Category Archives: News

Jane Dodds’ speech to Federal Conference

Welsh Lib Dem leader Jane Dodds gave her first speech to Federal Conferece since she was elected as a Member of the Senedd for Mid and West Wales in May.

Here is the text in full:

I want to take you back to May 1999, and the first-ever elections to the then Welsh Assembly.

Almost 600 years after the first Welsh Parliament was established in June 1404, the people of Wales once again had its own national democratic institution.

Wales was entering a new dawn – an opportunity to meaningfully hand power to people, to communities, away from the corridors of power.

It was an opportunity to cast off the dust and to set about creating our own destiny here in Wales.

Our job here in Wales is made all the more difficult by Conservatives in Westminster and their assault on devolution and our national parliament.

But that quiet earthquake in 1999 has passed many people in Wales by. 22 years on and that radical, reforming streak that ushered in a new era has, in too many ways, been replaced by a steady incrementalism, slow to move when the world is hurtling on.

Now, granted, even after 1999 Wales operated with two hands tied behind its back and we don’t yet have all the tools we need to shape a fairer, greener, more liberal Wales. And our job here in Wales is made all the more difficult by Conservatives in Westminster and their assault on devolution and our national parliament.

It is our job, as liberals, and my job as the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, to make the case for a new relationship between people and parliament and between the nations of the United Kingdom.

We need to rediscover our radical, progressive voice and offer new and inspiring ideas – and we have work to do.

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WATCH: Alex Cole-Hamilton’s speech to #ldconf offering #newhope

: Yesterday, Alex-Cole-Hamilton gave his first speech as Scottish Leader to Conference. It was delayed, despite being pre-recorded. Some technical hitch meant that we had to vote to allow the agenda to change so they could sort it out.

Watch here:

Filmed outside Holyrood in the sunshine, he paid tribute to his predecessor Willie Rennie and other Scottish Liberal legends Jim Wallace, Jo Swinson and Charles Kennedy.

He talked about how the party under him will offer new hope to a Scotland whose public services were struggling due to SNP neglect even before the pandemic.

“We are a people trapped between flags” he said of the SNP’s Scottish Nationalism and Boris Johnson’s Brexit nationalism.

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Government must ‘not let the sun go down’ on the UK performers

Liberal Democrats have backed calls from Sir Elton John for the UK Government to urgently resolve the growing crisis facing the UK cultural sector.

At their national Conference today, the party has unanimously backed calls for swift action to address the red tape and paperwork that is stopping UK artists, performers, and musicians from being able to tour and perform in Europe.

Sir Elton has been a vocal critic of the Government’s failure to resolve this issue, which was caused following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU without a full scheme in place to enable paperless travel for performers.

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Liberal Democrats call for radical new approach to Israel/Palestine conflict

The Liberal Democrats have called for more trade with Palestine and Israel, more resources for peace and upholding of international law by ceasing trade with illegal settlements.

Liberal Democrat members have today passed a motion at party conference calling for a new approach to the Israel/Palestine conflict.

The motion, the first on Israel/Palestine at Lib Dem conference since 2017, reaffirms the party’s call for immediate recognition of the state of Palestine alongside calling on the UK Government to commit further resources to peace.

The Liberal Democrats have become the first UK political party to formally support the creation of a peace fund for the region to build trust between Israeli and Palestinian communities, modelled on similar schemes previously used in Northern Ireland.

Also posted in Europe / International and Press releases | Tagged and | 9 Comments

Davey announces flagship Catch-Up Voucher policy

Today Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has announced a new flagship Education policy on the third day of the party’s conference – Catch-Up Vouchers.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for a £15 billion package of education catch-up funding, as recommended by the Government’s former Education Recovery Commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins.

As part of this, the party is calling for a £5 billion programme of Catch-Up Vouchers for every school child, putting the money directly into parents’ hands to spend on whatever their children need most: tutoring in reading, writing or maths; music lessons; swimming classes or other physical education.

This idea of a three-year programme of education Catch-Up Vouchers would become the world’s biggest ever parent-listening exercise.

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Daisy Cooper: Liberal Britain needs you

In her conference speech, Daisy Cooper – MP for St Albans since 2019, deputy leader and Lib Dem spokesperson for education – tackles liberty and rights. She talks about how how individual liberties and freedom of expression have been eroded by Labour and Conservative governments. And about how Liberal Democrats have challenged and protested over decades. Rights and liberties are under attack again from a nationalist Tory government which is attacking our right to peaceful protest and weakening the right of every individual to take the government to court when it fails them. A liberal Britain would give people the freedom to be whoever they want to be and live their lives as they choose. There will be more power to people to make decisions in their communities, at work and in their everyday lives.

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Ed Davey profiled on BBC Radio 4

In his usual, often sardonic, style, Ed Davey has profiled by Mark Coles. In this 15-minute broadcast, we hear things we knew and things we probably didn’t. The profile begins with his birth on Christmas Day. Being orphaned. Neighbours leaving food on the doorstep. His school but good exam performance. Setting up a debating society. Being a prog rocker. Falling asleep at parties. In a gap year working in the local pork pie factory before interrailing and on to Oxford for PPE. Despite bad green jumpers, MI6 tried to recruit him. Rescuing woman from path of ongoing train.

And then …

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Moran: Introduce Health Data Trust to protect private medical data

Today, at their Conference, the Liberal Democrats have backed ambitious plans to safeguard private health data.

The party is calling for the establishment of a five-point ‘Health Data Charter’, which will set out key tests for whether data sharing is in the interest of the public and the NHS.

They also propose a ‘Sovereign Health Data Trust’, which would bring together experts, clinicians and patient representatives to oversee the implementation and observance of the new charter.

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Moran calls for commitment on rough sleeping

Layla Moran has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging him to “demonstrate a clear commitment” to the Conservatives’ manifesto pledge of ending rough sleeping by the end of this Parliament by rolling out Housing First across England at the forthcoming Spending Review, and by pushing for the scrapping of the Vagrancy Act.

In her letter, Layla says that the “time is right for a new national and political effort to tackle homelessness”, adding that “Because Housing First works, we also know in the long term it saves us money.”

There have already been successful pilot schemes in England, and in her debate on rough sleeping in the Commons last week, Layla urged for the programme to be rolled out.

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Lib Dems urge sanctions and Olympic boycott on China over Uyghur genocide

The Liberal Democrats have passed a motion at their party conference that calls for sanctions on Chinese officials and a boycott of the Winter Olympics.

The motion also calls for family reunification of those forced into “re-education” camps and calls on the Foreign Secretary to grant asylum to Uyghurs fleeing persecution.

Liberal Democrats have consistently called on the UK Government to take urgent action against those perpetrating these atrocities, including the use of Magnitsky sanctions.

Ahead of the vote at their party conference Lib Dem Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Layla Moran has written to every UK Government Minister urging them to back a boycott of the Winter Olympic games due to happen in February 2022.

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Paul McGarry talks of his “chaotic” youth in debate on support for care leavers #ldconf

Earlier today, Conference passed a motion calling for better support for care leavers up until the age of 25.

During the debate, Scottish Lib Dem Housing spokesperson Paul McGarry talked about why the measures outlined in the motion were so important and would have helped him. He describes the terrifying experience of being homeless at 16 after a “chaotic” childhood.

He has kindly sent us his speech so that readers can understand the reality our young people have to go through.

Conference I am one of a small group within our party with a lived experience and today I want to speak specifically about my experience, and how it relates to the importance of resolution 4.

Too many children are experiencing turmoil in their day-to-day existence, dealing with parents who have addictions, their parents broken relations, physical, emotional and sexual abuse within the home.

My own experience was a childhood that was disrupted and chaotic and a constant fear that we might be taken into care. We received support and my mum received support, we had neighbours and people in the community helping us, in fact my first contact with the Lib Dems was when we stayed with a Lib Dem MP and his wife, when my mum was particularly unwell.

Life was chaotic but I mostly was not permanently in the care system though my brother was.

This came to a head and at 16 I was homeless, homeless and terrified.

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ALDC By-election report: 16 September 2021

It was a very busy night for the Lib Dems with by-elections up and down the country and some amazing results. We saw a 34% swing towards the Lib Dems in a Sheffield ward, sadly short of a win. Lib Dem candidate Tanya Tucker won a fantastic gain from Labour on Bishop Auckland Town Council. Jack Ashington Carter won polling 74% of the vote for a Malvern Town Council ward. Alton Wooteys held his ward on Alton Town Council with in increased share of the vote.

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Lib Dems call for Care Leavers education support

The Liberal Democrats have agreed upon a new deal for Care Leavers at their party conference today. The package calls for support measures for Care Leavers particularly in the area of education.

The party is calling for further provision to support carers right the way through their education, with support measures proposed from the early teens right the way to further education.

The motion calls for young people and Care Leavers to have specialised mentoring, extra exam support and tuition. The package also calls on the Government to increase the Care Leaver Bursary from £1,000 to £2,000.

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40 years on from Steel’s “Go back to your constituencies and prepare for Government” speech

1981 was the year when, at the age of 14, I went full throttle into supporting the SDP/Liberal Alliance. Shirley Williams was my absolute hero and will always stay that way. But I will never forget the sense of hope instilled by David Steel in his leader’s speech, especially that optimistic crescendo at the end when he instructed the assembled activists: Go back to your constituencies and prepare for Government.

We had to wait a long time for national government. It was nearly 18 years before Jim Wallace took the Scottish Liberal Democrats into a successfully transformative coalition at Holyrood which introduced, over 8 years, free personal care, free eye and dental checks, much needed land reform and STV for local government among other things.

It was 29 years before the coalition with the Conservatives at Westminster provided some stability for the country at a time of crisis but sent our electoral fortunes plummetting.

However, we did start making big gains in local elections and winning councils a lot quicker, so in a way he was right that we were ready for power. And we should never dismiss the difference that councillors, in charge of schools, housing, roads and bins, can make to people’s daily lives.

Steel’s speech from 40 years ago is online on the British Political Speeches website.

Here are some highlights:

On the newly formed Alliance – and some advice to the SDP – don’t just let anyone in:

It was inevitable that this 1981 Liberal Assembly should be dominated both by public debate and private discussion of our Alliance. This town used to be part of Lloyd George’s constituency. Two years before the great Liberal landslide of 1906, the years which introduced the People’s Budget, the old age pension, unemployment benefit, and the curbing of the powers of the hereditary Lords over the elected Commons, he gave advice which seems just as appropriate today two years or so before the next election.

We have arrived at one of the most important stages in the history of the Liberal Party. I believe the future of this country largely depends upon the foresight, conviction, courage and devotion to principle of the Liberal Party during the coming years.

Our debates have carried conviction, courage, principle and foresight in full measure in these last few days. The task of putting together our Alliance on the ground throughout the country is not going to be an easy one. We must secure a reasonable balance in our deployment of forces in every area. It will be immensely complicated. It will call for a high degree of vision, of trust and of forbearance both by our party and by the SDP.

It will require trust between our two parties. The members of the SDP who have been here this week have been greatly impressed in their first close contact with the Liberal Party. They have also enjoyed the warmth of their welcome, and we were right to treat them kindly since they’ve come from a broken home – the Labour Party. I hope they won’t mind if I give them one piece of advice: as the ship of the Labour Party sinks, be careful and be discriminating about who you let clamber on board ours. Ours is a ship on a voyage of adventure. Don’t let it become a lifeboat for those whose only real interest is saving their parliamentary or council skins.

It will also require trust within our party. I want to thank you for the very considerable trust you have shown me in what I realise must at times have been a tortuous and anxious period. Now it is my turn to trust you as you proceed to give effect to our Alliance throughout the country. And I do trust you to make a success of it.

What we would do in Government? Some themes there which are similar to what we are saying today about supporting small businesses, not wasting our natural resources and investment in infrastructure:

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Conference Day 1: Tears before bedtime

Conference was barely four hours old and I had already been in tears four times.

The debate on ending conversion therapy had some brilliant speeches where people shared their accounts of the damage that this appalling practice can do to LGBT people. I am hoping to have some of those speeches to publish on here.

I also cried at a wonderful fringe event where former leader Jo Swinson talked to Lib Dem Councillor Rabina Khan about her excellent book My Hair is Pink under this Veil It is such a good book that had me raging and crying as she described the disgusting racism she and, particularly her mother, experienced when they came to this country. One of these days I will write a proper review of it. We all should read more about the lived experience of the crap that every single person of colour has to put up with. Jo and Rabina spoke about her childhood, about motherhood and the discrimination that Muslim women have to deal with in maternity services, about how Islamophobia has got much worse since 9/11 and about feminism and about how all women need to stick together to fight for equality. Also, the Lib Dem Campaign for Race Equality is offering a free copy of Rabina’s book for the first 25 people who join them during Conference.

Elsewhere, Conference passed a motion asking for more support for business to cope with the effects of the pandemic and save jobs, including keeping VAT at 5% for hospitality and tourism and extending furlough to the end of this year. We also called for a Global Corporation Tax so that large companies pay their dues. I have put the video of Alistair Carmichael’s excellent speech on our post as it showed some breathtakingly gorgeous Orkney scenery. And it was a bloody good speech.

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The Guardian on Lib Dem strategy: Bringing down the “blue wall”

In an almost effusive leader column, today’s Guardian praises Ed Davey, Lib Dem strategy and calls the Chesham and Amersham victory stunning. It says the Liberal Democrats are determined to make that win just the first step in bringing down the Conservatives’ “blue wall”. Boris Johnson can’t be ejected from Downing Street without a Lib Dem revival. Although Ed Davey will not be telling delegates to go back to their constituencies and “prepare for government” there are good reasons to believe something is happening, including the May by-election results.

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WATCH: 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. And the video is spectacular.

 

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 who advocate religious exemptions for gay conversion therapy and LGB Alliance who argue that affirming a child as trans is a form of 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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