Tag Archives: ed davey

Ed Davey slams “illiberal, catastrophic, sickeningly cruel” Queen’s Speech

Ed Davey condemned many of the measures outlined in the Queen’s Speech yesterday, particularly the measures to make it harder for people to seek asylum in the UK – “sickeningly cruel” he called it.

He slammed the Government for failing to bring forward proposals on social care again.

He also described the voter suppression measures as being straight out of the Donald Trump playbook “the actions of despots.”

He did not hold back.

Enjoy.

The Queen’s Speech comes at a time like no other—after a year in which so many families have suffered the tragic loss of a loved one, when we have all experienced isolation from friends and family, and when so many have lost businesses, jobs and hard-earned savings. That is why we are all so grateful to the scientists, NHS staff, care workers and community volunteers who have delivered the vaccine roll-out and given us all hope. We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.

Before I move on to the Gracious Speech, let me join in the tributes to the people this Parliament has lost in the past year. I shall focus on two remarkable women. The first is our friend Dame Cheryl Gillan, who sadly passed away last month. She was a truly dedicated public servant, warm, friendly, and liked and respected in all parts of the House. My thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time.

The second is Shirley—Shirley Williams. The Liberal Democrat family are not alone in mourning the loss of Shirley. Shirley was a giant of British politics for over half a century. She combined a remarkable intellect and a wholehearted compassion with fierce determination like no one else I have known. Shirley was at once a wonderful human being and an unstoppable force of nature. We already miss her wise counsel, forceful arguments and boundless energy.

I pay tribute to the hon. Members for North West Cambridgeshire (Shailesh Vara) and for South Ribble (Katherine Fletcher). The proposer’s speech was mostly excellent, although I was slightly disappointed by two omissions. First, the hon. Gentleman omitted to tell the House how the Liberal Democrats have removed the Conservatives from power in his county of Cambridgeshire. Secondly, he was a distinguished Northern Ireland Minister, resigning on principle against the withdrawal agreement negotiated by the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May). He argued—I quote his resignation letter—that her withdrawal agreement would mean Northern Ireland being

“subject to a different relationship with the EU from the rest of the UK”.

I was hoping to hear an analysis of how the EU trade deal and the Brexit deal was impacting Northern Ireland, because he voted for that despite the fact that its impact on Northern Ireland is worse than that of the withdrawal agreement.

The speech by the hon. Member for South Ribble was entertaining, but, given her stated passion for a beer, I wish she had told us more about her time as a biology student at the University of Nottingham—my hometown, where there is a great night-time economy, which I am sure she enjoyed. Wikipedia tells us that during her student days she worked as a nursing assistant in an elderly care home, so I hope we can look forward to her support as Liberal Democrats press the Government to deliver on their promises on long-delayed social care reform.

The Government’s programme needed to heal the nation, learn the lessons from the pandemic and prepare our country for the enormous economic, social and environmental challenges ahead. I regret to say that, with this programme, the Conservative Government have failed on every single account. To heal the nation, we first needed to look after people who have been bereaved, especially children. I have been campaigning for a better deal for bereaved families for many years, drawing on my own experience of losing my father at the age of four, when my mother was widowed in her 30s with three boys under 10.

With this pandemic, the need to help bereaved children in our country has never been greater, especially those whose mums and dads were unmarried and who currently get no help at all after losing a parent. The Childhood Bereavement Network estimates that about 3,000 children have lost an unmarried mum or dad during covid. A caring Government would give them support now, yet I have to tell the House that this Government are dragging their feet on even basic help for such children who have lost their mums and dads. They have even fought two court cases to prevent bereavement support from going to families, just because their parents were unmarried—as if the parents’ marital status was the fault of the grieving children. Fortunately the Government lost twice in the courts, thanks to the Human Rights Act—the Act that they ominously want to undermine with their threat in the Queen’s Speech to judicial review.

Even though the Government lost in the courts, Ministers have still tried to escape the rule of law, dragging their feet on obeying the court ruling, so that many children who lost their mum or dad to covid have gone without. That is a scandal. I have raised it with the Prime Minister himself time and again, most recently in a face-to-face meeting last month. He promised me action, but there is nothing in the Queen’s Speech for bereaved families or children. So, I am working on a cross-party basis to amend the Queen’s Speech so that the Prime Minister is forced to obey the rule of law—forced by the courts and this House to help children whose mum or dad has died during covid.

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Good luck everyone!

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Ed Davey’s message to voters

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Ed Davey has issued this message to everyone who will be voting tomorrow:

Covid has reminded all of us just how important our local community is, and by electing a Liberal Democrat, people will be choosing a hardworking local champion for their community.

People also appreciate now more than ever their local green spaces and their community’s wider environment so I’m proud how Liberal Democrats have always led the way in putting the environment at the heart of our campaigns.

Across the country Labour and the Conservatives too often sit on their hands while our green spaces are sold off to the highest bidder and our children breathe dangerous polluted air.

In contrast, the Liberal Democrat environment record in local government is unbeatable, whether it’s delivering the country’s first clean air zone outside of London to topping the country’s leaderboard for recycling rates.

So if you want to get things done in your community and you want your local environment protected, vote Liberal Democrat.

 

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Let’s really be the opposition to Boris’ government

I am sorry that the person who has led the most serious criticisms of Boris’ government has had to self-isolate, i.e. Sir Ed Davey.  He was right to suggest that we Lib-Dems are the real opposition.  The leader of the Labour Party does not appear to be strong enough for the battles that are needed and is making a mistake if he thinks he can win public support only on the basis of sleaze.

Most importantly the handling of the pandemic is key to understanding the mistaken way this government operates under Boris.

What follows is a letter I had published on Monday 26th in my local newspaper, The Sentinel, with a picture of Boris and a headline using my last sentence.  I hope it encourages others to write in their local papers.  This surely is the kind of message that must be part of our campaign to show people we can do better than the Conservatives, both during the current elections and in the next year or so.  I refer, of course, to just a few of the elements of criticism that can be made of this government.

The main source of data that I have used is found here.

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Ed and Tim angry at “callous” statement by PM

Both Ed Davey and Tim Farron have been quick to show their anger about the reported “Let the bodies pile high” remark by PM Johnson:

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Ed Davey – Clean up our air to save lives

On a recent visit to Watford, Ed Davey unveiled the Liberal Democrats’ proposals for a £20billion Community Clean Air fund – part of the party’s £150 billion Green Economic Recovery Plan.

With air pollution causing 40,000 early deaths a year and transport now the country’s biggest source of carbon emissions, the Fund would enable Councils and communities to tackle this and spearhead a local transport revolution

New light rail and tram projects, conversion of bus fleets to hydrogen energy and new council-led clean air zones are three key parts of the plan.

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Ed Davey has to self isolate

Ed Davey announced last night that he and his family have to self isolate as someone who helps him and his wife Emily care for their disabled son John has tested positive for Coronavirus.

All of us at LDV wish the family well and hope that the person who tested positive makes a quick and full recovery.

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Lib Dems’ parliamentary tributes to Prince Philip

I am sure that all our hearts will go out to the Queen today as we see her sitting alone in St George’s Chapel at the funeral of her husband of 73 years.

Bereavement is horrific at any time, but the pandemic has made it even more cruel for millions of people.

For the Queen there is a particularly difficult aspect. She’ll be on her own, but with the eyes of the entire world upon her. I just hope that she gets some comfort from knowing that she has the compassion and love of those millions of people.

This Monday, all our Parliaments were recalled to pay tribute to Prince Philip. Below are the tributes paid by Ed Davey, Willie Rennie, Kirsty Williams and Dick Newby, covering so many aspects of his life. Ed’s tales of Paddy’s encounters with the Duke will make you smile.

They are fitting tributes to someone who was such a huge part of our nation’s life for almost three quarters of a century.

Ed Davey

Princess Anne said yesterday:

“You know it is going to happen but you are never really ready.”

That is a truth shared by so many grieving families. Most people know that their loved one is near the end of their life because they are old or very sick, but that does not mean that they can avoid the tidal wave of grief—that moment of finality. This year more than most so many families have faced that moment, so I am sure that the Princess Royal speaks for not just the Queen and the royal family but the whole country: you are never really ready.

However, as people grieve, we can also say thank you— thank you to one of Britain’s greatest public servants of the last 100 years. As other party leaders have said, Prince Philip has been a rock in the life of our nation since his betrothal to our Queen, then the young Princess Elizabeth. Above all, he has always been her rock. After 73 years of marriage, it will be our Queen who feels this loss far more than anyone else. If anyone says that bereavement is easier when a loved one has lived a long life, I have to say that that is not my experience. So, ma’am, our hearts go out to you.

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Ed Davey’s Easter message

Here is Ed Davey’s just-released Easter message!

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Ed Davey comes out against vaccine passports

Someone asked me the other day what I thought our position should be on vaccine passports.

I said that if we supported them, then it would be something that would make me question my membership of the party.

Ed Davey has missed his chance to get rid of me with a blistering article in today’s Telegraph:

He said that they would be “illiberal, unworkable and utterly ineffective in keeping people safe from Covid.”

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Ed Davey’s message for Passover – Chag Sameach!

Here is Ed Davey’s message for Passover, published last night. Our best wishes to all celebrating today.

At sundown tonight, Jewish communities in the UK and around the world will mark the beginning of Passover, the eight-day festival commemorating the liberation of the Israelites after 400 years of slavery in ancient Egypt.

The story of the Exodus has inspired generations; it’s a story of hope and triumph. It shows us what’s possible when we hold tight to faith in the midst of darkness and uncertainty. This is a message that’s relevant, even today.

Usually, Passover is a large celebratory affair, marked by generations of families gathering around the Seder table to share a festive meal. However, this year celebrations will be smaller. Many will look around the table and think of loved ones who cannot be there and some traditions may even be modified in an attempt to adapt to these unprecedented times.

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Ed Davey: We will not support the extension of the Coronavirus Act

Yesterday Ed Davey attracted quite a lot of media coverage when he asked this question during Prime Minister’s Questions:

He explained his reasoning in more detail in an article in The Independent titled Why the Liberal Democrats won’t vote to renew the Coronavirus Act.

He writes:

When Boris Johnson asks MPs to renew the Coronavirus Act on Thursday, he is asking us to give his government a blank cheque to reduce everyone’s rights and freedoms for another six months. No MP should vote for that.

It’s important to remember what this vote is not about. It’s not about lockdown, or quarantine, or the requirement to wear face-coverings – all of which the Liberal Democrats have consistently supported as necessary to contain the spread of the virus and keep people safe.

Despite its name, the Coronavirus Act doesn’t actually include the most important Covid laws. Even though the Act originally passed through the House of Commons on the same day the prime minister announced the first national lockdown – a year ago yesterday – the lockdown itself was implemented through completely separate legislation, under the 1984 Public Health Act.

So what does the Act cover?

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

  • Small businesses must be at the heart of our recovery
  • Liberal Democrats champion a fairer deal for consumers
  • Liberal Democrats call for emergency £2.6bn carers support package
  • Small businesses must be at the heart of our recovery

    Liberal Democrats have passed a motion at their Spring Conference calling for a comprehensive package of support for small businesses and the self-employed, including:

  • Dedicated support schemes for the worst-affected sectors, such as hospitality, tourism, charities and the creative industries.
  • More support for businesses as we return to normal, by extending business rates relief, VAT reductions and tax deferrals.
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Ed Davey sets out Liberal Democrat vision of a brighter, more hopeful future

Ed Davey made his keynote speech to Federal Conference this afternoon. We’ll have the video when it is up but in the meantime, here are the words:

Good afternoon Conference.

Our country is hurting right now.

One hundred and twenty-five thousand lives have been taken by this cruel virus.

One hundred and twenty-five thousand mums and dads. Brothers and sisters. Sons and daughters.

One hundred and twenty-five thousand empty chairs at our kitchen tables.

So many families, mourning the loss of a loved one.

Even those who have been spared the agony of bereavement…

Even they are suffering enormous hardships.

Families kept apart by lockdown.

Parents who haven’t seen their children for over a year.

Grandparents who’ve missed out on the joy of holding the new baby.

Businesses closed. Jobs lost. Savings destroyed.

A whole year of isolation. Fear. Grief.

Government Failures

All compounded tragically by the failures of this Conservative Government. Poorly prepared. Slow to act. Ignoring expert advice.

Boris Johnson’s indecision and incompetence has failed our nation.

Leaving the most vulnerable – elderly people, disabled people – to be attacked by the virus in their care homes, where they should have been safe.

Leaving our country with a shockingly high death rate – one of the worst in the world.

This Government must be held to account. Britain’s bereaved families deserve answers.

So Liberal Democrats will continue to lead that charge.

Boris Johnson must set up now the independent inquiry he promised me in the House of Commons last June.

No more excuses. No more delays.

Sarah Everard and protests

And after all the pain inflicted by Covid, last week we were forced to confront another national anguish.

 

The shocking, tragic killing of Sarah Everard.

 

And the violence perpetrated by far too many men against far too many women.

 

The abuse, the harassment and the fear women face every day, walking down their own streets.

 

And then, those awful scenes from Clapham Common.

 

Women, wrestled to the ground by police officers.

 

Handcuffed and dragged away, simply for holding a peaceful vigil in Sarah’s memory.

 

Simply for saying enough is enough.

 

We have to do better as a country.

 

We must do better at tackling violence against women.

 

Believing survivors. Making clear that misogyny in any form is unacceptable.

 

And we have to do better as men.

 

Listening to women. Calling out other men. Never turning a blind eye.

 

Just as with the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, this pandemic makes these issues more urgent – not less.

 

And this Government – these Conservatives, who talk so much about their freedoms and their free speech –

 

Must stop their assault on everyone else’s freedoms.

 

Our fundamental rights to peaceful assembly and protest.

 

Rights that have always been so crucial to our democratic society.

 

Rights crucial to the struggle over decades to advance equality and end discrimination.

 

The recovery we need

After so much hurt, we need hope.

 

And that is what our wonderful NHS staff and volunteers are injecting into our lives as they work tirelessly delivering vaccines.

 

Hope, so we can finally look forward.

 

And as we do, we must put recovery first.

 

The recovery of our health, our freedoms and our communities.

 

The recovery of business, the economy and jobs.

 

A recovery that is fair.

 

Fair for the doctors and nurses, care workers, teachers, and countless more on the frontline who have gone to work every day – putting themselves at risk to keep the rest of us safe.

Fair for the people who have stepped up heroically to look after their loved ones.

 

The unpaid carers so often forgotten.

 

The parents who have somehow juggled home-working with home-schooling.

 

Fair for the small businesses who have adapted and innovated and sweated their way through this crisis.

 

All of you – together – have pulled our country through.

 

Thank you.

 

So we need a recovery that does justice to the sacrifices you have made.

 

A fairer, greener, more caring country

A recovery that delivers on our vision of a fairer, greener, more caring country.

 

Fairer…

 

Where everyone can have a good job and real opportunity, no matter where they were born or what school they go to.

 

Where small businesses and the self-employed can thrive, creating secure jobs with good pay.

 

Where every person’s rights and dignity are respected.

 

And fairer: where women no longer have to fear harassment, abuse and violence from men.

 

Greener…

 

Where we invest in exciting new technologies and insulate every home – to create secure, well-paid, green jobs in every part of the UK.

 

Where we work together with other nations to tackle the global climate emergency.

 

Where we clean our air and protect green spaces, and so improve people’s mental and physical health.

 

And more caring…

 

Where we look after one another, and finally recognise the true value of care.

 

Where we stand up for carers and give them the support they deserve.

 

Where people with mental ill health get quality care, quickly – not least children and young people.

 

And where we pay our nurses and care workers properly.

 

How dare Boris Johnson say all he can afford is a one per cent pay rise for nurses and other NHS staff?

 

How can he find billions for contracts for his Tory cronies, but not for the amazing people who have put their lives on the line for us?

 

How dare he boast about the vaccine rollout they are delivering so brilliantly, while he treats them so disgracefully?

 

Prime Minister: pay NHS and care staff properly. Do it now.

 

Put recovery first

Friends, that’s the recovery our nation needs.

That’s the fairer, greener, more caring country that lies ahead of us.

I know the British people can get there. But it will take the Liberal Democrats to lead the way.

Just as Liberal Democrats have already led the way towards a fairer, greener, more caring country –

With the progress we have delivered in Parliaments and councils across the UK –

Wherever and whenever we win elections.

And we can do it again now.

Because we will put recovery first.

If only the others would.

But the Conservatives won’t.

They have put Brexit ahead of the national interest, with their disastrous trade deal.

The Conservatives have put enriching their wealthy friends ahead of fair pay for nurses or support for small businesses.

And they are putting their right-wing, shrink-the-state ideology ahead of working with industry, even junking the very idea of an industrial strategy. Just when we need a recovery.

And the Nationalists in Scotland certainly won’t put recovery first.

Because they put their obsession with independence ahead of everything else.

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Lib Dems back carers with £2.6 billion support package in emotional debate

You would think, wouldn’t you, that if the person you had spent your life from childhood caring for died, you would get some help with funeral expenses?

You would think, wouldn’t you, that if the person you had spent your life from childhood for died, you wouldn’t be made homeless?

You would think, wouldn’t you, that if you were willing to take on the responsibility of caring for someone you love, you would automatically get at least some training in how to lift them in a way that didn’t ruin your own health? Or some information regarding your rights as a carer.

Nope.

In an incredibly powerful and emotional debate at Conference, carers described how hard their lives can be. The main motion, proposing a £2.6 billion boost for support for carers, was proposed by Ed Davey, who, of course, has had caring responsibilities throughout his life. As a teenager he cared for his terminally ill mother. As an adult, he cared for his grandparents and, now, his severely disabled son.

Charley Hasted proposed an amendment which added in to the main motion, better provision for respite care, better training and support for carers, removal of the cliff edge of removal of benefits if they should take up employment and faster access to mental health support. In one of the most powerful speeches I have ever heard at Conference, they described how they can’t remember a time when they weren’t a carer. They care for their disabled mother with their sibling. They described how the last time they and their sibling were able to do anything social together was 23 years ago when they went to the cinema as 11 year olds.

They broke down as they described their love for their mother and the fact that they have never had respite care as the arrangements that would be made for her would not meet her needs. Carers are desperate, they said, and need the help set out in the motion.

Charley’s amendment passed with not one single vote against.

Young Liberal Katharine Macy, said that if her mum died tomorrow, she wouldn’t have any idea about how she would pay for the funeral. She described how three people she has cared for her in her life have passed away and the problems that this has caused. Her amendment gives anyone who is eligible for Carer’s Allowance the right to a Funeral Expenses Payment.

The main proposals in the motion which you can read here, are:

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Lib Dems tell Cressida Dick to resign

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

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

Here is their letter:

Dear Commissioner,

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

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

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

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

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

Yours sincerely ,

Ed Davey MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Luisa Porritt, Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London

Alistair Carmichael MP, Spokesperson for Home Affairs

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Ed Davey’s speech to Scottish Lib Dem Conference – Independence is Brexit 2.0

Ed Davey spoke to Scottish Lib Dem Conference on Friday. Here is his speech in full:

One of the things that gives me great hope for our Party is seeing so many brilliant rising stars like Joe.

In the year of COP26, Glasgow will be in the global spotlight, and I hope that talented young activists like Joe can be at the forefront of making liberal voices heard. In the crucial debate of our generation – the climate.

I had hoped that by now the Government would be on top of this pandemic. That I would be speaking in person and with you able to knock on doors to get as many Liberal Democrat MSPs elected as possible.

Instead, I was delighted to join some of you for the recent Maraphone event that took place on Six Nations weekend.

You may not have beaten Wales on the pitch, but on the phones Scotland reigns supreme. And please don’t mention the Calcutta Cup.

But seriously, if you haven’t yet had a chance to join one of those Maraphone events, I would highly recommend it. It feels pretty good to connect with voters again.

When I spoke to you last, I was in the middle of my listening tour, travelling up and down the UK.

I talked of our internationalist values and our unwavering pro-European commitment.

And Brexit is already the disaster we said it would be – with huge costs for business.

From the record increase in red tape hitting our exporters to the loss of the Erasmus scheme, Boris Johnson’s Conservative Government’s response to the worst economic downturn in 300 years is – to make it more difficult to trade. More difficult to do business. More difficult to keep your job. The Tories seem determined to make us smaller, poorer and more isolated.

They didn’t write that on the side of their bus.

To take just one example: Scottish seafood exporters are losing £1m every day – when the Government could have followed Christine Jardine’s advice and secured a grace period for their trading arrangements.

The UK deserves better than this. I have never been more convinced that being part of the European Union must be part of our country’s destiny.

Sadly Brexit is not the only challenge facing the Scottish economy.

The UK Government has been no more successful at selling the best of Scotland across the Atlantic than it has at keeping the free flow of goods to the continent.

Scotch Whisky exports are now at their lowest levels for 10 years — a product in which Scotland is the utterly undisputed world leader. The Conservatives spent years cosying up to Donald Trump and now we are paying the price.

As we come out of the pandemic, I want to see a green recovery with high skilled, high wage jobs for people in every corner of the UK. I want to see our world leading industries flourishing with hundreds of thousands of good jobs.

That will never happen under Boris Johnson’s cruel and incompetent Conservative Government, whose budget this week threatens to cut off the recovery before it has even got started, letting down small businesses and allowing far too many people to fall through the cracks.

Nor will it happen under a hapless SNP government who would impose independence – Brexit 2.0.

Liberal Democrats want to put recovery first. The SNP want to break-up first.

Liberal Democrats have plans to recover the health and jobs of the Scottish people, SNP plans would harm the NHS and hit jobs across Scotland.

We Liberal Democrats want to see a society richer in more than just material terms. I want to see a society that is fairer, greener and more caring.

That’s why last year I pledged to be the voice of the 9 million carers in our country.

If you’ve heard my story before you will know that this is a deeply personal subject to me. I’ve been a carer throughout my life – for my mum during my teens, then for my wonderful Nanna, and now for my disabled son.

Our Stand up for Carers campaign aims to make sure that carers are no longer forgotten or left behind by those in power.

I have been inspired by Willie Rennie, who has pressed the Scottish Government for months over carers and the situation in care homes.

From exposing the lack of tests and PPE, to pushing for safe visiting to be allowed once more. The people in these homes have spent months apart from their families.

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Ed Davey calls for Team GB to boycott the Chinese Winter Olympics over the genocide of the Uighurs

Ed Davey asked the Prime Minister this question yesterday.

Boris Johnson said he was appalled by the abuse of the Uighurs, but was not in favour of sporting boycotts.

What do our readers think?

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Ed Davey: Scrap the new Cumbrian coal mine

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Ed Davey has welcomed the decision to review the planning permission of a new coal mine in Cumbria:

The Liberal Democrats have long called for a rethink on plans on for a new coal mine in Cumbria and I am delighted that’s exactly what has happened.

If Boris Johnson is serious about climate action he will call on Cumbria county council to scrap the mine

Cumbria County Council now need to do the right thing and throw these plans out, or the Prime Minister must

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Families of those of who have died from Covid-19 deserve answers – Ed Davey

Ed Davey has responded to Boris Johnson’s refusal to lay out a timeline for a public inquiry into his Government’s response to the coronavirus crisis:

Boris Johnson says there will come a time to learn the lessons of the pandemic, but the public will rightly ask, if not now, then when? The best time to learn lessons and prevent the most deaths is today.

The Prime Minister can’t tell us exactly when schools will return safely, can’t tell us when most of the country will be offered a vaccine and can’t tell us when the current lockdown will end.

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LibLink – Ed Davey: LGBT+ history month is a time to celebrate the lives and experiences of the entire LGBT+ community.

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Over on the party website, Ed Davey has written about LGBT+ history month, which has started:

The fight towards equality is a long one and we all owe a huge debt to the activists and campaigners who have fought tirelessly for the freedoms so many are able to enjoy today. Let us celebrate historical figures like Alan Turing and Marsha P Johnson, as well as modern day activists such as Lady Phyll, founder of UK Black Pride.

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Building a fairer, more caring United Kingdom

Here is a preview of our party political broadcast which can be seen today on BBC One at 6.55pm and ITV at 6.25pm.

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Ed Davey’s thoughts on Holocaust Memorial Day

Apologies for not posting this yesterday.

Ed Davey writes:

Today we remember every single life cut short during the Holocaust – the Jewish lives and the countless others who suffered at the hands of the Nazis.

It is vital that we remember these innocent victims and tell new generations of the unspeakable things people experienced in Nazi death camps and ghettos, from the torture to the mass exterminations.

It’s vital because we must never forget the lesson – that every human life should be valued and cared for.

The theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day – be the light in the darkness – is the lesson we can all choose to live out. That as we struggle with what the world confronts us with – we can all choose to be a force for good. And that choosing to be a light in the darkness will always be a necessary choice.

For as we say again, “never again”, we must recognise that the depravity, evil and lies that led to the Holocaust still exists in our world today.

For the path to genocide starts with words, hate speech and discrimination, and will unfold still further if people are indifferent or passive.

As a Liberal, I hope we all remember Pastor Niemöller’s poem, beginning “First they came for the Communists, And I did not speak out, Because I was not a Communist.” There can be devastating consequences if we choose to turn a blind eye to hate and injustice.

We know the poison of anti-Semitism still exists. We know that venomous racism is still rife. We know that prejudice and discrimination still disfigures the lives of millions across the world.

So as we reflect on this Holocaust Memorial Day, let us pledge to be lights in the darkness. To nurture the values and freedoms that lead people to care about others, to care for the stranger and to care for the rights of individual human beings across the world.

Thank you to everyone involved in marking this important day.

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Post-Brexit political campaigning

Brexit is not over. Nor have the Liberal Democrats given up on the issue – nor should you.  Ed Davey and others have taken the tactical decision that the campaigning priority now should be on the government’s incompetence across the board.  The Conservatives now ‘own’ Brexit, and are struggling with the consequences of sacrificing free access for the illusion of sovereignty.  They would love us to come out at once for rejoining: that would allow them to return to blaming ‘remoaners’ for somehow sabotaging Brexit, and avoid having to explain how they got us into this mess.

Voters are tired and confused by bitter arguments over the EU.  A clear majority now recognise the costs, and consider leaving a mistake; but there is not yet widespread support for trying to rejoin a month after we left.  Better for us immediately to focus on the detailed implications, issue by issue, and let voters come to terms with the painful reality of losing easy access to our neighbours’ countries and markets.

The Times on 21st January reported that the highly effective letter from professional musicians it had published the day before, which had led the Culture Secretary to retreat from his previously unhelpful position on future reciprocal EU working permits, had been ‘organised by the Liberal Democrats’ (thanks to our DCMS team, with Paul Strasburger in the lead on this).  Alastair Carmichael has been vocal in support of the fishermen now unable to transport and sell their fish in continental markets.  Jenny Randerson is campaigning in support of hauliers struggling with delays and paperwork.  Your parliamentary team are now stirring on the petty decision to deny the EU Representative in London diplomatic status: a gesture that will delight European Research Group MPs, but lose further good will among EU governments.

Much of what is now going wrong was perfectly obvious from the start of the Brexit negotiations, but denied by the hard Brexiteers who voted down Theresa May’s less minimalist deal and pushed for ‘sovereignty’ at the cost of all other considerations.  It may well get worse.  It won’t help us to say ‘We told you so’ to voters who are beginning to change their minds.  Better to help those adversely affected challenge the government on why it misled them on the consequences of Brexit.

Posted in Op-eds | 18 Comments

We’ll always have a pro-EU message – but it’ll take time to get to ‘rejoin now’

“That’s the final straw.”

“This isn’t our conference policy.”

“I’m furious – we MUST form a new pro-EU party.”

Those of us who speak with fellow members and supporters will have heard a lot like this over the past few days.

Ed Davey’s interview on Marr may not have fully captured the nuance of our position or even our long-term aim.  But as much as we are all still upset about Brexit, contesting the content of that one interview misses the point about the challenges we face.

As we know, the context for us is very difficult.  The UK has left the EU.  We have lost the biggest political fight in a generation.  Our party has only 11 MPs – partly as a result of our failure to get the message right.

But to get a better view on the how we make our case from now, it may be instructive to consider how we became the most pro-EU party in the first place.

The day after the 2016 referendum our then leader Tim Farron addressed a public demonstration at a time when nearly all other politicians were silent.

Tim’s brave decision placed us at the heart of the pro-EU movement.  But his message was not a blunt ‘overturn the decision’ – and nor was that our policy.

Tim started with a simple call for a referendum at some point in the future.  The formal policy followed to push for a public vote on the government’s deal.

By the 2017 election, the message was that there would be a referendum and we’d campaign for remain.  As a candidate in that election, my Eurosceptic Labour opponent told me in hustings to “be honest and just say the Lib Dems want to cancel Brexit”.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 44 Comments

LibLink: Ed Davey – The Liberal Democrats are the most pro-European party in British politics

It is fair to say that quite a lot of Liberal Democrats were a bit worried by Ed Davey’s comments on Andrew Marr at the weekend that “we are not a rejoin party.”

In an article on the party website, he sets out his thinking. Rejoin is not an issue for now, but the Lib Dems will make the pro-European arguments and hope to persuade people that we can rejoin in the longer term.

He also warns against Scotland repeating the mistake of Brexit with independence.

The Liberal Democrats are the most pro-European party in British politics. We truly believe that we are stronger together, and internationalism will always be one of our core values.

That hasn’t changed now that we have left the European Union.

I am proud how we Liberal Democrats campaigned tirelessly against Brexit, and proud that last month all Liberal Democrat MPs voted against Johnson’s dreadful EU Trade Deal – already proving so disastrous to small businesses, fishermen and the wider economy.

And I’m determined the Liberal Democrats remain a pro-European party committed to the UK being members of the European Union again.

But we are realistic. We get that we lost the battle to stop Brexit.

It’s also a simple fact that the UK won’t be rejoining in the immediate future because the Conservative Government has a majority of 80.

So for now we must make the case for a close relationship with the EU and for the merits of free movement of people and highlight the huge problems caused by the chaotic Brexit.

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Ed Davey on Marr: We need £150 billion green recovery, not weak and timid government

“We are not a rejoin party” was one of the first things Ed Davey said in his New Year interview with Andrew Marr. The starkness of that statement is bound to disappoint some Liberal Democrat members and activists who are committed to this country ultimately being part of the EU again. Party strategists are adamant that now is not the time to have that argument and that we need to re-establish our credibility after the 2019 election. Perhaps being proven right will take care of some of that issue. We just need to make sure that we can be better at benefitting from being right than we have been all the other times when we have called a major issue correctly – think Iraq and the 2008 economic crisis.

It’s also not what our policy, passed at Conference in September, says:

Conference resolves to support a longer term objective of UK membership of the EU.

I would have preferred to see a very quick addition to Ed’s line that we didn’t support Brexit for all the reasons we can see it going wrong before he emphasises the need for the closest possible relationship with the EU. There is nothing wrong with saying that while rejoin isn’t on the table now, we think we’ll get to a place where it will be a viable option. There is nothing wrong with keeping that hope alive.

However, he was very strong on one issue that differentiates us from the Labour Party. Keir Starmer is not going to fight for freedom of movement of people. The Liberal Democrats will. Ed said that taking away the freedom to live, work and raise families across the EU is illiberal. The issue is one that impacts on so many families in this country and should increase our support.

That’s a major point of difference with Labour and should attract young people.

The conversation then turned to students. Ed said that the Government had let down schools, universities and students. He called Gavin Williamson the worst education secretary in living memory, who had mismanaged the crisis for everyone in the education sector. He argued that students should be refunded some of their fees and the Government, not the universities should pay for this.

Marr then turned to another really important issue for Lib Dem voters – the environment.

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Ed Davey’s Green Alliance podcast

Ed Davey was interviewed recently for a podcast published by the Green Alliance.

Shaun Spiers, executive director at Green Alliance, asks him about the historical commitment of the Liberal Democrats to environmental policies. Ed talks about his achievements in the Coalition, and the rather tepid support from the Conservatives since then for green issues. He also makes the case for regulation, and the opportunity offered post-pandemic to rebuild our economy on greener lines.

At one point Ed reveals that, after the Coalition, George Osborne took legal advice about cancelling the 15 year contracts set up under the Contracts for Difference scheme, which supported various green initiatives. Osborne was told that he could not unpick them because they were private law contracts – which is exactly what Ed has planned in order to protect them from future Government interference.

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Ed Davey volunteers to help with Covid vaccine

Our Ed has got himself in the Sun two weeks in a row.

He has signed up to the paper’s scheme to provide volunteers to help with the rollout of the Covid vaccine.

It is certainly going to be some job to get this vaccine rolled out.

My Dad, who has just turned 75, got his first jab this week. It is such a relief. I don’t think I will even start to rest easy until my Mum and husband have had theirs, though.

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How Ed Davey could lead for a Citizens’ Britain in 2021

At the end of last year, Ian Kearns and I published a short report called Citizens’ Britain: a radical agenda for the 2020s. The title was in homage to Paddy Ashdown’s book of the same title from 1989, and the core of the approach remains exactly the same: we see the task of liberalism today as being to put more power in more people’s hands. We quote Paddy to start the report:

A society cannot be free and is very unlikely to be successful for long unless the men and women in it have real power to determine their own destiny. The one thing that unfailingly gives me satisfaction in politics is to watch those who have been taught they are the subject of others’ power, rise to meet the challenge of power in their own hands – and then be unbelieving at what they are able to do.

The tools and the methods do change with the times, however. So in the spirit of making this tangible, and building on what they are already doing, here are three proposals for Ed and the HQ team as they rebuild the party.

1. Care is a good focus – but do it with people, not just for them

It’s clear that Ed is staking a lot on the issue of care, and with good reason. His own story makes him highly credible, and it is a huge priority issue with the public (even ahead of Covid, according to some research).

A Citizens’ Britain approach could equip us to work on this in a big, inclusive, participatory way. I’d love to see us launch a “National Care Conversation”, gathering stories of personal experiences from carers and those who depend on it; generating ideas for the future of care from everywhere (perhaps working in partnership with the brilliant Social Care Future campaign); and then tasking an independent Citizens’ Assembly, representative of the national population, to make recommendations as to what policies should be enacted.

We could then respond to these recommendations at our conference, with a view to adopting them as our policy. This would frame us as the party that aimed to put power in more people’s hands, in the context of this vital issue.

2. Talk about power

Posted in Op-eds | 8 Comments
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