Tag Archives: Alistair Carmichael

29 June 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Fraud industry booming on the Conservatives’ watch
  • Independence Isn’t the Answer to Westminster Overreach
  • Defence spending facing £1.7 billion cut by 2025

Fraud industry booming on the Conservatives’ watch

Responding to UK Finance’s Annual Fraud Report, showing total fraud losses up 8% to £1.3bn in 2021, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

On the Conservatives’ watch, the fraud industry is booming. Criminal gangs are lining their pockets at the expense of innocent, often vulnerable people.

People need far better protection from these vile fraudsters, but the Government is leaving them to fend for themselves. Boris Johnson and Priti Patel want to simply pretend

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22 March 2022 – today’s press releases

  • HMICFRS report: Met police needs new leadership not stitch up by Johnson and Patel
  • Oligarch ditches UK mansions after government sanctions delay
  • Nationality and Borders Bill: A traffickers’ charter that will cause deaths in the Channel
  • Patel must stop her assault on British rights and freedoms

HMICFRS report: Met police needs new leadership not stitch up by Johnson and Patel

Responding to the report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) into corruption in the Met Police and the case of Daniel Morgan, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

This shocking report lays bare the ingrained culture of corruption and cover-up at the top of the Met. Police officers put themselves at risk every day to keep us safe, but they are being let down by poor leadership.

The Met urgently needs strong new leadership. Choosing the new Commissioner is too important to be a stitch up between Priti Patel and Boris Johnson – especially when Johnson is under criminal investigation by the Met himself.

The next Commissioner must be someone who will shake things up and stand up to government ministers – and that’s someone Johnson and Patel will never choose.

That’s why Liberal Democrats are calling for a cross-party confirmation vote by both Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee and London’s Police and Crime Committee, to stop the Government stitching up this crucial appointment.

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14 March 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Ministers losing track on Ukrainian refugee visa u-turns
  • Homes for Ukraine: Refugees still trapped in bureaucratic limbo
  • Economic Crime Bill: Lib Dems close ‘Oligarch Loophole’

Ministers losing track on Ukrainian refugee visa u-turns

Responding to Sajid Javid’s confusion this morning over a family reunion route for Ukrainian refugees, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

The Government has u-turned so many times over visas for Ukrainian refugees, it seems even its own Cabinet Ministers have lost track.

Three weeks on, it is unacceptable that the Home Office is still turning away desperate families fleeing Putin’s war, and snaring them in red tape at the border. It is shameful that even Ukrainians working in our NHS cannot bring family members to join them.

The Government must make one more u-turn, and allow any Ukrainian refugee to come to the UK without having to apply for a visa first.

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Ukrainians deserve better than being stuck in Home Office visa appointment queue

Responding to Home Office figures which show that just 300 visas have been issued to Ukrainian refugees under the Family Scheme, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

Ukrainians fleeing for their lives deserve far better than being stuck in a queue for a Home Office visa appointment.

People across the UK want to welcome Ukrainian refugees with compassion, but instead Priti Patel is keeping them out with pointless extra bureaucracy. No amount of spin can disguise the inadequacy of her response.

Our country has a proud tradition of offering sanctuary to those in need. The Government should remember

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Refugees: Shameful that Ukrainians escaping Putin’s terror are being turned away

Responding to the news that Home Secretary Priti Patel is now investigating a humanitarian route for Ukrainian refugees without family in the UK, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

It is shameful that Ukrainians escaping Putin’s terror are being turned away from the UK. It flies in the face of our country’s proud history of providing sanctuary to people fleeing war and persecution.

Priti Patel has spent her time as Home Secretary closing down safe routes for refugees to come to the UK. For her to say she’s just started ‘investigating’ those routes for Ukrainians is a welcome

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Lib Dems stand in solidarity with Ukraine and call for UK to do more for refugees

The Russian Consulate in Edinburgh, like many places around the UK,  has seen peaceful demonstrations every day since the Russians invaded Ukraine.

Today was the biggest so far, with Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton and Christine Jardine MP.

Yesterday, Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper attended a similar event in St Albans

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LibLink: Alistair Carmichael: SNP pension plans a good reason to stay in UK

So the SNP Government has assured Scots, with all the confidence of a Vote Leave spokesperson saying that there would be £350 million a week for the NHS, that their State Pensions would continue to be paid by the UK Government if Scotland became independent.

Will this persuade older Scots, who overwhelmingly voted to remain in 2014, that independence is worth pursuing? Alistair Carmichael, in a column for the Scotsman, thinks not.

By Blackford’s reckoning, if Scotland secedes from the United Kingdom we can still keep the good bits (like the currency or our pension entitlements) while leaving behind the bad bits (like the taxes that pay for the pensions). The SNP believe that they can reject any responsibility to pay for your pension, but demand that our neighbours to the south cover the tab.

I am no economist. There are others who have outlined far more eloquently than I could the challenges that our people and pensioners would face if the SNP actually tried to embark on this “offloaded pensions” policy – and the harsh spotlight this throws upon the fiscal challenges of secession generally.

He points out an inherent contradiction at the heart of the SNP’s thinking:

It seems more than a little odd that the SNP think that the rest of the UK is simultaneously irredeemable and yet eminently reasonable – made up solely of monstrous, thieving Tories who nevertheless will empty their pockets at the moment of asking. Is this Schrödinger’s United Kingdom?

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Yet more chaos in Downing Street

Yet another week where the Prime Minister has floundered, and the country has struggled.

The week started with a Tory former chief whip urging Boris Johnson to withdraw an insinuation about the Labour leader Starmer refusing to prosecute the serial sex offender Jimmy Savile and which saw scenes where Starmer was accosted outside Parliament.

The UK Statistics Authority last week officially rebuked Boris Johnson and Priti Patel for misleadingly claiming that crime had fallen, following a letter of complaint by Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng then claimed this weekend that fraud isn’t something people experience in their day-to-day lives.

Analysis by the Liberal Democrats show there were 100,393 fraud offences referred to the police in London last year, 8,957 fraud offences in Surrey which is home to Kwasi Kwarteng’s constituency of Spelthorne, and 11,829 fraud offences in Essex which includes Priti Patel’s seat of Witham.

Boris Johnson refused to agree to correct the record, after being challenged to by Ed Davey at PMQs on Wednesday.

Sir John Major’s keynote speech at the Institute for Government on Thursday was damning, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

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Carmichael: New partygate picture shows Boris Johnson is not fit to be PM

Within the past hour, Pippa Crerar at the Mirror has tweeted out yet another picture of a Downing Street “work event”, this time showing the PM next to a tinsel clad staffer with an open bottle of bubbly on the desk.

Our Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said that this showed that Boris Johnson is not fit to be Prime Minister:

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Forcing ministers (and the PM) to reveal any fines they are given for partygate

Alistair Carmichael has tabled a rather niche motion in Parliament – the Ministerial Disclosure Bill. This would force Boris Johnson to admit to any fixed penalty notices he receives for lockdown breaches.

The Independent covers the story: Bill tabled to force Boris Johnson to reveal Covid fines which could total more than £12,000.

On Tuesday No 10 agreed to tell the media if the Prime Minister was fined as a result of the Met Police investigation into Downing Street parties. But they did not extend that to other ministers, nor did they say they would state the amount of any fines, both of which are covered in Alistair’s motion.

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Carmichael: Put Boris on gardening leave during Met investigation into parties

Alistair Carmichael has called for Boris Johnson to be placed on gardening leave and removed from Number 10 while the Metropolitan Police investigate the numerous rule-breaking parties that took place.

In many work settings, people under investigation are placed on leave whilst the proceedings are ongoing. This is to prevent them from attempting to prevent a fair investigation from being carried out by influencing witnesses or destroying evidence.

It’s been reported in recent weeks that Downing Street staff have been advised to delete emails or texts pertaining to parties, ahead of the Sue Gray investigation.

Whilst Boris Johnson is on leave, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab would be expected to take over running the day-to-day affairs of the Government.

Alistair said:

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‘Elections Bill makes it harder to vote and undermines our democratic rights’ – Alistair Carmichael

The BBC reports:

MPs have backed proposals to introduce mandatory voter ID for elections, a major change to the electoral process in the UK.

Voters will be required to show photo ID at polling stations under measures in the Elections Bill.

Labour says the plan could reduce turnout at elections and discriminate against marginalised groups.

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We must oppose illiberal powers to strip British people of citizenship

Our illiberal Government is trying to strengthen its ability to deprive people of British citizenship. We must take action to worsen a two-tier system of citizenship for those who have been born British citizens.

How did this mess begin?

Originally, the Home Secretary could only deprive naturalised citizens of citizenship, and not if it would make someone stateless. This power wasn’t used until 2002. Then, Labour expanded the power to cover British-born citizens. We were the only major party to oppose. In 2006, Labour expanded the power once again, and again we were the only major party to oppose.

Unfortunately, the Coalition widened the power’s illiberality. In 2014, it expanded the deprivation powers to foreign-born British citizens without dual nationality, allowing them to be made stateless if the Government believed they could obtain citizenship elsewhere.

Under Javid, the Government used this power on a British-born citizen without dual citizenship, on the assumption that they could theoretically become a citizen of another country. The use of these powers also increased. Between 2006-2012, the power was used 21 times – but 104 times in 2017.

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8 December 2021 – today’s press releases

  • PM press conference: Inquiry must look into all Downing Street parties
  • Covid pass app crashes days before vaccine passports introduced

PM press conference: Inquiry must look into all Downing Street parties

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has called for the Cabinet Office inquiry to be extended into all parties that took place in Number 10 last year, along with any that took place in other government departments.

It comes after Boris Johnson confirmed at a press conference today that he has only asked Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to look into the party that took place on December 18 last year, not an earlier gathering …

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25 November 2021 – today’s press releases

It looks as though we’ve had another surge of press releases so we thought that we might share them with you…

  • Channel crossings: Govt must rule out dangerous ‘pushback’ tactics
  • GP Shortages: Only 4-in-10 able to get same-day appointment
  • Nick Fletcher’s Dr Who comments straight out of the 1950s

Channel crossings: Govt must rule out dangerous ‘pushback’ tactics

Responding to Immigration Minister Kevin Foster’s refusal to rule out using ‘pushback’ tactics to turn back small boats in the Channel, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

It is disgraceful that the government is even considering pushing boats back in the Channel after yesterday’s tragic

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LibLink: Alistair Carmichael – Liberalism is the most effective counter to competing nationalisms

writing in the Scotsman, Alistair Carmichael challenges both the SNP’s view that independence is inevitable because so many young people support it and the older voters will die off and the Conservative view that those young people will become more conservative and risk averse as they grow older.

Both of these views are blinkered – and, frankly, complacent. We should have higher ambitions than some kind of “demographic destiny”. When we are talking about no less than the future of Scotland, our people deserve a little more by way of ideas and ideals, and a little less talk of inevitability.

Partisans on both sides of the constitutional divide are kidding themselves if they think they have a lock on our country’s future. The case for independence has not been made – but the stability of our shared community with the rest of the United Kingdom cannot be treated as an afterthought either. In a liberal democracy, we have to respect one another enough to make the case for the values of interdependence and shared prosperity, year on year and day by day.

He cited the experience of Quebec, where support for independence that once seemed inevitable is now much reduced. How did this happen?

What changed was not the demographic “inevitability” of Quebec, but the democratic debate and exchange of ideas. In the aftermath of the 1995 referendum, Liberal leaders and academics alike took on the issues raised by nationalism and independence and responded.

They challenged nationalist narratives head-on and reinvigorated discussions on the federal make-up of Canada. They changed minds – and made the case for a Canadian society of both diversity and shared common interest

And we have to keep winning the arguments to preserve our liberal values:

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UPDATED: Boris leaves Nicola isolated on vaccine passports

According to the Sunday Times (£), Boris Johnson may be about to ditch his controversial plans for vaccine passports in England to access nightclubs and other large indoor venues.

On Tuesday, the prime minister will announce plans to try to keep Covid under control over the winter. He will say that he has abandoned the proposed compulsory certification scheme, which would have forced venues to check people’s vaccine status.

Johnson tore up the proposals after scientists said vaccinations would be an effective first line of defence against a winter wave of the pandemic. But the move also represents a significant concession to Tory backbench rebels who had complained that enforcing vaccine passports would create a group of second-class citizens.

Liberal Democrats opposed the idea on principle on civil liberties grounds and also on practical grounds. The hospitality industry was raging about having to enforce them, it was going to be nigh on impossible to get one if you had had one vaccination in England and another in Scotland and it wouldn’t have been effective anyway given the spread of the Delta variant amongst double vaccinated people.

Alistair Carmichael described them as a “counterproductive illiberal gimmick” in an article for Politics Home to tie in with his urgent question on the issue:

Would you trust this government – this Prime Minister – with personal data of this sort?

We have never been a “papers please society” and if that is to change then at the very least we must be allowed to debate that change.

Once we cede the principle that it is acceptable for the government to regulate in this way not just where we can go and those with whom we can go then we will be at the top of a steep and slippery slope.

As history repeatedly shows us, when people give more powers to government to regulate their lives, governments are never swift to hand them back.

As an aside, when he asked his Urgent Question in Parliament, he had one of the lines of the year:

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Carmichael accuses Scottish Government of flip-flopping on vaccine passports

Alistair Carmichael has accused the Scottish Government of flip-flopping on vaccine passports for domestic use.

Way back last December, when questioned by Willie Rennie, Nicola Sturgeon sounded pretty sceptical about them. Here’s the excchange:

WR: With the great news about the vaccine, people will want to know how the restrictions will be eased. As a Liberal, I am nervous about talk of immunity passports for getting into shops and restaurants or on to planes. Putting personal information on to large databases means risks to privacy and the possibility of fraud, hacking and theft. The World Health Organization questions the value of immunity passports, and the UK Government has said that it has no plans to introduce them. I want to go further, and I think that we need guidance. We might need to make changes to the law to protect people from its misuse. What is the Scottish Government’s policy on immunity passports?

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Cable causes controversy over Uyghurs comments

Our beloved former leader Sir Vince Cable took to a new right wing tv news channel last night to have a pint with Nigel Farage.

During that interview he basically said that we shouldn’t call the brutality that the Chinese authorities are inflicting on to the Uyghur population genocide. He said:

“The use of the word genocide is not right here. There is terrible human rights abuse in many countries of minorities and China is one of them and they have abused those minorities for sure but calling it genocide is hyping the language.”

I wonder if he would consider that Amnesty International were “hyping the language” in their report last month in which they described China’s treatment of the Uyghurs as “crimes against humanity.” Over 160 pages, they outlined horrific human rights abuses:

Agnes Callanard, Amnesty’s Secretary General said:

Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities face crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations that threaten to erase their religious and cultural identities.

“It should shock the conscience of humanity that massive numbers of people have been subjected to brainwashing, torture and other degrading treatment in internment camps, while millions more live in fear amid a vast surveillance apparatus.”

In February, the BBC reported on allegations of systematic rape in detention camps:

Tursunay Ziawudun, who fled Xinjiang after her release and is now in the US, said women were removed from the cells “every night” and raped by one or more masked Chinese men. She said she was tortured and later gang-raped on three occasions, each time by two or three men.

Earlier this year, the US Government described the treatment of the Uyghurs as genocide in its annual report on global human rights practices:

Genocide and crimes against humanity occurred during the year against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang. These crimes were continuing and include: the arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians; forced sterilization, coerced abortions, and more restrictive application of China’s birth control policies; rape; torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained; forced labor; and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement.

With that sort of evidence, it’s not hard to see why Vince’s comments have provoked some controversy in the party, even from a senior MP.

Alistair Carmichael said on Twitter that while Vince was a long standing colleague whose views he valued, on this he was wrong:

Other members and party bodies criticised his comment too:

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Focus on Hong Kong

This week’s news included an early “obituary” for Apple Daily, the eponymous newspaper founded by Jimmy Lai, a long-time critic of the Hong Kong and Beijing Governments.

The prediction of closure of the pro-democracy paper by the end of the week followed the arrests of the executives (including the editor-in-chief and the chief executive) and freezing of the assets of the parent company, Next Digital.  All the staff of the publication are expected to resign this week and the last issue may be the June 26 edition.

This news is remarkable to me in 2 respects: 

First, that the charges made against Apple Daily and its executives were based on breaches of the National Securities Legislation (NSL) for alleged “collusion with a foreign country” to endanger national security.  Which foreign country is implicated here?  The US, one assumes, rather than the UK, as there is a narrative that Hong Kong is a mere pawn in the US-China rivalry.  But do HKers who object to the imposition of the NSL have to collude with any external forces?  Or are they simply objecting because they do not like to see the rights and freedoms that they had grown accustomed to being taken away? 

This new crime of collusion with a foreign country or external forces (one of the 4 new crimes introduced by the NSL on 30 June 2020, the others being “secession” “subversion” and “terrorist activity”) should raise alarm bells for us in the UK too. It would suggest that the more vocal the Lib Dems are in criticising China and the NSL, the higher the risk to our members and supporters in Hong Kong.  

Secondly, the authorities have frozen the company’s core assets even before trial or any legal process, as the NSL operates outside of the HK legal system.  As the paper is unable to pay their staff and even their utility bills, they are forced to shut-down.   Here is a clear example of an attack on independent media and critics of the government in the name of national security, and attacking where it hurts, at its finances.   

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Priti Patel failing on legal routes for refugees

As Refugee Week begins, the Liberal Democrats have tabled a motion in Parliament calling on the Government to establish safe and legal routes for refugees to come to the UK.

The motion, tabled by the party’s Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP, calls on the Government to resettle 10,000 refugees each year, as well as a further 10,000 unaccompanied refugee children from elsewhere in Europe over the next 10 years.

It follows Home Office data showing that just 353 refugees were brought to the UK last year, compared with 4,968 the year before.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

The UK has a proud history of providing sanctuary to those in need, but now the Conservative Government is turning its back on refugees.

Priti Patel is threatening to punish refugees who don’t come here by safe and legal routes, but at the same time she is failing to provide those routes.

Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to make an ambitious, ten-year commitment to resettle 10,000 vulnerable refugees a year from Syria and other dangerous conflict areas.

That is the best way to combat people smuggling and human trafficking, and to prevent people from making dangerous attempts to cross the Channel.

The full text of the motion is as follows;

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LibLink: Alistair Carmichael: Independence would do even more damage than Brexit

In an article in the Scotsman, Alistair Carmichael has pointed out the similarities between Scottish independence and Brexit. He said a hard border between Scotland and England would be inevitable:

Just as it is uncontested that ursine mammals defecate in forested areas, it is not a matter of debate that, under SNP plans, an independent Scotland would have a hard border with the rest of the United Kingdom.

He points out the harsh realties of independence:

The reality is that if Scotland separates from the rest of the UK and cuts itself off from its “single market” then there will have to be customs posts and officials, checks and barriers between Scots, our businesses and our biggest trading partners.

It is a simple matter of common sense – and for those lacking in common sense it is also a fact affirmed by experts in international trade and economics, the same experts who voiced the same concerns about Brexit and are in the process of being proven correct.

He compares Sturgeon’s language to that of Farage and Johnson over Brexit:

It speaks volumes that Nicola Sturgeon’s statements around independence and trade barriers mimic almost to the word the arguments of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson – that we would somehow be re-engaging with the wider world by building yet another hard border.

And an SNP candidate’s claims that a hard border would create jobs was no barrier to a campaign visit from Sturgeon:

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Brick thrown at Scottish Lib Dem HQ

So, yesterday morning, this happened:

This would have been awful if it had happened to any political party, but you always feel it more deeply when the building is full of your friends, people you really care about.

You have to wonder what goes through the mind of someone who thinks it is ok to put human beings in danger like that.

Elections are stressful enough for any party’s staff. By this time, they’ve been working ridiculous hours for months, and the idea of work/life balance has completely gone out the window.

They shouldn’t have to worry about missiles coming in the window or any other threat to their safety.

Alistair Carmichael, our campaign chair, said:

This morning a brick was thrown through the window of our HQ in Edinburgh.

“Fortunately no one was hurt but it could have been very different and our staff are understandably shaken by this.

“I’m dismayed that this kind of behaviour seems to have taken root in Scotland. Political campaigning should be about the clash of ideas, not about acts of violence.

“I would like to thank Police Scotland for their work in detaining a suspect. I also want to thank all our party staff who have been affected by this incident but who continue to give their all in delivering our campaign in this election.”

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21 March 2021 – the day’s press releases (part 2)

  • Reverse “deadly” aid cuts, say Liberal Democrats
  • Liberal Democrats call for greater measures to increase accessibility in education
  • Government must commit to 10k refugees a year, Liberal Democrats say

Reverse “deadly” aid cuts, say Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats have called on the UK Government to reverse “unprincipled, unjustified and downright deadly” cuts to international aid.

The motion passed at its Spring Conference reaffirmed the Party’s commitment to the UK contributing 0.7% of GNI on Official Development Assistance and slammed the merging of the Department for International Development with the Foreign Office.

It also demanded the UK Government play a ‘proactive role in debt forgiveness and relief initiatives’ for developing countries struggling with the economic and health impact of Coronavirus.

Speaking after the motion was approved, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and International Development Layla Moran said:

The UK’s global reputation is disappearing fast. The decision to cut aid to the world’s poorest is not only wrong but short-sighted and strategically incompetent. The Conservatives are putting nukes before prosperity.

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21 March 2021 – the day’s press releases (part 1)

  • A real-terms pay cut is an insult to NHS workers
  • Patel must drop proposals to restrict right to protest
  • Liberal Democrats call for Autism support

A real-terms pay cut is an insult to NHS workers

Liberal Democrats have pressed the Government to give NHS workers a proper pay rise during an emergency motion passed at the party’s Spring Conference.

Munira Wilson MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Health, Social Care and Wellbeing, welcomed the motion being passed:

A real-terms pay cut is an insult to all the NHS workers who have gone above and beyond during this time of national crisis.

This Government seems obsessed with wasting millions of pounds on vanity projects yet can’t find a penny more to give nurses a proper pay rise. What kind of Prime Minister prioritises a new multi-million pound press conference room and expensive flat renovation at the expense of giving nurses a pay rise?

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What is even more fun than a raffle?

It is well known that Lib Dems like few things better than a good raffle. Somewhere back in the mists of time – even before the bit about no one being enslaved by ignorance or conformity – it must have been written, “wheresoever two or three are gathered together they shall tear up strips of cloakroom tickets and contest the ownership of cheap wine and a box of Milk Tray.

Forgive me then, if I offer a heretic’s view. There is one thing I like even better than a raffle and it is an auction. I suspect I am not alone. Many times I have seen my former MP colleague, Don Foster, auction a five pound note at Lib Dem dinners and watched as bids reached three figures after a bout of frenzied bidding.

It is, therefore, in the spirit of public service that Scottish Liberal Democrats have brought to you an online auction to add a few extra quid to the coffers ahead of elections to the Scottish Parliament in May. The site is

https://scottishlibdems.aucsys.com

Head over there now and get bidding.

You may be able to bag yourself some great holiday accommodation for that post-lockdown break (or next year if that suits better);

You can pick up some blue chip political memorabilia – books, pictures, a framed Private Eye cover signed by Sir Vince Cable or a campaign Tee Shirt from Jon Ossoff winning campaign in Georgia that finally handed control of the US Senate to the Democrats;

You can bid to spend time with some of our party’s stars – tea for two with Nick Clegg or Sarah Olney, lunch with Ed Davey, a guided walk up the Coniston Old Man with Tim Farron or a lesson in Palestinian Cookery with Layla Moran.

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Lib Dems tell Cressida Dick to resign

I have been a bit worried of late that the Lib Dems, at least in England, have been a bit bland and have been pulling the punches they should have landed.

Well, credit where it’s due. After the utterly disgraceful scenes on Clapham Common tonight, Alistair Carmichael, Luisa Porritt and Ed Davey have written to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick to tell her she should resign.

Here is their letter:

Dear Commissioner,

The scenes this evening of the policing of the Clapham Common vigil in memory of Sarah Everard are utterly disgraceful and shame the Metropolitan Police.

The vigil this evening was a peaceful one brought together in the most horrific of circumstances.

Across the country, countless women have told their own painful stories of harassment and abuse. Your officers should have been standing in solidarity with those on Clapham Common tonight not being ordered to disrupt this display of grief and peaceful protest.

This was a complete abject tactical and moral failure on the part of the Police.

We therefore call on you to consider your leadership of the service and whether you can continue to have the confidence of the millions of women in London that you have a duty to safeguard and protect.

Yours sincerely ,

Ed Davey MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Luisa Porritt, Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London

Alistair Carmichael MP, Spokesperson for Home Affairs

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Munira Wilson: Government has duty to facilitate safe protest

I’m feeling frustrated, to be honest, that Reclaim these Streets vigils over the country have been cancelled after Police made clear to organisers that they could be hit with heavy fines. The events have now mostly been moved online and I’ll be taking part at 6pm tonight, on my doorstep with a candle to remember Sarah Everard and the other women killed by men and to assert the right of women and girls to go about their business in safety – and, crucially, without the fear that it is clear we all experience.

Now I’m about as Covid-cautious as you could possibly get. I’ve barely been out in a year. But I’m also a liberal and my instinctive reaction is that our right to protest is a fundamental civil liberties. In these times, you need to be responsible and protest in a Covid secure way, but the right to stand up and be counted for a cause you believe in is vital.

In recent days, several Liberal Democrats have been talking more about civil liberties.

I’m glad to see that Munira Wilson, our MP for Twickenham and health spokesperson, has made some robust comments on the vigil bans:

Women and girls should be able to walk down our streets safely and without fear. I completely understand why people feel moved to attend vigils or protest about this. It is deeply disappointing that the Metropolitan Police have refused to help make it happen.
“No one wants to see crowds of people at a time when social distancing is so important to save lives. But Reclaim These Streets is committed to organising Covid-safe vigils and the High Court made it clear that such an event can be lawful.
“The Government has a duty to facilitate safe protests. The way the Government has curtailed protest rights and is trying to do so even after we emerge from the pandemic is deeply concerning. Liberal Democrats will always defend the right to protest.”
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Alistair Carmichael MP writes…Electoral reform can happen, but it will take concerted action

When I joined the Liberal Party in the 1980s, I was optimistic that the UK would replace its unrepresentative voting system in the not too distant future. Fast forward to 2021 and we remain stuck with First Past the Post and, at first glance, little reason for optimism.

The current set-up has never been ideal for the UK or indeed any modern democratic society. First Past the Post results in governments elected by a minority of voters, with policies supported by a minority of the electorate being imposed on the majority. This leaves far too many people feeling excluded and unrepresented. With a distorted link between voters and MPs, how can the UK call itself a representative democracy>

The answer, as we know, is Proportional Representation (PR). Replacing First Past the Post with a fair alternative will make our democracy truly representative. Pluralism is a key tenet of democracy. As a liberal and a democrat, I recognise the need for a voting system that allows multi-party politics to show itself rather than be hidden by the illusion of First Past the Post. Proportional Representation provides a framework for multi-party politics to flourish and voters to be represented.

We have all heard the tiresome arguments against PR, all the more worn-out considering that the UK is now the only democracy in Europe to use the outdated First Past the Post system for its main elections. The myth that reform would end the constituency link is nonsensical, considering the range of systems that can preserve and even strengthen it by improving voter choice both at the ballot box and in between elections. Those resistant to change also argue that a switch to PR would be a risky, unnecessary experiment. Considering that Proportional Representation is used in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and is well established across Europe, this doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

All major opposition parties apart from Labour support Proportional Representation for UK-wide elections and groups like Make Votes Matter are pushing the debate in the right direction. The establishment of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Electoral Reform is the latest boost in the campaign, ensuring a strong coordinated voice in parliament to champion the need for change.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 52 Comments

Two ways the Liberal Democrats stood up for people who have to quarantine in hotels

This time tomorrow, anyone arriving into

the UK from certain countries, and from any country into Scotland, will have to undergo ten days of mandatory quarantine in a hotel, an experience for which they will be charged £1,750.

I get that these measures are necessary. We do need to make sure that we limit the spread of new variants of Covid-19.

My issue, to be honest, is that I don’t think we should be charging for this if we think it is necessary to save lives. It’s arguable that it should have been done months ago. Typically both governments are acting too late and are being less than competent about the details of the implementation.

And we most especially shouldn’t be charging people who can’t afford it. If you are in a minimum wage job and a parent or a sibling dies or becomes seriously ill abroad, you are going to want to, in some cases need to, be with your family, to look after them. You should not be prevented from doing so because you can’t afford the cost of the quarantine.

The Scottish Government’s transport minister Michael Matheson announced on Tuesday that there would be a welfare fund to help people who couldn’t afford the cost of this quarantine.

But with less than 24 hours to go, we have scant details of what form this will take, how people will apply for it and how much they will get. Will it meet the whole cost or not?

Willie Rennie called on the Scottish Government to get its act together on this:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 21 Comments
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