Tag Archives: featured

The subjects selected and not selected for debate at the York spring conference

The new Federal Conference Committee met at LibDem HQ this Saturday to set out the agenda for York in March. The new FCC also held a meeting in November where feedback from the Autumn Conference was discussed, and officers were elected. Geoff Payne was re-elected as Chair, myself as Vice-Chair (General Purposes Sub Committee), and Jon Ball and Cara Jenkinson as Co-Vice Chairs (Conference Communications Group).

It is always difficult to sort through the motions that are submitted to the FCC for any conference. This year we did have a lower number of submissions – only 19, but there were some interesting motions that were selected. It seems that the December General Election may have had an impact on the lower submissions, so we are looking forward to more submissions for the Autumn Conference.

Timings are always tight at Spring Conference, and we have tried to maximise debating time. There are inevitably some items that must be held at Conference (leader’s speech, and Committee and Parliamentary reports.) We have also made time for two consultations, one Federal Board General Election review, and one Federal Policy Committee manifesto review. We have also allowed two slots for emergency motions, as various political changes are happening at the moment which may require motions to be submitted.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged , and | 14 Comments

Showing her customary resilience, Jo Swinson marks the new decade with a flurry of reflective tweets

Something you may have missed: On 31st December, Jo Swinson reflected on the last decade with a Twitter thread of photos, concluding by looking forward to the new decade with the words:

Whatever the next decade holds, I look forward to meeting it head on.


Posted in Photo feature | Also tagged | 4 Comments

Greenpeace climate change petition – shouldn’t we be doing this sort of thing rather than still having “STOP BREXIT” on our home page?

The home page of the Liberal Democrat website, 10:55 22nd January 2020

This week, Greenpeace UK have collected almost 600,000 signatures for their petition to the government to act now on Climate Change.

The text of the petition gives a succinct list of initiatives which the government should be embarking on now to minimise the climate emergency:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 15 Comments

Dorothy Thornhill will chair panel to review into both the General election and the European elections

This comes from a post by Party President and Co-leader Mark Pack, on the party’s website, explaining some output from Saturday’s Federal Board meeting:

Election Review

The (Federal) Board has commissioned a review into both the General election and the European elections.

This review will be run independently of those who ran the elections, with a panel of experts who have a broad range of skills from knowing about grassroots election campaigns through to understanding what the very best decision-making processes in organisations look like.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged | 3 Comments

Our President and co-leader writes: How you can get involved in helping to run the party

The Liberal Democrats are about to fill nearly 50 important posts, responsible for everything from oversight of our campaigns through to improving our record on diversity and making sure our finances are in good shape.

Please do both think about going for one of these posts yourself, and also who else you might want to encourage to put their name forward.

We need the best team possible – which means people with brilliant skills, time to do the job properly and a much greater diversity than we often manage with such exercises.

If anyone would like to know more about what a particular post involves, I’m very happy for you to put them in touch with me and I can either directly help or put them in touch with someone with experience of the post.

More details of the posts are over on the party website.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged and | 33 Comments

Goodbye Bob, the kindest of politicians

Note from the Editorial Team: This touching personal tribute to Bob Maclennan was published over the weekend on “A Scottish Liberal” – the blog of Andrew Page. We liked it so much that we asked Andrew if we could reproduce it here, and he kindly agreed.

Today I discovered that my friend, one time mentor and godfather to my daughter Xanthe has passed away at the age of 83.

Robert Maclennan, Lord Maclennan of Rogart (but always “Bob” to me) was the son of a gynaecologist (Sir Hector Maclennan) and a forward-thinking …

Posted in Obituaries | Also tagged , and | 3 Comments

Iowa field notes: 29 candidates, 2100 plus events, but who will win the first contest to be the next President of the United States?

The Liberty and Justice Celebration, Des Moines, Iowa, USA, November 1st, 2019.
This and all photos below are by Alex Paul Shantz


It’s the first Friday in November, and inside an arena in downtown Des Moines, the capital of Iowa, guests in smart clothes eat dinner around an elevated stage. Suddenly, the lights dim, artificial smoke envelopes a walkway, and the pop song ‘High Hopes’ blares out. Around one end of the arena, across three levels of tiered seating, thousands of people jump to their feet, dancing and waving three feet high letters that say “Boot Edge Edge”. Striding along a walkway towards the stage is… Pete Buttigieg, the 37 year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana?

At this point, I realise I’m at one of the most unique political events I’ve ever attended. Part fundraising gala and part political rally, but with production values that more closely resemble a pro wrestling event. It is in fact the Liberty and Justice Celebration, the final and most important multi-candidate ‘cattle call’ in the year-long campaign preceding the Iowa Democratic caucuses.

Posted in Europe / International | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments

Kicked into the long grass – the Lib Dem leadership election

Long Grass In Rainy Days
18.6 Should the post of Leader become vacant before the election of a new Leader, the Acting Leader of the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons and the President of the Party shall jointly assume the responsibilities of Leader of the Party until the new Leader is elected.
Federal Liberal Democrat Constitution

This afternoon, the party announced the timetable for the election of a new leader of the party. This was agreed at the first meeting of the Federal Board chaired by our new President and current co-leader of the party, Mark Pack.

Nominations will open on May 11th, which is the Monday after the elections on May 7th. Nominations will close on May 28th with ballots opening on June 18th and closing on July 15th, after which the new leader will be announced.

I’m not privy to the Federal Board discussions but it does not take a mind-reader to, at least, pick out some of the themes behind this decision.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 19 Comments

Lib Dems pay tribute to Lord Robert Maclennan

The Liberal Democrats have today led tributes following the death of Lord Robert Maclennan.

Lord Robert Maclennan of Rogart, known as Bob Maclennan, was the last leader of the Social Democrat Party before it merged with the Liberal Party. He then became joint interim leader of the new party.

Bob Maclennan was a Member of Parliament from 1966 to 2001. Upon stepping down as MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, Bob Maclennan was elevated to the House of Lords.

Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey said:

It

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Munira Wilson’s maiden speech

As is traditional, Liberal Democrat Voice is covering the maiden speeches of our new MPs as they happen. In Thursday’s Health and Social Care debate, Munira Wilson, MP for Twickenham, made her first Commons speech:

It is a pleasure—and slightly daunting—to follow so many powerful and emotive maiden speeches. I thought that the hon. Members for Luton North (Sarah Owen), for Vauxhall (Florence Eshalomi) and for Bishop Auckland (Dehenna Davison) made particularly moving speeches. It is an honour to give my maiden speech, and I am especially proud that my five-year-old daughter is in the Gallery to witness this moment. With a record number of female and BAME MPs elected in this Parliament, I hope that I and others will be an inspiration to girls like her and other young women as we strive towards a more diverse Parliament that truly reflects British society.

As the new Member of Parliament for Twickenham, I follow in the illustrious footsteps—or should I say dancing shoes—of the right hon. Sir Vincent Cable. After all, he did get a 10 from Len on “Strictly”! Vince earned the respect of Members of all parties in this House, not just for his economic prowess, but for his dry sense of humour. Who can forget his infamous “from Stalin to Mr Bean” put-down of Prime Minister Gordon Brown?

Posted in Parliament | Also tagged | 2 Comments

Future Party Communications and Elections Committee Chair

Each new Federal Board elects someone to Chair the campaigning and communications function of the Party and having been re-elected for a cumulative period of 10 years in the role, I shall not be standing for a further three when the Federal Board elects the next Chair.

I was first elected as Chair of the Campaigns and Communications Committee (CCC) – the precursor to the current Federal Communications & Elections Committee (FCEC) – in the immediate aftermath of the 2010 General Election. Half the time since that the Party has been in Government in Westminster … and the other half seemingly dealing with the consequences.

Constitutional changes in 2016 ended the practice of the Leader appointing different individuals to Chair separate General, Local and European campaigns and transferred the responsibility to the elected Chair of the FCEC. Expectations at the time were that my first general election campaign would be in 2020. I relished the prospect – putting into practice all the learnings from 2015 would be a substantial task – but one which the Party was more than up to. Instead of which, I have served three Leaders and overseen two general elections, each of them called at short notice and in challenging circumstances.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged | 9 Comments

LibLink: Our new President/Co-leader on the surprising number of elections coming up in May

Embed from Getty Images

Over on his blog, Mark Pack, our new party President and co-leader, gives us a timely warning about the magnitude of voting opportunities this May:

This year’s round of local council elections are only in England and are the smallest round of that cycle of elections. Which may make you think that it’s a small set of elections and one in which many or even most parts of the country will not be voting.

But…

Posted in Local government and Party Presidency | Also tagged , and | 4 Comments

Wendy Chamberlain’s maiden speech

As is traditional, Liberal Democrat Voice is covering the maiden speeches of our new MPs as they happen. Yesterday, Wendy Chamberlain, MP for North East Fife, spoke in the Education and Local Government debate:

I begin my maiden speech, perhaps unusually, by congratulating the hon. Member for Bury North (James Daly) on his excellent maiden speech. We can certainly agree on ensuring that deprived children and those with additional support needs are supported. I note his work on the board of governors of Hoyle nursery and commend its achievements as well as those of Springfield Primary and Bury College. I commend the hon. Gentleman’s commitment to education. I appreciate his telling us about his cricket-playing career and the fact that perhaps it does not live up to expectations. I play the amateur Scottish sport of shinty and would be happy to tell Members all about it. I do not play particularly well, so stand well back. I look forward to hearing from the hon. Gentleman again during his time in Parliament.

It is a great honour to make my maiden speech as the new Member of Parliament for North East Fife. I pay tribute to my most recent predecessor, Stephen Gethins, who served North East Fife with distinction from 2015. It is clear from my few days here that he was well liked and well respected by Members across the House. I recognise the work of his parliamentary team, both here and in the constituency. It is easy to forget in the heat of an election that when Members lose or resign their seat that has a direct impact on their employees, so I wish all of them the best for the future.

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Antony Hook MEP writes… Co-operation to win in 2024? It comes down to four questions


Embed from Getty Images

The 2019 General Election was the sixth since I joined the party as a student in 1998 and its result was by far the most frustrating. The consequences of the 2019 election will be more considerable and long-lasting for our country than any I saw before.

How this happened, and what needs to change to do better next time, will be subject of a General Election Review, which I expect will be rigorous and take an objective, honest view based on evidence.

If I quote a football manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, do not think I am trivialising. Sir Alex understands more about successful leadership (including managing resources and dealing with the press and a support base) than many people in politics. One of his maxims was “defeat does not matter, what matters is how you come back from defeat.”

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 19 Comments

Daisy Cooper’s maiden speech

As is traditional, Liberal Democrat Voice will be covering the maiden speeches of our new MPs as they happen. First up, yesterday, was Daisy Cooper in the Queen’s Speech debate, responding to Dominic Raab on the subject of Britain in the World…

It is a great honour to make my maiden speech following many other accomplished and passionate speakers. My constituency of St Albans is very proud of its contribution both to Britain’s history and to Britain’s place in the world. Alban himself is the first recorded Christian martyr and Britain’s first saint. He was executed for giving shelter to

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It must be the right people who fall on their swords

Embed from Getty Images

In October 1805 Napoleon was in what is now the Czech Republic and desperate to engage the armies of Austria and Russia, which had converged, before they became too strong to overcome. The Russian commander-in-chief, Kutuzov, also realised that Napoleon needed to do battle, so he counselled retreat. But the Austrians and Tsar Alexander, buoyed by what they believed was reliable reconnaissance information, overruled Kutuzov, who was demoted. Napoleon, by various stratagems, lured the Austrians into a battle on terrain of his choosing, near Austerlitz.

You can see where this is going.

French reinforcements, of whom the Austrians were unaware, arrived unexpectedly. Napoleon won one of his greatest victories, and an awful lot of people got killed. The Holy Roman Empire effectively came to an end a year later.

This is what happens when the top command makes the wrong decision.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 60 Comments

Rumour: Jo Swinson set to be awarded a peerage

This fortnight’s edition of Private Eye is proving to be quite a goldmine. I thoroughly recommend buying a copy at your local newsagent or similar outlet.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 47 Comments

“Her disastrous miscalculation” – Sir Nick Harvey’s view on Jo Swinson’s support for December election

Former North Devon MP, Sir Nick Harvey stood down as Liberal Democrat party chief executive shortly before 20th October last year.

In this fortnight’s Private Eye, a letter from Nick is published which severely criticises a decision made by the then party leader, Jo Swinson, soon after he left the role on 28th October.

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Whatever happened to the class of 2015? – the full list


Embed from Getty Images

I suppose that it is very easy to get into the mindset that politics is everything in life. But it turns out that there is life outside of Westminster.

I read the other day that former Labour Deputy Leader, Tom Watson, is training to become a gym instructor.

That started me thinking about what had happened to our vast number of MPs from before the election in 2015.

Stephen Gilbert, former MP for St Austell and Newquay, for example. Whatever happened to him after he posted a “Gone Surfing” post-it note on his Twitter account in 2015? Well, it turns out he’s a teacher.

I then thought I’d better find about some of the others and, before I knew it, I was launching a vast spreadsheet and had started a huge task.

Anyway, here is the result of my researches, in alphabetical order. If you spot any omissions or errors, please let me know in the comments below:

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged | 22 Comments

Lord William Wallace writes…We should welcome a Constitutional Commission, and do everything we can to influence it

The 2019 Conservative Manifesto promised that ‘in our first year we will set up a Constitution, Democracy and Rights Commission…to look at the broader aspects of our constitution.’   The Queen’s Speech confirmed that promise.  We should welcome this with both hands, and use it to challenge the government’s agenda with our own. 

Boris Johnson wants to reassert executive power against parliament.  The manifesto’s criticism of ‘the failure of Parliament to deliver Brexit’ shows impatience with criticism and debate.  Dominic Cummings wants to cut through the cautious policy-making of the civil service and impose radical changes to central government.  Right-wing think tanks have attacked judicial review and the Supreme Court.  He manifesto wants to maintain our current voting system, but tighten up on postal voting and voter identification.  We have a very different agenda – but a Commission will give us the opportunity to press our case against theirs.

The British constitution desperately needs critical examination and reform.  Johnson has broken several of its accepted conventions, and now that he has a majority wants to break more.  Popular alienation from Westminster politics is widespread. The Tories’ manifesto promise that ‘we will ensure…that every vote counts the same’ refers to redrawing constituency boundaries, not to any adjustment of the voting system.  Liberal Democrats, along with any NGOs, have called for a constitutional convention.  We’re not being offered exactly what we want – but we should grab hold of what is on offer and do our utmost to reshape the government’s assumptions.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 15 Comments

Happy New Year!

Not going to lie, I’m still reeling from the rollercoaster we’ve been on this year. The physical exhaustion of the general election campaign is slowly diminishing, but, for me, the emotional effect is still weighing heavy.

In January 2019, we were starting to make a tiny step forward and were in double figures in the polls most of the time. We had 12 MPs who were doing their damnedest to make sure we didn’t leave the EU on 29th March. Jo Swinson was just about to come back to full time work after her maternity leave.

We had high hopes that we might gain 300 or so seats on a good night in the local elections in May.

We all kind of dreaded Theresa May getting her Withdrawal Agreement through with the help of Labour votes.

And then she didn’t. And a million people at least took to the streets to call for a People’s Vote.

We gained over 700 councillors o that first Thursday in May. Our success was a springboard into a vibrant and uncompromising European election campaign where our Bollocks to Brexit message resonated.  Although the Brexit party won more seats, more votes were cast for remain parties and the Liberal Democrats won an unprecedented 16 MEPs, 20.3% and 3.3 million votes. Between them, the Conservatives and Labour Party didn’t get much more than that.

For a time, we thought sense would  prevail after all and we might be able to stop Brexit.

We had a friendly and uplifting leadership contest between Jo Swinson and Ed Davey and, to our surprise, our poll ratings hovered around the 20% mark.

Our parliamentary ranks swelled as, first, Chuka Umunna joined us in June and Sarah Wollaston, Angela Smith, Phillip Lee, Luciana Berger, Sam Gyimah, Antoinette Sandbach followed suit.

In the Summer, we’d decamped to the gorgeous Welsh constituency of Brecon and Radnorshire where a by-election had been called following a successful recall of the Conservative MP. We were thrilled when, in the early hours of 2nd August, Welsh Leader Jane Dodds triumphed.

We had a brilliant new leader, we had maintained our high poll rating and, in fact, there were four parties in the 20% range.

As we end the year after a brutal general election which saw us one seat down from our 2017 total and minus a brilliant leader, we have to ask where it all went wrong. There will be a formal review of the General Election – this takes place after every election – and all the decisions we took, from deciding to vote for the election to the targeting decisions we made during the campaign will be subject to scrutiny. Did we deliver enough/too many leaflets? Did we sell ourselves well enough?

Posted in News | Also tagged | 40 Comments

Sal Brinton writes…A final thank you

As my Presidency draws to an end on New Year’s Eve, I wanted to write to you with a final thank you for the extraordinary help that you have given the liberal cause over the last five years.

To have faced three General Elections and the EU Referendum during these five years – as well as the snap European elections this year – has been unprecedented, draining for everyone who has worked in them. Our candidates and teams, party staff and the many members and supporters who have continuously found that extra bit of energy and effort kept fighting the liberal cause.

Added to this, our local government teams, led by ALDC, have worked consistently hard in elections every year and their success has been rewarded with substantial growth in councillors and councils that we control or run jointly with others. And in Scotland our MSPs hold the SNP to account, and Kirsty Williams is a brilliant Education minister in the Welsh Assembly.

I have been really proud to campaign with colleagues across the UK over the last five years, seeing members building the party in their areas and I want to thank you for your warm welcome over my Presidency. In 2017 alone I covered over 4,000 miles, getting to every part of the country! I have also witnessed the party develop its use of online campaigning, not least honed on the Stop Brexit campaign over the last three years.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 11 Comments

A Christmas message

Happy Christmas! I’ve got three big tasks this Christmas.

First, my daughter’s present. Ellie wrote to Father Christmas with her present wish list.

The good news was Santa collected her letter. And he ate the mince pie! Although he did leave some tell-tale crumbs.

The bad news is I now have to get Santa to bring three live unicorns.

It’s my own fault – I bought Ellie this snow globe unicorn last year. But I’m not sure where to start looking for a live unicorn. So I’m thinking of ringing the Prime Minister. Apparently Mr Johnson does a good line in unicorns.

But my second task is easier. To celebrate my own birthday. I wasn’t born in a stable – my mum had me, at home, at ten past eight Christmas morning 1965.

Apparently my dad cooked the Christmas lunch. And my mum ate seconds. And afterwards, they all watched the Queen’s Speech – her Majesty’s Christmas message.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 40 Comments

2019 was the party’s least efficient General Election campaign

If the objective of a general election is to win the most Commons’ seats we can (which I assume it is), then 2019 was the least efficient general election in the party’s history.

That is, if you define efficiency as garnering votes in such a geographical way so that we maximise the number of seats we win. The figures are as follows:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 33 Comments

+++Breaking: The new Party President is…

The new President of the Liberal Democrats is….

 

Mark Pack

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

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

The result in full can be found here:

Posted in News | 11 Comments

Thanks!

You viewed Liberal Democrat Voice 25,892 times today.

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

(RIP Humphrey Lyttelton).

Posted in Site news | Also tagged | 15 Comments

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

via GIPHY


Bat shit crazy.

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

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

You must have covered a lot of ground

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 175 Comments

The most frustrating thing about Jo Swinson

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

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

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

Here are her highlights:

Sophy Ridge asked her about …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 43 Comments

TV legend Esther Rantzen backs Luciana Berger

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | Leave a comment

Jo Swinson shines in Andrew Neil interview

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

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

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

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

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

Here are her best bits:

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

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 44 Comments
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  • User AvatarJohn Roffey 23rd Jan - 6:08am
    Question: Is this a serious attempt at defending the Coalition years - or an attempt to prevent the Federal Board member's special status being challenged?...
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  • User AvatarPeter Watson 22nd Jan - 10:50pm
    Huh? Cool photo though.
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    Yes Jo keep going, politics needs you, the Lib Dems need you and people need you. You were a big part of me leaving the...
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    Are policy papers meant to be publicly accessible? If not, why not? I tried following the https://www.libdems.org.uk/policy_papers link but it requires a login to the...
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    @ Julian Tisi "But hold to your view that it was all the fault of the coalition if you wish." I don't wish, Julian, I...