Layla Moran: Country in need of long term care plan

Today a Commons report highlights how much the adult social care sector is underfunded.

Layla Moran said that this had to change:

Care workers work tirelessly but instead of getting the support they need they face low pay, falling morale and a high turnover of staff.

The country is in desperate need for a long-term plan to fund the increasing demand for care. That is why the Liberal Democrats propose putting a penny on income tax to raise the transformational investment needed to support care workers and protect the future of care services.

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Sad news: Colin Rosenstiel has died

Many of his old friends and colleagues knew this was coming, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with when it actually happens:

I’ve known Colin for almost half my life. He was a stalwart of the original Lib Dem online community, Cix, back in the day – and in fact he was in there as recently as Saturday. I first met him in real life at the Littleborough and Saddleworth by-election in 1995 where he delivered millions of leaflets.

He really was a proper, old school awkward liberal and he showed that off particularly well in the immigration consultation session in Southport in March, which was the last time I saw him. He was an incorrigible transport geek, so it was fitting that his last speech from the conference floor was on the emergency debate on trains.

He was a Councillor in Cambridge for 33 years. His wife Joye represented the same ward for 28 years.

He and I profoundly disagreed about a few things, most notably all women shortlists, but that didn’t stop us having our arguments and then going to the pub, virtual or otherwise,  and talking about something else. Over the years, I learned a lot from him about liberalism, about the importance of local government, about the history of the party. I always felt I never really needed to understand the intricacies of the Single Transferable Vote because there was always Colin. Heaven knows how this party would have conducted its elections without him. He was doing the job right from the start in 1988 and has a full record of all of them here.

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Tom Brake: Trump “reckless and short-sighted” on Iran nuclear deal

Even Boris Johnson can see the sense in sticking with the Iran nuclear deal.

Unfortunately, his tv diplomacy over the weekend seems to have come to nought as Trump has decided to withdraw the US from it. This news is not going to come as the biggest surprise we’ve ever had but it still makes the world just a bit more unstable.

Tom Brake called the decision short-sighted and reckless, and looks to the EU for leadership, saying:

Trump’s decision to scrap US participation in the Iran nuclear deal is reckless and short-sighted. The deal is far from perfect, but

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A massive shoutout for Thursday’s winners N-Z

Part 1 here. The dust has settled from last Thursday, and Liberal Democrats have posted 75 net gains on the day. But a mere number hardly does justice to all the teams behind each result. So here are some shoutouts. In alphabetical order. Well done everyone, brilliant work.

Apologies for any errors – this is coming from local council websites, some of which are easier to use than others. If it isn’t clear which seats are gains are I’ve just given a total, but please shoutout in the comments if you know.

North Hertfordshire +3

6 wins with 3 net gains.

Oxford +1

5 wins with 1 net gain.

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A massive shoutout for Thursday’s winners A-M

The dust has settled from last Thursday, and Liberal Democrats have posted 75 net gains on the day. But a mere number hardly does justice to all the teams behind each result. So here are some shoutouts. In alphabetical order. Well done everyone, brilliant work.

Apologies for any errors – this is coming from local council websites, some of which are easier to use than others. If it isn’t clear which seats are gains are I’ve just given a total, but please shoutout in the comments if you know.

Barnsley +1

The marvellous Hannah Kitching becomes the first Liberal Democrat on Barnsley council for a decade. To win from a standing start to win with a majority of 778 is remarkable. I confess to helping. Hannah also polled a creditable 10.6% in the south yorkshire mayoral election on the same day, beating my 10.05% in the Police Commissioner election of 2016.

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Embracing Diversity

In September 2017 I wrote an article for Libdemvoice called Time to Stand and Stare. The basic message of my piece was that it is important to take time for quiet contemplation to ensure the action we do then take is well considered and hopefully therefore more effective.

This approach is well summed up by this quote from the Quaker John Wilhelm Rowntree (1868 – 1905);

In the noisy rush of modern life we need periods of quiet when the soul may feed in peace on that which shall nourish it for action

It was Wilhelm’s inspiration that was behind the founding …

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Richmond shows progressive alliances do work

Buried amid the dramatic and highly welcome headline of the Liberal Democrat landslide on Richmond-upon-Thames Council was a rather overlooked factor –that, when progressive alliances are done properly and sensitively, they can work and be a great asset to the party.

In 2014 the Conservatives won thirty-nine of Richmond’’s fifty-four councillors. This time we won thirty-nine but, while we picked up the other fifteen councillors four years ago, this time the Tories only got eleven, with the other four going to the Greens. And those four Greens are in part a Liberal Democrat …

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So, where do the Liberal Democrats go from here?

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

These famous words, spoken by former Liberal, Winston Churchill, in 1942 after the second victorious Battle of El Alamein, could very well sum up where the Liberal Democrats find themselves after what many would see as a very satisfactory comeback after a few difficult years. But, as they say, one swallow doesn’t make a summer. There is no guarantee that even moderate success at local elections will translate into success in a General Election. Despite the accusation …

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Welcome to my day: 7 May 2018 – the future’s bright?

I don’t know about you, but it was nice this week to wake up to a set of election results that didn’t make you think, “Oh no, not again…”. And so, thank you to all of you, whether you won or lost, for doing so much to lift the spirits of Liberal Democrats up and down the country.

Here in the Creetings, we’ve got rogue peacocks, and you’d be amazed just how noisy they can be. Luckily, if all else fails, one of my fellow Parish councillors is a pretty good shot…

And so …

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Post-election reflections on building a Lib Dem core vote

This year I decided to carry out an experiment. I had the feeling that our strategy of Targeting had swung too far one way and was over-allocating resources, adding to the haemorrhaging of our Core Vote and leading our supporters, ex supporters and electorate at large to view the LibDems as increasingly becoming irrelevant.  

So I decided to do some work in the non-Target ward in Ealing that I had been allocated without using any human or material party resources. I also did not work with the other “paper candidates” in the Ward as I did not want to detract from their efforts in helping in the Target wards.

This was the result of my limited effort in my Ward Ealing Broadway:

Ealing Broadway Ward
Vote 2014 Vote 2018 Share 2014 Share 2018 Change Pct Change
Dorothy Brooks/Joyce Onstad 524 789 4.72% 6.24% 265 50.57%
Patrick Salaun 442 627 3.99% 4.96% 185 41.86%
Mark Sanders/Toran Shaw 391 572 3.53% 4.52% 181 46.29%
Total LibDem 1357 1988 12.24% 15.72% 631 46.50%
Total Vote 11090 12644
Electorate 10390 10641
Turnout 38.49% 41.30%

And here is the result in Ealing Common Target Ward where much of the Ealing resources were concentrated:

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Former Lib Dem MEP Bill Newton-Dunn is one of our Richmond councillor gains

Amongst our many gains in Richmond in the early hours of Friday morning was a very familiar face, pointed out by Michael Mullaney on Twitter:

And here’s the proof:

I was delighted when Bill joined the Liberal Democrats – which always seemed a better fit for his boldly pro European ideals …

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Lib Dems can heal divides with useful answers to people’s problems

Between the two big parties, the Liberal Democrats are significant now, uniquely placed to be able to work for the health and healing of our divided and unhappy nation, having proved our capacity in the local government elections.

In these elections, Labour and the Conservatives reached stalemate again, neither being able to see how these results could foretell sufficient success in the next General Election. Their divisions are deep and their failings clearer than ever, the one tainted by the Windrush scandal, the other by voters’ lack of confidence that they could tackle anti-semitism amongst their members.

The divisions in the country are just as lamentable. Whether it is town versus country in the voting, old versus young, Leavers versus Remainers, British people are head to head in pointless confrontation, 

It is our job to show how the country can come together again. For what everybody wants is for our country to be successful. For our people to thrive, our jobs and businesses to flourish, and our country to continue to occupy a proud place in the world.

Nobody wants our economy to grow at a lesser rate than in the leading countries of the G7, for industry and services to face uncertainty and obstruction, for our place in great international co-operative ventures to be at risk, or for our people to see their standard of living in decline. 

Yet Government is stuck, unable to decide on how a customs arrangement to keep trade flowing freely between Britain and the EU can be made without preventing new deals with the rest of the world and threatening the open Irish border. Opposition is equally stuck in wanting the deal that only remaining in the EU can provide while refusing to oppose Brexit. Both fear the Brexiters as well as each other.

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Local Elections 2018: Enjoy the success and build on it

Here are some pictures of happy, successful Liberal Democrats from all over the country. Enjoy – and then then get out there and build on the good results.

Whether you think of the 2018 as our best local elections showing in 15 years or the second biggest rise in councillor numbers for this set of elections in our history, there are lots of exuberantly joyful moments to savour:

We made 6 gains in Haringey!

Happy hugs in Liverpool

And a happy dance in South Cambridgeshire

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Finally, a little bit of sunshine

Before I say anything else, I just want to send a virtual hug to all those valiant Lib Dem campaigners who put their heart and soul into their wards and didn’t win.   Unlike many others in recent years, though, you can see a glimmer of hope for the future. I hope you can see that you’ll get it next  time. There will be many who like Claire who lost by 2 and Elspeth who lost by 90 ish for whom there is a way in.

Even in my wildest moments of optimism, I didn’t envisage us gaining quite as many seats as we have today.  The results prove that people are ready, not just to talk to us again, but to head down the polling station and vote for us again. Everyone’s talking about us doing well. As I pointed out last night, anything over 43 gains would be our second best result in our entire existence as a party for this particular set of elections. We actually got 75. Now that doesn’t rebuild the 440 we’ve lost since 2010, but it gives us a foothold.

Look at what we’ve done. I’d heard good things about South Cambridgeshire and was pleased when they absolutely smashed it. One of my people of the day is Bridget Smith, the new Council Leader, who has exactly the right attitude for that sort of thing:

There were amazing results in Kingston and Richmond and Three Rivers too. We held off the Tories in Sutton – that caused me a few palpitations about 3am, I’ll tell you. John Leech has a partner to back him up in Manchester. Gains in Hull, Oxfordshire, holding on to South Lakeland, getting back Three Rivers, Peter Taylor winning the Watford mayoralty. Holding on to Eastleigh and Cheltenham.

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Dr Michael Thrasher: “The Lib Dems have a strong basis for saying they are back.”


Dr Michael Thrasher has said on Sky News:

You would have to say the Lib Dems have done well.. The Lib Dems have a strong basis for saying they are back.

Hat-tip: Commenter, Michael1.


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+++We’re now up 75 seats and four councils!




From the BBC summary at 18:21 with 149 of 150 councils declared:
Labour 2296 up 55
Tories 1330 down 26
Lib Dems 536 up 75
Greens 39 up 8
UKIP 3 down 123
Others 142 up 11

We have gained control of Richmond, Kingston, Three Rivers and South Cambridgeshire and won the Mayoralty of Watford.

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+++Lib Dems gain control of Kingston!



As intimated in my earlier post, it has now been confirmed that the Lib Dems have taken control of Kingston from the Tories – we won 39 seats to their 9!


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+++Lib Dems gain control of Kingston

As intimated in my earlier post, it has now been confirmed that the Lib Dems have taken control of Kingston from the Tories – we won 39 seats to their 9!

As we reported earlier, we have also taken control of Three Rivers, South Cambridgeshire and Richmond.

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+++ We’re now 76 seats up


The BBC now have these results after 146/150 councils declared:

Labour 2239 seats – up 58
Conservative 1319 seats – down 21 (no wonder they got their celebration in early)
Liberal Democrats 516 seats – up 69
Greens 35 seats – up 5
UKIP 3 seats – down 123
Other 142 seats – up 12

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Last night it looked good, today it’s not looking bad either :-)


The BBC summarises the local election results so far as follows:

Labour 1837 seats – up 58
Conservative 1230 seats – up 7
Liberal Democrats 444 seats – up 49
Greens 34 seats – up 5
UKIP 3 seats – down 121
Other 142 seats – up 16

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Former Conservative Councillor joins Liberal Democrats

Former Torbay Conservative Councillor Mark King has joined the Liberal Democrats. He left the Conservative group on the Council 6 months ago and has now joined us. From Devon Live:

He said: “It is about the failures of the Conservatives to understand the impact of their policies on the bay and the fresh start the Liberal Democrats promise in Torbay and across the UK. I want to see them take control of the bay in 2019.

“I am very concerned about the increasing economic decline of the resort, the increased poverty and deprivation and the growing housing crisis I have tried hard to counter in an Executive role.

“The Liberal Democrats understand the need to generate business and build economic success from the grassroots while ensuring council services meet community needs with the protection of the vulnerable being paramount.

“Anyone who agrees that Torbay needs to see change will know that only the Liberal Democrats can beat the Conservatives under our electoral system. Votes for anyone else just help the Conservatives win.”

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Observations of an ex pat: Death around the world

What makes us human? When do we cease to become human? Or, to put it another way, when do we die?

The questions are becoming an increasingly important as cases such as Alfie Evans and Charlie Gard grab the headlines and pull at the world’s collective heartstrings.

Fifty years ago a group of scientists gathered at Harvard Medical School to discuss the issue. Up until then it hadn’t been an issue. If your heart stopped beating and your lungs stopped breathing, you were dead. But then along came modern science with its ventilators and heart pumps.

So the Harvard scientists asked the question: What makes humans unique? What organ of the body differentiates us from other forms of life and without it, we would cease to exist. The answer they came up with was the brain.

On the basis of that meeting, the US Congress passed the 1981 Uniform Death Act which said doctors could declare a person dead when the brain was deemed to have suffered irreversible and permanent damage.  The individual states followed suit (with variations on the theme) as did most Western countries.

By 1968 the need for a definition of death had become increasingly necessary. Insurance companies demanded to know how long they would be liable for the medical bills. Doctors wanted to know when they could harvest organs for transplant purposes.  The victims’ families demanded reassurance that their loved ones would not be declared prematurely dead so that their organs could be harvested.  When was a person widowed? When should life insurance be paid?

So brain death became the marker for when doctors  signed the necessary paperwork. But there were exceptions.  Orthodox Jews and Muslims believe that a person does not die until the heart and lungs stop and argue that doctors attempts to declare their loved ones brain dead is a denial of their right of freedom of religion. This is recognised by the state of New Jersey, Israel, and the Islamic world but leads to court cases elsewhere. 

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8 am update: “The Lib Dems are the only ones to have won on the night”

So said the BBC News website first thing this morning.

I’m become very used to writing “Oh my days, how awful” posts after local elections. This morning, the picture is much more positive.

We’ve ended the night, with two thirds of results in, on +41 councillors which compares to 31 for Labour and 3 for the Tories.

We’ve retained control in places like Cheltenham, Eastleigh and, after a few wobbles, Sutton.

We gained Richmond on Thames pretty handsomely. I was being told in the run-up to the election that it was on a knife edge. We ended up gaining …

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Brilliant result in Richmond – and high hopes for Kingston

Liberal Democrats have gained control in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, leaping from 15 seats to 39. This is in spite of the deal with the Greens which allowed them to take 4 seats.


Historically we controlled Richmond from 1986 to 2002, then from 2006 to 2010.

Meanwhile, in nearby Sutton, which we have controlled for the last 28 years, we retained control, though with fewer seats than before, dropping from 45 to 33 out of 54.

Liberal Democrats: 33 (-12)
Conservatives: 18 (+9)
Independents: 3 (+3)

Attention now turns to Kingston upon Thames which lies between Richmond and Sutton. Their count starts at 10am today, and we have hopes of taking back control there as well.

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2 am update – Lib Dems making steady gains all across the country

Just a quick update of where we are at 2am. We are currently on +14 seats and generally doing a little better than expected.

Every English local election night since the formation of the Coalition has been an absolute nightmare to sit through. Tonight is much more pleasant.

John Curtice says that we are having our best night at local elections since the formation of the coalition.

We look like we might gain Richmond, though it’s going to be close.

We’ll take a bit of a hit in Sutton and party sources are less sure than they were earlier that …

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Local elections open thread

Well, there’s nothing more we can do. The polls have closed. Knackered candidates and their teams who have been up since dawn now head to their counts. A massive thanks to everyone who has been involved in the campaigns – the literature writers, data whizzes, organisers, deliverers, canvassers, candidates, poster people, agents, people who keep the Lib Dem army marching on its stomach, people who allow their homes to be used as temporary HQ

We know that this isn’t going to be a massively brilliant night for us. This one in the electoral cycle has been historically brutal. The best we’ve done in the last 20 years is a net gain of 43 seats and we have to go back to 2002 when Charles Kennedy was leader to find that.

Let’s look in more detail.

In 1990. when we were pretty low in the polls, we lost 78 seats

Our best night ever came in 1994, a pretty good year for us after we’d won a fair few seats off the Tories, we gained a whopping 428 councillors

In 1998 we lost 7 seats

In 2002, we gained 43 seats

In 2006, bearing in mind we were at the height of our powers post Iraq and had won the Dunfermline by-election a few months previously, we had the massive net gain of 2 seats. 

In 2010, bearing in mind we did not so badly in the General Election that day (not brilliantly, but not badly), we lost 132 councillors.

2014 was an absolute horlicks. I went back and read the posts I’d written at the time and they made me want to cry as I remembered how bruised and battered we all felt then. We lost 310 fantastic councillors. 

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And Music Services continue to be cut…

Lib Dem MP Stephen Lloyd is supporting a campaign to save the East Sussex Music Service. He wrote in his newsletter:

Sadly the budget cuts just keep rolling in from East Sussex County Council, and they’re now planning severe reductions to our music services.

The absolutely brilliant East Sussex Music Service (ESMS) are celebrating their 84th year; they deliver music lessons to around 7000 children in schools across the county per annum and 1000 children, aged between 4 and 18, attend area music centres each week. Despite this success, the county council have announced plans are being made to close the music instrumental service by 2019. This will result in the loss of valued music provision for many and destroy a service which has introduced thousands of Eastbourne children to music over the decades.

I believe such proposals are unnecessary, wrong and shortsighted. I’ve also been told that staff believe savings can be made without slashing such a much loved music service. We need County Hall to pause, listen to the people they serve and go back to the music staff to ask them how the funding circle can be squared, rather than just propose a decimation of the entire instrument teaching provision. A decision which if it goes through, will be horrendously difficult to reverse. Please join me in opposing this cut by signing the online petition here.

I remember being amazed when studying the music systems of Albania under Enver Hoxha’s regime, that every child, from nursery onwards, was taught music. By the age of four, those showing talent were given individual lessons. By the age of six, some children were learning two instruments. Music was a celebrated part of culture, not a sideline. I wondered why we didn’t do the same.

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Welsh Lib Dems say Whole Systems Approach needed to children’s services

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have warned that a rigorous approach to children’s services is necessary to secure the quality services needed. This follows from the WLGA claiming children’s services in Wales are nearly at “crisis point.”

The past nine years have seen a 149% increase in court applications to remove children into care. Between March 2009 and March 2007 there was a 27% increase in the number of children in care in Wales.

Cllr Rhys Taylor, Welsh Liberal Democrat Equalities Spokesperson commented:

Whilst the WLGA are right to highlight financial constraints as a key

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It’s Election Day!

Good luck to all our candidates up and down the country! We wish you and your teams well for what will be a very long and exhausting day. Some tips to survive:

  1. Have fun! There is nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of getting out the vote on election day and all the excitement of the count. Make sure you enjoy as much of it as you can. It is a wonderful experience which many of our new members are having for the first time.
  2. Hydrate. Drink lots of water, it’s a long day and brains as well as body need to be kept alert and oiled for action.
  3. Listen to your Committee Room manager or Campaign Organiser. They will have an overview of how things are going and will be targeting resources where they matter.
  4. Have some downtime and take short breaks, but don’t distract others who might be beavering away.
  5. Make sure you eat. It’s a bit like the television show 24 where the characters never seemed to stop to eat. An election day can be like that. Eat healthy carbs and avoid too many chocolate bars and cakes. The sweet rush lasts a little while, but sandwiches and bananas give you the endurance to last the day.

Remember to vote – it is easy to become distracted with election day chaos and forget! I remember my first election campaign, getting to the polling station at 9:45pm as I had left voting until the end. Well actually, I forgot. Someone reminded me. So do cast your vote!

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Wera Hobhouse secures PM’s backing for her call to make upskirting a criminal offence

Today, Wera Hobhouse secured the backing of the Prime Minister for her quest to make the awful practice of up skirting an offence.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJennie 21st May - 8:05am
    Crikey, that Rob Parsons post is depressing
  • User AvatarRuth Bright 21st May - 8:03am
    Still waiting for action on rights to leave for our own candidates!
  • User Avatargavin grant 20th May - 11:19pm
    I'll be there tomorrow. Back to the place I grew up and joined the Young Liberals 49 years ago!
  • User AvatarGordon Lishman 20th May - 9:09pm
    I thought it interesting that he was apparently recommended by the Archbishop of Canterbury for the role of wedding preacher.
  • User AvatarGordon Lishman 20th May - 9:06pm
    I never noticed the charm - perhaps I wasn’t worth the effort. He did once tell me the mnemonic he used to remember my name....
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 20th May - 9:00pm
    Ah, I see, Michael 1, you are putting the student fees in the context of the proposed lifetime learning account of perhaps £30,000 for every...