World mental health day is tomorrow

The World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day on 10 October every year. This year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is suicide prevention.

The Mental Health Foundation are encouraging people to share the infographic above. There is much relevant information on their website, including the list below of ways to get help.

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Would you like to help at the exciting Lib Dem HQ?

The Lib Dem HQ is almost literally protected by Lloyd George’s raincoat

I was wandering around the exhibitions at the Bournemouth conference when my eye was caught by a most glamorous display. -Lots of glitter and lovely gold-wrapped chocolate hearts. These adorned the LibDem HQ volunteering stand. The cheerful helper there explained the whole HQ volunteering thing.

There are volunteer roles for people who are interested in them. But also, it is possible to volunteer to do tasks at the HQ as and when they fit in with your other commitments and activities.

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How you can help Liberal Democrat Voice

The Voice is only a success because of the interest and support from our readers. For many people just lurking and reading the site is all they want to do – and that’s fine, we’re grateful for people taking the time to read the site.

You can though help us continue to produce interesting content for a growing audience. Here are four simple ways:

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In praise of Marcus Ball – doughty fighter against the £350 million red bus lie


Embed from Getty Images

Marcus Ball has announced that he can no longer move forward with his legal fight to hold Boris Johnson responsible for his “£350 million a week” red bus statement.

High court judges threw the case out in June after Johnson challenged a summons to attend court on three claims of misconduct in public office. However, Marcus Ball had continued fighting in the hope of taking the case to the Supreme Court.

Last weekend, news came from the legal fraternity that this would not be possible.

This young man has put up an extraordinary fight over the last three and a half years, working at below the national minimum wage per hour.

Goodness knows, there are many roads to riches in the legal profession.

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8 October 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Davey: Brexit would mortgage our children’s future
  • Jane Dodds Calls for Pledge to Maintain Last-in-Town Banks
  • Blame for the Brexit mess sits with the Tory Govt

Davey: Brexit would mortgage our children’s future

Following reports from the IFS that a no-deal Brexit will push UK debt to the highest levels since the 1960s, Lib Dem Shadow Chancellor Ed Davey said:

This new analysis is a body blow to Boris Johnson’s election spending plans – as it shows the cost of Brexit is much higher than thought.

Brexit would mortgage our children’s future, plunging Britain into the red and threatening years of new austerity.

There is simply no

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The Lib Dem Lowdown – our guide for new members – the Welcome Heidi edition

Welcome to everyone who has joined the Liberal Democrats in the last few weeks, and a special mention to our newest MP, Heid Allen.

 

We haven’t actually re-done this post since Chuka joined, so we should formally welcome Sarah, Angela, Philip, Sam and Luciana, as well as our by-election winner Jane Dodds.

Every so often I roll out this post, which is basically a rehash of an article that I first wrote in May 2015 when many joined the party in the wake of the General Election result. I thought it might be useful to tell you a little bit about how our party works and give you a bit of an idea of the opportunities open to you. If you are not yet a member, if you like what you read, sign up here.

What do we believe?

Before we get into the nitty gritty of organisation, the best statement of who we are and what we’re about can be found in the Preamble to our Constitution which underlines how we believe in freedom, opportunity, diversity,  decentralisation and internationalism. Here’s a snippet:

The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. We aim to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity. We believe that the role of the state is to enable all citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the decisions which affect their lives.

We look forward to a world in which all people share the same basic rights, in which they live together in peace and in which their different cultures will be able to develop freely. We believe that each generation is responsible for the fate of our planet and, by safeguarding the balance of nature and the environment, for the long term continuity of life in all its forms. Upholding these values of individual and social justice, we reject allprejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality.

We have a fierce respect for individuality, with no expectation that fellow Liberal Democrats will agree with us on every issue. We expect our views to be challenged and feel free to challenge others without rancour. We can have a robust debate and head to the pub afterwards, the very best of friends.

Obviously, our priority at the moment is to stop Brexit, but there is so much more to us than that. That bit about no-one being enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity shapes everything that we do.

Your rights as a member

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PREVIEW: Luisa Porritt MEP’s Brexit Reality film

London LIb Dem MEP Luisa Porritt has made a film about the reality of Brexit and how it affects the NHS. It’ll be out later this week.

Here’s a preview:

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The Government’s Brexit plan is dangerous for Ireland

The wheeze the Johnson government has come up with to salvage the “complete UK exit from the EU Customs Union”, having customs controls on companies’ premises, may look clever.  But in a Northern Ireland with every so often bomb and mortar attacks by dissident, extremist Republican outfits like the “Continuity IRA {CIRA}” and/or “Real IRA {RIRA}”on policemen doing their job (or standing at a petrol station in a street), it carries obvious and serious risks, dangers. 

And trying to reconvene the Northern Ireland Assembly, where DUP and Sinn Féin deeply distrust each other about things like green energy projects and use of the Irish language, to have them decide by any procedure about starting, continuing or stopping Johnson’s border policies, where Republicans suspect the DUP could get an advantage or veto, only increases the provocation to dissident Republicans; and could increase their support base.

The first and obvious danger is that, as the Real IRA has already attacked the homes and cars of Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers (as happened on 21 February 2017 so the homes and vehicles of HMCE officers also could be attacked. And that also increases the risk that neighbours and shops near such homes get hurt, are damaged; even more homes and shops are at risk as a result.

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Johnson to implicate the Queen in electoral shenanigans

Admittedly honesty is far from Johnson’s forte. Accordingly, I should not be so surprised that Johnson can simultaneously cry out for an imminent election and prorogue parliament for a Queen’s speech and new legislative session. 

Quite simply, it is not the function of the Queen to present an electioneering address on behalf of the Conservative Party. Having already abused the function of the Queen by illegally advising her on an overlong prorogation, Johnson is merely running true to form in forcing the Head of State to front an election pitch.

We have to make it clear that this is wholly unacceptable and that if he is intent on prorogation, he cannot concurrently expect an election in the near term.  Parliamentary sessions are seldom shorter 150 days, the shortest session in recent times was 65 days.  If the Queen’s speech is not voted down, we must insist there should be a reasonable period, perhaps six months, during which the government should try to work through its programme. We would press for a referendum on whatever it is Johnson has to offer within this period.

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WATCH Online hustings for party President

You can watch the whole of the online presidential hustings below. The event was chaired by Lorely Burt last night. Questions were submitted by members on a range of issues. You can see the two candidates, Christine Jardine MP and Mark Pack, outlining their vision for the role of the President and the future of the party.

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Heidi Allen: I joined the Lib Dems to stop Brexit, heal the rifts and rebuild the UK

A very big welcome to Heidi Allen, our 19th MP.

Over on the Lib Dem website, she has written about why she took the decision to join, saying that Jo Swinson’s party was the only one in Britain offering to stop Brexit, heal the rifts in society and stop Brexit.

When I became an MP in 2015, I could never have imagined we would find ourselves in this position. Through the prudent and practical decisions taken during the coalition years, the economy was recovering and our country was on the up.

Coming from business, joining the Conservative Party seemed the logical thing to do. But two general elections and an EU referendum later, the landscape has shifted beyond all recognition.

In February 2019, I resigned from the Conservatives to sit as an Independent MP, because I recognised the Party had drifted irreversibly to the right and was more concerned with its own survival than the national interest.

The party had become utterly unrecognisable, uncompassionate and willing to wreck the economy and peace in Ireland by not just contemplating, but actively courting a No Deal Brexit.

The European Elections in May 2019 highlighted the need for MPs to work together in the national interest, putting aside party interests. Voters were crying out for a Remain Alliance to offer an alternative to the future portrayed by Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage.

Believing that if you get the right people around a table anything is possible, I have always been comfortable with cross party working. So through the Summer and into the Autumn, as an independent broker, I have worked with the Liberal Democrats, Green Party, Plaid Cymru and the Independents to build that Remain Alliance across England and Wales through the organisation I formed, Unite to Remain

Confident that good progress has now been made on building that Remain Alliance, I recognise that as with most things in life, I am stronger and more effective when I am part of a team.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I know that the best way to serve my constituents and country is to join the Liberal Democrats.

Now is the time to stand shoulder to shoulder with, not just alongside, those I have collaborated and found shared values with.

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7 October 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems: Govt grovelling over food standards to try and secure US trade deal
  • Swinson: Corbyn could be the block to stopping a No Deal
  • Heidi Allen joins the Liberal Democrats (see here)

Lib Dems: Govt grovelling over food standards to try and secure US trade deal

Responding to the reports from a leaked document stating that the Department for International Trade will try to lower the UK’s food standards to secure a trade deal with the United States, Liberal Democrat shadow Foreign Secretary Chuka Umunna said:

The promises made by Boris Johnson and the Conservative Government that the UK would have a whole

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Heidi Allen joins the Liberal Democrats

You kind of know when you get a WhatsApp message inviting you to a Federal Board briefing at 9pm that someone is about to be joining us.

I think most of the Board guessed right this time:

Heidi becomes the 19th Liberal Democrat MP.

To be honest, when I’ve heard her talk about people who are really struggling with compassion and empathy, I’ve felt like she’s one of us.

In an interview with the Independent, she says that another 20 want to follow her:

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Online Presidential hustings at 7pm tonight

There is an online hustings for the two Presidential candidates tonight at 7pm until 8pm.

Here are some relevant links:

RSVP form for the event

Put forward your questions for the candidates

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Lord William Wallace writes… Brexit endgame?

This feels like the endgame for Brexit – and quite possibly for Boris Johnson. Briefings in Sunday papers on how the prime minister will refuse to resign when Parliament next votes him down – remember, he hasn’t won a single vote yet – to force the Queen to dissolve Parliament and let him fight an election on the ‘betrayal’ of Brexit suggest that he doesn’t expect the latest negotiations to succeed, and doesn’t know how to evade the terms of the Benn ‘Surrender’ Act.

The tactical judgement of Johnson’s advisers is that they can win an election on these terms, …

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Election countdown: Candidates selected in Scotland

Everyone is expecting a General Election in the next few months. Liberal Democrats have been preparing for this and have selected candidates in most seats. 

Here’s the current state of play in Scotland:

Held seats

Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross: Jamie Stone MP

East Dunbartonshire: Jo Swinson MP

Edinburgh West: Christine Jardine MP

Orkney and Shetland: Alistair Carmichael MP

Formerly held seats

Argyll and Bute: Alan Reid (former MP)

Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk: Jenny Marr

Dunfermline and West Fife: Rebecca Bell

Gordon: James Oates

Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey Denis Rixson

North East Fife: Wendy Chamberlain fights the most marginal seat in the country where the SNP and his wife make up the majority.

Ross, Skye and Lochaber: Craig Harrow

West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine: John Waddell

Elsewhere, the following candidates are now in place with other selections still to come.

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7 October 2019 – the overnight press release

Cable: Psychiatric vacancies demand annual workforce plan

Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary Vince Cable has called for the Secretary of State for Health to produce an annual workforce plan following a report by the Royal College of Psychiatrists which reveals one in ten consultant psychiatric roles are unfilled.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary Vince Cable said:

With children not accessing treatment and with psychiatrists under huge amounts of pressure due to staff shortages, the Conservative Government does not have a grip on the serious situation in mental health services.

Today’s survey is another example of how the Conservatives plans for the NHS are fundamentally

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Learn about Northern Ireland’s only Liberal MP – event tomorrow in Belfast

A book has just been published by the Ulster Historical Federation telling the story of Sheelagh Murnaghan, Ireland’s only Liberal MP.

‘In Northern Ireland politics, I don’t know which is the greatest obstacle: to be a WOMAN, a CATHOLIC or a LIBERAL. I am all three.’

Sheelagh Murnaghan was a remarkable person. She was the first female barrister to practise in Northern Ireland; a talented sportswoman who played hockey for Ulster and Ireland; the only Liberal Party MP 1961-9) in the 50-year history of the Northern Ireland Parliament.

In a country riven by sectarianism, she was consistently a voice of reason and humanity, endlessly challenging the widely-held assumption that it was normal and right to ‘look after one’s own people’ and ‘do down the other side’. A patriot in the most genuine meaning of the word she tried to save her country from its demons. Her efforts were spurned and Northern Ireland paid a terrible price for that rejection.

However, time would prove Sheelagh to be right, as a torchbearer for human rights, non-violence and respect for the dignity of others, she proved herself to be decades ahead of other politicians and political parties, as many of her original ideas have come to be enshrined in law in Northern Ireland.

I know that this is very late notice, but if any of you find yourselves in Belfast at a loose end tomorrow, there will be a talk on Sheelagh’s life between 1 and 2 pm. The details are here.

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Sal Brinton urges us to THINK about our language

There’s been a lot of discussion in recent days about the language we all use in political discussion and debate.

Today, Sal Brinton has emailed all party members to urge us to play our part in being thoughtful and sensitive in what we say.

Here is her email, reproduced with her permission:

I chair the all party parliamentary group on bullying. We focus on helping young people and we know many schools now use the THINK acronym to teach good communication (Is it True; Is it Helpful; Is it Inspiring; Is it Necessary; Is it Kind?).

As a party, I think we need our own version of THINK:
Is it True
Is it Hurtful
Is it Illegal
Is it Necessary
Is it Kind?

Why am I talking about this now? Over the last few weeks and months, the tone and language of political discourse has become increasingly nasty, hurtful and – for too many politicians – dangerous. We have MPs (of all parties, whether supporting leave or remain) who have been targeted by trolls of the worst kind, who use language to harass and intimidate.

Women, people of colour, LGBT+ people and those with disabilities are particularly targeted and in a clearly hateful way. Diane Abbott is constantly trolled, Caroline Spelman has had to have police support and is standing down, and our own Christine Jardine was unmercifully targeted by SNP trolls.

As Liberal Democrats I hope we all abhor such behaviour. I am sure, like me, you believe that the language we use as Liberal Democrats speaks to our values. But we all need to check our own language because it is far too easy when insults are thrown at us, to respond in kind.

Two years ago, on behalf of the party, I appeared before the Committee for Standards in Public Life as they took evidence about the intimidation and harassment of parliamentary candidates in the 2017 General Election.

I was not there to tell of how many of our candidates had been on the receiving end of such intimidation and harassment – we had witnesses who spoke for themselves with shocking examples.

No, I was there to explain to the Committee what actions our party takes when we discover that a party member has behaved inappropriately, or worse, committed a hate crime. You can see the Committee’s report here. It is depressing reading. But, frankly, things are now much worse.

You will all have seen the debate in parliament last week which has forced us all to think about the language that we use in politics. And earlier this week, Jo Swinson was amongst party leaders who met with the Speaker of the House of Commons, and they agreed this declaration:

“Everyone is entitled to have a view – be they parliamentarian, journalist or a member of the public – and their right to safety cannot in any way be dependent on what that view is or the course of political action they take.”

It is important to remember that as members, under our members’ code of conduct, we have responsibilities as well as rights, and I would ask all of you to think carefully about what you say.

If you are on the receiving end of trolling often the best way to go is to say nothing at all – walking away could help you avoid making a mistake. Never post in anger!

There’s an old football adage “play the ball, not the person”, which is a good starting point, but we also need to think about the boundaries. Have you been upset by language used by an opponent? Is there anything that you have posted that could have been received in a way to upset the recipient, beyond the usual exchange of views? Or make them feel threatened? Or made them feel so worried that they need to go to the police because they fear for their personal safety?

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Observations of an ex pat: While we are divided

Russian President Vladimir Putin may not have actively colluded with Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential campaigns. He may not have plotted with the Brexiteers in the referendum vote of the same year. But he has certainly benefited from the results—BIG TIME

Those results are an erratic president dividing America and angering European allies.  On the other side of the Atlantic it is a Britain hopelessly split over membership of the EU. The turmoil in both countries is proof that even the darkest clouds contain a silver lining for someone somewhere. In this case the main beneficiary is Russia.

Russia is Britain and America’s main foreign adversary. It is in the interests of President Putin that the Anglo-Saxon world’s two main pillars are distracted by domestic divisions so that he is free to conduct an increasingly authoritarian and repressive domestic agenda and pursue foreign adventures abroad.

The end of the Cold War saw an initial change in Moscow’s attitude towards the EU and NATO. But Vladimir Putin has reversed that. He clearly wants to re-establish Russian hegemony over Eastern Europe. The EU and NATO block that ambition. A second Cold War looms if it is not already upon us. But Washington and London are too distracted to notice or do anything about it

Many in the Trump Administration argue that China is the bigger threat. But little is being done about the growing influence of the Eastern giant other than slapping a blanket of tariffs on Chinese goods which only rebounds on the US and world economy. In the meantime China continues to establish its hold on the South China Sea; develop its Belt/Road Initiative; suppress human rights, block the internet and gun down demonstrators in Hong Kong.

The two wannabe super powers are not the only problems. North Korea continues to develop nuclear weapons and the capacity to deliver them, despite President Trump’s “great relationship” with hereditary communist dictator Kim Jong-un. The American president wasn’t bothered by short-range missile tests—and tweeted accordingly. They couldn’t reach the American mainland. But this week Kim launched a missile from a submarine. This means he now has the capability to move the launch pads for his nuclear weapons to within easy range of American cities. There has been no response from a White House under congressional siege.

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It looks like we’re standing down in Beaconsfield for Dominic Grieve

The Sunday Times reports (£) that we are standing down in Beaconsfield to support Dominic Grieve’s run as an independent following his unceremonious ejection from the Conservative Party.

Normally you don’t believe these things – I mean, we were supposed to be standing down in favour of Rory Stewart a few weeks ago and that was never going to happen.

But we do have this one from the horse’s mouth – our PPC in Beaconsfield, Rob Castell.

Dominic Grieve has been a consistent supporter of a People’s Vote, so this makes sense.

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Former Conservative Health Secretary Stephen Dorrell joins the Liberal Democrats

Stephen Dorrell was Health Secretary in John Major’s government and as recently as 2014 was Chair of the Commons Health Select Committee.

Tonight, in an article for The Times (£), he announced that he had joined the Liberal Democrats.

However, we belittle the distinct political traditions of Liberal Democrats, social democrats and liberal Conservatives if we pretend that voices in the “centre” are all the same. The argument for realignment is different. Democratic politics requires its practitioners to build coalitions of people whose views are not identical, but who share political objectives and a commitment to see them translated into reality.

Brexit is the immediate illustration of the issue. Liberal Democrats, liberal Conservatives and social democrats share a strong belief that the UK’s interests are best served by remaining a member of the EU and building in Europe the world’s most effective champion of liberal values. These values, enshrined in the EU treaties, are not, as Vladimir Putin says, “obsolete”; they are the essential ingredients of the success of western civilisation, and liberals should organise to defend them wherever and whenever they are threatened.

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Could you be Jo’s party liaison person?

There’s an interesting job advert coming up today if you fancy being the person who is the link between Jo and the party.

You need to get in quick, though – closing date is a week on Tuesday.

I like the emphasis on two way communication in the job description:

To advise the Leader on all issues relating to the internal workings of the Liberal Democrat Party, and work to ensure the Leader has a strong relationship with the wider party.

Regular interaction with state and EU Liberal Democrat parliamentary groups and their staff to ensure a two-way flow information with the Leader. Maintain a close working relationship with members of Party HQ based staff, especially the campaigns, fundraising, communications and membership departments, and the policy team.

Regular interaction with Liberal Democrats in local government – LGA, ALDC, council group leaders – to ensure a two-way flow information with the Leader.

Regularly interact with SAOs, AOs and other relevant party organisations to ensure a two-way flow information with the Leader.

Representing the Leader of the Liberal Democrats at relevant party committees, including the Federal Board.

Have a close working relationship with target seat Parliamentary candidates.

And as you would expect, the person needs to have “fabulous” communication skills and emotional intelligence.

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4 October 2019 – today’s press release

Commonwealth Games organisers fears over Brexit impact revealed by Lib Dems

For the first time the Commonwealth Games organisers deepest fears about the impact of Brexit have been laid bare as a result of a Liberal Democrat investigation.

The Games’ organisers state that there is a risk that the UK’s EU Exit will negatively affect Games deliverables, by changes to Government policy, economic impacts across markets and industries. This could result in potential workforce attrition and cost inflation. They count this risk as the highest possible, 20 out of 20.

In another document, marked ‘sensitive’ from February, the organisers in a meeting …

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Wera Hobhouse highlights women’s mental health

Yesterday, Wera Hobhouse led a Commons debate on women’s mental health.

Before the debate, she wrote for Politics Home about the responsibility MPs have to strengthen these vital services:

Whether it’s desperation over housing, Universal Credit, or Personal Independence Payments, the numbers of people struggling have increased dramatically, exacerbating mental health issues.

And for women, these problems are increasing.

More women – one in five – experience common mental health disorders like anxiety and depression compared with men, according to the charity Agenda, the alliance for women and girls at risk.

Young women are even more vulnerable with 26 percent at risk of these kinds of mental health problems — three times more than young men.

She outlined why it’s so important to make sure women have access to treatment for eating disorders at an early stage:

Many health professionals still reach for the scales when faced with an eating disorder, despite existing guidelines clearly advising against solely using weight for a diagnosis. Girls are turned away even when they are clearly suffering because they aren’t ‘thin enough’.

For over a year, I have been campaigning to #DumpTheScales – demanding shorter waiting times for adult sufferers and more education in medical schools around these deadly disorders.

We need to treat eating disorders as a mental health issue, not just a physical health issue.

And she looked at why women find it difficult to seek help for mental ill health:

A mother may be afraid to ask for help if she fears her children could be taken away. Services often fail to recognize the trauma that women experience through separation from their children, for example through extended stay in medical facilities.

We must think about what models work to support the wellbeing and mental health of women who are carers and mothers.

Mental health is complicated, and we don’t have all the answers yet. However, only by having open conversations about the problems can we can find lasting solutions.

Ultimately, as an MP, my colleagues and I have a responsibility to identify these solutions and safeguard them in law.

Only through strong laws can we build a society where equality, and wellbeing, is guaranteed for everyone.

You can watch her speech here. Unfortunately, the embedding was not working at the time of writing.

Here’s the text of her speech with the interventions:

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If we make Jeremy Corbyn PM, we’ll leave with no deal

Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn often tell me not to quote the Murdoch media. They forgot their own advice when they retweeted a false claim by Sky NewsSky’s Jon Craig implied that Jo Swinson was the only leader opposed to Corbyn as leader of a government of national unity. Yet Anna Soubry the leader of Change UK was at the meeting, and she is resolutely opposed to Corbyn, as are most of the 34 independents. So many that, even if the Lib Dems did support him, Corbyn wouldn’t have a majority.
Nonetheless, the Labour and SNP leaderships constantly push this attack line. As these attacks seem to be worrying a few Lib Dems, let’s consider what would happen if we did what they say.

Corbyn’s policy is to extend article 50, then have a general election. If this results in a Labour government, he would negotiate his own version of Brexit and then have a referendum. Of course, if Johnson won that election, we would instantly leave the EU with no deal. That this doesn’t worry Corbyn raises all sorts of uncomfortable questions.

Ellie Mae O’Hagan, no friend of ours, makes an important point in this tweet. If the Lib Dems installed Corbyn as interim leader, it would devastate the chances of hundreds of Lib Dems trying to unseat Tory MPs. Forget Chuka Ummuna replacing Mark Field, Luciana Berger replacing Mike Freer, Phillip Lee replacing John Redwood. What O’Hagan fails to point out is that, if the Lib Dems committed political suicide in this way, the Tories would be all but guaranteed a majority in the coming election and so the country would almost certainly leave with no deal.

So why are Labour and the SNP laying into the Lib Dems? Why claim our insistence on a compromise candidate for PM will increase the chance of a hard brexit? They ignored us for years, why attack us now?

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A Lib Dem GAIN, a strong hold and a couple of mini surges in last night’s by-elections

Some good results in last night’s by-elections.

First of all, a gain for the party in Somerset for new Councillor

Clarence ward in St Albans is a stronghold for us anyway, but we managed to increase our vote even further with this strong hold. Congratulations to the St Albans team and new Councillor Josie Madoc.

To put it mildly, Clacton is not an area of strength for us, yet Callum Robertson few the flag and saw a 2% vote rise.

It’s really important to have a presence in by-elections like that to build our support and getting people used to voting Lib Dem.

In Cardiff, our vote grew by over 6%. Well done to Sion Donne and team.

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3 October 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Jane Dodds: Politicians must right WASPI Injustice
  • Jane Dodds: Irish border plan designed to fail

Jane Dodds: Politicians must right WASPI Injustice

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds has responded to the WASPI campaign’s defeat in the High Court, claiming it is the responsibility of politicians to right the injustice suffered by WASPI Women.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MP commented:

This ruling will undoubtedly be disappointing for all those women affected. Women who have campaigned tirelessly to reverse the unfair change to their pensions. My thoughts are with all these women today.

This ruling must remind us politicians that it is our responsibility to

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Christine Jardine writes: A president who listens

Waiting for the outcome of the nomination count for Party President felt a wee bit like that scene from The Big Bang Theory where Sheldon explains about Schrodinger’s Cat.

You know, where as long as the box is closed the cat is both dead and alive.

The relief when they cat was actually alive, and I was nominated, was huge.

Now is when the work really starts, in listening to what you want from your new President, and whether I fit the bill.

I have no illusions about how much work is involved, or what it will take to continue to build the wide movement we all want.

But I also know how important it is that the membership has a strong, clear, effective voice. A president who speaks for the members, but more importantly, one who listens to what they want and communicates that to the leadership.

We have a fantastic team at HQ with so many bright, capable people whether it’s in campaigns, fundraising, policy or the press team.

I see the President’s role there as facilitating what they do.

Not directing the operation, after all they are the ones with the expertise, but supporting and making sure that they have what they need from the party infrastructureMost of all I see the President as the link between the members, the staff, the parliamentarians and the public

Communication is the key, both within the party and to the outside world.

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Cole-Hamilton’s pride as Scotland passes smacking ban

If Alex Cole-Hamilton were to slap me, he would, rightly, face the full force of the law. If he were to slap his 5 year old daughter Darcy (which would never happen), he could do so with the full support of the law, which allows “reasonable chastisement.”

That is an inconsistency that he has been campaigning against for years. Today his work and that of many others was rewarded when the Scottish Parliament voted to give children the same protection from assault in law as adults, becoming the first country in the UK to do so.

I’ve known Alex for almost two decades. In that time I’ve teased him on many occasions, always with justification. But there have been many more times when I have been proud of him and today is one of the biggest. One of the reasons I spent a decade trying to get him elected was that I knew he would be an amazing advocate for Scotland’s children.

He’s been working to change the law on physical punishment of children for a long time. And he had an uphill battle trying to change party policy. In 2013, we lost by just 9 votes. Three years later, the result went the opposite way – and overwhelmingly. The proposer of the amendment in favour of keeping the law as it is changed his mind during the course of the debate, persuaded by the arguments. This move ensured Lib Dem support for the Bill today.

Today’s Bill was originally brought by Green MSP John Finnie but it had cross party support across Holyrood – except from the Conservatives, of course.

Here is Alex’s speech in favour of the Bill.

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