Category Archives: News

Are you joining the Maraphone this Saturday?

This Saturday sees the first National Action Day of the year. Under normal circumstances, we’d be out delivering tonnes of leaflets and knocking on doors, talking to voters.

We can’t do that at the moment, so the plan is that we phone as many voters as possible.

There are events taking place all over the country.

During the leadership election, both campaigns worked out that if you get a bunch of people together in a Zoom room, have a bit of a chat, and a briefing session, put ourselves on mute, sign into Connect …

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Ed Davey’s Green Alliance podcast

Ed Davey was interviewed recently for a podcast published by the Green Alliance.

Shaun Spiers, executive director at Green Alliance, asks him about the historical commitment of the Liberal Democrats to environmental policies. Ed talks about his achievements in the Coalition, and the rather tepid support from the Conservatives since then for green issues. He also makes the case for regulation, and the opportunity offered post-pandemic to rebuild our economy on greener lines.

At one point Ed reveals that, after the Coalition, George Osborne took legal advice about cancelling the 15 year contracts set up under the Contracts for Difference scheme, which supported various green initiatives. Osborne was told that he could not unpick them because they were private law contracts – which is exactly what Ed has planned in order to protect them from future Government interference.

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Brexit chaos is costing the Scottish fishing industry £1million a day.

 

Time-consuming new customs and health paperwork is sparking long delays, with one Scottish fishing business losing £50,000 on a single consignment.

In another alarming development, fish prices have plummeted by 80 per cent at Peterhead Fish Market, while a third of Scotland’s fishing fleet is tied up in the harbour.

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has secured an urgent question in Parliament tomorrow (Thursday) morning at 10.30am, in which he will address the devastating impact the Government’s trade deal with the EU is having on the industry

 

Alistair Carmichael said:

“After a week of intensifying disruption for seafood exporters and with long-term challenging from the deal as well, I am glad to have secured this urgent question to hold the Government to account. I would urge businesses affected by the trading changes to contact me so that we can put the strongest possible case to the Minister.”

ENDS

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What is the Tories’ problem with feeding children?

Just when you think that the Tories couldn’t sink any lower than their opposition to providing help to families with free school meals during the holidays, they have gone one further.

All over social media, there are pictures of the sorts of food packages that are being sent to children who would normally qualify for free school meals.

Daisy Cooper has written to the Education Secretary to ask him to investigate and sort this out – by giving vouchers to families rather than these “woefully inadequate” and “abysmal” packages:

It is completely unacceptable that parents have received woefully inadequate food parcels in place of free school meals.

The amount of food parents have received to feed their children is not anything like enough to provide an adequate, nutritious lunch every day. Nor do they appear to represent value for money, given what the parcels should theoretically be worth.

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Insights from the 2020 US Elections: A report from Liberal Democrats Overseas North American Branch

For the past six months, while liberals everywhere were biting their nails, the LDO North American Branch were analysing data sources and talking to anyone they could to gain useful insight into the US Elections.

The result is a report and Paddy Ashdown Forum / Liberal Democrats Overseas webinar entitled US Elections: Insights and Lessons for Lib Dem Campaigning to be held on Monday January 18th at 18:00 GMT.

So, what are the insights and lessons learned? The LDO report distills it all down to 7 key insights.

1. The ‘non-campaign’ campaign: Virtual campaigning comes of age

While Trump repeated his 2016 strategy, relying heavily on big rallies and live cable news coverage, the Biden team relied on virtual campaigning tactics. Democrats had to completely rethink how to connect with voters, finding new, imaginative ways of re-creating the emotional connection over the phone, text, Facebook message, and Zoom. In fact, virtual campaigning turned out to be more efficient, greatly extend reach, and be as impactful as traditional in-person events and door-knocking operations.

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Welcome to my day – 11 January 2021

Good morning, everyone!

You’ll have to bear with me this morning, as Creeting St Peter is running on emergency generators this morning following an underground cable failure, and this has had the apparent side effect of shutting down broadband service to the village until at least lunchtime.

Once I’ve dealt with the outstanding household matters, we’ll be bringing you Geoff Reid’s thoughts on an aspect of Englishness, whilst William Wallace has been provoked into comment by events in Washington and the domestic fallout here. We also have some reflections on the US elections from John Surie of Liberal Democrats Overseas.

So, stay tuned …

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LDV’s Sunday Six – 10 January 2021

Welcome to another selection of interesting articles from this week’s Sunday papers. It’s been a dramatic week, but we start off with something a bit closer to home:

The Observer has an article about how the huge number of elections due to take place in England could be run:

Measures such as switching to postal votes or extending the time in which ballots can be cast are regarded as logistically impossible in England.However, election officials are looking at simple measures to reduce transmission, including a publicity campaign asking that voters bring their own implement to make their mark.

“Voters can bring their own pen or pencil to vote,” said Craig Westwood, the Electoral Commission’s director of communications, policy and research. “While you can do that in any election, it’s another measure to help keep safe. Voters will be hearing these messages from us, and others, in the weeks leading up to the polls.

“We are focusing a lot more on the voting options that people will have, including postal and proxy voting, and making sure that polling stations are safe places to vote. We’re comfortable that local authorities can make them safe, with support from voters in following the advice they’re given. This will all be similar to what we’re already experiencing in our daily lives, in terms of social distancing, hand sanitiser and masks.”

They ruled out extending the time for voting. It would perhaps be sensible to have the voting over a weekend rather than just a Thursday.

Liberal Democrat guidance is to assume that the elections are going to go ahead in May regardless of any speculation to the contrary. That means that we continue to campaign in Covid-safe ways and if we have to go on for longer, then we’ll be in really good shape to do so.

In the Independent, Jim Moore urges Keir Starmer to look to Stacey Abrams, who has done so much to level the playing field in Georgia where Republican voter suppression had given them so much of an advantage. Her work at making sure people were registered to vote has been credited with both Joe Biden’s victory in the state and those of Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to take control of the Senate. Moore argues:

So to Sir Keir. The Tories have been increasingly using the same language adopted by the Republicans when it comes to voting, despite the UK’s Electoral Commission stating in 2019 that there remains no evidence of large-scale electoral fraud.

For the record, there were more than 32 million votes cast in the UK General Election that year, but just 161 cases of fraud reported to the police and only a single conviction.

As in the US, enforcing voter ID in Britain looks very much like a solution in search of a problem that doesn’t exist. But if it can swing you a few constituencies – and it might do that because poorer, and younger, voters who are less likely to have ID are typically more likely to vote Labour – then hey, why not.

These are the sorts of things that have been raised time and again by Liberal Democrat MPs and peers. It would be really helpful if Labour got their act together and really started pushing against the Government’s plans which so transparently follow the Republican voter suppression 101.

A distressing interview in the Sunday Mirror with a nurse shows the pressure that NHS staff are under.  She was speaking after four patients she was caring for had died in two days.

Given the pressure on her, it was really worrying to see that when she is not at work, she can’t sleep because of the nightmares she’s having.

She begged people to follow the rules to avoid catching Covid.

Her message to anti-lockdown groups is simple: Get real.

Ameera said: “They don’t have any medical qualifications yet feel it’s OK to make unfounded comments.

“When will they realise what’s really going on? Will it be when they lose someone they love? We can have a day where patients are dying all day long and you are having to quickly wash them and zip up a body bag.

“None of the people from anti-lockdown groups will ever zip up a body bag in their lives.” Doctors and nurses are risking their lives to treat patients, day in, day out.

Back to the Observer and Bill Clinton’s former Labor Secretary Robert Reich gives us a long list of people who should pay the price, along with Donald Trump, for the events this week.

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Ed Davey volunteers to help with Covid vaccine

Our Ed has got himself in the Sun two weeks in a row.

He has signed up to the paper’s scheme to provide volunteers to help with the rollout of the Covid vaccine.

It is certainly going to be some job to get this vaccine rolled out.

My Dad, who has just turned 75, got his first jab this week. It is such a relief. I don’t think I will even start to rest easy until my Mum and husband have had theirs, though.

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January report from the President

The Party President, Mark Pack, has published his monthly report:

The chaotic incompetence of a government that declares schools safe on a Sunday, sends children back for a day and then closes them is the sort of thing that should be the domain of political fiction.

Sadly and tragically, it’s the government we suffer from in Westminster. It is a reminder about how important it is that we recover as a party, and a spur to our efforts to ensure we do our part in defeating the Conservatives at the ballot box.

The elections due in May across England, Scotland and Wales are an important part of that.

The May Elections

Will the elections be delayed? The simple answer is, we don’t know. But we do know that we need to campaign to do well in them whenever they happen. Other parties can gamble on trying to win an election without much time to campaign beforehand. We can’t.

That is why we need to continue with our preparations and build-up as if the May elections will happen, and treat any extra time as a bonus. Better that than be caught out thinking something wouldn’t happen and then not having time to prepare when it does.

Of course, our work should always take into account coronavirus health risks, and always carefully follow the party’s advice, which is regularly reviewed and updated when necessary.

There is a wide range of free training available to help you hone your campaigning skills and learn how to campaign best in the face of coronavirus. Do take a look at the listings on the party website and on the ALDC site.

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An announcement from Isabelle Parasram

I am hosting a webinar on women and justice. It ties in with the CPS consultation on the prosecution of rape offences. 

Do you think that the legal system has failed women?

Join me as I chair a webinar featuring:

  • former Chair of the Bar Council Amanda Pinto QC
  • barrister and part-time Crown Court Recorder Maryam Syed and
  • Elaine Storkey, author of ‘Scars Against Humanity’, a book about violence against women and girls.

Baroness Lorely Burt will be introducing the session and psychologist Dr Jermaine Revalier will be co-chairing.

The timing of the webinar coincides with the deadline for comments on the CPS …

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Ed Davey: PM dodged the difficult decisions and acted too late

Boris Johnson as good as said in his address announcing a new “March-style” lockdown that we we would have succeeded in beating Covid if it hadn’t been for this pesky new variant. The variant he’s known about for three months and done little to combat. Brazen or what?

Not even 36 hours had passed since his Marr interview yesterday, when he said that parents should send their kids to school today. Now, the decision he should have taken before Christmas has been made.

Ed Davey pointed out these errors of judgement in his reaction to the PM’s statement. He had earlier called for a lockdown, and so the party will be supporting these measures. However, we also want to see better support for those who have so far been excluded from the Government schemes, investment in mental health services and an increase to Carer’s Allowance.

Ed said:

This is the public health policy the Prime Minister should have announced before Christmas, but yet again, Boris Johnson ducked the difficult decisions, failed to listen to experts and acted too late.

Just yesterday morning Johnson was telling parents that schools were safe and children should definitely go. Today he is telling us that they must all move to remote learning but without any proper future plan.

The Prime Minister’s failure to act earlier means we are seeing record numbers of new infections, a rising death rate, hospitals overwhelmed and NHS and care staff exhausted.

With this new lockdown, Liberal Democrats believe it’s urgent that the Government announce a new comprehensive economic plan for businesses and the self-employed; a plan to increase Carer’s allowance in line with the increases in Universal Credit and must fully take account of the impact of these developments on the mental health of young people and vulnerable individuals who are going through an incredibly difficult time.

All around the world, the evidence is that acting early is critical to minimising damage to the economy and protecting public health. We need a Prime Minister who can act in time, not one who acts when it is too late.

There’s one interesting difference between the PM’s statement and the announcement by Nicola Sturgeon this afternoon.

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Reminder: deadlines for Federal and Scottish Conference motions coming up this week

Both Scottish and Federal Conferences will be taking place virtually in March. Often, pre-election conferences aren’t so well attended as people prioritise their local campaigns. This time, it’s easier for everyone to take part in at least some of it and not miss out on that all-important leaflet delivery and door-knocking.  Here’s how you can take part:

Scotland (and members from all across the UK are welcome)

Scottish Conference Convener Paul McGarry announced the Scottish event, from 5-6 March, in an email to members:

Spring conference will be taking place on FRIDAY 5th and SATURDAY 6th MARCH 2021.

Like our autumn and special conferences, this conference will be taking place on the online platform HopIn.

We have decided to do conference registration a little differently this time. To register for a general early bird ticket, click here. The early bird tickets are only available until 2nd February 2021. If you would like to purchase an early bird concession or first timer ticket, you will need to fill out this form.

Motions submission deadline coming up on Friday

  • Deadline for submitting motions: 8th January 2021 at noon.

There are some useful tips on drafting a motion here.

Federal Conference

Federal Conference Committee Chair Geoff Payne wrote to members to announce the details of the federal event taking place two weeks later, from 19-21 March:

Registration is open for Spring Conference 2021. Following the success of our online conference in Autumn, Spring conference will again be 100% online.

At our conference you can shape party policy, virtually meet MPs, councillors and members from across the country, hear from experts on a range of topics at our fringe events and learn new skills at our training sessions.

Tickets start from £40 until 13 January, or £10 for full-time students and those claiming benefits.

You can register here.

Motion deadline coming up on Wednesday

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Daisy Cooper: Close primary schools for two weeks to build Covid-safe plan

Lib Dem Deputy Leader and Education spokesperson Daisy Cooper has called on the Government to close all primary schools until 18th January to enable the development and implementation of a Covid safety plan.

We are calling for four things:

  • All primary schools to move to remote learning until Jan 18th, except for vulnerable children and children of key workers.
  • A review of Government plans for Covid testing strategies in schools.
  • A move to single-school transport.
  • A new pupil bubbling strategy to tackle the new Covid strain.

Daisy said:

With the government’s own scientific advisors saying that they cannot provide any analysis on what is required to control the new strain of the virus until mid-January, the Government must think again and adopt a plan to get ahead of the virus.

Time and time again, this Government has squandered opportunities to get ahead of the virus in schools and left pupils, parents and teachers understandably anxious if not terrified about returning next week.

For months, Liberal Democrats have been calling on the Government to come up with a proper plan to keep schools open safely. Instead, this latest botched decision and the Tories top-down attitude has once again led to last minute and inconsistent decisions that are wreaking havoc on people’s lives.

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Ed Davey calls on Government to make it easier for retired health professionals to work

We’ve all seen some pretty scary things on social media and the news about the strain that some hospitals, particularly in the South East, are under.

In the past few days, I’ve seen accounts of a friend’s relative waiting hours for an emergency ambulance and then spending more than a day in A & E before a bed could be found in a ward.

Just on my social media, I am seeing several people each day testing positive. I’m aware of people having the virus, too, although, thankfully, nobody I know has been seriously ill with it. However, the so called “mild” version is extremely unpleasant.

With all this in mind, you can just imagine the stress that front line health workers must be facing. Exhausted already by the first wave and the race to catch up with the backlog of things that didn’t happen during it, the intensity of the second wave is at times overwhelming for them.

And that’s before any of them catch the virus and have to take time off themselves.

They need reinforcements, so it would help if retired health professionals could take some of the strain, even if it is covering things away from the front line.

But apparently the system makes it difficult for that to happen seamlessly.

Our Ed Davey has got himself into the Sun today, calling on Matt Hancock to sort this out. He said:

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New Year Honours?

The New Year Honours list published last night has a strong focus on all those wonderful people who have supported their communities during the pandemic.

Do you know any Lib Dems who have been honoured in this way? If so, we would love to congratulate them. Please let us know in the comments below.

Updates

From Chris Rennard:

Congratulations to Nigel Priestley, former candidate for Colne Valley, awarded the MBE for services to children and families.

From Paul:

Congratulations to Helen Williams, wife of Mark Williams former MP for Ceredigion who has been awarded a BEM for services to Vulnerable Young Parents and to the Elderly in Borth during Covid-19.

Helen is the Centre Manager at the Borth Family Centre in Ceredigion.

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Willie Rennie’s New Year Message: Lib Dems will put recovery first

https://www.flickr.com/photos/policyexchange/9815585233/in/photolist-fXnrwa-4C63rJ-fQSzEG-4rW51x-5Z4kL2-4C1Kca-6jhoX5-nSybs-GtLAXb-EFShm-nZJzu-nSycj-atnm6F-53aUVG-FjDVj-QqjFZR-rKPkDc-rKJgQr-rKH3hN-rtng5p-rKJgiK-rruKrF-rHwGqu-qP3HST-rKJ6ho-rKH3oQ-rKJgGv-qNPxv7-rKPkoT-rKJgBR-rteyLw-rtngf4-rKH35o-rKPkcv2020 has been a year like no other. The stresses and strains of it will be etched in our memories for many years to come.”New Year is usually a point to reflect on a year that’s passed and set new goals for the year ahead. This year that feels different. We have to pause to take stock of the enormity of our loss.  The virus has devastated so many families and ripped the fabric of our liberal society apart too.

However, we can be proud, proud of the effort we’ve made as …

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Kirsty Williams breaks ranks with Welsh Government to oppose Brexit trade deal

We’ve brought you reports from the Commons, the Lords and Holyrood debates on the Brexit trade deal today already.
In Wales, Lib Dem Education Minister Kirsty Williams broke ranks with her Labour colleagues to support an amendment to the government’s own motion which reaffirms the longstanding Liberal Democrat policy to vote against the deal. The amendment which Kirsty specifically voted for stated that she:
Does not support the UK Government’s deal and calls on Wales’ representatives in the UK Parliament to vote accordingly.
Labour dodged making a decision on this and abstained. But Wales’ sole Liberal Democrat voice stood up for her convictions,

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Willie Rennie: Our children will be astonished that this Government pursued big bang Brexit in the middle of a pandemic

The Scottish Parliament debated whether to give legislative consent to the Bill putting the new trade deal with the EU into operation.

Liberal Democrats voted against, and Willie Rennie explained why:

This debate needs a bit of realism. The deal is going through. It’s going to go through because Boris Johnson has an eighty-seat majority, he has his Euro Sceptics on board and even the bulk of the Labour Party is backing it.

So no deal has, finally, been taken off the table.

But just because we accept Brexit is happening, that there is a deal and it is going through does not mean we have to like it.

We are realistic but we won’t swallow all our deep reservations about Brexit and especially this deal.

In no way is anyone compelled to vote for something they think will be bad for the country.
And after all the Brexit chaos this Conservative Government have inflicted on millions of people for years and after the Scottish Conservatives promised they would never back a deal that gave separate treatment to Northern Ireland, that party is in no position to lecture anyone else today.

There should be no surprise that we can’t support the Conservatives on Brexit today because our support for Europe has been resolute for decades.

From the liberals support for yes in the ‘75 referendum, the Gang of Four in the 80s and Paddy Ashdown bailing out John Major to support the Maastricht Treaty in the 90s to our enthusiastic support for remain in 2016 and our advocacy of a people’s vote for the last four years.

People who believe in a strong relationship with Europe can count on us.

We do not use Europe as a weapon in another battle, to be discarded when no longer useful.

We believe in international partnership and cooperation especially with our closest neighbours.

It is why we support keeping the UK together and believe the lessons from Brexit should be the lessons for those who advocate independence.

This is a bad deal. The Prime Minister ran down the clock in the most cynical fashion to give parliamentarians just three working days to read, analyse, scrutinise and vote on 1246 pages of complex legal text. That is not good government.

Giving companies just a week to get ready is not good business. Where is the sensible easement arrangement?
We will be the first country in the world to put trade barriers up as a result of a trade deal.

The Prime Minister claims no quotas or tariffs on goods. But if the UK diverges, and that was the point of Brexit was it not, there will be heavy punitive tariffs and quotas. Those quotas and tariffs will hang around like a bad smell for years.

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Lib Dems to vote against Boris Johnson’s “threadbare” EU trade deal

Ed Davey has announced tonight, in news that will surprise few people, that the Liberal Democrats will be opposing Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal because it fails to deliver on the promises the Brexiteers made to the electorate and it makes the country so much worse off.

It’s not about tariffs. The whole point of being in the single market was not to have to bother with bureaucracy and red tape. Businesses who have been watching these ads saying that things are changing on 1st January (but we have no idea how) are going to find out for the first time in almost 30 years what a pain in the backside it is to have to fill in paperwork to trade with our closest neighbours.

We will no doubt be attacked for our stance as we will be told that the alternative is no deal and we’re against that. However this is going to to through tomorrow whether we like it or not given that most Tories and Labour MPs will vote for it. It is entirely consistent with our approach to Brexit.

There was a coherent case to be made for abstention on the grounds that it was at least better than no deal and it puts distance between us and the ultra nationalists both north and south of the border. Having said that, we’ve spent all my political life fighting off accusations of fence-sitting and being wishy-washy so do we really want to just sit on our hands? I’ve seen other people argue well that we should vote in favour, rather than abstain, for the same reason. However I think it is important that the Brexiteers are made to own this. When it all goes wrong, I don’t want them saying “but you voted for it.” We’ve come too far on our internationalist and open values to suddenly become shields for those who have taken us to this place.

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The curious tale of a 5G mast in Bath

There was a curious, and rather unlikely piece, in the Guardian on Boxing Day, courtesy of that well-known friend of Liberal Democrats, Nick Cohen, suggesting that Liberal Democrat councillors in Bath had opposed a new 5G phone mast for reasons linked to the theory that 5G was responsible for occurrences most politely described as conspiracy theories.

Naturally, proper research was not involved, nor did he actually speak to anyone linked to the decision to refuse planning permission.

It always puzzles me that so many people, including Liberal Democrats, claim to be sceptical about our media, yet seem willing to believe unreservedly anything …

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Third extension for Welsh Pacer trains is a ‘disgrace’ say Welsh Lib Dems

These trains are on display in the National Rail Museum and Iran has ditched them, yet Welsh passengers will continue to use them daily.

Following the announcement today from the Department for Transport that Class 142 trains have been given their third dispensation in just over a year to continue in service, Welsh Liberal Democrats have called on Transport for Wales and Ken Skates to apologise to travellers across South Wales.

Pacer trains were built by British Rail in the early 1980s with a planned lifespan of 15-20 years. Following decades of under-investment in rolling stock, they were given extension after extension but were finally due to be disposed of last year as they did not meet disability regulations that came into force on 1 January 2020. Yet passengers in South Wales face many more months of travel on these unsuitable trains.

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Love from the Lib Dem Voice team

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LDV’s Christmas Break

We will be doing our best to take a Christmas break this year. We have all had a tough year, including the LDV team, so we need some down time.

We will be taking a festive break between 23 and 27 December.

Of course, there are things that may crop up that will inspire us to put digital pen to paper. After all, who knows what the situation will be with the Brexit trade deal?

If you are inspired to send us pieces, please do, and we will deal with them from 28th December. Mark Valladares would be delighted to come back to a full inbox.

To be honest, my plans for Christmas have not been changed at all, nor have they been affected by Scotland’s national lockdown. We continue to avoid as much human contact as possible until we can get vaccinated. I am fortunate though, to be able to spend it with people I love and a massive pile of unread books. And an even more massive pile of beautiful new Focus leaflets to deliver, so long as the guidance permits it.

My heart breaks for those who are stuck on their own when they didn’t want to be, who have been trapped by circumstance in the middle of a Tier 4 area or who can’t have the guests that they had hoped. Let’s all look after each other by picking up the phone and making sure our loved ones are ok.

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Lib Dem legend Frances Alexander remembered in the Guardian

You may remember that former Lib Dem Mayor of High Wycombe sadly died in September. Members of her family wrote a beautiful obituary for us. 

Today, her daughter Louise writes in the Guardian about her mother’s life.

While listening to the debate on the 1967 abortion bill in the House of Commons, Frances heard only men’s voices. No one was telling the stories of the botched abortions that she had seen the results of as a nurse and she knew that parliament needed more women. She joined the Liberal party and stood for parliament three times between 1974 and 1979. She was a founding member in 1980 of the 300 Group for equal numbers of female MPs.

The family had moved to Wycombe in 1970, after which Frances taught first aid, health education and childcare at a local secondary school, Wellesbourne, and went on to be a careers adviser.

In 1991, she was elected to Wycombe district council, going on to become chairman of the council (1997-98) and mayor of High Wycombe (1998-99). Her achievements on the council included pedestrianisation of the high street, protecting a local nature reserve and setting up a charity that gives furniture to recently homed families.

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Shirley Williams Lectures launched to promote ideas exchange

Liberal Democrat members and other progressives can now join an exclusive lecture club to challenge and engage with some of the most original and innovative thinkers of our time.

Launched today, The Shirley Williams Lectures will offer a platform to specialists from a range of fields to share their ideas and vision for the future.  Club members will be given the opportunity to consider and discuss how we can tackle some of the biggest questions facing the world.

Whether it is concepts for a new style of politics, views on the UK’s business outlook, the future of international sport or matters of global ethics, the lecture themes will offer fresh, thought-provoking and contemporary insight.

The lecture series will be delivered online and comprise one event per month during 2021.  Party leader Sir Ed Davey will be kick-starting the programme by outlining his thoughts on the post-COVID economy at the inaugural lecture on 28 January.

Other confirmed speakers include Juergen Maier CBE, who, on 26 February will be taking a deep dive into post-Brexit trade, Baroness Benjamin DBE DL, Olympic medallist and track cyclist Callum Skinner, and Sir Nick Clegg.

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Roger Roberts writes: Upgrading the port of Holyhead?

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Johnson’s government deserves no applause. In so many instances it has shown itself unable or unwilling even to recognise that problems exist. One of the issues that show how incompetent they are is that of the port of Holyhead. It is expected that, with the UK’s departure from the European Union that trade between the Irish Republic and the UK will be very different and with far more documentation required.

It is already announced that, in an attempt to avoid tariffs and time consuming form filling, one ferry line will be sailing directly from an Irish port to mainland Europe.

I asked the government how many vehicles were involved – the answer – HMG has not required any such estimate! Have they done something as simple as checking how many lorries are carried on ships arriving in Holyhead ?

On March 2 2020 the minister replied “The ports that are best prepared will have competitive advantage”. Was this a little hope? At that time Dublin had spent £30 million upgrading its port with extra warehousing, animal accommodation and so on. I contacted folk at Holyhead – not a penny spent on upgrading on this side of the Irish sea!

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15 December 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Government’s failure to secure land at Holyhead for border checks is a shocking show of unpreparedness say Welsh Lib Dems
  • Labour’s failure to stand up for Wales and devolution in key amendment during Internal Market Bill is shocking say Welsh Lib Dems

Government’s failure to secure land at Holyhead for border checks is a shocking show of unpreparedness say Welsh Lib Dems

With just 16 days until the end of the transition period the UK Government has admitted it has failed to secure land at Holyhead to carry out the extra checks on vehicles entering the country leading to fears of gridlock in the area.

In answer to a question from Lib Dem Peer Roger Roberts the UK Government admitted that “No land has yet been purchased two potential sites have been identified in partnership with the Welsh Government and commercial discussions are under way.”

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Ed Davey’s message for Hanukkah

This year’s Hanukkah started on Thursday and goes on until next Friday.

Celebrations will be very different this year, as families can’t be together as they would normally.

Here’s Ed Davey’s message for all celebrating:

 

 

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Your last chance to get drafting advice for Conference motions…

The dates for the Scottish and Federal Spring conferences have been set as we reported last week.

Scottish Conference will meet virtually from 5-6 March and Federal Conference will meet virtually two weeks later 19-21 March.

The great thing about our Conferences is that even in their virtual form, members have been able to submit policy motions and amendments for debate. In our party, we give our members actual power to make policy and set the direction of the party.

This is your reminder that if you want any of the nice people from the respective Committees to help you draft a policy motion, you only have until Tuesday (Scotland) and Thursday (Federal) to request it.

You don’t actually have to get drafting advice and you will still be able to submit motions by the deadlines of 6th January (federal) and 8th January (Scotland).

The Scottish LIb Dems have a really useful guide on how to draft a well-structured motion which you can see here.

1. What does the Committee look for?

A motion should be easy to understand, logically argued and well presented. If the Committee finds it difficult to understand the purpose of a motion or to follow the case it argues, it is likely that conference will also have problems. Equally – though this is harder for anyone drafting a motion to predict – the motion should be in a subject area where it is desirable for the party to develop new policy or make its existing policies or achievements known. Other things being equal, a shorter motion usually has an advantage over a longer one.

2. What features will reduce the chances of a motion being chosen?

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Christine Jardine introduces her puppy, Brora

It is a miserable December morning and we need something to cheer us up.

Step forward Brora, Christine Jardine’s incredibly cute 10 month old puppy. She’s featured in a  Politicians and their Pets article in this week’s Holyrood magazine.

Here she is on a Highland beach:

It’s very clear that from the article that Brora is a Very Good Dog indeed:

What can she do?

That’s quite a difficult one, but she does basically what she is told and is incredibly agile

What do you love about her?

She is a very happy dog who loves people and, it turns out, other dogs. Her coat is lovely and soft and lots of people say she is just like a teddy bear.

What special talents does she have?

She somehow manages to make people laugh at what she does. She is hugely entertaining and the way the curls around her mouth sit, she looks as if she is smiling.

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