Baroness Kate Parminter…What I will do as a Lib Dem Deputy Leader in the Lords

Last week I was elected as one of two Deputy Leaders (alongside Navnit Dholakia) of our group in the Lords.

We have many battles ahead of us and whilst I’m a supporter of an elected second chamber (and have long campaigned for one and will continue to do so) we Liberal Democrats in the Lords have a real opportunity to hold this Government to account. We can improve the laws that the Tories bring forward and campaign alongside others to make Britain less unjust, more liberal and greener.

I’m looking forward to working with Navnit & our Leader Jim Wallace as our 102 strong group in the Lords calls into question any illiberal moves by this Tory Government (and so far it looks like there will be many opportunities to do so). This will play a part in the Liberal Democrat fightback and keep the liberal voice loud in Westminster, helping re-build support for our party to win votes and seats right across Britain.

So what will I do?

  • I’ll relish seeking to defeat the Government when it’s the right thing to do. As Jim has said, the Salisbury Convention does not give a Government elected on 37% of the vote carte blanche to ram through legislation without proper scrutiny. The Lords has the right to say no and we should use it.
  • I’ll get out of London and join with our campaigners around the country. Like many of my colleagues I campaigned in numerous constituencies in the General Election, from St Ives to Hereford, from Cambridge to Portsmouth. We’ve heard how much that was appreciated but I believe you can’t ask others to do this if you aren’t doing it yourself – so I’ll lead from the front.
  • I’ll communicate our message to new audiences – I’m hoping particularly to reach out to younger women. This will include using social media (@KateParminter on Twitter) to engage with as many people as possible.
  • I’ll continue raising our party’s green profile. An early signal of how the Tories are reverting to their true colours is the earlier than planned cut to wind farm subsidies. As the party’s Principal Spokesperson on the Environment, I will articulate our vision for a sustainable future and I’m looking forward to discussing with Catherine Bearder MEP next week how she and I can campaign together on environmental issues – which we know are so important to many younger people – and will provide a platform to show just how critical Europe is for our countryside and our wildlife & why we must stay in the EU;
  • I’ll use my experience of running campaigning organisations (I was previously Chief Executive of CPRE), to build integrated campaigns with parliamentary colleagues around the country and in Europe. A new joint structure of working with those in the Commons is absolutely right but we can do more to build campaigns which involve all levels in the party and in doing so boost the morale of our passionately committed activists.

Over seventy new members have joined my local party of South West Surrey since the General Election, including, I’m delighted to say, my 14 year old daughter. Listening to them, I’m clear we need to rebuild our party, campaigning on issues that reflect our values but which reach out to these new members and a younger generation. It is a privilege to take on this new role and help lead our fight back.

* Kate Parminter is a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords and spokesperson on DEFRA matters

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2 Comments

  • George Crozier 24th Jun '15 - 9:51am

    Thanks Kate. Good to hear our peers will be robustly holding the govt to account and not afraid to help inflict defeats in them.

  • alec dauncey 24th Jun '15 - 10:44am

    It seems to me that the government in the Commons is now of sufficiently doubtful electoral legitimacy that a more radical approach in the Lords is justified. Not only do the government only have 37% support, but huge proportions of the electorate are unrepresented or outrageously distortedly represented. The Commons as a whole deserves less constitutional respect than ever.

    I think there is a case for the Lords to be much more challenging to the point of obstruction. The days of sound accountability and ammendment may be over. Force David Cameron to hate the Lords to point of thinking it better if they were elected.

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