressive action”, and also how other organisations have started cancelling events, such as the Royal College of Psychiatrists stopping all meetings with over 100 people. We have also paid close attention to the public health advice from the NHS, and note that some of the advice, such as around keeping distant from people who are ill, is in practice very hard to follow given the format of our conference involves large numbers of strangers sitting close to each other for extended periods of time.

We are aware that many people, particularly those in high-risk groups, have said in the last few days that they are not coming to conference. Conference operates on the principle of ‘one member, one vote’. We very much want to avoid a situation where people feel unable to particulate in our democratic decision-making because of fears over their health.

It’s a matter of regret that for many people coming to the conference it will not be possible to cancel travel and accommodation arrangements and recover the costs. The party itself will also have to incur significant costs and refunds. We hope though people will understand the priority being given to people’s health.

We will offer refunds on conference registration, though we hope that given the costs the party will have to pay anyway that members who can afford it will be willing to waive the refund and make it a donation to the party instead. Details of how to reclaim registration fees will follow in the next few days.

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Ydych chi am helpu i redeg Democratiaid Cymru?

Do you want to help run the Welsh Liberal Democrats? Nominations for some key committee posts have just opened and will close on 25th March.

Ordinary Member of the Membership Development Committee – 1 vacancy to be filled

Ordinary Member of the Board – 1 vacancy to be filled

Ordinary Member of the Finance & Resources Committee – 2 vacancies to be filled

If that appeals you can find full details on the party website.

Posted in News | Tagged | 1 Comment

Sarajevo remembers Paddy, while new think tank builds on his work

Robert Woodthorpe Browne has tweeted a photo of this memorial to Paddy, which was unveiled in Sarajevo on February 27th, which would have been Paddy’s 79th birthday:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 4 Comments

David Hughes

We are very sad to have to report that David Hughes passed away suddenly yesterday at the meeting of the English Council, of which he was the Treasurer.

As stated on the party’s website, David was the current Chair of the Western Counties. He had also been a parliamentary candidate three times, and was a former chair of both the party’s candidates association and its national students’ organisation.

As Treasurer, David also Chaired the English Finance and Administration Committee.

Our heartfelt sympathy go to his family, friends and colleagues.

A full tribute to David will be published later in the week.

Posted in Obituaries | Tagged | 8 Comments

Former Liberal Party leader, Lord Steel, leaves the Liberal Democrats

The BBC reports:

Former Liberal Democrat leader (sic – he was leader of the Liberal Party) David Steel has quit the party and the Lords after an inquiry said he “turned a blind eye” to claims of child abuse.

Posted in News | 41 Comments

Whoever you are, the Liberal Democrats will stand up for you

The party’s latest party political broadcast provides a good summary of our aims as we move past “Stop Brexit”:

The accompanying blurb also gives a good statement of our priorities:

Posted in News | Tagged | 37 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 Site news | 3 Comments

Isabelle Parasram elected as Vice President of the Liberal Democrats

Late last year members elected the majority of members to our Federal Committees, included the Federal Board. More recently nominations were invited for a range of other positions, and the elected members of the Federal Board held a min-election to fill them. On Monday we reported the results.

One late announcement is that of the Vice-President of the party.

Congratulations to Isabelle Parasram! She was re-elected having previously been elected last March to that role when it was first created. Caron Lindsay shared that news with us then.

Isabelle is a PPC …

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

2020 Federal Committee election results

Back on January 20th, our President Mark Pack told us about opportunities for members to get involved in running the party. It seems there was a very good response to this, with many members putting themselves forward to be on federal party committees and such like.

Those nominated were put forward to the voting Federal Board members, and the following people have been elected to serve:

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged | 21 Comments

Election Review team announced

A short while ago the Federal Board announced that Dorothy Thornhill would be leading the Review of the recent General Election.

Dorothy was the first directly elected Mayor of Watford, a post she held for 16 years until 2018. Since 2015 she has served as a Lib Dem peer in the House of Lords.

Dorothy has now announced the members of her Review team, and a wonderfully diverse bunch they are:

Carole Ford I joined in 2015 and since then have stood as a council, Scottish parliament and GE candidate.  I am the Scottish spokesperson on Children and Young People,

Posted in News | Tagged | 60 Comments
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