Category Archives: News

Siobhan Benita and team are working full-on in London

This weekend our London Mayoral candidate, Siobhan Benita and her team have been campaigning very hard all over the city:

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Being homeless shouldn’t be a crime

The party is quite rightly campaigning to change the Vagrancy Act so that homelessness is not a crime. This is an initiative that has been spear-headed by Layla Moran:

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Whoever you are, the Liberal Democrats will stand up for you

The party’s latest party political broadcast provides a good summary of our aims as we move past “Stop Brexit”:

The accompanying blurb also gives a good statement of our priorities:

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This week’s by-election

There was just one by-election this week. It was in a Conservative held seat in Coulby Newham ward in Middlesbrough.

Well done to the Lib Dem candidate, Tom Carney, who took 18.4% from Labour from a standing start.

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Mark Pack writes… Lisa Smart takes over as chair of the Lib Dem Communications and Elections Committee

Welcome to Cllr Lisa Smart (on the right in the photo), freshly elected as the new chair of the Federal Communications and Elections Committee (FCEC).

She’s written a piece for the party website introducing herself and her priorities:

Last week I received a call at home. I’d been fighting for a blue disabled parking badge for a local man with a hidden disability. He’d filled in all the forms, the reply came back, “Sorry, computer says no…” He’d complained, the reply still came back, “Sorry the computer still says no.” Then something

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Election Review team announced

A short while ago the Federal Board announced that Dorothy Thornhill would be leading the Review of the recent General Election.

Dorothy was the first directly elected Mayor of Watford, a post she held for 16 years until 2018. Since 2015 she has served as a Lib Dem peer in the House of Lords.

Dorothy has now announced the members of her Review team, and a wonderfully diverse bunch they are:

Carole Ford I joined in 2015 and since then have stood as a council, Scottish parliament and GE candidate.  I am the Scottish spokesperson on Children and Young People,

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By-election news

There were six local by-elections yesterday.

First the good (ish) news:

Milford, Waverley council, Surrey, caused by the death of an independent councillor. As you can see the winner was endorsed by the Lib Dems.

But I’m afraid it was not good news in the rest of them.

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Siobhan Benita launches her campaign to be Mayor of London

Today Siobhan Benita has launched her campaign under the slogan “Love London Better”. And what a breath of fresh air she would be in the capital.

As she said:

London dares to be different. It has so far delivered three very different Mayors who have captured Londoner’s hearts and minds in different ways. What could be more different than a Liberal Democrat female mayor? It’s time.

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Get Liberalism done

It’s over, finished, done, our membership of the EU has ceased to be. This is very sad for our wonderful team of MEPs and their staff, it’s heart-breaking for those who support the idea of ever closer union, and very worrying for anyone concerned that the uncertainties of the future are going to harm our country, economy and standing in the world.

Dwelling on what might have been has become something of a preoccupation for many Liberal Democrats, myself included. I won’t forget where I believe responsibility lies for our and the nation’s current predicament. Sir Nick Clegg and his advisors were directly answerable for losing so many seats in 2015 that handed Cameron a majority that enabled him to hold the EU referendum.

Brexit gives many of us a chance to close one very disappointing and depressing chapter and to open a new, positive one. It is a golden opportunity for all of us to realign both our purpose and our image. If anyone is in any doubt as to why this is necessary just look at where we were before the 2010 General Election and compare to today.

Alongside the loss of thousands of Councillors and political control over billions of pounds of national, regional and local government spending, losing our place as the third party in the Commons cannot be understated. We have not overcome the loss of House privileges, media coverage and money that came with it, and our ability to do so has been hindered by competition from other parties such as the Greens, Ukip/Brexit, and Independents as well as the Nationalists who became the third party in 2015 and have held on to it.

We have been defined by the coalition years and our opposition to Brexit to the exclusion of all else for far too long. The time has come, to coin a previous slogan – to get Liberalism done.

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An Arsenal Of Democracy

In 1940 US President Franklin D Roosevelt coined the phrase ‘An Arsenal Of Democracy’ as a reaction to the twin threats of Fascism and Communism in a time when large parts of the globe were living under brutal dictatorships. That century had seen the Bolsheviks triumph in Russia, the Nazis in Germany and the Francoists in Spain. Portugal was under authoritarian rule, and France invaded by the Germans lived under the yoke of Hitler’s appalling regime. In Europe, Britain stood alone in what were the darkest days of WW2. It wasn’t until America entered the war that the tide started to turn and with the war eventually won democracy was restored to many of the places that had lived under authoritarian rule. The collapse of the Eastern Bloc, 45 years later, brought freedom to even more countries and some celebrated ‘the end of history’, but they were wrong. In many ways, 1990 could be viewed as a high point.

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Review of Federal committee elections

‘Review of federal committee elections’ is probably not a title guaranteed to quicken readers’ pulses – but it’s important to the functioning of our party’s democracy, so please read on!

Last year’s elections to the federal party’s committees – the Federal Board, Policy Committee, Conference Committee, International Relations Committee and ALDE council – broke new ground, especially in the efforts to engage as many party members as possible, and also through the management of the process online. It was also a substantial achievement to run it during what turned out to be a general election period, in October and November.

There were, however, also some serious difficulties, including the publishing of some candidates’ manifestos and not others, requiring the election to be paused and some voters to re-cast their votes, and other information required not being provided at all.

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The detail behind the YouGov poll showing Ed Davey ahead in the leadership stakes – thanks to @ProfTimBale

Last Tuesday, I referred to a New Statesman article about a YouGov poll showing Ed Davey well ahead in the future Liberal Democrat leadership contest.

I mentioned in the piece that I was unable to find the data behind the poll.

Julian Heather (@JulianHeather1) kindly messaged Professor Tim Bale at Queen Mary, University of London.

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31 January 2020 – today’s press release

Jane Dodds: Conservatives are backtracking on their commitment to end austerity

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling on the UK Government to apologise for backtracking on a key election commitment to end austerity just two months after the General Election.

Prior to the election, the Conservatives had proclaimed on a number of occasions that “Austerity is over”.

Their 2019 manifesto, upon which this Government was elected, promised the same as well as pledged numerous increases in public spending.

However, over the past two days, there have been numerous reports that the Government is, in fact, preparing to cut spending by up to 5% per …

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A ray of hope in West Suffolk

It would be fair to say that Suffolk has not been a bright spot for Liberal Democracy for some years, and West Suffolk has been weak even in that context, with no representation on the District Council or its predecessors since 2015.

However, with a recent membership surge, the resignation of the newly elected MP for Aberconwy from both the District and County Councils offered an opportunity to get local members engaged. Our candidate, Jonny Edge, is a local school governor, and with support from some experienced old hands – many thanks to …

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Leaving the EU – some last day tweets

Here are some EU last day thoughts from the Twittersphere:


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30 January 2020 – the overnight press release

Davey speech on Brexit – Progressives must fight on

Today, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey will make a keynote speech addressing party members and activists in Manchester ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Ed Davey will make a rallying call to pro-Europeans ahead of our departure from the EU, calling on them to continue to campaign for close association with our allies in the EU and for the progressive values we share.

Ed will call for the end of the Remain/Leave division in our country and for progressives to unite to tackle other serious divisions.

Ed will declare that …

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29 January 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Liberal Democrats: PM must not ignore defence concerns about Huawei deal
  • Liberal Democrats: Sacking Northern is just the first step

Liberal Democrats: PM must not ignore defence concerns about Huawei deal

Responding to reports that Boris Johnson has defied his Defence Secretary by allowing Huawei to help to build Britain’s 5G network, Liberal Democrat Defence Spokesperson Jamie Stone MP said:

Boris Johnson must not ignore the Defence Secretary’s concerns. There are legitimate human rights and security issues associated with this move.

Three of our Five Eyes allies, the US, Australia and New Zealand, have already blocked the Chinese firm in full or in part

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29 January 2020 – the overnight press release

Layla Moran: “Make 2020 the year that we finally scrap the Vagrancy Act”

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran will today urge the Government to adopt her legislation this year and “finally scrap the Vagrancy Act” during a homelessness debate in Parliament.

The MP will warn that “even one person sleeping rough in this country in 2020 is a disgrace” as she brings back to Parliament her campaign to scrap the Vagrancy Act.

Layla Moran is also expected to warn against the “out of sight, out of mind mentality’” shown in the installation of a new gate close to MPs’ and peers’ …

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28 January 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Tory proposals to end free movement will make it harder to recruit teachers, nurses and doctors
  • Liberal Democrats: Huawei decision shows no regard for its human rights record
  • Davey calls for ‘Net Zero’ department to slash UK greenhouse gas emissions
  • Liberal Democrats: Trump’s negotiations a sham

Tory proposals to end free movement will make it harder to recruit teachers, nurses and doctors

Responding to the publication of the Migration Advisory Committee report which has advised against against a full points-based system for UK, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

The Conservative Government wants to impose an entirely new immigration system in less than 12

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Tories lose control of Surrey Heath council

The following is a press release from Councillor Sashi Mylvaganam, Lib Dem Group Leader on Surrey Heath Borough Council:

Following the resignations of Councillors Richard Brooks and Charlotte Morley (former Leader and Deputy Leader) from their political group, Surrey Heath Conservatives have lost control of Surrey Heath Borough Council.

The council is comprised of 35 councillors. The opposition has 18 members whilst the Conservatives now have only 16. There is a vacancy following the tragic death of Councillor Sam Kay earlier this month.

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YouGov poll on Lib Dem leadership: Ed Davey is a country mile ahead (contains caveats)

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Stephen Bush has written the following on the New Statesman “The Staggers” blog:

Ed Davey is on course to win the looming Liberal Democrat leadership election, a YouGov poll for the Economic and Social Research Council-funded Party Members Project, run out of the University of Sussex and Queen Mary University has found. YouGov asked members to choose between a field of Ed Davey, Layla Moran and Daisy Cooper, the new MP for St Albans, all of whom are widely tipped to stand. In that field, Davey wins outright in the first round, with 52 per cent of the vote against Moran’s 24 per cent and Cooper’s 9 per cent.

I did a little light Googling to see if I could find the data on this poll.

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28 January 2020 – the overnight press release

Electoral Commission must investigate ‘Get Ready for Brexit’ campaign

Responding to the The National Audit Office’s comments that the “Get ready for Brexit” campaign failed to significantly impact the public’s level of preparedness for Brexit, former Public Accounts Committee member and Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said:

What a colossal waste of taxpayers money. This damning report shows what we knew all along: the Conservative government’s ‘Get Ready for Brexit’ campaign was an expensive propaganda stunt designed ahead of the election to help no one but Boris Johnson stay in Number 10.

Once again the Tories are misusing their powers at the expense

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27 January 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Liberal Democrats: UK access to crime databases at risk post Brexit
  • Welsh Liberal Democrats welcome landmark for Welsh education
  • Liberal Democrats challenge Minister on Met facial recognition surveillance

Liberal Democrats: UK access to crime databases at risk post Brexit

Following reports that the exchange of key security information is at risk post Brexit, due to concerns over Britain’s record in protecting personal information, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

Our police rely heavily on co-operation with our EU partners to identify criminals and bring them to justice. It’s incredibly alarming that these government scandals threaten to undermine that co-operation, making us all less

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27-30 January – this week in the Lords

I’ve been meaning to get back into the swing of this for a while now, and now that the debate over Brexit is over (albeit the consequences will be debated for years to come), perhaps now is a good time to pick up where I erratically left off…

Monday is a relatively gentle opener to the week, with the primary item of business being the Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill, whose Second Reading takes place. Think drones. Batting for the Liberal Democrats will be Bill Bradshaw, Tom McNally, and our …

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27 January 2020 – the overnight press release

New visa is nothing more than a Tory gimmick

Responding to the Government’s announcement of a “Global Talent” visa to attract top scientists, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

This announcement is nothing more than a marketing gimmick. Boris Johnson is showing that he fundamentally doesn’t understand what makes our science sector so successful. Changing the name of a visa and removing a cap that’s never been hit is not a serious plan.

Science relies on thousands of researchers, and this announcement does nothing for the vast majority of them. If the Government is serious about championing UK science, it must

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24-26 January 2020 – the (long) weekend’s press releases

  • Liberal Democrats welcome Citizens’ Assembly
  • Liberal Democrats: Sadiq Khan’s mass surveillance roll-out unacceptable
  • Ministers must explain soaring cost of HS2 to Parliament
  • Government must review assisted dying laws

Liberal Democrats welcome Citizens’ Assembly

Ahead of the first meeting of the Citizens’ Assembly on climate change, set up by House of Commons Select Committees last year, Liberal Democrat Climate Action Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:

The climate crisis is doing irreversible damage to our planet. The UK must cut its emissions to net-zero, be it by improving how we heat our homes or cutting emissions from flying.

This Citizens’ Assembly could help the government take the difficult decisions

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23 January 2020 – the day’s press releases

Time to catch up with the press releases…

  • Tories’ headline-grabbing gestures on knife crime have clearly failed
  • Welsh Lib Dems – NHS Wales waiting times unacceptable

Tories’ headline-grabbing gestures on knife crime have clearly failed

Responding to the new official crime statistics, released today, which show knife crime continuing to rise to a new record high, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

These statistics are heart-breaking. Far too many young people are having their lives destroyed by knives and gangs. We urgently need to break the grip of this epidemic of serious violence.

The Conservatives’ approach has clearly failed. Their huge

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Siobhan Benita slams London Mayor’s mass surveillance roll-out as a real risk to civil liberties

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Responding to the Metropolitan Police’s announcement on Thursday that it will begin to use automated facial recognition surveillance operationally, Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London Siobhan Benita said:

It is unacceptable for a new form of mass surveillance like this to be rolled out onto London’s streets without proper consultation, regulation or oversight.

Facial recognition technology is hopelessly inaccurate. It is biased against women and ethnic minorities. The evidence that it will make us safer is patchy at best, but there is a real risk that it will erode civil liberties and increase distrust and discrimination.

To make London safer we must restore effective community policing, starting with the re-opening of local police stations, which the current Mayor has shut down.

Liberal Democrats do not want London to become a city where innocent people feel as though their every movement is being watched. The fact that Sadiq Khan has given the go-ahead for this undermines his recent claim to share our liberal values.

If Londoners want a liberal mayor with a positive vision for a safer, greener, kinder capital, their best option is me.

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Dr Phillip Lee selected as Lib Dem parliamentary spokesperson for Wokingham

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Wokingham Today reports:

DR PHILLIP LEE is to carry on his connections to Wokingham after being appointed by the local Liberal Democrats to be its parliamentary spokesperson for the year ahead.

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Full results from last night’s by-elections

There were four seats up for grabs in Brent, two of them in one ward – Barnhill.

Well done to all our candidates, Anton Georgiou, Jyotshna Patel, Michael Brooke and Larry Ngan and their teams who worked so hard in the run-up to yesterday.

Here are the results from the Brent Council website:

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Recent Comments

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    I am an Unionist albeit one that lives in England. But I'd suggest several things to preserve the union. 1. We and the other unionist...
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    @TCO Council tenants are not allowed to sublet their premises. And no, many Councils do not have suitable smaller accomodation to offer for tenants to...
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    My understanding is that councils can now borrow more for their own commercial undertakings and some (many ?) are doing that to fund their own...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 24th Feb - 8:18pm
    Interesting points, Joe, but there's also a world outside London, and I do wish TCO would look outside his world too. Look up and consider...
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  • User AvatarJoe Bourke 24th Feb - 7:24pm
    David Raw, Using robust evidence and considering the impact of unintended consequences in formulating policy is indeed good advice. The under-occupancy charge was poorly conceived...