Tag Archives: conservatives

25 October 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Liz Truss’s legacy: Dossier reveals damage done in 50 days of failure
  • Sunak speech fails to reassure public worried about winter ahead
  • Reshuffle: Stop “revolving door” payouts to Conservative ministers

Liz Truss’s legacy: Dossier reveals damage done in 50 days of failure

  • 932,000 people seeing their mortgage rise
  • 176,000 more people on NHS waiting lists
  • 365,000 hours of sewage discharges

The Liberal Democrats have published a dossier on Liz Truss’ legacy, showing the damage done to the country during her 50-day premiership.

The analysis shows over 930,000 people saw their mortgage rise due to the Government’s botched mini-budget, the number of people on NHS waiting lists grew by 170,000 and 6.2 million people waited over two weeks for a doctor’s appointment.

A shambolic Home Office oversaw 27,000 unsolved burglaries, 492,000 more victims of fraud and 1,100 police officers leaving the force. The Government also oversaw sewage being dumped a staggering 51,000 times into rivers and waterways across the country, for a total of 365,000 hours.

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The Conservatives fail because they think they know best.

One of the characteristics of this awful government is that they manage to present even ideas with a modicum of sense in a way which ensures they will be unpopular.

Yesterday we had a classic example in the news that the new Health Secretary, Thérèse Coffey as part of her ‘Plan for Patients’ is planning to allow pharmacies to prescribe antibiotics (and other drugs) in some cases. It has also come out that she has said that she has handed out her own antibiotics to friends who were feeling unwell in the past. Reaction to this news has been swift – Stephen Baker, Professor of Microbiology at Cambridge said widening access to antibiotics was ‘nuts’ and Professor Penny Ward, of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine was equally scathing: “The Health Secretary really should take the time to familiarise herself with what is a difficult topic”

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William Wallace writes: The chaos of single-party government

Conservative HQ has briefed the media that it plans to attack other parties in the next election campaign for offering ‘a coalition of chaos’ instead of the ‘strong and stable’ single-party government the UK has benefitted from since 2015.  Liberal Democrats should be rubbishing this fantasy.

In the past seven years we have suffered two early elections and three prime ministers – with a fourth now coming into office.  We have had four Chancellors of the Exchequer, five foreign and business secretaries, and six cabinet ministers for education – seven if we include Michele Donovan’s two-day term.  Junior ministers have turned over at an even faster rate, many moving on after less than a year without time to learn their jobs.  Rapid shifts of policy, inconsistent announcements on priorities, officials having to start again briefing new ministers often arriving without any relevant expertise about their responsibilities: chaotic government by any definition.

We can expect another round of ministerial churn in the coming week.  In 2019, what’s more, 21 MPs were suspended from the Parliamentary Party.  Only 10 had the whip restored; two former chancellors and two other former cabinet ministers were among those expelled from the party.  Ken Clarke remarked that the party that expelled him was no longer Conservative; ‘it’s the Brexit Party, rebadged.’

At a Liberal Democrat Business Network gathering last week people were telling me how they longed for the stability that a coalition government might offer after the twists and turns, factional plotting, and inconsistent ministerial directives they have suffered since 2015.  We are likely to face more infighting after the embittered leadership contest we have seen this summer, which will make it even harder for the Conservatives to present themselves as a model of stability at the next election, and easier for us to make the case for institutional change to give Britain better government.

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Are Lib Dem concerns different from the Tories and Labour? Tory yes, Labour not so much

Most of us have gotten fed up with the deluge of opinion polls of late. On top of the usual run of surveys, there are all those surveys for the leadership election. Many seem designed to fill newspaper columns rather than advance the debate or help the unrepresentative few chose the next prime minister.

But two surveys caught my eye this week. A YouGov tracker illustrates what we know or perhaps guess about political priorities. Voters for all three parties believe that the economy is the most important issue, with the greatest concern among Lib Dems. But fewer than a quarter of Tories think that the environment in among the top three issues facing the country, compared to half of Lib Dems and Labour voters. There is not a huge difference between the parties on concern about health but the Lib Dems are the most concerned. When it comes to being concerned about immigration and asylum, the Tories are in a league of their own.

Another YouGov survey for Times Radio shows that Lib Dems prefer to shop at Waitrose and Sainsbury’s. Labour supporters prefer Asda and Morrisons. As for the Tories, they are all over the place.

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Food banks and posh nosh

On Monday, the Conservatives held their summer party fundraiser. The top lot was dinner with Boris Johnson and his rivals Theresa May and David Cameron. The Dinner of the Century – so-called to avoid inviting Johnson critic John Major – went for £120,000.

This was of course a fundraiser and at such events silly things go for silly prices. But the symbolism cannot be missed. Three prime ministers tucking into posh nosh with someone who has £120,000 in spare change while people are struggling to feed themselves and queuing for the food bank.

News of the Dinner of the Century broke on Wednesday, the day before 36 Shropshire organisations, including councils, food banks and support groups, published an open letter on the cost of living crisis. They are pleading for more help for rural communities, for longer term help and for those in relative comfort to think of ways they can help others.

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Lies, condescension, repeat – the new mantra of the Conservative Party

In 2016, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove claimed that Brexit would allow us to cut VAT on energy bills.

On Wednesday 18th May, the Tories voted against the Liberal Democrat motion to cut VAT on energy bills, highlighting yet again, the lies that Brexit was built upon. The claim by Johnson and Gove that Brexit would allow us to cut VAT on energy bills implies that being an EU member didn’t allow us to do so previously; despite Belgium cutting VAT on electricity bills while being a member of the EU. Another Brexit lie propagated at the time of the referendum was the “removal of red tape”, later proven to be false by the rising administration costs facing British businesses.

This has highlighted how out of touch the Tories are with the British people.

Despite pensioners feeling abandoned by the government, Sir Ed Davey making clear that tax hikes are the last thing Londoners need and Sir Keir Starmer stating that Johnson is “choosing to let people struggle”, the advice from Home Office minister Rachel Maclean for citizens dealing with the cost of living crisis is… get a better job.

Oh…

When turning the attention to Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, her advice is… to get a “high-paid job”.

Oh…

With so many having to choose between heating and eating, having to skip meals and some even having to leave their heating off entirely, the advice from the government is simply to “get a better job”. This echoes the now infamous, heartless speech from former Conservative Employment Minister Norman Tebbit, who told the Conservative Party 1981 Conference that when his father was faced with unemployment in the 30s, “he got on his bike and looked for work, and he kept looking till he found it”.

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Are the Tories planning an early General Election

A few days ago Jacob Rees Mogg suggested that a change of Prime Minister would lead to an early General Election. He must know this isn’t true: are we being softened up for one?

His remarks have been read as an attempt to stop Tory MPs in former “red wall” seats siding against Boris Johnson, but aren’t these the Tory MPs with the strongest incentive to ensure that their party has a leader who people support?

What he’s reported to have said on Newsnight is:

“It is my view that we’ve moved, for better or worse, to an essentially presidential system and therefore the mandate is personal rather than entirely party and any PM would be very well advised to seek a fresh mandate.” 

The Tories won in 2019 on a promise to deliver Brexit, and shouldn’t be able escape the consequences by going to the polls early. The unravelling of Brexit and the consequences of their handling of Covid will mean they are in a weak position when the next General Election is due, in 2024. Going sooner than that, while they have a comfortable majority, would attract criticism. But a General Election in the “honeymoon” period of a new leader could be sold as “democratic”. Supporters of opposition parties would — rightly — cry “foul”, but the Tories would be gambling on coming back with a reduced, but viable, majority. 

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The damage caused by this Government now includes psychological harm – we need them gone

This morning I was looking on Twitter at the heartbreaking messages from people who had not been able to see their loved ones before they died in May 2020 due to the Covid rules in force at the time, or to attend family funerals or visit relatives in care homes. These are deeply hurtful and scarring experiences.

I also thought to myself, how do most people feel about being told in the Spring of 2020 that they could, legally, only meet up with one person outdoors, now they know that there were parties with 30 or more people held in Downing Street at the very same time? Or about members of the public being fined by the police for breaking the same rules the Prime Minister introduced – yet broke – himself whilst, of course, concealing the truth from everyone?

I turned to thinking about Brexit and the damage and uncertainty caused to multiple interests, especially famers and fishing communities, but also to students and people who used to move regularly between the UK and the EU. This article is not about comparing the tragedies of Covid and Brexit, as Covid is infinitely worse due to the enormity of the loss of life and the associated heartache, but it is about the same way the Conservative Government has handled these two major catastrophes and continues to do so – and the kind of damage their duplicity has surely done to many people’s mental health.

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7 December 2021 – today’s press releases

  • Davey: PM must fess up over Xmas party
  • Williamson party: Met Police must investigate

Davey: PM must fess up over Xmas party

Responding to a new leaked video which shows the Prime Minister’s former press secretary joking about a party in Downing Street last Christmas, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey MP said:

People will rightly be furious with Boris Johnson, not just for holding a party during lockdown, but also for refusing to own up to it. Once again he shows it’s one rule for us and one rule for him, with the Conservatives continuing to take people for granted.

Whilst millions

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UPDATED – two North Shropshire Conservative Councillors defect

Well, well, well, what is happening to the Tories in North Shropshire? It is reported this morning that Anthony Allen, a Town Councillor in Market Drayton, has defected to Reclaim, who have claimed him as their first elected councillor.

Now, as a parish councillor myself, describing Mr Allen as a top Tory councillor, as Reclaim have done, is a bit like describing me as a senior figure in Suffolk local government, but it does give the impression of a Conservative campaign in disarray.

As reported by the Independent;

The 54-year-old cab company owner said his former party had “gone soft on illegal immigration,

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Bending the Constitution: can we make this a campaigning issue?

Austin Mitchell, a wonderfully maverick Labour MP, once described the British constitution as ‘whatever the government can get away with.’. A government with a big Commons majority can get away with a lot, so long as the polls remain in its favour. This government, above all this prime minister, has got away with a great deal so far, and intends to push its advantage a good deal further through changes in law and electoral regulation now before Parliament. As one of his Eton teachers remarked, Boris Johnson does not think that rules and conventions apply to him.

Press commentators have noted …

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Conservative candidates to be tested for conformity

Newsmoggie does not usually stray into Conservative territory, except to dig up gardens for essential purposes of course.

But it seems that the Conservatives really don’t want another repeat of their glorious leader Boris Johnson. They have introduced psychometric testing for new candidates. While Newsmoggie is not an expert on such tests, they do seem aimed to introduce conformality and normality, treating potential MPs like dogs to be trained and not like us free roaming cats.

Would Boris Johnson pass a psychometric test? Michael Gove? Matt Hancock? Or even Daniel Kawczynski, who has had to apologise after imbibing alcohol before ranting at parliamentary officers.

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Young people deserve a better future

I joined the Conservative Party in the early 1970s at the time of the first referendum, and from 1999 served for ten years as an MEP. Last year, after increasing unease at the Party’s lurch to the Right, I joined the Liberal Democrats where I instantly felt at home. More Tories will surely follow, especially as so many are not renewing their membership given the clumsiness of the cabal currently at the top.

Conservatives are not the only ones to be unhappy: young people are being disadvantaged and even damaged by the triply toxic cocktail of Covid plus Boris Johnson plus Gavin Williamson.

Young people share the same aspirations my generation had for a decent job, an affordable home, and the chance to broaden their personal horizons – a future they could look forward to with confidence rather than despair.

However, today they are facing a job market which is bleak at best. Help to Buy is of little help to those in the midlands and north where more jobs are being lost, and home ownership may be a millstone to negative equity rather than a ladder to prosperity. The young in particular need help with reasonable rents. Big companies conveniently declare themselves bankrupt to renegotiate their rents downwards, but the young have no such options.

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No Rishi! The country does not share your values

In his speech to the Tory Party conference, Rishi Sunak made a bold declaration: “We share the same values. The Conservative Party and the country.” For a start the 57% of voters who didn’t opt for the Conservatives last December will disagree. But his statement also raises a key question: what are the values that today’s Conservative Party stand for? Anyone who takes a moment to look at Johnson’s Conservatives can see that the party of statecraft, the rule of law and fiscal conservatism no longer exists.

The rest of Sunak’s speech was surprisingly brief and light on policy. One thing he did emphasise was his commitment to balancing the books. But that didn’t seem to matter when it came to getting Brexit done or when announcing huge infrastructure spending.

They say they are about law and order, but have just voted to allow themselves to break international law. And Priti Patel’s speech at the weekend advocating an escalation of the hostile environment towards those seeking asylum made clear the Conservatives aren’t a party that looks out for the most vulnerable in society.

Part of the problem for the Conservatives is their own internal ideological divisions. On the one hand they have a raft of MPs in solidly safe seats who keep their heads down in public and quietly do as they are told, willingly voting for the Government every time. Some of these types also come from Lib Dem facing not-so-safe seats where their bacon was saved by Nigel Farage standing down his Brexit Party troops. 

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21 May 2020 – today’s press releases (part 1)

And if you thought that yesterday was intense…

  • Lib Dems: Tackling the climate crisis is at the heart of coronavirus recovery
  • Govt must reimburse missed tuition to student nurses called up to the frontline
  • 51,906 asylum seekers trapped on just £5.39 a day during coronavirus crisis
  • EU Settled Status deadline must be scrapped, as grants crater during coronavirus crisis
  • New stats show damaging impact of Priti Patel’s nasty immigration rhetoric

Lib Dems: Tackling the climate crisis is at the heart of coronavirus recovery

The Liberal Democrats have secured cross-party support for their calls for local authorities to be empowered to enact measures that would help tackle the climate emergency as well as recover from the coronavirus crisis.

The cross-party letter sent to Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick states “we cannot simply return ‘back to normal’” and that “tackling the climate emergency is at the heart of our recovery”.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Climate Emergency, Energy and the Environment Wera Hobhouse initiated the letter, putting forward measures that include incentivising councils to support sustainable travel, revitalising high streets and allowing local authorities to close streets to traffic at allocated times.

Following the letter, Wera Hobhouse said:

We cannot return to ‘normal’ following the Covid-19 crisis. The measures introduced by the Transport Secretary to promote the use of sustainable transport are welcome, but without cross departmental buy-in they will fail to have a lasting impact on how we travel.

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Our Government is a Stage Magician

Onstage, the magician does not perform an act of magic (spoilers I know) but of distractions. Whilst the rabbit is being yanked from a top hat, the spotlight focused firmly upon its fluffy ears, the magician performs his deceit elsewhere. The Johnson administration has been doing this since it first stepped into Number 10, albeit without the rabbit (though I am sure Mr Rees-Mogg can provide a top hat).

The first smokescreens appeared before and during the 2019 General Election campaign. The inflammatory entitlement of bills as ‘surrender acts’ and CCHQ twitter posing as an independent fact checker meant nothing to crucial swing voters, but attracted uproar from political commentators and activists, distracting from meaningful issues. It was at this same time that the Conservative manifesto was published, detailing economic policies unlikely to please northern Labour voters the Conservatives were gunning for. However, the furore surrounding the aforementioned ‘nothing’ issues overshadowed scrutiny of the manifesto. The rabbit reared its head and hooked the audience, the magic worked. Johnson won.

Next, it was time for a reshuffle, and with it another conjuror’s trick. Despite padding-out support within cabinet, he accidentally booted his Chancellor. With David’s departure, audiences of microphones turned to the Prime Minister. The spotlight then fine-tuned its focus on government, when accusations of bullying and unfair dismissal were levelled at the Home Secretary. Yet, when media scrutiny was firmly locked onto the new cabinet, Johnson bamboozled again. Despite having gotten engaged three months previous, Johnson first officially announced his engagement to Carrie Symonds, enveloping the attention himself. On the 1st March, a day after the most senior Home Office civil servant accused Priti Patel of bullying and just a week after the Chancellor’s resignation, the front pages of The Times, Mail, Express, Sun and Telegraph were covered in lovers’ portraits of the happy couple. The announcement’s timing drowned mentions of Patel’s behaviour, keeping Johnson buoyant in the polls.

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The next general election will be a Conservative-facing one: some stats

Following the 2019 general election, we are now second in 91 seats, of which 80 are held by the Conservatives and just 9 by Labour (the other 2 are held by the SNP). Of the 10 seats where we are closest (less than 3000 votes behind), 8 are currently held by The Conservatives.

You can model some interesting seat projections based on various swing scenarios. As shown by Electoral Calculus:

In other words, when we take votes off Labour then The Conservatives win, Labour lose and we barely move. When we take votes off The Conservatives then they lose, we win and Labour also win.

From Labour’s point of view, the story is similar:

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Our MP voted against helping child refugees – and I’m angry

Our MP’s work on behalf of their constituents – or at least they are supposed to. That’s supposed to be an important principle of our democracy. But in recent days Cheltenham’s MP, Alex Chalk has voted and supported the government in NOT providing help to unaccompanied refugee children. I’m saddened, disappointed and upset, let me explain why.

Cheltenham has bucket-loads of kindness, empathy and compassion. This I’m sure is replicated across the country, and throughout our history this has been highlighted time and again in how we all have responded to natural disasters or humanitarian crisis.

Whenever and wherever …

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Wrexham and the rubble of the Red Wall

The article by the American BBC journalist,  Anthony Zurcher,  “Does UK hold clues to Trump’s Fortunes?referred to by John Leaver yesterday, compares Wrexham,  recently much in the limelight, with the rust belt in Trump’s America.

I   have lived in Wrexham all my life and fought the seat five times as a Liberal candidate. Due to the defection of Tom Ellis from Labour to SDP in 1982 and his choosing to fight the neighbouring South Clwyd seat, 1983 produced the closest three way result in the UK, with less than 2000 votes separating the parties. I was third. By the 1990s, Labour had lost control of the Council, and for a time,  Aled Roberts led an effective Lib Dem administration. Currently, it is led by independents.

In my youth, there were still 12 collieries in the Wrexham area, not least the ill fated Gresford. There was a steel works at Brymbo producing the highest quality steel for Rolls Royce aero engines. There were numerous  brickworks, two breweries and a leather works and, on the former wartime ordnance factory on the outskirts of the town, the Wrexham Industrial Estate was developing.

The heavy industry disappeared. In 1980, ten miles down the road at Shotton, nationalised British Steel axed 6,500 jobs, the largest redundancy in a single day in Western Europe. Brymbo closed in 1990 with a loss of 1,100 highly skilled steelworkers.   The last colliery at Bersham closed in 1989. The breweries and leather works were long gone. Were these closures due to malign Thatcherism, or international economic pressures and influences?  Labour holds fast to the former explanation.

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28 November 2019 – today’s press releases (part 2)

And here are the rest…

  • Lib Dems: Johnson’s comments show he is no champion of women’s rights
  • Sarah Wollaston: Number of GP practices falls to record low as winter crisis approaches
  • Lib Dems won’t let your future melt away
  • Tory threat to Channel 4 is attempt to cover up Johnson’s cowardice

Lib Dems: Johnson’s comments show he is no champion of women’s rights

Responding to Boris Johnson’s comments on single mothers, Liberal Democrat Equalities Spokesperson Christine Jardine, said:

So many of us in this country know the reality of the sacrifice and effort made by single parents. But yet again these comments show Boris Johnson is

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21 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Davey: Labour maths do not add up
  • Labour’s police pledge an “empty promise” without extra funding
  • Lib Dems: Widdecombe fuels election pact scandal

Davey: Labour maths do not add up

Responding to the Labour Party Manifesto launched today, Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Ed Davey said:

As long as Jeremy Corbyn continues pursuing his Brexit policy, the maths in his manifesto simply do not add up.

The Liberal Democrats will stop Brexit and use the £50 billion Remain Bonus to invest in public services and build a brighter future. We’ll prioritise tackling the climate emergency and investing in housing, education and welfare, while Corbyn would embark on

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12 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Refusal to publish Russian interference shows Johnson morphing into Trump
  • Gyimah: Labour plans fail meet the needs of working people
  • Lib Dems set out plans to strengthen support for survivors of violence and abuse
  • Lib Dems: Johnson’s speech shows he is misleading voters again
  • Lib Dems: Selection of Chris Davies shows Tories’ contempt for voters

Refusal to publish Russian interference shows Johnson morphing into Trump

Following the reports that Hillary Clinton has said it is “inexplicable and shameful” that the UK government has not yet published a report on alleged Russian interference in British politics, Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary Chuka Umunna said:

No-one knows the extent

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Are we, at last, witnessing the strange death of Conservative England?

What does the Conservative party stand for in 2019?’ is a question asked in Tuesday’s Guardian’s Journal section by sociologist, William Davies. That got me thinking back to the count in the early hours of Friday morning in the newly formed Sleaford and North Hykeham Parliamentary at the end of the 1997 General Election, my only foray into the maelstrom of national party politics. As the Lib Dem candidate, who finished a respectable third behind a resurgent Labour Party and ahead of Sir James Goldsmith’s Referendum Party, I watched Douglas Hogg give his customary acceptance speech. I remember vividly the words he used. Casting his eye over a mass of blue rosettes in the audience, he ended by saying; “We Tories always win in the end”.

Living for most of my adult life in Lincolnshire, with the notable exception of the City of Lincoln, I can vouch for that remark. Having read his article, I just wonder whether, at last, Mr Davies might be on to something. I’ve finally began to read ‘The Strange Death of Liberal England’ by the late Anglo-American historian, George Dangerfield. I often ask myself why people vote Conservative, although I do confess having done so once in a General Election myself back in 1970 before four years living and working abroad made me see the error of my ways.

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Boris Johnson is the most vulnerable Prime Minister to enter No 10

Boris Johnson reminds me of an old school bully of mine. Behind the confidence and malcontent facade of someone who knows he can exploit those less fashionable (my politics never helped) lies the hidden fragility. The pursuit of popularity and the insatiable desire to be liked create a deep personal weakness, the lack of authenticity or character, masked by the charade of charm and affability. Eventually the act wares off, and he is left as a lamentable figure, destined for either a melancholy reprisal of his previous life or a painful self-evaluation. You nearly end up feeling sorry for him. Nearly.

Boris Johnson shares many of the same traits. His lifelong desire to become Prime Minister has meant that his principles can be shifted to suit the beliefs of whatever crowd he wants to please. His Euroscepticism can be traced back to his early years as the Brussels correspondent for The Telegraph, where he found that plainly ludicrous stories could get him a loyal and supportive following. Later, as London mayor, he promoted an image of himself as a liberal, pro-European leader, who was in favour of the single market. Sir Nicholas Soames begged him to pledge his support for Remain, even offering to run any future leadership campaign. Later Soames would say that he knew that Johnson never backed Leave in his heart, and was trying to appeal to the Tory grassroots to win them over for the leadership. Johnson has always moulded his political stances to please a certain crowd, and his desire to be popular could well be his downfall.

With no mandate for the job from the British public, Johnson’s assuredness about getting another deal from Brussels is severely displaced. Any hope avoiding the backstop will not pass the approval of the twenty-seven member states and will also fall in Parliament. Theresa May’s deal with a smiling face may well be the only way forwards, but it would be soon discovered by Johnson’s hardline comrades to be a betrayal of their interests. Then the government as a whole could be brought down. 

Any plans for an early election may also prove fatal. The Brexit Party still has a large support base, and a split between them and the Tories could easily let the Lib Dems through in many marginal constituencies as the unequivocal vote of Remain. This could also lead to the dangerous situation of Johnson being able to defeat Labour and command a majority through the Lib Dem surge. Whatever the scenario, no Tory leader can expect to win a large majority, with a threatening Brexit Party and the resurgent Lib Dems. It gives Jo Swinson a huge chance to capture a mood that can transform the party’s fortunes. The first past the post system has always dogged their chances, but a strong Remain Alliance could have important consequences for the future of the country, as the Brecon by-election showed. 

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Lord William Wallace writes….Money, money, money

Liberal Democrats achieve remarkable successes on the foundation of determined campaigning, enthusiasm, and passionate promotion of liberal values.  But money also matters.  And shortage of money, compared to Labour and (above all) the Conservatives, is one of the major obstacles to a political breakthrough.

Last year our federal party raised £6.2m, and spent £6.5m.  That meant some painful cuts in staffing, as well as missed opportunities in media projection, campaigning, and organisation.  Those who complain in commenting on Lib Dem Voice postings that our media team are failing to make the most of our rise in the polls do not know how small our media team is at present, and how wonderfully effective they are for their size.  We could do with a larger leader’s office, a larger policy development team, and a much larger team of regional and field organisers to help and support local activists in their campaigns.  But all that requires money.

Press reports on problems within the Labour Party’s headquarters have noted that Labour has over 400 HQ staff.  Lib Dems currently have 60, working flat out to support the party throughout the country, to service our members, and not least to make sure that we fulfil all our legal obligations as a regulated political organisation.  

Labour had significantly expanded its paid staff between 2016 and 2018, and also doubled the size of its leader’s office – partly on the back of the impressive surge in party membership, which (as reported to the Electoral Commission ) brought in £26m in fees in 2017.  This was still, however, less than a third of its total income.  Fundraising and donations, most importantly from trade unions, brought in £25m, public support for its role as a major opposition party (‘Short’ and ‘Cranborne’ money) brought in £8.5m, and conferences and other events contributed most of the rest.  The slump in Labour’s membership in 2018-19, together with a decline in donations, has now left the party with a widening gap between increased spending and declining income.

The Conservatives are more like a centralised campaigning organisation than a membership-based party.  They declared an income from membership subscriptions in 2017 of only £835,000: that’s a little more than £6 per member on their estimated membership.  They received more in legacies than that.  But the bulk of their income comes from major donors: a total of £30m in donations in 2017, much of it in five- or six-figure sums from a few hundred individuals.  J. C. Bamford, the excavator company chaired by Lord Bamford, is one of its largest donors, giving £1.5m in the three months before the 2017 election.  Labour analysis shows that a high proportion of major Conservative donors are hedge fund managers; others include wealthy Russians, and Middle Eastern millionaires, with homes in London.  EC figures show that the Conservatives received £7.5m between October and December 2018 from 230 donors: more than our entire income last year.

The Brexit Party is a limited company controlled by Nigel Farage.  It reports £2.75m in online donations (each below £500, thus not reportable to the EC) through PayPal in the first half of 2019, as well as several larger donations – including £200,000 from Jeremy Hosking, a City financier who finances a number of right-wing causes.  The Financial Times on July 26th reported that Farage  has just launched ‘World4Brexit’ at an event in New York, attended by leading figures on the hard right of US politics (Peter Thiel, the CEO of PayPal, is a supporter).  Farage is already attacking the Electoral Commission for querying his fund-raising methods, claiming ‘an Establishment stitch-up.’

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19 July 2019 – live from Brecon, today’s press releases…

  • Lib Dems bring forward legislation to protect EU citizens
  • Lib Dems: Govt must provide urgent clarity on teachers’ pay
  • Lib Dem legislation to protect victims of crime passes second reading
  • Davey: Govt must fund police pay rise
  • Umunna slams economically incompetent Tories
  • Swinson: This is a time for cool heads in the Gulf

Lib Dems bring forward legislation to protect EU citizens

Today, the Liberal Democrats have brought forward a bill to safeguard EU citizens’ rights.

The Bill brought forward by Liberal Democrat peer Jonny Oates would provide a guarantee that, regardless of the outcome of Brexit, the rights of EU citizens and other EEA nationals living in …

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Caroline Pidgeon writes…Who is the real Boris Johnson?

Just who is the real Boris Johnson? 

Is it the man who for eight years was the Mayor of one of the world’s most multi-racial cities, or instead the man who in his 2002 Daily Telegraph column included racist insults against black people, citing “regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies” in the Commonwealth and referring to “the tribal warriors… all break out in watermelon smiles”.

Is it the man who now argues in favour of a no deal Brexit, or instead the Boris Johnson who declared in his Daily Telegraph column: “It is also true that the single market is of considerable value to many UK companies and consumers, and that leaving would cause at least some business uncertainty.”

Or indeed the Boris Johnson of 2012 who stated that whenever he considered the prospect of Britain leaving, he always came down “narrowly” in favour of Britain staying.  And the Boris Johnson who took full advantage of the cheap lending from the European Investment Bank to fund London’s transport infrastructure.

Within a few weeks Conservative party members will be making a decision on whether they want Boris Johnson as their leader. They have to make a decision over a man whose views over the years have had more twists in them than a corkscrew.

Yet examining his contradictory and insulting statements on so many issues only gets us so far.  In contrast the actual record of Boris Johnson is clear cut.  

As someone who witnessed and scrutinised his activities at City Hall for eight years I have a clearer recollection of events than the Conservative MPs now scenting the chance of a ministerial post.

When examined in the round, his record was one of inactivity, missed opportunities and an immense waste of public money.  Always putting himself before anything else. 

Yet his supporters, such as Jacob Rees Mogg and James Cleverly are now peddling the idea that his record of Mayor of London was that of unbridled success and huge achievement.

It is said that a lie can get half way around the world before truth has even got its boots on.   

We now run that risk with some of the fanciful claims being made by Boris’ supporters will start to be believed.  We cannot allow that to happen.

The Olympic and Paralympic Games

Incredibly some people seek to credit Boris Johnson with the overall success of the 2012 Games.  His contribution to their success was in fact minimal. The hard work and the groundwork at the Olympic Park started long before he arrived at City Hall.  London won the bid for the 2012 Games in July 2005, three years before he became Mayor. There was a huge amount of work undertaken in preparing our bid in the years before that.  His biggest contribution was waving the flag at the opening ceremony.

Crime 

It is claimed during his time at City Hall that great progress was made in tackling crime. The reality is that there was serious rioting across the capital in the summer of 2011, wrecking many high streets and small businesses. His supporters also overlook the fact that knife crime was increasing in the last two years of his office.

Housing

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William Wallace writes: Opportunity for Lib Dems as Labour and Conservatives crumble

It’s going to be even more confusing in the next few weeks and months.  Last Sunday Philip Hammond stated clearly that it’s no longer practical for the UK to leave the EU on October 31st, given the further delays caused by the pause for a Conservative leadership election.  A majority has then to be recreated for some sort of agreement, a bill has to pass through the Commons and the Lords, and preparations for implementation by an over-stretched civil service have to be completed.

Michael Gove has now followed Hammond, suggesting that October 31st may not be a hard and fast deadline.  The passion with which other candidates for the Conservative leadership are now pledging that they will produce a rabbit out of the hat and have everything ready in time, come what may, also suggests their anxiety that this is becoming more and more difficult to manage.  

You will have noticed wilder suggestions (from Esther McVey, Dominic Raab and others) that Parliament might somehow be bypassed, that a new Prime Minister would use prerogative powers to prorogue Parliament and let the UK leave without an agreement or a legal framework: executive sovereignty overriding parliamentary sovereignty, flatly contradicting the rhetoric of the Leave campaign.

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Getting rid of May doesn’t resolve the worst thing about her deal

The papers are full of speculation that Theresa May’s days as Prime Minister are numbered. So far so like every other day for the past year or so.

If current reports are to be believed, up to 11 members of the Cabinet are poised to replace her with David Lidington, Michael Gove or Jeremy Hunt pending a leadership contest in the Autumn.

This was always the danger though. If she got her deal through, she would always have been quietly – or not- dumped later this year and the new leader would preside over negotiations with the EU on a longer term trade deal. It is likely that that leader would be someone who was acceptable to the ERG. That means they would be after all sorts of impossible unicorns like a free trade deal where they had to comply with absolutely none of the EU’s rules.

There is no way the EU would agree to the carefully crafted single market being compromised – and nor should they. The level playing field across Europe is a very good thing and leaving it is an act of folly.

But it’s not only trade deals with the EU that need to be forged. It’s trade deals with the rest of the world. We would be at a distinct disadvantage negotiating on our own with China and the US. Vince keeps citing the example of Switzerland whose access to Chinese markets is next to nothing while the Chinese access to Swiss markets is almost total.

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20 December 2018 – today’s press releases

Today is topped and tailed by Brexit, hardly unusual, but there is also some good stuff responding to today’s events…

  • Rival Brexit plans reveal Govt without a course
  • Govt must act to prevent deaths on our streets
  • Govt must end ‘wild west’ drone market
  • Lib Dems: Public health cuts demonstrate Tories’ duplicity
  • Alun Cairns Must Resign if UK Government Back No Deal – Welsh Lib Dems

Rival Brexit plans reveal Govt without a course

Responding to rival Brexit plans set out by Amber Rudd and Andrea Leadsom, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake has said:

While people at home over Christmas will be worried

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Recent Comments

  • Tom Harney
    Of course most people are not going to decide their vote according to which party has a slogan about rejoining the EU. What would make a difference is a party w...
  • Martin
    Marco: Vince was always a fairly classy act. It is a pity he was not leader much earlier. I had hope that Ed might be able to have taken his cue from Vince a...
  • Marco
    .. a broader problem however is that demographic changes meant the South West would have become harder to hold onto anyway as people have moved there and import...
  • Marco
    In hindsight Vince was a better leader than I realised at the time. Despite slightly cringey statements like "B******s to Brexit" and "exotic spresm" he got to ...
  • expats
    Paul Fox 6th Dec '22 - 10:58am....If, as seems likely, there is a hung parliament after the next General Election, we need to be clear what it is that we will b...