Tag Archives: featured

Andy Kelly writes: Help me spread my message of hope and radicalism to Greater Manchester

I am over the moon to confirm that you the members have selected me to be your candidate for the Greater Manchester Metro Mayor elections in 2020.

As a Liberal Democrat council leader in the region I know what it takes to fight against the odds, but this time I really feel the tide has changed – This is now OUR time.

The Tories are playing parlour games with people’s lives and Labour are betraying those they profess to represent I felt the need to step up to the plate.

Greater Manchester voters deserve better representation, we need someone who is not afraid to be frank about our future. That person is me.

This year the Liberal Democrats made huge gains in the local elections, with 700+ gains nationally – the party’s best local election results. Many of these gains were in the Greater Manchester region. Three weeks later we gained two members of European parliament in the North West as voters turned away from both Labour and the Conservatives. The two parties don’t deserve to represent us, and the current polling and by-elections shows us that voters agree. They are demanding better.

I am keen to take Burnham on his three years of nothing. My pledges are

To stand up for Remainers:

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Paul Tyler writes….Clearing out constitutional confusions?

The current combination of Brexit bluster from No 10 and Corbynista claims seem to have confused even the shrewder media commentators: the rest are swallowing spin from both sides without any attempt at fact checking.

The idea that the Leader of the Official Opposition has a constitutional right to form an alternative government as soon as the current Prime Minister is defeated by a Vote of Confidence is wishful thinking by the Corbyn coterie. Similarly, the notion that Johnson can simply trigger a General Election in such circumstances is against the law.

Let me take you back to the Fixed Term Parliaments Act (which I argued for even before the 2010 election resulted in the failure of either of their parties to achieve a Commons majority). There was no logic to the previous convention. Nor could it be claimed to be fair. The captain of one political team could simply blow the final whistle whenever he/she judged that they had the best chance of winning.

In a parliamentary democracy we Liberal Democrats argued – successfully – that was a totally unacceptable anomaly, more suited to an “elective dictatorship”, as described by erstwhile Tory Chancellor Lord Hailsham. Hence the 2011 Act, promoted by the Coalition Government.

Under the Act each Parliament will normally continue for a full five year period. An “Early Parliamentary General Election” can only happen in one of two circumstances. EITHER the Commons votes by a 2/3 majority (including vacant seats) for a specific motion calling for it (as happened in 2017), OR a Motion of No Confidence is passed against the current Government, and – after a 14 day interval – neither it, nor any alternative administration, has secured a Confidence Motion.

During that period the current PM cannot trigger an election: clause 3(2) reads “Parliament cannot otherwise be dissolved”. In that respect at least Dominic Cumming’s threats are absurd

However, as you will readily observe, it is one thing to prevent crash out Brexiteers from cutting MPs out of this particular nefarious sharp practice, but quite another to so manage the process to achieve a more democratic outcome.

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WATCH: Jo Swinson’s keynote speech on how MPs can stop Boris

Stopping Boris Johnson inflicting a disastrous no deal Brexit on the country was the focus of Jo Swinson’s first big keynote speech since becoming Lib Dem leader.

She talked about two possible things that MPs could do to prevent us falling over the abyss.

Her preferred option would be for them to pass legislation requesting an extension to Article 50 and going for a People’s Vote.

Alternatively, Lib Dems would support a vote of no confidence called by Labour, and would look to support an emergency government which would stop no deal. She said that there is no way that the Commons would back Jeremy Corbyn to be PM and said that an emergency government should be led by someone who commanded the respect of both sides of the House – someone like Ken Clarke or Harriet Harman. She called on MPs to stand up and be counted and do everything possible to stop no deal.

She made clear that the Lib Dems wanted to stop Brexit completely – the best deal for peace, prosperity and security was what we already have in the EU.

It was a confident speech for Jo. She is such a contrast to the arrogant bluster of the Prime Minister and the tired, unconvincing interventions of Jeremy Corbyn. She comes across as grown-up, engaging, collaborative and wise. And she takes her #joinJo slogan from her leadership  campaign and turns it into a national call to get behind her.

Watch Jo’s whole speech here:

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A Remain Alliance and opportunities for the Lib Dems…..detail may not be quite there but Lib Dems are poised for massive breakthrough

On Friday night the Spectator’s Coffee House blog carried a piece by Nick Cohen about a Remain Alliance. It had details of all sorts of seats being divved up between us, Plaid and the Greens.

My first thoughts on reading that was that it was at best speculation. I mean, why on earth would anyone leak plans for a Remain Alliance to the heart of the Brexit-supporting media, I can’t imagine. Anyone can sit down with a bit of paper and the 2017 election results and work out where it might make sense to stand one Remain candidate. It’s not rocket science.

The official party response says:

These reports cited by Nick Cohen are inaccurate in many ways. As the strongest remain party we are committed to stopping Brexit and are actively talking to those in other parties, and none, to achieve this.

I mean, Unite to Remain is pretty open about what it is trying to do and I would be very surprised if there wasn’t some sort of arrangement in some seats. But that has to get buy-in from all sorts of people, not least the local parties involved. Just by way of interest, if you delve a bit deeper into that organisation, you will see that its director is one Peter Gerard Dunphy who, until last year, was the chair of our Federal Finance and Resources Committee. He left us to join the Change UK project earlier this year but is still on friendly terms. His motivation is more to bring about the massive change in politics than any falling out with the Lib Dems.

Today’s Observer carries a story saying that we are changing our strategy for a general election in the wake of new research which shows we could be in play in a couple of hundred seats. It mentions specific seats that we could be targeting, including Dominic Raab’s heavily Remain seat

The article basically says that we are changing our election strategy and trying to raise money. Now, if we weren’t doing these things, there would be something far wrong given that we could be facing an election within weeks. The election of a brilliant, engaging and dynamic leader with a strong message, and our victory in Brecon, should make those jobs a lot easier.

The article carries quotes from three senior Conservatives who suggests that the Tories could lose seats to us as voters are horrified at the hard right direction of the current Cabinet. This from a former Cabinet Minister:

The route the PM and Dominic Cummings have taken is really blind to the fact that you’ve opened up this yawning chasm in the centre of politics,” said one. “The Lib Dems have always been at their best in a crisis.”

And more:

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What a brilliant time to be a Liberal Democrat!

So said a very smiley Jo Swinson as she gave an interview to Sky News this morning from the gorgeous town of Builth Wells. I had already decided to write a piece with that title this morning.

There are two things I will never get tired of seeing on news channel banners – Jo Swinson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Jane Dodds, MP for Brecon and Radnorshire.

Jane was also interviewed and she said she was going to hunt down Boris Johnson, wherever he may be hiding, and tell him that he has to take no deal off the table. She explained that the Lib Dems were a Remain party and we want to see a People’s Vote with the option to Remain.

I seem to have given myself an authentic by-election experience. I eventually got to bed at about 4:30 and woke up about 8:45 and decided that I wanted to get up to see the celebrations from Brecon. It had to be really early because Jo has to get from Brecon to be on stage with Iain Dale at the Fringe in Edinburgh at 6:00. I will be there too and I’m really looking forward to it. I may need a nap first, though.

Two days ago, it was 36 years since I joined the SDP on my 16th birthday. I can honestly say that the last few months have been amongst the best I’ve had in the party. We are in a place where the long held principles and values of the party are entirely in alignment with the national interest. Not only that, but we’re embracing it with a very clear message. Even John Curtice was saying positive things about us on BBC News, saying that nobody would have expected us to win Brecon and Radnorshire a few months ago.

We have three leaders across the country who are spirited, likeable and brilliant at delivering that message with confidence. Two are relatively new and all are now in Parliament. It’s been a real struggle for the Welsh Party to get the coverage while their leader didn’t hold elected office, but Jane is now in a much stronger position – and when she does get media, she’s really, really good at it.

Jo has only been UK leader for 11 days, but already she has been all over the media. And she showed her different style of leadership by getting out there and knocking up with Jane yesterday. Party leaders don’t often do that, but it’s very much her style to be in the thick of the action at these vital moments.

Willie Rennie has led us through some very dark times in Scotland. It’s largely down to the force of his personality, propensity for the most exuberant photo opps (as well as his affinity with farm animals) that we have managed to pull ourselves back up. We went into the 2016 election worried that we might end up with no MSPs at all and ended up winning constituency seats from the SNP.

This all compares very well to every other party. The Tories are a mess, although, like the Republicans with Trump, they seem to have been temporarily cowed by Boris. How long that truce will last as he drives the country to a no deal disaster is anybody’s guess. Not long would be my take. Whether Labour is capable of learning the very obvious lesson that its fence-sitting on Brexit is not doing it any good remains to be seen. But it’s not easy when you have a Brexiteer as leader of a party that wants to Remain.

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Brecon diary – a gorgeous holiday with delivery thrown in

Talgarth, Powys – What’s not to like?

I arrived at Brecon this morning. After parking, I wondered round to find the Lib Dem HQ (the whereabouts of which I vaguely remembered from my visit back in June).

As I was walking down the street, I was aware of a hubbub. There was the sound of people talking and generally great activity coming out of one shop front.

Well blow me down! It was the Lib Dem office in full swing as volunteers arrived to be given their marching orders.

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Sal Brinton writes…Tell us who you think deserves Party Awards

Do you know someone special who deserves to be recognised by the party?

Yes, it’s party awards time!

Every year at Autumn Conference we hand out prestigious party awards to members who have done some of the most outstanding work in the party. Going above and beyond the call of duty time and time again.

But, as always, we need you to nominate the people that you think are blazing the way in the party.

The deadline for nominations has been extended to 31 July and the nomination form and submission details are on the party website 

There are four awards announced by me as President.

The President’s Award is open to any party member elected to public office and who has demonstrated excellence and commitment over the years.

The Harriet Smith Liberal Democrat Distinguished Service Award is open to any member never elected to public office who has demonstrated longstanding and outstanding service to the party.

For both these awards, the panel will be looking for outstanding commitment and service to the party. We are seeking people who deserve recognition for their hard work, long service & demonstrable dedication to the party at any level.

The Belinda Eyre-Brooks Award is given to recognise and celebrate the efforts of people who work for our elected representatives in their local areas – from local party employees, to political assistants to council groups, to people working in MPs’ constituency offices.

The Dadabhai Naoroji Award is presented to the local party that has done most to promote BAME participants to elected office as councillors, Assembly Members, MPs, MSPs or MEPs. Please note – this award is to a local party, not to an individual, so please think about those local parties that are making a great effort to involve different communities in their work. Regions and State Parties nominate local parties, so tell them about a local party that should be nominated.

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LDV talks to….Jane Dodds

Last Saturday, I caught up with our wonderful Brecon and Radnorshire candidate Jane Dodds.

We talked about her campaign, her message to Plaid Cymru and Green voters and what she wanted to achieve for the area. Enjoy.

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I’m delighted it’s Jo, even though I voted for Ed

I spoke at party conference in the Spring and said, amongst other things, that I had no idea why I hadn’t started sooner in politics. The truth is I knew full well.

Back in the early 1990s, when I had my first child at the age of 25, and a couple more in a short space of time, only one of us *had* to take time off straight after the birth. Maternity segued into parental leave after the second child. My husband and I have a pretty egalitarian household but it would have been financial suicide for us to use paid childcare that early in our lives- we would have ended up paying over not only my entire salary, but also some of my husband’s- it simply wasn’t financially viable.

After the first child, I went back to work, but it seemed that everywhere I turned I was on the “mummy track”, not expected to be ambitious, expected in fact to focus my entire world around my children. Which of course every new parent does. Paternity leave did not exist, even in my husband’s forward-thinking workplace. Society at large expected care of the children to be the mother’s, not the father’s, concern. The entirety of society was built around that premise- for example, my children’s school finished at 2:50pm- there was no after-school care because the headteacher thought children should be at home after that time. There was great judgement cast on mothers who worked when their children were small.

I started to be politically active 3 years ago. I’ve passed the age now where I care what people think about my parenting. Alongside my three now very accomplished 20-somethings, I also have a 9 year old and in 2019, no-one in the Liberal Democrats seems to think that puts me out of the running for anything. I’m older, and I live in a beautiful bubble of determination and bullheaded refusal to take any hints about how I *should* parent my fourth child. Society has also moved on slightly.

Every time I see Jo Swinson in passing, I mention to her how lovely it is to see her making speeches with baby Gabriel strapped to her front, how much of an inspiration it is to see her forging ahead babies and all. I I forget that I’m living in a bubble hewn from my own experiences.

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Jo Swinson MP writes….A campaign we can all be proud of

We are nearly at the end of this Leadership election, with voting closing tomorrow. Regardless of who you’re supporting, I want to thank every member who has engaged with this campaign. Everyone who came to a hustingsmeeting, emailed a question to Ed or to me, posted onto social media or caught up with us on visits – thank you.

There is a golden opportunity ahead of our party now. I have been so excited to see all the new members coming to hustings meetings, hearing their questions, thoughts and ideas. We have a unique offer and vision for the country and people are open to our message. We can continue this growth and build our movement further together. We can stop Brexit and compete to win a General Election.

This campaign has reminded me of how strong our party can be. We have such a range of skilled, talented people working around the country. We still need to do more to harness the incredible knowledge and expertise that we have in our members and supporters. I’ve been really buoyed up by seeing so many local success stories everywhere we have been. I know the new members I have met are going to be adding to those success stories soon too.

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How to help Jane Dodds win Brecon and Radnorshire

Here is all the information you need to know if you are able to come and help in Brecon and Radnorshire.

There are two HQs – one in the south at Brecon and one in the north at Llandrindod Wells. They are both open every day from 10am until 7pm:

Brecon HQ: 26 High Street, Brecon, LD3 7LE

Llandrindod HQ: Haslemere, Park Crescent, Llandrindod Wells, LD1 6AB

If you can’t come in person you can make calls from home by e-mailing: [email protected]

How to find us:

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Ed Davey MP writes….My reflections from the Campaign Trail

This map may resemble the route of one of Ian Botham’s never-ending charity walks or the British leg of the Tour de France where the organiser forgets to place a finishing line. But it’s actually a record of my campaigning odyssey over the past year, through our fantastic local and European elections onto my campaign to become leader of our party.

I’ve loved every minute – from Aberdeen to Penzance. Like my hero Paddy Ashdown and indeed most Liberal Democrats, I’m happiest out of Westminster meeting people – or, when with our brilliant Brecon candidate, Jane Dodds, meeting the odd sheep while clambering barbed wire fences. (Have you been to B&R yet?!)

I’ve been gate-crashed in Nottingham by Steve Bray, the amazing Stop Brexit campaigner – so we performed a great Stop Brexit duet; I’ve climbed a wind turbine in North Cornwall whilst campaigning to decarbonise capitalism; and I’ve endured the vagaries of the rail network – as I’m calling for rail improvements to discourage internal flights, my campaign is flight-free, to the occasional frustration of my diary manager.

On Sunday, after a head-to-head with Andrew Marr, I sacrificed all prospect of watching the Cricket and Wimbledon to go and speak to members in Oxford – and was welcomed by a healthy crowd, despite the competition!

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Brecon and Radnorshire – a real test for the Liberal Democrats

I didn’t know when I joined the Liberal Democrats aged 15, that it would change my life dramatically. I’ve lived in Brecon and Radnorshire my whole life, which means I am incredibly lucky to have had at least one Liberal Democrat representative for my life so far. 

However that day in 2015, when we lost Roger Williams as the Member of Parliament was one of the worst days. It was not what he deserved for being a devoted MP for fourteen years. However Liberal-voting to its core, I knew then that Brecon and Radnorshire would be orange once again.

I don’t know about anybody else but, I am certainly so grateful to have been given this opportunity – the opportunity to have another Liberal voice in the House of Commons, fighting to remain in the European Union. This could not have been done without the recall petition and the 10,000+ people in Brecon and Radnorshire that supported it. We’re also very lucky to have a candidate like Jane Dodds, she is unapologetically a Welsh Liberal and will make an excellent MP for the area, something we are desperately in need of.

To top it off, the Liberal Democrats are currently polling at their highest percentage in a long time and the whole country is watching us. The results will be hugely important in showing that the Liberal Democrats are back, a legitimate political force again. A win at this by-election will prove that the fightback is real.

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YOU are needed NOW in Brecon and Radnorshire

I  have just spent 3 days in Brecon and Radnorshire working out of the Llandrindod Wells Lib Dem Office. The reception on doorsteps is very good, but there are a lot of people who have yet to decide whether they will back Jane Dodds or to stay at home. What the campaign needs in the next few weeks is data and that means lots of people knocking on doors.

Bluntly, not enough people are coming to help in this, the most likely Lib Dem by-election prospect of this Parliament. Jane Dodds, Leader of the Welsh Lib Dems is a top notch candidate and deserves much more support.

We need hundreds of people to go.

So my question to you, dear LDV reader, is when are you coming and how long can you stay?

If you want us to win this seat, then YOU have to offer your help. There is lots of canvassing to do, there are thousands of leaflets to deliver, there is clerical work in both the Brecon and Llandrindod offices to do.

I am utterly convinced we can win this seat. We held it almost continuously from 1985 to 2015 and the Welsh Assembly Member is Lib Dem Education Minister Kirsty Williams. The Tory candidate is the former MP who was found guilty of expenses irregularities and recalled by over 10,000 of his constituents. The Greens and possibly Plaid Cymru are not standing to boost the remain side and Labour haven’t won this seat for generations. The real threat probably comes from the Brexit Party, who may well mop up many of the Brexiteers as they did in the EU elections.

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The people who will make the new party complaints system work

As  Lead Adjudicator for the new party complaints system I am writing to introduce the people who will make it work. 

The great strength of successful political parties lies with their members.  In our party it is the members who campaign, make policy, choose our leaders and, to a great extent, run the party.  We have more than 100,000, but all our members are human beings and subject to human frailties.  As a result, it is a sad reality that members will from time to time do things and be accused of things that bring the party into disrepute.

After years of debate a new system for handling complaints has been created.  You can read about it in Alice Thomas’s excellent post, and I wanted to introduce you to the volunteers who will make the new system work.

The first thing to make clear is that there is no ‘complaints supremo’.  The new system breaks up the tasks involved so that each decision in the process of determining complaints is made by an independent person appointed in a way that ensures that there is no perception that panels are hand-picked or results pre-ordained.

The largest number of volunteers are the Adjudicators.  All are members of the party and they have a wide range of experiences.  At various points in the process of each complaint an Adjudicator will assess the severity of a Complaint and how it is will be handled and in most cases a different three Adjudicators will later sit on a Complaints Panel to decide whether to uphold or dismiss the complaint.  Adjudicators are permitted to stand as candidates for the Party or hold office at a Local Party level, but are barred from holding office elsewhere in the Party.

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The new complaints process goes live on 1st July

It’s a good year to be a Lib Dem: we’ve gained thousands of new members, hundreds of council seats and 15 new MEPs because we are united while the Tories and Labour tear themselves apart from within. No party is immune to mistakes though and that’s why I’m proud to say that – from 1 July* – if a new complaint is made against a Lib Dem member, it will be handled under our new complaints procedure, which is consistent, clear and fit for purpose.

Federal Conference voted for this procedure at Brighton in Autumn 2018 and it has since been accepted by each of the state parties in England, Scotland and Wales. It is now time to implement it.

No complaints procedure can work without people to run it. That is why I am proud to say that more than 400 people responded to call for volunteers and we will be ready to hit the ground running. 

From 1 July 2019, complaints should be reported to the Standards Officer at LDHQ who will record the details in the case management system and send it on to the Senior Adjudication Team or “SAT”. The SAT comprises a Senior Adjudicator from each state party and our brilliant Lead Adjudicator, Fred Mackintosh.  The four members of the SAT have many years’ experience in the party and a background in making decisions and dealing with complex problems.

When a case is first raised Fred will randomly assign it to one of at least forty trained and impartial Adjudicators, who will assign any case which is more than frivolous to one of either the formal or informal routes.  At the same time the SAT will decide whether the member complained about should be suspended from membership whilst the complaint is resolved.

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Isabelle Parasram writes….Restoring the Rights of the Windrush Generation

This is a second chance to read this post, coinciding with today’s special event (see below)

As a child of the Windrush generation, Windrush Day is hugely important to me. I’m so glad that we, as a society, are marking it.

The term ‘the Windrush Generation’ stems from the arrival, on June 22, 1948, of the ship The Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks, just east of London, bringing with it the first immigrants from the Caribbean.

It denotes the large-scale influx of Caribbean immigrants during the years that followed.There’s been a lot of Press about the terrible treatment of people who came here from the Caribbean in the late 1940s and onwards, who now find that their very official existence has been denied.There’s also much discussion about the poor treatment of those Caribbean immigrants upon their arrival in the UK to date.

But there are also some positive stories and memories mixed in with those experiences.

I’ve recorded an 8-minute audio interview with someone who came to this country in 1962. She shared with me some of her memories and they were both good and bad. You can listen to the interview here via Soundcloud:

The memories shared in the interview are such as these:

I came to the UK after a one month journey from Trinidad by ship with my young stepson and my new baby boy. When we arrived it was the coldest winter they’d had in a long time and we only had summer clothes.

I remember having no furniture, no heating, no washing machine, no fridge, no winter clothes. We had to try to stay warm in one roomusing a paraffin burner. Then, on Christmas Day, someone gave us a bed for my stepson. I was so happy!

It was hard to find a job because no black people were allowed. The British people didn’t want immigrants –“…no black people”, they said.

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Why everyone who wants to win elections should go to Brecon this Summer

I’ve had a pretty good couple of years as a Lib Dem – in 2018 I was part of the team that produced a “shock” victory in South Cambs, going from 14/57 to 30/45 councillors, and last month I helped organise our Chelmsford campaign, where we went from 5 to 31 seats, the highest gain in the country.  I know how to win elections.

But 3 years ago I didn’t.  Richmond Park by-election was great for our party and the remainer cause, but it was also great personally for me, because I got to learn from the best.

In December 2016 I had a free week so I offered to go and help out with the by-elections, and James Lillis said I could help with GOTV.  So on the Saturday before I turned up at HQ, and after a morning of delivery and canvassing reported for duty at the data bunker.

The next week was one of the most stressful, entertaining and fulfilling of my life.  It started with drawing out polling districts on a huge map on the floor whilst the rest of the team jumped over me (not deliberately, it was just a small space) and ended with me being responsible for the organisation of all the Polling Day materials that ensured our committee rooms could Get Out the Vote. But more importantly I was in a room with the best Lib Dem campaigners in the country – and I learned so much from just observing them.  I got to see the deliberations about what to say in literature, observe the candidate prep for hustings, watch data guru’s creating lists in connect, discuss whether we should include Bob Geldof saying “F*** Zac” in an online video and be part of the most finely tuned Get Out The Vote machine the party has ever organised.

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Googling guide dogs in your lunch hour: Jenny Marr on the constant anxiety of living with Diabetes

You think you know someone and have some understanding of what they are dealing with.

And then they write something that makes you realise that you have no idea.

Jenny Marr is one of the most wisest, most competent people I know. She’s a great leader and team builder and one day she’s going to represent the Borders in Parliament. She has the sort of drive that reminds me of our very best campaigners.

I always knew Jen has Type 1 Diabetes and I will never forget the early morning phone call during the 2017 election when I learned she was in hospital because of it. Thankfully, she was home in a couple of days and all was well, but it did bring home how the line between good health and crisis was more finely balanced than I’d appreciated.

The theme of this year’s Diabetes Awareness Week is “seeing Diabetes differently.” Jenny has written a piece for the Scottish Lib Dems website which, as she puts it, aims to help  us “see Diabetes in its entirety.”

If you read nothing else today, read and understand this. 

As she says, there’s a lot more to living with the condition than not being able to binge-eat chocolate:

We’re more at risk than others of losing our sight. Translation: if you get something in your eye, you wonder if it’s the beginning of the end. On bad days you’re googling guide dogs on your lunch break.

Wake up with pins and needles. Translation: have I got it so wrong, my circulation is starting to fail? Could I get around in wheelchair? You assess all your usual haunts and whether you could continue as normal.

I’m in a meeting and I’m tired. Translation: is my blood sugar too low? I’m too anxious to leave, too anxious to check my blood in front of people. Do I just eat something and risk making the wrong decision? There is only anxiety.

On the worst of days I have sat at my desk gripped by fear and unable to work because I think I’ve taken too much insulin.

Paralysed for hours, the only work completed is the Oscar nominated performance of “normal girl in office” I have to play so everyone thinks I’m fine.

And then there’s the constant working out that balance between food and activity and the effect it might have. Imagine the mental energy that takes up:

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Caroline Pidgeon writes…Who is the real Boris Johnson?

Just who is the real Boris Johnson? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Olympic and Paralympic Games

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

Crime 

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

Housing

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+++Breaking…Chuka Umunna joins the Liberal Democrats

 

 

In an interview with the Times tonight, Chuka Umunna announces that he has joined the Liberal Democrats and becomes our 12th MP.

Chuka said:

“Time and time again when I was speaking to voters around the country and in my constituency, people were saying, ‘Well, look, why don’t you just join the Liberal Democrats? Why don’t you all come together in the progressive centre ground?’ ”

So he has swallowed his pride and joined the effort to make the Liberal Democrats the spearhead of a “new progressive movement in this country”.

Urging others to join him, he said the party’s success in the European elections showed the potential: “I think we’ve got to grab the chance to fundamentally change the system for ever now. And if we don’t do so, I think history will be a poor judge of us.”

A hugely warm welcome to him.

I might be a little annoyed that the Mail on Sunday got it broadly right but I am happy to see Chuka join us.

Vince, who also took part in that Times interview,  said that more MPs could follow the Streatham MP to the Lib Dems:

There are lots of conversations going on, some more intimate than others,” the outgoing party leader added. “Chuka joining us today is a big event in itself but there may well be others. I’m not going to make commitments on others’ behalf, they will make their own decisions in their own time.

“We have a very, very good relationship with members of the independent group,” he added in a clear hint that other members of the breakaway outfit are considering joining his party.

He said that the approaching threat of a no-deal Brexit would drive as many as 20 MPs out of the Tories. “I think there are probably a dozen to 20 who have mentally crossed the Rubicon that they can’t stay in the Conservative Party in its current form.”

From what I’m hearing, the local Lib Dem party have been absolutely brilliant as all this has been unfolding. Helen Thompson, who was selected as PPC for Streatham earlier this year, has just tweeted:

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Jo Swinson launches leadership campaign

It’s official. After a teasing video last night

Jo made the announcement that she was running to be leader of the Liberal Democrats on Question Time

She released her campaign video on Twitter this morning

Her campaign website is here.

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Ed Davey MP writes…My leadership would be about liberalism, climate change and stopping Brexit

Climate change. Liberalism. Winning. That’s been my political story – and I want it to be the Liberal Democrats’ story.  And with the magnificent victories in this month’s local and European elections, the Liberal Democrats are getting back in the game. I want to thank Vince, a giant of liberalism, for his role in getting us here and his contribution to fighting Brexit.

Under my leadership, the Liberal Democrats would continue to lead the fight to Stop Brexit. I am writing to Speaker Bercow to ensure a No Deal Brexit cannot happen without a vote in Parliament. But I also want to make the positive case for Britain’s membership of the European Union. I’m an economist by training, and for me the economic case to stop Brexit is overwhelming. But for too long the British argument over Europe has only been made by reference to economics. Europe has also been a hugely successful vehicle for peace, and Britain must stay in the front seat.

I also want us to reach out to Leave communities and Leave voters –they are our neighbours, our friends, our work colleagues, our brothers and sisters. These divisions in our country have distressed me more than anything I’ve seen in my political career. I want to build a future politics where people – particularly outside of London – don’t feel frozen out or ignored and feel included in our great British family.

As Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, I worked for three years to get renewable power investment. We nearly quadrupled Britain’s green energy, making Britain a world leader in offshore wind power. By pushing hard for manufacturing investment, we created jobs and revived places like Hull, Grimsby and Lowestoft.  This is the sort of hope and investment in coastal towns and cities that can prove to Leave communities that Liberal Democrats care.

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Ed Davey launches campaign to lead Lib Dems

Ed Davey has launched his campaign to be Lib Dem Leader in a video posted on Twitter.

He has a new website, Ed for Leader.

Ed’s plan has three main themes:

Winning campaigns

Fighting for Liberal values

Tackling the climate emergency

And for those of you who have just joined the party, here’s a bit more about him:

Ed first got active in politics after reading Seeing Green by Jonathan Porritt as a teenager – and green issues have remained close to his heart ever since. After serving as the Economics Adviser to Paddy Ashdown, Ed won his seat of Kingston and Surbiton in 1997, when it was 106th on the target list.

From there, Ed has helped Liberal Democrats across the country, at all levels, get elected, including a diverse and majority female group in his home borough.

Ed lost both his parents as a child – and was a young carer for his mum before she passed away when he was 15, So Ed knows how challenging life can be – and how important the NHS is. Caring for the less fortunate has been the hallmark of his political career – for constituents and his campaigns for the bereaved, the disabled and the homeless.

In Coalition Ed began as a Business Minister, laying the groundwork for Shared Parental Leave under Vince Cable. In 2012 Ed became the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change where he quadrupled renewable power and made the UK the world leader in offshore wind. In Europe, Ed led climate change negotiations and won ambitious news targets people never thought would be agreed – so directly helping to get the Paris Climate Treaty.

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Meet our new MEPs – Breakfast edition

What a night! Thanks to Mark for his excellent coverage overnight.

The results surpassed my wildest expectations. And the media can just stop with this “triumph for the Brexit Party” narrative. They are effectively a repackaged UKIP which, in 2014, got 27.5% of the vote. They’ve only gained 4.1% on top of that to end up with 31.6%. UKIP’s 3.3% on top of that gives unequivocal Leave 34.9%.  The combined total of Liberal Democrats, Greens, Change UK,  Plaid Cymru and SNP who are all committed to Remain is 40.4%.

You can’t really say with confidence what the Conservative and Labour votes mean. I suspect much of the Labour vote did so with gritted teeth so you could probably add another 10% to Remain which would take the total for Remain to over 50%.

So, enough with this Brexit Party victory narrative.

But enough of that for now. Let’s meet our new MEPs.

As of now, we have 14 new ones – 15 in total so far. And they are a diverse bunch – a majority (8) women and two BAME candidates elected.

We hope that the Fabulous Fifteen will become the Sensational Sixteen at about 11 am this morning once the Western Isles has finished counting. Two are Newbies who have joined the party since 2015 and one more joined in 2014.

Making up my LIb Dem MEPs Twitter list was pretty satisfying.

So who are our new MEPs? Here are extracts from their biographies on the party website and a few more notes.  I will update this later if, as projected,  we win in Scotland but do not want to tempt fate.

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How Liberal Democrat Voice will deal with the leadership election

After Vince formally kicked off the leadership contest yesterday, announcing that we’d have a new leader by July 23rd. The likely candidates are Jo Swinson and Ed Davey, although neither has, at the time of writing, announced.

They will have to get on with it as the first hustings take place on Friday 31st May in London. In total the candidates will be attending at least ten meetings organised by the party. You can see a full list here.

I’m looking forward to an interesting and friendly leadership campaign which will be about how to consolidate our excellent results in the local elections and to build on the profile we had during the European elections.

This will all be very different from the really tough contest between Tim Farron and Norman Lamb in 2015. During that contest, we were still going through all the stages of grief after the disaster of the General Election and it was at times a bit fractious and horrible. Now, we have a much more optimistic outlook and we have to work out who will best help us make the most of it.

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+++Vince to hand over to new Lib Dem Leader on July 23rd

So Theresa May isn’t the only leader to resign today.

Vince has just sent this message to party members announcing that he will be handing over to his successor on 23rd July.

The difference between the two departures is that Vince is going as part of a managed transition first announced nearly 9 months ago and is going out on a high. We’ll see just how high on Monday when we know all the results of the European elections.

Vince deserves our thanks for taking on the challenge of leadership and building on what Tim Farron had started. When we think of the bloody mess we were in after the last European elections, we can see how far both men took us.

Here is Vince’s email.

Dear Member,

Last night, the British people finished voting in the European elections. We have fought a very strong campaign and when the votes are counted on Sunday, I expect us to do well.

I want to thank the volunteers who have made that possible I was very touched while campaigning around the country by the enthusiasm and optimism of our members and supporters.

Many who kept going through difficult years for the party are now enjoying our resurgence as a major national force.

Our long and proud tradition of success in local government was revived this month by the best local election results in our party’s history. In the last two years, we have gained 780 more council seats and 15 new councils.

And membership is at record levels with a strengthening base of supporters amongst students and young people.

Together, we have rebuilt the Liberal Democrats – thank you.

I said earlier this year that the time would soon come to hand over the leadership of the party to a new generation. That process begins today: I will be proud to hand over a bigger, stronger party on July 23rd.

If you have friends who would want to vote in the election to choose my successor, urge them to join by Friday 7th June. Every new member can help shape our future.

There are major challenges ahead. One is to win, finally, the battle to stop Brexit. Our campaigning has given hope; now we need to secure a referendum in Parliament, and then win it.

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Bamber Gascoigne: This is the essential moment to support the Lib Dems

Last week, Katy Brand and Emma Kennedy backed the Lib Dems in the European elections. .

Last night, award winning star of stage and screen Simon Callow said he was backing us as the only party to have offered leadership and clarity on remaining in the EU.

And today, University Challenge legend Bamber Gascoigne adds his voice to the growing list of people saying that they are voting Lib Dem this time – a list that also includes former Tory Cabinet Minister Michael Heseltine and Times columnist and former Tory MP Matthew Parris.

Bamber said:

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Simon Callow backs Lib Dems in European elections as “only party to have offered leadership and clarity on remaining in EU”

Simon Callow by Mark, Flick CCL

One of Britain’s finest actors has backed the Lib Dems in the European election.

Simon Callow, whose performances include Gareth in Four Weddings and a Funeral, for which he was nominated for a BAFTA, Sir Edward Tilney in Shakespeare in Love and a role which will appeal to many Lib Dems – Charles Dickens in two episodes of Doctor Who – said:

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Lib Dems target Labour remainers

So we’re doing the sensible thing and going after the votes of Labour voting Remain supporters in the next few days.

We have the help of numerous actions and comments by senior Labour figures over the past three years, most especially Bailout Barry himself. You haven’t been allowed to forget that Labour Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner told Tory Minister James Cleverly that Labour were trying to bail the Tories out on Brexit.

Just in case it has slipped your mind for a nanosecond, here is the actual clip:

The Huffington Post reports that candidates and campaigners will be stepping up their efforts to persuade Labour supporters to back us in this election:

The eight-page document is being sent to candidates and grassroots activists as Vince Cable’s party aims to convince “increasingly soft” Labour votes.

The document, which is to be issued with Labour attack leaflets, collates pro-Brexit quotes from Labour’s frontbench MPs, including from supporters of a second referendum, such as Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry.

It also outlines in detail the party’s voting record on a second referendum and soft Brexit options, underlining that Corbyn’s MPs were whipped either to abstain or to vote with the Tories on 29 key Brexit votes.

Pro-EU Labour activists reacted with dismay when Corbyn refused to back a remain stance in the party’s Euro elections manifesto, with the leader sticking to the line that a second referendum would be “an option” if cross-party Brexit talks fail.

The local elections, meanwhile, saw the Lib Dems win more than 700 seats, leaving Cable confident of gains in the May 23 EU-wide poll.

They have a quote from Ed Davey:

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