Category Archives: News

Alistair Carmichael’s Conference Speech in full

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael spoke on the opening day of the Party’s Autumn Conference. In his speech he discussed Covid ID cards, Priti Patel’s Home Office failures, the labour shortage crisis and refugees.

I don’t know if our Home Secretary lacks the empathy or imagination to put herself in the place of these desperate people who take these risks to get to our shores.

But I DO know that her response to that growing crisis shames our country…

This summer we saw Tory MPs queuing up to criticise the RNLI… for doing what they exist to do, saving lives at sea.

a government led by a Prime Minister who considers himself to be above the rule of law. A government that rules for the benefit of the elite… Whatever challenges present themselves in the weeks and months to come we shall continue to take the fight to this government.

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Lib Dems call for immediate ban on conversion therapy in all forms

The Liberal Democrats have called for a total ban of conversion therapy in the UK, with no exemptions for religious practices.

The party also wants to see a criminal ban on referrals, transportation of minors overseas, and advertising and promotion of any conversion practices as well as a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of conversion therapy.

The call comes in the same year as the Government have met with the Evangelical Alliance and LGB Alliance, who advocate religious exemptions for gay conversion therapy, whilst failing to honour their promise to ban the practice.

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Ed Davey to rule out a coalition with Boris

The Financial Times today reports that Ed Davey will use his conference speech on Sunday to position the party as an unambiguously anti-Tory force. He will vow never help to help put Boris Johnson back into Downing Street.

When asked if the Lib Dems would facilitate a Tory government at the next election, Davey replied: “No.”

Davey defended the decision to hold a virtual conference, arguing that planning was done well in advance before it became apparent what the coronavirus situation would be.

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Mark Pack’s September update

Setting out our vision for the country

Our September Federal Conference has a key trio of debates on our vision for a Liberal Democratic society, our overall policy platform and the strategy to give us the political power to achieve those aims.

Having spent the first part of this Parliament fixing many of the practical organisational issues that caused so many problems in the 2019 general election, we now need to shift up a gear to get the external aspects right too. Sarah Green’s victory in Chesham and Amersham is a wonderfully inspiring example of what we can achieve when we get this right. The challenge is now to do that across the country.

It’s promising that we’ve seen a sustained boost in our opinion poll ratings since Sarah’s victory (up from 7% on average this year before her victory to 9% since). There’s also been a noticeable increase in our local council by-election performances since Sarah’s victory and the easing of coronavirus-related restrictions on local campaigning. Local factors mean it’s rarely wise to read too much into any one result, but the volume of by-elections – and their spread around the country – now means we look at that improvement with confidence that it’s real.

So we can also approach these conference debates with confidence about our potential – as long as we continue to up our game.

Improving people’s experience of being a member

Our party is our membership. Giving people a good experience is crucial for growing, retaining and encouraging people to be active in our party. And enabling individuals to create the change they want to see in the world is at the heart of our liberal philosophy.

To help get our plans right for this, the Federal People Development Committee (FPDC) is doing telephone research calls to understand the perspectives of ordinary members on what works and what doesn’t. If the random selector picks you out for a call, please do take part – and if you have time to volunteer to help make the calls, let me know and I can put you in touch.

Alongside this, a variety of ideas are starting to be piloted, such as new ways of recruiting canvassed Lib Dems as members, a new quarterly cycle of briefing and feedback video calls for all local party officers, and the special £1 registration fee for first-timers at Federal Conference. I’m also very happy to hear any suggestions from you.

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Did Boris Johnson just suggest that our Jamie Stone should be fired into space?

Maturity has never really been Boris Johnson’s strong point.

And so it was today when Jamie Stone used a question to the Prime Minister to highlight the positive development  this week which brings space port in North West Scotland a step closer:

As the BBC reports, a major obstacle was cleared:

A Scottish Land Court judge has approved a change of use of an area of croft land near Tongue in Sutherland for the building of the facility.

The land around the rockets hangar and launch pad must remain available to crofters for agricultural use.

The ruling means the first rockets carrying small satellites could launch from Space Hub Sutherland from next year.

So Jamie was joyful about this when he asked the PM if he’d come to the first launch. Boris then replied that Jamie would make a suitable payload :

But did he really mean Jamie?

Hansard, which is usually pretty accurate, says at the time of writing that Boris Johnson replied to Jamie thus:

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind invitation. I look forward to taking it up. What we need is a suitable payload to send into space, and I think the hon. Gentleman would do very well.

But if you watch the video, what he actually said was “the Gentleman Opposite” which could refer to Keir Starmer.

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Christine Jardine: Government breaking promises and backbone of our economy

Christine Jardine slammed the Government’s proposed increase in National Insurance constributions in the debate yesterday.

The full text of her speech is below:

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Conference amendments now out

In the olden days, all the amendments to Conference motions and questions to party committees would be published in a separate booklet and you would have to juggle between the two of them and, quite often, the Conference Daily sheet as well.

We’ve now adapted for the online age and the Conference Extra stuff has now been incorporated into the agenda document itself which will make things much easier to navigate. You can see at first glance on pages 11-14 which motions have amendments and you can just click through to them.

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20 years on: Menzies Campbell’s speech in 9/11 recall

Today is the twentieth anniversary of the recall of Parliament in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in the USA.

We posted Charles Kennedy’s speech earlier. In a subsequent debate on international terrorism, Menzies Campbell, then our foreign affairs spokesperson, spoke. He made some unfailingly liberal points, about how important it was to focus on justice rather than retaliation, to make sure any response is based on decent intelligence and international co-operation and, importantly, that we should note that the perpetrators of the genocide in Rwanda and the Srebrenica massacre were not met hunted down with international military action. We mustn’t, he said, give the impression that the lives of those in the richest countries are worth more than those in the poorest.

Here is his speech in full, taken from Commons Hansard.

Back then, he and Paddy Ashdown were go-to people for the media on foreign affairs. They had huge credibility and were well known.

Not for the first time this week, I reflect on the fact that no matter how rich or diverse the English language it is inadequate to convey the sense of horror and frustration that so many of us feel about the events that have taken place across the Atlantic. Expressions such as “defining moment” have been thrown about—there are many of my generation for whom the defining moment appeared to be the assassination of John F. Kennedy—but I suspect that the life of the most powerful city in the most powerful country in the world will never be the same. I refer not just to the irritation of increased airline security, but to the realisation that no country, however powerful, can guarantee absolute safety for its citizens.

After the emotions of shock, sorrow and anger has come, as the Prime Minister rightly expressed, our admiration for the people of the United States. The United States is a great country with enormous economic resources, but this week we have seen that it has great resources of character as well. How else can one explain the extraordinary unified response to these events: immediate bipartisanship in the Congress, the quite extraordinary valour of the emergency services and, in towns and villages throughout the United States, public protests of determination that the people will not be intimidated?

In our occasionally patronising way, we on this side of the Atlantic sometimes raise our eyebrows at the United States’ style of public affirmation of nationhood—the pledge of allegiance and the public support for the flag. The truth is that this week has demonstrated that, in time of crisis, that public expression of unity is priceless in promoting a common purpose and a determination to triumph over adversity. The collective response of the people of the United States has rightly earned the admiration of us all.

When the roll call of nations that have lost citizens is set down, it will tell us that the nations of the whole world were the indiscriminate targets of the zealots whose barbarity has brought sadness and grief to so many families. For me, and perhaps for others, the close proximity of the headquarters of the United Nations has more than symbolic significance. We know that the heaviest burden will be borne by the people of the United States. Out of the collective sorrow that they suffer, and that we share, there must surely come a resolve that through collective action the perpetrators will be brought to justice and terrorism will be met in all circumstances by a robust defence of democratic values.

Let me try to put to rest the canard that somehow United States’ policy in the middle east was the cause of these events. I have not always agreed with United States’ policy in the middle east, and indeed I have said so in the House on many occasions, but the cause of these events was a deliberate and calculated decision to take the lives of as many as possible, allied to the willingness of desperate men to implement that decision at the cost of their own lives. The Prime Minister was correct to tell us that we must not suffer any ambiguity in our analysis of terrorism, but we should also remind ourselves that terrorism often flourishes where real or perceived injustice prevails. Communities which have an unresolved or unrecognised sense of grievance are driven sometimes to assume that terrorism is the only way of seeking resolution or recognition.

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20 years on: Charles Kennedy’s speech at the 9/11 recall of Parliament

Twenty years ago today, Parliament was recalled to debate the 9/11 terror attacks. Charles Kennedy, our then leader, spoke with customary good sense. He spoke of the need for international organisations to rise to the occasion. He spoke of his concern at the way asylum seekers and immigrants were already starting to be demonised. Here is his speech in full:

On behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends, I wholly associate the Liberal Democrats with the proper sentiments that have been expressed so well by the Prime Minister and by the new leader of the Conservative party—whom I congratulate despite the sad circumstances that coincide with his election—about the breathtaking nature of the savagery that we have witnessed in the United States. Many of our constituents and communities throughout our land, never mind the United States and the wider international community, will have been affected.

We all have a heavy heart today. As I listened to the Prime Minister, I thought back into history. Speaking in the House of Commons in very different circumstances, John Bright spoke of the sense that the angel of death was floating above the Chamber. There is no doubt that the angel of death is very much with us today.

I spent one of the happiest years of my life as a student in the mid-west of the United States, in Indiana, and I have been a fairly regular visitor back and forth to New York in the 20 years since then. Until I became a student in the United States, I did not understand how mid-west America feels divorced from east coast and west coast America. Speaking to friends—including one who once worked in one of the buildings that were attacked but who, just before the summer, was transferred further down Wall street and was therefore not afflicted by this terrible tragedy—I was struck by the remarkable extent to which middle America, east coast America and west coast America have become united as never before. We, a country on the other side of the Atlantic, must not underestimate that. We have to understand the scale of the shock and the unity that it has brought about in that great country and on that great continent.

Yesterday afternoon, in common with the Conservative party leader, the Prime Minister, the former Conservative party leader and other Members of Parliament, I went to sign the condolence book in Grosvenor square. It was remarkable to read the sentiments expressed there. There was a bouquet of flowers from a Polish ex-service man in the second world war, now domiciled in London. A family from Dagenham who had no connections with the United States wanted to say how sorry they were. American tourists here in London are bereft because they do not know what has happened to people they know, family or loved ones: they are without information.

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ALTER Fringe – Simulating a LVT funded Universal Basic Income.

Action for Land Taxation & Economic Reform (ALTER) will hold its conference fringe on Sunday, 19th September 2021 13:05 to 14:15. The theme of the fringe is simulating a land value tax funded Universal Basic Income.

A presentation followed by Q&A’s will be made by Nikhil Woodruff, technical lead at the UBI Center, a think tank researching universal basic income policies. He is also the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at PolicyEngine. Other contributors to the research include Max Ghenis president of the UBI Center, and co-founder and CEO of PolicyEngine and Charles Bauman, research assistant at

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I regret my involvement in the Salmond Enquiry says Alex Cole-Hamilton

Alex Cole-Hamilton is conducting his early interviews as leader with considerable skill.

There’s a lot of core messaging around the Lib Dems being the alternative to the clash of nationalisms, to the SNP ruining public services and how we offer new hope. We Lib Dems will get utterly sick of these things at some point but we aren’t the target audience. The rest of the public doesn’t hang off every word our leader utters like we do. Well, we don’t really but we pay more attention than most people.  By the time we have heard what he wants to say eleventy million times, it will just be starting to resonate with the voters.

So, he has got the knack of throwing in something new in every interview. It keeps us interested and gets noticed by the wider public.

In today’s interview, with Scotland on Sunday, he reflects on the Salmond Enquiry, on which he was the Lib Dem representative. This was the cross party committee set up to investigate the issues around the complaints process in the Scottish Government used when women complained about Alex Salmond’s behaviour towards them when he was First Minister. Our Alex says that he now regrets his participation.

It was high pressure. I mean, it took up so much oxygen, so much time. But also, I’d been supporting a complainer privately who approached me, and I could see what every twist and turn of it was doing to her.

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Dates for your diary: The rise of China and 40 years on from the Limehouse declaration

I thought it might be worth sharing a couple of things I’ve registered for this morning.

On Thursday 30th September at 11 am,  the Paddy Ashdown Forum will be hosting a debate on China. The motion is “This House believes that China is interested in coexistence rather than domination.”

This will be a hybrid event, both in person at the National Liberal Club and online. It’s the sort of thing you can listen in to if you are still working from home.

You can get more details and register here. 

The second is a virtual  event being hosted by Queen Mary University and the Mile End Institute on 22nd September at 6:30 pm on the Limehouse Declaration 40 years on. Can the SDP teach us anything today? A panel including Vince Cable, Lib Dem peer Julie Smith, Polly Toynbee who was one of the founder members of the SDP and senior lecturer Peter Sloman. You can register for that one here.

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Senior Lib Dems mark 9/11 anniversary

Senior Lib Dems have been reflecting on 9/11 and its aftermath:

 

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ALDC by-election report: Great Newcastle win

The undoubted highlight of this week’s by-elections was a magnificent victory for ALDC’s very own Thom Campion (now Cllr Thom Campion!) who held Castle ward on Newcastle Council after a hard fought campaign with an impressive majority of over 500 and 42% of the vote. Congratulations Thom!

Elsewhere Lib Dem candidate Nick Brailsford finished a good second place in a by-election to Wingerworth Parish Council, while Marc Hadley came a very close third in a three-way contest in Penzance Promenade ward on Penzance PC.

Elsewhere there were a number of district and parish by-elections in North East Derbyshire that went to Labour

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Lib Dems slam Government as National Insurance rises and triple lock suspended

Lib Dem MPs have slammed the Government for breaking two election promises in as many hours.

Today Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak announced that they were going to pay for social care in about the most regressive way possible, by placing the burden on National Insurance. That takes in more lower paid people. The £130 it will cost for someone on £20,000 a year doesn’t sound much, but, believe me, the poorest households will feel every single penny. There were fairer ways of doing this, but you can’t expect that from a Conservative Government.

Emma Kennedy had it right on Twitter:

Ed Davey said of the plans for social care:

These broken manifesto promises are betrayals that will haunt Boris Johnson’s premiership. Whether it’s young working families, carers or small business owners, those catastrophically failed by the Conservatives during the pandemic are now being asked to pick up the tab.

The Liberal Democrats will oppose these unjust plans in Parliament tomorrow and urge all Conservative MPs to do the same. For the past two elections we have been clear about how to fix the social care crisis in a fair and progressive way. The Government must do the sensible thing and sit down with other parties to find a consensus, instead of drawing up divisive policies on the back of a fag packet.

And then we have the Lib Dem triple lock being suspended for a year. The brainchild of our Pensions Minister Steve Webb during the coalitiion years, after miserly 75p rises during Labour’s time in office, it guarantees pensioners a rise in the State Pension equivalent to the greater of average earnings, 2.5% or inflation.

Now, there will be some who will say that a rise of 8% would have been too much and unfair on the young who are bearing the brunt of the pandemic. This is where I would like to see us embrace the power of and to help both. Too many pensioners are living in poverty – 1 in 5 and most of them are women. They will feel the impact of this and not in a good way. Maybe the Government should raise pension credit by 8% to give hem some targetted support.

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Sarah Green makes her maiden speech

A wonderful sight for those of us who helped get Sarah Green elected as MP for Chesham and Amersham. A short while ago, she made her maiden speech. It was warm, generous, gracious and funny. She paid a lovely tribute to her predecessor Dame Cheryl Gillan, talked about her beautiful constituency with huge affection and got in a criticism of HS2, a description of the roads as an assault course for drivers and a takedown of the Government for its absurd plans for voter ID.

And here it is in full, thanks to the magic of me asking her office for a copy:

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Lib Dems will oppose Elections Bill in Parliament today

How should decisions about how our elections are run be made?

You would hope that all the parties would get together and come up with something that we should all agree with. Or at least a truly independent body would annoy everyone equally by coming up with things that some like and some don’t.

Here’s how not to do it – let a Government which has more MPs than its vote share deserves change the rules to suit itself. That is far from democratic.

The Conservatives are looking to the example of the experts in voter suppression, the US Republicans, with their Elections Bill which comes before Parliament today. It is blatantly partisan in many aspects.

The first is that it compels voters to show ID to vote. They couch it in language around preventing fraud, which is pretty much non existent anyway. But you have to look at the impact that would have. Who would be most likely not to vote? People of colour, poorer people, younger people. In short, people who are less likely to vote Conservative.

The second is that it gives the Government more control over the Electoral Commission, which is supposed to be independent. Again, not a good sign.

The third is that it will constrain third party campaigners such as trade unions.

Don’t just take my word for it, take the word of someone who is both a former electoral commissioner and a Liberal Democrat. David Howarth was MP for Cambridge until 2010. He cautions us to make sure we don’t forget the other nasties the bill contains while we argue over Voter ID.

In an article for Open Democracy he sets out why the “poisonous” bill would cement Tory rule.

He describes how the Bill hands control of the Electoral Commission to Government ministers:

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Christine Jardine: Government should pay for medicinal cannabis prescriptions for children with Epilepsy

Surely any person, when the quality of life for a child is on the line, would quickly come to the conclusion that paying up is the right thing to do?

Ever since she was elected as MP for Edinburgh West, Christine Jardine has been pushing the Government to give access to medicinal cannabis particularly to children who suffer from rare forms of Epilepsy for whom it can make a huge difference.

She has seen at first hand how it can transform the lives of the children who take it. In her Scotsman column this week, she talks about Murray Gray, her young constituent, now thriving and living his best life. But a couple of years ago, the story was very different:

When his mum Karen first came to me, he was a very unwell little boy who was, as I explained, constantly in and out of hospital with dozens of seizures, and his family were worried they could lose him.

Now, since being prescribed cannabis oil, he is seizure free and a happy youngster who plays football with his dad and told me everything I needed to know about dinosaurs when he visited my office. This medication has given him a life he otherwise may not have had.

The problem is that although it is possible for children to be prescribed medicinal cannabis, the NHS is only paying for three of them. This means that parents like Karen Gray are having to pay £1500 per month to ensure that their children can get the medicine that is giving them such a good quality of life.

Late last night, Christine led the first adjournment debate of the new parliamentary term in which she and others pushed minister Jo Churchill to ensure that in the short term, at least, the Government should pay for the children’s prescriptions until more clinicians are wiling to prescribe it. She outlined the problem:

When the then Home Secretary agreed that medicinal cannabis would be legal for use in the United Kingdom, I think we all believed that parents would no longer be forced to watch their children suffer, knowing that a treatment was available. What has happened since is heartbreaking. In the intervening years, they have been forced to source medication themselves, sometimes travel abroad—again at huge cost—to collect it, challenge the medical authorities and face rejection and repeated appeals for NHS prescriptions.

Surely no one in this place wants even to contemplate what it would mean to have a loved one—husband, wife, partner, brother, sister, friend or child—who had to pay for the medication they needed simply to go on with day-to-day life. Think of the diabetic without insulin or the asthmatic without an inhaler; this is no different, but it is new. With so much red tape and inflexible guidelines, too many people face being left alone, helpless and simply unable to afford life-changing treatment. In fact, since November 2018, just three NHS prescriptions have been issued for the type of medicinal cannabis that is life-transforming for these children.

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Liberal Democrats table motion to dock Raab’s pay

Today in Parliament the Liberal Democrats are tabling an Early Day Motion to dock Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s pay over his handling of the Afghanistan crisis.

They are also calling for the Government to use the money saved to fund the resettlement of Afghan refugees, following reports of a £557m shortfall in resettlement funding.

Commenting on the motion, Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain MP said:

Dominic Raab is one of the worst Foreign Secretaries in British history.

He has presided over the worst foreign policy disaster since the Suez and decided to spend more time on the beach instead of picking

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Largest Lib Dem business organisations to merge

The two largest and most active business groups in the Liberal Democrat community have joined forces to create an even larger, louder voice for sensible, liberal-minded business people.

From yesterday, the two are operating as one network under a new name: The LibDem Business Network, or LDBN.

Welcoming the merger, Paul Lucraft, Chair of Lib Dems in Business, said:

The Lib Dems in Business and the Liberal Democrats Business & Entrepreneurs Network have always been naturally aligned. This merger represents a significant strategic development, bringing greater joint influence and scope for both networks. It opens up exciting possibilities for the unified membership and for its mission to link the Liberal Democrats even more closely with the business community.

Simon Curtis, Chair of the Liberal Democrats Business & Entrepreneurs Network, stated:

The creation of LDBN helps us further promote the interests of fair-minded business at this crucial time. So many businesspeople are facing unprecedented challenges due, in large part, to current government policy. It helps us hone our message and expand, and support the only real party of business now, The Liberal Democrats.

Ed Davey, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, also welcomed the merger with warm words of support:

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Scottish Lib Dems oppose vaccine passports

Today Nicola Sturgeon announced that Scots attending big outdoor and indoor events from later this month will need vaccine passports to get in – unless they are exempt because they can’t have the vaccine.

The BBC reports that you will have to show evidence of vaccination or exemption to access:

  • Nightclubs and adult entertainment venues.

  • Unseated indoor live events, with more than 500 people in the audience.

  • Unseated outdoor live events, with more than 4,000 people in the audience.

  • Any event, of any nature, which has more than 10,000 people in attendance.

So, does this mean if I want to …

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Research highlights devastating financial impact of pandemic on young lower income women

It was clear right from the start that Covid shone a super trouper on the inequalities in our society. As older, more affluent office workers worked from home and saw their bank balances increase, younger, lower income workers kept us fed and cared for.

New research commissioned by a number of women’s organisations, including Close the Gap, Engender and the Fawcett Society has laid bare the impact on women on low incomes. Younger women were more adversely affected than older women andhit than lower income men.

Even before the pandemic hit, the report says that almost half of young women on …

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Lynne Featherstone reflects on being left to handle the London riots

We’ve been thinking a lot about when ministers should and shouldn’t return from holiday recently, and the consequences of their decisions.

But the tragic and appalling events in Afghanistan weren’t the first time senior ministers have been away when something big has kicked off and their junior ministers have had to deal with it.

Today Lynne Featherstone tells My London about her experience 10 years ago when the Tottenham Riots broke out. Boris Johnson, then Mayor of London, was off sunning himself somewhere and didn’t come back, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Theresa May were all away, so, for a brief time, Lynne was the face of the Government response to the riots.

I was the ‘duty minister’ that weekend for the Home Office. But this was such a big story, I expected to see the Prime Minister or the Home Secretary,”

She called Nick Timothy, who, with Fiona Hall was May’s extremely unpopular adviser when she was PM and was then at the Home Office. He told her to come in as she was “the only one in the room.”

Lynne assumed that someone more senior would be around:

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Alex Cole-Hamilton announces new, young spokespeople team

Alex Cole-Hamilton has announced the spokespeople team he thinks will bring “new hope” to the party and to Scotland.

One of the most striking things about Alex’s team is that it is very young. I am positively ancient in comparison to all but about four others. It is fantastic that of the 18 spokespeople, 4 are in their 20s, and are members of the Young Liberals. They are Molly Nolan, who really closed the gap in Caithness, Sutherland and Ross in May. She is such a powerful advocate for our rural communities. Ben Lawrie, one of the youngest councillors in Scotland will be holding the Government to account on its handling of the drug deaths crisis. Joe McCauley, who stood in Glasgow in May takes on culture and Jack Norquoy, the youngest spokesperson at 22, speaks for young people. An Orcadian, now living in Edinburgh, he understands the issues they are facing in rural areas as well as in our cities.

Alex said:

Scotland needs new hope and this team can offer it. They are crackling with talent and ideas, ready to inspire people. We will focus on the issues that matter to people across the country every day, from the NHS to the climate emergency. We will oppose the centralising SNP and stand up for human rights at home and abroad.

“Over the coming weeks I will be setting out a series of proposals to give people new hope, from the environment to the future of our communities and the prospects for young people. Scottish Liberal Democrats have so much to offer the people of Scotland.

I was surprised and delighted to be asked to return to the role of Social Security spokesperson which I had until 2019, before moving to Housing and then Equalities.

Alex phoned me when I’d nipped into Morrisons last Saturday afternoon and I took his call standing next to a stack of lager. Fighting poverty and inequality is so important to me and we need to use every single power we have in Scotland to make life better for people who are really struggling to put food on the table and heat their houses. I’m thrilled to be working with Wendy Chamberlain, who has the DWP Westminster portfolio.

The team in full is as follows:

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Ed Davey: Extend Armed Forces Covenant to Afghans who supported British troops

The Armed Forces Covenant protects UK military veterans and their families. In the i Ed Davy has called for the Covenant to be extended to include Afghan soldiers and interpreters who have been working with the British forces in Afghanistan.

He says:

The UK owes a huge debt of gratitude to all the Afghan citizens who heroically took a stand and worked alongside our brave men and women on the ground over the past 20 years.

Without their selflessness, we simply couldn’t have achieved what we did and undoubtedly more lives would’ve been lost. It is only right that their huge contribution is recognised and rewarded.

We must start by ensuring all Afghan interpreters, and their families, are able to come to the UK. Now is not the time for arbitrary caps on refugees – unless we offer sanctuary they will be hunted down by the Taliban, and we will see a humanitarian crisis unfold before our eyes.

He will table an amendment to the Armed Forces Bill when it comes before Parliament and it is likely to receive widespread support.

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Zoe Franklin selected to dislodge the Guildford brick in the Blue Wall

Good news from Guildford:

Zoe is bright, energetic and inspiring. I remember her speaking at a Scottish Lib Dem conference fringe meeting a couple of years ago giving lots of ideas about local campaigning. She closed the gap last time and could regain the seat which was held by Liberal Democrat Sue Doughty between 2001 and 2005. Sue was the only non Conservative to hold the seat since 1906.

From the Huffington Post:

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Vince Cable: UK needs to take lead on Afghan refugee crisis

Writing in the Independent, former Lib Dem leader Vince Cable talks of harrowing scenes at Kabul airport and asks if Britain is planning to take enough Afghan refugees and whether the Home Office is thinking of treating them with a generous spirit. Some Afghans working for our government will be told they do not have a strong enough connection with Britain, even though the documents showing that connection could qualify them for execution by the Taliban. Are we an overcrowded island? Or will we benefit from people who bring skills, entrepreneurial energy, cultural diversity and a supply of labour to regenerate an ageing country? Or should we simply accept refugees out of compassion?

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Ed Davey: Boris Johnson has failed again

Ed Davey has criticised Boris Johnson for failing to make any progress at the G7 summit today.

He said:

Boris Johnson has come out from this summit with nothing. Britain should stand tall in the world, but this Prime Minister falls short at every turn.

He has failed on the global stage once more, and the consequences could not be more devastating.

We abandoned all those who needed us in their hour of need; those who have put themselves in danger to protect British troops, vulnerable women and girls, and all those who simply fought to make their country a better place to live.

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Heartbreak, humility and humour – Alex Cole-Hamilton talks to Matt Forde

A wee treat for your commute today, or to have on in the background while you work from home.

New Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton was the guest on this week’s Political Party podcast hosted by Matt Forde.

It’s a brilliant chat, incredibly serious and moving in places, absolutely hilarious in others. At the start, Matt Forde warns us that it includes Alex’s account of a man who died by suicide in front of him a few years back. It’s one of the reasons he has been so persistent in questioning the Scottish Government on their lack of a suicide prevention strategy or lack of mental health support.

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Maddy Planche: Young people do care about politics

This weekend we’re publishing all the speeches from Alex Cole-Hamilton’s launch event as Scottish Lib Dem leader. Maddy Planche, a student and activist from Edinburgh, who is definitely one to watch for the future, introduced Alex and talked about how he had listened to her and taken her seriously when she first got involved.

For as long as politics has been around, there has always been the assumption that young people just don’t care enough about it. It doesn’t take much to notice that at this current point in time, you could not be further from the truth. In fact, I’m the third young person to be speaking today.

Young people, just like the rest of society, look at the world and are worried. We’re worried about the ever-impending climate crisis, worried about whether we can be treated equally to our peers, worried about a lack of meaningful action.

We’re frustrated but that doesn’t mean we don’t care. We are constantly watching a wheel that is not turning fast enough and we cannot wait to jump at it and push it ourselves. So, we do, in our droves.

That is why I first got involved in politics, because I want progress and I want it to come faster. It’s what drew me to the Liberal Democrats. We do not create policies simply for the sake of being palatable. What underpins our liberalism is our belief that everyone should have the freedom and choice to make in life what they want of it, but they are not always given the right tools to do so.

We fight tooth and nail for this belief. That is why we’re the party best placed to get the wheel turning.

When I did first get involved, I didn’t quite know what to expect. When I turned up to my first canvassing session (eighteen, very nervous) I half expected to hate it, never go to another session but at least tell my university tutor on the Monday morning that I had tried politics in the ‘real world’.

Instead, I was pleasantly surprised. People that I was worried would not take me seriously enough because of my lack of age and experience instead appreciated my presence and made it vocal they did so. One of these people was Alex Cole-Hamilton.

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