Author Archives: The Voice

Isabelle Parasram’s report into sexual impropriety complaints handling published

Last year, the Federal Board asked barrister Isabelle Parasram to produce a report on how companies involving sexual sexual impropriety in the party should be handled. Should the party inform the Police? What about anonymity of complainants?

This happened because concern had been expressed about how some such complaints had been handled.

The report has now been published. In a post on the members’ section of the party website, Isabelle Parasram said:

As the Head of Greycoat Law (a barristers’ chambers) I have over two decades of legal and policy experience covering the various strands of law impacting this subject.  I am also a Party member, holding roles within the Party as Vice Chair of Liberal Democrat Women, Vice Chair of the London Region, Regional Spokesperson on Brexit, Prospective Parlimentary Candidate and other similar positions.  I understand that these were some of the reasons why I was approached.

My investigation and eventual Report addressed the following key areas (amongst many others that arose out of what I discovered during the course of my investigation):

  1. support in the process for complainants;
  2. anonymity for complainants;
  3. reporting serious crimes to the police;
  4. suspension of members following serious allegations and
  1. how the Party can support members appropriately who are accused of serious allegations.

It is important to note that my focus was entirely on the applicable processes and were not and were never intended to be an additional investigation into the allegations themselves.

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In Full: Sal Brinton’s speech to Welsh Conference – Welsh Lib Dems are here to stay and here to win

Sal Brinton seems to spend April each year in perpetual motion, travelling around the country lending support to election campaigns. She is so good at boosting morale on the ground. In between the campaigning, she went to Welsh Conference this weekend and will be in Aviemore for Scottish Conference next weekend.

In her keynote speech in Cardiff, she praised Kirsty Williams’ work as Education Secretary, improving things for the poorest children and young adults. She spoke highly of Jane Dodds, highlighting her life’s work of fighting for the oppressed and vulnerable and her passion to make life better for them.

She talked about how the Lords would do their best to amend the EU Withdrawal Bill, her frustration that Parliament was not getting to tackle other issues.

She had a message of hope for a party which has had a tough few years, highlighting the by-election wins that show that we are back in the game.

Here’s her speech in full:

I want to start with the overnight news that Theresa May has ordered air strikes on Syria. I absolutely agree with Vince’s call last week that she could and should have recalled Parliament, to seek a mandate from the representatives of the British people, and hear the debate both for and against.

Liberal Democrats stood ready to assess the evidence and objectives for any action and, if it were properly planned and justified, to support a military response.

At this moment our thoughts are with British and allied troops. But the Government’s decision fatally undermines the integrity of this mission. It shows a weak UK Government putting short term political expediency before democracy and in so doing further diminishing the standing of Britain in the world.

It is fantastic to be back in Wales, and to see you, our Welsh members so upbeat and positive. There’s no denying that here in Wales you have been through a rough time – perhaps even more than the rest of us across the UK. But it is important that we celebrate your spirit, determination and commitment to fighting back, and I’m convinced you’ve also achieved an enormous amount, despite the challenges.

Here in Wales we are in Government – the only place in an Assembly or Parliament in the UK where we are able to enact liberal policies, through the fantastic work of our Welsh Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams.

Kirsty is leading our national mission of education reform to give our young people the best start in life by reducing the attainment gap and raising standards across our schools, wherever in Wales they are.

From cutting infant class sizes and investing more money in raising the aspirations of our least well-off children, to delivering a fair funding arrangements for university students and Wales’ universities – Kirsty is proving the Welsh Liberal Democrats to be the party with the ideas and drive to get things done. She remains a real inspiration to me, and I know, to many of you too!

And I know that Kirsty would be the first to say that so many of you have been working immensely hard over the last two years to revive our Party’s fortunes in Wales, and we are now on the brink of a fantastic opportunity.

And I absolutely agree with her!

Here in Wales, your next Assembly elections coming up in 2021. Now that may seem far away, but look at the electoral fortunes of UKIP. That flash in the pan party has plummeted in support. Just two years after the last assembly elections, they are a spent force, and they’re not coming back. They are fielding so few candidates, that they aren’t entitled to a parliamentary party broadcast, only contesting just over 10% of the seats up for election and not even bothering to stand in many of the seats they currently hold.

Meanwhile we have a Tory Party which is still – forty years on, still riven by the EU. I mean, who ever thought that ‘Having your cake and eating it’ was ever a serious proposition from senior cabinet ministers like Boris Johnson and David Davis. But they both prattle away about it, as if it is realistic and possible. More damagingly, let’s be generous here and call it self deceit, rather than deliberate, is lurching the UK towards a hard Brexit disaster, whilst they sing loudly with their fingers in their ears and with blindfolds on.

But it isn’t just the Tories – there are the splits in the Labour Party, perhaps best typified by the Welsh Leader completely at odds with its Westminster Leader, and plagued by internal rifts, and even the nationalists Plaid Cymru riven with factionalism, unsure about what Wales’ future holds.

That Chinese curse ‘May you live in interesting times’ seems to be with us in abundance!

Contrast that to our Welsh Liberal Democrat vision for Wales:

a Wales proud of its heritage,

* Committed and optimistic for the future,

* committed to our young people,

* committed to maintaining our international ties both within Europe and beyond.

All of us are united around that vision. All of us are committed to a revival in this, the land of liberalism. We aren’t looking back to the grand old days of Lloyd George (although his Liberal heritage of care for our land and care for our people still lies at the heart of our values).

We are confidently looking forward: striving to make a better future for Wales, a more Liberal future for Wales.

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In full: Jane Dodds’ Leader’s Speech to Welsh Liberal Democrat Spring Conference

Here is Jane Dodds’ keynote speech to Welsh Liberal Democrat Conference this weekend. She said that the Welsh Lib Dems had an aspirational, optimistic vision for Wales. She went on to praise Kirsty Williams, the party’s Education Secretary. Scottish Liberal Democrat leader kept calling her the best education secretary in Britain.

Jane talked movingly about the impact of poverty and homelessness and outlined what the Lib Dems were all about:

The party of the progressive and pragmatic that offers an exciting and inspiring vision.

The Party of Ideas, taking forward meaningful policies that speak to people’s everyday concerns.

The Party of the Green Agenda, committed to protecting our environment, cleaning up the air we breathe, and harnessing the power of our environment.

The true party of equality, fairness and freedom and with a vision of a Wales that offers everyone a place to call home, free from discrimination and intolerance in all its forms.

Here’s the whole thing:

Cynhadledd, conference

Thank you all for being here this weekend as we look to the future and the role we want our party to play in creating a hopeful and successful Wales.

It’s been great to see so many old friends, but also to welcome so many new members to our family – croeso.

My Leadership

Conference, it is an honour and a privilege to be delivering my first speech as leader of our party. I feel very humbled and am grateful for your support.

There’s no denying that we’ve had a difficult few years and have a fight ahead of us.

I’ve spent a lot of time since the election visiting local parties, speaking to members, and attending events right across the country

what strikes me is that whilst the wounds of the last few years are still visible, we’re fighting.

Let me be clear –

we may be reduced in numbers in Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, but the Welsh Liberal Democrats haven’t gone anywhere,

we are not going anywhere.

We are a team, working together with a shared mission of putting Welsh Liberal Democrats back at the heart of Welsh politics.

Vision 

But,

we have much to do.

Starting with who we are and what we stand for.

Earlier today we voted to move forward with a project to engage members, the public, frontline staff and experts in setting out a hopeful, optimistic, and aspirational vision for Wales.

A Wales that gives people the opportunity to get up on their feet, and to get on in life.

A Wales that gives us each the freedom, the opportunity, and the security to shape our own destiny,

to take risks, and to achieve our potential.

A Wales that has a strong, resilient, and inclusive economy which harnesses individual potential, creates opportunity, and offers each of us a decent standard of living

A Wales where we celebrate the value of our communities, our diversity, our heritage, our culture and our Welsh Language.

And a Wales that is compassionate and caring– the open and tolerant Wales we know.

To do that we need Welsh Liberal Democrats back at the heart of Welsh politics.

Because Wales needs us.

Challenges facing Wales 

Education

Just look at what we’ve achieved with just one Welsh Liberal Democrat in government.

  • A fair and effective student finance system – the first in Europe to provide equivalent support for part-time and post-graduate learners.
  • Wales’ first ever rural schools strategy
  • Investing more than £350m in helping our children get ahead.
  • Building 20,000 new affordable homes.
  • Improving mental health services in our schools.
  • £40m for a small grants scheme for farmers.

This is real politics.

Meaningful change – creating opportunities for our children and young people.

Kirsty has shown what the Liberal Democrats mean when we talk about everyone having the opportunity to get ahead, and have a fair chance of having a seat at the table.

Thank you, Kirsty.

The challenges facing us in realising our vision of a fair Wales, where people have the opportunity to succeed in life are huge.

Don’t underestimate that – or how much harder it will be to realise that vision in the years ahead.

So I want to spend some time talking about those challenges and our priorities –

Homelessness

Rising homelessness.

Young people, people who have mental health difficulties, users of alcohol and drugs, girls and women who are open to exploitation and sexual abuse.  And over the last 4 years in the UK, at least 230 homeless people have died on our streets.

And as the nasty party in Westminster doggedly pursue deeper cuts in public finances, we see vulnerable people scraping by to survive, without access to public services – with no hope for their future.

Conference, we need to give them that hope. Starting with urgent hostel places with no strings attached.

Give them the hope of owning their own home by building 20,000 new affordable homes across Wales;

Introducing the Rent to Own scheme to make it easier to get on the housing ladder,

or introducing the Housing First model so people feel safer when they fall on hard times.

These are Welsh Lib Dem ideas in action, changing people’s lives.

Work and jobs

Access to well-paid work is crucial to ensuring that we all have the freedom to grasp opportunity, to shape our own destiny, and achieve our potential.

The challenges of technology and a vulnerable economy, makes it even harder to ensure that we can all enjoy work that gives us the opportunity to live fair and free lives.

But we can either embrace the future, or bury our heads in the sand.

We can either be bold, be brave, look at new ideas and harness technology to create an innovative and sustainable economy – or we can shirk our responsibility to future generations.

There are projects quite literally on our doorstep ready to go – if only the Conservative Government had the same aspiration as us.

The Swansea Tidal Lagoon should have been given the go-ahead long ago.

Let’s imagine this.

A network of tidal lagoons in Cardiff,

Newport

and Colwyn Bay

powering our nation, creating well-paid jobs, harnessing our environment and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

For us, conference, it’s a no brainer.

Jobs, a tourist attraction, green energy provision and a badge that says “we are innovative, positive and open for business”.

We’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again –

the Tories cannot be trusted to protect our environment,

to create opportunity for our communities,

and they have abandoned their right to call themselves the party of business.

It is us, the Welsh Liberal Democrats that have the aspiration and drive to create a sustainable economy that creates opportunity for all.

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Jane Dodds: Lib Dems offer hope and optimism to Wales

Welsh Liberal Democrats have been gathering in Cardiff this weekend for their first Spring Conference since Jane Dodds was elected leader.

She used her first keynote speech to showcase how Liberal Democrats could offer hope to those who are struggling, as the South Wales Argus reports:

While she didn’t shy away from the party’s recent troubles, saying “There’s no denying we’ve had a difficult few years”, Ms Dodds added: “While the wounds of the last few years are still visible, we are still fighting.”

And she said one of the party’s top priorities must be to battle homelessness and poverty.

“As the nasty party in Westminster doggedly pursue deeper cuts in public finances, we see vulnerable people scraping by to survive, without access to public services, with no hope for their future,” she said.

“We need to give them that hope.”

On Brexit, she said: “We have to be clear in our opposition to this government’s disastrous handling of the biggest decision our country has faced in a generation.

“And, that whether we like it or not, Wales voted to leave the EU.

“But, and it’s a big but, it was not on the basis that we would leave under any circumstances.”

Concluding, she said: “We need to make sure we have the ideas in place that address the needs of communities and people living in Wales, and we have to translate these ideas into winning votes.

Her speech won praise from Willie Rennie:

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LDV wishes Norman Lamb well


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The Liberal Democrat Voice team would like to send our heartfelt best wishes to Norman Lamb as he recovers from his “very minor stroke”.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Norman is a much loved member of the Lib Dem family. His personal courage, energy and passion are much admired.

Take care, Norman, and we hope you recover well!

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Vince Cable on Syria

In an email to members Vince Cable writes:

I am certain that you are as appalled as I am about the horrific scenes coming out of Syria.

The use of chemical weapons is barbaric. It is a crime against humanity and it is a clear violation of international law.

The Liberal Democrats are an internationalist, outward-looking party – and part of that is being willing to play our part in upholding international law.

In the next few days, it is possible the Government will ask MPs to decide on potential military action in Syria. This is not a decision we will ever make lightly.

As Leader, I want to be clear with you how I and our group in Parliament will make such a decision.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg – Elected representatives will do the right thing on Brexit


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In the Financial Times (registration needed), Nick Clegg writes very realistically about the prognosis for Brexit:

Public opinion has shifted a little in favour of the Remain camp, and a lot towards wider concern about the impact of Brexit on the NHS and the economy. But it remains firmly enveloped in an indifference towards the details of the negotiations, and a sullen belief that politicians should just “get on with it”. Advertising campaigns by anti-Brexit groups will not, on their own, shift opinion in a big way.

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Alex speaks out on assisted dying

Alex Cole-Hamilton, our Lib Dem MSP for Edinburgh Western, wrote an article for the Edinburgh Evening News on Tuesday, giving his personal views on assisted dying.

It opens

We lost my father-in-law shortly before Easter. He passed in the comfort of his home surrounded by love and light and in the arms of his family. It was an end to aspire to. Such a passing is not afforded to everyone, however, and I grieve for those families who have seen their loved ones struggle in pain, indignity and distress for protracted periods before the end. Public policy change around end of life care remains one of the hottest political potatoes out there and to my mind we’re still not getting it right.

Alex feels passionately that

If we reach the limit of human endurance, if the pain goes beyond the grasp of palliative care; we should have the human right to say: “this far and no further” and be assisted, with proper safeguards to take such steps as necessary to quit this life in dignity.

He goes on to say

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Vince Cable launches Lib Dem Local Election campaign: Lib Dems show local government at its best

Today, Vince Cable launches the Liberal Democrats’ local election campaign.

He talks about the party’s prospects and the real difference Lib Dem councillors can make to people’s lives in schools and hospitals. He also compares and contrasts with both Labour and Conservative councils. Did you know that Labour Manchester had granted planning permission to not one single affordable house in the last two years? What was that thing about the many and the few again?

Here are the highlights of what he will say:

On the party

“There is a secret phenomenon in British politics.
“It is occurring in by-elections all over the country, week in, week out, to local authorities from Sunderland to Somerset.

“Against the Tories. Against Labour. In Leave areas. In Remain areas.

“Since the general election in 2017, the Liberal Democrats are up 15 seats, double Labour’s increase of 7, while the Conservatives are tanking – they have lost 18 seats.

“These real votes in real ballot boxes show Liberal Democrat support at double our national opinion poll rating.

“What we’re showing is that where Liberal Democrats come out fighting, Liberal Democrats can win.

“Because local residents trust Liberal Democrats to listen, work hard and get things done on their behalf.

“And in our areas of particular strength, where we control Councils and win mayoralties, we run reliable, responsive local services and deliver value for people’s Council Tax.”

On cuts to schools

“In my own home, in the Borough of Richmond, the biggest issue on doorsteps is cuts to schools funding.

“Around the country this is having a real impact damaging children’s futures.

“At the General Election the Liberal Democrats argued for extra investment of £7bn in school and college budgets to ensure that no school would lose funding, and so we could give more support to children from disadvantaged backgrounds through the pupil premium.

“It’s one of the many stark differences between the Coalition Government and the hard-right Conservative Governments which have followed.

“Where Liberal Democrats protected schools funding in real terms, our research now shows it falling in more than half of English local authorities.

“Teachers and teaching assistants are being laid off.

“And parents are being asked to make a financial contribution to their schools to keep them going.

“This has to stop.  Decent, free school education is key to ensuring each generation can do better than the last.  It is a bedrock of civilised society.

“These elections are a chance for parents and teachers to send a signal to the Government on schools.

“A vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to give schools the funding they need.”

On housing

“Crucial to sowing the seeds of a society that will work for today’s young people is addressing Britain’s housing crisis.

“Nowhere is the generational divide in our country felt more acutely than in this area.

“So support for the Liberal Democrats is support for new homes, support for curtailing the Right to Buy where there isn’t a guaranteed 100% replacement of stock sold off and support for tough measures on empty property, used by investors as modern-day pots of gold, when they should be available for families to live in.

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Exclusive: New allegations over misuse of data by shady campaigning firm

Lib Dem Voice can exclusively reveal that urgent investigations are now underway after we uncovered what appears to be a further serious misuse of data in the EU referendum.

A mysterious private campaigning firm which calls itself Bainbridge Claptrap-Witterer is believed to have trawled the data of the now-defunct Lib Dem social network, Lib Dem Act. The site was wildly popular for a time around 2010 and is thought to have had a membership at one point running into double figures.

The firm, which is based on an industrial estate just outside of Leicester but is thought to have adopted the use of Bainbridge in its name to appeal to middle-class pro-remain campaigners, is understood have built a sophisticated model predicting propensity to support remaining in the EU based on users’ posts on Lib Dem Act.

The site was intended to act as a private space for party members to share campaigning tips and stories, but owing to the tendency of users just to upload photos of their dogs, data experts at the shadowy firm appear to have built a sophisticated model linking breed of dog to a range of European issues based on the data obtained from the profiles of literally a dozen users.

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Vince Cable’s message for Passover

Here is Vince Cable’s message for Passover

Millions of Jewish families and friends across the world will come together tonight to celebrate Passover.

They will reflect on the struggle of the Jewish people to be free.

For people of all faiths and none, the story told at Passover is a reminder of the importance of freedom, and standing up for the oppressed.

It is also an opportunity for us to recognise the valuable contribution Britain’s Jewish communities make to our country today.

To everyone celebrating Passover, Chag Pesach Sameach!

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Vince Cable’s Easter Message

Here is Vince Cable’s Easter message:

I would like to send warm wishes to all those celebrating Easter here in the UK and around the world.

For many Christians, Easter is a time of deep reflection and self-examination, and is an important reminder of the values of forgiveness, compassion and kindness. These are principles that resonate with people of all faiths and none.

At the heart of the Easter story is a message of hope and we see this demonstrated through various faith-based projects across the country, whose work helps to protect the most vulnerable in our society. Thank you to the thousands who continue to give their time and energy for the good of their local communities.

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Martin Horwood standing for local council

FORMER CHELTENHAM MP Martin Horwood is putting on his rosette again – this time to stand for Cheltenham Borough Council. There’s an unexpected vacancy in Leckhampton ward following independent councillor Ian Bickerton’s recent resignation. That means the ward will be electing two councillors in the borough council elections on 3 May instead of one. Glenn Andrews is the other Lib Dem candidate.

Martin handed in his nomination papers at the council offices today – and the retiring independent councillor Ian Bickerton was one of his nominators. Martin stood down as Lib Dem …

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WATCH: Brake: The British people are entitled to the truth

In a video this morning, Lib Dem Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake revealed that he had reported the alleged collaboration between Vote Leave and BeLeave to the Police and that he would be raising this in Parliament tomorrow.

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Lib Dems: Universal Credit could lead to up to 1.3 million evictions

New data released yesterday by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reveals that only 6% of Universal Credit claimants in the private rented sector have their rent paid directly to their landlords, compared to 35% in the socially rented sector .

This is despite calls by Liberal Democrat DWP spokesperson Stephen Lloyd to make payments to landlords default. Lloyd has argued that maintaining the status quo will lead to many of the 1.3 million benefit claimants in the private rented sector being evicted, and potentially made homeless.

According to the Residential Landlords Association, 73% of landlords still lack confidence in renting to tenants on Universal Credit due to uncertainty that they will be able to recover rent arrears, while 38% have already experienced UC tenants going into arrears.

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Lloyd: Government must delay “horror” changes to mortgage support

Support for Mortgage Interest is a benefit given to people claiming Universal Credit or certain other income-related benefits who have a mortgage or who have taken out loans to make repairs to their home. It pays for the cost of interest on up to £200,000 of a person’s mortgage in order to prevent claimants from defaulting on their mortgage.

From next month, SMI will be replaced by a loan of the same value, which is repaid (with interest) when the property is sold.

It’s pretty cheap, as benefits go, costing the Government around £300 million a year. It is certainly about 3.5 times cheaper than letting someone’s home be repossessed and then having to pay housing benefit to put that household in the rented sector.

Apart from the whole principle being flawed, the implementation seems to have been botched as only around 10,000 of the eligible families have taken up the loan. Some people haven’t even been sent the information about it so that they can make an informed choice about whether to take the loan.

Our Work and Pensions spokesperson Stephen Lloyd said the whole thing was a horror and called for implementation to be delayed.

Every month we seem to be hearing yet more examples of this Conservative government being both mean-spirited and unintelligent; this mortgage interest benefit change is a classic example. It will force some homeowners into even more debt, and will force others to sell their homes putting themselves at the mercy (and cost) of their local council’s housing department. Which, naturally, will cost the taxpayer more in housing benefit than keeping them in their own house by paying mortgage interest payments. An absolutely ridiculous decision.

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Wera Hobhouse’s bill could see 2 year prison sentence for upskirting

Wera Hobhouse has revealed further details of her bill to outlaw upskirting. Offenders could end up with 2 years in prison.

From the Evening Standard:

Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse, who tabled the Bill, said changing the current law to make it easier to prosecute would allow the law to “catch up with technology”.

It could also mean that members of the paparazzi would be prosecuted for taking shots of celebrities where their underwear is deliberately shown

The move comes after data published by the Press Association last month revealed girls as young as ten among the alleged victims who have been targeted in public locations such as restaurants and festivals….

 …Ms Hobhouse said: “It is, on the face of it, a vile, discriminating and outrageous practice. I personally have not – fortunately – had this unpleasant experience, but it is just outrageous, it is humiliating for anybody who has that happen to them and it has a deep impact on them.”It is so obviously in your face a wrong thing and yet our law has not kept up with this practice.”

Wera is asking supporters to contact their MP to ask them to support her Bill:

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Vince calls on Government to delay changes to mortgage interest payment for people on benefits

In less than 3 weeks’ time, the Government stops paying mortgage interest to for those on certain benefits.

Some bright spark at the Department of Work and Pensions came up with a way to save the Government money – by getting a private company, Serco, to operate a loan scheme. Instead of having payments covered by the state, they will be covered by the homeowner taking out a private loan with Serco in return for a charge on the property. That means that they will have to pay back an unspecified sum of money if they eventually sell their house.

The Government …

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Growth in infant mortality highlights desperate pressures on the NHS

The annual statistics on stillbirths, infant deaths and childhood deaths in England and Wales were published yesterday by the government. The report also includes data on the causes of death and information on key risk factors.

This report evidences the first two-year increase in infant mortality rates in England and Wales for the last 30 years. Former Health Minister and Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb said:

Infant mortality has been in steep decline for over 30 years. However, this success cannot lead to complacency.

Figures released today show there is a trend towards increased infant mortality rates over the last two years. Losing a child is one of the most heart-breaking experiences imaginable. The government must urgently examine the cause and what might be driving this disturbing reversal of historic falls in infant mortality. The fact that the NHS is under such strain may well be contributing to this.

That is why the Liberal Democrats want to put a penny in the pound on income tax, to maintain and improve standards in the NHS.

At Spring Conference, a motion was passed celebrating the NHS at 70 and recognising the wonderful contribution of NHS staff.

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Lib Dems secure major victory to limit cold calling

Those amazing  Lib Dem peers have been at it again – winning crucial changes to legislation.

As the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill completes its stages in the Upper House, the Liberal Democrats have secured a significant victory following the government’s acceptance of crucial Liberal Democrats amendments.

Led by John Sharkey, we campaigned in the House of Lords to end  cold-calling in relation to pensions, claims management and other financial services.

The Government have now committed to a total ban on pensions cold-calling, as well as prohibitions on other forms of cold-calling if these are shown to be detrimental.

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Brake: UK must build coalition to end Putin’s murderous adventurism

It’s a shame we’re on the way out of a strong international institution just at the time people are carrying out state sponsored executions with military grade nerve agents in our quiet pizza restaurants.

Tonight, we’ve called for a series of sanctions against Russia in the wake of their alleged attack on British citizens.

We agree with the government that Russia is either directly or indirectly complicit in the attack and suggest five things we could do:

  • Boycott the World Cup in Russia and finding an alternative venue.
  • Seize the UK-based assets of those implicated in this attack, and previous attacks through the creation of a UK Magnitsky Act
  • Introduce travel bans for top Russian officials
  • Suspend arms sales to Russia
  • Ensure that the forthcoming register of beneficial ownership trusts is publicly accessible.

Tom Brake gave some advice to the Government and had a swipe at Jeremy Corbyn too:

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Lib Dems respond to the Spring Statement – Hammond ignores the Heffalump in the room

You know, I actually wrote Autumn Statement in the headline and had to change it. Old habits die hard. I’m so used to the Big Budget being in March and that ritual of having to go and fill up with petrol the night before in case the prices went up…

Anyway, here’s what Lib Dems have been saying about Philip Hammond’s statement, starting with Vince:

The Spring Statement was a non-event. The OECD gave us the clearer picture – that the economy is bumping along the bottom of the G20, well behind the likes of Australia, Canada and the Euro area.

The OBR’s fresh forecasts are still a long way behind the figures estimated in March 2016 before the EU referendum.

It is time the government was honest with the public: there will need to be tax increases to pay for the NHS and social care, police and schools.

This is why the Liberal Democrats have advocated a penny in the pound income tax increase for health and care and why we must scrap cuts in Capital Gains Tax and Inheritance Tax introduced since 2015.

Christine Jardine got a bit carried away with Winnie the Pooh metaphors:

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In full: Vince Cable’s speech to Conference

 

 

Here is Vince’s speech in full.

It’s good to be back in Southport.

I was last here in October.

It was pouring with rain.

The local party was licking its wounds after a difficult General Election…

…and there was a challenging council by-election to fight.

But a week later our candidate, and former MP, John Pugh, was swept on to Sefton Council with a big majority, and more than half of the votes cast.

Congratulations John!

Shortly after my trip here, I went to the North East.

I took in Newcastle, of course.

It’s a former council stronghold with a big Lib Dem tradition under John Shipley and others.

From there, my office had agreed I would go on to visit Sunderland.

Sunderland is a Labour one party state. Brexit Central.

On arrival, my car was surrounded by a group of young people…

…there were face tattoos and nose rings in abundance.

Some might have found it intimidating.

I emerged from the car clutching my mobile phone nervously.

I was greeted by Councillor Niall Hodson who told me this was the local Lib Dems!

They had captured two Labour strongholds, in as many years.

A few weeks ago, they did the same a third time.

They knocked on 2000 doors in a month, and were rewarded with a massive 46% swing from Labour.

Congratulations Sunderland Liberal Democrats!

These local successes are reflected across the country.

Teignbridge and Tyneside. Norfolk and Cornwall. Somerset and Sussex.

In Leave areas. In Remain areas.

Against the Tories. Against Labour.

They show us that there are opportunities to regain and rebuild our local government base which has always been the lifeblood of our party.

And we fight our campaigns at a time when normal politics has disappeared.

We have a Brexit obsessed Conservative Government: a single issue government in a single issue Parliament.

Brexit is sucking the life out of Westminster and Whitehall alike.

Urgent attention needs to be given to the NHS and social care, the housing crisis and homelessness, schools and policing, national defence and much else.

But the political appetite to grapple with these issues isn’t there.

The greedy Brexit machine devours all the political energy required to get the country moving forward.

People were told that Brexit would be simple, cheap and good natured.

Like real world divorce, it is proving complicated, expensive and bad tempered.

There is a temptation to blame everything on Theresa May. I don’t.

I have always rather admired her dogged determination.

But that determination means that she thinks…

‘When in a hole, keep digging…. you might eventually get to Australia… and when you get there there’ll be a shiny new trade deal and a cold beer waiting’.

She is one of a number of otherwise sensible people persisting in a course of action that they know to be foolish, damaging and wrong, saying ‘just let’s get on with it’.

I have myself been on a journey.

I confess that my own initial reaction to the referendum was to think there was little choice but to pursue Brexit: I thought ‘the public have voted to be poorer. That is their right.’

What changed my mind was the evidence that Brexit had overwhelmingly been the choice of the older generation.

75% of under 25s voted to Remain.

But 70% of over 65s voted for Brexit.

Too many were driven by a nostalgia for a world where passports were blue, faces were white, and the map was coloured imperial pink.

Their votes on one wet day in June, crushing the hopes and aspiration of the young for years to come.

The excuse for this outrage – a vision of a Global Britain signing lots of new trade deals– is a fraud.

Far from opening our arms to the world, we will be tearing up preferential trade deals we already have with 27 countries in the EU and 74 outside it.

There is no more eloquent testimony to the government’s folly about trade, that at a time when the world is descending into Trade War, they put more faith in the Warmonger in Washington than they do in our friends and trade partners in Europe.

It was never a good idea to leave the EU. To leave it now borders on extreme recklessness.

And only our Liberal Democrat team, led by Tom Brake, are making that argument in Parliament.

Old wounds that were slowly healing within the European family are being re-opened.

Ireland. Gibraltar.

I went to Dublin before Christmas to meet business and political leaders.

They are afraid, very afraid, that the Good Friday Agreement and the close economic links with Britain will be trashed to accommodate Brexit hard liners.

The Gibraltarian Government is afraid that their people – our people, British citizens – will be sacrificial pawns in this needless rush for the EU exit door.

And while all these crucial questions are up in the air, we still don’t know which faction of the Conservative Party will win.

There are two totally different views of Brexit on offer. One is to stay as close as possible to the rules of the Single Market and Customs Union to minimise the damage. To be like Norway with a customs union attached. So called ‘soft Brexit’.

This is plainly more sensible economically than the alternative, but it raises the obvious question: why on earth bother to leave?

The other is to diverge as much as possible, causing maximum disruption to manufacturing industry, financial services and creative industries, all in the name of ‘sovereignty’.

What we are left with is incoherence. The doctrine of diverging convergence or converging divergence.

The one certain consequence is that with a divided, confused team of 1 facing a united, determined team of 27, the European negotiators will dictate the terms.

This will, in turn, create the sense of victimhood Brexiteers crave: being under the European yoke.

I would go so far as to say Britain is now mired in a protracted, non-violent civil war.

Allied to the poisonous rhetoric about ‘traitors’ and ‘saboteurs’, and what Theresa May calls ‘citizens of nowhere’…

….we have a toxic brew which fuels the populist right.

What a disgrace that the fools’ errand of Brexit…embarked on to paper over cracks in the Conservative Party has resulted in hate crime on our streets.

Our message is clear: Liberal Democrats will rebuild an open, tolerant, outward-looking Britain.

We want our country back.

And amid all this where is the Leader of Her Majesty’s Official and Loyal Opposition?

What does HE want?

These early days of 2018 have seen Labour has make a few tentative gestures in the direction of sanity. But very few. And very tentative.

To be a member of a customs union. Not the customs union.

And still strongly committed to working with Theresa May to make Brexit happen.

Make no mistake about it, Conference:

Jeremy Corbyn is letting down the very people he claims to defend…because:

You cannot speak up for the poor and be complicit in making the country poorer.

You cannot claim to love the NHS knowing that Brexit will starve it of cash.

You cannot be an advocate of strong rights at work, and stand by while your country walks away from the organisation which has most stood up for workers.

The Labour Party has imported into politics the principles of quantum physics where an object can be there and not there, at the same time.

They believe you can be for Brexit it and against it.

But politics is not physics.

Jeremy –

The time has come to decide.

There is no ‘jobs first’ Brexit.

But there is a new way to inspire those young supporters you won last year, and to make a real difference.

Join our campaign.

Together we can win an Exit from Brexit.

One likely consequence of the coming Brexit confrontation is some kind of political realignment.

We must be open to working with people in other parties, and with other parties.

In my own borough I have encouraged an electoral understanding with the Greens for national and local elections.

This approach may not be feasible everywhere in the UK. But it signals the value of an inclusive and collaborative approach to politics.

I am determined that we Liberal Democrats should lead a new groundswell for political renewal.

Our sister Liberal Party in Canada, under Justin Trudeau, leapt from third to first in a ‘first past the post’ system every bit as unforgiving as ours.

I have turned to them for advice on modernisation on how we can apply their successful model here.

The Canadian liberals engaged all their registered supporters – their voters – as well as their members in leadership elections and candidate selection.

They became a new party; a movement.

Building on our own traditions, we must address how we in the Liberal Democrats can become a movement for those who are alienated by the Conservatives and Labour.

I want to see a movement fizzing with ideas…

…and the vehicle for a practical programme for government …

…driven by the need to drive down inequality between the generations,

…facing up to the challenge of climate change by investing in renewable energy and green transport

…and preparing our country for a future when technology be harnessed to the optimism of opportunity rather than the pessimism of job destruction.

So as a party I want us to think big.

To be as radical and forward-looking with our ambitions for the party as we are with our ideas and our policies.

Central to that must be an effort to reflect better the society we want to serve.

We celebrated the centenary of women’s suffrage this year, and International Women’s Day last week, with a better proportion of female MPs in our House of Commons group than we have ever had before.

We are, still, very male but…

… thanks to the work of Jo Swinson and Sal Brinton, along with our other women parliamentarians, councillors, and others…much less so than we were.

But to be frank, we have an even bigger challenge to address.

Looking around the auditorium, we are very, very white.

We must prioritise making our party more ethnically diverse.

John Alderdice has shown us the way in his recent report.

I raised a mixed family in Britain.

I have seen prejudice first-hand.

Where it is outright or outspoken, it is easy to call out. And I know everyone in this room would do so right away.

It is subtle, unseen prejudice which is harder to counter.

It exists in every organisation, but I want us as Liberal Democrat to commit at this conference to rooting it out.

Theresa May once said of the Conservatives that they were a ‘nasty party’.

We are not a nasty party.

But sometimes we have been a complacent party.

Under my leadership, that complacency ends.

Progress in building a big, modern, diverse party requires help from every one of you…

….so I ask each of you to leave Southport today thinking about what you can do to make our party a welcoming home to people of every age, ethnicity, gender identity and sexuality.

And in making that effort, I want to arm you with our vision of a new, Liberal Democrat Britain.

We must answer the question: if not Brexit, then what?

We have to start with an economic model which works, delivering good jobs, freedom from want and economic security for everyone.

For many British people the collapse of the banking system a decade ago

…and the austerity and inequality which followed in its wake destroyed their faith in the system of free-wheeling finance and light-touch government.

To build a fair society, we need an economy which harnesses the energy and innovation of the private sector but where government is not afraid to intervene to deal market failure, or the arrogance of monopoly.

A Liberal Democrat economy would be one which welcomes entrepreneurs…

…which rewards profitable, risk-taking companies…

…which embraces new technology….

…and which sees active government.

We would tax pollution and unearned wealth, while promoting work, innovation and environmental protection.

And on tax we are the party, unlike Labour, which will be honest with the public that spending on our priorities – the NHS, schools, policing – has to be paid for:

A penny in the pound on income tax for the NHS; reversing the tax cuts for the rich of the last two years.

And government borrowing would be for investment not for day-to-day spending.

We would build a Britain where finance serves the real economy not the other way round.

And we do need competition authorities to be strong and tough enough to withstand bullying and tax dodging by giant global monopolies like Amazon and Google….and if necessary, to break up concentrations of economic power.

At present the European Commission does just that.

In contrast to the feeble British competition authorities, Europe helps us ‘take back control’ for citizens in the modern, digital world.

There is a huge risk that Brexit Britain will lose that control, surrendering real sovereignty for fake sovereignty.

The technological revolution also poses a different kind of challenge.

We do not yet fully understand the impact on jobs of Artificial Intelligence and the spread of automation from manufacturing to professional and other services.

I believe we should welcome the advent of new technologies and the opportunities they bring.

But we must anticipate that those without adaptable skills could be badly hurt.

The answer – the only answer – is massive investment in education, skill training and retraining: schools, FE colleges, universities, lifelong learning, remote and college based.

The Tories will not do it because they do not believe in public investment.

Labour will not do it because they are still fighting the old political battles and their main education policy is to provide a large subsidy to highly paid university graduates.

We must not forget that 60% of young people do not go to University, and 80% of the British population never went.

These are – mostly – the people least prepared for the disruption of technological change…

…and who have been left behind by Britain’s scandalous neglect of vocational education and skill training.

I know about the value of life long learning from my own experience, growing up in York, as my parents strived to climb the economic and social ladder through further and adult education.

And I was one of the first generation of Open University tutors.

Then, in my two years of exile from Parliament, I worked with the President of the National Union of Students on a project all about giving students in FE parity with universities.

To build on that work, I want to develop further the idea of individual learning accounts – a cash fund to spend on training and career changes through your life.

I have asked Rajay Naik, an education entrepreneur with long experience at the Open University, to lead a Commission on Life Long Learning.

Because these coming years will be more than important than ever for giving adult education the priority it deserves.

We need to educate people for the jobs of tomorrow.

Jobs which will build a confident Britain, complete with new infrastructure including…

…a 5G superhighway;

…and fast rail links across the north of England, Wales and the South West.

…new tidal lagoons for low carbon energy;

…big advances in carbon capture and storage;

…and all the opportunities offered by offshore wind, which Ed Davey promoted in Government, and which today is reaping great rewards for our country.

This forward looking vision of Britain stands in stark contrast to what both big parties offers.

We are used to thinking of Labour and the Conservatives as polar opposite. They are actually very similar.

What they share is nostalgia.

In the case of the Tories, the seriousness with which a Rees-Mogg premiership is now being taken says it all.

A man steeped in the values of Downton Abbey… a world where the working class consist of servants and nannies;

…where women have babies but no vote;

…and charities suffice to meet the needs of the deserving poor.

Corbyn’s nostalgia is a different one.

But it is just as backward looking.

A world where the Health Minister decides how much cod liver oil each five year old should enjoy or endure each day.

Where the Minister for Prices sets the price of a loaf of bread.

And the Royal Mail was the envy of the world, before those modern contraptions – internet and email – destroyed its business model.

If Britain still had a stagecoach industry, John McDonnell would be demanding that it be saved by taking it into public ownership.

Neither of these rose-tinted visions of the future make any kind of sense.

The Liberal Democrat vision of Britain is built on a commitment to properly funded public services, consumer and citizen choice, and honesty about taxation.

For example, as we ask people to contribute a little more to the health service, with a penny in the pound on income tax, we promise a better, more flexible service in return.

The principles of the NHS are as strong today as they were when the service was inspired by a great liberal, William Beveridge.

But if Beveridge were alive today, he would see a service whose ambition of universal free health care, free at the point of use, is in danger of foundering as costs inexorably rise.

So just as we’d protect that service for the long term with a dedicated NHS and social care tax.

Liberal Democrats will also work with nurses and doctors to develop ideas that could save billions and improve the patient experience too.

Let me give you some examples.

Isn’t it time that when you need to be referred to a consultant, their calendar is shared electronically with the GP, so you can arrange a convenient slot right-away without a lengthy exchange of letters?

And social prescribing – which I saw in action campaigning with Lisa Smart in Stockport – can divert people from medication to exercise and other healthy activity, as part of a ‘prevention’ approach to healthcare.

And we need to revisit the principles around sharing patient information, as in the blockchain experiments in Leeds, where new technology provides enhanced security for data sharing.

Crucially, we need to build on the work Norman Lamb did in government giving priority and enforcing firm targets for mental health treatment.

Liberal Democrats insisted on targets in coalition, but now those targets are being missed.

The human effect is shocking.

It is simply not good enough that children suffering severe psychosis – sometimes suicidal thoughts – is left languishing on a waiting list.

There is a growing crisis in child mental health with as many as 20% of teenagers in my local schools needing help.

In a Liberal Democrat NHS mental and physical health will be put on an equal footing so that every taxpayer – every citizen – gets the care they need.

When I won back my seat last June, the number one issue on the doorsteps wasn’t Brexit, as it happens, but school funding – or the lack of it.

We would reverse Conservative cuts to schools.

Under the excellent stewardship of Layla Moran, Lib Dems would democratise education once again, by returning control to local authorities over places planning, exclusions and special needs.

Locally, many of us see the chaotic and wasteful consequences of having free schools and academies engaged in dog-eat-dog competition.

And we see wasted time too, as teachers are forced to keep a look out for the traffic wardens of the education system – Ofsted – waiting around the corner ready to slap a ticket on those who haven’t ticked the right boxes.

Liberal Democrats will bring in a new independent inspection regime, which values the overall wellbeing of individual children and the culture of learning in the school.

We want a wider curriculum reversing the current exclusion of performing arts and languages, and introducing life skills like first aid and personal finance.

A Liberal Democrat education system will prepare our children for the future, and consign tickbox testing to the past.

By making ourselves, once again, the party of education we commit to redressing the imbalance between generations…

Nowhere is the sharp generational divide in Britain greater – and more bitterly felt – than in the housing market .

My generation, or at least those of us who own property, have been enriched by house price inflation.

It is that same house price inflation which has priced the majority of younger people out of owner occupation and created Generation Rent.

For the last two decades, under successive governments, housing supply has been allowed to fall well behind demand…

This scarcity of supply, together with lax credit for the already well-off, and subsidies like Help to Buy, has caused prices to spiral to dangerous and socially divisive levels.

Like Brexit, this shortage is not inevitable.

House building isn’t rocket science. Even the Babylonians knew how to do it.

I am confident that Britain under the Liberal Democrats would do it.

I recently revisited my old haunts in Glasgow, where I served as a city councillor in the early 1970s in one of the most deprived wards in the City.

We built houses, houses, and more houses.

Quantity sometimes triumphed over quality and amenity.

But the lesson was clear: that a determined, ambitious, public authority, using compulsory purchase powers or publicly owned land can get houses built at scale.

The Government needs to do that now.

I know the Conservative Party finds it difficult.

But if Donald Trump can meet Kim Jong Un, surely the Tories can deal with the psychological shock of having councils build…. council housing!

Private housing, social housing, self-build and shared ownership are all part of the mix Britain needs.

And as we build that stock Liberal Democrats would say ‘goodbye’ to ‘Right to Buy’.

I have spent some time in recent months, engaging with charities who work with rough sleepers.

Those at the bottom of the pile – the homeless street sleepers, hostel dwellers, and sofa hoppers; the young families being pushed from one short let to another – are not just homeless.

They are largely voiceless.

Many do not vote.

They are at the sharp end of disengagement with our failing democracy.

A broken democracy which gives too much power to the privileged and too little voice to the people.

…an unelected second chamber;

…a funding regime desperately in need of cleaning up;

…a system of local government often run as one party statelets.

…an unfair voting system, where so many votes don’t even count.

And now the next big extension of the franchise, to 16 and 17 year olds, is being resisted by Conservatives whose power base is in old folks’ homes.

So how do we secure a new forward-looking country for the next generation.?

Our recent election successes show us something.

Not that winning is easy, but that winning is possible.

I know many of the longer-standing members in this room got pretty fed up with hearing a particular slogan during the Coalition years.

‘Where we work we win’, was a mantra. But in truth for many years too many Liberal Democrats did work – very hard – and still didn’t win.

I know, I was one of them! I know the pain of losing. And I know the satisfaction of fighting and winning again.

It can now be done.

Those local successes in Sunderland and elsewhere were not coincidences, and though our party is building its social media capacity, it wasn’t about new technology either.

It was about talking to people, on their doorsteps – just as it always has been.

Friends, we have celebrating our thirtieth birthday.

And we do so at a time when the old forces in British politics are so distracted by settling scores on Europe and on socialism, that they have forgotten about the country.

We have a big task ahead of us.

I want us to be able to look back in another thirty years (or, I want you to be able to, anyway) and see 2018 as a turning point.

The year, when from a low base of support and against the political odds, we showed Britain a new and different path…

…the promise of a new government acting and speaking for the vast majority of decent, tolerant, hardworking people, whom the other parties had forgotten…

…A beacon of real hope, in a political sea of fantasists and dogmatists.

The Liberal Democrats:

A modern, diverse party – winning again …

Winning an Exit from Brexit.

Protecting our public services.

And giving young people the start, the voice and the hope they deserve.

There’s no time to lose.

Let’s get out there together and win.

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Ed Davey: Data protection exemption for immigration will ruin thousands of lives

The Government’s Data Protection Bill is generally good, but its exemption for immigration is a very bad thing. Ed Davey explained why the measure will ruin thousands of lives in his speech in the Commons debate this week.

I want to speak about the actual Bill, not amendments made in the other House. This piece of legislation is very welcome. It emanates from the EU, and I am delighted that the Government are implementing it. This regulation was being formed when I was a junior Minister in the then Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and Britain was very supportive of it and was leading on it. Indeed, I served on the Competitiveness Council and formed a like-minded group for growth, on which Britain was leading the way in Europe in developing further the single market in energy and in digital services. It was clear that this regulation was essential for British business, because Britain was leading in digital services and needed this to support our businesses trading across the EU, and to give consumers the confidence that this brings. It was a key area for business for Britain, and we pushed it.

It is therefore particularly ironic that we are transposing this regulation into UK law just as we are pulling out of the EU. The legislation before us is excellent, it has cross-party support and it is a perfect example of why Brexit is a bad idea for the UK. We were highly influential in the conception and birth of this regulation as a member of the EU, but thanks to Brexit, we will not be at the conception and birth of a daughter of this EU regulation. There is bound to be a daughter of the GDPR, given the speed with which these technologies are developing. Inside the EU, the UK fashioned this regulation; we were a rule maker, and we were in control. With Brexit, we will not have a vote, we will be a rule taker, and we will have lost control. There could not be a clearer example of how Brexit will actually weaken Britain’s democracy and sovereignty—the precise reverse of what was promised to the people. Although I welcome this legislation in general, I do fear for the future.

However, I have one massive concern about the Bill. It relates not to what came from the EU, but to what Whitehall has done to the legislation. It used to be called “gold-plating”, but in this case I would call it “dirt-smearing” the regulation. I refer, of course, to the immigration exemption in schedule 2. I am disturbed about that for a number of reasons, some of which other Members have mentioned. However, to get the Minister’s attention, I should say that if the legislation is passed with that exemption, that will put at risk the chances of the UK’s obtaining a data adequacy agreement prior to Brexit—something essential for business and vital for security. The immigration exemption is not allowed under the EU’s regulation; it will be found to be illegal. It is clearly in breach of the EU’s charter of fundamental rights, undermining article 8 on the protection of personal data, article 20 on equality before the law and article 21 on non-discrimination.

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Christine Jardine introduces Bill to rename House of Lords on International Women’s Day

If Lib Dems had our way, the House of Lords would be reformed into an elected House. Nick Clegg had plans to do this but they didn’t survive the vested interests in the Tory and Labour parties.

There’s no immediate chance of it becoming elected, but a small but significant reform could be enacted.

Today Christine Jardine presented a Bill to change the name of the House of Lords to the House of Peers to better reflect the contribution of women in the chamber.

The current gender-specific House of Lords title is no longer appropriate. It feeds into an outdated and unacceptable narrative that political decision-making is a man’s job.

In this centenary year of female voting and election rights, it is surely time to recognise that our upper chamber is not a male preserve.

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Jo Swinson calls on Boris to stand up to Saudi ruler

Back in the day, Vince Cable, then acting leader, famously  boycotted the state visit of the Saudi King 

At the time, he said that

I think it’s quite wrong that as a country we should give the leader of Saudi Arabia this honour.”

He said that although Britain has a “business-like” relationship with the country, Britain would not dream of extending the same invitation to other controversial leaders like Libya’s Colonel Gadaffi..

Eleven years on, the party is still calling out the appalling human rights record of the Saudi Government. Jo Swinson today lambasted Boris on the eve of the visit of the ruling Saudi Prince. She said:

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LibLink: Vince picks out Shirley Williams as the female parliamentarian that he most admires from the last 100 years


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To celebrate the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in the UK, House magazine have done an article where prominent MPs pay tribute to the female parliamentarian they most admire from the last 100 years.

They have the Speaker, John Bercow, paying tribute to Eleanor Rathbone. Andrea Ledsom writes about Nancy Astor. Cheryl Gillan and Emma Little-Pengelly talk of Margaret Thatcher. Baroness Smith and Angela Raynor pay tribute to Ellen Wilkinson, while Kirsty Blackman extols Winnie Ewing and Lord Fowler describes Baroness Swanborough (Stella Isaacs – the first female member of the House of Lords).

Vince Cable writes eloquently in tribute to Shirley Williams:

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WATCH: Why EU Nationals should vote Lib Dem in Local Elections

A great video from Islington Liberal Democrats:

Vince made clear on Peston today that we are definitely going for this group of people.

There will be a series of tailored social media adverts in 21 European languages. The adverts are fronted by MEPs from those countries and they encourage EU citizens to register and vote Lib Dem in May.

Vince said:

The local elections represent a huge opportunity for EU migrants, who contribute so much to our economy and society, to make their voices heard. We are reaching out to them to vote Lib Dem and help us support their rights and ultimately secure an exit from Brexit. Their support could make a vital difference in close council seats.

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WATCH: Lib Dems at 30

Enjoy this video which shows the Lib Dems’ highlights over the past 30 years.

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Former Watford Green candidate joins Lib Dems, praising Mayoral candidate Peter Taylor

Former Watford parliamentary candidate for the Greens, Alex Murray, has joined the Liberal Democrats and was welcomed to the Party by Deputy Leader Jo Swinson, Party Chair Ian Stotesbury and Mayoral candidate Peter Taylor.

From the Watford Observer:

Alex Murray, who challenged for the Watford seat at the 2017 General Election, defected to the Lib Dems after witnessing the party’s work in his hometown.

He said: “I have been impressed with the record of the Liberal Democrat team locally.

“They have improved parks and open spaces and we have an excellent recycling service.

“I am pleased that their mayoral candidate, Peter Taylor, has put improving bus services and introducing a bike hire scheme at the top of his list of priorities.

“At a national level I support the party’s commitment to let the people have their say on the Brexit deal.”

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    @ Peter Martin While our position has not always been clear, it is that there should be a referendum on accepting the deal or staying...
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    Mick, do your arguments on the effect of AWS stand up to scrutiny? Jo Swinson was selected to fight and win her Target seat in...
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