Tag Archives: featured

Pride in the Lib Dems

Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of London Pride and Liberal Democrats were right there marching with all the pride we could muster -both as Liberal Democrats and throughout the parade Liberal Democrats were marching with other groups and organisations from the Armed forces to NHS trusts to Sports Groups. It was amazing to be part of this piece of history with 1.5 million people involved! Thanks to every Lib Dem who came yesterday, whether you were marching with the group or elsewhere or supporting from the crowd – and many thanks to our fabulous GLA Assembly Members – Caroline, Hina and Luisa for sharing the day with us.


Thanks to Luisa, Caroline, Hina and all the other Lib Dems
who helped give us an amazing presence yesterday.

Pride has always meant a lot to me – it’s the first place I felt I could be unashamed of myself when I was 16 and had just come out as bi. I’ve seen some of the best moments of solidarity there – adults taking it upon themselves to hide hateful banners from teenagers going past, cis people passionately defending trans people, thousands of people screaming support for LGBT+ refugee groups to give a very few examples I’ve seen over the years.

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Reviewing how we campaign

Liberal Democrat campaigns are well known for their strong community focus, their mountains of leaflets and their incessant door knocking. This strategy has shown some success from Chesham and Amersham to Tiverton and Honiton, to our great local election results.

However, to say that this is the only way to win elections would be short sighted. We’ve seen right wing forces like Trump and the Brexit campaign effectively harness digital technologies and micro targeting to win against the odds. But is this something that we should be doing?

Some academics have looked to answer these questions, showing how digital techniques have grown in importance. However, these studies have often overlooked local elections and their key role in our politics. I want to change this.

I’m studying Public and Political Communications at the University of Sheffield and am researching how Liberal Democrats campaign, and most importantly, what campaigning methods work. This interest has come from several years of working as a Lib Dem local organiser and for ALDC.

This study will look at the 2022 local elections and seek to determine, based on statistical analysis, which campaigning methods contributed most to our impressive victories. Is canvassing more important than direct mail? Is Facebook more important than Instagram?

But, to do this I need your help.

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Why I will vote No in a referendum

Back in 2013, I wrote an article for the Scotsman newspaper outlining what issues were important to me in deciding what way to vote in the then upcoming Independence referendum.

In the end I decided to vote Yes, as at that time I believed the risks involved were worth taking. Nearly ten years on, the circumstances are now quite different and if, as proposed yesterday by Nicola Sturgeon, there is another referendum next year, I would now vote No.

It is very unlikely that the Supreme Court will confirm legality on the new proposals, as it is clear to even the SNP, that without the consent of Westminster the Scottish Parliament will not be able to hold a lawful referendum and as the SNP have already declared that they will then make the next Westminster election a single issue campaign on independence, there is time to consider what is the best way forward. We have seen before how splitting the vote on any single issue can let a party with a minority of the votes win first past the post elections on that issue.

Firstly, we need to understand why the SNP will never give up on their demands for a referendum on independence. It is similar to Liberals wanting a fair voting system and losing a referendum on it. A fair electoral system is at the heart of our beliefs, and regardless of how little support other parties, or the public give electoral reform, we will never give up our call for a system where those elected fairly represent the way people have voted. The SNP have a similar core belief, but they depend on the lack of a fair electoral system to deliver it for them.

There will also be support from those who oppose independence, for a referendum, as the best way to give the public their say and to deal with the question which has dominated Scottish politics for many years. It is a debate that will not go away by refusing to have it.

Since 2014 much has changed, not least the fact of Brexit.

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Moran: Northern Ireland Bill feels like a bad sequel

Yesterday evening, the Commons passed the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill 295 by votes to 221. Lib Dem spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and International Development, Layla Moran accused the government of reopening old wounds to save its own political skin rather than dealing with the issues facing the country now.

She said the bill will only increase barriers against imports and exports causing prices to rise even further, the last thing that farmers, fishermen and families up and down the country want.

Despots across the world will be delighted. How on earth can we hold others to account when we are tying ourselves up in knots, trying to find loopholes to get out of the agreements that we sign? This is how banana republics act, not Great Britain.

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Johnson: Imperious, impervious and delusional

Our prime minister is beleaguered, only he doesn’t know it. He told the press pack in Rwanda that he intended to remain as prime minister until the mid-2030s. With members of his cabinet scheming against him and negative approval ratings in opinion polls, that looks unlikely.

Both Johnson and some Conservative MPs are in denial about the message sent by the government by the public in Thursday’s twin by-election defeats. At least two of Tory MPs have blamed the Tiverton and Honiton defeat on the “girls” (MPs to you and me) that shopped Neil Parish for his tractor porn antics in the chamber. Another said they didn’t see the defeat coming because “people were lying on the doorsteps”. How out of touch can the Tories be?

Other MPs recognised that the bond of trust has been broken between the prime minister, the Conservative party and the voters: “People think he’s a liar and a shady bugger.”

As Richard Foord said on Thursday: “It’s time for Boris Johnson to go. And go now.” The departure of the “shady bugger” is long overdue.

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Roe vs Wade struck out as illiberal forces gain ground

There was no surprise about yesterday’s decision by the US Supreme Court to overturn the historic Roe vs Wade decision. The ruling, which ended half a century of constitutional protection for abortion, had been leaked the beginning of May. The ruling, from which three Democrat judges dissented, is expected to further divide the nation ahead of November’s midterm elections.

The verdict does not make abortion illegal in the USA but it does allow individual states to pass their own laws restricting abortion to the earliest weeks of pregnancy or situations such as rape.

The ruling is likely to stoke further tensions in a country that is increasingly polarised. It could also presage the overturning of other rights such as same sex marriage and access to contraception.

The Roe vs Wade decision dates to 1973, six years after Liberal MP David Steel introduced the Abortion Act as a private members bill in the House of Commons. Lord Steel has since argued for further liberation of the law. But abortion remains controversial in the UK with regular protests outside abortion clinics.

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Tiverton and Honiton: “It’s time for Boris Johnson to go” – Foord speech in full

In a calm, reasoned and powerful acceptance speech, newly elected Lib Dem MP for Tiverton and Honiton has a message for Boris Johnson:

Tonight, the people of Tiverton & Honiton have spoken for Britain. They’ve sent a loud and clear message: It’s time for Boris Johnson to go. And go now.

Ours is a great country and there’s no greater part of it than Devon. But every day Boris Johnson clings to office, he brings further shame, chaos and neglect…

I also have a simple message for those Conservative MPs propping up this failing Prime Minister: The Liberal Democrats are coming.

Foord said the cost of living crisis is hitting hard, including in Devon.

He also paid tribute to Ed Davey for his leadership: “You believed from the start that this result was possible. You rallied our troops and led from the front.” The contrast with Boris Johnson who shied away from meeting voters in Tiverton and Honiton was left unstated.

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Tiverton and Honiton: “The Major from Uffculme” wins for the Lib Dems

Congratulations to Richard Foord and the Lib Dem team on a convincing win in mid-Devon. Richard took the Lib Dems from third place to a majority of 6,144 votes. It is a stonking win and with Chesham and Amersham and North Shropshire completes a hattrick of by-election victories. Foord comfortably overturned the 24,239 majority won at the December 2019 general election by former Tory MP Neil Parish – who was forced to resign after he was seen viewing pornography in the House of Commons.

One resident is quoted by the Express as calling Richard Foord “the Major from Uffculme, a good local bloke.” That moniker might stick.

Tonight also saw local council gains in Highley, Kingston and Waverley.

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Ed Davey: Johnson and Shapps pretend they can’t end the rail strikes. That’s nonsense

The train strike has already had a devastating impact on businesses and on the general public.

Ed Davey has written an article in The Guardian under the headline: Johnson and Shapps pretend they can’t end the rail strikes. That’s nonsense.

He writes:

The Liberal Democrats are against the rail strikes and if a summer of discontent is not to turn into a winter of discontent and full-on stagflation, ministers must step back from the brink.

The position of lower-paid workers across our country should be at the forefront of ministers’ thinking – not that of the highest earners in the City, whose pay and bonuses the government announced this week would not be limited in any way.

The solution?

The solution to such distressing stories is clear: instead of strikes, there should be dialogue between government ministers and union bosses.

Ministers must now clean up their own mess. Liberal Democrats are calling for an emergency Cobra meeting to kickstart a practical compromise and to keep Britain moving.

And here is Christine Jardine (our Treasury spokseperson) telling the BBC what Grant Shapps and the Government should do. It is a national emergency so it would be appropriate for Cobra to meet.

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Tiverton and Honiton byelection: rural communities itching for chance to cast protest vote

By Tabitha A. Baker, Bournemouth University

Tiverton and Honiton in Devon has long been a Conservative stronghold. But the Liberal Democrats believe they have a good chance of taking the seat in an impending byelection. The vote follows the resignation of former MP Neil Parish, who admitted to watching porn in the House of Commons chamber.

My research in the south-west of England suggests the party of government has every reason to be worried. The discontent and even resentment towards the political class have been palpable for some time.

Previous analyses of electoral geography identified rural and non-metropolitan areas as having higher levels of support for Brexit and populist parties, citing a backlash against the status quo for these trends. It’s clear from my interviews over the past few years that voters are looking for any opportunity to make their feelings known to the main political parties through protest votes.

The exceptional circumstance of the 2016 EU referendum is a case in point. Rural voters saw a unique opportunity to express their frustrations about years of local decline by voting against the government’s position on Brexit.

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Neck and neck in Tiverton and Honiton

From an “exclusive” by David Parsley in today’s i:

“After speaking with 6,000 constituents in the Devon seat over the weekend, pollsters for the Lib Dems put their candidate Richard Foord on 45 per cent of the vote, level with the Tories’ Helen Hurford.

“This latest survey of voting intentions suggests the Lib Dems have closed the two-point gap between themselves and the Conservatives that existed at the same point last week.”

Richard Foord said:

This by-election is a very close fight between myself and Boris Johnson’s candidate.

David Parsley continues:

“If the Lib Dems do reverse the huge Tory majority, it would be the largest by-election turnaround since Labour won Liverpool Wavertree from the Conservatives in 1935.”

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Tiverton & Honiton: Observer and Davey call for tactical voting

The Observer leader column today calls for voters in Tiverton and Honiton to vote tactically for the Lib Dems and voters to tactically vote for Labour in Wakefield.

In an editorial that does not pull its punches, the Observer describes Conservative MPs who voted to keep Boris Johnson in office as “morally myopic and politically foolish”.

“A double whammy of byelection defeats will frighten Conservative MPs in red wall seats and those traditionally true blue. A scare, the bigger the better, is exactly what the Tories need before this government slithers into even worse degeneracy.”

The newspaper says there is no shame in tactical voting. While “political outcomes are distorted by an antique and unfair first-past-the-post electoral system”, voting tactically is the only way to mobilise “the anti-Tory majority”.

The Tories are running scared and Johnson is running so scared he flew to Ukraine rather than face his own Red Wall MPs on Friday. But nothing is certain until the votes have been counted. It is time for that final push.

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One week to go in Tiverton and Honiton!!!

I rarely use exclamation marks when writing, but it is getting exciting! Next Thursday voters in Tiverton and Honiton will be heading to the polls. And the polls say we are only a couple of per cent behind the Tories. Although, the bookies have us as favourites, there is no room for complacency. It is time to get to Tiverton and Honiton if you can.

The HQs will be open from 9am until 8pm:

  • Tiverton at 8-9 Mountbatten Road, Tiverton EX16 6SW
  • Honiton at 118 High St, Honiton, EX14 1JP

If you need or can offer a lift for volunteers on polling week, please complete this form.

Campaigning next week won’t be helped by the national rail strike. Although notionally for Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, services are expected to be disrupted for the entire week and overcrowded when they operate. Cue traffic jams at the usual bank holiday pinch spots to am from the south west. However, we Lib Dems are not put off by such matters. We are at the point of winning and we must win. We must pull off the hattrick of three by-election wins in a row.

 

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Carmichael: Threat to leave ECHR risks breaking Good Friday Agreement

Writing in The House yesterday, Alistair Carmichael, Lib Dem Home Affairs and Northern Ireland spokesperson, said:

In less than 24 hours Boris Johnson has gone from pretending to be a defender of the Good Friday Agreement, to threatening to remove the legal underpinnings of peace in Northern Ireland altogether.

Carmichael’s comment came as the prime minister and ministers dropped heavy hints that if the law were to get in the way of Rwanda deportation flights, the government could withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The Good Friday Agreement expressly requires the United Kingdom to have the Convention directly enforceable in Northern Ireland.

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Moran: Anything less than a full ban on ‘conversion therapy’ is unacceptable

Writing in Gay Times, Layla Moran has called out those that think being gay is something other than normal and want to convert ‘gay people’ into ‘ordinary people’. Moran wrote:

The LGBTQ+ community is an incredible tapestry of different sexual orientations and gender identities. Each of them is valid and should be celebrated. But practices exist which seek to change, cure, or suppress an LGBTQ+ person’s identity. These practices start from the position that a person expressing an LGBTQ+ identity should be challenged and corrected. They are deliberately harmful and repressive…

Shockingly these practices are still legal in the UK.

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Benefits to Bricks and Boris Bluster

This government is stuck on the letter “B”. Build Back Better. Bus Back Better. And now Benefits to Bricks. And, of course, there is the perennial Boris Bluster. The speech Boris Johnson gave in Blackpool on Thursday seemed to be more about keeping Johnson in his home at No 10 than getting others into homes. Although billed as a “housing speech” it was more a rambling justification for Johnson’s position. Although the main topic was meant to be housing, we heard of olive oil and bananas, Suez and Ukraine, inflation, policing, health, cost of living, riots and much more on the way to mortgages and a right to buy for social housing tenants.

We were told we are living in good times: “People don’t face the misery of the 1980s or 1990s”. Johnson failed to mention that all but three years of those decades were under Conservative governments. And that there wasn’t then a food bank in every community. And when he said, “Everyone can see and feel the impact on household budgets”, I briefly fantasised that he too was flat broke and was facing the cruel choice between fuel, heating and food.

This government is out of touch with how hard times are for many people. And that shows in its current announcements, including Benefits to Bricks.

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A great jubilee but what is the future of the monarchy?

As people return to work after a long bank holiday weekend and business in the Commons and Lords resumes, the difficult question must be asked, what is the future of the monarchy? Although the Queen’s popularity remains strong, the same cannot be said of her successor Prince Charles, especially amongst young people.

Compared to his mother and his son, Charles these days seems dated. It is hard to imagine him doing a sketch with Daniel Craig or Paddington Bear. Despite this, half of people expect him to a good job as monarch, though 75% think Prince William will do a good job.

There is no national mood to abolish the monarchy. But whether the monarch should remain the head of state is a more open question. Especially as Prince Charles has a track record of lobby ministers for his people obsessions. Should we move to a presidential system?

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Does 100 days of bloody war in Ukraine presage wider conflict?

One hundred days of fear. One hundred days of death. One hundred days of annihilation of cities, towns and villages.

It is 100 days since Russia launched its bloody wave of killing and destruction in Ukraine. The conflict in Ukraine is not a war somewhere off. It is in the biggest country in Europe and is on the delicate border between the EU and Putin’s Russian sphere of influence.

The impacts on Europe are immense and growing. From the need for countries such as Poland to house millions of refugees to the need to urgently rewire economies dependent on Russian and Ukrainian wheat and vegetable oil. And there is the vexed question of Russian gas and oil which props up some European economies and pumps funds back into the Kremlin’s murderous war machine.

Sanctions and reluctant measures to reduce dependency on Russian fossil fuels are having an impact. But like the supply of weapons, it is proving too little too late.

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Crown Imperial Madness

Yesterday was a day of pageantry, cheering crowds and an unforced display of respect for the monarch from many in our nation. Boris Johnson’s government has now crowned that achievement with proposals that will make the UK a laughing stock worldwide. Proposals to bring back imperial measurements fly in the face of modernity and the needs of enterprise. But they suit the needs of this out of touch government, which seems to believe that if we bring back crowns on beer glasses and allow grocers to sell only in imperial measures it will lift the popular mood.

Although this scheme is the brainchild of Jacob Rees Mogg, who seems to be living in the century before last, business minister Paul Scully is the fall guy who today is presenting the daftest idea to come out of any government’s stable in decades. Not so much Build Back Better as Build Back Backwards.

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Ed Davey on Queen Elizabeth, jubilees and parachuting monarchs

A week ago, Lib Dem leader Ed Davey joined members of the House of Commons in paying tribute to the Queen.

Davey said: “The whole country will agree that our Queen has more than fulfilled her promises made to our nation. With her sense of selflessness and her steadfast commitment to the nation, these values and her service have defined Her Majesty’s seven-decade reign and will continue to define her. The unwavering nature of her service and duty is made all the more remarkable by the length of Her Majesty’s reign.”

Reminiscing about the silver jubilee, he said: “My strongest memory of 1977 is the Queen’s smile and personal delight as Virginia Wade won Wimbledon. My fingers are crossed that Emma Raducanu might serve up something similar later this year.”

Davey said the highlight of the diamond jubilee in 2012 was watching the Queen parachute down to the opening ceremony of the summer Olympics. Asking Queen Margrethe of Denmark when she was taking up parachuting. She replied: “When I’m over 80.”

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William Wallace writes: Higher Public Spending: the big political taboo

A recent Financial Times op-ed  argued that the UK should now recognise that the Ukraine conflict has imposed aspects of a war economy on the UK – shortages, rising prices, disruptions in supply – which require serious changes in economic policy.  The business pages of the serious press urge higher public investment, spending on education and apprenticeships to raise our woefully-low labour productivity, and government intervention to promote innovation, resilience against supply-chain shocks and sustainability.

Defenders of the NHS point to its much lower spending and staffing per head than comparable European countries half that of Germany and the Netherlands, far fewer doctors and nurses per head and less than half the number of hospital beds – which as the Financial Times says ‘reflect political choices, not what is affordable.’  State schools have been similarly underfunded for many years.  Teachers’ salaries, like nurses’, have been held down to a point where recruitment and retention is difficult.   Conservative MPs and others call for higher defence spending in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  Anyone serious about the ‘levelling-up’ agenda knows that it cannot succeed without a very substantial and long-term financial commitment: an additional 1-2% of GDP over a decade or more.

Yet Conservative MPs, backed by almost all political commentators outside the Guardian, still call repeatedly for cuts in taxation.  Their reactions to Rishi Sunak’s latest emergency package have expressed dismay at the rise in taxes it involves.  Sunak is still promising them that he will find a way to cut taxes before the next election, although neither he nor anyone else says anything about what cuts in spending that would imply.  And the Labour Party is silent on the subject, fearing that the Mail and the rest of the Tory press would love to label them again as ‘the high tax party’.  I saw a Labour leaflet in Wandsworth in the local election campaign that promised that if Labour won control of the Council it would keep Council tax at the same low level – a similar promise to what Tony Blair pledged for national taxation in 1996-7.

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Davey: We’ll work with others to out this indecent government

In a podcast interview for Politics Home, Ed Davey said there is no formal pact with Labour but it was simply rational behaviour for both parties to put their resources where they have the best chance of winning.

He said the Lib Dems intend to take on Labour in areas where we can think we can beat them.

The interview also covered Partygate, the economy and the cost of living crisis, Tiverton and Honiton, and Lib Dem values.

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Progressive Lib Dem Labour Partnership takes helm in Powys

Powys County Council is to be led by the Welsh Liberal Democrats for the first time since its creation, in a partnership with Welsh Labour. Previous administrations have been led by independents.

James Gibson-Watt, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Group Leader on Powys Council, was elected as Leader of the Council at the Council’s AGM this morning, becoming the first Welsh Liberal Democrat Council leader since 2012.

The agreement between the Welsh Liberal Democrats and Welsh Labour will focus on delivering a fresh and distinctive path to meet the serious challenges the county faces. A Green Party councillor is expected to join the partnership.

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17 August 2022: Ambulance Domesday in West Midlands

If you live in the West Midlands and are going to fall ill, you better get on with it. Certainly, don’t leave it until 17 August because if you want an ambulance, you may not get one. That’s the apocalyptic prediction from a director of the West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS).

Ambulance provision in the West Midlands, as in many other areas of the country, has been struggling for a couple of years. There are endless stories of delays in ambulances reaching patients. Handover delays from ambulance paramedics at the county’s two hospitals, both maintained by the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Hospital Trust (SaTH), are among the longest in England. There are far too many reports of patients dying during these delays when they might have survived. Too many patients with worse health outcomes because they could not get to specialist treatment quickly enough.

Mark Docherty, Executive Director of Nursing and Clinical Commissioning at WMAS, this week told the media and the board members of the ambulance service that the whole West Midlands ambulance service could fail by mid-August.

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It’s my party and I’ll lie if I want to – Gray report

The evidence was overwhelming before today that Johnson had been to parties when they were barred by his own government’s rules. That’s bad.

With Sue Gray’s report now before parliament and the public, it is clear if it wasn’t before, that Johnson has repeatedly lied about parties and whether he attended any. That’s seriously bad.

Gray’s report has now been published. Thirty-seven pages. Nine photos. Vomiting, red wine on the walls, fighting, sitting on laps, karaoke, pizzas, prosecco, birthday drinks, sleeping in the office, overflowing bins, leaving drunk by the back door to avoid the press pack outside the front door, along with poor treatment of security and cleaning staff. Classic signs of parties but we have been repeatedly told that there were no parties, just meetings, and Johnson did not attend any parties.

Johnson is likely to survive this because Conservatives haven’t got the guts to remove him. Although perhaps the truth is that they have no one to replace him.

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Robb Elementary School shooting – will America ever get a grip on guns?

We woke to the grim news this morning of another mass shooting in a school in the USA. Nineteen young children and two adults died in a shooting at Robb Elementary School in south Texas. The gunman, eighteen years old, had purchased two assault rifles and used them for a mass slaughter before being shot dead by police.

President Joe Biden just back from Asia made an emotion speech.

“As a nation we have to ask when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby. I am sick and tired of it – we have to act.”

Vice President Kamala Harris, reported to be close to tears, said:

“Every time a tragedy like this happens, our hearts break. And our broken hearts are nothing compared to the broken hearts of those families – and yet it keeps happening. So, I think we all know and have said many times with each other: Enough is enough. Enough is enough.”

 

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Caroline Pidgeon writes…Elizabeth Line: Much to celebrate, but much to learn as well

Today’s opening of the central section of Crossrail is something to celebrate.

The benefits from Crossrail (or the Elizabeth Line as it has become) will be immense.

It will transform travel across London, but also large parts of the South East.  Indeed, it is myth that it is solely a London project. It will cut journey times, provide much needed additional train capacity and encourage people to switch away from making many journeys by car, including in time many people who travel around London by the M25.

Most importantly it will lead to a transformation in genuinely accessible travel.  Passengers will be amazed by the long platforms and trains of 200 metres in length; taking rail and tube travel to a new level.   All 41 Elizabeth line stations will be step-free to platform level, staffed from first to the last train, with a ‘turn-up and go’ service offered to anyone needing assistance. 

 However, whilst celebrating its opening, there is no excuse for forgetting that, as a project, it has fundamentally failed the basic test of being delivered on time and on budget.     

 The central section of Crossrail is opening three and half years late and even then one key station, Bond Street, will not be ready.   Crossrail’s total construction bill is already £4 billion over budget and its delayed opening has drained TfL of much needed fares revenue over the last few years.  The project will have cost around £20 billion on completion, though a good chunk of this has been paid for by London businesses.

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Richard Foord selected as candidate in Tiverton and Honiton by-election

Congratulations to Richard Foord who has been selected as our candidate in the Tiverton and Honiton by-election on 23rd June!

Richard lives in the constituency and is a former Army Major who served as a UN peacekeeper in Kosovo. He currently works for a University and volunteers for the Scout movement. He has also run the London marathon for the Royal British Legion.

You can read more about him on his personal website here and on the Liberal Democrat website here.

Ed Davey said:

Richard is an incredible candidate, whose dedication to others has shone not only through his career, but also in his voluntary roles in the community.

This by-election will be a two-horse race between Boris Johnson’s Conservatives and hard-working Liberal Democrat local champion, Richard Foord. This Conservative government has taken Devon for granted with local health services being neglected and botched and with trade deals undercutting farmers at every turn.

The Liberal Democrats are the clear challengers to the Conservatives in Tiverton & Honiton. On 23rd June, you can elect a strong local champion who will stand up for our communities and help kick Boris Johnson out of Number 10.

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Sarah Dyke Selected as Lib Dem Candidate for Somerset and Frome

The Liberal Democrats have selected Cllr Sarah Dyke as their candidate for the Somerton and Frome constituency.

Sarah lives in the constituency and is from a Somerset farming family which can be traced back over 250 years to the local area. Sarah worked in the agricultural industry and is Portfolio Holder for the Environment on South Somerset District Council where she is spearheading rewilding programmes, investment in electric vehicle charging points and the council’s zero-carbon targets.

Last week Sarah was elected to Somerset County Council to represent Blackmoor Vale, beating the head of the Conservatives’ dedicated anti-Lib Dem unit.

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Ukraine won Eurovision. Now we have to win a war.

Eurovision is an acquired taste. Many people regard it as a pleasure. War is an enforced taste. Very few people regard it as a pleasure.

The win last night at the world’s most popular, and often cheesiest, song contest is a mood boost for Ukraine. The jury had put the UK entry, Space Man by Sam Ryder at the head of the pack. In an ordinary year, Sam Ryder would have given the UK the winner that has eluded it since Katrina and the Waves.

This is not an ordinary year. Last night’s event opened with a Rockin’ 1000 rendition of the anthem “Give Peace a Chance”.

The public vote, especially in Europe and Australia, was in favour of Stefania, performed by Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra. Without the war, this performance might have won in its own right. However, this was a night where politics blended with music. As the crowd roared its approval, Oleh Psiuk pleaded: “Please help Ukraine, help Mariupol, help Azovstal right now.” Ukraine duly won Eurovision for a second time.

President Zelensky said on hearing the result: “Our courage impresses the world. Our music conquers Europe! Next year Ukraine will host Eurovision!”

That’s ambitious but the world needs to do everything it can to ensure that ambition is fulfilled. That means winning a war first.

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Recent Comments

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