Author Archives: The Voice

Vince’s message for Eid al-Fitr

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

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

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Triple win in deferred Council election for Lib Dems

Good news from Southwark:

Well done to our new councillors.

In Doncaster, …

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Christine Jardine on why medical cannabis should be legalised

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

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

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

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

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

“For Murray it could be life changing.

“And he is not alone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gina Martin explained how she built her successful campaign:

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An academic Brexodus is upon us

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

Ruvi says,

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

Ruvi goes on to explain,

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

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

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

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

Jo knows her job is in good hands:

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

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

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Jenny Willott gets an OBE in the Birthday Honours

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

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

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

Congratulations to Jenny.

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

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

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

Dear Chuka and Anna,

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

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

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Brake: May on the back foot over backstop Brexit

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

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

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A changing of the guard at Federal Conference Committee

Geoff Payne has been elected as the new Chair of Federal Conference Committee (FCC). Geoff served as Vice-Chair of the committee for eight years and was responsible for chairs’ training, access arrangements and the initial selection of venues and setting of registration rates. He was also a long-standing member of the Federal Policy Committee.

The election for chair followed the decision of long-serving former chair, Andrew Wiseman, to step down. Andrew was a highly popular chair of FCC and steered party conference through a period of great change including the coalition years. Everyone on FCC has paid tribute to …

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Liberal Democrats select new Parliamentary candidate for North Devon

North Devon Liberal Democrats have selected their new prospective parliamentary candidate to try and win the seat back at the next election, and the news is of particular cause of celebration for all of us on the Liberal Democrat Voice team

Kirsten Johnson – a county councillor, professional musician from Oxfordshire and Thursday Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice – was chosen at a meeting of party members in Barnstaple yesterday. She will be moving into North Devon shortly to enable her to devote maximum time and effort to her campaign.

Kirsten Johnson emerged …

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Vince: Lib Dems will be running Sheffield by 2023

Vince Cable went to Sheffield this week and predicted that the party would again be running Sheffield’s Council within 5 years – and that we would win back Sheffield Hallam.

From The Star:

There

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WATCH: Kirsty on introducing inclusive sex education in Wales

Kirsty Williams is the Lib Dem representative in the world of Government at the moment and she’s doing great liberal things. This week, she announced that Welsh schoolchildren will receive inclusive sex and relationship education from the time they start school.

From Walesonline

The new version – which will see the topic become relationships and sexuality education (RSE) – places an emphasis on “forming and maintaining healthy, happy and fulfilling relationships”.

Announcing the change the Welsh Government added: “Learners will also be given a much broader understanding of sexuality that is fully inclusive of LGBTQI+ learners and includes wider issues such as consent, domestic abuse, and respecting diversity.

“The decision to change the focus of this area of study to relationships and sexuality, as well as the decision to make it statutory, reflects its immense importance in terms of how learners understand themselves, each other, their community and society.”

Watch Kirsty talking about it below:

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Another Lib Dem Council GAIN

Good news from Norfolk tonight. Congratulations to Cllr Sue Catchpole and her team.

And another Sue, Sue Hislop, got 4.5% from a standing starti in North Kesteven

Unfortunately, we lost a seat to the Conservatives in …

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Layla on Palestine

Lib Dem MP Layla Moran has been writing for Politics Home on Palestine. The first MP of Palestinian descent, she has special insight into the troubles experienced and what the solutions might be. You can find the full article here, but to get you started here is an excerpt.

Working with our EU partners, now more valuable than ever before, the UK Government must meet the expectations on its special responsibilities and influence in the Middle East. The US has left the field, UK Government Ministers cannot hide away. And we

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Jo debates abortion

There was a lively debate between Jo Swinson and Jacob Rees-Mogg concerning abortion on Tuesday’s Daily Politics. Here is a link if you’d like to have a look.

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Why Vince highlighted the Labour/Tory Brexit love-in

Vince had a question to the Prime Minister today. He was jeered at almost as soon as he stood up – a good sign that he is so relevant that people think they have to do that.

What did he choose to ask her on this set piece occasion?

The Prime Minister and the Labour Leader of the Opposition both agree that we should leave the single market and leave the European Union customs union, and that the public should not have a final say on the Brexit deal, so will the Prime Minister dispense with our tradition of party political point scoring and, in the spirit that I am setting, publicly thank the leadership of the Labour party for its help and support in making Brexit happen?

So why was he stirring that particular pot?

Well, it’s kind of obvious if you are fighting a parliamentary by-election a few miles down the road where Labour in theory has a large majority that you showcase their massive weakness in this pro-Remain seat as often as possible. At every possible moment, you highlight how Jeremy Corbyn is giving the Tories a free ride.

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Will MPs finally get parental leave?

Jo Swinson is expecting her second baby this Summer. As Minister, she made sure that everyone else had the option to share their parental leave with their partner in a way that suits them.

Men and women will no longer be tied to what history dictates their traditional roles should be with mum holding the baby while dad goes out to work.  Parenting is a shared endeavour and now dads have the opportunity to spend more time with their new baby in those vital early weeks.

Shared parental leave is my proudest achievement in government, and I’m delighted that it is

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Temporary reprieve for funds for disabled election candidates

Last month, David Buxton wrote about how the Government’s freezing of the Access to Elected Office Fund meant that he simply couldn’t stand in the 2017 General Election:

For the 2015 General Election, I obtained a grant of £40,000 from the Access to Elected Office Fund, which I used to participate in the Liberal Democrat candidate-selection process. But I could not have participated without the Fund’s support.

And​, last year,​ I was effectively barred from standing in the 2017 General Election because of the absence of the Fund.Many o​ther deaf and disabled candidates from ​the Lib Dems and from ​other parties ​are affected too, ​including Emily Brothers from Labour who is blind, ​and Simeon Hart for the Greens who is deaf, both of whom feature in the More United campaign​.​

The Access to Elected Office Fund used to help deaf and disabled people from all political parties, to stand for election, at any level. It ran from 2012-2015, and was intended to create a level playing field, given the additional costs that disabled people can incur when standing for election.

British Sign Language Interpreters, assistive technology for blind people and mobility transport all cost money. But the Fund was frozen, put “under review”, in 2015.

That review has not been conducted or completed, and the Fund has not been re-opened. The Fund has now been closed for longer than it was open so we are calling on the Government to restore it with immediate effect.

More United ran a campaign to restore the fund and Lib Dem MPs, including Christine Jardine and Stephen Lloyd, wrote to the Government to tell them of the importance of supporting disabled candidates.

This week, they won a legal challenge and secured the fund for the 2019 elections.

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Liverpool Labour meltdown – what the Lib Dems are doing

Our group leader in Liverpool, Cllr Richard Kemp, has outlined the drama, fear and loathing, accusation and counter-accusation that is the rather sorry life of the city’s Labour administration at the moment. It’s almost like we’re back in the 80s. In no way does the Labour party sound like any sort of competent administration.

It’s quite a story.

I’ve been an active politician in Liverpool for 44 years but I have never seen anything like the farce that is being played out within the Liverpool Labour Group at the moment. Even when things were at their most rancorous in the Lib Dem Group, and we did have arguments, they were sweetness and light to what is happening with Labour at the moment.

Of the 10 people in the Cabinet on 2nd May only 5 are left. One we defeated, three have resigned and one has been sacked. The departures include the Deputy Mayor and one of the assistant Mayors. Labour’s enforcer-in-chief and best mate of the Mayor, Cllr Alan Dean, has also lost an election – this time inside the Labour Party!

Such change is absolutely unprecedented and shows the panic that is currently going through the Labour Group. But even more unprecedented is the way that this is all being fought out in public. Tweets, statements and requests for action are being openly paraded and sent to the press or in other cases leaked to the Press and Liberal Democrats.

The LIb Dems have a plan to provide some serious opposition, but Richard appeals for help:

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How YOU can help Lucy Salek in Lewisham this weekend

Enthusiastic Liberal Democrats are heading to Lewisham to help our fabulous candidate Lucy Salek who has already started campaigning with a visit from Vince Cable earlier this week.

There’s lots going on this weekend. Here’s how to help. This was originally posted as a comment by Michael Andrewes here:

There are details on how to help the by-election here and here – including delivery this weekend and how to make phone calls from home etc.

Labour have pushed back their selection from last Wednesday to 9.30am tomorrow according to Labourlist.

But as I posted the neighbouring Conservative MP for Beckenham, Bob Stewart has conceded, defeat saying on Sunday Politics London that they had “absolutely no chance” on BBCSunday Politics London – leaving it a two horse race between us and Labour.

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Christine Jardine: We cannot rest until LGBT people across the globe can live freely

Yesterday was the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. In a Commons debate, Christine Jardine talked about the progress made over the last 40 years and the work still to do to rid us of discrimination against LGBT people. She particularly mentioned the prevalence of transphobia at the moment Here’s her speech in full.

This is an unusual situation because it is an important debate to have, and yet one that we probably all wish was not necessary. My right hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Justine Greening), who is no longer in her place, talked about many countries being on a journey. Regardless of the progress that we have made in this country and what we might think of that progress, and while we have travelled further than many countries, we have not yet completed our journey.

One of the things about being a Liberal is that when it comes to protecting and standing up for LGBTI rights, one has a lot to live up to. As far back as 1975, we committed to a gay rights policy with a resolution in favour of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality’s proposed law reform Bill. What sticks out for me about that is that it was 1975—just over 40 years ago. As my hon. Friend the Member for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East (Stuart C. McDonald) said, it is unimaginable that it was only 40 years ago that we were first talking of a campaign about full equality for homosexuals and equalising the age of consent for gay sex. If we fast-forward 40 years, at our 2015 conference we overwhelmingly opposed conversion therapy for all LGBT+ people—imagine that in 2015. We have travelled a considerable way, but we should not pat ourselves on the back quite yet, because we have a long way to go.

One of the most significant things for me—so far—was a statement made by Nick Clegg before the 2010 general election. When speaking about equal marriage, he said simply:

“All couples”—

I emphasise, all couples—

“should be able to make that commitment to one another”,

and now they can. Under the equal marriage legislation championed by Lynne Featherstone, of which I am particularly proud, we now live in a society where everyone is able to love equally.

I remember being asked just before the Scottish elections in 2011 whether I would support equal marriage. To me, that was a ridiculous question. What struck me was that if I had two children, one of whom was gay while the other was not, would I not want them to have the same rights, the same protection and the same respect from the law? What a ludicrous question.

Only today, my hon. Friend the Member for Ribble Valley (Mr Evans) has raised the issue of not being able to get married in church. I would like to make him an offer. Not that sort of offer. One of my friends is a Church of Scotland minister, who is gay. If I had a word with him, I am sure that he would be more than happy to oblige when it came to the ceremony.

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We’re turning away skilled workers

6,000 skilled people were denied entry to the UK last year due to visa caps. The Campaign for Science and Engineering reported on a Freedom of Information request to the Home Office which showed that thousands of workers had been denied entry between December 2017 and March 2018.

The Government have refused over 6,000 applications for skilled overseas workers holding a job offer due to an arbitrary cap on visas, including engineers, tech professionals, doctors and teachers.

Many posts up and down the country are being left unfilled because overseas workers can’t get entry. …

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Vince Cable talks about his mother’s mental illness, his father’s racism and overcoming prejudice in a moving and candid interview

Embed from Getty Images

You probably don’t know that Vince Cable was on Radio 5 Live as the birthday guest on Sunday night because it’s not really been reported anywhere. It’s worth catching up on it though because it’s one of the most open, personal  and moving interviews I’ve heard him give. He’s mentioned the racism he and his first wife Olympia faced as a mixed race couple before but in this

Vince was 75 last week but he said that he was both physically and mentally fit – he was introduced as a dancer and black run skier. His age isn’t an issue, he says. He says he’s well received amongst audiences of young people and derided by older people.

He said there was a period in politics when it was important to be youthful, citing Kennedy, Blair and Cameron but talks about a blend of youthful innovation and experience is necessary.

Growing up in York to ambitious working class parents, he learned about aspiration and ambition. He says he was a bit lonely when his brother arrived at 11. HIs mother suffered post natal depression and spent some time in hospital as a result. He has talked before of the role of adult education in helping her recover from that. His brother was fostered for a while and his father had to look after him.  He said people were quite cruel about it and taunted him about is mother going to the “loony bin.” He says we’ve made some progress with that sort of attitude.

The idea of women working when he was growing up was frowned upon. He sees this as adding to his mother’s loneliness. His father was a very traditional person who had campaigned to stop women teaching and who believed in a hierarchy of races.

He talked of forming a “little liberal cell” in his house with his mum, who defied the instructions to vote Conservative she received from her husband.

It was playing Macbeth in the school play which helped him overcome his awkwardness as a teenager and he spoke of how his involvement in a drama group led to his first relationship – with Lady Macbeth.

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The Lib Dem Press Office celebrates Eurovision

It’s become something of a tradition for the Lib Dem Press Office to offer a bit of a random and amusing commentary as Eurovision unfolds.

Here are some of the highlights:

One country making Brexiteer level of promise:

The thing is that unless you are watching this live, it’s not always clear what they are talking about. Anyone want to hazard any guesses …

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WATCH: Dorothy Thornhill on her 16 years as Mayor of Watford

One of this party’s finest female role models has just stepped down from her public role after 16 years of service in Watford.

Watch Dorothy Thornhill talk about her time as Mayor in this interview.

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Lewisham East candidate announced

The Liberal Democrat candidate for the upcoming Lewisham East by-election is Lucy Salek.

Lucy is currently the director and founder of an organisation supporting the global aid and development sector as well as Chair of the charity Action for Refugees in Lewisham. She has worked in the humanitarian aid sector for over a decade, working in a variety of roles, including as a volunteer overseas. Prior to this, she worked for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in Parliament.

Lucy said:

I am really honoured to be able to represent the area in which I grew up and now live. Now, more than ever,

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WATCH: Christine Jardine’s speech supporting Leveson 2

Sadly, MPs narrowly rejected the chance to hold the media to account by completing the second stage of the Leveson Inquiry. Christine Jardine made a very powerful speech supporting the amendment for which she was attacked in The Sun, something we’re sure she’ll wear as a badge of honour. As a former journalist, she obviously enthusiastically supports a free press.

There is quite an amusing moment where she praises Ed Miliband and the camera cuts to him.

The text of the speech is below.

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Layla Moran: Country in need of long term care plan

Today a Commons report highlights how much the adult social care sector is underfunded.

Layla Moran said that this had to change:

Care workers work tirelessly but instead of getting the support they need they face low pay, falling morale and a high turnover of staff.

The country is in desperate need for a long-term plan to fund the increasing demand for care. That is why the Liberal Democrats propose putting a penny on income tax to raise the transformational investment needed to support care workers and protect the future of care services.

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Tom Brake: Trump “reckless and short-sighted” on Iran nuclear deal

Even Boris Johnson can see the sense in sticking with the Iran nuclear deal.

Unfortunately, his tv diplomacy over the weekend seems to have come to nought as Trump has decided to withdraw the US from it. This news is not going to come as the biggest surprise we’ve ever had but it still makes the world just a bit more unstable.

Tom Brake called the decision short-sighted and reckless, and looks to the EU for leadership, saying:

Trump’s decision to scrap US participation in the Iran nuclear deal is reckless and short-sighted. The deal is far from perfect, but

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  • User AvatarOnceALibDem 21st Aug - 6:50pm
    "Agreed Joe. What’s more shocking is the complete absence of any bold statement of the party standing for civil liberties and free speech. " Not...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 21st Aug - 5:59pm
    Don’t worry folks. After Brexit the U.K. is going to become an exporting “Super Power”. Who says so? Why, none other than a certain Dr...
  • User AvatarNeil Sandison 21st Aug - 5:24pm
    Having been through a few recessions with governments of different political hues all have put the brakes on at times of fiscal crisis .The only...
  • User AvatarDavid Evershed 21st Aug - 5:10pm
    In order to bring in the freedom theme and the logo how about "Lib Dems - Free as a bird"
  • User AvatarDavid Evershed 21st Aug - 4:52pm
    I strongly agree with Joe Otten. Plus it's worth pointing out that Lib Dems were in office from 2010-2015, not just the Conservatives. We should...
  • User AvatarJohn Barrett 21st Aug - 4:29pm
    Paul - That was a quote from Roland that I was commenting on. I just assumed that was correct. Maybe that's a dangerous thing to...