Category Archives: Events

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 | 1 Comment

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.

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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. 

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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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.

Tagged , and | 26 Comments

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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Wanted: the next generation of Community Champions

Most young people aren’t interested in politics. So how do we build Liberal Youth branches, bring new members into the party, and engage the next generation? I believe that one way we can start is by getting back to community politics.

The art of politics, in so far as it is electioneering, is of obvious importance to what we do as a party, but it shouldn’t be everything. If we only focus on getting the next Lib Dem elected then we will only ever attract a narrow pool of talent, which, however bright, will be made up of those young people who see themselves with a future in politics.

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Liberal Drinks / #tweetup at #ldconf

LibDemVoice have for the last few years nominated a time and a place for an informal drink and meet-up for internetty Lib Dems to let their hair down and have a chat.

This time around, we weren’t quite fleet enough of foot to get any such event in the conference directory, so we will have to rely on word of mouth helping to spread the details.

After a quick chat on the topic in Lib Dem Voice’s private members’ forum, we settled on meeting at the Wellington pub, a short distance from the conference centre itself, on the Monday night of the conference week. Kickoff will be around 7.30pm.

If you’d like to come along, why not click here to let your twitter friends know.

In addition, Lib Dem Voice have our usual strong presence at the conference, with the following events planned:

Also posted in Conference | Tagged and | 8 Comments

Come help Simon Wright in Norwich South on Sept 3rd

Remember Norwich South on the 6th May 2010, when Simon Wright made that astonishing breakthrough to take the seat from a former Labour Cabinet minister?

We all know that success like this is only sustained if we keep working outside election times.
So Eastern Region are holding an Action Day on Saturday, September 3rd.

There will be surveying and recruitment, and a chance to talk over lunch with other campaigners, including Simon Wright.

So do join us.

Tagged , , and | 6 Comments

Help spread the word about our lunchtime fringe

LibDemVoice are hosting four events at conference – fuller details are available here.

Our final event falls this lunchtime as Mark Pack takes the chair to explore the party’s general election campaign. With Hilary Stephenson, Duncan Hames MP and Paul Holmes.

If you’d like to come along, why not click here to let your twitter friends know.

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Help spread the word about tonight’s #Tweetup!

LibDemVoice are hosting four events at conference – fuller details are available here.

As the week motors on, the evening planned for our Liberal Drinks / Tweetup night approaches.

We’ll be in the Baltic Fleet pub from 7.30pm onwards tonight having a friendly drink in a real ale pub and getting ready for Glee Club.

If you’d like to come along, why not click here to let your twitter friends know.

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PODCAST: Fairer? For whom?

"Coalition: Fairer for whom?" Susan Kramer and Will Straw at LDV's conference fringe

This lunchtime, Lib Dem conference representatives gathered in the staggeringly poorly signposted Hall 1B to hear a stellar lineup of Susan Kramer, Evan Harris and interloper Will Straw from Left Foot Forward hold forth on the subject of “Fairer? For whom?” – excellently wrangled by the chairman, our own Stephen Tall.

As with all Lib Dem Voice fringe events, we were there with …

Play
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Help spread the word about LDV’s event today

LibDemVoice are hosting four events at conference – fuller details are available here.

It was brave of us to have events on two consecutive days, particularly as many of us are nursing hangovers after the display of the BOTYs last night.

And yet, our next event featuring the lovely Dr Evan Harris and the erudite Will Straw takes place this lunchtime.

If you’d like to come along, why not click here to let your twitter friends know.

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PODCAST: Blog of the Year Awards 2010

Earlier tonight, the Blog of the Year Awards reached their fiery climax.

Helen Duffett has already brought you the stunning results, congratulated the winners and commiserated with the runners up.

All that remains is my duty to bring you, the loyal listener at home who maybe can’t be at conference this year, the recording of the proceedings.

And, technology permitting, you should find that below.

Happy listening!

Play
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Final details for our Fringe tomorrow

Many many thanks to Lib Dem Voice editor Helen Duffett for organising our major fringe event tomorrow. She’s been hunting around the country for the best talent to speak to us, and has overcome many seemingly insurmountable obstacles to bring a stellar event to the conference.

Hall 1B is a lovely room with a giant set of seats sitting on an enormous turntable, for reasons that will probably become clear if you come and see the fringe.

Without further ado, our speaker lineup is:

Evan Harris
Susan Kramer
Will Straw

The title is:

Fairer? For Whom?

As will all our fringe events, we are planning …

Also posted in Conference | Tagged , and | 1 Comment
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