Tag Archives: featured

+++Breaking: The new Party President is…

The new President of the Liberal Democrats is….

 

Mark Pack

Many congratulations to him on his election and commiserations to Christine Jardine. Both were superb candidates and fought an election in the best traditions of Liberal Democrat internal elections.

I’d also like to give my thanks also to the staff and volunteers who have been counting in Liberal Democrat HQ since early this morning and who have run this set of elections whilst also preparing for and playing their part in the General Election campaign.

The result in full can be found here:

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Thanks!

You viewed Liberal Democrat Voice 25,892 times today.

Thank you for making us the place you come to when the proverbial solids of fate hit the Vent-Axia© of the Electoral Process.

(RIP Humphrey Lyttelton).

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OPEN THREAD: Your thoughts on the election campaign and the results as they come in

via GIPHY


Bat shit crazy.

Getting up in the dark to deliver “Good Mornings” for two hours before dawn.

This task was leavened by a vague blob in the darkness besides the A4. He was a blob of anoraks, waterproof trousers and ski hats at 7am in front of me as he approached a 4*4 which had arrived to collect him for work:

You must have covered a lot of ground

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The most frustrating thing about Jo Swinson

Jo Swinson was on Sophy Ridge this morning, setting out very clearly that every single Liberal Democrat MP elected on Thursday would be absolutely focused on stopping Brexit.

She emphasised that Liberal Democrats could stop Boris Johnson getting a majority.

She also defended our policy of revoking Article 50 if the Liberal Democrats won a majority, saying that it was the most popular option amongst remainers, including Labour remainers. She could have mentioned that 6 million people signed a petition to do just that just a few months ago so the idea clearly has support.

Here are her highlights:

Sophy Ridge asked her about …

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TV legend Esther Rantzen backs Luciana Berger

Television presenter Esther Rantzen is throwing her support behind the Lib Dem candidate in Finchley and Golders Green. She said:

As a floating voter myself, I believe we need to support outstanding individuals to ensure we elect the best politicians with integrity and determination.

Although I do not live in her constituency, I am greatly impressed by Luciana’s courage and commitment in standing for election when she has in the past as an MP suffered appalling abuse and prejudice.

She has put herself in the firing line for fearlessly exposing anti-Jewish racism.

It might have been tempting to decide to leave politics when women, especially Jewish women, have come under so much vicious attack. Instead she has decided to fight prejudice and resist hatred and xenophobia.

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Jo Swinson shines in Andrew Neil interview

Jo Swinson was 3 when Jeremy Corbyn became an MP in 1983. That longer experience did not help him when he faced Andrew Neil last week. He was tin-eared, evasive and failed to connect with the audience.

Boris Johnson can’t even be bothered to show up.

In contrast, Jo was amazing tonight. Neil didn’t hold back, asking her some very tough questions. She answered every single one with clarity, competence and candour. She was very clear that she hadn’t got it right on everything  in the coalition and said the word that politicians so rarely use – sorry.

At the same time, she articulated a proper, liberal, internationalist message, showing how we are open, generous spirited and inclusive.

I have known Jo for long enough to know that she never gives up. Our election campaign has not seen the rise in the polls we deserve, given that we have a manifesto that is more redistributive than Labour’s, is the most economically competent and is much better on social justice than anyone else’s. A lesser leader could have turned their face to the wall. That is not Jo’s style. She and we will keep fighting for every single vote right up until 10pm next Thursday night.

Here are her best bits:

And we can stop Brexit We did it twice and we can do it for good:

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Hugh Grant on Boris Johnson: Sinister, narcissistic and alarming with potentially no principles at all

Chuka Umunna and Hugh Grant talk with the press yesterday in St John’s Gardens, London SW1

“Could someone interview Hugh Grant tomorrow?” came the call from our esteemed LDV editor Caron, late on Sunday.

Well, one of the advantages of being gloriously retired is that you can often turn on a sixpence. So I jumped at the chance to interview the great man despite basic logistics issues such as “where” and “when” being still unclear. As these basics remained unclear as hours passed I realised I would have to bring forward my powers of initiative and assertiveness.

Fortunately, thanks to the great assistance of our old friend Dr Evan Harris of Hacked Off and Helen Davies, chair of City of London and Westminster Liberal Democrats, yesterday I was introduced to Hugh Grant as a “friend” and got my three minutes with him. You can hear the whole interview here on SoundCloud. (It includes a section about press abuse.)

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James Gurling writes…What should Liberal Democrats learn from the MRP?

Every General Election campaign has a ‘hold your nerve’ moment.

And last night’s YouGov MRP polling announcement is one such moment.

It’s a wake-up call for anyone who doesn’t want to see a Tory Brexit being delivered in two weeks’ time.  And we can’t pretend it doesn’t have challenges for our position.

But the situation is always more complicated for Liberal Democrats. Our national seat campaigns are being rolled out in a heavily focused way.

We can see from recent seat polls in places like Finchley & Golders Green and Wimbledon that, when voters in those specific constituencies are asked how they are voting, we are doing much better than this model suggests.

Because our target seat campaigns are so focused in key areas, it makes it hard for data modelling like MRP to pick up our activity. What is clear is that our local seat activity is shifting significantly more votes our way in these seats than across the UK as a whole. And we know from 2017 that the number of doorstep conversations is the greatest indicator of electoral success.

A General Election isn’t a single UK-wide poll. It’s 650 separate races, and modelling like MRP will not necessarily identify the differences in what is going on in communities up and down the country, where people are struggling to decide how best to simultaneously stop Brexit, avoid a Corbyn Government and deny Johnson a working majority.

Voting choices that seem obvious in one seat are anathema in another.

MRP data modelling is very different in character to traditional polling which we tend to be more familiar with.

Multiple Regression and Post-stratification modelling is an extremely clever way of producing estimates of opinion for defined geographic areas by combining information from huge national samples (but very small constituency samples) with authoritative data from sources such as ONS and the Census.

The MRP authors themselves attach a significant caveat to their report stating “Our sample is large enough that we can identify patterns that occur across relatively small numbers of constituencies, but the largest model errors are likely to occur in constituencies with very atypical patterns of voting.  Some examples of these are seats where there is a high profile independent candidate (e.g. Beaconsfield) or where there appears to be a new pattern of local competition in this election (e.g. Kensington)”.

In short, to work properly MRP requires a high degree of interpretation by professional analysts.  And assumptions at the margins, can make huge differences when extrapolated out across a national position.

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What’s in a (Net Zero) date?

One of the questions that’s likely to be asked in tonight’s Channel 4 environment leader’s debate is about the target date by which the UK should reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions. In the summer the government legislated for 2050. In September Liberal Democrat conference voted for our policy paper Tackling the Climate Emergency, which argued for 2045. The Labour conference voted for 2030 (though that’s not in their manifesto). The Green Party has gone for 2030, and Extinction Rebellion campaigns for 2025. 

Against these targets, our policy can look rather cautious. 2045 seems like a long way away; doesn’t that mean that government will do nothing until a few years beforehand and then rush to hit it? I’m sure Lib Dem Voice readers know what’s wrong with that argument – although this was the approach that a Conservative minister genuinely suggested to Ed Davey when we were in government.

Arguing over the net zero target date in isolation is simplistic and misleading. In reality, reaching net zero will require enormous effort, stretching over decades and affecting all sectors of the economy; it’s not something you can leave to the last moment. The real debate we need to have is over how we plan to meet the target; what’s the policy programme that cuts emissions fast where we know how to, and lays the foundations for progress where we don’t yet know the right solutions? And when you start to think about what’s needed for electricity, heating, transport, aviation, industry, farming and land use – and how you persuade people to change the way they live their lives, because it isn’t only about government action – you start to understand why near-term targets like 2025 or 2030 are an unrealisable fantasy.

Liberal Democrats set out, in our policy paper and in the manifesto, how we can make rapid progress in cutting emissions from power generation, through accelerating the uptake of renewables, and in heat in buildings, through a massive energy efficiency programme. Between them we think we can cut UK emissions by more than half over ten years.

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WATCH: Liberal Democrats Party Election Broadcast – She’s running again

Here is the Lib Dem election broadcast for the General Election.

I will admit to a wee tear at the start where Jo is talking about her Dad, who died last year. He would have been so proud to see her leading an election campaign as leader of the biggest and strongest Remain party.

It’s personal, hopeful, bright and clear about our aims about stopping Brexit and transforming the economy to make it work for people and planet.

And we have added Chuka Umunna, Sarah Wollaston and Siobhan Benita, too.

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Mark Pack writes…Thank you, candidates and agents

As you read this, the final rounds of nomination papers are going in for Liberal Democrat candidates around the country. Between candidates and agents, that is well over a thousand people who have volunteered to add even more burdens, strain and work to the next few weeks above and beyond even what all the rest of us are going to go through.

Even in the most fantastic election result for the Liberal Democrats, at the end of it many hundreds of them will not have a victory to show for it. The party, and our cause, will however, thanks to them, have much to show for it. 

Losing campaigns can still be the step to winning next time – whether that is more victories in the next local government elections, more victories in the Scottish, Welsh and London elections or even moving on to win in the general election after this one. Those campaigns too help spread our message, grow our party and increase our political relevance.

So thank you, those who are leading the political and organisational charge to help achieve that. Especially as you will see, and I am sure understand, so much of the party’s attention, resources and assistance be diverted increasingly tightly to those who are in with a chance of winning.

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Why Lib Dems should not stand aside in favour of Labour Remainers

Last night, Liberal Democrat PPC for Canterbury Tim Walker announced he was stepping aside in favour of Rosie Duffield, the sitting Labour MP. 

There is no doubt that Rosie Duffield is a good person who supports remaining in the EU. She holds values that are compatible with ours and, should she ever choose to join the Liberal Democrats, she would be warmly welcomed. However, she represents a party that is not committed to Remain. To stand aside for her would send the wrong message to the millions of people who are relying on Jo Swinson and the Liberal Democrats to stop Brexit.

Liberal Democrats have already stood aside in 20 seats, 17 as part of the Unite to Remain initiative and 3 against prominent independent remainers. Our willingness to work with others to achieve a remain objective is not in doubt.

There is one thing in common with the people we have stood down for. They represent parties who wholeheartedly support remain or are running as independents. We are the strongest voice of remain and in no circumstances should we stand aside for a representative of a party which is not committed to Remain.

Let’s go through that Labour policy again. They would go back to the EU, negotiate another deal, put that to their conference to work out whether they support the deal or remain, and then have a People’s Vote. Would they really negotiate a deal and campaign against their own efforts? I doubt it. Labour would deliver Brexit and any Brexit damages the country.

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James Gurling writes…The Unite to Remain Agreement

Our Party is deservedly recognised as the UK’s lead Party of Remain.  Today we have announced a series of agreements – facilitated by the independent “Unite to Remain” group – designed to maximise the number of Remain supporting MPs at the coming snap election.

Unite to Remain is comprised of the three unequivocally pro-Remain parties with MPs elected in the House of Commons:- Plaid Cymru, Greens and ourselves.

In some seats, we have agreed that our candidate will stand aside to allow another Party to  have a clearer run in the election. In other seats, either Plaid Cymru or the Green candidate (sometimes both) will stand aside for us as the Remain candidate.

It is the sort of arrangement we successfully arrived at in Brecon & Radnorshire and which enabled our Welsh Leader, Jane Dodds, to defeat the pro Brexit Conservative and bring Welsh Liberal Democrat representation back to the House of Commons. 

These negotiations have been extremely complex and cover 60 seats between the three Parties – each with their own priorities and internal accountabilities. Significant amounts of time have been dedicated to this cause by Party President Sal Brinton, Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael and Director of Campaigns Shaun Roberts.  Together we have battled to ensure the best outcome both for the Party and for the cause of Remain.  Were that it had been possible to achieve this outcome without any seat Lib Dem seat being given up! Equally we would have dearly loved to have been able to expand the agreement to include more of our seats as beneficiaries.  But negotiations are not like that, and time has been of the essence.

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Full details of historic Unite to Remain arrangement announced

Full details of the seats affected by the Unite to Remain arrangement have been released.

The Liberal Democrats will stand aside in 17 seats while the Greens and Plaid Cymru will stand aside in 43 seats across England and Wales.

This will give us a better chance of getting more Remain MPs elected.

Scotland is not part of this because we are the only party advocating remaining in both the EU and the UK and so could not step aside for the SNP who are wanting an early independence referendum.

The seats affected are as follows:

Green Party: Brighton, Pavilion, Isle of Wight, Bristol West, Bury St Edmunds, Stroud, Dulwich and West Norwood, Forest of Dean, Cannock Chase, Exeter (9)

You will notice a lot of familiar names in this – seats we hold and key targets:

Liberal Democrats: Bath, Bermondsey and Old Southwark, Buckingham, Cheadle, Chelmsford, Chelsea and Fulham, Cheltenham, Chippenham, Esher and Walton, Finchley and Golders Green, Guildford, Harrogate and Knaresborough, Hazel Grove, Hitchin and Harpenden, North Cornwall, North Norfolk, Oxford West and Abingdon, Penistone and Stocksbridge, Portsmouth South, Richmond Park, Romsey and Southampton, North Rushcliffe, South Cambridgeshire, South East Cambridgeshire, South West Surrey, Southport, Taunton Deane, Thornbury and Yate, Totnes, Tunbridge Wells, Twickenham, Wantage, Warrington South, Watford, Wells, Westmorland and Lonsdale, Wimbledon, Winchester, Witney ,York, (40)

Wales

Green Party: Vale of Glamorgan (1)

Liberal Democrats: Brecon and Radnorshire, Cardiff Central, Montgomeryshire (3)

Plaid Cymru: Arfon, Caerphilly, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr Dwyfor, Meirionnydd, Llanelli, Pontypridd, Ynys Môn (7)

In addition to these arrangements, we can confirm that we are also stepping aside in three further seats: Beaconsfield, Broxtowe, Luton South

This arrangement gives us the best chance of not just getting Remain MPs elected, but a good number of Liberal Democrats.

Speaking after the details were announced, Jo Swinson said:

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Jo Swinson: The Prime Minister this country really needs

This country is suffering because we have a Prime Minister and a Leader of the Opposition who play up fear and division. Britain needs a leader who can cut through the noise and grab people in the heart, highlighting the best of us, not the worst. We need someone to inspire us to be for each other, not against each other. Jo Swinson is that leader.

She combines humour, candour and plain speaking to bring people in. She reaches well beyond the liberal democrat comfort zone of our party by connecting with people. The way she wrote about the birth of her son Gabriel for his first birthday in June was absolutely beautiful. Don’t click on that if you are at all troubled by descriptions of childbirth.

And, during the Summer, after Boris Johnson, the man who famously toured the country in a bus with a great big lie on the side,  revealed that he liked to paint model buses, there was this:

When you connect with people on that very human level, they are much more likely to listen to what you have to say about the future of the planet, about what needs to happen to make our lives better.

Jo has an exceptional ability to communicate complicated messages in a way that means something to people. “Putting people and planet first” is practical and engaging.

And when did you last hear a politician talking about a loving country? We need more of that.

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Fortune favours the bold


And so we head into an election campaign as ‘the goose is getting fat’ and Brenda from Bristol boards up her front door to keep out invading journalists.

We’ve whirled around and around the entire gamut of constitutional and Brexit permutations many times, and so we end up with a general election when the Rubic’s Cube of parliamentary arithmetic will be re-spun. Then the whole darn thing will start again.

It is somewhat forbidding to face the prospect of knocking on doors in the ‘deep mid-winter’.

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Sunday morning media open thread – Chuka on Sophy Ridge, Jo on Marr

UPDATE: Summary

3 things about Lib Dem plan for election on December 9th:

Rules out no deal as it only comes into force if EU grants an extension

Prevents the PM changing the date of the election

Makes sure that PM can’t ram his awful bill through Parliament.

Conservatives dismiss it and Labour is in two minds – Diane Abbott says maybe and Jon Ashworth says it’s a silly stunt to get us on the telly.

Both Chuka and Jo emphasised how our preferred solution is a people’s vote but it doesn’t have the numbers because Labour won’t support it. They also point out that if the Withdrawal Agreement Bill gets through it will be on the basis of Labour votes.

Here’s the blow by blow account.

We have two Lib Dems on the main Sunday morning politics programmes this morning. No doubt they will end up being interviewed simultaneously, but we’ll have the details here.

Sophy Ridge will interview Chuka Umunna on Sky News and Jo Swinson will be on Marr.

So far on Ridge, Nicky Morgan has dismissed the Lib Dem calls for an election pre Brexit and says that if the Government doesn’t get its way, it will keep asking to see if MPs will change their mind.

Yet they won’t give the people the chance to change their mind on a decision made by a narrow majority 3 years ago when things have massively changed since then.

It’s also interesting that a common Tory theme is that we’ll spend 2020 on two referenda – a People’s Vote on Brexit and on Scottish independence. Of course, stopping Brexit would make demands for an independence referendum much less likely.

And, obviously, people need to be told that spending a few months of 2020 on a people’s vote is much better than spending much of the 2020s on trade negotiations and a potential no deal crash out at the end of next year.

Philip Hammond now saying that he wants to get Brexit sorted before an election. He says that he will run as an independent in any election if he doesn’t get the Tory whip back. And he makes clear that he won’t be toadying to the current leadership in order to get it.

He says that he expects that Parliament will amend the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to give itself more powers and in ways that are going to be difficult for the government.

The highlights of Chuka’s interview:

Loving how Chuka has got into the Lib Dem habit of outlining three things:

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Voting is now open in the 2019 internal elections

Moments ago, voting opened in the elections for Party President, and Federal Committees (including English, Scottish and Councillor Representatives).

Yesterday, I visited the (very secure) printer in Scunthorpe where the 13,000 postal ballots are being printed and I’m happy to confirm everything is very much on track and I’ve spent the morning triple checking the online ballot and emails. 

Fingers crossed, everything should go off without a hitch.

But I’m sure many of you have questions about how this last and most important part of the process works, so here’s everything you need to know!

How the process works:

If the party has an email on file for you, you’ll be voting online.

You’ll get an email today between 1100 and 2330. The emails are being sent in batches of 5,000 to try and ensure as many as possible get through.

Please don’t panic if you’re not in the first batch, the rest will be sent through the day.

The email is coming from [email protected], the sender name will be Nick Harvey and the subject line will be “IMPORTANT: Your ballot paper”.

It’s worth checking your spam/promotions folder if you can’t find it, as it may have gone astray in there.

If we can’t deliver to your email address for any reason, we’ll dispatch a postal ballot as soon as possible on Monday.

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Mark Pack writes…How we can do better than ever before

I’m the son of immigrants, one parent from Germany, the other from Poland. My family history is in miniature the troubled history of Europe, scarred by the horrors of extremism and war – and then my parents making a new home together in our country. 

It’s why our liberal democracy, despite all its flaws, is so precious to me. And why we have to protect it against the extremists and populists. 

To do that, we need to build a grassroots liberal movement, mobilising the millions who share our values. Such a movement can continue our successes this year winning more power, through campaigning and elections.

Winning elections at every level gives us more of that precious power to stop Brexit, to protect our planet, to heal the divisions in our society and to meet the needs of our local communities.

That’s why winning is so important – and that’s why I’ve put helping you win at the heart of my pitch to be President. 

The key task for the next President is to ensure we have the right strategy and the right organisation to win bigger than ever before – in local government, in the London Assembly, in the Welsh and Scottish governments, in Westminster and in future European elections too.

That’s a task well-suited to my record and my skills, including:

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Sam Gyimah MP writes: Why it would be a fatal error for Parliament to pass Boris Johnson’s Deal in three days

In the almost 10 years I have been an MP, I have never seen the timetable for debating a Bill become such an issue.

But, it’s not just because it’s to do with Brexit.

Let’s be clear…the Deal we are debating is a constitutional treaty between the UK and the EU and its 27 member states that will set the foundations for our lives for decades to come. It is not like any deal that most people have been familiar with or negotiated in their time.

There are actually two deals here – two Brexits being negotiated. We have the deal for Northern Ireland, which is soft-Brexit, and the deal for the rest of the UK which is clearly a hard-Brexit.

So, we are being asked to analyse each deal on their own, how they interact together and how they link us with the EU in three days?

It shouldn’t be acceptable for the Government to give us this little time to properly scrutinise their plans. Nikki Di Costa, an expert on Parliamentary procedure and close advisor to Boris Johnson, said only a few months ago that four weeks isn’t enough time to debate Theresa May’s deal, so 72 hours is absolutely shocking and an affront to our democracy.

To put this in perspective, we will have spent longer discussing the Wild Animals in Circuses Act, something which affected 19 animals at the time of debate, than debating the future of our country.

A line often used by Brexiteers is that we have had three years to debate this. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

This is the first time we have seen the actual wording of the deal. What we have been debating up until now are the different ways we could leave the EU, but the Deal we have been presented with this week is the first time we have seen the actual plan and the legal consequences that flow from that and it needs proper scrutiny.

The Government is trying to weaponise the emotional aspect of this debate by saying ‘Get It Done’. But we have to get real and understand what this Deal will mean in the months ahead.

Boris Johnson will be able to go for No Deal in December 2020 and Parliament will not be able to stop it – all he has to do is fail to present any Free Trade Deal to Parliament and we will simply crash out.

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WATCH: Jo at People’s Vote march: We must stop Brexit and build a brighter future

After the Parliamentary shenanigans yesterday, Jo Swinson spoke to the People’s Vote rally in Parliament Square. She told not just the crowd but the country to have hope, that we can stop Brexit and have a brighter future.

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Three reasons to back Mark Pack for President

When I first met Mark Pack almost three decades ago he made quite an impression. I was campaigning to become Chair of what was then the Young Liberal Democrats and attempting to secure his support. Unlike most others at the conference, Mark did not seem particularly interested in the hackery of student politics, but wanted to know what I was going to do, rather than simply what I thought, or what faction I was in.

I’ve no idea if Mark voted for me, but I’d like to think he did.  And 28 years later, with the roles reversed, I’m delighted to say I will certainly be backing Mark to be our next President.

There are three main reasons why I believe Mark is the stand-out candidate.

Firstly Mark is a born campaigner and communicator. His record within the party is unrivalled, both as a trainer and advisor and also as a foot soldier. There aren’t many places across the country where Mark hasn’t delivered an expert training session or a bundle of leaflets, or in many cases, both. I’ve attended his sessions and also trained alongside him. He motivates people and knows his stuff.

Our party is at a crossroads, with so many members, both old and new, impatient to grasp the current political opportunities and meet the social, economic and environmental challenges facing us today. With his core vote strategy, Mark has been ahead of the curve in seeking to build our support across the country.

Secondly, Mark knows the party inside out. He understands the different needs of members geographically, demographically and politically. Importantly to me as a councillor for the past 24 years and now a council leader, I know that Mark recognises the huge role of local government. He understands localism and knows that much of the excellent campaigning going on in the Lib Dems is outside any Parliament. 

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WATCH: Second online presidential hustings

Yesterday a second online hustings took place between party Presidential candidates Christine Jardine and Mark Pack.

You can watch the whole thing here.

This weekend, there are in person hustings in Plymouth, London, Lancaster and Bedford. You can find details here.

And if you can’t get to a hustings, you can question both candidates in the official Lib Dem Internal Election Discussion Group on Facebook here.

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Why I am backing Mark Pack to be President of the Liberal Democrats

Mark has a wisdom, experience and detailed knowledge about the Party. He knows the party at all levels: federal, state, regional and local. He understands the different issues facing Wales, Scotland, England – he gets devolution and is hungry to support local government across the UK. I know Mark will understand the need to listen to members and not assume he knows best.

I’m am invariably involved running campaigns, advising on strategy, mentoring candidates as well as delivering leaflets and knocking on doors. In by-elections over ten, twenty years and in every General Election since 1992 Mark has also been involved offering advice, sharing knowledge, providing training.  His commitment to the success of the Party is total.  And I trust his judgement.

Mark is one of the people I ring for advice. I have been an activist for thirty years and have known Mark since 1992. I know that when I ring him, text him, email him he responds thoughtfully, honestly and helpfully. He teaches and leads – his leadership is faithful, genuine and sincere and I value that.

I have been a parliamentary candidate in a black hole seat, in a target seat, a councillor, a candidate, I have run and led parliamentary by-elections, been an agent – at every step of the way I have learnt from Mark, Sharing knowledge with him brings within it the energy and the spark of a new idea,  When I speak to Mark, work with Mark, ask for advice, I learn something new and explore a new avenue and am more successful and more innovative.

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Why we need #worldmentalhealthday

“I’ve got the headache from hell.”

“I’m full of the cold”

“I feel incredibly anxious today”

“My stomach is killing me.”

One of these is not like the others.

We are generally pretty comfortable about sharing when we’re feeling physically unwell, but not so if we are feeling mentally unwell.

I’m not going to lie, I have found these last few months really difficult. I’ve often felt overwhelmed and anxious. In fact, earlier in the Summer, I thought my mental health was going to collapse completely.

The last thing I was expecting from my campaigning trip to Brecon and Radnorshire was to come back feeling restored, refreshed and energised.

I’m not better, though. More days than not, I feel anxious.

And just like many people with physical ill health, I go to work and edit this site and go about my daily life.

The Winter months are generally more difficult than the Summer ones. A fall on ice quarter of a century ago has cast a very long shadow. Going outside when it’s snowy and icy is so exhausting that I’m often fit for nothing by the time I get where I’m going. I have to get used to operating on empty and living in a near permanent state of high anxiety.

And when people diminish what that is like, and laugh about it, it makes life so much more difficult. When people tell you to pull yourself together, they have absolutely no idea how much you are already doing that.

I also think that it is getting easier to talk about things like Anxiety and Depression. Try and say you are suffering from Psychosis and you will often realise very quickly that stigma is thriving.

So that’s my take on World Mental Health Day. This year’s theme is suicide prevention, in particular the acronym WAIT, as Christine Jardine describes:

Alex Cole-Hamilton mentions the importance of listening:

Jo talked of the importance of being able to talk openly:

Jane Dodds has long championed measures to end loneliness and social isolation:

Luisa Porritt and Layla Moran shared their struggles with Anxiety and Depression:

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Heidi Allen joins the Liberal Democrats

You kind of know when you get a WhatsApp message inviting you to a Federal Board briefing at 9pm that someone is about to be joining us.

I think most of the Board guessed right this time:

Heidi becomes the 19th Liberal Democrat MP.

To be honest, when I’ve heard her talk about people who are really struggling with compassion and empathy, I’ve felt like she’s one of us.

In an interview with the Independent, she says that another 20 want to follow her:

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Christine Jardine writes: A president who listens

Waiting for the outcome of the nomination count for Party President felt a wee bit like that scene from The Big Bang Theory where Sheldon explains about Schrodinger’s Cat.

You know, where as long as the box is closed the cat is both dead and alive.

The relief when they cat was actually alive, and I was nominated, was huge.

Now is when the work really starts, in listening to what you want from your new President, and whether I fit the bill.

I have no illusions about how much work is involved, or what it will take to continue to build the wide movement we all want.

But I also know how important it is that the membership has a strong, clear, effective voice. A president who speaks for the members, but more importantly, one who listens to what they want and communicates that to the leadership.

We have a fantastic team at HQ with so many bright, capable people whether it’s in campaigns, fundraising, policy or the press team.

I see the President’s role there as facilitating what they do.

Not directing the operation, after all they are the ones with the expertise, but supporting and making sure that they have what they need from the party infrastructureMost of all I see the President as the link between the members, the staff, the parliamentarians and the public

Communication is the key, both within the party and to the outside world.

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

Mark Pack writes…Winning at every level: the Lib Dem recipe for success

We should never forget that elections at all levels matter. They directly give us the chance to implement our vision for a liberal democrat society in more communities, and they also are the springboard to future success in elections at other levels. We saw that so clearly this May, where put more Lib Dems into power and set us up win a record number of MEPs, not to mention putting us very much back on the national political map.

But the truth is too much of our organisation, especially at the federal level, often defaults to acting as if only the next Westminster contest really matters.

It’s understandable why over-stretched staff, tight budgets and busy volunteers can fall into this trap. But to build sustained, long-term success across all of England, Scotland and Wales, and to get even more Liberal Democrat policies put into action in even more communities, we need to think broader and longer-term. The next general election is crucial. But so too are the local elections coming next May, the next Scottish Parliament elections and the next Welsh Assembly elections – not to mention the general election after next. 

Seeing all these elections as part of one overall mission for the party is a central part of the core votes strategy which David Howarth and I pioneered after the 2015 debacle and which has underpinned our recovery. Concentrate on those who share our values so that we build a durable, sustainable bedrock of support across all elections – and on which specific campaigns can then add the personal votes of candidates and tactical support. Stick with that task and we’ll be ready to win bigger, year after year.

That political strategy requires an organisation to match. That’s why improving and enlarging our organisation is at the heart of my pitch to be President and the five priorities I’ve set out (read them here)

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 8 Comments

Sam Gyimah MP writes… Distorting reality is no way to run a country


Embed from Getty Images

Steve Jobs, the legendary founder of Apple was often described as using a ‘reality distortion field’ to convince himself and others to believe almost anything. Employing the techniques of bravado, hyperbole and sheer persistence, he could make an impossible task seem possible.

Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s Chief strategist – a known fan of tech titans such as Steve Jobs and Elon Musk – seems to want to employ these techniques in pursuit of Brexit at any price and to crush the hopes of Remainers.

The Government’s multi-million pound advertising campaign telling us all to ‘Get Ready For Brexit’ on October the 31st is designed to subliminally suggest to the voters that this is the only option open to us. Everything we know points towards the fact that there is no orderly way to leave the EU by that date. Despite this, the Government’s social media, radio and TV adverts are running every day, as if in total denial of reality.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 13 Comments

Lord William Wallace writes: How do we renew our battered democracy?

This is as huge a constitutional crisis as anyone could imagine. A Prime Minister without a parliamentary majority has attempted to avoid parliamentary scrutiny by closing Parliament for all but the last two weeks before we are due to leave the EU, with or without a deal.

The Supreme Court has defended the sovereignty of Parliament against a Prime Minister who lacks a parliamentary majority. Lady Hale’s judgement was very firm: ‘the effect on the fundamental democracy of our country is extreme’. Parliamentary accountability – the continuing process of dialogue and scrutiny of government policy – is ‘at the heart …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 16 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMary Regnier-Wilson 14th Dec - 9:39pm
    I wonder how many of those commenting are basing there comments on actual evidence or just what they feel happened. Cos you know, we are...
  • User AvatarRob Lee 14th Dec - 9:37pm
    Whilst I see a number of people blaming or pointing fingers at the national party machine, we are a democratic party and those people don't...
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 14th Dec - 9:17pm
    I like what Laura said on Any Questions.
  • User AvatarPeter 14th Dec - 9:16pm
    Part 2. Let us move to more technical stuff. As pointed out earlier, we are warming up from the little ice age but we are...
  • User AvatarPeter 14th Dec - 9:15pm
    @Roland, more apologies for not revisiting this thread sooner. Forgive me if I try to give an overview rather than bits and pieces of answers....
  • User AvatarDavid Warren 14th Dec - 9:14pm
    What @TonyGreaves said!
Tue 7th Jan 2020