Category Archives: News

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Sarah Green selected for Chesham & Amersham

The Chesham & Amersham by-election, following the death of Conservative MP Cheryl Gillan last month, will be held over the summer, although no date has been announced yet. In the General Election we came a solid second, so we will be fighting this with all the energy we can.

Congratulations to Sarah Green who has been selected as our candidate. Sarah is a training and communications professional, and many of you will have come across her at party training sessions.

Here’s how you can help.

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Ed Davey’s message to voters

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Ed Davey has issued this message to everyone who will be voting tomorrow:

Covid has reminded all of us just how important our local community is, and by electing a Liberal Democrat, people will be choosing a hardworking local champion for their community.

People also appreciate now more than ever their local green spaces and their community’s wider environment so I’m proud how Liberal Democrats have always led the way in putting the environment at the heart of our campaigns.

Across the country Labour and the Conservatives too often sit on their hands while our green spaces are sold off to the highest bidder and our children breathe dangerous polluted air.

In contrast, the Liberal Democrat environment record in local government is unbeatable, whether it’s delivering the country’s first clean air zone outside of London to topping the country’s leaderboard for recycling rates.

So if you want to get things done in your community and you want your local environment protected, vote Liberal Democrat.

 

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India COVID disaster: Layla Moran calls for UK to begin donating vaccines through COVAX immediately

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The Liberal Democrats have written to the Prime Minister calling for the UK to begin donating vaccines through the COVAX programme immediately.

The letter, co-signed by all the party’s MPs and spearheaded by Layla Moran, echoes calls the party made to join COVAX as part of a ‘parallel rollout’ back in February. With the situation in India now worsening, the urgency of the call has intensified.

It also highlighted how aid cuts are making the global situation worse and called for a number of other proactive measures such as safely accelerating approval processes in regulatory bodies.

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Tories backtracking over new Powys Hospitals shows lack of honesty with voters

The admission by the Conservatives that their manifesto pledge to build two new hospitals in Powys won’t be fulfilled has been described as a disappointing breach of trust by the Liberal Democrats.

The Conservative manifesto pledges on both the inside cover and on page two that they will build “five new hospitals.” However Welsh Conservatives have now admitted that only two new hospitals will be built, neither of which will be in Powys and instead that existing hospitals in Newtown and Llandrindod will be upgraded.

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LISTEN: Christine Jardine on Any Questions

Christine Jardine was on Any Questions on Friday night, answering questions about the Scottish elections, the PM’s flat redecoration

Here are some of her best bits;

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Daisy Cooper smashes it on Question Time

Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper was on Question Time this week and won the support of so many audience members, particularly for her evisceration of the Government over its failure to help leaseholders affected by the cladding scandal. She was really excellent on everything from care homes to the Covid crisis in India to the Boris Johnson flat refurb.  Here are some of her best bits.

 

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Federal Conference Committee – Autumn Conference to be online again

Federal Conference Committee met on 28th April 2021 to make some preliminary decisions about the format of Autumn Conference 2021.

We have decided that Autumn Conference will take place from 17th to 20th September. It will be held online. That was a very difficult decision to take and we had a very lengthy discussion about it.

We recognise that a lot of people would like to meet again in person – believe me, so we would we – but the question is whether, at this time, we can absolutely guarantee that conference could go ahead in the format that we know and love. Having consulted a range of others, FCC considered, with some reluctance, that it was not possible at this time to give such a guarantee. Although things are now a lot better in terms of the pandemic, we do not know if there are any final bumps in the road still to come. Medical experts say they expect a third wave in the Autumn but the extent is not yet clear. Of course, things seemed better in the early Autumn of 2020 but then took a marked turn for the worst a few months later. We do not, at this stage, know what social distancing requirements there will be or how many people will be able to attend the venue. We therefore cannot make meaningful plans and set any meaningful budget for the event. The risk of going ahead in person but having to cancel or heavily restrict the event such that it is not inclusive, is just too great. In the same way, we take any risk to the personal safety of party members very seriously. That is why we cancelled Spring 2020. We would not want to expose anyone to any unnecessary risk of catching this dreadful virus in a close setting.

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Hans van Baalen (1960-2021)

It has been announced that Johannes Cornelis “Hans” van Baalen, President of the ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe) Party, passed away this morning after a short period in hospital, having recently been diagnosed as suffering from cancer.

A member of VVD (The People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy), he served as a member of the Dutch Parliament between 1999 and 2002, and from 2003 until 2009 until he took his seat in the European Parliament. His political career started as the International Secretary of VVD, the first step in what became a love of international politics that saw him rise to the top of European and international liberalism.

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Welsh Lib Dems pledge to make every town in Wales a “Tree Town”

Welsh Liberal Democrats have announced plans to make every town in Wales a Tree Town. This would see every council preparing a long term Tree and Woodland Strategy to deliver and sustain a minimum of 20% tree cover in urban areas and 30% tree cover for all new developments.

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Liz Barker named in Pink News list

We are in the middle of Lesbian Visibility Week, and to celebrate it Pink News has produced a list of “19 incredible lesbians who’re loud, proud and making the world a better place“.

And alongside the likes of Billie-Jean King, Mhairi Black, and Mary Trump we can find our own Lib Dem peer Liz Barker. The citation is:

Baroness Elizabeth Barker. Lesbian peer and Albert Kennedy Trust ambassador who recently spoke out in the UK’s House of Lords in defence of an inclusive maternity bill.

Liz is our LGBT spokesperosn in the Lords and Spokesperson for the Voluntary Sector. According to the Lib Dem website:

Liz runs a small consultancy which provides strategic business development support to charities, social enterprises and statutory authorities. Liz has particular interest in developing best practice in governance and relationships between third sector organisations and businesses.

Congratulations to Liz and to all lesbian Lib Dems who are out and proud.

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Layla speaks out on Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe decision


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The BBC reports:

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been sentenced to a further year in prison and a one-year travel ban after being found guilty of propaganda against the regime in Iran.

Her lawyer said she was accused of taking part in a protest in London 12 years ago and speaking to the BBC Persian service.

The prime minister said the UK would “redouble” efforts to free her.

The British-Iranian charity worker was first jailed in Tehran in 2016.

She has always denied the spying charges levelled against her.

Confirming the latest sentence, her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said the court’s decision was a bad sign and “clearly a negotiating tactic” by the Iranian authorities – who are in the middle of discussions over the country’s nuclear activities.

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Ed and Tim angry at “callous” statement by PM

Both Ed Davey and Tim Farron have been quick to show their anger about the reported “Let the bodies pile high” remark by PM Johnson:

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Ed Davey – Clean up our air to save lives

On a recent visit to Watford, Ed Davey unveiled the Liberal Democrats’ proposals for a £20billion Community Clean Air fund – part of the party’s £150 billion Green Economic Recovery Plan.

With air pollution causing 40,000 early deaths a year and transport now the country’s biggest source of carbon emissions, the Fund would enable Councils and communities to tackle this and spearhead a local transport revolution

New light rail and tram projects, conversion of bus fleets to hydrogen energy and new council-led clean air zones are three key parts of the plan.

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Parties adopt Kennedy Commitment to disagree well with open and respectful debate

Earlier today I  joined Willie Rennie in calling on all parties in Scotland to commit to a zero-tolerance approach to abuse and to lead a respectful campaign.

In the course of the Scottish campaign to date a brick has been thrown at Scottish Liberal Democrat HQ and the new Labour Leader Anas Sarwar has been racially abused outside Holyrood.

It just isn’t how politics should be done.

It was also worryingly reminiscent of an attitude in the 2015 campaign which resulted in the unacceptable campaign of intimidation against Charles Kennedy. And if the reaction to BBC Alba’s recent documentary about Charles’ life showed me anything, it was that this sort of behaviour is as unpopular now as it was then.

We must never go back to those old divisions.

With social media playing an increasingly prominent role in elections, politicians can show they have learned the lessons of the past and send a clear message of the value we hold in open, honest and respectful debate.

Our democracy is at its best when it is open, inclusive and free from intimidation or abuse. That is what Charles believed. He understood the importance of disagreeing well with political opponents. So the Kennedy Commitments put these values into practice:

Publicly challenge and denounce derogatory, untrue, or hateful messages on social media.
To disagree well and treat my political opponents, journalists and the public with respect.
Run an honest campaign that does not permit character defamation, libel, or slander against political opponents.

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Ed Davey has to self isolate

Ed Davey announced last night that he and his family have to self isolate as someone who helps him and his wife Emily care for their disabled son John has tested positive for Coronavirus.

All of us at LDV wish the family well and hope that the person who tested positive makes a quick and full recovery.

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Liberal Democrats put clean air at heart of offer for 6 May council polls

Ed Davey has announced plans for a £20bn fund to fight the “invisible enemy” of pollution in England’s communities. The money will be part of the Lib Dems’ flagship £150bn Green Recovery Fund, which will pump £5.5bn into new walking and cycling routes, £4.5bn into light rail and tram projects, £5bn for the expansion of bus routes and £2bn to convert bus fleets to hydrogen fuel.

Davey is due to launch the policy in Watford today.

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Carmichael: Alba leaflets can’t fit Salmond’s ego

Arguing that Scotland deserves better than to spend the next five years arguing over independence, Alistair Carmichael notes that Alex Salmond does not appear on Alba Party leaflets. Apparently it is all down to the size of Salmond’s ego. For the record, Newsmoggie is only interested in the size of the salmon in the River Tay.

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Lib Dems warn against return to damaging Whitehall police targets

In a letter to the Home Secretary today, the party’s Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael and 27 Lib Dem candidates for Mayor or Police and Crime Commissioner write that “the police need to be responsive and accountable to their local communities, not micromanaged by Ministers in Whitehall.”

The Liberal Democrats argue that the Government should instead be focusing on “ensuring that police forces can restore proper community policing, where officers are more visible, trusted and known personally to local people.”

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London Mayor candidates in TV debate

The candidates for London Mayor, including Lib Dem Luisa Porritt, will be debating live on ITV this evening.  They can be viewed on the ITV London News slot at 6pm.

#itvdebate

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Reactions to the conviction of George Floyd’s murderer

Liberal Democrats have been commenting on the conviction of George Floyd’s murderer.

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Rennie: Tackle drug addiction with compassion and treatment, not imprisonment

Liberal Democrats care about people being able to fulfil their potential and getting the care and support they need to recover from illness and addiction. That’s why our Scottish manifesto highlights the need to take a public health approach to addiction. Scotland has the highest drug deaths rate in Europe, something which became very real to a friend of mine recently when her son died after taking street valium. Typically, she thought of others before herself and allowed the BBC to film his funeral.

Willie Rennie said today that the next Scottish Government will only end the drug deaths crisis through compassion and health treatment, not prosecution, as he revealed new figures showing 605 people convicted of possession without intent to supply being sent to prison.

Meanwhile, only 108 people received a Drug Treatment and Testing Order during the same three year period (2016/17 to 2018/19).

1264 people died of drug related causes in 2019. Each of them were individuals with talents and skills. Each of them loved and had people loving them. Pretty much 3 people a day lose their lives and each one of them, with the right intervention, could still be alive today.

So the Scottish Liberal Democrats, looking to the best evidence, has the following measures to tackle the harm that drug addiction causes to people and communities that are focused on help and support. The party will:

  • Reduce the misery of drug abuse with compassion and health treatment rather than prosecution.
  • Take radical steps with the prosecution authorities and the Lord Advocate to help establish heroin assisted treatment and safe consumption spaces.
  • Establish new specialist Family Drug and Alcohol Commissions to help provide wraparound services and to take a holistic approach to those reported for drug offences, learning from best international practice such as that in Portugal.
  • Divert people caught in possession of drugs for personal use into education, treatment and recovery, ceasing imprisonment in these circumstances.
  • Protect and enhance drug and alcohol partnership budgets, and adopt the principle that individuals and families shouldn’t have to pay for the care and treatment of those at risk of death from drugs or alcohol.
  • Use emergency housing funding to help people keep their homes and tenancies while they undergo treatment and rehabilitation.

Willie Rennie said:

The SNPs failure was more than just a political failure, it was a failure that cost the lives of hundreds of people.

Not only did the SNP fail to take the necessary action to save lives, they made it worse by cutting the alcohol and drug partnership budgets, surrendering services and expertise.

It was admitted in 2017 that essential drug reforms weren’t pursued because it wasn’t seen as a vote winner. This is political negligence of the highest order.

Scottish Liberal Democrats will put recovery first. We will reduce the misery of drug abuse with compassion and health treatment rather than prosecution. After years of being told no, Scottish Liberal Democrats have just won cross-party agreement for that important principle.

Also posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , and | 9 Comments

New play celebrates Floella Benjamin’s childhood

Lib Dem peer Floella Benjamin’s book about her life as a child is to be turned into a stage play. In her children’s book Coming to England she wrote about her journey from Trinidad to the UK at the age of ten, and about the racism her family experienced. But, as anyone who has met her or heard her speak will expect, the tale is essentially optimistic and encouraging, providing inspiration to children to overcome their own difficulties.

Floella has written some 20 books and pursued a career as an actor and singer, but is best known as the charismatic presenter of Play School in the 1970s and 1980s. She has used that fame to campaign on children’s issues and has been honoured with a place in the House of Lords as well as being made a Dame.

The Birmingham Rep has announced that it will present the premiere of a stage adaptation of her memoir during its forthcoming season.

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Brick thrown at Scottish Lib Dem HQ

So, yesterday morning, this happened:

This would have been awful if it had happened to any political party, but you always feel it more deeply when the building is full of your friends, people you really care about.

You have to wonder what goes through the mind of someone who thinks it is ok to put human beings in danger like that.

Elections are stressful enough for any party’s staff. By this time, they’ve been working ridiculous hours for months, and the idea of work/life balance has completely gone out the window.

They shouldn’t have to worry about missiles coming in the window or any other threat to their safety.

Alistair Carmichael, our campaign chair, said:

This morning a brick was thrown through the window of our HQ in Edinburgh.

“Fortunately no one was hurt but it could have been very different and our staff are understandably shaken by this.

“I’m dismayed that this kind of behaviour seems to have taken root in Scotland. Political campaigning should be about the clash of ideas, not about acts of violence.

“I would like to thank Police Scotland for their work in detaining a suspect. I also want to thank all our party staff who have been affected by this incident but who continue to give their all in delivering our campaign in this election.”

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Remembering Jonathan Fryer

It’s just over 3 weeks since Ed Fordham told us in a typically empathetic and eloquent post that well known LIb Dem internationalist, broadcaster and blogger Jonathan Fryer had been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Ed wrote:

In 2006 Jonathan and I didn’t win the ward of Hampstead Town in Camden for the Liberal Democrats. We failed in that short term objective but that campaign saw the Liberal Democrats emerge as the largest party on the Council and for the first time ever we led the Council under Cllr Keith Moffitt. Camden Liberal Democrats under the tutelage of Cllr Flick Rea had mastered politics and sociability. This was the principle of an army marches on its belly and under the organisation of Janet Grauberg, Louise Malin and others we fed and watered our army through a dazzling array of discussion and events. Jonathan, himself living in Bow for much of the time, was always present. I quizzed him on why he always attended: “grassroots politics” was his simple and, for me, utterly compelling answer.

A Quaker and European, a writer and traveller, homosexual and a campaigner Jonathan understood that you must be there and he always was. Jonathan is still with us but he has posted his farewell. It is perhaps the most compelling and shocking Facebook message from any friend I have ever read. He captured his own bravery, his radical soul and his clarity of thought.

Sadly, on Friday, we heard that Jonathan had died. His friend Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett posted a photo of the two of them in the grounds of the hospice, taken on Easter Sunday. Jonathan was drinking a Campari Negroni. It’s so sad to lose someone who was such a powerful liberal voice who was so well thought of here and across the world.

When he announced on Facebook that he was dying, it  was so shocking, but at the same time it felt like he was giving us the enormous privilege of saying goodbye to him that we so often don’t get.

Here are some of the tributes posted on Twitter which show how much he was loved in and beyond the liberal world.

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Lib Dems’ parliamentary tributes to Prince Philip

I am sure that all our hearts will go out to the Queen today as we see her sitting alone in St George’s Chapel at the funeral of her husband of 73 years.

Bereavement is horrific at any time, but the pandemic has made it even more cruel for millions of people.

For the Queen there is a particularly difficult aspect. She’ll be on her own, but with the eyes of the entire world upon her. I just hope that she gets some comfort from knowing that she has the compassion and love of those millions of people.

This Monday, all our Parliaments were recalled to pay tribute to Prince Philip. Below are the tributes paid by Ed Davey, Willie Rennie, Kirsty Williams and Dick Newby, covering so many aspects of his life. Ed’s tales of Paddy’s encounters with the Duke will make you smile.

They are fitting tributes to someone who was such a huge part of our nation’s life for almost three quarters of a century.

Ed Davey

Princess Anne said yesterday:

“You know it is going to happen but you are never really ready.”

That is a truth shared by so many grieving families. Most people know that their loved one is near the end of their life because they are old or very sick, but that does not mean that they can avoid the tidal wave of grief—that moment of finality. This year more than most so many families have faced that moment, so I am sure that the Princess Royal speaks for not just the Queen and the royal family but the whole country: you are never really ready.

However, as people grieve, we can also say thank you— thank you to one of Britain’s greatest public servants of the last 100 years. As other party leaders have said, Prince Philip has been a rock in the life of our nation since his betrothal to our Queen, then the young Princess Elizabeth. Above all, he has always been her rock. After 73 years of marriage, it will be our Queen who feels this loss far more than anyone else. If anyone says that bereavement is easier when a loved one has lived a long life, I have to say that that is not my experience. So, ma’am, our hearts go out to you.

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Welsh Liberal Democrat Manifesto puts recovery first

This afternoon, Welsh Lib Dem leader Jane Dodds launched the party’s Welsh Manifesto ahead of the Senedd elections on 6 May. Writing in the foreword to Put Recovery First, Jane said:

“The Covid-19 pandemic has been tough on all of us, and we have much to do. We understand how you feel: frustration, exhaustion, loss, disappointment, anxiety, relief, hope.

Like you, we want to focus on the things that are most important to you and your family after a tough year. To do that, we first have to get Wales back on its feet…

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats will put recovery first.”

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London Liberal Democrats launch manifesto to Take London Forward

Luisa Porritt has launched her manifesto for the London mayoral elections on 6 May saying:

“London is a liberal city. I’ll offer the progressive alternative to Sadiq Khan’s poor record our city needs. What would have been ten years of steady change has been accelerated in a year by the pandemic.”

Luisa is pledging to introduce a flexible travel card, block the Silvertown Tunnel and make the streets safer.

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Daisy Cooper challenges the government on return of students to university

Daisy Cooper, MP for St Albans, Deputy Leader and spokesperson for education has just been challenging ministers in the Commons on the problem students have been experiencing during the pandemic. She said that students felt forgotten, that their mental health had deteriorated and government funds for students facing hardship should be doubled.

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Local elections broadcast


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