Category Archives: News

19 April 2024 – today’s press releases

  • River Thames Tsar should be created to tackle sewage crisis
  • Menzies Scandal: Ethics adviser must investigate Conservative Chief Whip
  • Sick note speech: Sunak blaming British people for failures on NHS and economy
  • Lib Dems respond to SNP interview on ditched climate targets

River Thames Tsar should be created to tackle sewage crisis

  • Liberal Democrat Leader calls for new government appointed role to hold Thames Water to account for sewage pollution
  • New role could pave the way for wider reforms of water industry with increased environmental accountability and new representation on water company boards
  • Ed Davey will make the announcement during a local elections visit to the River Mole in Esher and Walton today

The Liberal Democrats are calling for a new River Thames Tsar to be appointed by the government, in a bid to hold the country’s biggest water firm to account.

Leader Ed Davey visits the River Mole in Esher and Walton, a marginal Surrey constituency, to announce the policy. The Esher and Walton constituency was in the top 100 worst for sewage dumping last year and saw a staggering 135% increase in spills.

This policy is part of the party’s plan for water industry reform, including transforming water companies into “Public Benefit Companies”, by ensuring environmental experts sit on water utility boards. The reforms aim to put an end to water companies putting profit before the environment. The Liberal Democrats have also called for Ofwat to be abolished, so a new tougher water regulator can be created.

The new River Thames Tsar proposed by the Liberal Democrats would have various roles, including:

  • Attending Thames Water board meetings
  • Hosting public meetings with river users and environmental groups
  • Ensuring the Environment Agency follows up on reports of sewage pollution into the Thames and its tributaries

The latest policy announcement follows the Government’s decision to appoint a River Wye Tsar last week, amid concerns of agricultural pollution. The Liberal Democrats are calling for the new River Thames Tsar to have a high public profile, with Feargal Sharkey and Steve Backshall suggested as possible candidates.

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ALDC by-election Report, 18th April

There were 3 principal council by-elections this week. Two on Thursday and a rare election on Tuesday. Just like last week our Lib Dem candidates secured an excellent win and an extremely close second place in the elections we contested on Thursday.

Our win came on East Cambridgeshire DC in Ely West ward. The was a Lib Dem defence. Congratulations to Councillor Ross Trent and the East Cambridgeshire team for not only holding the ward but doing so by increasing our vote share by over 10%!

East Cambridgeshire DC, Ely West
Liberal Democrats (Ross Trent): 1125 (47.9%, +10.6%)
Conservative: 760 (32.2%, +10.3%)
Labour: 466 (19.8%, -2.7%)

We also contested the seat of Farnham Castle on Waverley BC. Despite not standing here in the last election Lib Dem candidate Theresa Meredith-Hardy finished second and was only 28 votes off winning – securing 30% of the vote and pushing Labour into third. This is a truly exceptional result and reward for the hard work put in by Theresa and the Waverley Lib Dem team. You’ll get it next time!

Waverley BC, Farnham Castle
Farnham Residents: 307 (32.5%, -17.6%)
Liberal Democrats (Theresa Meredith-Hardy): 279 (29.6%, new)
Labour: 217 (23%, -11.7%)
Conservative: 141 (14.9%, -0.2%)

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18 April 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Police taking up to 17 and a half hours to respond to anti-social behaviour calls
  • Thames Water: This corporate clown show must end
  • “Flushed away”- Welsh Lib Dems urge Welsh Government to support maintenance of public toilets
  • Scot Lib Dems respond to SNP and Greens ditching climate change targets
  • Khan manifesto launch
  • Cole-Hamilton speaks after more days of turmoil for Humza Yousaf

Police taking up to 17 and a half hours to respond to anti-social behaviour calls

Average police response times to anti-social behaviour incidents have increased by 37% since 2021, with some forces taking an average of 17 and a half hours to arrive at the scene, shocking new figures uncovered by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

The figures were obtained through a series of Freedom of Information requests to all police forces in England. 27 forces provided full responses.

In 2023, it took an average of 3 hours and 40 minutes across police forces for an officer to turn up to the scene of anti-social behaviour incidents. This is an increase of 34% compared to average wait times across police forces in 2021, which stood at 2 hours and 44 minutes.

The figures revealed a disturbing postcode lottery, with huge differences in average response times between police forces.

Suffolk had the longest wait times in England last year, with police taking an average of 17 and a half hours to attend anti-social behaviour reports, followed closely behind by Norfolk where wait times were 17 hours and 29 minutes. Cambridgeshire also had extremely long wait times, which stood at 11 and a half hours.

Meanwhile, anti-social behaviour calls in Essex were attended to in less than 8 minutes on average.

In recent years, some forces also experienced huge deteriorations in wait times. In Surrey, where Lib Dem Leader Ed Davey will be making a campaigning visit today, wait times have increased by 281% since 2021, up to nearly 5 and a half hours.

London wait times have more than tripled in that same time period, up a staggering 353%.

The shocking figures come just months after the Crime Survey for England and Wales found that in the year ending September 2023, more than one third of people had experienced or witnessed some type of anti-social behaviour, with the police recording 1 million incidents.

The Liberal Democrats have slammed the Conservative Government for these figures, arguing that years of ineffective resourcing have left local police forces overstretched, under-resourced and unable to effectively respond to local crime. This includes taking more than 4,500 community officers (PCSOs) off the streets since 2015.

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17 April 2024 – today’s press releases (part 2)

  • Lib Dem comment on Sadiq Khan’s latest pre-election pledge on women’s safety
  • McArthur welcomes assisted dying bill being assigned to health committee
  • “Cultural vandalism”- Welsh Lib Dems urge Welsh government to save National Museum
  • Cole-Hamilton urges SNP Government to deliver transparency on Russian land ownership
  • “Families are being cut off” -Welsh Lib Dems urge Welsh Gov to lift immigration status barriers on school grants

Lib Dem comment on Sadiq Khan’s latest pre-election pledge on women’s safety

Commenting on Sadiq Khan’s promise to fund a free, independent legal advice pilot service for survivors of rape and serious sexual offences, if re-elected, Liberal Democrat London mayoral candidate Rob Blackie said:

Under Sadiq Khan, the police are catching rapists and sexual offenders half as often as they did when he became Mayor in 2016. This is a scandal. But in last night’s debate the Mayor would not even say that he is sorry for this.

The Mayor’s plan does not promise to catch significantly more sexual offenders. It even includes policies that were promised last year.

McArthur welcomes assisted dying bill being assigned to health committee

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur has welcomed the news that the Scottish Parliament’s health committee has been assigned as the lead committee for scrutinising his Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill.

The decision to assign a bill a lead committee is taken by the Scottish Parliament business bureau. The bill is also expected to be scrutinised by the Finance committee and Delegated Powers committee.

The committee will now decide how it wishes to proceed, which is likely to start with call for the submission of written evidence followed by oral evidence sessions with a wide range of witnesses and stakeholders, concluding with Mr McArthur, appearing before the committee.

The Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill was published on 28th March, alongside polling from Dignity in Dying showing strong support for assisted dying in every constituency and region of Scotland.

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17 April 2024 – today’s press releases (part 1)

Back after a few days on grandparent duty…

  • Inflation figures: Nobody will notice this in their pockets
  • Three in four of worst hit constituencies for sewage dumping held by Conservative MPs
  • Mark Menzies scandal: Sunak must suspend the Whip

Inflation figures: Nobody will notice this in their pockets

Responding to the latest inflation figures, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

Nobody will notice this in their pockets, with mortgage bills still skyrocketing after Liz Truss crashed the economy, and prices still so much higher than last year. By patting themselves on the back for this record, Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt have proved just how out of touch they are.

Conservative Chancellors have presided over the worst cost of living crisis in living memory. The blame lies squarely with their gross economic incompetence.

Three in four of worst hit constituencies for sewage dumping held by Conservative MPs

  • 75 of the the top 100 constituencies for the worst number of sewage spills last year held by Conservative MPs
  • Rishi Sunak’s constituency was the 10th worst hit in England, with the duration of sewage dumping doubling to 42,000 hours in 2023
  • Theresa May’s seat of Maidenhead saw a staggering forty fold increase in duration of sewage dumping
  • Lib Dems warn of a “reckoning at the ballot box” from former Conservative voters furious about the sewage scandal

96% of Conservative held seats in England saw an increase in sewage dumping last year, with the worst constituency for sewage dumping facing 100,000 hours worth of spills, Liberal Democrat analysis of House of Commons Library research has shown.

Geoffrey Cox’s seat of Torridge and West Devon was the worst affected last year by sewage dumping, facing 97,000 hours worth of sewage being pumped into the area’s waterways, a 65% increase on 2022’s figure This was followed by Central Devon, Skipton and Ripon, Penrith and The Border, and Totnes, all of which experienced over 50,000 hours worth of dumps by water companies.

450 of the 508 seats in England saw a rise in the duration of sewage dumping and 456 saw a rise in the number of spills in 2023 compared to the previous year. In a staggering 96% of Conservative held seats in England there was an increase in sewage spills last year.

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Helen Morgan challenges PM on A and E waiting times in Shropshire

We reported earlier on Sarah Olney’s question to the Prime Minister today but she wasn’t the only Lib Dem called.

Helen Morgan has been pushing the Government to improve NHS services from ambulance waiting times to the time people spend in A and E.

Today, she questioned Rishi Sunak after learning that 10,000 pensioners had spent more than 24 hours waiting on trolleys and hard chairs, up from just 290 in 2019. That’s not to mention the 4200 adults who had the same fate.

She said:

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Sunak fails to back Sarah Olney’s call for free court transcripts for victims

Rishi Sunak today failed to back a call at Prime Minister’s Questions from our Sarah Olney, to change the law to give victims access to free court transcripts.

Sarah’s question was on behalf of her constituent, Juliana Terlizzi, who was drugged and raped by her then boyfriend in 2020. When Ms Terlizzi requested a copy of the court transcript to aid with her healing process, she was ordered to pay over £7,000 to access it. Ms Terlizzi, who was in the gallery for the question, branded Rishi Sunak’s response as yet more empty words, adding it was “a slap in the face” for victims.

This is not the only time this has happened One recent case involved a girl who was raped and sexually abused by her father, but whose family were then quoted £6,534 for the transcript of his trial.

Lib Dem peer Sal Brinton has proposed an amendment to the Victims’ and Prisoners’ Bill, scheduled for a vote in the House of Lords on Tuesday 23rd April, which would tackle these costs being charged to victims. It would allow all crime victims to request a transcript of the court’s summing up and sentencing remarks, so long as the trial took place in a court where the proceedings are recorded. This would include all crown court cases where serious offences, including robbery, rape and murder, are tried.

Sarah Olney said:

No victim or bereaved family should be forced to pay thousands to access a court transcript that’s part of their own story. The Prime Minister could easily tackle this injustice, but his government’s continued refusal to do so speaks volumes.

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Rob Blackie holds Khan to account on crime in ITV London Mayor debate

Rob Blackie at ITV London debate. Credit: Andy Sillett

Last night, ITV London held a debate with the candidates for London Mayor. Our Rob Blackie took part and challenged incumbent Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan on his record on tackling crime. He also emphasised that the Conservatives could not win.

You can watch the whole debate here and an extra comment from Rob Blackie here.

At one point, Rob asked Sadiq Khan “Aren’t you ashamed?” at the collapse in the number of sexual offenders being caught.

Rob also called the Mayor out for undermining Transport for London’s finances with election gimmicks, benefitting tourists, pledging to halt bus cuts and get the tube back on track instead.

After the debate, Rob said:

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Ed Davey: I will vote for lifelong tobacco purchase ban and I hope it passes

There was a twelve minute interview with Ed Davey this morning on BBC Breakfast. Twelve minutes!

You can watch the interview here – move the slider to 01:30:15 (just under halfway through) to see the start.

The exchange started with the news, highlighted by the LibDems, that 72% of car thefts were not attended by the police last year. Ed said the Conservatives are “asleep at the wheel on crime” and that the LibDems would tackle the shortage of detectives.

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ALDC by-election Report, 11th April

There were just 2 principal council by-elections last week. Both were Liberal Democrat defences fought in difficult or unusual circumstances. However in both elections the Lib Dem candidates and campaign teams did themselves proud and achieved superb results.

We start in North Yorkshire Council where we successfully held Stray, Woodlands and Hookstone ward following the resignation of an Independent councillor elected as a Lib Dem.

Congratulations to Councillor Andrew Timothy and the local Lib Dem team on winning and  retaining the ward so decisively with a majority of over 400 and 43% of the vote. An impressive feat to uphold our majority with a larger set of party candidates than before. A marvellous win for the Lib Dems in North Yorkshire.

North Yorkshire Council, Hookstone Woodland and Stray
Liberal Democrats (Andrew Timothy): 1094 (43%, -7.8%)
Conservative: 768 (30.8%, -4%)
Green Party: 376 (15.1%, new)
Reform UK: 141 (5.7%, new)
Labour: 116 (4.6%, -2.6%)

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12 April 2024 – today’s press releases

  • GDP figures: Economy stuck in the slow lane
  • Defence: Only the Lib Dems are committed to reversing troop cuts
  • Energy Minister stands down: Drumbeat of Conservative resignations is becoming deafening
  • More than half of councils see rise in sewage dumps
  • Jardine Secures Commons Debate on Consular Assistance

GDP figures: Economy stuck in the slow lane

Responding to the latest GDP figures, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

This sluggish growth shows the UK economy is stuck in the slow lane under the Conservatives.

This government has no plan to fix the damage they’ve done to people’s living standards.

Instead we have a prime minister and Chancellor totally out of touch with families feeling the pinch. The only way to get the economy moving again is to kick this economically illiterate Conservative government out of office.

Defence: Only the Lib Dems are committed to reversing troop cuts

Responding to Labour and the Conservatives announcements on defence policy today, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

Only the Liberal Democrats are committed to reversing the Conservatives’ irresponsible cuts to Army troop numbers. With Putin waging war in Europe and Trump threatening the future of NATO, cutting the British Army by 10,000 troops is a major threat to our long-term national security.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives and Labour only offer meaningless talk about vague aspirations for some unspecified time in the future.

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11 April 2024 -today’s press releases

  • Sunak in “parallel universe” as NHS waiting lists grow by 330,000 since he pledged to cut them
  • Nick Fletcher endorses Lee Anderson: Sunak should kick him out of Conservative Party
  • Donelan libel costs: Donelan must pay this money back now
  • Lib Dems to create London Housing Company – Blackie: “I will get London building again”

Sunak in “parallel universe” as NHS waiting lists grow by 330,000 since he pledged to cut them

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has said Rishi Sunak is living in a “parallel universe,” after today’s figures reveal NHS targets are being missed while waiting lists have grown by 330,000 since the Prime Minister pledged to cut them.

NHS targets missed include:

  • NHS waiting lists: NHS waiting lists stood at 7.54 million outstanding treatments in February 2024, up from 7.21 million in January 2023 when Rishi Sunak pledged to cut them. This is an increase of 330,000 (NHS England).
  • 65 week waits: There were 75,000 65-weeks for treatment in February, despite a target to eliminate them by March 2024 (NHS England).
  • A&E: 71.3% of patients were seen within 4 hours in all A&E in February, against a target of 76% (NHS England).
  • Cancer: 63.9% of people treated began cancer treatment within 62 days of an urgent referral in February 2024, against a target of 85% (NHS England).

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

This week we uncovered that over 150,000 people waited over 24 hours in A&E last year. Now we find that waiting lists have gone up by 330,000 after Rishi Sunak pledged to cut them.

To add insult to injury, the Conservatives have cut NHS spending while millions of patients are suffering in pain on endless waiting lists.

Rishi Sunak is living in a parallel universe if he thinks our National Health Service is recovering. The Conservative Party and the Prime Minister are out of touch, out of ideas and deserve to be kicked out of office.

Nick Fletcher endorses Lee Anderson: Sunak should kick him out of Conservative Party

Responding to Nick Fletcher, Conservative MP for Don Valley, telling voters in Ashfield that Reform UK MP Lee Anderson is the area’s “greatest champion” and that he needs to be back in Westminster, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper MP said:

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10 April 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Government amendment on “deeply damaging” non-disclosure agreements does not go far enough to protect victims
  • Shoplifting: Govt continues to let organised gangs off the hook
  • Cole-Hamilton criticises state of sewage monitoring
  • SNP burn through ScotWind cash in record time
  • McArthur responds to opposition to assisted dying bill

Government amendment on “deeply damaging” non-disclosure agreements does not go far enough to protect victims

After tireless campaigning by Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, the Government in the House of Lords has tabled an amendment to the Victims and Prisoners Bill that ensures non-disclosure agreements preventing victims from disclosing information to the police or other bodies (including confidential support services) cannot be legally enforced.

Responding to the tabling of this amendment, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said:

The Liberal Democrats have long been campaigning to end the deeply damaging practice of non-disclosure agreements. This amendment is a welcome move that will help victims to access the support they need.

But while this is a step in the right direction, the Government is not going far enough in giving victims their voice back.

We need a complete ban of NDAs in cases of sexual misconduct, harassment and bullying to ensure that no victim is silenced.

Shoplifting: Govt continues to let organised gangs off the hook

Responding to the news that assaulting a shop worker will be made a separate criminal offence in England and Wales, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

For too long, the Conservative Government have been sitting on their hands while hardworking shopkeepers are left to face the brunt of the shoplifting epidemic alone.

As the majority of shoplifting cases go unsolved, the Conservatives has repeatedly failed to get even the basics right of tackling this issue – something their new gimmicks won’t change.

It is now vital the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary invest in proper community policing and ensure all shoplifting thefts are investigated.

The government is currently letting organised criminal gangs off the hook and leaving shopkeepers hugely vulnerable.

Cole-Hamilton criticises state of sewage monitoring

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has called on the SNP and Greens to get tough with Scottish Water as it was revealed that in three local authorities there is no monitoring of sewage dumping at all and in ten more local authorities just one or two sites are monitored.

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Ed Davey’s message for Eid

We at Liberal Democrat Voice would like to wish everyone celebrating Eid Mubarak.

In his message for Eid, Ed Davey talked of our collective values of compassion and justice and assured British Muslims that the Liberal Democrats stand with them in solidarity and celebration.

He said:

Eid Mubarak to everyone in the UK and across the globe celebrating Eid.

As we mark the end of Ramadan, let’s reflect on our values of working together, of compassion and gratitude for what we have in common.

I know there are so many of you who have gone through this holy month and are now with your families and friends celebrating this moment.

And I know it has been a difficult time for British Muslims and Muslims across the world with the rise of Islamophobia and the horrible, awful conflict in Israel and Palestine and we commit ourselves to working for the peace we all need.

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9 April 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Hospital’s spend £3million on pest control as patients suffer from rats and insects
  • Cameron and Trump: European leaders’ summit needed to seize frozen Russian assets
  • Cole-Hamilton: SNP have failed to help A&E recover
  • Lib Dems launch London Transport Policy – Blackie: “No more bus cuts”

Hospital’s spend £3million on pest control as patients suffer from rats and insects

  • Staff report being bitten by bugs as rats roam maternity and emergency wards
  • Freedom of Information requests reveal NHS Hospitals coping with 18,000 pest incidents since 2021
  • Liberal Democrat Leader demands urgent repair fund for crumbling hospitals

Freedom of Information Requests by the Liberal Democrats have revealed the extent of pests roaming NHS Hospitals. As the NHS repair backlog reaches record levels, these new revelations show staff and patients subjected to poor conditions.

Since 2021, over 60 NHS Trusts have reported £3.7 million spent on pest control at their hospitals. Imperial College NHS Trust, which includes St.Mary’s Hospital London, spent a staggering £383,597 on pest control, including dealing with 748 pest incidents last year alone.

East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust spent £119,199 to deal with mice in the kitchen, maggots in the mortuary and rat droppings in a corpse bag, amongst many other pests.

The most shocking incidents were reported by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Trust, which includes Colchester Hospital and Ipswich Hospital. Staff reported:

  • Black insects are biting the legs of staff
  • Ants and fly infestations
  • Rats in the ambulance area

At Ashford NHS Trust, dead headless pigeons and dead rabbits, as well as slug and ants were reported. Royal United Hospitals Bath reported pests in the children’s ward and breast clinic.

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Westminster ‘Honeytrapper’ targetted MPs at LibDem conference in Bournemouth – via Grindr

Politico reports that the “honeytrapper” implicated in the Westminster scandal actually tried to target LibDem MPs at our last Bournemouth conflict. No, this is not an April Fool’s joke.

“I was at the bar at the Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott ,” recalls an attendee at Lib Dem conference. He saw a message on gay dating app Grindr from a handsome man in a Levi’s T-shirt. “M – xl” said he was 28 — and that his name was Charlie.

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Tom Arms’ World Review

Iran is unlikely to wreak a shattering vengeance for the Israeli attack on their diplomatic compound in Damascus. The attack killed Brigadier General Mohammed Reza Zahedi and seven others. General Zahedi led the Quds force, which is the overseas arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. He was credited with helping the October 7 Hamas attack.

On the surface, it would be logical to think that Tehran would respond with a tit for tat attack — perhaps a strike against an Israeli diplomatic mission.

But the experts think not this time. There are several reasons. The first is that Iran is in a poor position economically and politically to take Israel head-on. Years of sanctions have damaged the Iranian economy and the theocratic leaders face strong and growing domestic opposition to their repressive interpretation of the Koran and Sharia law.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini is quite happy to employ the Houthis and Hezbollah to keep poking at Israel and the US and their allies, but fears the result of a direct confrontation. At least until Iran has a nuclear weapon to deter a full-scale Israeli-American attack.

Another reason observers think Iran is holding back is because Tehran believes that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to escalate and expand the war. Iran thinks, according to sources, that more war is Netanyahu’s best chance of staying in power and of securing wavering American support. Limiting the scope of hostilities makes it more likely that Israeli elections will be held and Netanyahu will be voted out of office.

Meanwhile, the biggest threat to Netanyahu’s government appears to be coming not from Gaza, Iran, Joe Biden or the West Bank. It is from Israel’s Orthodox Jews.

This week the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that government subsidies for the Orthodox community must end and that Orthodox men and women — who have been exempt from conscription since 1948 — must be subject to the Israeli draft like everyone else.

Almost as soon the court made its ruling, Attorney-General Gali Beharav-Miara, wrote to the education and defense ministers telling them to cut off funding to the Yeshiva schools and start drafting the estimated 60,000 Orthodox Jews aged 18 to 26.

But Benjamin Netanyahu is hesitating. He relies on the support of two Orthodox parties — Shas and United Torah Judaism — to stay in office. Their leaders are threatening to walk out of the fragile coalition government if the Supreme Court’s ruling is enforced. At the same time, the secular parties in Netanyahu’s coalition have issued warnings that they will collapse the government if the prime minister does not enforce the ruling.

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5 April 2024 – today’s press releases

  • NICs: Prime Minister is still peddling this deception
  • Chamberlains’s Carer’s Leave Bill to come into force
  • 91,000 people call 999 or turn to A&E after struggling to get GP appointment
  • Rennie: Fall in modern languages teachers jeopardises vision for Scotland
  • Blackie: ‘My top priority: fix the Met’

NICs: Prime Minister is still peddling this deception

Responding to the changes to National Insurance (NI) and freezing of income tax thresholds coming into force tomorrow, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson, Sarah Olney MP said:

The Prime Minister is still peddling this deception and voters will see straight through it.

Hammering the public with unfair stealth taxes and then claiming people will be taking home more in their pay packets is frankly offensive.

This is an out of touch Prime Minister leading a directionless Conservative government with his party more interested in clinging on to power than ensuring people are better off. They do not deserve to be in power for a moment longer.

Chamberlains’s Carer’s Leave Bill to come into force

The “landmark” Carer’s Leave Bill introduced by North East Fife MP and Scottish Liberal Democrat deputy leader Wendy Chamberlain will come into force on Saturday 6th April.

The Bill will give an estimated 2.4 million carers across the UK a statutory right to take five days of unpaid leave per year. Carer’s UK have described this as a ‘landmark’ piece of legislation which would help carers to better balance work and care.

Wendy Chamberlain introduced the Carer’s Leave Bill in June 2022 after winning a place in the Private Member’s Bill lottery. The Bill enjoyed cross-party support and was passed on 19 May 2023. The legislation comes into effect on 6th April 2024

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ALDC By-election Report 4th April

As we get nearer to the local elections on 2 May the number of by-elections is naturally reducing a bit. However there is still a steady stream of by-elections each week between now and May that we will continue to report on. There were 3 principal council by-elections this week – including yet another Lib Dem victory.

Our win came on Cornwall Council where we held Looe West, Pelynt, Lansallos & Lanteglos ward. Congratulations to our new Councillor Jim Candy and Cornwall Lib Dems for holding the seat.

Cornwall Council, Looe West, Pelynt, Lansallos & Lanteglos
Liberal Democrats (Jim Candy): 604 (45%, -16%)
Conservative: 414 (31%, +1%)
Labour: 254 (19%, +11%)
Green Party: 75 (6%, new)

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New issue of Liberator is out

What’s inside this issue?

You can download Liberator 422 for free here: https://liberatormagazine.org.uk/recent-issues/

Find out in Radical Bulletin why there was a row over Lib Dem participation in the South Devon primary election, why members got four conflicting messages about Rochdale and about a mind-bending case for STV enthusiasts, and much more.

Also in this issue:

Why Putin Cannot be Allowed to Win

Lib Dem MP Sarah Green joined a parliamentary delegation to Ukraine and saw a country still determined to resist a tyrant with whom negotiation is impossible

Ukraine Resists – With Some Help From Shakespeare

Nataliya Torkut is Ukraine’s leading expert on Shakespeare and a professor at Zaporizhzhia National University. She was interviewed by Kiron Reid about Ukraine’s continued resistance to Russia and the role in this of intellectual life

How to Look for the Next Leader

With no Lib Dem leadership contest due, Liz Barker looks to the long term of how the party should choose its next leader

The North is Red – at Least for Now

The Rochdale by-election showed the realities of fighting Labour where it is entrenched in its heartlands, even with the unusual circumstances of disowned candidates, says Jackie Pearcey

Does a Decade Make a Difference?

It’s 10 years since the death of Liberator stalwart Simon Titley. Jonathan Calder delves into his writing and finds it alarmingly relevant today

Traffic in a Jam

Mark Smulian looks at why councils’ installation of low traffic neighbourhoods can cause such rancour

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Layla Moran reports that her family is safely out of Gaza

Some good news from Layla Moran:

She adds:

Thank you to all who have followed their story. But while theirs ends with reunification, having lost one along the way, this atrocious war rages on. I won’t stop working until we achieve not just an end to violence, but peace once and for all.

As a Palestinian, Layla has been a powerful voice on the war in Gaza, especially as she is our Foreign Affairs spokesperson. Back in December she talked to Channel 4 news about her extended family who were holed up in the church in Gaza.

For now we are just grateful that Layla’s family are safe.

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4 April 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Police taking up to 28 hours to attend burglaries
  • Sharp decline in STEM teacher numbers
  • Scottish Liberal Democrats respond to Loch Lomond Highland Games cancellation

Police taking up to 28 hours to attend burglaries

Average burglary response times have increased by a shocking 25% in just one year, with some forces taking an average of 28 hours for an officer to arrive at the scene, damning figures uncovered by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

The figures were obtained through a series of Freedom of Information requests to all police forces in England. 26 forces provided responses.

Burglaries are often considered as Grade 2 priority incidents, which most police forces aim to respond to within one hour. The College of Policing defines these as “incidents where a witness or other evidence is likely to be lost”, and “a degree of urgency is still associated with immediate police action.”

But in the 2022/23 financial year, it took an average of 9 hours and 8 minutes across police forces for an officer to turn up to the scene when a burglary was reported. This is an increase of 25% from the previous year, when average wait times across police forces stood at 7 hours and 17 minutes. 20 of the 26 police forces reported longer wait times in 2022/23, compared to 2021/22.

When compared to figures from 2020/21, the deterioration in wait times was even more stark. 11 forces saw their burglary response times more than double in that time period. South Yorkshire experienced the largest deterioration in wait times, which increased by a shocking 443% – up from 2 hours and 21 minutes in 2020/21, to 12 hours and 47 minutes in 2022/23.

The figures also revealed a disturbing postcode lottery, with response times varying significantly depending on the police force. The worst performing force was Northamptonshire, with a staggering average response time of 28 hours and 2 minutes for burglary calls. They were followed closely behind by Durham, where victims were left waiting nearly 26 hours for an officer to arrive. Meanwhile, average response times in Bedfordshire were nearly 15 minutes, while Cumbria response times sat at just a little over one hour.

It comes just months after the latest Home Office statistics revealed that 3 in 4 burglaries went unsolved in the year ending September 2023.

The Liberal Democrats have slammed the Conservative Government for these figures, arguing that years of ineffective resourcing have left local police forces overstretched, under-resourced and unable to effectively respond to local crime. This includes taking more than 4,500 community officers (PCSOs) off the streets since 2015.

The party is calling for a return to proper community policing, where officers are visible and trusted, with the time and resources to focus on tackling neighbourhood crime like burglaries.

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3 April 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Aid worker deaths: Davey calls on government to suspend arms sales to Israel
  • Royal Mail proposal to cut second class deliveries: Another slap in the face
  • London Lib Dems response to Khan economic announcement
  • Worst hit rivers for sewage dumps revealed as Lib Dems call for new Blue Flag status
  • Rennie responds to CalMac boss stepping down

Aid worker deaths: Davey calls on government to suspend arms sales to Israel

The Liberal Democrats have called on the government to suspend arms sales to Israel, following the deaths of seven aid workers including three British nationals in an Israeli air strike in Gaza.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

The deaths of these British aid workers in Gaza is an absolute disgrace. These brave people were trying to help starving families in Gaza.

Clearly, the thought that British-made arms could have been used in strikes such as these is completely unacceptable.

The government must take swift action to suspend arms exports to Israel. We must redouble our efforts to secure an immediate bilateral ceasefire.

Royal Mail proposal to cut second class deliveries: Another slap in the face

Responding to the news that Royal Mail wants to reduce second class deliveries to three days a week, Liberal Democrat Business Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

These plans are a slap in the face for families being asked to pay more for less.

The cost of first and second class stamps has gone up sharply in recent years. It risks creating a cost of postage crisis, as people feel forced to pay for first class stamps because second class delivery days are being slashed.

People shouldn’t have to pay the price for Royal Mail’s failure, after executives missed their delivery targets and paid themselves eye-watering bonuses.

London Lib Dems response to Khan economic announcement

Responding to Sadiq Khan’s joint economic announcement with Rachel Reeves today (Weds), Rob Blackie, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London, said:

Labour’s plan ignores London’s biggest economic problem – Brexit. Labour are too scared to say that Brexit has damaged London’s economy, making us poorer and costing us jobs.

For instance, technology companies now have to spend time and money complying with two data laws, one each from the EU and the UK. And too many European citizens in London are made to feel unwelcome.

As Liberal Democrat Mayor I will campaign to fix the damage done by Brexit, and bring in a London passport to protect London’s EU citizen rights.

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2 April 2024 – today’s press releases (part 2)

  • Government childcare announcement: More Conservative chaos hurting families
  • Only 0.1% of police dedicated to rural crime teams

Government childcare announcement: More Conservative chaos hurting families

Responding to the Government’s childcare announcment, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Munira Wilson MP said:

This latest Conservative chaos is hitting families hard. Parents are seriously worried about what the Government’s botched childcare expansion will mean for them.

Free hours are no good if parents can’t find a good nursery or childminder for their child – and thanks to Conservative underfunding, more than 3,000 providers have closed in the last year alone.

Instead of plunging families into even more chaos, the Government should take up the Liberal Democrats’ clear and properly-funded plan to ensure all parents can access childcare that is flexible, affordable and fair.

Only 0.1% of police dedicated to rural crime teams

The Liberal Democrats have accused the Conservative government of “neglecting” rural communities as new data reveals that only 258 police officers and staff are dedicated to rural crime teams across England and Wales – just 0.1% of the overall workforce. It means fewer than one in 1,000 police officers around the country are dedicated to rural crime teams.

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey will today call for Police and Crime Commissioners to be scrapped so the savings can be invested in frontline policing, including ensuring that every police force has a properly resourced rural crime team. It is estimated the move would save £150 million every four years.

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2 April 2024 – today’s press releases (part 1)

  • Stealth taxes to drag 1.6 million pensioners into paying income tax
  • Sunak laughing on radio: Stop hunkering in offices and call an election
  • Cole-Hamilton: No one should have to wait 12 hours at A&E
  • More than 1,900 stuck in hospital

Stealth taxes to drag 1.6 million pensioners into paying income tax

1.6 million pensioners are set to be dragged into paying income tax due to the government’s stealth tax freeze by 2027/28, new research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

The House of Commons Library analysis looks at the impact of the Chancellor’s decision to freeze the personal allowance at £12,570, the rate at which people start paying tax. Without the stealth tax freeze, the allowance would have risen to £15,220 in the coming financial year (2024/25) and up to £15,990 in 2027/28.

The analysis estimated that around 1.2 million pensioners will be dragged into paying income tax in 2024/25. By 2027/28, 1.6 million additional pensioners will be paying income tax compared to if the Personal Allowance had been increased in line with inflation.

The latest DWP figures show there are 12.7 million people receiving the state pension. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, well over 60 per cent of these pensioners now pay income tax, up from around 50% in 2010. The research found 8.5 million people over the age of 65 were now paying tax on their income, up from roughly 4.9 million in 2010.

Separate analysis from the Resolution Foundation has found that the freezing of income tax thresholds will leave the average taxpaying pensioner £1,000 worse off by 2027-28, or a collective hit of £8 billion.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

These stark figures reveal the stealth tax bombshell facing pensioners under this Conservative government.

Older people who have worked hard and contributed all their lives are now being clobbered with years of unfair tax hikes.

Jeremy Hunt’s pensioner-punishing Budget will not be forgotten come the next election. The Conservative Party faces a reckoning at the ballot from older voters sick of being taken for granted.

Sunak laughing on radio: Stop hunkering in offices and call an election

Responding to Rishi Sunak laughing at being asked when the next General Election will be on BBC Radio Tees, Liberal Democrat local government spokesperson Helen Morgan MP said:

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Another bank holiday?

Today is Easter Monday – one of a pitifully small number of bank holidays that we enjoy in the UK.  The Republic of Ireland has 10 public holidays each year,  France has 11, Spain has 12, Denmark and Norway have 14 each, whilst Nepal has an astonishing 39. We are right at the bottom of the list with only 8 public holidays per year.

This year the Republic of Ireland introduced a new public holiday on the first Monday in February to celebrate St Brigid, Ireland’s only female patron saint. The date is also known in Gaelic traditions as Imbolc, and it marks the beginning of Spring.

The Government has launched a consultation on adding at least two further public holidays across the UK. The Lib Dem Voice team supports this proposal and would like to gather suggestions from our readers so we can submit a response.

The proposals are:

  1. To identify a public holiday in each of our nations on the date of the relevant patron saint. So England would celebrate  St George on 23rd April, Wales would celebrate St David on 1st March, Northern Ireland would celebrate St Patrick on 17th March, and Scotland would celebrate St Andrew on 30th November.
  2. To identify a further public holiday across the UK. The Government is looking for suggestions for suitable dates.

The second proposal has generated a lot of interest. We have come up with a number of suggestions between us but we would welcome further ideas from you. Please add to the comments below.

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30-31 March 2024 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Revealed: 31,000 sewage discharges into bathing areas last year
  • Water firms committing “environmental cover up” as one in seven sewage monitors are faulty
  • Khan quietly ditches ‘Track My Crime’ victim tool

Revealed: 31,000 sewage discharges into bathing areas last year

  • Sewage dumped average of 86 times a day last year into bathing water sites, up 47% on previous year
  • Lib Dems warn families visiting seaside over Easter bank holiday will be “horrified” that popular beaches are being ruined by rise in sewage dumping
  • Allonby in Cumbria the worst hit bathing site with 4,500 hours of sewage dumped last year

The Liberal Democrats have accused water companies of committing “environmental vandalism” after the party’s analysis has revealed that there were 31,000 sewage discharges in bathing areas last year, an increase of 47% compared to 2022.

Shockingly this amounts to sewage being dumped an average of 86 times a day into bathing water areas last year, subjecting swimmers to potential serious health risks. The Liberal Democrats warned that families visiting the seaside over the Easter Bank holiday would be horrified that popular beaches are being ruined by sewage.

The analysis looks at the amount of sewage dumped into beaches officially classified as bathing waters, meaning they should be protected from pollution. In total sewage was discharged for 228,000 hours into bathing areas across England in 2023, an increase of 80% on the previous year.

The worst bathing area for sewage dumping last year was in Allonby where United Utilities dumped over 4,500 hours worth of sewage. This was followed by Haverigg where United Utilities dumped 3,600 hours of sewage into bathing spots, then Middleton-on-sea where 3,500 hours of sewage was dumped by Southern Water.

United Utilities were also the worst offending company overall with 10,467 sewage spills over 76,259 hours dumped into bathing sites. South West Water dumped the second largest amount of sewage into bathing sites last year with 8,500 spills over 59,000 hours. This was followed by Southern Water, Wessex Water, and Thames Water respectively who were all responsible for dumping over 11,000 hours worth of sewage into bathing spots last year.

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Lib Dems mark Transgender Day of Visibility

This Transgender Day of Visibility, the message to trans people from the Lib Dems, and this site, is very much “we see you, we love you, we have your backs.”

For a community under daily attack in the media, it is vital that we stand with them. Our trans siblings are real live people with lives, ambitions, hopes, feelings and needs, not weapons in a right wing culture war.

My trans loved ones are amongst the bravest people I know and I for one will not stand by and see them vilified and demonised. Wherever the attacks come from, I will be there for them. I hope that everyone reading this site will be with me on that one.

It’s good to see that the party is so supportive of trans people. Ed Davey and senior Liberal Democrats have regular meetings with trans members to learn from them what barriers they are facing and how we can help as a party.  It’s so important to have that dialogue when there is so much wilful misinformation out there.

On Twitter today, the party said:

On #TransDayOfVisibility we celebrate trans people and stand with the trans community against hatred and discrimination. To all our trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming members, supporters, friends and followers: we respect you, we value you – today and every day.

Cllr Chris Northwood, who is our Deputy Group Leader in Manchester, has written for the LGA especially for Trans Day of Visibility. She talked about the toxicity of social media but also said that away from that, people are more concerned with things like road safety and affordable housing. She said:

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WATCH: Ed Davey’s Easter message

Watch Ed Davey’s Easter message below:

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Ed Davey: “The Lib Dems and Labour aren’t fighting each other”

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There’s a very interesting article over on the New Statesman website. George Eaton writes on his interview with Ed Davey.

The article covers a variety of fascinating topics – how many seats the LibDems will win the general election, working with other parties, the chances of Reform UK, Keir Starmer, John Rawls, the Orange Book, the Post Office scandal, and where the LibDems sit on the political spectrum:

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