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Welsh Lib Dems’ Leadership: Liz Evans writes…We must offer a positive alternative to nationalism

Changing our constitution is recognition of where we currently are as a Welsh party; a brave, necessary and ultimately exciting step. My name is Liz Evans, I’m a County Councillor for Ceredigion, an intrepid campaigner and committed liberal! So here we are, two Welsh speaking women from the coast and countryside of Wales; campaigning colleagues looking to be the next Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader – how amazing is that!

Be in no doubt that Welsh politics is the poorer without Welsh Liberal Democrat parliamentarians, both in the Welsh Assembly and Westminster. Yet this is the reality check. The last eighteen months has been the stuff of nightmares; four of our five Assembly members gone; talented Councillors gone and losing the seat of my close friend and colleague Mark Williams was devastating. Having ran his office for nine years the principles of liberal democracy were at the heart of everything we did.

Secretary of Education Kirsty Williams is improving and developing education in Wales and delivering on our manifesto commitments as part of the progressive agreement with Welsh Government including 20,000 new homes; prioritising links between education and industry; the establishment of a Wales Development Bank to help people set up business and grow existing businesses; extra money to help schools support teenagers with mental health problems and where mental health discrimination is ended. That’s not bad going for one Liberal Democrat in government!

I am rooted to this party and I care deeply about its future direction. I am a proud European, a  devolutionist to the core and I am ambitious for Wales. I also recognise that the Welsh Liberal Democrats have an identity problem.

We are the party of home rule, radical liberalism and social democracy. We are outward looking, British, European and truly internationalist. Yet we see a growing warmth towards nationalism in Wales and we must offer a clear, positive alternative. We are the antidote to nationalism and the champions of self determination and we need the people of Wales to know.

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Welsh Lib Dems’ Leadership: Jane Dodd writes “I want to lead a party that is radical and reforming”

I have to start by saying that I am not that happy to be standing against Liz Evans, a colleague for whom I have enormous respect.  My only comfort is that the Welsh Liberal Democrats will have a Welsh speaking woman from mid-Wales as their next leader.

I believe that the Welsh Liberal Democrats have the talent, the drive, the enthusiasm and the ambition to start winning again, but we need to rebuild the party.  We need more members, more councillors and to win seats in the Welsh Assembly elections in 2021 and in the next Parliamentary elections.  The Welsh party needs to work with the Federal Party to forge a relationship that helps us to transform ourselves.  And Wales needs the Welsh Liberal Democrats to offer real, meaningful, and Liberal solutions to the deep seated inequalities people face.

Progress has been too slow.  As a social worker, I have seen at first hand the inequalities in our society and the hardship suffered by people as they face a lack of good quality homes and a paucity of well-paid and full time employment. People in Wales have health services which are well below the standards in England, and we need improved access to mental health provision.  We need to sustain our support to our Education Cabinet Secretary in Kirsty Williams as she continues to deliver progressive policies to improve educational standards for Welsh children.

We need an economic plan that breathes life back in to Wales, and to put green policies and renewable energy developments at the forefront of our strategy. We need to be an outward looking Wales – welcoming refugees and helping those in need, as well as joining Vince and all other Liberal Democrats in challenging Brexit.  

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A couple of observations about Vince’s reshuffle

So Vince Cable reshuffled his top team today.

There’s a very interesting change of language. No longer are they called the Shadow Cabinet. That probably makes sense for a team of 12 MPs out of 650. They will henceforth be known as spokespeople.

So who has the top jobs? A full list is here.

The team is gender balanced. In fact there is a majority of women – 15 out of the 29. That includes long time Vince ally Dee Doocey who is coming in with a Spokesperson without Portfolio.  This would certainly enable her to obtain a profile over a wide range of subjects. I don’t even know if this has been thought of, but it crosses my mind that she could be a contender for party president when Sal Brinton comes to the end of her constitutionally allowed terms in 2019. If it happens, remember that you heard it here first.

As requested in the comments, for those of you who don’t know Dee, she’s had a very long history in the party and the Liberal Party before it. Back in the day she was the Finance Director of the Liberal Party. She has been a Richmond Councillor and Greater London Assembly Member who was appointed to the House of Lords back in 2010. She’s been running Vince Cable’s elections for 25 years. You can read more about her here. 

Vince has a job

The Leader doesn’t normally have a job in these circumstances but when you are the most credible voice on the economy in the House of Commons or not the country, it would be daft if he didn’t speak up on these issues. Susan Kramer will reprise her role on this in the Lords.

More experience than Corbyn’s front bench

While they may not be called the Shadow Cabinet any more, they are more entitled to call themselves that than the Labour front bench. There are no fewer than, by my reckoning, seven former ministers, including Vince, Alistair and Ed as former Cabinet ministers.

Where’s Norman?

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Olly Grender writes…Why Alison Suttie and I are sleeping out tonight

Don’t know about the rest of you but I love my bed.  Nothing makes me appreciate it more than the annual DePaul International sleepout.  

Tonight Alison Suttie and I will be bedding down in the Somerset House courtyard.  We are in a safe secure place in comparison with most people who are homeless and on the streets.

But a night sleeping out in central London is a stark reminder to us of what too many people endure – and in growing numbers.   You don’t feel safe.  You don’t really sleep.  You spend the day feeling pretty ropey.  That is just one night.

The next day I will speak in a debate in the Lords about availability of housing – what a sorry tale that has been over the decades and lies at the heart of a growing crisis of homelessness here in the UK.  Alison has seen DePaul’s work in Odessa in Ukraine and in Bratislava in Slovakia in her international work with Tuberculosis NGOs.

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Exclusive: Former Lib Dem MP John Pugh to stand in Southport Council by-election

A snap by-election on Sefton MBC in Merseyside could see John Pugh, Lib Dem MP for Southport until he stood down in 2017, make a return as a councillor.  He previously served as one for 14 years until his election as MP in 2001.

If successful, John would be following in a expanding line of former Lib Dem MPs who have gained council seats in recent times, people such as Adrian Sanders, Tessa Munt, Mark Hunter and John Leech.

The by-election takes place on Thursday 2nd November in Dukes Ward (which covers Southport Town Centre and West Birkdale) following the resignation of a sitting Conservative councillor due to ill-health.  Dukes Ward is generally regarded as the most Conservative of Southport’s seven wards.

The resignation was only submitted last Thursday 21st September with the Tories “calling” the election the following day and they have been distributing a leaflet since last weekend.  However Southport Lib Dems have also been quick off the mark with a Focus leaflet going out from Sunday.

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Lib Dems react to Theresa May’s Florence speech

Vince said that it was no wonder the Brexiteers were terrified of giving the people a say on the deal:

Both the Conservatives and Labour have now essentially converged on the same position, which is to kick the can down the road and simply delay the economic pain caused by an extreme Brexit.

Neither are prepared to fight to keep Britain in the single market and customs union or to offer people a chance to exit from Brexit

Voters were promised £350m a week for the NHS, instead Theresa May is admitting the UK will have to pay a hefty Brexit bill worth billions of pounds.

No wonder the Brexiteers are terrified of giving the British people the final say through a referendum on the facts.

Willie Rennie said the “delinquent’ May was trashing our relationship with Europe.

Theresa May is kicking the can down the road. Sixteen months on from the Brexit referendum this delinquent Prime Minister is trashing our relationship with Europe.

She seems incapable of deciding what kind of relationship she wants with Europe and that prolonged uncertainty is causing economic damage.

We were promised Brexit would be an easy negotiation and that £350 million each week would be invested in the NHS. Neither are true.

This makes the compelling case for a Brexit deal referendum even stronger.

Yesterday, the Lib Dems laid out seven tests for Theresa May’s speech. Tom Brake said that only one of them was even slightly met. 

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Lib Dems GAIN two Council seats from Labour

About 20.5 years ago, I was part of the campaign which beat Labour to win the Holmebrook ward in Chesterfield in a council by-election. A certain Keith Falconer won. Later on, his wife Glenys Falconer also represented the ward. In fact, since I wrote this, I have learned that it is the third time Keith has won this seat in a by-election. The first was in 1986, before my time in the East Midlands. He then represented the ward for 22 of the 25 years until 2011. He fell victim to an utterly unprincipled and nasty Labour campaign in 1995.

Anyway, that campaign was a really good springboard for the General Election. If I remember rightly, there was a newspaper which screamed “Poll sensation for Tony Rogers” on its front page.

20 years on, the Liberal Democrats have taken a fair few knocks in the Derbyshire town. They may be down but they sure as hell aren’t out – and they are still capable of an audacious result.

And the winner? A certain Cllr Keith Falconer.

ALDC celebrate in suitable style.

Now I know my dear friend Paul Holmes will come on here and say “We never talked about any of that Brexit rubbish.” And I might just let him gloat for a bit. But, seriously, I am thrilled to bits for all my old friends in Chesterfield who were part of this. I wonder if they are off drinking in the Tullamore like they used to after a good by-election win.

However, I do think that the Brexit stuff is responsible for Vince’s rather good poll figure. The man’s almost in positive figures, for goodness sake.

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Recent Comments

  • User Avatarjames 22nd Oct - 12:09pm
    @E so no 2nd referendum then? Or even any referendum?
  • User AvatarAnne Williams 22nd Oct - 11:56am
    I agree with Nick too.
  • User AvatarJennie 22nd Oct - 11:47am
    Yes, Caron, the Azure card was what I had in mind. Horrible, nasty, punitive thing.
  • User AvatarCaron Lindsay 22nd Oct - 11:43am
    Well said, Jennie. The Azure card scheme for asylum seekers gives a concrete example of how terrible the provision of basic services would be.
  • User AvatarE 22nd Oct - 11:38am
    Well said Jim. Whereas I agree the police response was excessive. To even consider declaring independence on the back of a flawed, illegal and unrepresentative...
  • User AvatarGlenn 22nd Oct - 11:22am
    Jennie' I completely agree.