Javid is cutting the UK’s nose off to spite our faces

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Last week, the Chancellor Sajid Javid sat down in the Pickles sandwich bar, Westminster, for an interview with the Financial Times. You can read the interview in full here, but you may have to subscribe or join the FT’s trial membership scheme.

In it, he talked tough about the UK post-Brexit trading scenario. Hopefully, this is pre-negotiation chatter, but what he said was alarming nonetheless:

There will not be alignment, we will not be a ruletaker, we will not be in the single market and we will not be in the customs union — and we will do this by the end of the year.

He said there would be no Treasury support for the big manufacturing sectors to adjust to the new trade rules. Rather peevishly he added that they had had since 2016 to prepare for the new scenario. Of course, they have not known what the Sam Hill they were needing to prepare for during those three years.

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20 January 2020 – the overnight press release

Draconian changes to immigration rules are utterly unworkable

Responding to reports the Conservative Government could remove a temporary extension of the current immigration rules until 2023 and impose new restrictions on low-skilled migrants moving to the UK after Brexit, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

Decisions like this make it loud and clear that this Conservative Government has no intention off ending the hostile environment. It’s a national embarrassment.

For business and our economy, such draconian changes to immigration rules is utterly unworkable. To think the Home Office could implement the changes in the time given is a joke.

The Liberal Democrats

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Goodbye Bob, the kindest of politicians

Note from the Editorial Team: This touching personal tribute to Bob Maclennan was published over the weekend on “A Scottish Liberal” – the blog of Andrew Page. We liked it so much that we asked Andrew if we could reproduce it here, and he kindly agreed.

Today I discovered that my friend, one time mentor and godfather to my daughter Xanthe has passed away at the age of 83.

Robert Maclennan, Lord Maclennan of Rogart (but always “Bob” to me) was the son of a gynaecologist (Sir Hector Maclennan) and a forward-thinking …

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Labour, Starmer and Stalinism

The Labour Party leadership election is underway, with Keir Starmer the current front runner. This particular election is the first where candidates require not just nominations from their fellow MPs but also constituency parties, trade union and other affiliated bodies. The nomination process has already demonstrated that Stalinist political practice is alive and well in the ‘people’s party’ with the UK’s largest union, Unison, backing Starmer without any consultation with its membership. Transport union TSSA have proudly announced that they will give their members a say but only offer a choice between two candidates, Sir Keir and Rebecca Long Bailey. …

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18-19 January 2020 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Lib Dems launch campaign to scrap cash machine fees
  • Chancellor must take blinkers off and pay attention to industry
  • Johnson cannot be trusted to fix broken politics

Lib Dems launch campaign to scrap cash machine fees

The Brecon & Radnorshire Liberal Democrats have launched a campaign calling on the UK Government to provide the funding necessary to scrap transaction fees at local cash machines. With the number of bank branches across Powys dwindling, a growing number of residents are forced to reply upon Post Offices and local cash machines to access their money.

Last year Jane Dodds, then MP for Brecon & Radnorshire, led …

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Two very important parts of our Comments Policy

Yes, we have a Comments Policy, which can be found here.

There are two very important parts of it, under the section “Be who you say you are”:

  1. When entering your comment, we ask you to provide a valid email address which belongs to you. This email address will not be published and is requested in case we need to contact you. We may send a test message to the email address given, in order to check its validity. Comments submitted without the provision of a valid email address, owned by the commenter, will not be published.
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It’s Johnson’s responsibility – hold him to account!

Today, for the first time since this debacle began all the way back in 2016 we find ourselves with an odd sense of certainty.

For better or (definitely) for worse, at the end of January the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will be leaving the European Union under a majority Conservative and unionist Government, headed by Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (yes this is his actual full name to those who aren’t aware).

This may not be the certainty we ever wanted but there is an odd sense of relief in it; sort of like that feeling when you …

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Iowa field notes: 29 candidates, 2100 plus events, but who will win the first contest to be the next President of the United States?

The Liberty and Justice Celebration, Des Moines, Iowa, USA, November 1st, 2019.
This and all photos below are by Alex Paul Shantz


It’s the first Friday in November, and inside an arena in downtown Des Moines, the capital of Iowa, guests in smart clothes eat dinner around an elevated stage. Suddenly, the lights dim, artificial smoke envelopes a walkway, and the pop song ‘High Hopes’ blares out. Around one end of the arena, across three levels of tiered seating, thousands of people jump to their feet, dancing and waving three feet high letters that say “Boot Edge Edge”. Striding along a walkway towards the stage is… Pete Buttigieg, the 37 year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana?

At this point, I realise I’m at one of the most unique political events I’ve ever attended. Part fundraising gala and part political rally, but with production values that more closely resemble a pro wrestling event. It is in fact the Liberty and Justice Celebration, the final and most important multi-candidate ‘cattle call’ in the year-long campaign preceding the Iowa Democratic caucuses.

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LibDems failed to shift enough Tory remainers – Electoral Calculus on 2017->2019 voter migration

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Martin Baxter’s Electoral Calculus website has an excellent Infographic on Voter migration 2017 – 2019. Using human figures (voters) to represent one percentage point of the voters, he not only shows where 2017 voters and non-voters went in 2019, he also graphically shows 2016 EU referendum preferences.

His conclusion on the LibDems is interesting:

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More warm tributes to Bob Maclennan

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There have been more touching tributes to Bob Maclennan via Twitter overnight, from across the political spectrum:

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Kicked into the long grass – the Lib Dem leadership election

Long Grass In Rainy Days
18.6 Should the post of Leader become vacant before the election of a new Leader, the Acting Leader of the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons and the President of the Party shall jointly assume the responsibilities of Leader of the Party until the new Leader is elected.
Federal Liberal Democrat Constitution

This afternoon, the party announced the timetable for the election of a new leader of the party. This was agreed at the first meeting of the Federal Board chaired by our new President and current co-leader of the party, Mark Pack.

Nominations will open on May 11th, which is the Monday after the elections on May 7th. Nominations will close on May 28th with ballots opening on June 18th and closing on July 15th, after which the new leader will be announced.

I’m not privy to the Federal Board discussions but it does not take a mind-reader to, at least, pick out some of the themes behind this decision.

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Our President on the timetable for the leadership election

Our party President and Co-leader, Mark Pack has just commented on the leadership election timetable on his blog:

The Board discussed in some detail different possible options for the timetable, and we carefully considered the pros and cons of, for example, having a leadership election that took place sooner. Considerations such as wanting to get our review of last year’s elections done first and also avoiding distracting key activists from the May elections were weighed against the benefits of having a new leader sooner.

The close of nominations date will also

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Lib Dems pay tribute to Lord Robert Maclennan

The Liberal Democrats have today led tributes following the death of Lord Robert Maclennan.

Lord Robert Maclennan of Rogart, known as Bob Maclennan, was the last leader of the Social Democrat Party before it merged with the Liberal Party. He then became joint interim leader of the new party.

Bob Maclennan was a Member of Parliament from 1966 to 2001. Upon stepping down as MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, Bob Maclennan was elevated to the House of Lords.

Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey said:

It

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Should we be prouder and more vocal about our membership of the Council of Europe?


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Should we celebrate Europe Day every May 5th?

An LDV reader, John Probert (who has the rare distinction of being a remaining former councillor on Middlesex County Council) has made a suggestion along these lines.

After January 31st we will still be members of the Council of Europe, who celebrate Europe Day on May 5th (EU members celebrate it on May 9th).

Such a celebration would publicise the fact that we remain members of the Council of Europe, which was first suggested under such a name by Churchill in a wartime broadcast on 21st March 1943.

Its Statute says:

The aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which are their common heritage and facilitating their economic and social progress.

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+++Timetable to elect new leader set out

The Liberal Democrats have today agreed the timetable to elect the next leader of the Liberal Democrats.

At a meeting today of the party’s Federal Board in London, the party agreed to open nominations for candidates on the 11th of May and close them on the 28th of May.

The ballot will then open on the 18th of June and close on the 15th of July, after which the party will announce the next leader.

In the meantime, Ed Davey MP and Party President Mark Pack will continue as joint acting leaders of the Liberal Democrats.

Speaking after the meeting, Liberal Democrat Party …

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We let the remainers down – now we need to focus on a Green New Deal


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The Liberal Democrats let the EU Remainers down, right from the 2016 Referendum.

On Nick Clegg’s recommendation the architect of our disastrous 2015 election campaign was appointed as chief of strategy for the remain campaign. The result was entirely predictable.

The party then spent four years in the wilderness. A steady, but uninspiring, leadership from Vince and hard work from our local government activists saw the party slowly improve its position.

In the 2019 Euro Elections the Remainers put their faith in the Lib Dems, only to be let down again at the General Election. This time a combination of a terrible campaign, inexperienced and badly advised leadership, fear of Corbyn and First Past the Post ensured that faith in the Lib Dems was once again misplaced. Not all our fault, but with a good campaign and steady leadership we should have made 50 seats, and the picture today would have been different.

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Munira Wilson’s maiden speech

As is traditional, Liberal Democrat Voice is covering the maiden speeches of our new MPs as they happen. In Thursday’s Health and Social Care debate, Munira Wilson, MP for Twickenham, made her first Commons speech:

It is a pleasure—and slightly daunting—to follow so many powerful and emotive maiden speeches. I thought that the hon. Members for Luton North (Sarah Owen), for Vauxhall (Florence Eshalomi) and for Bishop Auckland (Dehenna Davison) made particularly moving speeches. It is an honour to give my maiden speech, and I am especially proud that my five-year-old daughter is in the Gallery to witness this moment. With a record number of female and BAME MPs elected in this Parliament, I hope that I and others will be an inspiration to girls like her and other young women as we strive towards a more diverse Parliament that truly reflects British society.

As the new Member of Parliament for Twickenham, I follow in the illustrious footsteps—or should I say dancing shoes—of the right hon. Sir Vincent Cable. After all, he did get a 10 from Len on “Strictly”! Vince earned the respect of Members of all parties in this House, not just for his economic prowess, but for his dry sense of humour. Who can forget his infamous “from Stalin to Mr Bean” put-down of Prime Minister Gordon Brown?

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Annoyance of LibDem MPs over power of “new sexy people” in 2019 election decisions – Five candidates ready for party leadership contest – Timetable today

Ailbhe Rea has written a long article on the Liberal Democrats for the New Statesman.

There are some interesting points about the 2019 election covered, based on reported conversations with our MPs:

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17 January 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems oppose Johnson’s Parliamentary agenda
  • Fall in retail sales demands a radical rethink
  • PM should seek to bring the country together

Lib Dems oppose Johnson’s Parliamentary agenda

The Liberal Democrats have tabled an amendment to the Queen’s Speech for debate on Monday 19 January. The amendment details the key reasons why Liberal Democrat MPs will oppose Boris Johnson’s agenda for government, including:

  • failure to introduce ambitious plans to tackle the climate emergency;
  • failure to set out measures to tackle poverty and inequality;
  • failure to protect human rights or to strengthen the voice of citizens.

The amendment also urges Government to introduce a system of proportional representation. …

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We need to shift from a class identity debate to a consensus around our core values


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With the dust still settling from the December 2019 General Election, it is necessarily a time for the Liberal Democrats to regroup, refocus and plan for the coming years.

One question which I hear being asked is how the Party can appeal to working-class voters, as part of a strategy to make it more inclusive, representative and, of course, electable. However I believe we need to first take a step back and ask whether the underlying assumption here is valid in 21st Century Britain and, moreover, is it liberal?

With our political rivals in opposition currently locked in heated internal argument as to which of their potential leaders is authentically working-class, it is worth exploring just what that means. Is one born working-class, or indeed middle-class, or does one somehow acquire the designation and accompanying self-identity during one’s lifetime?

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Is being bullied by Donald Trump the future for British foreign policy?

The news, as broken by the Washington Post, that the Trump Administration threatened to levy a 25% tariff on British car exports to the US unless Britain warned Iran of violations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a deal in which Iran would accept strict rules and oversight of its nuclear activity in exchange for being allowed back into the international community, should concern us all.

Of course, it wasn’t just Britain – the French and Germans were threatened too.

But the difference between us and them is that the French and Germans are part of a bigger group, and …

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Sir John Curtice on the Lib Dem general election performance


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Jonathan Fryer has blogged about this week’s presentation at the National Liberal Club by Sir John Curtice entitled: “The 2019 Election: A Tale of Hope and Disappointment”.

Jonathan notes the following points about the drop-off of Lib Dem support during the election campaign itself:

Many commentators at the time also attributed the fall in LibDem support to (1) Jo Swinson’s call to Revoke Article 50, rather than pitching wholeheartedly for a second EU Referendum, and (2) her claim to be a potential PM in waiting, despite the modest number of LibDem MPs (albeit supplemented by both Labour and Conservative defections). However, Professor Curtice said polling, notably from YouGov, did not support that assumption. Instead, he highlighted three conclusions about the election result based on his research:

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Vote share increase for Tara Murray in Bristol

Well done to Tara Murray and team (above with Ed Davey) for an impressive vote share increase in the Brislington East by-election in Bristol yesterday.

The result was:

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Observations of an Expat – Capitalism—New Lease of Life?

The resounding defeat of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has revived the cries for “Responsible Capitalism.”

Corbyn is a not so thinly-disguised old style socialist. He and his supporters believe that the only route to a fair society is through socialism based on public ownership. The problem is that historical experience says otherwise. There have been successful mixed economies, but every attempt at full-blown socialism has ended in political, economic and social disaster.

In every instance they have hit the brick wall of human nature and its hand maiden the survival instinct. Humans are greedy. That greed has dragged us out of damp caves into centrally-heated bungalows. Conversely, the same greed has ignited wars, destroyed the environment and created social inequalities.

The bastion of world capitalism—the United States—is a shining example of these inherent contradictions. Its national entrepreneurial success has created the wealthiest country in the world. But that wealth is not equitably shared. Two-thirds of America’s wealth is owned by five percent of the population. Forty percent of Americans earn less than $15 an hour; five percent earn the minimum wage or less and 28 million Americans do not have medical insurance.

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Future Party Communications and Elections Committee Chair

Each new Federal Board elects someone to Chair the campaigning and communications function of the Party and having been re-elected for a cumulative period of 10 years in the role, I shall not be standing for a further three when the Federal Board elects the next Chair.

I was first elected as Chair of the Campaigns and Communications Committee (CCC) – the precursor to the current Federal Communications & Elections Committee (FCEC) – in the immediate aftermath of the 2010 General Election. Half the time since that the Party has been in Government in Westminster … and the other half seemingly dealing with the consequences.

Constitutional changes in 2016 ended the practice of the Leader appointing different individuals to Chair separate General, Local and European campaigns and transferred the responsibility to the elected Chair of the FCEC. Expectations at the time were that my first general election campaign would be in 2020. I relished the prospect – putting into practice all the learnings from 2015 would be a substantial task – but one which the Party was more than up to. Instead of which, I have served three Leaders and overseen two general elections, each of them called at short notice and in challenging circumstances.

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16 January 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems call on PM to back automatic rights for EU citizens
  • Lib Dems: Tories have failed on knife crime
  • Lib Dems demand more action on gambling addiction

Lib Dems call on PM to back automatic rights for EU citizens

The Liberal Democrats have called on the Conservative Government to back legislation to guarantee automatic rights for EU citizens, as new official statistics show the number not granted permanent Settled Status has risen to more than 1 million.

Liberal Democrat peer Jonny Oates this week tabled amendments to the Government’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill to automatically guarantee EU citizens’ rights in law.

The latest EU …

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Paddy & President Jed Bartlet can’t both be wrong – Education should be our flagship

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Pretty much everyone has a view on why we had a bad election and, more importantly, what we should do next. I’m a member of Barnsley local party and here are my two cents…

Johnson’s Tories look like they have weathered the storm and are in for a few stable years as a version of Trumps Republicans, appealing to the English rustbelt and the odd white supremacist.

They may be untouchable for a while.

We have just experienced our third bad (so very bad) election in a row.

However Labour, by its standards, has had a shocker. They have not won an election now in 14 years.

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LibLink: Our new President/Co-leader on the surprising number of elections coming up in May

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Over on his blog, Mark Pack, our new party President and co-leader, gives us a timely warning about the magnitude of voting opportunities this May:

This year’s round of local council elections are only in England and are the smallest round of that cycle of elections. Which may make you think that it’s a small set of elections and one in which many or even most parts of the country will not be voting.

But…

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15 January 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems question FlyBe bailout
  • Tory minister wrong to promote flying in the face of climate emergency
  • Ed Davey calls for better support for bereaved families at PMQs
  • Government must repeal unlawful Snoopers’ Charter
  • Lib Dems: Prime Minister must now keep his promise to protect Erasmus
  • Lib Dems: PM agrees to work with Lib Dems on human rights abuses in Syria

Lib Dems question FlyBe bailout

Responding to news that the Government intends to bail out Flybe, Liberal Democrat Transport spokesperson, Munira Wilson MP, said:

Flybe provides a vital service in connecting many regions of the UK which are otherwise hard to travel between, not least

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We need to seriously address the issues of work

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Back in 1980 I entered the world of full-time employment as a sixteen year-old school leaver. Relatively secure jobs, with pensions and other benefits (in my case luncheon vouchers), were the norm. Thirteen million people were in trade unions.

But the Thatcher revolution was just beginning. It involved targeting those unions which the self-styled Iron Lady said had become too powerful. As a clerical assistant in the Civil Service, I ended up being involved in one of the initial battles when the government refused to implement the recommendations of an independent pay review body. We went on strike and lost. Others followed, notably the printers and miners, who also lost.

The industrial landscape was being redrawn and times they were changing. After my stint in the Civil Service, I spent 25 years in Royal Mail, where I lived through a heavily unionised workforce grudgingly accepting erosion of pay and hard-won working conditions. For those in non-union workplaces it was usually worse, particularly where jobs were privatised.

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