21 May 2019 – the overnight press release

No-Deal Brexit will cause continental travel chaos

Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Jenny Randerson has warned that a no-deal Brexit will cause travel misery for thousands of motorists following the publication of a damning report from the Lords’ Committee on the EU internal market.

The report “Brexit: road, rail and maritime transport report” warns that private motorists will be required to apply for an International Driving Permit and Green Card if they wish to drive on the continent if the UK leaves the EU without a deal in place. The IDP and Green Card can only be applied for at a Post Office, …

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20 May 2019 – today’s press release

  • Prime Minister’s Deal is dead – Tom Brake
  • Further Gender Identity Clinic delays unacceptable
  • Davey: Govt is failing in its duty to protect the public
  • Welsh Liberal Democrats only chance for 2nd remain seat

Prime Minister’s Deal is dead – Tom Brake

Responding to comments made by Matthew Hancock, the Health Secretary, on the Today Programme, that the Government will bring forward its bill on exiting the EU, Tom Brake, Lib Dem Brexit Spokesperson said:

The Prime Minister’s deal is dead. They can bring forward votes on that deal and a speculative bill every week, for the rest of the year – it will still fail

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Simon Callow backs Lib Dems in European elections as “only party to have offered leadership and clarity on remaining in EU”

Simon Callow by Mark, Flick CCL

One of Britain’s finest actors has backed the Lib Dems in the European election.

Simon Callow, whose performances include Gareth in Four Weddings and a Funeral, for which he was nominated for a BAFTA, Sir Edward Tilney in Shakespeare in Love and a role which will appeal to many Lib Dems – Charles Dickens in two episodes of Doctor Who – said:

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Liberal Democrats storm the Rock (very genteelly)

As part of the European election campaign, Vince Cable visited Gibraltar a few days ago, accompanied by our lead candidate in the South West and Gibraltar, Caroline Voaden, former MEP Sir Graham Watson, and Luke Stagnetto, the Gibraltar-based list candidate.

Here’s how the Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation covered it…

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The Brexit Party is undemocratic!

Apparently, we Liberal Democrats hate democracy. Or so I’ve been told by those who support an exit from the EU.

Apparently, we don’t respect the result of the 2016 referendum.

I hear it’s now undemocratic to hold any other view. It’s undemocratic to spend nearly three years campaigning for and building a massive consensus for that view, to the point that going into any People’s Vote referendum campaign, there would be every reason for us to be optimistic.

It’s undemocratic, I’m told, for us to rebuild the Liberal Democrat Party as a people’s movement against Brexit and for an open and tolerant Britain.

It’s …

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18-19 May 2019 – the weekend’s press release

Cable: We are the stop Brexit party

Speaking on the Andrew Marr show this morning, ahead of this weeks European elections, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

I think it is now quite likely we will get the People’s Vote that we are fighting for and it can be done by October.

We are talking about having a referendum on the terms of Brexit, now knowing what it entails.

It’s absolutely clear that no Brexit at all is the best option and that is what a vote for the Liberal Democrats is for.

We are the stop Brexit party.

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Michael Heseltine to vote Lib Dem to stop Brexit

If you have voted one way for almost 70 years, it’s hard to do anything differently. But former Tory Cabinet Minister Michael Heseltine is doing just that on Thursday.

His passionate internationalism and support of the European Union means that he will be supporting the Liberal Democrats.

Heseltine famously fell out with Margaret Thatcher over Europe and it was his challenge that led to her downfall in another Tory fight over Europe.

From the Observer:

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Keynote speech from Tony Greaves and climate change feature at SLF AGM

All are welcome at the Social Liberal Forum AGM, in Manchester on Saturday 25th May with Tony Greaves, Jane Brophy, John Pugh, Louise Harris, John Leech.

I need a new pair of shoes. We have all been on the campaign trail for a long time-local elections followed by the European vote. The Social Liberal Forum AGM in Manchester on 25th  May provides an ideal opportunity to reflect and take stock before we set out for the next challenges. Personally I am looking forward to going back Brecon and Radnor, I was last there in 1985 for Richard Livsey’s outstanding by-election triumph. There seems every chance that 2019 will see another Brecon and Radnor by-election. 

We kick off at 1.00pm with a key note speech from Tony Greaves. I think we can guarantee that he will provide a stimulating commentary on the political situation. The Euro votes will have been counted and we will be awaiting the declarations. Jane Brophy, one of our leading NW candidates, will be joining us. During the afternoon there will plenty of opportunities for everyone to contribute with breakout sessions, one of which Jane will lead focussing on Climate Change.

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Labour panic as Lib Dems advance into second nationally and first in London

The Lib Dems have overtaken Labour in another poll, this time another massive one, in the Observer:

Lib Dems were on 17% ahead of Labour on 16% and the same poll put us in first place in London and ahead of Labour as the choice for Remain voters.

The data seems to be matching up with the many anecdotes from across the country, this one from Alistair Campbell on Channel 4 News last night:

Labour voters will be reading the Observer’s leader this morning which has harsh words for the party and uncomfortable truths for Labour remainers.

There are those in the Labour party who maintain it is a Remain party. As much as they may wish this to be true, they are deluding themselves. Labour is a Brexit party, under a Eurosceptic leader who has unequivocally committed the party to trying to deliver Brexit.

The party clearly realises that winning over Labour remainers is keen:

You can tell Labour have the wind up them because they are going for us on the Sunday morning programmes.

But when asked if they are a Brexit party or a Remain party they disappear in a cloud of waffle.

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Why I returned to the Liberal Democrats

At the age of 49 and being of a naturally cynical disposition, you would think that I would be immune to unreservedly believing in exciting shiny new things. Well, reader, I have a confession to make – I signed up as a supporter of Change UK. Yes, I believed that they were the future of British politics and yes, I actually believed that they would transform the political landscape, kill off tribalism and usher in a new age of cooperation and consensus. Truly this was the glorious bright new dawn…

However, as we seen the bright new dawn is more like a rainy November morning in West Bromwich. 

I joined the Party in November after leaving the Labour Party in a mixture of disgust, guilt and embarrassment. The Liberal Democrats seemed ideal for a centre Left socially liberal person like me, I really liked the policies and every one was so nice (if you want to see not nice, attend the average CLP meeting and criticise Jeremy Corbyn). Great, here was my new political home. But then came TIG. 

TIG looked wonderful; a happy gang of pragmatic modernists drawn from all parties and none. They hung out at Nandos and seemed like regular guys.  So I wrote to Lib Dem membership to cancel my membership, signed up to Change UK, became a group admin and started spreading the word on social media. 

Then reality intruded into my centrist idyll. It became apparent that Change UK seemed to mean radically different things to different people. This non-party (no members, no structure and no policies) was simply a blank canvas on which anyone could project their ideal political party. CHUK had all the solidity and depth of one of those old 2D Hollywood film sets. The groups I was in were full of well-meaning, enthusiastic, idealistic people campaigning for ‘change’ but with no clear idea of what that ‘change’ actually might be and no direction from CHUK high command. I could not fault their commitment to the cause but I did not actually know what the cause was and, truth be told, neither did they.  I had made a mistake. 

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Addressing our lack of diversity

It’s long been accepted that diversity in the Liberal Democrats is patchy at best. 

Often our lack of diversity is compounded by a lack of understanding of what causes it, and how we work to make sure we better reflect society in an inclusive and meaningful way.

Diversity comes in many forms, and this often makes it difficult for us to develop strategies to expand our membership in a diverse manner.

In the Young Liberals we’re acutely aware of this issue and want to ensure that we are doing everything we can to help make us more accessible, understanding and mindful of people from diverse backgrounds.

In 2018 the Alderdice report delved into this issue and found that, on all levels of the party, racial diversity often fell so far down the priority list that it often got forgotten about completely.

The report’s findings, endorsed by Federal Board, placed a responsibility on the party, and all it’s constituent parts, to draw up a strategic response to it and its findings. 

Indeed, the Federal Party has recently created a Vice President BAME role to help shape our interactions with the BAME community.

That is why we’re working with LDCRE (Liberal Democrat Campaign for Race Equality) to try and fix this issue. 

We’re working to develop a new “BAME Officer” role and overhaul our existing diversity system to ensure it encompasses and represents all liberation groups. 

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Guy Verhofstadt’s glorious private rant in BBC4’s “Brexit: Behind closed doors”


Snapshot from BBC4’s “Storyville – Brexit: Behind Closed Doors

If you haven’t already watched it, it’s very much worth watching BBC 4’s “Storyville – Brexit: Behind closed doors” made by Belgian filmmaker Lode Desmet. He had behind-the-scenes access to Guy Verhofstadt and his family and team during the two years of the Brexit negotiations. (Guy Verhofstadt is the Brexit co-ordinator for the European Parliament). Part 1 is available for the next 20 days on BBC iPlayer here. Part 2 is available for 21 days here.

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17 May 2019 – today’s press releases

Vince Cable visits Gibraltar ahead of EU Elections

Vince Cable, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, is visiting Gibraltar today as part of the Liberal Democrats’ EU Election campaign.

Mr Cable will be meeting trade unions and businesses from both sides of the border as well as Gibraltarian politicians, including the Chief Minister of Gibraltar.

Ahead of the visit, Vince Cable said:

The folly of Brexit could hardly be more starkly obvious or more keenly felt than in Gibraltar. By leaving the European Union, we enable Spain to make ever more outrageous demands about Gibraltar with no British voice at the table to speak for

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International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia: We’ll never stop fighting for equality

Six years ago, when I was Equalities Minister, I was due to attend a celebration of International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). My colleague, Lynne Featherstone, who was instrumental to the Same Sex Marriage Bill, had worked up a document that called for action on LGBT+ rights and which was to be signed by a dozen European Ministers at this event.

In the months leading up to it, the Conservatives were copied in on the different versions and didn’t say a word. So we all thought they were fine with it all.

But then, suddenly, just three days before I was supposed to travel and sign the document on behalf of the UK, I was told I could no longer go and we wouldn’t be signing the pledge that we had written…

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LibLink: Ed Davey: Sajid Javid’s knife ASBOs won’t work. Here’s a better solution

In the New Statesman, Ed Davey writes that knife crime must be treated as a public health and education issue and that Sajid Javid’s punitive approach will not work.

First he outlines the problems with Javid’s Knife Crime Protection Orders:

I can’t imagine what it is about the experience of ASBOs makes Javid think they’ll work for knife crime. In some communities, ASBOs were seen as a “badge of honour”. Many young people openly flouted them. The threat of prison simply doesn’t work as a deterrent for a lot of young people.

Even worse, ASBOs consumed a lot of police time and resources, whether applying to the courts to get one or enforcing its conditions afterwards. And that was at a time when we had far more police.

If Javid doesn’t remember what a failure ASBOs were, he should just ask his boss. Theresa May, as Home Secretary, described them as “bureaucratic” and “gimmick-laden”. “They were too time consuming and expensive,” she said. “And they too often criminalised young people unnecessarily, acting as a conveyor belt to serious crime and prison.” She was right, and that’s why as Home Secretary, she abolished them.

He suggests a different approach:

I’m proposing knife ABCs: Anti-Blade Contracts.

They could be imposed the first time a young person is caught with a knife, but could also be used proactively for children involved in gangs or who might be considering carrying a knife. The young person would sign a contract saying “I will not carry a knife.” In return, they could be guaranteed services to help them feel safer: a police officer or social worker to call whenever they need them, for example.

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Patchwork Foundation’s Party Conference programme now open for applications!

The Patchwork Foundation was founded in 2013 to encourage Young people from marginalised and minority backgrounds to get involved in public life and make politics more accessible. Over the years it has grown from strength to strength and is something I am incredibly proud to be a part of. 

Patchwork runs the Masterclass Programme, the MP of the Year Awards and the #GetInvolved programme as well as other events and sessions throughout the year. As part of the #GetInvolved programme we take groups of young people aged from 18-30 to the three main party conferences every Autumn and this is now open for applications.

Participants receive a free pass to Labour, Conservative or (most importantly!) Liberal Democrat Federal conference. We provide briefing before the conference and special events for participants during the conference, last year we had an excellent masterclass with Baroness Barker and (nearly) front row seats for the leader’s speech at the Lib Dem conference. But past Liberal Democrat Conference programmes have had sessions with Jo Swinson MP, Nick Clegg and Caroline Pidgeon AM among others.

For many of our participants it’s their first experience of how political parties work on the inside and even people who are already members of political parties tell us how much they gain from the experience. We’re also really proud of the fact it opens politics up to people who otherwise might not be able to come to conference at all and many of our conference participants go on to get more involved in the Patchwork Foundation’s Masterclass Programme and #GetInvolved campaigning and training sessions which have seen us take young people all over the place to campaign for candidates in several elections.

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Get your Bollocks to Brexit t-shirts

 

So I have actually been out in public wearing this.

It’s the most on message I’ve been in years.

The t-shirts were designed by the amazing Jennie Rigg and are available here. 

They are good quality and I ordered mine last weekend and it arrived on Tuesday.

Any money Jennie makes from the site gets put into Pride materials for LGBT+ Lib Dems – although it does cost her to run the site as well.

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European elections poll puts Lib Dems in second ahead of Labour

The most recent YouGov opinion poll puts us in second place in the European elections ahead of Labour.

From a sample of over 7000 people, YouGov (for The Times) found::

From The Times (£)

The Lib Dems appear to be picking up support from Labour and Green voters after Sir Vince Cable argued that opponents of Brexit should vote for his party.

YouGov interviewed 7,192 British adults between Sunday and Thursday this week. When asked whom they would support in the European elections, 35 per cent said the Brexit Party, up 1 point on the week before.

Lib Dems were on 16 per cent, up 1, Labour on 15 per cent, down 1, Greens on 10 per cent, down 1, Conservatives on 9 per cent, down 1, Change UK unchanged on 5 per cent and Ukip unchanged on 3 per cent.

The decline of the Conservatives into single figures is likely to increase the panic in the party’s high command, with 62 per cent of Tory voters in the 2017 general election now saying that they will vote for the Brexit Party in the European elections. Only one in five who backed the party at the last general election is sticking with the Tories in the European elections.

It’s only one poll, though. To go along with the couple at the weekend the one that had us on 19% and the other couple this week.

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17 May 2019 – the overnight press release

Lib Dems demand same-sex marriage for Northern Ireland on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

Today on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, Liberal Democrats have demanded that the Government legislate for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

Responding to reports that the Conservative Government, propped up by the anti-equal marriage party the DUP, is considering legislating to allow longer licensing hours for the Open Golf Championship taking place in Northern Ireland this July, Alistair Carmichael said:

It is ridiculous that the Conservatives would even consider legislating for the British Open to have slightly longer licensing hours while they are

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16 May 2019 – today’s press releases

Another slightly startling day, with today’s BMG Research poll showing the Liberal Democrats with 18% if a General Election were to take place today, up ten percentage points in just five weeks… Don’t get vertigo, everyone…

  • Lib Dems call for EU-wide fracking ban
  • Lib Dems call for creation of youth council
  • Chris Grayling botched his probation reforms just like he botches everything
  • Brexit threatens UK’s ability to monitor climate change
  • Welsh Lib Dems condemn praise for Tommy Robinson

Lib Dems call for EU-wide fracking ban

The Liberal Democrats have today committed to campaigning for an EU-wide ban on fracking because of its negative impacts on climate …

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Lib Dems target Labour remainers

So we’re doing the sensible thing and going after the votes of Labour voting Remain supporters in the next few days.

We have the help of numerous actions and comments by senior Labour figures over the past three years, most especially Bailout Barry himself. You haven’t been allowed to forget that Labour Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner told Tory Minister James Cleverly that Labour were trying to bail the Tories out on Brexit.

Just in case it has slipped your mind for a nanosecond, here is the actual clip:

The Huffington Post reports that candidates and campaigners will be stepping up their efforts to persuade Labour supporters to back us in this election:

The eight-page document is being sent to candidates and grassroots activists as Vince Cable’s party aims to convince “increasingly soft” Labour votes.

The document, which is to be issued with Labour attack leaflets, collates pro-Brexit quotes from Labour’s frontbench MPs, including from supporters of a second referendum, such as Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry.

It also outlines in detail the party’s voting record on a second referendum and soft Brexit options, underlining that Corbyn’s MPs were whipped either to abstain or to vote with the Tories on 29 key Brexit votes.

Pro-EU Labour activists reacted with dismay when Corbyn refused to back a remain stance in the party’s Euro elections manifesto, with the leader sticking to the line that a second referendum would be “an option” if cross-party Brexit talks fail.

The local elections, meanwhile, saw the Lib Dems win more than 700 seats, leaving Cable confident of gains in the May 23 EU-wide poll.

They have a quote from Ed Davey:

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Christine Jardine on Question Time tonight…how you can join in the fun and spread the Lib Dem message

We have a Lib Dem MP on Question Time tonight!

Christine Jardine is heading to Elgin, a city about 40 miles south east of Inverness. It’s in the heart of the Moray constituency. Typically, the BBC, finds the most Brexity place in Scotland to go to. Remain squeaked home with 50.1% of the vote. Every constituency in Scotland voted to Remain, most of them by a much larger margin.

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Scottish Lib Dems’ PEB: A vote for the Lib Dems is a vote to stop Brexit and against independence

The Scottish Lib Dem version of the European Elections PEB is a thing of beauty.

Narrated by Party Manager Jenny Wilson, it features Willie Rennie, Vince Cable, Borders candidate Jenny Marr and European candidates John Edward and Vita Zaporozcenko.

Enjoy.

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On standing up to Farage

The growth of Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party has been extremely frightening to watch. We may not want to think it, but many in the country are deeply disenfranchised from the Westminster establishment, and want Brexit ‘over and done with’. They voted for for something, therefore they want it delivered. Brexit may well be the gross national soliloquy that has destroyed Britain’s political respectability, but democracy certifies that the government must enact the decision that the country supported. We all want a second referendum, but without one Brexit cannot be discarded. The consequences for trust in democracy in Britain would be very harmful. There is no way around this  disturbing fact, and the Brexit Party is exploiting the fragile nature of Brexit antagonism. 

George Orwell wrote that “If Liberty is anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” This admirable maxim can be voiced to both sides of the Brexit debate, to both the Brexiteers living in John Betjeman’s ‘Eternal Safety Zone’ or to Remainers unable to accept the result of a democratic vote. 

This utterly demoralising situation makes the European elections even more important. Farage’s band of rebels scream their creed of a new Peasants’ Revolt against the ‘liberal elite’ and proclaim that they are able to speak for working people. The familiar faces of Farage and the ultra-reactionary Ann Widdecombe reminded me that this is a very far-fetched idea. The party claims to be a group determined to keep democracy alive, but Farage has been opposed at the ballot box seven times. The idea that democracy is being tarnished is also very evidently nonsensical, Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union and a deal has been agreed with Brussels. The Brexit hardliners are refusing to countenance compromise and in doing so endanger their sacred project. The Prime Minister’s Brexit deal is the closest they are going to get to their original aim, but the cry of ‘betrayal’ at every proposal apart from the unicorn no-deal solidifies the case for their permanent residency in cloud-cuckoo land. 

One of the hallmarks of an extremist politician is their connections to shadowy organisations. Jeremy Corbyn has been consistently and rightly called out for his links to terrorist groups; his calls for ‘dialogue’ distinctly in opposition to his rejection of talks with Western powers. Farage is the same, he pretends to be the opposite of Corbyn, yet his tactics are always the same, and exposed by his dubious supporters. Whether he is supporting the dictatorial and conspiracy theorist Viktor Orban as the “future of Europe” or cosying up to Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and the  Trump-backing ‘Ted’ Malloch. 

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LibLink: Christine Jardine We all deserve the same quality of mental health care as my late husband

Christine Jardine’s column is a bit different this week. She writes about how her late husband, Calum, was affected by Bipolar Disorder. Calum Macdonald was a brilliant journalist, working for the Herald in Glasgow for many years. Although they were separated at the time of his death from a heart attack during the 2017 election campaign, they remained close.

Christine described how the quality of care Calum received helped him so much. Sadly, others aren’t so fortunate.

When we needed it, our GP was there straight away and offered daily support.

Calum had a consultation within 24 hours and the help he needed, from that moment for the next 22 years.

I will be forever grateful that we had that time, and that medical support allowed my daughter to know the affable, tolerant Calum.

But the fact that she also saw, at times, the problems her father faced has also, in some way, brought its own benefits. When I ask her, she says that she has learned to never make a concrete judgement on anyone. There may be a fuller story than the one we see.

What she argues is that the fragility of mental health can affect any of us and should be regarded with the same understanding as if it were a broken leg.

She recounted how it had first become apparent that Calum was ill:

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Katy Brand and Emma Kennedy back Lib Dems for European elections

Celebrity endorsement for the Lib Dems in the European elections:

And Emma Kennedy joined in:

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15 May 2019 – today’s press releases

Lib Dems: Brexit vote shows Tory and Labour talks are pointless

Responding to the announcement from Downing Street that MPs will vote on Brexit legislation in June, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

It is now clear that nothing whatsoever has come of the Tory and Labour Brexit talks. These negotiations are yet another example of pointless and irresponsible time-wasting by both the government and the official opposition.

The Liberal Democrats have been fighting Brexit for nearly three years and are the strongest party who support remaining in the EU.

To get our country out of this mess, orchestrated by Theresa May

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Book Review: The End of Aspiration? by Duncan Exley

Subtitled Social mobility and our children’s fading prospects, Duncan Exley’s book explores the facts and myths around aspiration. Referencing many studies, linked with real-life stories of people who have moved from rag-to-riches, Exley asks how far the UK is from being an ‘opportunity’ society and whether social mobility should be a priority of policy-makers.

Duncan Exley is the former Director of the Equality Trust. In his book, he delves into issues of equality and poverty, probing the real factors behind people not being able to attain the life they would like to live.

Recently, I toured a secondary school in North Devon with the headteacher. I asked her what the biggest issue was for the young people there. She told me, without hesitation, lack of aspiration. She explained that many of her pupils came from families which could not afford to travel outside of the town, not to mention the county. Pupils stayed in school as long as they were required to and then left for local jobs. She had started taking groups of pupils to Oxford open days and was proud that several now were at Oxford and other universities. But she said one of the hurdles she faced was lack of funding for school trips so that young people could experience the bigger world outside of their own community.

This is one of the many themes Exley tackles – how to give young people from more deprived circumstances the opportunities to explore, experience and participate in the bigger world.

Creating opportunities, however, is not enough. Exley looks at the biology of poverty and cites studies which link the nutrition of grandparents to the birth weight and health of babies. Low birth weight has been linked to poorer attainment. A healthy population is one which can thrive, and child poverty must be tackled. Exley notes the effect of health on career progression:

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What European liberals have done over the past five years – EU budget and defence

Having taken a day off, I’m back with more ALDE achievements…

Reform of the European Union’s system of own resources

ALDE has sought to increase the transparency of the current financing system of the EU budget, in order to reduce national contributions by EU Member States, by introducing new own resources income streams and ending rebates and corrections, without increasing tax burden on the citizens.

Following the Parliament’s position and the recommendations of the High Level Group on Own Resources, the Commission proposed a basket of new own resources, structured around European public goods linked to EU’s strategic policy objectives. This basket thus includes new resources based on the EU Emission Trading System and on plastic waste, reinforcing the climate action priority, and a simplified VAT based resource as well as new corporate tax-based resource, consolidating the Single Market and reducing financial speculation.

A greener, modernised and more flexible EU budget

ALDE were successful in focusing the 2019 EU budget on resources for research, innovation, competitiveness and SMEs. ALDE initiated the Parliament’s call for doubling the budget of Erasmus+ to enhance opportunities for young people, which was an instrumental step in obtaining a substantial partial increase in the 2019 budget. ALDE also pushed for substantial allocation to climate spending to meet the EU’s long-term climate goals of 20% climate spending target in the current Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2014-2020. Specifically, ALDE increased the ambition for EU-funded cross-border projects in the field of renewable energy within the MFF Connecting Europe Facility. Our Group made a distinctive contribution especially in the areas of internal security and investment in managing borders, fighting terrorism, radicalisation and organised crime and called on Member States to take responsibility for the management of migration in accordance with the principle of burden-sharing and the Geneva Conventions. On the initiative of our shadow rapporteur, the relevant Parliament’s budgetary reports call on the Commission to present a proposal, which would provide for the expression of financial solidarity at EU level to victims of acts of terrorism and their families.

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What would we do without the NHS?

Our family has used the NHS more this year than ever before – all five of us have seen consultants for a range of ailments.

Yesterday my husband saw the Haematology team to be told his cancer was in remission. We left the hospital grateful for the good prognosis, and thankful that we lived in a country with high-quality health care. Over the course of his treatment, from hospital stays to bone marrow biopsies, from chemotherapy to scans, we have been impressed with the professionals overseeing his care. We have not been made bankrupt through high medical bills and he had time off work for his recovery. It was horrendous and worrying, but the NHS was there for us.

However, lack of government funding means that not everyone is getting the same quality of care we have experienced. Recent stories in the papers highlight the shortfall now being experienced by many hospital trusts. There was a combined overspend of around £850 million by ten NHS hospital trusts in England in 2018. Funding per patient has been cut year by year since 2010.

The data is harrowing. Whilst my husband had a good experience with his cancer treatment, the statistics show many others do not.

Four of the cancer waiting-time standards were failed: two-week GP referral to first outpatient appointment; 14-day referral to first outpatient – breast symptoms; 62-day (urgent GP referral) waiting time target for first treatment; and 62-day screening from service referral.

These waiting times didn’t apply in the same way to us as my husband was hospitalised with a severe infection and in trying to figure out the cause of the infection, cancer was found. But for those being referred by GPs for outpatient appointments, the delay of treatment and the extended worry whilst waiting for an appointment adds even more stress to the uncertainty one experiences before receiving a diagnosis.

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