Category Archives: Events

China: What should be our long-term response?

This year’s autumn conference will see the launch of the party’s Federal International Relations Subcommittee on China to help the party and its members understand and deal with the multifaceted challenges of a rising authoritarian China.

In March 2019, when the UK was part of the EU, the Joint Communication EU-China: A Strategic Outlook came out. It defined the EU’s approach to China in the following way:

China is, simultaneously, in different policy areas, a cooperation partner with whom the EU has closely aligned objectives, a negotiating partner with whom the EU needs to find a balance of interests, an economic competitor in the pursuit of technological leadership, and a systemic rival promoting alternative models of governance.

The broad-based nature of the relationship allows us to take such a differentiated approach, although it must be said that the possibilities of cooperation are continually narrowing as China takes more strident positions in the world, backed by its Wolf Warrior diplomacy.

Also posted in Conference | Tagged and | 18 Comments

The Liberal Democrat Conference on the Future of Europe

As we head into the Autumn conference and debating season, for those of us for whom Europe is still the most defining issue of our time, the next couple of months are going to be very exciting. As a member of the Liberal Democrats you are going to have the opportunity to have your say.

In June the European Union launched its “Conference on the Future of Europe”, whose purpose is to generate ideas and set out a vision for how the EU should develop and improve in the future.

Also posted in Europe / International | Tagged , and | 17 Comments

Liberalism in the United States

What is political liberalism in the United States? That’s the topic of the Liberal Democrat History Group’s next discussion meeting, at 6.30pm on Tuesday 6 July. All are welcome.

The original conception of liberalism in America was the protection of people from arbitrary power, support for the free market and advocacy of religious tolerance. Many of these concepts found their place in the American Declaration of Independence and in the constitution of the emerging United States. The Federalist Papers, written by Alexander Hamilton (who may have been surprised to find himself, 230 years later, starring in a rap musical), John Jay and James Madison are now regarded as classics of western constitutionalism, laying out the doctrine of limited government, representative democracy and federalism.

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Webinar: will the tragedy of Afghanistan become Europe’s tragedy?

If peace negotiations collapse and the Taliban take power in Afghanistan, the UK and Europe may well be faced again with another wave of mass migration (are we really going to turn away women and their families at deadly risk from the Taliban?), a strengthened base for the export of terrorism (Taliban have not broken links with Al Qaeda, CIA reckons even US at risk again within three years) and continued supply of opium to European youth from the largest producer in the world.

Dr Abdullah Abdullah, a figure well-known in the UK who is the Afghan Government’s chief negotiator for the intra-Afghan peace talks with the Taliban and former Chief Executive Officer of the Unity Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (2014-2020) will be addressing UK Liberal Democrats on the latest state of play 18.30-20.00hrs this Monday 7th June. You are encouraged to register for this LIBG/Lib Dems Overseas event at the Paddy Ashdown Forum.

Dr Abdullah Abdullah will be joined by members of the Afghan Civic Democrats, a parliamentary grouping in the Wolesi Jirga (lower house), with whom Lib Dems Overseas have a strong association, as well as the Head of Office from the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, direct from Kandahar/Helmand province. The Lib Dems response will be given by Baroness Northover, our Foreign Affairs spokesperson in the Lords.

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

Sir Nick Clegg lecture: “The end of global internet”

The Shirley Williams Lectures are now getting well into their stride. On Wednesday evening we had the honour of welcoming Nick Clegg direct from Atherton, California USA.

It was the day of Facebook’s AGM, so a busy one for Nick.

I was very impressed by Nick’s lecture, which was delivered flawlessly from notes.

After paying a very warm and heartfelt tribute to Baroness Williams, Nick outlined how he regards 1989 as the key year in his life. The Berlin Wall fell and Tim Berners-Lee invented the Worldwide Web.

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The Shirley Williams Lectures

It is such an exciting time for the new Cheadle-based fundraising project, The Shirley Williams Lectures. In the absence of in-person conferences and party events, the SWL club has offered party members and other liberal-minded people across the country a way to connect – with the speakers, with other progressive campaigners and with the ideas.

Next up on the programme of speakers is former Leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Nick Clegg. As Vice-President of Facebook since 2018, Nick is well placed to tackle this month’s lecture entitled ‘The End of Global Internet’. Social media and the internet have played an …

Also posted in News | Tagged | 5 Comments

Event review: How to win with Basic Income

Nearly 200 Lib Dem activists signed up to join the “How to win with UBI” online event on Tuesday 9th March, organised in partnership between Lib Dems for Basic Income, the Social Liberal Forum, the Compass-hosted Basic Income Conversation, and justLiberals.

This was the first of three events being co-hosted by this partnership of organisations to explore what is arguably our biggest new party policy for some time.

The second event is What Kind Of UBI?, on 29th March, and this will be followed by an exciting conversation with Michael Tubbs, the man who introduced a …

Also posted in News | Tagged | 5 Comments

What’s it like to be disabled in Britain in 2021?

I’m in the midst of preparing for my forthcoming webinar: ‘What’s it Like to be Disabled in Britain in 2021?’ with speakers Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Michelle Daley and Dan White.

And I have learned so much. – Especially from members of the public who’ve sent in descriptions of their experiences to me*.

Emma shared with me that being disabled in Britain for her is being anxious about an appointment she’s been to numerous times before, but never knowing if she’s going to be able to park safely. Or, even if she can park safely, being able to get out of the car.

It’s about never being spontaneous, because she has to spend hours on Google figuring out whether there’s a disabled toilet nearby or whether she can access a particular building. She described it as her freedom taken away from her.

Tagged | 4 Comments

Event: Liam MacArthur MSP to take part in Question Time on tackling global poverty and climate justice

Voters in Scotland are being given the chance to quiz politicians – including Scottish LibDem MSP Liam McArthur – and make their voices heard on Scotland’s role in building a greener, fairer world.

Scotland’s International Development Alliance (The Alliance), which represents over 200 diverse organisations operating in over 100 countries, is hosting an online Question Time event to encourage Scottish political parties to include commitments to global sustainable development in their manifestos ahead of the forthcoming Scottish Parliament elections in May.

Scotland for a Fairer World: Question Time will be held on Thursday 11 March from 6.30 to 8pm, chaired by campaigner and writer Talat Yaqoob. The politicians taking part are the SNP’s Jenny Gilruth MSP, Minister for Europe and International Development, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie, the Liberal Democrats’ environment spokesperson Liam McArthur, Scottish Conservative Shadow Economy Secretary Maurice Golden, along with a representative from Scottish Labour.

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New Event: How to win with Basic Income

At last year’s Autumn Conference, Liberal Democrat members voted overwhelmingly to adopt Universal Basic Income (UBI) as party policy.
Now, we have our first opportunity to make this vital policy part of our campaigning platform for the bumper set of elections coming up on 6th May.
Not only are there council seats and mayoral positions up for grabs all over the country, but there are also the elections for Members of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Senedd.
So now it’s time for the really big questions:
Tagged | 15 Comments

Britain in a Post-Trump, Post-Brexit world

The Social Liberal Forum’s highly successful online programme continues on Monday 22nd February with Britain in a Post-Trump, Post-Brexit World. Our two guests are William Wallace-well known to Lib Dem Voice readers- and Professor Anand Menon. You can register for free by following this link to the SLF website: Britain in a Post-Trump, post-Brexit World .

Professor Anand Menon is the Director of the UK in a Changing Europe and Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs at Kings College, London.

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An announcement from Isabelle Parasram

I am hosting a webinar on women and justice. It ties in with the CPS consultation on the prosecution of rape offences. 

Do you think that the legal system has failed women?

Join me as I chair a webinar featuring:

  • former Chair of the Bar Council Amanda Pinto QC
  • barrister and part-time Crown Court Recorder Maryam Syed and
  • Elaine Storkey, author of ‘Scars Against Humanity’, a book about violence against women and girls.

Baroness Lorely Burt will be introducing the session and psychologist Dr Jermaine Revalier will be co-chairing.

The timing of the webinar coincides with the deadline for comments on the CPS …

Also posted in News | Tagged and | 11 Comments

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 …

Tagged and | 8 Comments

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 …

Tagged | 1 Comment

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.

Tagged , , and | 25 Comments

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!

Tagged | 1 Comment

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;
Also posted in Op-eds | Leave a comment

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?

Also posted in The Arts | Leave a comment

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.

Also posted in Conference and Op-eds | Tagged , , , , and | 23 Comments

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. 

Also posted in Conference and Op-eds | Tagged , and | 13 Comments

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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