Category Archives: Events

Young, liberal and free?

The Young Liberals are delighted to finally announce the dates and preliminary agenda for our Online Conference, which will take place between Sunday 19th and Sunday 26th July.

We’ve had over 150 people pre-register and near 40 submissions, making this by far the largest conference we will ever have held! The conference will be totally free for Young Liberals members, including those between 26-30 who have opted in (which you can do here). This is a really exciting opportunity for policy debates, socialising with other Young Liberals and some great speakers.

You can sign up to Conference here!

There are plenty …

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The Dawn of Webinars

Whilst we have been physically isolating due to Covid19, the virtual world has turned into a global village. Not a day passes without seeing news of another virtual conference or webinar.

A less propitious phenomenon, however, has been the alarming rise in hate crime towards British Chinese and other East Asian communities due to the pandemic. This has exposed deep seated racism against those who look Chinese in our society. Meanwhile misinformation in the media, whether deliberate or unintentional, has heightened fears and bigotry, leading to harassment, abuse and in some cases physical attacks.

To better understand the history of the …

Also posted in News | Tagged and | 8 Comments

You are cordially invited to a gathering of North of England Liberal Democrats…

When the York Conference was cancelled, I was annoyed, not because I love conference per se, but because I’d been involved in planning the launch of a new organisation – Northern Liberal Network – which had to be cancelled.

I was therefore pleasantly surprised when 140 people signed up for the digital launch of the organisation on Zoom a couple of weeks’ later. And for the breadth of attendance from every corner of the NE, NW and Yorks and Humber.

The enthusiasm at the launch confirmed what the founders of the organisation had instinctively felt. That there was something distinctive in policy …

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National Action Weekend: 20th-22nd March

The Party has set an ambitious goal of knocking on 100,000 doors across England and Wales over the weekend of the 20th-22nd March and has a dedicated webpage for getting involved.

This is in support of the hundreds of local and regional elections happening in England and Wales in May this year, including Council, Mayoral and Police & Crime Commissioner elections.

These present an excellent opportunity to make huge gains across the country.

The Party is encouraging local parties to get involved by running dedicated events and campaigning sessions.

This coordinated weekend of campaigning will help boost the profile of the Party across the country and build momentum ahead of the elections. It’s also a good chance to get newer members involved in campaigning for the first time.

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Dwi’n hoff iawn o gerddoriaeth Gymraeg!*

So Happy (late) Welsh Language Music Day!

Ddydd Miwsyg Cymru Hapus! Happy Welsh Music Day to everyone! With it actually being celebrated last Friday, I was a sad to see minimal party coverage. Whilst it might seem somewhat trivial, niche and irrelevant to the ‘powers that be’ inside our Westminster HQ, or ‘too unimportant’ to those leading our party in Wales itself; it is, in fact, the opposite.

Also posted in Wales | Tagged | 6 Comments

Freedom Across Borders

Since April this year, Russian and Syrian aircraft have bombed over twenty-five hospitals inside the Idlib ‘Deconfliction’ Zone in northwest Syria, prompting hundreds of thousands of Syrians, many of whom have already been internally displaced, to flee once again. The UN watches helplessly as most of the rest of the world turns its back on the country, uncomfortably grateful that this ongoing horror story rarely makes headlines any more.

Even now, Syrian civil society activists struggle on, attempting to provide basic health and rescue services and to resist the brutality of both the regime and its allies and the …

Also posted in Europe / International | Tagged | 3 Comments

Gladstone Lecture and Dinner 2019

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The Liberal Democrat Christian Forum, one of the party’s Associated Organisations, is having its annual Gladstone Lecture on Wednesday, June 12th, in the Lloyd George Room of the National Liberal Club.

The guest speaker is Revd. Canon Mark Oakley, Dean of St John’s College, Cambridge and former residentiary Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral.

This year’s Gladstone Lecture is entitled “Poets, Prophets and Protestors: Liberty, Christianity and the Future.”  Mark is particularly interested in the interworking of politics, poetry and faith, and will explore these themes in his lecture.

The event begins with pre-lecture drinks at 6:30pm on June 12th, followed by the Gladstone Lecture at 7pm. Tickets for the lecture are £10 (with concessionary tickets available).

After the Gladstone Lecture, there will be a fund-raising dinner for the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum held in the Lady Violet Room at the National Liberal Club. Come meet Mark Oakley, the LDCF Executive and some of our Peers & MPs. Pre-drinks, Lecture and Dinner is priced at £100.

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Come and see Layla Moran, Siobhan Benita and Dillie Keane at the National Liberal Club…

If you want to know how you can spend a wonderful evening in the company of Layla Moran, Siobhan Benita and Dillie Keane, keep on reading.

Did you help campaign to win Richmond Park? Did you spend the summer of 2003 knocking on doors in Brent East? Did you graduate from university and then get on a train so you could help with he last of the knocking up in Cheadle? I did and I helped out in by-elections too numerous to mention where we came within a few hundred votes of winning, saw massive surges in our vote or …

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Women rule! #libdemdisco

I’m so excited! Autumn Conference is nearly here and that can only mean one thing. Lib Dem Disco!

This year, the famous Lib Dem Disco, darling of the Sunday morning press, is extra special. In this, the centenary year of when some women were first able to vote and with so many incredible, inspirational women in the party, we’ve taken the opportunity to put on a Vote100 Centenary Disco.

This year, all four competing DJ’s and the host/compere are fabulous Lib Dem women. We of course have our reigning champion and leader of the Lib Dem Newbie revolution Daisy Benson returning to defend her crown. Will Daisy emulate Jo Swinson to become a two-time champion?

Not if Layla Moran, Sarah Olney and Christine Jardine can help it!

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Evening with Vince Cable

Wokingham Borough local party invited Vince Cable to a question and answer session on Saturday 12th May 2018. It was good to see members from Wokingham, Reading, Newbury, Maidenhead, and Bracknell who came to meet and listen to Vince. Councillor Clive Jones asked wide-ranging questions with supplementary questions from the audience.

Some of the main points addressed by Vince were: –

  • Vince mentioned his meeting with the head of National Union of Students (NUS) and how the NUS talked about the neglect of further education (FE);
  • Vince highlighted the importance of vocational education and giving people a second chance;
  • FE education was different to University education as you pay cash up front for FE unlike for university courses when you start to pay after you start earning money. Vince also said that he was looking at how to reform both further education funding and university education funding and he hopes to have a proposal ready for the September conference;
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Fantasy Frontbench – University College London (UCL)

University College London has started a Fantasy Frontbench to debate major current issues. The first in their series was “Should Climate Change be UK’s Top Policy Priority?”. The guest speakers were Natalie Bennett (previous leader of the Green party), Ahir Shah (a comedian), Professor Mark Maslin (Geography professor at UCL) and Dr. Emily Shuckburgh (climate scientist at the British Antarctic Survey). About 120 people attended including children from local schools.

Before the discussion started, the audience was asked the question, and the result was 52% for Yes and 48% for No (to which Ahir commented that this was considered an overwhelming majority these days).

Each member of the panel had two minutes to put their case: for or against the motion. Interestingly Natalie started with “Climate change should not be the dominant policy priority but be one in a combination of high priority policies” – after a gasp, the indicator went to 43% for Yes and 57% for No.

Also posted in Op-eds | 3 Comments

Theatre plug: Tea and Tentacles at Zeta Reticuli

This April, not to miss, is the world premiere of my play Tea and Tentacles at Zeta Reticuli, an original sexy science fiction comedy thriller. Because, if we’re honest, there is not nearly enough of that sort of thing on the stage.

Set on a starship, 40 light years from earth, a human crew of 6, along with the humanoid avatar of the ship’s mind, and an unduly annoying “morale-boosting” android, are on a mission to establish diplomatic relations with the ungendered swamp-dwelling tentacle aliens of Zeta Reticuli 3. How far are they willing to go to adapt to the aliens’ unusual practises? How will they cope when pushed to the limit by events, romantic rivalry and conflicting agendas? Will there be enough tea and cake to see them through?

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Join @timfarron for Euro campaign photos at conference

I’m really proud to be the Liberal Democrats’ Brexit Spokesman for the South East.  Working with Nick Clegg, our national Brexit spokesman, to hold the government to account and fight for the true national interest could not be more important.

One of the most successfully ways to communicate a message is visually. Pictures speak loudly.

I would like to mention two opportunities, if you are coming to party conference this weekend, to join photos that you can use at a local level.

First, we know that hard Brexit is putting our future under the axe. No-one voted for the Brexit axe to fall on family …

Also posted in Conference, Europe / International and Europe Referendum | Leave a comment

The Syria Vote and Beyond – Radical Ideas for Difficult Problems

This Saturday, there is a day conference for Liberal Democrat members on the Syrian issue, sponsored by Lib Dem Lawyers association, Liberal International, and the Lib Dem Christian Forum.

It looks excellent.

Also posted in Party policy and internal matters | 21 Comments

Conference Countdown 2015: How to learn lessons and not blow the EU referendum

In the run-up to Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, we’ll be looking ahead to examine the highlights in the debating hall, the fringe and training rooms. You can find the papers here. You can find all the posts in the series here.

Willie Rennie has finally written a frank and fascinating assessment of the flaws in the Better Together campaign. He draws a number of important conclusions which need to be learned if the EU referendum is not going to fall foul of the pitfalls that beset not only Better Together but in starker and disastrous form the incompetent Yes To AV campaign in 2011. All the articles are well worth a read.

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Conference Countdown 2015: Let’s scrap the “scrapping Trident” motion

In the run-up to Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, we’ll be looking ahead to examine the highlights in the debating hall, the fringe and training rooms. You can find the papers here. You can find all the posts in the series here.

Yesterday,  the Labour Party made the historic mistake of electing Jeremy Corbyn as its new party leader. Through this decision, it has thrown away years of work (and time in government) convincing the general public that it is electable. To a lesser degree, let us not do the same.

Naturally I respect the views of the “Scrapping Trident” lobby within the party. Theirs is a noble cause. But it should be remembered that the party already threw out the idea of scrapping Trident at party conference just two years ago by coming to a compromise that we would make substantial savings by reducing the number of Successor submarines from four to three.

Also posted in Conference and Op-eds | Tagged and | 56 Comments

Conference Countdown 2015: Transgender and intersex health charter

In the run-up to Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, we’ll be looking ahead to examine the highlights in the debating hall, the fringe and training rooms. You can find the papers here. You can find all the posts in the series here.

First thing on Monday morning, Conference will debate a long 122 line motion on what is billed as a health charter for transgender and intersex people, but actually is much more wide-ranging.

Trans and intersex  rights is the next major front for equality campaigners. Lynne Featherstone in government set out an ambitious transgender action plan but this was kicked into the long grass when she was moved out of the Home Office in 2012.

Certainly, there is much to be done. Figures show that waiting times for a first appointment at a gender identity clinic are more than excessive.

Gender Identity clinic waiting times

 

In Scotland, young people are now being told that they have a 7 month wait before they will get an appointment at the only Gender Identity Clinic for children and  teenagers in the country. This is a mighty chunk out of a school year for very vulnerable young people who may be at particular risk of self harm and suicide.

One issue that I don’t think the motion tackles is the lack of gender specialists being trained. Until more people can be attracted into the field, the problem is surely only going to get worse at a time when many more people are seeking help. In Scotland, referrals are steeply increasing, with 2 young people a week being added to the waiting list. The clinic has recently been extended from one half day a week to one full day a week but that is far from sufficient to cope with demand. An article in today’s Sunday Herald shows the extent of the problem:

The long wait can have a serious impact on trans people who are desperate for help, both mentally and physically.

Gerber admitted: “It can be distressing and there are reports of people committing suicide as a result of that.”

Steph Bell, from Edinburgh, said she was so desperate for treatment that she told her health board she was thinking of buying hormones online, as she couldn’t face waiting months for help.

The 29-year-old claims after she told the Lothian health board her plans they agreed to move her up the waiting list, but nine months later she has still not been seen.

Bell, who has a mild form of Asperger’s syndrome, said she avoids going out alone and struggles with anxiety, made worse by her wait for hormone therapy.

Here is the motion in full. The deadline for amendments is tomorrow at 1pm. 

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Conference Countdown 2015: Call for better youth services

In the run-up to Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, we’ll be looking ahead to examine the highlights in the debating hall, the fringe and training rooms. You can find the papers here. You can find all the posts in the series here.

The final debate before the Leader’s Speech is on the subject of youth services. The motion’s promoters have been very busy this week, ensuring coverage on the Children and Young People now website. Mathew Hulbert told the site:

Hulbert said the Lib Dem Friends of Youth Services has been formed to campaign internally in the party to influence the party line on youth services in the current parliament and through into the next general election in 2020. “The other part of it is being able to speak out by whatever means possible, joining other other people from the sector who are saying that young people are being dumped on time and again – whether it be youth services, or cuts to benefits. “What have young people done to deserve being treated in this way by government?”

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Conference Countdown 2015: Cutting VAT for tourism would be a costly mistake

In the run-up to Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, we’ll be looking ahead to examine the highlights in the debating hall, the fringe and training rooms. You can find the papers here. You can find all the posts in the series here.

One of the motions at conference is for reducing VAT on tourism as far as possible. Here’s why that’s a bad idea.

The idea is to reduce VAT on hotels and selected attractions from the standard rate of 20% to 5% – the minimum allowed by the EU. This is something the British Hospitality Association has been lobbying the Treasury on for years. The motion refers to the importance of tourism more generally, with figures that include all restaurants, pubs and outbound flights, amongst other things, but I assume its VAT proposal is (mercifully) more limited.

The government’s response to this lobbying (under both Labour and the Coalition of which we were a part) has been to point to the substantial price tag. The cost of cutting VAT for accommodation alone would be £2 billion a year, with amusement parks and similar adding another £200 million. This is serious money. A comparable total would be the cost of the Pupil Premium that Lib Dems fought so hard to introduce.

Also posted in Conference and News | Tagged , , and | 22 Comments

Conference Countdown 2015: The first policy debate on creating safe and legal routes for refugees.

In the run-up to Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, we’ll be looking ahead to examine the highlights in the debating hall, the fringe and training rooms. You can find the papers here. You can find all the posts in the series here.

The first policy debate of tho year’s Conference is on Creating safe and legal routes for refugees. It will be proposed by Suzanne Fletcher who is one of the founder members of Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary.

The motion is unlikely to be controversial and is particularly relevant at the moment. It is very consistent with the sorts of things that Tim Farron has been saying, especially since he visited the refugees in Calais himself.

However, if there are any developments, amendments can be submitted until 7th September. 

Also posted in Conference and News | Tagged | 2 Comments

Conference Countdown 2015: How do Conference debates work?

In the run-up to Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, we’ll be looking ahead to examine the highlights in the debating hall, the fringe and training rooms. You can find the papers here. You can find all the posts in the series here.

For those of you who haven’t been to Conference before, I thought it might be useful to run through how Conference debates work.

Local parties, groups of Conference representatives and organisations (SAOs) like Liberal Youth and Lib Dem Women can submit motions to Conference. They are then circulated and are open to amendment. This year’s deadline for amendments is 1pm on Monday 7th September, so if you want to amend any of the motions, persuade 10 Conference representatives, or persuade your local party or an SAO to submit it for you. You can submit amendments online here and until next Tuesday at 1pm, you can even get drafting advice from expert motion writers here.

Also posted in Conference and News | Tagged | 4 Comments

David Steel’s Golden Jubilee

David Steel at Malcolm Bruce's anniversary dinnerI’m sure that there will be many LDV readers wanting to see the film Selma (as a well-earned break from campaigning!) which is released this week. It depicts Martin Luther King’s leadership of thousands on the march from Selma to Montgomery in search of equal voting rights for African Americans who were largely excluded from voting rolls. The five day fifty-four mile march arrived at the State Capitol on the 25th March 1965.

It was on the day before that the young David Steel was elected in a by-election for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles, thus beginning a long political career in which he has been a notable campaigner against racial injustice at home and abroad.

The various aspects of Lord Steel’s political life will be celebrated at this year’s Orpington Dinner at the National Liberal Club on Tuesday, 10th March with an impressive list of speakers including Baroness Shirley Williams. The Orpington Circle is one of the Party’s best kept secrets. Founded in 2008 during my time as Chairman of the National Liberal Club, it raises money to support Liberal Democrats at Westminster by-elections. The Orpington Fund has covered every by-election deposit since its foundation with larger sums going to selected seats.

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Ed Davey: Non-nuclear energy approach is “negligent” and “risky” #slfconf

Ed Davey - photo by Paul WalterOn Monday, I summarised the appearances of Ed Davey at last weekend’s Social Liberal Forum conference in London. Here, I outline some of the views expressed and initiatives described by Ed on the day, including during a bloggers’ interview:

Using less energy

Fuel poverty is a serious issue. Energy inefficient building stock is a key cause.

The Green deal, Ed said, had not originally gone as well as it had been hoped. In Phase 1, there were just 250,000 assessments. Phase 2 is going better, and is on track to improve two million homes.

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ALDE to select candidate for president of the European Commission

The ALDE Party has called an extraordinary Electoral Congress to advise the ALDE Party Bureau to choose a candidate for the President of the European Commission. This congress will take place in the afternoon of the 1st February 2014, in Brussels. Liberal Democrats are the biggest delegation with the total of sixty-two votes.

There are only two declared candidates so far, Guy Verhofstadt, Leader of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament, and former Prime Minister of Belgium, and Olli Rehn, Vice President of the European Commission, and Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, a key portfolio over the past …

Also posted in Europe / International and News | Tagged and | 2 Comments

Vince and the Chinese Lib Dems: “West meets East at the Roux”

Chinese Liberal Democrats Vice Chair Merlene Toh Emerson invited Vicky Wong, a freelance journalist, to attend the Chinese Liberal Democrats recent business networking event, attended by Vince Cable. Here’s Vicky’s account of the evening…

Dr Vince Cable MP, Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills was keynote speaker at an “East-West Business networking event” organised by Merlene Emerson of the Chinese Liberal Democrats at the Roux at Parliament Square last week.

Dr Cable praised the work of Chinese Liberal Democrats and their role in promoting closer relations between the party and the Chinese and South East Asian community …

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ALDE Party Congress venue for 2013 announced… welcome to London!

The Liberal Democrats are proud to announce the hosting of the ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe) Congress in London at the end of November this year.

The ALDE Party Congress is the biggest annual event gathering Liberals across Europe:

  • over 650 members of liberal parties from around the continent;
  • top politicians including Prime Ministers, European Commissioners, Ministers, Members of the European and national Parliaments, Members of the Committee of the Regions, and many other delegates
  • an event with European visibility, acknowledging the role of the supporting party within both a European and the national political context
  • topical debates, high level speeches and

Also posted in Europe / International and News | Tagged and | 1 Comment

Last reminder! LibDemVoice Xmas Drinks, Monday 17th December

Christmas treeA final reminder that tomorrow, Monday 17th December, all LibDemVoice readers are invited to join us for festive drinks at 5pm in London, followed by (for those who’re able) Steve Richards’ Rock ‘n Roll Politics Christmas Special.

You can sign up for drinks on our Facebook page here, or via FlockTogether here — you’ll find the venue of the pub there.

There are a handful of tickets still left for Steve’s show — you can buy them here. Premiered at this year’s Edinburgh Festival, where it …

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Diary reminder: LibDemVoice Xmas Drinks, 17th December

Here’s a date for your diary… On 17th December, all LibDemVoice readers are invited to join us for festive drinks at 5pm in London, followed by (for those who wish) seeing Steve Richards’ Rock ‘n Roll Politics Christmas Special.

You can sign up for drinks on our Facebook page here, or via FlockTogether here.

Premiered at this year’s Edinburgh Festival, where it earned rave reviews, here’s how Steve’s show is billed:

Award winning BBC broadcaster and columnist, Steve Richards, takes you behind the scenes of British Politics and the media,

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Date for your diary – 17th December: LibDemVoice Xmas drinks, followed by Steve Richards’ Rock ‘n Roll Politics

Here’s a date for your diary… On 17th December, The Independent’s Steve Richards will bring his Rock ‘n Roll Politics to London for a Christmas special. Premiered at this year’s Edinburgh Festival, where it earned rave reviews, here’s how the show is billed:

Award winning BBC broadcaster and columnist, Steve Richards, takes you behind the scenes of British Politics and the media, the characters, the absurdities, the tragedies. Laugh and cry as you are taken on a whirlwind tour from Harold Wilson and David Bowie in the 1970s to David

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Paddy, Olly and Max on the art of speech-making

Here’s a forthcoming event to anticipate…

    The UK Speechwriters’ Guild is hosting an event in Portcullis House at the Houses of Parliament, which will give people a rare insight into the dynamic relationship between speechwriter and party leader.

    On Wednesday 21 November, from 6.30pm, as part of Parliament Week 2012, Lord Ashdown, former leader of the Liberal Democrats, and his former speechwriter, Dr Max Atkinson, will share their experiences of how party leader and speechwriter worked in synchrony at the highest level, and the specific techniques they used to inspire their audiences through the power of the spoken word.

    The meeting

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