Tag Archives: ed davey

Wanted – a bit more dissent!

The last piece I contributed to Lib Dem Voice appeared a couple of years ago in August 2018 and was entitled Why Aren’t We Doing (Much) Better? That posting (which does seem, at least in part, to have been vindicated by subsequent events) was prompted by a critical analysis of party performance in The New Statesman: this one, which could reasonably be accused of being “Why aren’t we doing (much) better 2”, is prompted by a critical analysis of party performance in The Spectator. Not, interestingly, from The Spec’s ever-growing army of cultural warriors of the libertarian right, but from that pillar of Europhile liberal Toryism, Matthew Parris.

Mr Parris is saying that we Liberal Democrats haven’t said one new or critical or penetrating thing since the last Election. Who can reasonably disagree with him? The scars of 2019 (and 2015, and 2017) go deep within our party, and there has inevitably been an extended period of introspection. Both ourselves and the Labour Party are now in the very uncomfortable position of recognising that in the autumn of 2019 the majority of active party members wanted to take positions on Europe that proved politically disastrous. Those wise older LibDem hands who warned against the Revoke position lost the relevant conference vote by a landslide, with consequences that grew more apparent everyday: as a party we were unquestionably tough on Brexit, but on the (politically more resonant) causes of Brexit we were, and arguably remain, absolutely nowhere.

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Ed Davey: PM dodged the difficult decisions and acted too late

Boris Johnson as good as said in his address announcing a new “March-style” lockdown that we we would have succeeded in beating Covid if it hadn’t been for this pesky new variant. The variant he’s known about for three months and done little to combat. Brazen or what?

Not even 36 hours had passed since his Marr interview yesterday, when he said that parents should send their kids to school today. Now, the decision he should have taken before Christmas has been made.

Ed Davey pointed out these errors of judgement in his reaction to the PM’s statement. He had earlier called for a lockdown, and so the party will be supporting these measures. However, we also want to see better support for those who have so far been excluded from the Government schemes, investment in mental health services and an increase to Carer’s Allowance.

Ed said:

This is the public health policy the Prime Minister should have announced before Christmas, but yet again, Boris Johnson ducked the difficult decisions, failed to listen to experts and acted too late.

Just yesterday morning Johnson was telling parents that schools were safe and children should definitely go. Today he is telling us that they must all move to remote learning but without any proper future plan.

The Prime Minister’s failure to act earlier means we are seeing record numbers of new infections, a rising death rate, hospitals overwhelmed and NHS and care staff exhausted.

With this new lockdown, Liberal Democrats believe it’s urgent that the Government announce a new comprehensive economic plan for businesses and the self-employed; a plan to increase Carer’s allowance in line with the increases in Universal Credit and must fully take account of the impact of these developments on the mental health of young people and vulnerable individuals who are going through an incredibly difficult time.

All around the world, the evidence is that acting early is critical to minimising damage to the economy and protecting public health. We need a Prime Minister who can act in time, not one who acts when it is too late.

There’s one interesting difference between the PM’s statement and the announcement by Nicola Sturgeon this afternoon.

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Ed Davey calls on Government to make it easier for retired health professionals to work

We’ve all seen some pretty scary things on social media and the news about the strain that some hospitals, particularly in the South East, are under.

In the past few days, I’ve seen accounts of a friend’s relative waiting hours for an emergency ambulance and then spending more than a day in A & E before a bed could be found in a ward.

Just on my social media, I am seeing several people each day testing positive. I’m aware of people having the virus, too, although, thankfully, nobody I know has been seriously ill with it. However, the so called “mild” version is extremely unpleasant.

With all this in mind, you can just imagine the stress that front line health workers must be facing. Exhausted already by the first wave and the race to catch up with the backlog of things that didn’t happen during it, the intensity of the second wave is at times overwhelming for them.

And that’s before any of them catch the virus and have to take time off themselves.

They need reinforcements, so it would help if retired health professionals could take some of the strain, even if it is covering things away from the front line.

But apparently the system makes it difficult for that to happen seamlessly.

Our Ed Davey has got himself into the Sun today, calling on Matt Hancock to sort this out. He said:

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Ed Davey condemns the Future Relationship Bill

Just before noon today, Ed Davey spoke in the Second Reading debate on the European Union (Future Relationship) Bill, and we bring you his speech now. It should be noted that, due to the number of MPs wishing to speak, his intervention was limited to four minutes.

Watch here. The text is below:

Our country is gripped by two crises: Britain’s hospitals are overwhelmed and Britain’s economy is in the worst recession for 300 years. A responsible Government, faced with those crises for people’s health and jobs, would not pass this bad deal, for it will make British people poorer and British people less safe.

This is not really a trade deal at all; it is a loss of trade deal. It is the first trade deal in history to put up barriers to trade. Is that really the Government’s answer to British businesses fearing for their futures and British workers fearing for their jobs? We were told that leaving the EU would cut red tape, but the deal represents the biggest increase in red tape in British history, with 23 new committees to oversee this new trade bureaucracy, 50,000 new customs officials and 400 million new forms. Some analysts estimate the cost of this new red-tape burden for British business at over £20 billion every year. This is not the frictionless trade that the Prime Minister promised.

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Lib Dems react to new Covid restrictions and Christmas misery

For the second time in 6 weeks, the prelude to Strictly involved the Prime Minister announcing tougher restrictions to deal with a new strain of Coronavirus which, although no more lethal, can spread up to 70% faster.

Much of London and the South East have been put on a much stricter Tier 4 from midnight tonight and the 5 day Christmas bubble is now no longer allowed. Outside of Tier 4 areas, bubbles will be able to see each other on Christmas Day only – but the advice is very much “only if you have to.”

The thing that struck me most …

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Shirley Williams Lectures launched to promote ideas exchange

Liberal Democrat members and other progressives can now join an exclusive lecture club to challenge and engage with some of the most original and innovative thinkers of our time.

Launched today, The Shirley Williams Lectures will offer a platform to specialists from a range of fields to share their ideas and vision for the future.  Club members will be given the opportunity to consider and discuss how we can tackle some of the biggest questions facing the world.

Whether it is concepts for a new style of politics, views on the UK’s business outlook, the future of international sport or matters of global ethics, the lecture themes will offer fresh, thought-provoking and contemporary insight.

The lecture series will be delivered online and comprise one event per month during 2021.  Party leader Sir Ed Davey will be kick-starting the programme by outlining his thoughts on the post-COVID economy at the inaugural lecture on 28 January.

Other confirmed speakers include Juergen Maier CBE, who, on 26 February will be taking a deep dive into post-Brexit trade, Baroness Benjamin DBE DL, Olympic medallist and track cyclist Callum Skinner, and Sir Nick Clegg.

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Ed Davey’s message for Hanukkah

This year’s Hanukkah started on Thursday and goes on until next Friday.

Celebrations will be very different this year, as families can’t be together as they would normally.

Here’s Ed Davey’s message for all celebrating:

 

 

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Keeping hope alive

I was reading criticism of the dear leader the other day and thought without leaders to be critical about we really wouldn’t be a Liberal Party.  It’s understandable when we are down in the opinion polls oscillating between 5 and 7 per cent, but I wonder if we aren’t beating ourselves up over something we still haven’t fully come to terms with in order for us to put it right.

Firstly, how we went into and performed in Coalition has done far more damage to our brand than even the most pessimistic Clegg critics predicted. Unless, in the unlikely event, there’s a change in the electoral system, it may have put us back two, three or more decades.

Secondly, as a direct consequence, losing third party status in the Commons has made it near impossible to get back to the levels of broadcast and newspaper coverage we enjoyed before the Coalition. Making our own noise is all we have and internal criticism of whom a majority of members elected as leader doesn’t help when it isn’t justified.

Thirdly, no leader, whether currently among our MPs or from outside, can turn this round without grassroots campaigning on issues that unite rather than divide the electorate. For example, almost everyone loves our NHS, but few hold the same affection for the EU. Why hasn’t the NHS we helped create been first and foremost in our campaigning?

Fourthly, since the Coalition we have allowed ourselves to be framed by Brexit and minority interests and not by what the preamble to our constitution says we stand for. There are very few constituencies where this current perception can deliver seats, and bums on seats is what counts if you want political power in order to redistribute it.

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It’s a mistake to try to be ‘the party of carers’

Sir Ed Davey has repeatedly said that he wants the Liberal Democrats to be “the party of carers”. This is an admirable goal, drawing from his own lived experience as a carer for his mother as a child, and now for his disabled son.

However putting this front and centre, both in Sir Ed’s conference speech and in numerous media interviews, seems to be a serious strategic mistake.

This is not because the issue isn’t important. Carers are treated appallingly by the state and receive grossly inadequate support, if they get any at all. It is absolutely right to speak up for them and to have policies that help them.

But it is a mistake to make this our main message, because the public don’t vote for parties based on technical policy details. They don’t vote for skills wallets, social care reform policies or coffee cup taxes. Nor do they vote based on stances on carers, political reform or mental health provision.

It’s not that the public don’t think that issues like lifelong learning or reducing disposable coffee cup usage are worthy causes. It’s just that they don’t use such stances as guides on who to vote for. As our party president has pointed out in the past, people vote based on what are known as ‘valence’ issues: essentially, totemic issues which signal the “goodness” or “badness” of a party on key areas.

People judge the message a party sends out about its values on key topics like the NHS, or the economy, or Brexit, and then they assume that the detailed policies must be good or bad on that issue, and on associated issues, based on that initial judgement.

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Ed Davey and National Carers Rights Day

The pandemic has opened all our eyes to the importance of carers, whether employed in the care sector or unpaid people who care for family members.

Today is National Carers Rights Day, an event co-ordinated by Carers UK. Their research has unearthed the astonishing statistic that unpaid carers in the UK have saved the state £530 million every day of the pandemic – that is a staggering £135 billion so far.

It is essential that carers know their rights – what they are entitled to and sources of help. There are plenty of pointers here.

During the leadership campaign Ed Davey made respect and support for carers a key issue. He has been doing some serious work on the policy area since then, inspired by his own experiences as a carer, first for his mother when a teenager, and more recently for his disabled son.

He has now launched a campaign to raised the Carer’s Allowance by £1000 per year.

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Unforgivable choices – Lib Dems respond to the Spending Review

For the second time in three days, Christine Jardine pressed the Government to do more to help those who have thus far been excluded from Government support. Three million self-employed people have had nothing since March and some have had no income at all because they work in areas that aren’t yet open. In March they were stressed. Eight months on, they are desperate.

Rishi Sunak was dismissive, but not as egregious as Boris Johnson had been the other day when Christine questioned him.

“I hope we haven’t excluded anyone” said the PM. If he doesn’t know that there is a massive All-Party Parliamentary Group fighting for these people, if he hasn’t been aware of the many questions that have been asked in Parliament, then that shows unforgivable ignorance. If he did know of the plight of the three million, his remarks show callous disregard.

Later, Christine talked to BBC News arguing against the public sector pay freeze and the abandonment of the 0,7% aid target.

On that international aid issue, Wendy Chamberlain highlighted how the Government had gone back on its word:

Ed Davey said that the Chancellor had made some unforgivable political choices:

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Ed Davey added to range of pictorial membership cards

As of today, you can order an Ed Davey membership card.

The suggested donation for a replacement membership card is £2 but anything else you can donate on top will go towards helping the party fight elections next May.

You can order online here.

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LISTEN: Ed Davey on Any Questions

Ed Davey was on Any Questions last night. The other panelists were Kim Darroch, the UK’s Ambassador to the US until last year, Diane Abbott and Prisons minister Lucy Frazer

The first question was on the various comings and goings at No 10. Ed pointed out how awful it was that in the middle of a huge public health and economic crisis, the people around the Prime Minister were jockeying for position.

He also reminded us how Dominic Cummings was the biggest opponent of free school meals during the coalition years when he was Michael Gove’s Special Adviser. Obviously that situation has parallels today with the Conservatives being so set against the very sensible step of providing help with meals during the holidays to those who need it most.

When Lucy Frazer tried to defend the indefensible, he was pretty effective in demolishing her argument, telling her that the Government has had to be dragged kicking and screaming into taking the half hearted measures that it has.

Kim Darroch made the point that the best advisers tend to be invisible, drawing from his own experience working in No 10 under Blair and Cameron.

The next question was about when Trump’s rantings become an attempted coup rather than the rantings of s sore loser.

Darroch said that Trump has a genius for creating a different reality that he genuinely believes. Trump, he feels is signalling to his supporters that the election has been stolen and this is about maintaining his relevance and base when Biden gets into the White House. He highlighted how popular Trump still is within Republican voters. He raised the spectre of a second Trump run for the presidency in 2024.

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Lib Dems mark Diwali

Ed Davey has released this message for Diwali, highlighting how friends and family are not able to celebrate as they would wish because of the Covid restrictions:

Layla Moran also posted a message talking about how she in her teaching days would celebrate Diwali with colour and joy.

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Thank heavens for that! Tears all round as Harris and Biden finally win

It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster.

When I went to bed at 4:30 am on Wednesday I was so utterly miserable and depressed. It was looking like Trump might actually have won a second term with all the suffering and irreversible damage to the planet and division that would entail.

But, since then, it’s been looking like it was increasingly a matter of time until Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were declared the victors. That moment happened just before 4:30 pm this afternoon. I turned on the telly after an afternoon of delivering leaflets and dog walking just as the declaration was made. I would like to thank all my friends in various WhatsApp groups for helping me to say sane. The Scottish Lib Dem Women chat and the  chat which Steve Jolly set up must have had 3 million messages by now at least, and all of them have been therapeutic.

I’m not going to lie, the tears have not stopped much since then. And every time they seem to be about to stop, something like this happens:

Like many others, I’ve been addicted to CNN for the past 4 days. What a brilliant team they are. They are not afraid to call out the bullshit when they see it. John King, Anderson Cooper, Jake Tapper, Abby Phillip, Alisyn Camerota and many others have all managed to make sense of what is going on. We are all more familiar with places we had never heard of. I feel like I need to visit Maricopa County, Eyrie County, Fulton County and the like, as the places where history was made.

One of the most powerful moments came from Van Jones this afternoon. Someone who has been on the sharp end of Trump’s divisive, racist actions over the past four years. It makes you realise the damage Trump has done. President and Trump are two words which should never have gone together.

Ed Davey has sent his congratulations to the winners

People around the world will now be breathing a huge sigh of relief. Over the past four years Donald Trump has fed a new divisive form of politics, testing American democracy to its very limits. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s victory isn’t just democratic, it may have saved US democracy.

“I’d like to congratulate Joe Biden and urge him not only to deliver on his promise to restore liberal values in the United States, but also to ensure the US will play a constructive role in the international battle to beat Coronavirus. The virus, like all of the world’s biggest problems, can only be solved if we work together as an international community.

“I hope Joe Biden will be a president who fights alongside progressives for social justice and climate action at home and abroad.”

Other Lib Dems also welcomed the news:

Typical Jamie

This day belongs not just to Kamala and Joe but to people like Stacey Abrams. Narrowly beaten in the Georgia governor’s race two years ago because of voter suppression, she served her revenge cold by trying to bust down the barriers Republicans put up. And she’s helped secure not one but two Georgia Senate run-offs on 5th January. One of the Democrats, Jon Ossoff, is a mate of Alistair Carmichael’s from his days trying to save Troy Davis from execution. And there’s also the Crooked Media team, former Obama staffers whose media and activist network has given us hours of pleasure over the past four years since they formed in the wake of Hillary’s defeat.

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4 November 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Attempts to undermine US democratic process must be condemned by UK Government
  • Fixing test and trace must be priority for Government during national lockdown
  • Tories have betrayed their promise to protect British farmers

Attempts to undermine US democratic process must be condemned by UK Government

The Liberal Democrats have warned any attempts to undermine the democratic process in the US must be condemned by the UK Government.

The call comes in response to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab failing to condemn Donald Trump’s incorrect claims of victory in the US election.

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Layla Moran said:

We must not come to any premature conclusion about the election result, regardless of what the President or his campaign are saying.

Now is the time for peace and patience in the US, and for trust in the democratic process.

Any attempt to undermine that must be condemned by the UK Government and the international community in the strongest terms.

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2 November 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Four nations meeting welcome “first step” – Liberal Democrats
  • Government urged to “lead by example” and restore hybrid Parliament

Four nations meeting welcome “first step” – Liberal Democrats

Responding to news that the four Governments of the UK have met to develop a UK-wide approach to restrictions for the festive period, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

People across our family of nations will be reassured to hear that efforts are at last underway to ensure everyone is subject to the same guidance as they plan for the festive period, as first called for by the Liberal Democrats.

But today’s meeting can

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PM must properly plan ahead to protect jobs and lives, warns Davey

Responding to the Prime Minister’s announcement that England will go into a second national lockdown until 2 December, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

Yet again, Boris Johnson dithered, delayed, and ignored expert advice. He was too slow in March and too slow again now, and his failure to lead has cost lives and jobs.

People across our country have sacrificed so much, waiting for Ministers to act and keep our families safe. Instead, the Government asks even more despite failing to deliver an effective test, trace and isolate system.

The priority must be keeping people safe and ensuring no

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In full: Ed Davey’s speech to Scottish Conference

Scottish Conference is taking place this weekend in that wonderful resort of Hopin.

Yesterday, Ed Davey gave his keynote speech. He was introduced by Molly Nolan, our fantastic candidate for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross. Here’s his speech in full:

Good afternoon Scotland.

And thank you Molly for that kind introduction.

One of the things that gives me great hope for our party is seeing so many brilliant rising stars – and there’s no doubt that Molly Nolan is one of the brightest.

That’s why we must get Molly elected to the Scottish Parliament in May, so she can put her energy and dedication to work for the people of Caithness, Sutherland and Ross.

So thanks Molly. We’re all behind you 100 percent.

It’s a huge pleasure to speak to you today – even though we sadly cannot be together in person.

I did get the chance to spend some time in Scotland a few weeks ago, when I visited Fife Zoo as part of the Listening Tour I’ve embarked on since becoming leader.

I met Briony and Michael, who took over the zoo in 2015 and have built it up into a successful small business.

A place where children and adults can meet zebras, lemurs and meerkats – and learn about the importance of biodiversity. A sanctuarfor endangered species.

Lockdown wasn’t easy for this young couple and their young zoo. With no visitors – no income – but all the usual costs of feeding and looking after the animals.

But they kept going, getting the zoo ready to reopen – Covid-safe – at the beginning of July.

But just days after they opened their gates, Briony and Michael were dealt another blow, when the indoor soft play area was destroyed by a fire.

They evacuated the zoo and got all their animals to safety. But they had to watch, powerless, as a crucial part of their business went up in flames.

It would be enough to break anyone’s spirit. But not Briony and Michael’s.

They reopened – again – and have worked incredibly hard to save their zoo in the face of both a devastating fire and a global pandemic.

It’s not over yet, of course.

Listening to them and so many others describe the enormous challenges and uncertainty they are facing, it is clear that the UK and Scottish Governments must work together to give far more support to small businesses – especially in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

This urgent need for working together, is why Willie Rennie and I, along with Jane Dodds and Stephen Farry, Deputy Leader of the Alliance Party, our sister party in Northern Ireland, wrote this week to the Leaders of the Governments of the 4 nations of the United Kingdom, calling for a 4 nation summit, to deliver a joint approach on the pandemic in the run-up to Christmas.

Coronavirus is causing terrible hardship and anxiety for families and businesses. For everyone we need to rescue a festive period as near normal as possible. And given millions of people usually travel at this time, across our family of nations, a more co-ordinated approach is desperately needed ahead of Christmas.

And I am determined that not only will we get through this, together, but also that the Liberal Democrats will lead the way to a fairer, greener, and more caring society as we do.

A country that offers real hope and opportunity for everyone, wherever they live. With Governments across the UK working together to support businesses and create jobs.

An economy boosted by new green industries, with hundreds of thousands of good green jobs.

And a society that for the first time properly recognises the vital role played by carers.

At our Federal Conference last month, I pledged to be the voice of the 9 million carers in our country.

This is very personal for me. You see, I’ve been a carer for much of my life:

First as a teenager: nursing my mum during her long battle against bone cancer.

Later for my Nanna: organising her care, trying to make her last few years as comfortable as we could.

And now, as a father. As Emily and I care for our disabled son John.

I know just how rewarding and full of love life as a carer can be. But I also know that it is often relentless and exhausting.

So I do understand the challenges that millions of carers face. Challenges that have been made even harder by coronavirus.

And I know that, for far too many politicians and policymakers, carers are all too often an afterthought.

Just look at the abject failure of both the UK and Scottish Governments to protect people in care homes.

The lack of tests and PPE.

The way hospital patients were moved into care homes to free up space, without being tested for coronavirus.

Care homes and carers: too often an afterthought.

But not for us.

I’ve been proud of the leadership Willie Rennie has shown, pressing the First Minister to provide testing and support for care home visitors.

Trying to make it possible for family carers to spend quality time with their loved ones after months of separation.

And Alex Cole-Hamilton’s work championing Scotland’s 800,000 carers – almost nine out of ten of whom say that the pandemic has made their lives harder.

Liberal Democrats standing up and speaking up for carers – in Edinburgh, in London – across our family of nations.

This is a great example of one of the biggest strengths of our party: our federalism.

We are all united as Liberal Democrats through our principles and our values.

Defending individuals. Nurturing community. Protecting civil liberties. Championing the environment.

Staunchly patriotic. Internationalist. And always pro-European.

And we work together – in close partnership.

I benefit hugely from Willie’s wisdom and experience, just as I do from Jane Dodds in Wales and Liberal Democrat leaders in local government across England.

But we also understand that each nation, region and community must often respond to its own challenges in its own way.

Not pulling away from each other or constantly battling, as if for one part to prosper another must fall.

But also not pretending that there is some one-size-fits-all solution to be handed down from Whitehall or Bute House.

Unity does not mean centralisation.

Devolution does not equal division.

And yet, one of the things that has made me angriest in recent weeks is the way our Governments – in Westminster and in Holyrood – have sought not to bring people together to solve this crisis, but instead to use the pandemic to divide our country.

Tory Ministers versus Labour Mayors.

Nicola Sturgeon versus Boris Johnson.

Matt Hancock versus reality.

It’s a truly unedifying spectacle.

I’m sure it serves their egos and their narrow political interests, but it certainly doesn’t serve the families and businesses who are struggling just to make ends meet.

“A kingdom divided in itself cannot stand,” the saying goes.

That’s why – in times of national crisis like this – it’s the job of true leaders to bring people together, not push them further apart.

Since March, we have seen countless examples of the people across the UK pulling together:

neighbours bringing food and medicines to those who are shielding or self-isolating.

The heroism of NHS staff, carers and key workers in the face of extraordinary challenges.

sacrifices we have all made, every single day to keep each other safe.

Just imagine if our Governments had demonstrated that same sense of unity, of common purpose and co-operation. Imagine how much better their responses would have been.

The truth is – this pandemic has exposed that the way the United Kingdom currently runs, is not fit for purpose.

But the answer cannot be to tear it apart.

Friends, I can understand why people would seek any alternative to life under Boris Johnson’s cruel and incompetent Tory Government.

But whether it takes four months or four years, Boris Johnson will be gone. The shared history and values of our family of nations – fashioned over centuries – will endure.

And so it falls to us, as Liberal Democrats, to offer a better way forward.

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30 October 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Government meetings must produce results for families over the festive season
  • Welsh Liberal Democrats welcome progress on Christmas Travel

Government meetings must produce results for families over the festive season

Responding to reports that the UK Government will hold meetings to try to develop a UK-wide approach to restrictions for the festive period, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

It is welcome that the governments of the four nations are listening to the Liberal Democrats’ calls. With so many families desperate to be back together this festive season, we simply cannot allow political bickering and fractured guidance to confuse and divide people.

These meetings must be more than just a publicity stunt. They must result in comprehensive uniform guidance for family gatherings, as well as a common approach to transport, student return and asymptomatic testing – and it must happen urgently.

Ultimately, if we are to both keep people safe and ensure families have any chance of spending holidays such as Diwali, Hanukkah and Christmas together, then Ministers across these isles must also get a grip on the failing test, trace and isolate trace system.

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29 October 2020 – today’s press releases

  • PM must implement an immediate national circuit breaker
  • Liberal Democrats: Government must fix failing test and trace system

PM must implement an immediate national circuit breaker

The Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey has today called for an immediate national circuit breaker to “correct the failing test, trace and isolate system” and keep people safe.

The call follows annoucements in both France and Germany of new nationwide lockdowns. The Liberal Democrats have also called for a united approach to keeping family gatherings safe during the festive season, now backed by Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

The Government has been badly prepared and slow to act at every stage throughout this health and jobs crisis. That can’t happen again, especially in the run up to Christmas.

That is why the Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to start an immediate national circuit breaker across the UK. This is the only chance we now have to get the virus under control and save Christmas for millions of families across the UK.

The Government must use this national circuit breaker as a time to correct the failing test, trace and isolate system which is crucial to keeping people safe, minimising hospital admissions and restarting the UK economy.

Liberal Democrats are also calling on all the governments of the four nations to work together to create common guidelines across the UK so families can get as much clarity as possible as we head into the festive period.

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Review: ‘I never promised you a rose garden’ by Jonny Oates

Last week Jonny Oates published his memoir “I never promised you a rose garden” (BiteBack). Jonny is best known to most Lib Dems as Nick Clegg’s Chief of Staff during Coalition, and as our current spokesperson for Energy and Climate Change in the House of Lords.

Many years ago Jonny was the twenty-something political assistant to the Council group in Kingston, and I first met him then, so I skimmed through the book to find the chapter where he talks about people I know. It is, amazingly, halfway through, so there was obviously a lot I didn’t know about him.

I started the book again, and read it properly, and it is certainly worth doing so. By the time you get to the account of Ed Davey’s first, and astonishing, election as MP for Kingston & Surbiton in 1997, you can understand how Jonny, as agent, alongside the legendary Belinda Eyre-Brook, achieved the impossible, in overturning a 15,000 Tory majority.  This is a man of deep integrity who is quietly determined, possessing the qualities of a team leader (but never a bully) and a sharp political mind, honed in the extraordinary politics of post-apartheid South Africa.

But as a teenager he was conflicted. He writes candidly about his own mental health and his struggles to come to terms with who he was, to the extent that he ran away to Ethiopia at the age of 15 and contemplated suicide. He tells us about the good people who came into his life and guided him with compassion, and the recognition that his parents’ love was unconditional after all.

Of course, Lib Dem Voice readers will be particularly interested in what he has to say about his time as Director of General Election Communications for the 2010 Election, and subsequently as Chief of Staff to the Deputy Prime Minister. Jonny gives us a slightly different, but not contradictory, perspective on the Coalition negotiations from those of David Laws and others.

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23-25 October 2020 – the long weekend’s press releases

  • Liberal Democrats push for expansion of Hong Kong citizenship offer
  • PM’s failure to listen to scientists has made family Christmas less likely
  • Tories must “wake up to reality” and do the right thing on Free School Meals

Liberal Democrats push for expansion of Hong Kong citizenship offer

A Liberal Democrat Bill to grant all Hong Kong Citizens a pathway to UK citizenship and “strengthen the UK’s historic bond with the people of Hong Kong” is scheduled to have its Second Reading debate in the House of Commons today.

The Bill, tabled by Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael, Chair of the APPG on Hong Kong and Patron of Hong Kong Watch, would create a route to UK citizenship for all Hong Kongers.

By expanding British National Overseas (BNO) status to all Hong Kongers, the Bill goes well beyond the Conservative Government’s current citizenship commitments, which extend only to specific groups currently eligible to claim BNO status.

The Liberal Democrats have condemned the Home Office’s “deceptive” claim that the cost of a five-year visa for Hong Kongers will be just £250, as the true figure will be well over £3000 once the Immigration Health Surcharge is taken into account.

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Ed Davey on the Acting Prime Minister podcast

Ed Davey has been interviewed for ITV News on the Acting Prime Minister podcast. If you haven’t seen it before, the interviewee is virtually installed in No 10 for the day and asked what she/he would do.

What personal item would he take into No 10? – the trike belonging to his son, John.

Who would be the first person he would call? – Joe Biden.

What would his first policy change be? – increased support for carers, financially, in their own careers and through respite care.

Where would he go on holiday as Prime Minister? – East Anglia

Downing Street pet? – a cat

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16 October 2020 – today’s press releases

  • PM’s no deal comments further reveal his incompetence
  • Davey: PM must bring back a deal that protects jobs and livelihoods

PM’s no deal comments further reveal his incompetence

Responding to reports that the Prime Minister has said it’s time to ‘get ready’ for no deal, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

Boris Johnson’s handling of Brexit has been disastrous and these reckless comments are just further evidence of the Prime Minister’s incompetence. It has been more than four years since the referendum and yet here we are with a potential no deal and less than three months until the transition period ends.

At a time when the UK is already facing the biggest crisis in generations as a result of coronavirus, we cannot afford to crash out of the EU without a deal in place or to accept a rushed, bad deal. The Government cannot allow people’s livelihoods to be put further at risk, when so many are already struggling to get by.

The Liberal Democrats will continue to hold the Conservative Government to account as Ministers fail to deliver what they promised, and try and ensure we get the best deal available.

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15 October 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Liberal Democrats: London lockdown further evidence Govt have lost control
  • Liberal Democrats vote against “dangerous” Government crimes Bill

Liberal Democrats: London lockdown further evidence Govt have lost control

Responding to reports that London will face Tier 2 Covid restrictions from Saturday, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

The Government have completely lost control of coronavirus across vast swathes of the country, and the situation in London is looking very difficult.

In the north of England, and now in London, the sacrifices of millions of people have been squandered by this Government. Because of Boris Johnson’s failure to ensure our test, trace and isolate system worked, millions of people will have to make those sacrifices again.

We need to understand the science behind the tier system immediately, otherwise there will be fears that this fresh wave of restrictions will do very little to help stop the spread of the virus. We need a circuit-breaker introduced now, on the condition that government overhaul the failing test and trace system – otherwise restrictions will need to remain in place for the foreseeable future.

The government must do much more to protect jobs and livelihoods and keep people safe.

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12 October 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Liberal Democrats: Tories must stop dragging their feet on ethnicity pay gaps
  • PM has failed the north of England and the whole country

Liberal Democrats: Tories must stop dragging their feet on ethnicity pay gaps

The Liberal Democrats are calling on Conservative Ministers to “stop dragging their feet” and require large employers to publish their ethnicity pay gaps, as new figures released today from the Office for National Statistics show that, on average, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and certain mixed-race groups are paid 15% less than white people.

Liberal Democrat Equalities Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:

Too many people’s lives are blighted by discrimination and inequality. Black and Asian children are more likely to grow up in poverty than other children, and ethnicity pay gaps contribute to that injustice.

Gender pay gap reporting, introduced by the Liberal Democrats in Government, has been incredibly powerful to help force employers to take steps to improve gender equality in the workplace. Now we must do the same for ethnicity pay gaps.

It’s now two years since the Government launched a consultation on requiring large employers to publish their ethnicity pay gaps, but they have still not introduced it. It’s time Conservative Ministers stop dragging their feet and act.

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7 October 2020 – today’s press release

Liberal Democrats: PM’s speech no more than a pipe dream

Responding to Boris Johnson’s speech to Conservative Party Conference, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

The Prime Minister’s speech utterly failed to deliver a credible plan to beat Coronavirus. With the Government’s tracing system in meltdown, a quarter of the UK in lockdown and millions set to face unemployment, this speech was nothing more than a pipe dream.

People and business need not only reassurance from the Prime Minister, but concrete measures to help them face the next six months of this pandemic. They got neither.

Even when talking of recovery,

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6 October 2020 – today’s press release

Prime Minister “not ambitious enough” when it comes to renewables

The Liberal Democrats are calling for an investment of £150 billion over the next three years to drive a green economic recovery. The call comes as the Prime Minister is set to unveil plans to invest just £160 million in wind turbines in a speech at the Conservative Party Conference.

Ed Davey, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, said:

People across the UK are worried about the planet and for their children’s futures. We need a Government that leads from the front when it comes to tackling the climate emergency. But just a

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30 September 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Liberal Democrats to vote against Coronavirus Act due to “watered down” care provision
  • Clarity of purpose and clarity of messages essential to defeat Covid – Davey

Liberal Democrats to vote against Coronavirus Act due to “watered down” care provision

The Liberal Democrats have today confirmed they intend to vote against the Coronavirus Act because of the Prime Minister’s failure to reverse the reductions in rights to care for vulnerable people, particularly the disabled.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey warned he had “deep reservations about the serious implications for people’s wellbeing, rights and freedoms” and made clear the provision of care was a “red line.”

The MP, himself a carer for his disabled son and a patron of the Disability Law Service, wrote to the Prime Minister ahead of the vote to stress the legal advice shows that the measures in the Act are a breach of the UK’s obligations under international law.

The Liberal Democrats, who supported emergency measures before the UK went into lockdown, have also pointed to 141 people wrongly prosecuted under the Act and the reduction in safeguards for detention under the Mental Health Act as reasons to withhold their support.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

To save lives through this pandemic, the Liberal Democrats have supported and continue to support all necessary measures to keep people safe – including the lockdowns and face-covering requirements.

However, I have deep reservations about the serious implications for people’s wellbeing, rights and freedoms. Most alarming to me is the watering down of care for elderly, disabled and vulnerable people. That is a red line issue.

Just imagine what that has meant for those children and their families. On top of all the other hardships of lockdown, having the lifeline of caring support cut off completely.

I have appealed to the Prime Minister to listen and heed the legal advice, but he has refused. Liberal Democrat MPs are therefore unable to vote for an Act that fails to care for the most vulnerable, sees people wrongfully charged and gives Ministers a blank cheque.

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