Tag Archives: Alistair Carmichael

The Election rumour mill is buzzing….

Speculation is growing that the Prime Minister is about to call an election on the back of the inflation figures this morning. Jeremy Hunt certainly seemed very smug as he did the media round.

This is either everyone getting over excited on the basis of a bit of chatter, or something more substantial.  The Sunday Times’ Tim Shipman had this to say on Twitter:

Once again there are snap election rumours. I have been a sceptic every time so far. More importantly, people I trust who are in the loop have told me it’s nonsense. This time, those people are silent

If he asked the King to  dissolve Parliament today, the election would be on 27th June, next week, 4th July. Scottish schools break up in the last week of June and no doubt those children whose schools are polling stations would be delighted with an extra day off. An election in the first week of July would see many Scots away on holiday, though. But he did say at PMQs that the election would be in the second half of the year, so 4th July meets that criteria.

I suspect most of us would be relieved to have the election out of the way so we can enjoy the Summer. Certainly, every held and target seat has been ready for any eventuality for a while. On the other hand, some people will already have booked holidays on the basis that he wasn’t going to call an election till after the Summer recess.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 13 Comments

1 May 2024 – yesterday’s Federal press releases

  • Waters containing shellfish suffer from 200,000 hours worth of sewage
  • Conservatives “legalising car theft” as over three in four cases go unsolved
  • Up to 1 million pensioners in Tory seats to be dragged into paying income tax
  • Davey: Time for Sunak to face the music

Waters containing shellfish suffer from 200,000 hours worth of sewage

  • Amount of sewage spilled into shellfish water jumps by a fifth
  • South West Water and Southern Water sewage discharges into shellfish water doubles
  • Liberal Democrats call for urgent action and increased testing

This year saw a large jump in the number of hours sewage was discharged into waters containing shellfish, Liberal Democrat analysis of Environment Agency data shows.

Last year, high levels of E.coli were discovered in oysters and mussels In Cornwall, leading to the closure of 11 shellfish fishing waters, with the Environment Agency blaming sewage discharges.

Now, it has been revealed that water firms in England discharged 192,248 hours worth of sewage into shellfish areas, up 21% from the year before (158,797 hours).

The worst offender was South West Water, which doubled the hours of sewage dumped into shellfish water from 49,863 in 2022, to 98,149 last year. Their total sewage spills into these designated areas also rose to a staggering 12,927.

Southern Water also doubled the hours of sewage discharged into these areas, to 72,943 hours this year.

Since 2020, there have been 108,360 sewage spills into shellfish designated waters.

Some of the country’s best known fishing areas have been hit by these dumps. The longest spills recorded were:

  • Chichester Harbour: A total of 6542 hours of sewage discharged over 286 spills
  • Exe: A total of 4089 hours of sewage discharged over 214 spills
  • Morecambe Bay: A total of 3927 hours of sewage discharged over 223 spills

The Liberal Democrats have called for an urgent investigation into water quality in shellfish habitats, as well as a clampdown of sewage being discharged into waters used by the fishing industry.

Liberal Democrat Environment spokesperson, Tim Farron MP said:

This environmental scandal is putting wildlife at risk of unimaginable levels of pollution. The food we eat, and the British fisheries industry, must be protected from raw sewage.

The public will be rightly furious that England’s precious shellfish, including lobsters and crabs, are also being subjected to filthy sewage dumping.

We need the Environment Agency to carry out an emergency investigation into the water quality of shellfish habitat. Ministers need to clampdown on water firms polluting fishing waters. It is a national scandal that this Conservative government is letting water firms destroy shellfish habitat. It is getting worse on their watch and there will be real concerns for the fishing industry if this trend continues.

Conservatives “legalising car theft” as over three in four cases go unsolved

The Liberal Democrats have accused the Conservative Government of “legalising car theft” as new figures reveal that in 2023, three in four car theft cases went unsolved and police took up to 24 hours to respond to calls.

The Home Office’s own latest figures show that in 2023, a whopping 108,934 cases of car theft went unsolved – equivalent to 298 cases a day. This accounted for a staggering 77% of all car thefts recorded. Meanwhile, just 3% of cases resulted in a suspect being charged or summonsed.

Posted in News and Press releases | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 4 Comments

30 April 2024 – yesterday’s (Federal) press releases

  • Uber Ambulance: Thousands in need of urgent care making their own way to A&E
  • Homelessness figures: Ban no fault evictions before more families made homeless
  • Ed Davey says voters are fed up with “out of touch Conservatives” on visit to Tunbridge Wells
  • First Rwanda flight is “cynical nonsense”

Uber Ambulance: Thousands in need of urgent care making their own way to A&E

  • Patients in need of “very urgent emergency care” making their own way to A&E increased by nearly 40% since 2019
  • The number of elderly patients in need of emergency care going to A&E not in an ambulance has shot up by more than 20%
  • The Liberal Democrats warn Conservative government is creating an “Uber ambulance crisis”

There has been a near 40% increase in the number of patients in need of “very urgent emergency care” making their own way to A&E over the past five years, Freedom of Information requests (FOIs) by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

NHS Trusts were asked for the number of patients who arrived at their A&E departments not in an ambulance, broken down by the urgency and severity of their condition.

504,276 patients classed as Code 2, meaning they were deemed to be in need of “very urgent emergency care”, arrived at A&E not in an ambulance in 2023. This was up 11,500 (2.4%) compared to the previous year, and up 141,000 (38.9%) compared to 2019.

The Liberal Democrats warned the Conservative government is creating an “Uber ambulance crisis” and called on ministers to urgently invest in ambulance services, staffed hospital beds and social care to reduce delays.

The figures also show there has been a particularly sharp rise in elderly patients making their own way to A&E despite needing urgent care. 96,000 patients aged over 65 in need of “very urgent emergency care” made their own way to A&E last year, up 45.4% since 2019.

53 of 140 NHS Trusts responded with complete data meaning the true numbers of patients needing urgent care making their own way to A&E is likely to be far higher.

Some Trusts saw staggering rises in the number of patients arriving in A&E not in an ambulance with very urgent emergency care needs. In York and Scarborough there was a more than eight-fold rise in Code 2 patients coming to A&E not in an ambulance with the figure last year reaching 7,669, up from just 808 in 2019.

Posted in News and Press releases | Also tagged , , , , , and | Leave a comment

Lib Dem MPs contribute to Commons debate on assisted dying

On Monday, MPs debated a petition, supported by Esther Rantzen, aimed at changing the law to allow assisted dying. Several Lib Dem MPs contributed to the debate, all making points in favour of changing the law.

Here are their contributions in full:

Christine Jardine

I was thinking today about all those evenings when I was allowed to sit with my parents and watch “That’s Life!”, and how I could never have envisaged this moment. With all the successful campaigns in which Dame Esther Rantzen has been involved in her astonishing career, there can surely be none that has touched a nerve with the British public in so widespread a way as this one. Her involvement with this petition, which 555 people signed in my constituency alone, shows me that there is a momentum among the British public: a desire to see a national debate on the subject and for their Parliament to reflect their view, which we see in so many opinion polls nowadays. It is not a party political issue, but for the record my party, which believes in the freedom, dignity and wellbeing of individuals, has long supported the idea of a free vote in Parliament and would welcome a free vote in the next Parliament for us all to make the choice.

I find myself in the strange position where my colleague Liam McArthur is currently steering a private Member’s Bill on this issue through the Scottish Parliament. If he is successful, I would hypothetically have a choice denied to so many other people in this room—a significant choice. Another Bill that is about to be introduced to the Scottish Parliament by a Conservative MSP is about improving palliative care. Liam and Miles Briggs are working together, because the two are not mutually exclusive. We should see it as a choice between assisted dying or palliative care not for us, but for the individuals affected. They should have the choice.

The time has come when we need to recognise that there is momentum; other parts of the UK will make decisions on this shortly. I must be honest with Members and say that I do not know what decision I would make. I saw my parents die very different deaths: my father suddenly from a heart attack when very young, and my mother very slowly of a horrible asbestos-related disease. I do not know what they would have wanted. I do not know what I would want, but I do know that I want everybody to have the choice that they want. The time has come when we should recognise this petition and what it asks us to do, and look at a very narrow form of agreement to assisted dying when someone has a terminal diagnosis and has made that decision at a time when they were mentally capable of doing it, and when a medical intervention is involved. Ultimately, they get to make the last, perhaps most important and most personal decision that they could make.

Sarah Dyke

It is an honour to serve with you in the Chair, Mrs Latham. I thank the hon. Member for Gower (Tonia Antoniazzi) for bringing forward this important debate. I also thank the petitioners, including 645 in Somerton and Frome, and everyone who reached out to me ahead of the debate. Your experiences have touched me deeply, as have the experiences of hon. Members here.

One constituent wrote to me about her son, Jonathan, who died in a hospice at the age of 46. His family told me that the tragedy of his death was made so much worse by the lack of provision for assisted dying. Jonathan’s mother, Denise, gave me a quote that I think sums up today’s debate very well:

“It’s not about ending life, it’s about shortening death”.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 2 Comments

10 April 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Government amendment on “deeply damaging” non-disclosure agreements does not go far enough to protect victims
  • Shoplifting: Govt continues to let organised gangs off the hook
  • Cole-Hamilton criticises state of sewage monitoring
  • SNP burn through ScotWind cash in record time
  • McArthur responds to opposition to assisted dying bill

Government amendment on “deeply damaging” non-disclosure agreements does not go far enough to protect victims

After tireless campaigning by Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, the Government in the House of Lords has tabled an amendment to the Victims and Prisoners Bill that ensures non-disclosure agreements preventing victims from disclosing information to the police or other bodies (including confidential support services) cannot be legally enforced.

Responding to the tabling of this amendment, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said:

The Liberal Democrats have long been campaigning to end the deeply damaging practice of non-disclosure agreements. This amendment is a welcome move that will help victims to access the support they need.

But while this is a step in the right direction, the Government is not going far enough in giving victims their voice back.

We need a complete ban of NDAs in cases of sexual misconduct, harassment and bullying to ensure that no victim is silenced.

Shoplifting: Govt continues to let organised gangs off the hook

Responding to the news that assaulting a shop worker will be made a separate criminal offence in England and Wales, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

For too long, the Conservative Government have been sitting on their hands while hardworking shopkeepers are left to face the brunt of the shoplifting epidemic alone.

As the majority of shoplifting cases go unsolved, the Conservatives has repeatedly failed to get even the basics right of tackling this issue – something their new gimmicks won’t change.

It is now vital the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary invest in proper community policing and ensure all shoplifting thefts are investigated.

The government is currently letting organised criminal gangs off the hook and leaving shopkeepers hugely vulnerable.

Cole-Hamilton criticises state of sewage monitoring

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has called on the SNP and Greens to get tough with Scottish Water as it was revealed that in three local authorities there is no monitoring of sewage dumping at all and in ten more local authorities just one or two sites are monitored.

Posted in News, Press releases and Scotland | Also tagged , , , , , , and | Leave a comment

4 April 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Police taking up to 28 hours to attend burglaries
  • Sharp decline in STEM teacher numbers
  • Scottish Liberal Democrats respond to Loch Lomond Highland Games cancellation

Police taking up to 28 hours to attend burglaries

Average burglary response times have increased by a shocking 25% in just one year, with some forces taking an average of 28 hours for an officer to arrive at the scene, damning figures uncovered by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

The figures were obtained through a series of Freedom of Information requests to all police forces in England. 26 forces provided responses.

Burglaries are often considered as Grade 2 priority incidents, which most police forces aim to respond to within one hour. The College of Policing defines these as “incidents where a witness or other evidence is likely to be lost”, and “a degree of urgency is still associated with immediate police action.”

But in the 2022/23 financial year, it took an average of 9 hours and 8 minutes across police forces for an officer to turn up to the scene when a burglary was reported. This is an increase of 25% from the previous year, when average wait times across police forces stood at 7 hours and 17 minutes. 20 of the 26 police forces reported longer wait times in 2022/23, compared to 2021/22.

When compared to figures from 2020/21, the deterioration in wait times was even more stark. 11 forces saw their burglary response times more than double in that time period. South Yorkshire experienced the largest deterioration in wait times, which increased by a shocking 443% – up from 2 hours and 21 minutes in 2020/21, to 12 hours and 47 minutes in 2022/23.

The figures also revealed a disturbing postcode lottery, with response times varying significantly depending on the police force. The worst performing force was Northamptonshire, with a staggering average response time of 28 hours and 2 minutes for burglary calls. They were followed closely behind by Durham, where victims were left waiting nearly 26 hours for an officer to arrive. Meanwhile, average response times in Bedfordshire were nearly 15 minutes, while Cumbria response times sat at just a little over one hour.

It comes just months after the latest Home Office statistics revealed that 3 in 4 burglaries went unsolved in the year ending September 2023.

The Liberal Democrats have slammed the Conservative Government for these figures, arguing that years of ineffective resourcing have left local police forces overstretched, under-resourced and unable to effectively respond to local crime. This includes taking more than 4,500 community officers (PCSOs) off the streets since 2015.

The party is calling for a return to proper community policing, where officers are visible and trusted, with the time and resources to focus on tackling neighbourhood crime like burglaries.

Posted in News, Press releases and Scotland | Also tagged , , , and | 2 Comments

29 March 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Travel chaos: 237,000 rush hour trains cancelled since 2019
  • Blue light bill bombshell as emergency services face £144m fuel and insurance costs

Travel chaos: 237,000 rush hour trains cancelled since 2019

  • Average of 130 morning rush hour trains cancelled every day since 2019
  • Most cancelled train in Britain is the 6.40am from Cardiff to Nottingham
  • Lib Dems warn “passengers are having to roll the dice every day” as trains cancelled at short notice

A shocking 237,000 morning rush hour trains have faced cancellations since 2019, figures uncovered by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

This is equivalent to an average of 130 morning service trains being cancelled per day. The data, obtained from Network Rail through a Freedom of Information request by the Liberal Democrats, shows the total number of trains between 6am and 9am that have been either been fully or partly cancelled since 2019.

2023 saw 55,829 morning rush hour train services either fully or partly cancelled, a 10% rise on the previous year and the worst of any year since 2019. The most cancelled service was the 06:40 train from Cardiff Central to Nottingham, with passengers facing a staggering 68 cancellations in 2023, more than once every five days. The train operator with the worst record was Northern Trains with 25,578 morning services cancelled since 2019.

It comes as passengers are hit with painful rail price hikes, with fares rising by 5% in 2024 and 5.9% in 2023. The Liberal Democrats are calling on the government to tighten powers to sanction failing train operators, along with a freeze on rail fares.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Transport, Wera Hobhouse MP said:

The Conservative Government has hammered passengers with rail fare hikes and a train network that simply cannot be relied upon. Passengers are having to roll the dice every day, uncertain as to whether they will get to their final destinations on time, or even at all.

To add insult to injury, instead of sorting out the near unusable network, ministers have punished passengers with ever higher ticket prices.

This Conservative Government has let rail operators fail their customers without any fear of punishment. It’s time for the government to freeze rail fares for passengers, and sanction train companies who are running rail services into the ground.

Blue light bill bombshell as emergency services face £144m fuel and insurance costs

Emergency services are set to pay an “eye-watering” £24.6 million more in fuel and insurance costs compared to costs five years ago.

Posted in News and Press releases | Also tagged , and | 6 Comments

WATCH: Alistair Carmichael’s speech to Conference

On Sunday morning, Alistair Carmichael gave his keynote speech to Conference. It was as funny, liberal and hard=hitting as you would think.

Governments and babies’ nappies need changing often, much for the same reason, he said.

Liberal Democrats will have no truck with the demonisation of desperate people. We will crush the people smuggling market by giving people safe and legal routes to get here, he promised.

 

He said that Liberal Democrats mustn’t just tell people what we’re against. We must say what we are for. We champion the rights of the individual to do what they like as long as it doesn’t harm others.  We also understand that meaningful freedom means pooling freedoms to form communities and upwards to nation states.

We are a party of law and order, he said, because we can’t be free if we don’t feel safe to leave our homes as he attacked the Conservative record on community policing.

He highlighted how the Conservatives are upping use of facial recognition technology like that used in China and how that had never been authorised properly by Parliament. Any influence we have in the next Parliament will be used to put the money wasted on this into frontline policing.

He warned that we might be sleepwalking into a surveillance state. He tackled that line much favoured by those who want to lead us down an increasingly authoritarian path “If you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear.” We are all perfectly entitled to hide things. It’s called privacy.

He reminded us of some of Labour’s failings on civil liberties – their “authoritarian streak a mile wide” with DNA databases and 90 day detention. We will not support any of that agenda should they go into power.

Liberal Democrats are not about splitting the difference between the Tories and Labour. We trust the people, they want to control them. We demand a change in the way we are governed. We demand a stronger, greener, fairer and more United Kingdom.

We need to get out there and fight of that door by door and street by street as if the future of our nation depends on it – because it does.

Watch the whole thing here:

The full text is below.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 2 Comments

11 March 2024 – today’s press releases (part 1)

  • Lee Anderson: PM cannot govern his own party let alone the country
  • David Neal: Home Office in a state of disrepair
  • Frank Hester: Sunak must return donations and rule out peerage
  • “Early childcare the key to fighting poverty” – Welsh Lib Dems push for fully integrated childcare system in Wales

Lee Anderson: PM cannot govern his own party let alone the country

Responding to reports that Lee Anderson will defect from the Conservatives to Reform, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper MP said:

Rishi Sunak’s authority lies in tatters after the man he personally appointed to be Deputy Chairman of the Conservatives has defected to another party. This is a Prime Minister that cannot govern his own party let alone the country.

Even now Sunak is too weak to rule out Nigel Farage joining the Conservative Party. It just shows that there is now hardly a cigarette paper between the Conservative Party and Reform.

David Neal: Home Office in a state of disrepair

Responding to the comments made by the former Independent Borders Inspector David Neal to the BBC, the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

These comments confirm what we already suspected – the Home Office is in a state of total dysfunction and disrepair.

Nothing is working how it should. Now, we don’t even have a Chief Inspector to provide the scrutiny that is so desperately needed.

To think that this Conservative Government can push forward with their failing Rwanda policy while ducking accountability is disgraceful. The Home Office cannot just withhold reports and information that they don’t like.

At the very least, its implementation should be delayed until the Government can get its act together and appoint a Chief Inspector.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , and | Leave a comment

7 March 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Resolution Foundation reveals £8bn pensioner tax bombshell in Budget
  • “All the hallmarks of a backroom deal”- Welsh Lib Dems react to decision to keep new controversial Senedd voting system
  • Donelan scandal: Lib Dems demand ethics advisor probe and Science Minister to step aside whilst investigation ongoing
  • Carmichael calls for UK ban on imports from illegal Israeli settlements
  • SNP cancel bus fund after spending less than 6% – Rennie
  • McArthur responds to news that more crimes will not be investigated

Resolution Foundation reveals £8bn pensioner tax bombshell in Budget

Jeremy Hunt’s Budget includes an £8bn tax bombshell for pensioners, analysis from the Resolution Foundation has revealed.

All 8 million tax-paying pensioners will see their taxes increase due to the freezing of income tax thresholds. This will leave the average taxpaying pensioner £1,000 worse off by 2027-28, – or an £8 billion collective hit.

Responding to the analysis, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

Buried in the small print of this Budget is a disgraceful £8 billion pensioner tax bombshell.

People who have worked hard and done the right thing all their lives are being hammered by Jeremy Hunt with years of unfair tax hikes, leaving them an average of £1,000 worse off each.

This Conservative government has shown their true colours, pensioners are not their priority. They would rather cut taxes for the big banks than look after those who have given so much for so long to our society.

“All the hallmarks of a backroom deal”- Welsh Lib Dems react to decision to keep new controversial Senedd voting system

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have described the decision to keep the new Senedd voting system as having “all the hallmarks of a backroom deal”.

From 2026, votes will be cast for parties instead of individual candidates as part of plans to expand the Senedd.

Critics of the new voting system say that it takes power away from the voter and places it in the hands of political party bosses.

Posted in News, Press releases, Scotland and Wales | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , and | 9 Comments

Lib Dems react to Budget

Well, there you go. Another Conservative budget served with more invective directed against the Lib Dems than you might expect. You would be forgiven for thinking that they were frightened of us in the Blue Wall. Tim Farron was quick to jump in on Twitter:

The Chancellor wouldn’t waste his breath slagging off the Lib Dems if he wasn’t terrified of losing to us.

A speech carefully crafted into soundbytes for social media. Lots of impressive sounding numbers, but being a big number doesn’t mean it’s an adequate number. It’s so annoying when politicians of all flavours do this. Here’s £xoo million to build y million houses. Why don’t they express themselves in terms that actually reflect the human impact and the scale of the problem?  Because their solution is simply not good enough.

Anyway, what do our leaders make of the electioneering effort put in by Jeremy Hunt today? Ed says that it’s time to just get on with the Election:

This is a bottom-of-the-barrel Budget from a Conservative government that has given up on governing. Rishi’s recession is being followed by Hunt’s hangover, with years of unfair tax hikes while local health services are stretched to breaking point.

This Budget had nothing to offer for people seeing their mortgage soar due to Conservative chaos or being left waiting for months in pain for NHS treatment.

The public will see this for what is: a desperate last throw of the dice by a Conservative government that has neglected the NHS, trashed the economy and overseen a record fall in living standards. It couldn’t be clearer that we need a general election now so voters can finally kick this tired and out-of-touch government out of office.

The thing is, people still feel under a lot of economic pressure. They blame the Government for it and that is bound to affect their vote.

By-election winner Helen Morgan echoed Ed’s message:

Don’t be fooled by the Chancellor’s efforts to pull the wool over people’s eyes. This budget won’t touch the sides for people facing soaring mortgage bills, paying more at the fuel pump, and seeing the cost of going to the shops rise every week. We need a General Election now.

Helen also mentioned a crucial omission:

The Chancellor spent a lot of time listing parts of the country today (notable exception of Shropshire). Yet the Budget itself includes NO mention of rural areas and NO mention of farming. Further proof the Conservatives don’t care about the countryside.

Alistair Carmichael says that voters are past listening to the Conservatives;

The Chancellor has tried to paper over a Tory recession and Tory tax hikes which have hit families across the country. Ministers have searched for election gimmicks but voters are past listening. Few would take this government at its word after years of falling living standards.

Wera Hobhouse was right to point out that the extension of the Household Support Fund for 6 months was far from enough to tackle poverty when the safety net has so many holes in it that it is barely there any more:

I am glad that the Chancellor has heeded my calls to extend the Household Support Fund in today’s Spring Budget. But for the thousands in Bath who rely on its support to put food on their plates and heat their homes – a sixth month extension simply doesn’t cut it.

Wendy Chamberlain did highlight one Lib Dem win, though:

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

18 January 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Sunak press conference: Out of touch and out of ideas
  • UK Stats Authority criticises Sunak over asylum backlog claim
  • “The Tories have failed Port Talbot” – Welsh Lib Dems

Sunak press conference: Out of touch and out of ideas

Responding to Rishi Sunak’s press conference on the Conservative government’s Rwanda policy, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

This Conservative government crashed the economy, sent mortgage rates spiralling and has made it almost impossible to see a GP.

Instead of tackling these major challenges, Rishi Sunak’s government is too busy fighting over an unworkable and expensive policy that is destined to fail.

It just confirms how desperately out

Posted in News and Press releases | Also tagged , , , and | 1 Comment

10 January 2024 – today’s press releases

  • PMQs Horizon scandal: It should never have had taken this long to get justice
  • Minister admits Dowden made ‘mistake’ by failing to sack Vennells from £17,500 government job

PMQs Horizon scandal: It should never have had taken this long to get justice

Responding to the Prime Minister’s announcement that the government will be setting forward new primary legislation to overturn wrongful convictions during the Horizon scandal, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson, Alistair Carmichael MP said:

The announcement is to be welcomed but hundreds of wrongfully convicted postmasters should never have had to live this long with such appalling injustice.

It has taken more than four years since the landmark High Court judgment exposed the Post Office’s lies.

Lives have been ruined and families have been devastated.

It should never have had taken this long to get justice. It is only to the credit of all those brave postmasters who campaigned to right this wrong that we are finally seeing the start of progress.

Posted in News and Press releases | Also tagged and | 11 Comments

Lib Dems oppose “moral vacuum” Rwanda Bill

When there has been so much discussion around the party’s messaging and whether it showcases our values enough recently, it is a relief to see our parliamentarians speak out so strongly against the bizarrely named Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill as though just writing something down makes it so.

Alistair Carmichael described the Bill as showing a “grim and illiberal mentality” and would replace our asylum system with a moral vacuum. Here’s his whole speech:

I say sincerely that it is a genuine pleasure to follow the right hon. and learned Member for South Swindon (Sir Robert Buckland). He gave a characteristically thoughtful speech for Second Reading and, more interestingly, laid down several markers for future stages, should we get to that point. This is a most interesting and unusual Second Reading debate; we are seeing played out in front of us a tripartite discussion between one side of the Government, another side of the Government and the Treasury Bench. It is a remarkable spectacle to observe, albeit not a particularly seemly one.

I was struck by the reliance that the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Sir Robert Neill) placed on the references made by the right hon. and learned Member for Torridge and West Devon (Sir Geoffrey Cox) to proceedings in relation to the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc. ) Act 2004. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman observed, that was where the concept of safe countries was introduced. The list of safe countries included all the EU countries except Croatia, plus Norway, Iceland and later Switzerland. It was another piece of legislation that restricted the access of rights to appeal for those whose asylum claims had been unsuccessful. There are perhaps lessons to be learned for us all in how that line of legislation has developed ever since.

The enduring lesson I take is not that that Act was introduced by a Labour Government—a Government that had David Blunkett as Home Secretary—but that the Bill was opposed, with some controversy at the time, by the then Conservative Opposition. They described it as “clumsy and draconian”. They were absolutely right about that and, many years later, we can see exactly where that sort of legislation has taken us. What is it about the Conservative party of 2023 that now finds that sort of legislation so attractive?

Let us not forget that we are dealing with the consequence of the refusal of this Government to prosecute the case for safe and legal routes. Why do we not find people from Ukraine or Hong Kong trying to cross the channel in small boats? It is because we offer them safe and legal routes. The Rwanda scheme is unworkable—we know that because it has never been made to work—and the barriers are well rehearsed, but every time they are thwarted, the response of this Government is to throw a foot-stamping tantrum. Anyone who ever had any doubt about the depth and scale of Tory self-entitlement can see it laid bare here today. The Bill is not about making the system work or providing an effective deterrent; it is simply about trying to bring together a disparate range of forces within their own party.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 13 Comments

23 November 2023 – today’s press releases

  • Autumn Statement: NHS budget slashed by £5bn next year
  • Net migration figures: Conservatives need to accept that their approach isn’t working
  • Welsh Lib Dems leader calls for funding of the arts in Wales

Autumn Statement: NHS budget slashed by £5bn next year

The Conservative Government is cutting annual NHS spending by almost £5 billion in real-terms, figures buried in the small print of today’s Autumn Statement have revealed.

Jeremy Hunt has cut day-to-day spending in cash terms for NHS England in 2024-25 from £165.9bn in his March Budget to £162.5bn in the Autumn Statement, a cut of £3.4 billion.

In real-terms, that will leave the NHS budget £4.7 billion (2.9%) lower compared to 2022-23. It comes despite the Conservative government handing £3.8bn a year of tax cuts to the banks.

Jeremy Hunt also failed to mention GPs, dentists or ambulances once in his Autumn Statement today, despite the crisis facing patients and local health services across the country.

Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP:

It beggars belief that this Conservative government is slashing funding for the NHS while giving billions of pounds of tax giveaways to the banks. It just shows they have got their priorities completely wrong.

Jeremy Hunt failed to mention GPs, dentists or ambulances once in his Autumn Statement, showing just how out of touch he is.

Patients around the country are waiting months in pain for treatment and weeks to get an appointment with their GP. You can’t fix the damage the Conservative Party has done to our economy without fixing the damage they have done to our NHS.

Posted in News and Press releases | Also tagged , , , and | 6 Comments

Alistair Carmichael slams Lee Anderson’s Orkney asylum seekers plan

Lee Anderson has become notorious for saying what many right wing Conservatives think but don’t dare say out loud.

“30p Lee” is a total embarrassment to politics and public life.

Today, he suggested that asylum seekers should be sent to Orkney rather than Rwanda.

This attracted the attention of Orkney’s MP, our own Alistair Carmichael, who said:

This is not a serious proposition. I would be astonished if Lee Anderson could even find Orkney – or in his words “the Orkneys” – on a map. His remarks show inhumanity towards desperate and vulnerable people – and disdain towards island communities to boot.

Anderson has form for brainstorming Tory policy live on air. It is a novel sort of brainstorming as it does not actually involve the engagement of a brain but instead looks more like an exercise in corralling as many prejudices as possible into one space and calling it a policy.

If Rishi Sunak cannot bring his deputy chair into line then the only conclusion is that he approves of these attitudes. Yet another attempt by a Tory MP to kick up dust and distract attention from the failure of their government to manage our asylum and immigration system.

Of course, if only there was an actual solution to the asylum system. Oh wait….

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | Leave a comment

Carmichael warns about increases in helicopter response times

If you regularly face danger at sea, the last thing you will want to hear is that the Government plans to quadruple helicopter response times.

Alistair Carmichael seeks answers from the Government as he holds a parliamentary debate on the future of coastguard services in Parliament.

The debate follows revelations about the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s plans to quadruple the emergency response time for the helicopter service based at Sumburgh in Alistair’s Shetland constituency from 15 minutes to 60 minutes.

The MCA previously “clarified” that the current “readiness” state of 15 minutes is due to remain in place until at least October 2026 — but “discussions relating to readiness states beyond this date are ongoing.” Following further meetings, however, it has emerged that the MCA has already signed a new contract for the future of the Sumburgh service.

Other concerns have been raised that the new service will only run one type of helicopter, raising issues with resilience should a model be grounded. Mr Carmichael has called on the MCA and the Department for Transport to release the full documents relating to the proposals.

Ahead of the debate, Alistair said:

Reports that there were discussions under way in the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to cut back on the helicopter provision from Sumburgh were bad enough. It has now emerged, however, that the “discussions” are effectively already over – as a contract was signed months ago.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 1 Comment

Carmichael warns on new election spending regulations

So, if you’re the Tories and you’re lagging in the polls, you’ve run out of ideas and you’re basically a hot mess masquerading as a Government, but you want to grip on to power because you think you are entitled to it, what do you do?

You can’t gerrymander like the Republicans have done in states all over the US to ensure that they run State legislatures because our boundary setting process is independent.

Well, you could give yourself a massive financial boost by raising the campaign spending limits to a level at which you can comfortably outspend your rivals. And you also raise the levels at which you have to report donations.

In Parliament today, without debate, they slipped out a regulation doing just that.

Now these limits were well overdue a rise, but these limits should be set by consensus between the parties. Not on how much money the party of the rich can expect to raise.

Alistair Carmichael took to Twitter to express his displeasure:

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

Yesterday’s ugly scenes show why the Conservatives must be beaten

I so wish that the focus of yesterday’s marches had been on comforting all those affected by the horrific events in Israel and Gaza and calling for more international effort to find a lasting peace in that region. It’s really important that a relatively small number of ultra right wingers don’t detract from that.

However, the right wing thuggery can’t be ignored, especially as they were emboldened by Suella Braverman’s comments this week.

Those right wing extremists don’t reflect our country. They may think they have the blessing of the Home Secretary but most British people find them utterly repulsive. If Sunak can’t fire Braverman for inciting them because he’s too scared of the right wing extremists in his own party, I despair.

And if he can’t fire her before Wednesday’s Supreme Court judgement on Rwanda flights could give her an excuse to resign in high dudgeon, then he really needs to have a word with himself.

The consequences of such divisive tactics on our society are there to see and I don’t think the majority of reasonable people in the country will want to see more of that on our streets.

The suffering of our fellow human beings in Gaza prompted hundreds of thousands of people to take to the streets of London, overwhelmingly in peace and solidarity. I have been on such marches before. It does worry me though, that people continue to chant things that people will read as anti-semitic or to appear to display support for an organisation who murdered, kidnapped and tortured. Why do that? I’ve always thought that if a marginalised group tells you that the use of a particular phrase is a specific attack on them, you need to find a more inclusive way to make your point and this is no different.

Words really matter. Most people on these marches just want to see peace and an end to human suffering. These events always attract a few people who have more extreme views than that and expressions of hate need to be dealt with, wherever they come from.

Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael spoke of the importance of minding our language.

The horrific cases of antisemitism and support for terrorist organisations that we have seen on the streets of London today need to be totally condemned. It has no place in our society.

Likewise, the violence of the far-right mob earlier and their disrespect of Armistice Day must be utterly condemned. These people are a disgrace towards everything that they claim to represent.

The police need to be commended for their professional and brave work in dealing with these most challenging of circumstances. We should all extend them our gratitude for keeping us safe.

Those who have participated in this hate and disorder should feel the full force of the law.

Many communities are rightfully anxious and fearful right now. We should all be mindful of our words and actions so that we do not stoke further divisions and tensions.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 10 Comments

Suella Braverman must go

My first reaction – several years ago – to one of Suella Braverman’s pronouncements was one of exasperation and incredulity. But it was accompanied by a conviction that not even right wing Tories were going to support her extreme views. I was, of course, wrong.

She not only proposes cruel treatment for vulnerable, underprivileged and desperate people who are either citizens or who want to be one, but she is now doing so from one of the most powerful positions in Government. She wants rough sleepers to die in the cold (it is apparently a lifestyle choice), she wants to imprison people escaping war in unsafe conditions, or alternatively to deport them to a country where they have absolutely no connections, she wants to prevent legal forms of protest that we so value in a democracy, she wants us all to lose the protection of the European Court of Rights, and so it goes on and on …

And now some think she is deliberately courting trouble by posting a highly controversial article in the Times, attacking the Met Police, without getting it signed-off by No. 10. Whatever her motivation, her Cabinet position is now at risk, but that could leave her free to challenge the leadership.

Ed Davey has come out with some very strong words about her:

Suella Braverman is not fit to hold the office of Home Secretary. She divides communities with reckless abandon, playing a personal political game with no care for the consequences suffered by the people she is supposed to protect.

She is the most dangerous and divisive Home Secretary of modern times. This country will be safer without her in post.

This is a situation of the Prime Minister’s own making. He appointed her knowing she had previously broken the Ministerial Code yet he was too scared to stand up to her.

What more will it take for the Prime Minister to do the right thing? It is time for us to move past her pathetic failings and for her to go. Rishi Sunak needs to find his backbone and sack her.

Other Lib Dems have added their thoughts.

Here is Alistair Carmichael in the Commons.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 20 Comments

8 November 2023 – today’s press releases

  • Ofwat on exec pay: Toothless regulator needs to ban bonuses
  • Health Secretary must be accountable for mouth cancer link to lack of dental care
  • Braverman article: Home Sec is running a leadership campaign, not her department

Ofwat on exec pay: Toothless regulator needs to ban bonuses

Responding to the latest announcement by the water industry regulator Ofwat, which rules out banning executive bonuses despite the sewage scandal, Liberal Democrat Environment spokesperson Tim Farron MP said:

The British public will be reading this and screaming at regulators to just get on with banning these insulting bonuses.

Every penny spent on exec bonuses is less money being used

Posted in News and Press releases | Also tagged , , , and | 4 Comments

Over 3 in 4 car theft and burglaries go unsolved in “crime catastrophe”

  • New analysis reveals 76% of burglaries and 77% of car thefts went unsolved in the year to June 2023
  • 5,916 crimes are going unsolved every day, up 10% compared to last year
  • Lib Dems accuse Home Secretary of being “asleep at the wheel” as thousands of criminals are let off the hook

New analysis from the Liberal Democrats of Home Office statistics has shown the shocking extent of rising burglaries, car thefts and other crimes going unsolved under this Conservative government.

A staggering 214,076 burglaries went unsolved across England and Wales in the year ending June 2023 – up 6% compared to the previous …

Posted in News and Press releases | Also tagged | Leave a comment

Unsolved burglaries soar to more than 580 a day

A staggering 213,279 burglaries went unsolved across England and Wales in the 2022/2023 financial year – an average of 584 a day, new analysis by the Liberal Democrats of Home Office statistics released last week has revealed.

The figures show that in 2022/2023, a grand total of 213,279 burglary investigations across England and Wales were closed without a suspect being identified, accounting for 76.8% of all cases.

The South Yorkshire force recorded the worst outcomes, with a staggering 84.4% of all recorded burglaries going unsolved. They were followed closely by Hampshire Police (83.1%) and the Met (81.6%).

The Liberal Democrats have slammed the …

Posted in News and Press releases | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

9 June 2023 – today’s press release

  • HMICFRS report shows need for return to community policing
  • Softened windfall tax shows Government doesn’t care
  • Government’s mental health plans leave children in 3 in 4 primary schools without NHS support
  • Johnson Honours: Sunak’s so called integrity has been broken
  • Boris Johnson: “Good riddance”

HMICFRS report shows need for return to community policing

Responding to HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) State of Policing report, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP:

Sadly, this report confirms what we already knew. The Conservatives have trashed our justice system, from decimating frontline policing to ignoring the courts backlog.

Too many people feel like justice is out of reach when they’re a victim of a crime. Public trust in our very institutions is at stake. The Home Secretary must commit to a return to community policing without delay.

Softened windfall tax shows Government doesn’t care

Responding to the news that Jeremy Hunt will soften the energy windfall, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey MP said:

The families and businesses still suffering so much from high energy bills will not forget the failure of the Conservatives to tax the windfall profits of the oil and gas companies properly.

This out of touch Government has shown yet again that it doesn’t care about people struggling just to get by, or the small business clinging on.

This energy tax failure ranks as one of Rishi Sunak’s biggest personal failures as Chancellor and Prime Minister.

Posted in News and Press releases | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , and | 1 Comment

20-21 May 2023 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Ethics adviser must investigate Braverman
  • Braverman: By refusing investigation, Sunak is stealing page one from Johnson’s playbook
  • Coffey must apologise for the sewage scandal
  • Sunak must explain Braverman scandal in Parliament tomorrow

Ethics adviser must investigate Braverman

Responding to reports in the Sunday Times that Suella Braverman asked Home Office civil servants to help her avoid a speeding fine and points on her licence by arranging a private one-to-one driving awareness course, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

Once again for the Government, it’s one rule for them and another for the rest of us.

Suella Braverman may be in the driver’s seat at the Home Office but that doesn’t give her any excuse to appear to duck the law.

Braverman should be urgently investigated by the Ethics Adviser and add her name to the nearly endless list of Ministers who have had to undergo the same.

Time and time again we are seeing a conveyor belt of Conservative politicians run roughshod over the rules and drag our politics into the gutter. Now, the buck stops with Rishi Sunak himself to stop the endless headlines of sleaze and scandal.

Braverman: By refusing investigation, Sunak is stealing page one from Johnson’s playbook

Responding to the news that Rishi Sunak has so far refused to open an investigation into Suella Braverman, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

Posted in News and Press releases | Also tagged , , , and | Leave a comment

Carmichael: Sunak is stealing from Boris playbook over Braverman

Today’s Sunday Times (£) reports that Home Secretary Suella Braverman tried to get civil servants to arrange a private driving awareness course so that she could get out of paying a speeding fine and having points on her licence. This, the paper says, contravenes the Ministerial Code as she asked civil servants to help her out with a private matter.

When the civil servants refused to help, she turned to a political aide who tried to persuade the course provider to agree to the arrangements.

After the requests were refused, Braverman, 43, who is a barrister and in charge of law enforcement, pulled out and opted to take the three points on her licence.

The revelations raise questions about whether she breached the ministerial code by directing civil servants to help with her personal affairs, and whether she has complied with the Nolan principles of public life — seven ethical standards which anyone working in public life is expected to adhere to. They are also written into the ministerial code.

Rishi Sunak’s claims of integrity in his government are compromised by his refusal to order an investigation into the Home Secretary’s conduct. Our Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said that this was straight out of Boris Johnson’s playbook:

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 1 Comment

Lib Dems challenge coronation arrests

Back in the 1930s, there was a deep suspicion amongst courtiers of broadcasting royal events on the radio. They worried that the events would be demeaned by men listening to them in public houses with their hats on. Ninety years on, these courtiers would have been utterly disgusted at the prospect of women watching last Saturday’s coronation (as I did) on their phones on sunbeds in Spain, one pina colada to the good.

I hadn’t intended to watch any of it while I was away on my first ever girls’ holiday. Truth be told, I’d had trouble even mustering up indifference. However, one of our party had a friend participating and she wanted to see if she could spot him.

So I managed to marvel at some of the proceedings, including Penny Mordaunt’s impressive sword-holding while dressed as every Tory Boy’s Thatcherite fantasy.

However much I like the spectacle, I am far from convinced that a hereditary monarchy, even one with few powers, is the best way for our country to be governed. I am not too exercised by the question, though, as there are many more pressing things – including giving people the Parliament they ask for – that need to be done.

I totally get why protesters from the organisation Republic might want to make their point by protesting in the run up to the coronation. They have every right to do so in a democratic society. Yet heavy handed action by the Police saw protesters, and in one case a royal fan who was there to enjoy the day, arrested and deprived of their liberty for hours.  A retrospective expression of regret by the Police is just not good enough.

The events showed the flaws in the recently passed Public Order Act, exactly as our people in Parliament had warned as it was debated.

As you would expect, Lib Dems have been highly critical of the arrests. Alistair Carmichael, our Home Affairs spokesperson, said on Twitter:

Tim Farron said that tolerating protest would be the “most utterly British thing imaginable:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 3 Comments

26 April 2023 – today’s press releases (part 1)

  • Brits less likely to swim in the sea due to sewage discharges, poll reveals
  • Police taking over five hours to respond to priority calls
  • Stop Voter ID: Govt are burying their heads in the sand
  • Braverman’s boasts will “ring hollow” for crime victims waiting hours for police to turn up

Brits less likely to swim in the sea due to sewage discharges, poll reveals

A new poll commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has revealed over three in four (77%) Brits who swim in lakes, rivers or the sea, have said sewage discharges have made them less likely to go swimming.

The poll found half of all UK adults go swimming in the country’s rivers, lakes or the sea. Shockingly, the majority of those adults are now less likely to go swimming in public areas as a result of water companies discharging sewage into waterways.

Swimmers over the age of 55 are far more likely to be put off by the sewage discharges – nearly 9 in 10 (87%) said the water firms’ actions had put them off swimming in lakes, rivers or coastlines.

Swimmers in the South East and West Midlands (83%) are also most likely to say sewage discharges have made them less likely to go swimming in lakes, rivers and coastlines.

Last year, raw sewage was pumped into rivers and seas for 1.75 million hours, an average 825 times per day, according to official Environment Agency data.

Key bathing water status locations, which attract swimmers from around the country, have been flooded with sewage. In the South West, Lyme Regis’ Church Cliff Beach bathing water suffered from 81 sewage discharges last year, lasting 1493 hours

Posted in News and Press releases | Also tagged , , , and | Leave a comment

“A dram and a fish supper” Carmichael offers reward for holding Scottish Conservative MPs to account

Alistair Carmichael is angry.

He has today offered “a dram of whisky and a fish supper” to anyone who can track down Scottish Conservative MPs missing in action while distillers and fishermen suffer. Not content with supporting a Brexit that has screwed over both industries, the Conservative Government is making it worse by whacking up spirits duty and scrapping a visa system for fishing crew overnight that forced boat owners back to port.

During a key vote this week,  Scottish Conservative MPs including Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack, Andrew Bowie, David Duguid and John Lamont voted against Alistair’s proposal to reverse a hike in spirits duty on distillers, while David Mundell and Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross were mysteriously absent.

Meanwhile not one Scottish Conservative MP attended Alistair’s  Urgent Question on fishing worker visas, despite the issue affecting fishermen across Scotland.

Alistair raged:

“This is less “Where’s Wally?” than “Where’s the whole pack of Wallies?”

“Scottish Conservatives love to take election photos by whisky stills or on the quayside. Douglas Ross must have a photo album an inch thick of him swirling drams with Boris Johnson. When it comes to these crunch votes and debates, however, they are nowhere to be found. The Tories jump in front of the camera using local businesses as political props but they are missing in action when it is time to deliver.

“Fishermen, distillers and other businesses will have seen the empty Conservative benches while we challenged ministers on urgent issues this week. They will rightly ask if they are getting value for money from these MIA MPs.

“If anyone can track down Douglas Ross or any other Scottish Tory MP and get them to explain why they are abandoning distillers and fishermen in their time of need then I will gladly buy them a dram of whisky and a fish supper for their trouble. That small investment would be more benefit to local businesses than the parliamentary efforts of the Scottish Conservatives this week.”

Just in case Scottish Tories are reading this, they should watch Alistair’s urgent question on fishing below and hang their heads in shame that they were not there to support Scotland’s fishing crews.

People in rural communities will be wondering what on earth the point of voting Conservative is when their elected representatives don’t bother to help them.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments

Davey challenges PM on Dentistry, Carmichael asks about fishing visas

Lib Dems kept up our challenges to the Rishi Sunak at PMQs today. Two got to ask questions. The videos are below, followed by the text from Hansard.

First up was leader Ed Davey in his regular slot.

He asked about the crisis in dentistry:

Ed Davey

Tooth decay is the No. 1 reason that children over the age of four end up in hospital. Regular dental check-ups could prevent it, but too many parents cannot get one for their child. In the East Riding of Yorkshire, there are now almost 3,000 people per NHS dentist. In places such as Herefordshire and Norfolk, fewer than two in five children have been seen by a dentist in the past year. This is a scandal, so will the Prime Minister take up the Liberal Democrat plan to end this crisis and make sure people can get an NHS dentist when they need one?

The Prime Minister

The NHS recently reformed dentistry contracts, which will improve access for patients. Dentistry receives about £3 billion a year, and there were around 500 more dentists delivering care in the NHS last year than in the previous year. I am pleased to say that almost 45% more children saw an NHS dentist last year compared with the year before.

Next up, Alistair Carmichael said that the only boats Suella Braverman had succeeded in stopping was fishing boats, highlighting a recent change which makes it more difficult to get crews and made crews stop working immediately.

Alistair Carmichael

Posted in News | Also tagged and | Leave a comment
Advert



Recent Comments

  • Mary ReidMary Reid
    @Graham Jeffs - yes, I am fortunate to be living in a target seat, although I was campaigning for about 20 years before we won it. It's a long game. My point...
  • Alex Macfie
    The mistake made by Clegg & co wasn't going into coalition, it was the way they did it, going in too quickly and conducting it as a "love-in" rather than a ...
  • Mark
    I wouldn't normally encourage people to spend time reading Conservative Home website, but this article is well worth a read: https://conservativehome.com/2024/...
  • David Garlick
    Given in his speech his dismissal of action of climate change, so appropriate that the climate chose to give him a good soaking. A drip being dripped on....
  • Peter Martin
    @ Steve, "Might it help.if our party were to assertively oppose Neoliberal socio-economics...." Of course it would. It's unlikely any establishm...