Tag Archives: featured

Ed Davey says Lib Dems challenging Tories hard in North Shropshire

With just 12 days to go before the by-election, called after Owen Paterson resigned amid allegations that he had used his parliamentary position to lobby for companies that paid him, Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey spoke to BBC Midlands Today yesterday from Oswestry.

We are getting a sense that it is very close between us and the Conservatives. We are clearly challenging them very hard and Helen Morgan, our candidate, is going on really well. We are focussing on the issues people really care about like ambulance waiting times. Frankly, people feel taken for granted by the Conservatives. So, we

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Restating our political identity through a new liberal manifesto

Do you remember what you were doing on the evening of 16 April 2015? The chances are you were in front of your telly, as I was, watching the seven leaders’ TV debate in the run-up to the general election. I have a distinct memory of that night: I became aware I could sum of what six of the seven parties stood for in three or four seconds, but the one I struggled with was my own party.

We must be careful not to make too much of the ‘Do people know what we stand for?’ line, as politics is more about which parties feel right and trustworthy. But in a political culture dominated by two main parties, and a media culture governed by two sides to a story, it’s very hard for a third party to create an identity in the minds of the average voter. As a result, the Lib Dems have become in many voters’ eyes a compromise between Labour and the Conservatives, an image we have not shied away from encouraging with slogans such as ‘Stronger economy, fairer society’.

But we are not a compromise, we stand for something! The problem is that what we stand for is not easily summarised, the way being pro-environment is for the Greens or being anti-EU was for Ukip. So, we need to find a way of encapsulating what we offer.

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North Shropshire’s Helen Morgan talks to LDV about campaign issues

The North Shropshire by-election is two weeks’ today. Yesterday, I spent half-a-hour talking to the Lib Dem candidate for North Shropshire, Helen Morgan. I was impressed by her determination, her grasp of the issues from farming to public transport, and of the biggest issue, health. The first article discussing how the campaign is going was published earlier today.

Helen spoke of the difficulty in getting to see a GP and the queues of ambulances outside the county’s A&E’s. In a very rural part of England, farmers are struggling in the transition from basic farm payments to the new Environmental Land Management System (ELMS). There is space in rural areas for some solar farms and for microgeneration of renewable electricity.

Public transport is a major issue, especially the infrequency of buses. The difficulty in getting housing people can afford is also high on the agenda.

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North Shropshire’s Helen Morgan talks to LDV about the campaign

Yesterday, I spent half-a-hour talking to the Lib Dem candidate for North Shropshire, Helen Morgan.

In this first of two articles, Helen tells us how the campaign is going with just two weeks to go. Sleaze is not a big topic on the doorsteps but trust in politicians is very low. People in Shropshire are fed up with politicians who appear for a photo call during an election but don’t try to solve local problems in between. Helen wants to help restore that trust.

The Conservative vote is very soft. A lot of people are thinking about switching their votes, or maybe even not voting at all, because they are disillusioned with the way they’ve been treated over many decades by their Conservative representatives. A lot of people say that it’s time for a change in North Shropshire.

The canvassing of the postal voters has given really good results:

We can win if we get enough boots on the ground to come and put the leaflets through the door.

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Lib Dems looking good in North Shropshire according to “confidential” briefing

If you want people to spread some news, the best way to get them to do it is to send them an email marked “Confidential” and tell them not to pass information on because it’s “secret”.

To add a dash of drama, you send it out at 6:03 am, saying that you’ve just come out of the “daily briefing with the by-election team in North Shropshire.”

I don’t doubt for a second that Lib Dem Chief Exec Mike Dixon is an early riser and his cannily timed email to catch party members when they had their breakfast or were on their morning commute was a great way to get the message out that we are doing well.

The news that he was imparting, that our internal polling shows that we are only 10 points behind the Tories in the postal vote, had already appeared on Twitter last night.

This compares well with the Chesham and Amersham situation at the same time.

Certainly this chimes with the accounts of every single person I know (and that’s a lot of people, including some hardened cynics) who has been knocking doors in North Shropshire, and with my own efforts on the phone.

There is a lot of excitement about this by-election and there is a real feeling that we should not limit our ambitions.

Our candidate, Helen Morgan, is absolutely brilliant and is already acting as an MP should:

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4pm today – show your solidarity with refugees

People across Scotland will be placing an image like this in windows with a candle at 4pm today to show solidarity with refugees.

I thought it might be an idea to share the idea here in case any readers want to take part.

This started as an initiative from the Strathclyde Chapter of the Methodist Church. Lib Dem Councillor Fiona Dryburgh is a member and shared it. It’s fine for heathens like me to take part. The idea is:

Print the picture – or draw an orange heart on a piece of paper and put it in your window with a candle today at 4pm. Take a picture of it and post it on your Twitter account with the following tag: @IMIX_UK or tag your post with #TogetherWithRefugees.

I’m sure most people reading this will be filled with heartbreak and anger at the needless loss of life in the Channel. And we will also be horrified by our Government’s heartless attitude towards people trying to reach a better, safer life. And, to be honest, we’ll be horrified by the appalling way the French authorities have destroyed the refugee camps in Calais and hampered the efforts of people helping them.

Euan Davidson wrote on this site in 2018 about his volunteer trip to Calais to help refugees:

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Observations of an Expat: Thanksgiving – Made in Britain

Thanksgiving is the most American of American holidays. Or is it?

Like so many other American traditions and customs, Thanksgiving’s origins have its roots on the eastern side of the Atlantic.

Let’s start with the Puritans. They were English. They were religious dissidents who arrived on the shores of New England mainly from East Anglia via an unhappy sojourn in the Netherlands.

The beliefs, history, philosophy, politics and social structures were English. In 1620 there was no such thing as an “American” other than the Native Americans that they eventually supplanted. In fact, they were as English as apple pie, which they also brought with them from Britain.

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Daisy Cooper: Ambulances are on high alert across England

A month ago Daisy Cooper submitted a question to the Government, and she has only just received a reply. Her question was:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many ambulance trusts have moved into REAP Level 4 in the last six weeks; and how many in total are at REAP Level 4 as at 22 October 2021.

REAP = Resource Escalation Action Plan. Level 4 is the highest level and indicates Extreme Pressure.

The response did arrive after this prompt:

In the last six weeks, all 11 English ambulance trusts have been at or moved to REAP Level 4. On 22 October 2021, all 11 ambulance trusts were at REAP Level 4.

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Liberalism and Freedom of Speech in universities

As the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill moves slowly through Parliament, Liberal Democrats are having to grapple with contested assumptions about freedom of speech and its limits. This is a culture war bill. The polarization of American politics is seeping into Britain. Britain has become a far more liberal society over the past 50 years. We must resist attempts to push the clock back.

The Bill starts from the assertion that universities are incapable of defending free speech. It asserts that a new ‘free speech champion’ and a new right to sue universities are required to restore this freedom for those (staff, students, or visitors) who claim to have been denied the right to speak. It follows Policy Exchange papers, and articles in right-wing papers, that assert that university staff are now overwhelmingly left-wing, that they indoctrinate their students, and that academic culture has a chilling effect on staff who hold divergent views.

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Momentum builds for Lib Dems in N Shropshire as Ed Davey visits again…

So the Lib Dems are certainly dominating with tweets on North Srhopshire and also with campaigning on the ground.

The campaign is really taking off as party members from all over the country visit. If, like me, you can’t travel at the moment, see under the cut for details of how you can be part of this.

There won’t be many from further away than Alistair Carmichael who has been in Wem this weekend instead of at home in Orkney.

This has all the hallmarks of the Great Lib Dem By-Election campaigns. It’s hard work and lots of fun!

And Ed Davey is enjoying himself, he’s back for his third visit in two weeks:

He spoke to the local paper, telling them:

When I am talking to people on their doorsteps I would think about a third of them are telling me about problems they had faced themselves.

I have been told of eight to nine-hour waits for ambulances – that really shocked me.”

The Liberal Democrat leader raised the issue of the closure of North Shropshire ambulance stations in the House of Commons.

London Ambulance Service changed its mind about closing down stations. Here West Midlands Ambulance Service has already closed Oswestry and Market Drayton,” he said.

And here are some of the others who have flocked to the constituency this weekend:

 

 

But there might be all sorts of reasons that you can’t get there. Read on to find out how else you can help.

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For Transgender Day of Remembrance

On 20th November each year, vigils take place across the world to remember those lost to anti transgender violence every year. This year the list stretches to more than one person for every single day. 375 trans people have been killed since November 20 2021. It’s grim reading. So many are in their 20s. These are not just names on a page. They are people with feelings, hopes, dreams whose lives were taken from them as a result of prejudice and discrimination.

Transgender Day of Remembrance started in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith to remember Rita Hester who had been killed the year before.

A good few years ago now, I was in London with some young people and, at their request,  spent a rainy Saturday evening that we could have spent in a warm theatre standing in Trafalgar Square in the freezing rain at a hate crime vigil.  Not long after that, one of those young people came out as transgender.  He was under no illusion about the prejudice he faced, yet he knew that the only way he could have a fulfilling life was to be open about his true self. That takes incredible courage and requires our sensitivity and support. Every time we open our mouths on this subject, or get ready to hit our keyboards, we need to think about the human cost of our words. If in doubt, be extra kind.

In the UK today, trans people face a barrage of prejudice and discrimination wherever they turn. Anti-trans activists dominate newspaper columns and broadcast interviews while complaining of being silenced. Helen Belcher wrote about the current climate on this site the other day.

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For Transgender Awareness Week

This week has been coined Trans Visibility Week. It comes round each year, just before the annual Trans Day of Remembrance, when we honour those who lost their lives in the previous year just for being trans.

So, what’s happened in this Trans Visibility Week?

There’s been an almighty row at the BBC, and Vice has reported that LGBT+ staff are leaving in droves. There have been a couple of fiery meetings between the BBC Pride group and management, and in one of them, Tim Davie (the Director General) reportedly said he was worried about the perception that the BBC is transphobic. Well, Tim, I think it’s way beyond a perception.

We’ve had those opposed to trans equality appear on programmes like Wednesday’s Politics Live. We’ve had an appalling piece a couple of weeks ago, which framed trans women as predatory sex offenders – a piece which had to be amended when one of the three contributors not only admitted to predatory sexual behaviour herself but went on to call for the lynching of all trans women. Note – amended, not withdrawn – despite a letter with over 20,000 signatories being sent to the BBC. And we had a BBC podcast attempting to smear Stonewall, seemingly for no other reason that it campaigns for trans people.

When I appeared before a parliamentary inquiry into trans lives in 2015, I noted that certain BBC programmes couldn’t portray trans people without being slightly incredulous about them. In 2017 the BBC tried defending a documentary which was trying to rehabilitate a Canadian doctor who had been criticised for essentially carrying out conversion practices on trans people. Earlier this year, I complained that the Today programme was using the term “biological males” when it meant trans women – and was met with the response that, yes, the phrase did mean trans women and, no, it wasn’t transphobic and didn’t deny trans women their lived experience. Excuse me!

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Mark Pack’s November report: North Shropshire beckons…

Our campaign has already got off to a flying start in the by-election caused by Owen Paterson’s disgrace.

The local party had already made impressive progress in this May’s local elections. They secured a clear second place and created many marginal Conservative-Liberal Democrat wards.

Now we have a brilliant opportunity to turbo-charge that growth in our support and to see just how angry voters are about sleaze and sewage. Ed Davey is already on his third visit there.

Whether it’s by helping in person, on the phones or with your wallet, please do help too. You can donate online or sign up to volunteer. Thank you!

Thank you also to Simone Reynolds and Simon Drage, respectively our candidate and agent for the Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election. More details here.

Have your say in how the party is run

There are two musts for how our party is run. It must be run in a way that is true to our values, and it must be run in a way that helps us work together to be successful.

Sadly, our 2019 General Election Review (the Thornhill Review) found major flaws in how the party operated. That cost us votes and seats.

Since its publication, the Federal Party has been making many changes in response, as I’ve covered in previous reports. But there is still important work to do.

One of the Review’s key findings was about the Federal Board itself:

There is no clear ‘leadership team’ where the three pillars of the party – political, operational, federal – can make cohesive decisions, simply, quickly, and effectively. The Federal Board – 40+ members – is not, cannot, and should not be that team.

So the Board is consulting on options for Board reform, and will put one or more to Spring Conference for members to make a decision.

As part of this we are running a consultation survey. Please do give your views via the consultation survey here.

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One month to go in North Shropshire campaign – we need your help

Just four weeks today, voters will go to the polls across North Shropshire. More than 83,000 voters will have the chance to cast their vote. We can win that vote. Even the bookies think so – odds on Helen Morgan winning have shortened this week with William Hill now offering 2:1.

The previous incumbent, Owen Paterson, held a majority of 22,949. Despite that, the Tories are not invincible in North Shropshire. They have presided over the decline of local NHS services. Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust was rated as inadequate for the third time today. There are long waits for ambulances and long waits to be transferred into A&E. The reform of Shropshire’s health provision, known as Future Fit, has stalled after years of dithering. Farmers and small businesses are angry at the bureaucracy they must negotiate to export to the EU. People are concerned about climate change and the slow progress locally and nationally on tackling it. Underfunded schools. The lack of rural transport. Low wages. The state of the rural economy.

We have everything to win in North Shropshire. We have a great candidate in Helen Morgan and a great team backing her. We need as many feet on the ground, as many people stuffing envelopes and as many people on the phones as we can get. If you can’t do any of those, please donate. Campaigning details for Saturday are below.

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Helen Morgan says the Lib Dems are on the up in North Shropshire

Yesterday, the Lib Dems announced that Helen Morgan has been selected as our candidate for North Shropshire. This morning BBC Radio Shropshire broadcast an interview recorded with her in Wem yesterday.

Helen told Joanne Gallagher, the station’s political reporter, that the Lib Dems have already knocked around 1,000 doors. Problems with the NHS in Shropshire, where there are difficulties in getting GP appointments and people are sometimes waiting for several hours for an ambulance, are top of Helen’s agenda. The bad deal we got out of Brexit and the bureaucracy created are significant issues for farmers and small businesses. A referendum on rejoining the EU is not on the horizon. The trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand are adding to the pressures for farmers who will be undercut by meat and dairy produced to lower standards. The current political maelstrom about MP’s standards doesn’t feature strongly, despite the by-election being called after Owen Paterson resigned after being accused of lobbying for food companies who paid him £100,000 a year.

Can we win? Helen is clear we can: “The Lib Dems are on the up in North Shropshire.”

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Helen Morgan stands for Lib Dems in North Shropshire

Helen Morgan has been selected as the Lib Dem candidate in the North Shropshire by-election, called after the resignation of Conservative Owen Paterson amid allegations of sleaze.

The campaign in North Shropshire has been underway for a week-and-a-half. Last Saturday Sarah Green, who was elected as MP for Chesham and Amersham in June, opened our campaign HQ near Wem in North Shropshire.

Helen said this morning her top campaigning priority will be to demand a better deal for the constituency’s local health services, which have been taken for granted by the Conservatives for years. It comes with the closure of both of North Shropshire’s ambulance stations, GP services in crisis and A&E wait times on the rise. Helen is also passionate about getting a fair deal for Shropshire’s farmers who are at risk as the Conservatives continue to let them down with disappointing trade deals.

You can donate to the campaign here.

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Lib Dems North Shropshire campaign gathers momentum

It’s only 10 days since Owen Paterson resigned, but to say that the Lib Dem campaign had got off to a flying start in the by-election would be under-egging the pudding considerably. It’s more of a blast-off than a take-off. We are well into the second leaflet, we have an HQ, and Ed Davey has now been there twice. I also took part in the first campaign Maraphone on Friday.

Here is our last by-election winner, Sarah Green, opening the HQ:

The Young Liberals were there too:

And look who else turned up:

The party’s chief executive sent out one of these “confidential” briefings that is just crying out to be shared, given that most of the info is in the public domain anyway. Part of it was a photo of the first leaflet. Putting “confidential” on something is a good way of getting someone to read it. However, Mike Dixon is pushing at an open door. There is already a sense of excitement building in the party, one that is surprising given that it’s only two years since the last December election.

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COP26 didn’t save the world but it helps

Glasgow was not a disaster after all. Neither was it a ringing success. Hopes had been building that the Conference of Parties would have reached an agreement that would get us near to capping global warming at 1.5°C. That target has been missed. The promises needed will be delivered in Egypt next year at COP27 at the earliest, if at all. But the ambition to limit the temperature rise 1.5°C is still alive and that is an achievement.

There have been strides forward and the next COP has been brought forward to next year not the usual five year interval.

We need to act quickly.  Climate change is happening not just in developing countries, but here in Europe and in North America.

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Young people need leaders to end the environmental pandemic

The Covid pandemic gave us a temporary glimpse into apocalyptic living.

Day to day life as we knew it ended in March 2020 as we stared into the face of the most serious and scary public health crisis in living memory.

It forced unprecedented changes in our behaviour.

Yet global force delivered vaccinations as the solution.

The climate crisis is no less scary and necessitates similarly swift and robust measures to combat.

Unless we rapidly reduce carbon emissions, we risk not a temporary but permanent state of apocalyptic living.

Just like how Covid can be combatted by technological medical advancement, following the science, and innovation, so too can climate change.

The global health of the planet demands world leaders react with the same level of urgency posed by a pandemic virus. Climate change is indeed mother nature’s pandemic.

My generation’s security, prosperity and very existence rest on their shoulders.

95-year-old Sir David Attenborough’s impassioned plea to COP26 was not about the generation in the room, rather the young people watching at home or protesting outside.

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North Shropshire campaign ramps up this weekend

The campaign to take the North Shropshire seat from the Conservatives got off to a flying start last weekend, including a visit from Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey. The North Shropshire team supported by campaigners across the country have been leafleting and talking to voters since last Saturday.

The betting odds on the Lib Dem candidates winning this seat have been slashed from 10:1 to 4:1. That’s good when we are trying to overturn a majority of nearly 23,000. I am not suggesting you gamble but if you can get to North Shropshire, please to so and help win the seat whatever the bookies’ odds. There are also other ways you can help if you can’t get there.

Ed Davey and Daisy Cooper are campaigning in Wem on Friday afternoon. Saturday lunch, Tim Farron and Sarah Green will officially launch the campaign just outside Wem at 1pm. Campaigners will also be out in Oswestry, Market Drayton and Whittington over the next few days.

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Lib Dems demand public enquiry into Tory sleaze ahead of Commons debate

Last week, Wendy Chamberlain secured a parliamentary debate following the fiasco over the standards process votes. Here she is proposing it:

And later she spoke to Sky News:

Ahead of tomorrow’s debate, the party has given an indication of what we hope to achieve.  We have called for an independent public inquiry into government sleaze and allegations of political corruption, warning that Boris Johnson’s Conservatives are “releasing sewage into our rivers and sleaze into our politics.”  The inquiry would look into various scandals including the awarding of lucrative Covid contracts to those with political links to the Conservative Party, Boris Johnson’s failure to declare that holidays abroad and the redecoration of his Downing Street flat were paid for by party donors, and last week’s attempt to block the suspension of former Conservative MP Owen Paterson after he was found to have breached lobbying rules.

The inquiry would have the power to summon witnesses and require them to give evidence under oath, including current and former government ministers and officials, and demand the disclosure of any relevant official documents and communications.

The party is also demanding that any MPs under investigation for breaking parliamentary rules should be barred from taking part in Commons votes on disciplinary issues.

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Is Greta right? Has COP26 failed?

It has been a week of announcements. A week of ambitions. And a week of ambiguities. And according to activist Greta Thunberg, COP26 is nothing other than “blah, blah, blah” and has failed. Is that really the case?

It’s rather imperialistic to argue that the countries that are trying to build their per capita wealth and standards of living should now pay for the sins of the most developed countries. The developed countries are responsible for most of the increases in atmospheric carbon. They are richer and have the ability to pay.

But the reliance of countries like India and China on coal for electricity and the lack of commitment from Russia risks swamping small countries. Quite literally.

There have been achievements on forest clearance, on a mixed bag of net zero targets and on financing. But even if countries keep to their pledges, it still doesn’t stack up to keeping global warming to 1.5°C.

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Martin Bell to be Lib Dem candidate in North Shropshire? Don’t hold your breath

The Sunday Times (£) reports today that veteran journalist and anti-sleaze campaigner Martin Bell has been approached by the Lib Dems to be our candidate in the North Shropshire by-election.

The article by Caroline Wheeler and Gabriel Pogrund says:

One thing that may fill older MPs with dread is the symbolic spectre of Martin Bell, who ran against Neil Hamilton on an anti-sleaze ticket in 1997. On Friday, the 83-year-old was called by the Liberal Democrats, who offered him the chance to be their candidate.

This report prompted me to look out my copy of Purple Homicide, the account of his first foray into politics, in Tatton, in 1997, written by then Observer political correspondent John Sweeney. Disgraced Conservative MP Neil Hamilton was allowed to continue as the Conservative candidate after being implicated in the cash for questions affair. The title comes from his description of trousers worn by Neil Hamilton’s wife Christine to an encounter on Knutsford Heath as “a homicidal purple.” The Lib Dems and Labour stood aside to give him a better chance of unseating Hamilton.  The book is well worth reading if you can get hold of a copy.

Martin Bell’s victory over Neil Hamilton was one of many bright spots in the 1997 election. Often dressed in a white suit, he used his time in Parliament to argue for higher standards in public life. Bell stood against Eric Pickles in 2001 over concern about the influence of a local pentecostal church on the Brentwood and Ongar Conservative party but lost heavily. He had promised the voters of Tatton that he would serve for one term only and honoured that promise despite calls for him to stay. His departure paved the way for the election of George Osborne.

I don’t know if the Sunday Times report that we have approached Bell to be our candidate is true. But let’s look at what might happen if it was. I certainly wouldn’t mind him representing us, but I would not hold my breath. I like Martin Bell. His distinctive voice is one of the first I can remember as he reported on the Watergate scandal in the early 70s when I was a small child. I can’t see him entering a contest when Labour are not standing down. I also can’t see him agreeing to enter a contest that could end in him taking a party whip. I suspect he is probably unwhippable, even though our views are probably in alignment on many issues. That, by the way, is not in my view a flaw on his part.

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How YOU can send the Tories a message from North Shropshire

It’s time to fire up the risographs, dust off the rosettes, and hit the doorsteps.

The sleaze scandal that has engulfed the Tories this week has reminded members up and down the country why Boris Johnson’s Government must be beaten. Politics must be better than this.

And the North Shropshire by-election is a great chance to send them a message they can’t ignore – and help cement the party back on the political map.

There was much speculation in the media yesterday about a possible “unity independent anti-corruption” candidate. On Friday morning, Labour ruled this out – so it’s not an available option.

This constituency is fertile territory for the Lib Dems. Labour may have finished second by default in 2019, but things have changed since then.

Most importantly, we have an enthusiastic and energetic local team who have picked up the baton to take the fight to the Tories. They’re the opposition on Shropshire Council and they deserve our support.

In May we finished second across North Shropshire – winning twice as many votes as Labour or the Greens. We came within a whisker of electing five councillors, with Labour nowhere. A casual glance at the seat’s profile makes clear Labour could never win here.

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Time to launch attack on Blue Fields of Shropshire

The BBC and the Telegraph have been today reporting an idea that the opposition political parties could stand aside in the forthcoming North Shropshire by-election in favour of an anti-corruption candidate. It’s the Martin Bell strategy resurrected.

It is easy to see why this idea is attractive. Bell, the “Man in the White Suit”, won the Tatton seat as an anti-corruption independent candidate, with more than 60% of the vote. At the previous election, Neil Hamilton of cash for questions fame, had secured 55% of the vote. It was a dramatic and highly publicised drubbing by Bell. It was a stand against sleaze even if it did not stop sleaze.

Was that a one off? Or a strategy we can repeat in North Shropshire?

I don’t think it could possibly work in North Shropshire. And if we don’t field a Lib Dem candidate, we will undermine the growing strength of Lib Dem activists across Shropshire where we have 14 unitary councillors and are aiming for many more.

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Johnson sucked into a black hole after Paterson resigns

You can’t lose more credibility than this. Boris Johnson, distracted no doubt by glad handing world leaders at COP26 and his slap up dining with Telegraph grandees at the Garrick, arrived back at No 10 to find that he was swirling towards the black hole of political failure. His attempt to protect North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson from allegations of lobbying on behalf of his food industry paymasters failed. Big time.

Jacob Rees Mogg yesterday cancelled the review of loyal Tory MPs had voted for just hours before. Paterson, back on the hook and facing suspension, resigned.

Dominic Cummings once described Boris Johnson as “a shopping trolley smashing from one side of the aisle to the other”. It is a cruel irony that Owen Paterson was shopping in a supermarket when he learnt that the wheels had come off his political career.

Boris Johnson, who had hoped that COP26 would be his finest hour, has perhaps made the biggest mistake of his political career and even his fellow Tories are raging.

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By-Election results – TWO Lib Dem GAINS, a Lib Dem HOLD and a massive leap forward

I am covering the by-election results for ALDC tonight. So far we have done pretty well. We have won 3 of the 4 wards where we are standing.

A very strong gain from the Conservatives in Gloucester:

And another in West Sussex

And a solid hold in Huntingdon

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Commons loses moral compass with Paterson decision

Today MPs today set a new low standard for democracy in the UK. Conservative MPs voted to maintain an image of sleaze against promoting an image of integrity. Instead of suspending Owen Paterson, MP for North Shropshire, they suspended Commons Committee on Standards instead. The Conservatives in the House of Commons have lost their moral compass.

Boris Johnson, boosted by his role as host of COP26, is currently a superhero in Invincible mode. Believing that nothing can harm him, he ordered “his MPs” to vote to protect his ally, Owen Paterson, against allegations of lobbying for companies for which he is a well paid consultant. They didn’t all obey.

Despite a handful of Johnson’s troops rebelling, the authority and integrity of the House of Commons took a nose dive today. Most Conservative MPs voted for their own interests and pockets after Boris Johnson decided that protecting Paterson was more important than protecting the integrity of the Commons.

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WATCH: Sarah Green has her first Prime Minister’s Question!

The newest Lib Dem MP, Sarah Green, had her debut PMQ today.

The headquarters of the Epilepsy Society is in her constituency of Chesham and Amersham so it was fitting, during COP26, that she highlighted the need to fund research into the effect of climate change on people with health conditions like Epilepsy.

And Boris Johnson wasn’t even horrible in his response.

I was annoyed that so many MPs talked over Sarah’s questions. It was very disrespectful, particularly on a question that was higher quality than many asked in these sessions.

The text of the exchange is below:

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Electoral reform: It’s not enough to believe in it…

Why, as Lib Dems, we must campaign for proportional representation

As Liberal Democrats, electoral reform is in our DNA. That’s why we welcome the ongoing efforts of our ally organisations such as the Electoral Reform Society, Make Votes Matter, and Unlock Democracy. After all, we know that we cannot  bring about the change we want to see by acting alone.

As Lib Dem members our involvement in cross-party campaign efforts is all to the good. I encourage any who are not yet active in these groups to sign up today!

But I believe that we also need to campaign for electoral reform as Liberal Democrats. Why?

First, because it is Party policy and it reflects our core values.

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  • Tom Arms
    @Martin. First of all, thanks for the generally supportive comment of my efforts. And sorry about the slip-up. It is partly (but not entirely) due to scheduling...
  • Neil James Sandison
    Reading through the New Liberal Manifesto it certainly marked us out from our opponents as a modern social liberal party . I would have liked to have seen a lit...
  • Lorenzo Cherin
    Flu, not flue, sorry, typos!...
  • Lorenzo Cherin
    Matt Great piece, this is not and ought not to be seen as a flue. Your reason is the best, practically as in this country with a very poor level of publiuc p...
  • Lorenzo Cherin
    Peter You as always here are sensible and realistic. With this too much in fact. There is no pandemic ever that we as a species have made endemic. They all c...