Category Archives: News

Our planning system is a national embarrassment

Our current government relishes declaring some aspect of the UK’s performance is “world beating”. However, when it comes to housing policy, we are mostly superlative in all the wrong ways.

Between 1970 and 2019, the UK saw the largest increase in the real price of housing of any OECD country. London is perhaps the second most expensive city in the world. “A Review of European Planning Systems” notes that “The UK stands out as a country with very high real rates of growth of house prices and low rates of housebuilding” and infers a link with our usually unpredictable and restrictive planning system.

Not everyone sees it this way. James Jamieson, the chair of the Local Government Association recently told the BBC it was “a myth” that the planning system inhibited homebuilding. He noted that 90% of planning applications are approved and that in the last decade planning permission has been given for over a million homes which never got built. 

However, there are good reasons to be sceptical of Cllr Jamieson’s scepticism. Focusing on applications approved or rejected ignores the applications that never get made. Why bother applying to build homes on land that the planning system has already allocated for a non-residential purpose or included in a greenbelt?

Plus, homes being granted planning permission then not being built is not a vindication of our planning system but an illustration of its faults. As Anthony Breach of the Centre for Cities observes: precisely because obtaining planning permission is so costly, difficult and unpredictable, developers have an incentive “to apply for more planning permissions than they can actually use.” This gives them “a safety buffer which they can dip into if one of their applications for planning permission goes pear-shaped” and thereby reduce the risk of their equipment and workforce sitting idle.

This supposition is supported by the finding of a 2014 research paper entitled the impact of supply constraints on house prices in England that areas with more restrictive planning policies saw house prices increase faster and new homes get built slower. This result should reassure anyone worried that extra housebuilding will not affect house prices: it can and it does.

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4 August 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Government must act to strengthen NHS Test and Trace ahead of new school year
  • Liberal Democrats back calls for Magnitsky-style sanctions against Hong Kong human rights abusers

Government must act to strengthen NHS Test and Trace ahead of new school year

Responding to news that scientists have warned that current testing and contact tracing is inadequate to prevent a second wave of coronavirus when schools in the UK reopen, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran said:

After months being cooped up at home, millions of children are looking forward to getting back to school in September, but safety must remain the top priority.

In the absence of a vaccine, a comprehensive test, trace and isolate system is the only way to keep people safe as we reopen schools. The Government must do everything in its power to strengthen that system if we are to have any hope of a safe start to the new school year.

Equally, the Government need to be honest about the very real risk that, if they do not get the NHS Test and Trace system in order, or in the event that we see a sharp rise in infections, children may have to go back to learning from home. Ministers must put in place safeguards now to ensure children are still able to get their education in this worst case scenario.

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3 August 2020 – today’s press release

BBC licence fee should be set by independent body, Liberal Democrats plan

The Liberal Democrats are to debate plans at their Autumn conference to ensure the BBC licence fee level is set independently next year after government cuts forced the BBC to end free TV licences for most over-75s.

Liberal Democrat Culture spokesperson Daisy Cooper, who will move the motion at the Party’s first digital conference, warned the Government must never again be allowed to “force the BBC into a corner where it has to choose between cuts to programming or raising these fees on the most vulnerable.”

The Party, which led a …

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3 August 2020 – the overnight press release

Liberal Democrats: Public health ignored in Government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme

Commenting on the Treasury’s “Eat Out to Help Out” discount scheme for restaurants starting on Monday, Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

We all recognise the need to support the high street through the pandemic, but the Government should have been more discerning with this scheme.

Obesity is already an immense challenge for people and the NHS, but the latest research suggests it also contributes to the deadliness of coronavirus. With a number of fast-food chains signing up to the scheme, it seems clear that

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1-2 August 2020 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Liberal Democrats: Government have deserted care homes entirely
  • Government’s planning reform shows they’re not serious about tackling housing crisis

Liberal Democrats: Government have deserted care homes entirely

Responding to the reports that the Government has abandoned their pledge to test all care home residents regularly throughout the summer, Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

The decision to drop the pledge to test all care home residents regularly would be a decision to desert care home residents entirely. The reports today, if true, are sadly just another example of a Government that is either woefully incompetent or one that simply

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31 July 2020 – the day’s press releases

  • Lockdown announcement shows Government still doesn’t have a grip on virus crisis
  • Davey: Johnson must do more to protect livelihoods in the north
  • Davey: Government must step up financial support in light of further lockdown
  • Government must legalise humanist marriages without further delay
  • Johnson and Cummings acting like despots with plans to restrict judicial review
  • PM’s decision to give his cronies peerages further bloats House of Lords

Lockdown announcement shows Government still doesn’t have a grip on virus crisis

Responding to the Government’s change in guidance stating that separate households will not be able to meet indoors from today in Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

Throughout this crisis, the Government’s communications have been an utter disaster. To announce a regional lockdown of millions of people not only just hours before it’s enforced, but with no clarity on the new rules coming into place, is beyond comprehension.

Considering their ability to tackle this pandemic relies on the clarity of messaging coming from the Government, it is unsurprising that just yesterday it was announced that England has had the highest excess mortality across Europe. If the Government want the British public to follow the rules they are announcing, then they must be clear, ahead of time, and they must have forewarned local authorities.

It remains unclear at what point Boris Johnson’s Government will finally manage to get a grip on the coronavirus crisis. Yet more mistakes reveal how necessary it is for an inquiry to be launched now – so that Ministers can learn the lessons ahead of a potential second wave.

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UPDATED: Watch Ed and Layla at hustings

This post will be regularly updated with links to recordings of  Ed and Layla at the many hustings events that are taking place.

I’ll update it and re-post it whenever there is something new to add.

First up, the very first formal hustings, with the Social Liberal Forum on Saturday 11th July.

The most recent hustings took place on 1st August – the Norfolk County

Also this week, the Yorkshire and the Humber event

 

And a themed hustings – the Green Agenda, from Wednesday 29th July

The first of the party’s big set piece hustings, on jobs and the economy took place on Wednesday 15th July:

More events under the cut. First South Central from 11 July

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Lord Roger Roberts writes…The demand is for statesmen rather than politicians…..

“We must all hang together, else we shall all hang separately” the words of Benjamin Franklyn on signing the declaration of Independence are as relevant today as they were back in 1776

When a future generation weighs the historical importance of the early twenty first century they might remember another quote – that the politician looks to the next election whilst the statesman looks to the next generation. We’re very short of statesmen but have an abundance of politicians!

Here in the UK, whatever the cost it’s 2024 and the election planned for that year that counts. Our government chose to continue with the withdrawal from the European Union even though circumstances in 2020 were vastly different from those of the referendum. The tiny majority that voted for us to leave had neither a virus nor probable economic depression to contend with and there were suspicions of a misleading leave campaign. Where did that £350 million a day for the NHS disappear to? And where are the crowds from Turkey hiding?

The messages of the politicians have led us into deep trouble and who knows where the end will finally be? People don’t trust hardly a word spoken by politicians and any promises Mr Johnson makes are treated with disbelief’ Whoever is Lib Dem leader has the massive task of rebuilding trust in the government of the United Kingdom and the new Labour leader is already facing mounting criticism within his own party. If we rebuild trust we might be on the way to shaping new statesmen and women.

But we must “hang together” globally. In the past few months we are seeing a better understanding between people of different backgrounds and respect for every person wherever they might be.

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Last minute Northern lockdown is “beyond comprehension”

Responding to the Government’s change in guidance stating that separate households will not be able to meet indoors from today in Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

Throughout this crisis, the Government’s communications have been an utter disaster. To announce a regional lockdown of millions of people not only just hours before it’s enforced, but with no clarity on the new rules coming into place, is beyond comprehension.

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30 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Highest levels of excess deaths demands Government learn lessons
  • Liberal Democrats call for review into school exclusions
  • Liberal Democrats: Government are failing survivors of sexual violence
  • Government must step in with Green incentives to save the car industry
  • Liberal Democrats: Record high of self harm in prisons shows extent of crisis
  • Leaked letter shows thousands of care home residents being exposed to virus

Highest levels of excess deaths demands Government learn lessons

Responding to ONS statistics that reveal England has had the highest excess mortality across Europe in the first half of 2020, Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

The unforgiving consequences of the pandemic have left too many families mourning loved ones. It didn’t need to be like this.

It is clear the Government has made mistakes. With a possible second wave occurring in countries across Europe at the moment, the Prime Minister must launch an independent inquiry immediately.

This is not a time for protecting political interests. This is a time to learn from mistakes and protect the country from more heartache.

Liberal Democrats call for review into school exclusions

Responding to new figures for permanent and fixed-period school exclusions in England for 2018/19, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran said:

These figures make appalling reading. Every year thousands of children – often the most vulnerable – are being written off by our education system. Children eligible for free school meals are more than four times as likely to be permanently excluded – that says it all.

This Government should be ashamed that they have presided over continually high rates of permanent exclusion. Cutbacks to school budgets undoubtedly play a part in this. So too does the culture which prizes exam results and league table rankings over care and support.

We need see action to address the disproportionate number of exclusions among pupils on free school meals, as well as Black Caribbean, Gypsy and Roma, and Traveller pupils. That’s why we need to see a review into disparities in school exclusions.

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ICYMI: Tomorrow is the last day to nominate for this year’s party awards

July 31st is not just my birthday, it’s the deadline for nominations for the party awards.

This is your chance to nominate a party member who has excelled in their service to the party or local government. The process of nomination is easy – you just fill in an online form.

If you have someone you think deserves to be honoured in this way, imagine the delight on their faces when they receive their award at Conference. It will be a bit different this year, but I do hope that something will be arranged to bring the winners together in person when it is safe to do so.

Here’s our report of the 2013 winners’ ceremony so you can get some idea of the sorts of achievements that we’re looking for.

Here are the details of the various awards 

The President’s Award 

  • is open to any Party Member elected to public office and who has demonstrated excellence and commitment. 

The Harriet Smith Liberal Democrat Distinguished Service Award 

  • is open to any Party Member never elected to public office. 

For both of these awards, the panel will be looking for outstanding commitment and service to the Party. Local, regional and state parties should be seeking to nominate people who deserve recognition for their hard work, long service, and demonstrable dedication to the party, at whatever level. These are expected to be special awards to be awarded from the Party for whom public recognition is overdue. 

The Belinda Eyre-Brook Award 

  • is given to recognise and celebrate the efforts of people working for our elected representatives in their local areas – from local party employees, to political assistants to council groups, to people working in MPs’ constituency offices. 

The winner of this award will care about their local area and be committed to the success of Liberal Democrats within it. Turning local political priorities into electoral success, and priorities for elected officials is a key part of the work of successful local Party figures – as is linking with the national party. 

The Dadabhai Naoroji Award 

  • is presented annually to the local Party that has done most to promote BAME participants to elected office as Councillors, Assembly Members, Members of Parliament or Members of European Parliament. 

This award is designed to encourage local parties to work towards the goal of increasing their ethnic diversity to more accurately reflect the areas they represent, and to recognise those that already make a great effort to involve different communities in their work

The Penhaligon Award 

  • is named for former MP David Penhaligon and is presented to the local party anywhere in the world which demonstrates the most impressive increase in membership and exemplary activities to deliver and involve members and supporters. It recognises the hard work done to build a Party which is attractive and effective at a local level, and that without people on the ground, we would not be able to ‘Stick it on a piece of paper and stuff it through a letterbox’.

The Patsy Calton Award

  • Liberal Democrat Women honour exceptional women through the Patsy Calton Award, that was launched shortly after her sad passing. Awardees may be Liberal Democrat councillors, party members or Parliamentarians, who have achieved more for their constituents, the underprivileged in society, perhaps even taken on government and changed things for the better. More information about the award and Lib Dem Women can be found here.

The Bertha Bowness Fischer Award 

  • seeks to honour a newer (less than two years) member of the Party who has shown outstanding energy and/or ingenuity in supporting  their new-found political home. 

It seeks to welcome those people who may well be the future of the Party, no matter their background. It is named for a trailblazer for women in not just liberal, but all politics, and recognises the contributions of new friends from outside of politics and from other parties alike. 

For this award only members who joined within the last two years (from July 23rd 2020) are eligible. Nominations may be for work done for any part of the Liberal Democrats.

 

How do I nominate someone? 

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30 July 2020 – the overnight press release

Liberal Democrats: Tories’ appeasement of anti-immigration lobby will cause chaos

Responding to a report from Migration Watch criticising the Government’s planned “points-based” immigration system, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

This shows how short-sighted it is for the Conservatives to focus all their attention on appeasing the anti-immigration lobby who will always want more.

Groups like Migration Watch are still not happy, even though the Government’s new immigration system will be incredibly damaging to the NHS, social care and small businesses across the UK by excluding people with a valuable contribution to make.

Six months is nowhere near enough time for either

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29 July 2020 – today’s press release

Government must act now on National Food Strategy recommendations

Responding to the National Food Strategy review suggesting that free school meals should be extended to every household receiving Universal Credit, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran said:

The Government must waste no time in acting on these recommendations. We know that giving school children a hot, healthy meal at lunchtime greatly improves their health, behaviour and results.

The Liberal Democrats are proud to have introduced free school meals in government and have long been calling for them to be extended to more pupils.

We need to invest in giving every child the

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The Death of Capitalism +?

The Corona crisis demands different and more in-depth analyses and syntheses.
Some causes of our poor management are society shortcomings – economic, democratic, educational and informational. These are failures of analytical thinking. Inextricably interconnected, they need addressing as a network.
Power correlates highly with wealth. The concentration of wealth concentrates power. Concentrated power weakens democracy. If we do not manage the continuing concentration of wealth, we connive at the demise of democracy. If we do not expose and oppose Neo-liberalism’s concentration of power, which gathers to itself yet more wealth and power, we are democrats in theory only.
Neo-Liberalism turns nations into financial capitalist entities instead of industrial capitalist ones. This is presented as “economics” but is also profoundly political power playing. “Off-shoring”, which moves manufacturing skills and corporate tax-paying abroad, affects the social equilibrium. It reduces the pay and infrastructures for the many. We become less productive, less skilled and more dependent consumer society and so less confident and powerful and more easily controlled and exploited.
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Dispatch of Leadership Election Ballots

Postal Votes

Postal votes have gone to print on the 27th July 2020. The initial run was around 5,000 voters. These will be sent to Royal Mail on the 29th July 2020.

We expect paper ballots to land between the 30th July and the 2nd August in the UK. We expect this to take up to the 14th August for non-UK postal ballots.

People who haven’t received a postal ballot by 2nd August can request a replacement by emailing [email protected]

Postal votes have been assigned based on the following criteria:

  • No email present on file
  • Has been requested by member
  • Has an @libdems.org.uk email address
  • Has a role-based email address ([email protected] [email protected] etc)
  • Has a shared email address (ie 2 members using the same email)

In addition, any email addresses that cannot be uploaded to the email platform, or that hard bounce will be sent a postal vote in a second batch that will go to print on the 3rd August and we expect to arrive between the 6th and 11th August.

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29 July 2020 – the overnight press releases

  • PAC report on social care demands lessons are learned
  • Government continues to ignore bad deal economic warning
  • Government must do more to get young people into work

PAC report on social care demands lessons are learned

Commenting on a Public Accounts Committee report which condemns the “slow, inconsistent and at times negligent approach” to the social care sector during the Covid-19 pandemic, Liberal Democrat MP and member of the committee Sarah Olney said:

The coronavirus has left people worried about their future and mourning loved ones. While we have relied on frontline staff to protect us, the Government’s PPE shortages seriously let NHS and care workers down.

People deserve better. Ministers must read and act on this report before it is too late to prepare for a second wave. That means rapidly upscaling the strategy to test, trace and isolate every case of coronavirus to keep people safe and prevent new surges.

To improve public confidence, the Prime Minister must set out a timetable for the independent inquiry into the Government’s actions. With that, we can ensure the same mistakes never happen again.

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28 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Davey calls for PM to put Martin Forde QC in charge of a Coronavirus Inquiry
  • Davey: PM must take second wave risk seriously
  • Government gaps in support for freelancers leaving employers to pick up the tab
  • Government must apply same human rights standards to US when it comes to exports
  • Dodds: ‘Swansea Tidal Lagoon is a vital part of our post-Covid recovery’
  • Davey calls for PM to put Martin Forde QC in charge of a Coronavirus Inquiry

    Today Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey has written to the Prime Minister with a plan for an immediate inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic.

    Ed has called on the Prime Minister to appoint Martin Forde QC as the chair of an independent coronavirus inquiry and to start work immediately. Martin Forde was the independent adviser on the design of the Government’s Windrush Compensation Scheme and is chair of the independent inquiry into Labour’s report on the party’s handling of antisemitism complaints.

    Ed also released proposed Terms of Reference for the independent inquiry agreed to by the Covid19 Bereaved Families for Justice.

    A spokesperson for the Covid19 Bereaved Families for Justice said:

    Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice are relieved that Ed Davey has seen the urgent need for a rapid inquiry.

    The Government’s own ‘Preparing for a challenging winter 20/21’ report (The Academy of Medical Sciences) predicts over 119,000 excess deaths this winter if urgent action is not taken now.

    That action has to be informed by this transparent inquiry. It’s time the Prime Minister put the well-being of the nation above politics.

    Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

    The Prime Minister confirmed to me weeks ago that there would be an independent inquiry, but we have seen no action from the Government since. Bereaved families I speak to are so disappointed that the Government is yet to begin an inquiry. They just don’t want any more families to go through what they have.

    The coronavirus threat remains very real. Were a second wave to happen during the winter, it could be even more deadly and damaging than the first. The Government must immediately start an inquiry so that we can learn from mistakes and properly plan for a second wave.

    This plan has been agreed by the Covid19 Bereaved Families for Justice. I hope Boris Johnson takes it seriously and sees it as an opportunity to get an inquiry going as soon as possible.

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Layla and Ed to meet with Compass

I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of setpiece hustings – they tend to be a bit formulaic to my mind. And so, if you share that view, you might be interested to hear that Compass, who describe themselves as “a pressure group for the centre-left”, are holding an event on the Liberal Democrats’ leadership election with Ed and Layla (followed by a discussion with Jane Dodds and Jon Alexander) on 6 August, between 5.30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The event is titled “The Future of the Liberal Democrats and Progressive Politics” and is open to everyone.

Here’s the link

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++ Breaking news: Siobhan Benita stands down as candidate for London Mayor

With the London elections postponed until May 2021, members in the capital have today received an email from Siobhan Benita, the Lib Dem candidate for London Mayor.

She writes:

I am writing to let you know that, after much consideration and with sadness, I am standing down as the Liberal Democrat Candidate for Mayor of London.

The demands of being a candidate are significant, particularly for an election of this scale, The nature of the role, which is unpaid, makes it very difficult to combine with other work. Sadly, at this stage, I’m simply not able to commit to another full year of

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Last print issue of Liberator now free online

Liberator 402 is on its way to subscribers and is available as a free download from our website: www.liberatormagazine.org.uk 
This is our last issue in print, and future Liberators will be free downloads from the website, which also has a free archive of copies back to 2001.

In future anyone – not just subscribers – can download and read Liberator on any device they wish, print out parts of it and pass it on to anyone interested.

We will send out email notifications when each PDF issue comes out. To be on this list please visit our website to sign up or email us at: [email protected]

Liberator 402 includes:

The Next Leader Speaks

Ed Davey and Layla Moran answer Liberator’s questions on how they would approach being Lib Dem leader

Beads Without String

Hardly anyone knows what holds Liberal Democrat policies together and the party bores and baffles the public. Michael Meadowcroft suggests some solutions

Staring us in the Face

Responses are needed to everything from a pandemic-induced recession to Black Lives Matter, and a look at Liberal history will reveal many of them, says Trevor Smith

Getting the Builders In

Susan Simmonds finds much to think about in Layla Moran’s Build Back Better booklet

Liberal Lessons About a Painful Past

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Stephen Williams selected to fight West of England mayoral election

Great news from the West of England. Former MP for Bristol West Stephen Williams will be the Liberal Democrats candidate for mayor of the West of England Combined Authority:

The election takes place in May 2021.

His selection was covered in Bristol Live

In a statement announcing his bid, he said: “This election really matters to people’s everyday lives because the mayor decides where a lot of money is spent to improve buses, cycling and other ways to get around, new housing and creating new jobs.

“I know our area well because before I went into politics I had jobs in all three parts of the West of England.”

He added: “Many residents won’t know much about the current mayor because he is completely invisible.

“I’m completely different because I love meeting local people, listening to them and then getting on with delivering what they need.

“I have a strong record of local action and know how to get results.”

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Where to see Ed and Layla this weekend

It’s the last weekend in the leadership election before the ballot papers go out. Already there has been a good mix of regional and themed hustings to put the two candidates, Layla Moran and Ed Davey, through their paces.

There are five opportunities to see them in action over the next two days.

First up, the London hustings between 3 and 4:30 this afternoon.

Tonight, between 7 and 8:30, it’s the Welsh event and tomorrow the Scottish hustings take place between 2 and 3:30 pm.

What these three areas have in common is that they all have mayoral, Parliament or Senedd elections next May so it’s a chance to see how well the candidates understand the political environments in those very different parts of the UK.

The final hustings of the weekend, the North East, takes place tomorrow evening between 7 and 8:30 pm.

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24 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Drop in overseas visitors points to support need for tourism
  • Care sector is facing a new crisis as we emerge from lockdown – Davey
  • Scrap costly Police & Crime Commissioners
  • PM’s refusal to learn lessons shows why immediate inquiry is essential

Drop in overseas visitors points to support need for tourism

Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron has called for more support to help the tourism sector as ONS statistics published today revealing there were 1.4 million visits to the UK by overseas visitors in March 2020, 54% fewer than in March 2019.

The Party has previously pushed for a review into the impact of coronavirus on the sector, to take into account options such as an extension of the furlough, grants and loans schemes until 2021.

Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said:

Countless businesses are facing serious financial hardship and many more are worried about job losses, particularly across the tourism sector.

With half the usual footfall from flights in March, which we know has been worse since, Ministers must see this as a reminder that the tourism industry must be given the tools it needs to recover.

That is why Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to extend furlough support until it is safe and create and enhance bespoke packages for sectors like hospitality, leisure and culture.

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23 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Liberal Democrats: Govt must stop posturing and secure a good deal
  • Liberal Democrats attempt to block renter evictions
  • Any review of our democracy must be truly independent, Liberal Democrats warn

Liberal Democrats: Govt must stop posturing and secure a good deal

Responding to Barnier’s comments that there has been no progress on key Brexit issues including fisheries and state aid, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

With just weeks to go and our country already facing the biggest economic crisis in generations, it is unthinkable that the UK would crash out of the transition period without a deal in place or with a bad

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23 July 2020 – the overnight press release

Lack of economic planning for a pandemic highlights Government failures

Responding to a Public Accounts Committee report published today that finds an “astonishing” failure on the part of the Government to prepare for the economic impact of a pandemic, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

Everyone agrees that COVID-19 is an unprecedented challenge, but the Government’s failure to ensure there was a contingency plan at the ready has left thousands of families with no help whatsoever, and thousands of businesses making redundancies or closing down.

Considering that pandemics are one of the key risks any Government plans for, if

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22 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Mental health and education gap of homeschooling must be addressed
  • All Hong Kongers must be given right to live in the UK
  • £2.9 billion aid cut shows Government abandoning world stage

Mental health and education gap of homeschooling must be addressed

Responding to ONS statistics published today on the impact of homeschooling during the coronavirus pandemic, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said:

Coronavirus has clearly impacted every aspect of life, including the wellbeing of parents and children, and the quality of education the majority of children receive. We must ensure no one is left behind.

If it wasn’t for years of cuts to our schools and government failing to consult adequately with teachers and school leaders, it wouldn’t be this way. Ministers must now increase the necessary provision of laptops and introduce a Summer Learning Fund that supports the most disadvantaged children.

Moreover, the Government must address the mental health impact of the pandemic by signposting the appropriate support services to every household, and properly funding the charities that provide those services.

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21 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Pay rises without cash mean more cuts to schools and the police – Davey
  • Government must be clear higher debt won’t mean cuts to vital public services
  • Delyn MP must end ‘saga of scandals’
  • PM must announce a full investigation into potential Russian interference of our democracy
  • Braverman must apologise for endorsing Cummings

Pay rises without cash mean more cuts to schools and the police – Davey

Responding to reports that nearly 900,000 public sector workers will receive a pay rise out of existing departmental budgets, Liberal Democrat Acting Leader Ed Davey said:

Accepting the independent review body’s pay recommendations was the very least the Chancellor could do. Yet, as overall budgets remain unchanged, the reality is our schools, police and wider public services will struggle to meet this award without significant cuts elsewhere in their budgets, including redundancies.

And utterly failing to recognise the outstanding effort of social care staff during the COVID-19 crisis is simply not acceptable. Councils and the wider care sector must be properly funded.

Since the early days of this pandemic, Liberal Democrats have been the first to argue for a better deal for NHS and care staff, yet Ministers seem to think that warm words and hand claps are sufficient. Boris Johnson should be ashamed for neglecting NHS and care staff again.

Government must be clear higher debt won’t mean cuts to vital public services

Responding to ONS statistics showing that Government borrowing for June was £35.5 billion – around five times more than the same month last year – Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

In an unprecedented economic challenge like the coronavirus pandemic people must come before the numbers. Any Chancellor should go beyond normal borrowing to help protect peoples’ health and livelihoods.

What the Government must now make clear is that, after Covid, higher debt will not and must not mean cuts to vital public services or less investment for our crumbling infrastructure – especially in the parts of the UK that need it most.

Liberal Democrats stand firm that we must grow our way out of this crisis with a Green Recovery Plan that will invest billions to transform our economy, fight climate change and create millions of good-quality jobs.

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21 July 2020 – the overnight press release

Liberal Democrats: Government must step up and tackle misinformation

Responding to the DCMS Select Committee Report ‘Misinformation in the COVID-19 Infodemic’, Liberal Democrat DCMS spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:

The pandemic has brought home how fundamental it is that we stamp out dangerous misinformation on social media, and how important it is that the public can trust information online. This report is clear that the Government must do more to tackle misinformation and the Liberal Democrats strongly support its calls for greater transparency.

To tackle the invisible algorithms that drive people to extreme content, platforms must not only have the ability to act

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20 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Test and trace privacy fiasco yet another blunder by Ministers
  • Government’s school funding plan shows no understanding of challenges facing schools
  • Government must set up lifeboat system to ensure safe passage for Hong Kongers
  • Government silencing those who get in the way of their own political interests
  • Tories’ plan to “take back control” proves to be empty words when it comes to trade

Test and trace privacy fiasco yet another blunder by Ministers

Responding to reports that privacy campaigners have accused the Government’s test and trace programme of breaking data protection laws, Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

The fact that the Government have potentially broken the law is just another example of Ministers’ disastrous handling of test and trace. For the Department of Health to admit there was no consideration on the impact this would have on our privacy shows that this Government is simply walking into blunder after blunder, failing to get a grip on this crisis.

Of course mass testing, contact tracing and isolation at the community level for those who test positive, is the only safe way out of lockdown, but protecting individuals’ privacy remains of the utmost importance.

The Liberal Democrats have been clear that as long as there is absolute transparency when it comes to what information is collected, how long it is stored for, and who has access to this data, the Government can mitigate the concerns people have.

Ministers must get a grip of test and trace system if they are to keep people safe from coronavirus. They must do everything they can to not only protect people’s data and keep the public’s trust, but ensure we get an effective app up and running as soon as possible.

Government’s school funding plan shows no understanding of challenges facing schools

Responding to the publication of the Government’s funding allocations for schools in 2021-22, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said:

The Conservatives’ spending plans show no understanding of the challenges facing schools in September. They have asked schools to open as normal when our Test and Trace system is faulty. Teachers must try to reverse the harm to children’s learning, development and mental health, when many disadvantaged children have disappeared off schools’ radars entirely during lockdown.

In the face of this crisis, spending plans announced last year are utterly unfit for purpose. All the Government has added is a catch-up premium worth just £80 per pupil per year, and a tutoring fund. It’s simply not enough to pay for the small group teaching that Ministers say our children need.

The pandemic requires us to invest in education at all levels on an unprecedented scale. That’s why Liberal Democrats have launched a five-point plan to re-open schools safely, provide laptops to those who need them and close the disadvantage gap, so that we can give every child a great start in life.

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Liberator quizzes the leadership candidates

Liberator sends a questionnaire to each candidate during party leadership elections which seeks to move beyond questions like ‘is land value taxation a Good Thing’ to get them thinking about what the party is for, where it should be going and how to get it there.

Both say they agree with the Thornhill report’s main recommendations and both want a greener economy. Both also indicate they would never work with the Conservatives at least not while they are led by Boris Johnson.

There are though some notable differences between the contenders which may help members make up their minds, see their answers …

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  • User Avatarjohn 6th Aug - 7:02pm
    Assoc of Libdem Engineers & Science live leadership hustings now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=934B33TxZBM&feature=push-lbrm&attr_tag=_KnBjb6KVikG3dLF%3A6
  • User AvatarJohn 6th Aug - 6:59pm
    Whatever LibDems think of the relative merits of the alternative Borgs in Labour and Tories, the Tories have not shaken off any previous marginal tendencies...
  • User AvatarDavid Evans 6th Aug - 6:43pm
    David Raw, totally agree with your point with just one query on your final sentence - "It was even worse in 1951". Was it definitely...
  • User AvatarGordon 6th Aug - 6:05pm
    The Tories have form when it comes to property and the article would be better for making that point. Their hostility is driven by laws...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 6th Aug - 5:56pm
    @ Richard Easter, "I don’t know what the solution to it all is....." Neither do I have a complete solution, but we have to start...
  • User AvatarBarry Lofty 6th Aug - 5:38pm
    You might also say what have the Labour party got to offer, ok they have a more credible new leader but I suspect behind the...