Tag Archives: featured

Remembering the News Chronicle

Sixty years ago today the great Liberal-supporting newspaper the News Chronicle disappeared despite boasting a circulation of more than a million – considerably more than some of today’s nationals.

On the morning of October 17 1960 – “Black Monday” as it would become known – the News Chron appeared as normal. Staff turning up at the newspaper’s offices in London were sent out on assignment as usual while the newsroom tape machines clattered out the day’s happenings.

But when darkness fell it was announced that the paper had been “merged” with mid-market rival the Daily Mail in a move that sent shock waves through Fleet Street. Work stopped on the paper shortly after 5pm and the editorial staff adjourned to the nearest pub to drown their sorrows.

Laurence Cadbury, proprietor of the News Chronicle expressed “deep regret” at the passing of the paper but said “mounting costs and continued losses” had made it “impossible” for the Chronicle to continue as “a separate entity”.

Just about every national newspaper carried an obituary. The Guardian said: “To write dispassionately about the death of friends is not easy”, while the Daily Herald was also fulsome in its praise, observing: “The News Chronicle was unique. Nothing can replace it.” Even the Conservative- supporting Daily Express was magnanimous, declaring: “Last night a fine newspaper died. Families grew up with the paper: it was their voice. Now that voice is stilled.”

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Six things I learnt from Lib Dem Virtual Conference

1. Multitasking is a benefit and a hindrance

It was hugely enabling to be able to attend lively, stimulating debates and hear from the great and the good on how we can make Britain better for everyone, whilst in my slippers and nursing my baby. It meant that my other half didn’t have to manage our toddler on his own for a weekend and we could still enjoy our family meals and bedtimes together. The downside was that we still had family meals and bedtimes: my ability to get fully immersed in conference life, meeting people, attending sessions, ruminating on what had been discussed was diminished because in between or even during sessions, I was trying to soothe a crying child or distract a toddler from a tantrum. It felt great to be able to juggle family and political life, but it is a juggle – and there were definitely moments where I felt I was doing neither justice.

My learning: I should treat virtual conference like real conference, and ensure I book out time and space to get engaged rather than seeing it as an opportunity to do it all.

2. Virtual sessions enable the speakers to speak and the audience to listen

How many times at a conference or event does the room get dominated by the loudest voice or someone who pretends they have a question when what they really just want is a mic? The video nature of sessions during online conference enabled us to hear from the panel, and for the chat to highlight the biggest talking points that should be put to the panel, rather than the Chair somewhat rolling the dice based on who put their hands up. The best sessions were ones where there was someone monitoring the chat and able to feed back to the Chair on what common or contentious discussion points were, and then where the Chair made best use of the people and time to field this. I would love to see real life Chairs able to be so strong in managing the room and conversation to keep things on point.

3. Video should bring down the barriers for people to speak rather than put people off.

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Lib Dems back long term aspiration to rejoin EU

On Lib Dem Voice: Reportage | Contribute
On the official party website: Conference home


Well, that was tense!

Of all the votes to have technical issues, it would just have to be the one between two hotly contested amendments, wouldn’t it?

Thankfully, the outcome wasn’t even close with 331 backing the more emphatic “Rejoin now” Amendment 1 and 1071  backing Amendment 2 proposed by Duncan Brack and eventually accepted by the leadership. It’s a huge number of people taking part and was the outcome I thought most likely but at times did not seem assured.

The debate was at times a bit fractious, with speeches on both sides going a bit over the top.

However, there were some very thoughtful and measured contributions which probably did more to persuade people.

There was a small moment of drama when Wera Hobhouse MP was called. It had been reported that she would support Amendment 1, but she confirmed straight away that she was supporting Amendment 2.

So what have we passed? You can read the main motion on page 11 here.

It’s as you would expect, pointing out the problems with Brexit, the Government’s appalling handling of it and affirming our support for freedom of movement, EU Citizens and all manner of food and environmental and security co-operation.

The contentious bit was this:

In the longer term, conference resolves to keep all options open for the UK’s future relationship with the EU, including membership at an appropriate future date to be determined by political circumstances, subject to public assent, market and trade conditions and acceptable negotiated terms.

The amendment passed changed that last bit to:

In the longer term, Conference resolves to support a longer term objective of UK membership of the EU at an appropriate future date to be determined by political circumstances, subject to public assent, market and trade conditions and acceptable negotiated terms.

So here are some of the highlights of the debate in tweets:

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Ten former MEPs write….Why now is not the right time to campaign to rejoin the EU

This weekend at our party conference we will debate our Europe motion, clarifying the party’s policy on our relations with and towards the EU.

The main focus of debate between members is likely to be around  ‘r’. Not the COVID ‘r’, which we have all become used to, but the Brexit ‘r’ word – rejoin. 

We all remember the joy we felt last May when our representation in Europe went from one solitary MEP, Catherine Bearder, to a surprisingly fulsome group of 16 from right across the country – several of whom had not expected to be elected. 

It was a symbol of how strongly people felt about Brexit, and, thanks to a proportional electoral system, their commitment to EU membership was reflected in our election result. 

I can honestly say no one in the party, or outside it, regrets our departure from Europe more strongly than the 16 of us. 

But the world has changed since 31st January beyond what any of us could have imagined.

Hard though it is to accept, for those of us who fought tooth and nail to stop Brexit, most people’s attention is now far more  are now far more focused distracted by on COVID and the implications it is having for their families and jobs, the economy, education and our health and social care services. 

As a party, it would be wise for us  to focus on the fact that only 2% of UK voters now think Brexit is the most important issue facing us. We are back to the sort of numbers seen before the EU referendum was even a thing. Remember that? When no one ever talked about our relationship with Europe – except the Daily Mail!

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A post for Bisexual Visibility Day

As I hurtled uncontrollably towards my 30th birthday at the beginning of January and felt as though I was stuck in a rut, I decided that this milestone year would be the year my life would change – and that would start with me finally being open and proud of who I am.

I realised that I was bisexual when I was a teenager, thinking first that I was straight, and then gay, before finally recognising that I did not fit into either monosexual identity. I told some of my friends at the time, while for others it was an “open secret”. For the most part, though, my sexual identity was, at best, something I did not speak about – and, at worst, something I have since actively repressed.

However, on 26 January this year, I finally came out as bi with the help of the above heavily-Photoshopped (or, rather, as a good Lib Dem, heavily-Photoplussed) photo.

Today I am marking my first Bi Visibility Day since coming out in the only way possible – by spending all day at work and the evening in a local party executive meeting.

Bi Visibility Day is not just about the bi community celebrating our identity. It is about raising awareness and challenging bisexual and biromantic erasure.

Sadly, not everyone who identifies as bi is lucky enough to have had a positive experience since coming out – while many do not feel able to come out at all. Indeed, according to Stonewall’s 2018 LGBT in Britain – Health Report, 30 per cent of bi men and eight per cent of bi women said they were unable to be open about their sexual orientation, compared to just two per cent of gay men and one per cent of lesbians.

Similarly, 38 per cent of bi people are not out to any of their work colleagues, compared to seven per cent of gay men and four per cent of lesbians, while in 2016 it was reported that bi men earned 30 per cent less than their gay colleagues. Although published four years ago, this does suggest that bi men are at the rough end of the LGBT+ pay gap which was revealed last year.

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Julian Huppert writes….’The Generous Society’ – a vision for a liberal Britain

Liberalism has offered a lot to the UK over the decades. Liberal thinker John Stewart Mill was an early champion of female suffrage and the abolition of the slave trade. The last Liberal Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, started the modern welfare state; the Liberal William Beveridge’s totemic report led to the creation of the National Health Service, and the great Liberal economist John Maynard Keynes set out how economic tools operate and could be used to benefit citizens.

Liberalism is still a crucial philosophy now – possibly the only antidote to the authoritarian, centralising tendencies coming from some on the economic left and right, and the best response to surveillance capitalism, excessive consumerism, and the perils of an over-free market.

However, at the present time it is not well articulated. Its values are too often conflated with neo-liberalism or libertarianism – two very different world views, for all their linguistic similarity. The Liberal Democrats, who still carry the banner of liberalism, have stumbled in recent years, too often lost in discussions of the Coalition and seen as fundamentally pro-European, rather than fundamentally Liberal. It has failed to articulate a clear liberal vision for too long.

There are liberals in almost all UK parties, and among those who do not feel connected to any political movement. Some do not realise that they are liberals, because they have not yet seen a clear description of what a liberal is, and what the underpinning drive is for liberalism.

It is for all these reasons that we set out to produce a vision for what Britain could be. Entitled ‘the Generous Society’, it dreams of a country where we can all be generous, to ourselves and to each other. Our vision is to see individual freedom, human diversity and ingenuity, and natural beauty flourish and advance within a generous and free society.

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Paul Tyler writes…..Listening is just the start…

Once we have honed our listening skills we should surely seek to improve ways in which people are themselves empowered.  How can they make their voices and their votes more effective ?

Here are a few immediate and urgent opportunities:

Fair Votes 

Despite the Conservative manifesto promise to make sure “every vote counts the same – a cornerstone of democracy” the current inequality is outrageous.  It takes 33 times as many votes for Green Party supporters to elect an MP as for SNP supporters, with big differences for Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats in between. Voters are cheated by the First-Past-The-Post system.

Ed Davey has committed himself to the cross-party campaign.    But what should be the first priority?   Persuading the Labour leadership to wake up, and accept the strong support of their membership for reform of elections to the Commons?   Or concentrate on extending the STV success in local authority elections in Scotland – now to be repeated in Wales – to ensure voters in England do not miss out?  

If the electoral system is the bedrock of our democracy, then surely some consistency throughout the UK is essential ?

Who Votes?

Liberal Democrats have long campaigned for votes for all citizens when they reach 16.  We led national efforts to extend the franchise for the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum and were only thwarted by combined Conservative and Labour Peers when we pressed then for 16-year-olds to be able to vote in the 2016 EU Referendum.   Again, Scotland and Wales are leading the way, and the case for UK consistency is now overwhelming.

UK citizens working or living abroad are often affected by political decisions taken here – most notoriously on Brexit – but their representation is inadequate.  We want them to vote in separate constituencies so that they have MPs who are committed to looking after their particular interests.

Similarly, EU residents working and resident in the UK make a substantial contribution, not least with various local taxes, and should continue to be allowed to vote in local elections.

Subsidiarity

The imminent Devolution White Paper, we are told, will force through the amalgamation of two-tier councils to create more unitary authorities, all with the compulsory addition of elected mayors.   This looks suspiciously like centralisation rather than decentralisation, and is certainly not devolution. Whitehall retains the financial stranglehold, treating elected local representatives as simply a delivery mechanism for national policy priorities.

We have long championed subsidiarity = bringing decisions as close as possible to those who will be affected by them.  The present Government is moving in the opposite direction. 

The example of the SNP Government is also salutary.  Concentrating power at that level, with little devolution to lower tiers of governance at community levels, is no way to spread empowerment.

Transparency

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UPDATED: Davey reshuffle part 2 – The full team

Ed Davey’s reshuffle of his top team is being done in parts.

Yesterday, he announced the top three offices of state. Christine Jardine is going to Treasury, Layla Moran to Foreign Affairs and Alistair Carmichael takes on the Home Affairs brief.

Today, we discovered via Twitter that Wendy Chamberlain is taking on the role of Chief Whip alongside the Scotland and Wales and Work and Pensions briefs.

Wendy’s professional experience as a Police Officer and as a manager and trainer makes her an ideal choice for this role. The Chief Whip also has a role in managing the LIb Dem parliamentary staff and she’ll totally excel at that.

Daisy Cooper takes over at Education. She loses her Culture, Media and Sport portfolio to former pantomime dame Jamie Stone and will no doubt take on other responsibilities. There is speculation that she will end up as Deputy Leader, a position that is decided by MPs alone.

Jamie Stone retains his defence portfolio.

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What’s the point?

In the few days since Ed Davey was announced as our new leader, I’ve been saddened to see more than a few  people, good solid liberals,  thinking about leaving the party. It’s worrying that both young people, and longstanding activists and councillors, are questioning whether the party can recover sufficiently to deliver the liberal country where no-one is enslaved by poverty ignorance and conformity, to quote the preamble to our Constitution, that we all want to see.

I’ve had many such conversations over the last few days. What has been particularly disappointing is the way in which some supporters of Ed have been so aggressive to those expressing their concerns on social media. One senior activist who should know better told another to “jog on” out of the party. The aggressors sounded more like the Brexiteers baiting Remainers in the aftermath of the EU referendum than members of a liberal party and it was really sad to see. Of course people are going to let their emotions show on social media when they’ve lost and the way to deal with it is with grace, sensitivity and kindness, not aggression and cruelty. I am pretty sure that Ed himself would not condone this behaviour and they do him no credit whatsoever.

So why is it that people are questioning their future in the party, particularly those who survived the coalition years?

It’s nothing personal about Ed. It’s more that the party has seemingly chosen a path that will lead to more of what they see as the bland managerial centrism that, let’s face it, has not done us many favours in the past 10 years. They are simply not up for more of the same and don’t believe that the party can recover if it pursues this tactic. “What’s the point?” is something I’ve heard a few times.

I do have some sympathy with that. This party is at its best when it is bold and radical and does the right thing, not necessarily the popular thing. The voters weren’t exactly clamouring for Paddy to stand up for the rights of citizens of Hong Kong, but it was the right thing to do and he enhanced his reputation by making that argument.  We forget how massive a thing it was when Charles Kennedy opposed the Iraq War. It took a huge amount of political courage to take that stance and he took absolute pelters for it at the time, but he was ultimately proved right.

It is the language we use and how it resonates with people that will be crucial in our future success. We have not been very good at articulating what we are for and telling our story. Ed Davey was right to say that we are going to concentrate on listening to voters. That part of his acceptance speech jarred with me a bit because that is our trademark in so many of our local campaigns that we actually give a damn what people think. But then, that is not the perception people have of us nationally and, let’s face it, party members were not the focus of his remarks. However, I did find the phrase “National Listening Project” more Orwellian than empathetic. They might want to fine tune that one.

I do understand why people have been thinking about leaving the party and I really hope that they don’t. Ed has his mandate now and he needs to be given the chance to show that he can deliver on what he said during the campaign. I will be staying because I strongly believe that the immense talent within the parliamentary party, within our council groups up and down the country and amongst our talented staff and volunteers up and down the country can get us back on track if we work together and co-ordinate our efforts. We need to show that we are operating on the same set of values across the whole of the UK.

If I have any anxieties it is on tactics, not values. If I thought that any of our leaders didn’t share the values in our Preamble, I’d have been out the door a long time ago. And you can see how they have been living our principles in what they have been doing in Parliament. Jamie Stone fighting for those who have excluded from government help during the pandemic. Christine Jardine trying to achieve indefinite leave to remain for NHS and care staff who have been on the Covid front line (more on that later this week when she launches her Bill on that subject), Layla leading with her Coronavirus enquiry making sensible recommendations to avoid a second wave of the virus, Munira holding the government to account for its failures on test and trace and in care homes to name many issues, Alistair pushing the government to do more to press China on their horrific treatment of the Uighurs. Daisy fighting for freelancers and for more help for the creative industries.

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Ed’s experience can help him rebuild the Liberal Democrats

In his acceptance speech Ed Davey claimed to have been a member of our Party for 30 years. This surprised me as I worked in the same Liberal Democrat Whips’ office as Ed in 1989/90 and had assumed he was already a member.  I can’t claim to have influenced him in joining, but I can imagine some of the other great people who were in that team might have done.

My surprise was down to Ed’s keenness at the time to ensure we had a credible economic message and his enthusiasm for campaigning at the grass roots to get that message across, combined with his natural Liberal responses to the issues of the day we discussed each morning as we put the press cuttings together for our MPs. 

It was a small and effective team that saw our opinion poll rise from an asterix to near double figures thanks in part to the campaign materials we produced in association with ALDC. Known as the People First campaign it was promoted through ALDC and the tiny but talented campaigns team in Cowley Street. It was a first and much missed example of integrated campaigning the new leader might wish to remind himself of.

I also recall that it was Ed who came up with our distinct economic policy to give the Bank of England independence. This policy helped broaden the Party’s appeal beyond the inspiring leadership of Paddy Ashdown and our community campaigning. It was a policy that became one of the first things the new Labour Government did despite it not featuring in their General Election campaign.

In the run up to the 1997 election there seemed to be a wide understanding, probably learnt through the extensive local government experience within the Party, that you can have radical views and policies, but you can’t vote for them if you don’t get Liberal Democrats elected. This is where the targeting of messages and resources was developed that proved so important in helping to win seats like Twickenham and Oxford West & Abingdon for the first time since universal suffrage. 

Sadly, after the 2010 election we ignored the lessons and moved away from the tactics that had secured our bridgehead which has left Tim, Jo and now Ed with an enormous challenge to overcome. 

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+++Breaking news – the new Leader of the Liberal Democrats is …

Congratulations to Ed Davey who has just been elected by members as Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

If you missed the announcement and speech by the new Leader, then you can catch up here.

Huge thanks must go to both Ed Davey and Layla Moran who fought a clean but impassioned fight, demonstrating what great assets they both are to our party.

Votes cast were:

Ed Davey: 42,756

Layla Moran: 24,564

Turnout: 57.6%

 

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Ed Davey writes: I want to rebuild our party and take on the Tories

As we wrap up the Liberal Democrat leadership election, I wanted to thank the thousands of people who have taken part in hustings, sent in questions to the campaigns and engaged in this contest.

It’s absolutely right that there is a robust process that properly tests our next leader, and makes sure that whoever wins on Thursday has been put through their paces by the party. Whatever happens later this week, I know that Liberal Democrats will come together and turn our hand to doing what we do best, getting out campaigning and standing up for communities up and down the country.

If you haven’t returned your ballot yet then there is still time to vote for me so that we can rebuild our party on solid foundations, and campaign for a fairer, greener and more caring society. That’s my vision for the future of our party, and I know I’ve got the experience we need to deliver it. 

With your support, I want to rebuild our party and take on the Tories, and put more Liberal Democrats in town halls, council chambers and Parliaments right across the country.

But we have to be realistic with the challenge that we face. Even a quick glance at our election review will tell you that the next leader, whoever it is, will be taking on a big job. There are deep, structural challenges that the party faces and it will take time for us to fix the problems Dorothy Thornhill identified in her review, and put the party in the best place to get back to winning elections.

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Coronavirus crisis test for education services

After becoming York’s Executive Member for Children’s Services in 2019, I immediately started on the task of putting together an improvement plan to deliver the best possible services for the future generations in York. But, eight months into the role, we found ourselves unexpectedly having to deal with a national emergency which would see both Children’s Services and Education facing an unprecedented crisis. Our administration’s response in York can be best characterised as converting what had seemed ‘impossible’ into ‘possible’.  Yet the contradictions, confusion and periods of silence from our Government, have turned the challenge of the last few months into something which will shape our services for years to come. 

Since the introduction of ‘lockdown’ in late March, York’s teachers and school staff have gone above and beyond to help young people, parents and carers through this incredibly difficult time.  Whilst our city’s 63 maintained schools, academies and special schools have been taking care of our most vulnerable students and the children of our amazing key workers, the Government has stoked-up the levels of confusion and distress through ever-changing guidance on safety regulations, timescales for re-opening as well as the support available for the most disadvantaged students. 

Like elsewhere in the country, teachers here in York have been doing fantastic work in incredibly difficult and unusual circumstances. I am proud of the support that they have given pupils throughout lockdown by providing stimulating online learning materials across all year groups.  Government was quick to note the importance of providing access to remote learning through initiatives like free laptops and a temporary data charge exemption on sites which provide vital education for children, yet it was months into lockdown before the most disadvantaged children would receive any such help. York’s first delivery of laptops, allocated under arbitrarily strict Government guidance, arrived at the end of June.  And we have yet to receive a response to a letter sent to the School’s Minister warning of the urgency of the provision of this help. 

Similarly, Children’s Social Services, caring for the most vulnerable children in the city, had to adapt quickly to working more remotely.  Because fewer face-to-face meetings could take place due to health guidance, our staff put incredible effort into finding ways to contact all children and families safely. With a growing increase in the demand for such services as lockdown progressed, staff have gone above and beyond in making sure no child in need is left behind at this challenging time. 

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Layla Moran writes: 24 hours to go – Vote to move forward

Every week LDV invites the leadership candidates to submit an article. This is Layla Moran’s for this week. 

It’s looking very close. Votes cast today could determine the future direction of our party. If you haven’t voted yet, please give me your support to move our party and our country forward, together.

I am standing because in my heart I am convinced our Party can do better than 6% in the polls.

And we need to do better than 6%. Because let’s be clear, Boris Johnson’s right-wing Conservative government will not deliver meaningful change.

They have failed to protect our brave frontline workers. They have failed to prevent hundreds of thousands of vulnerable families from falling through the cracks.

They are putting ideology before people, hurtling our country towards a dangerous no deal Brexit at the end of the year. They will fail to make this country fairer because they do not understand unfairness or disadvantage.

If not us, then who will shout about these burning injustices from the roof tops. Who will expose and challenge populism, self-interest and cronyism wherever it arises – and force U-Turns to protect people from bad Government decisions?

We must do whatever it takes to remove Boris Johnson and the Conservatives at every level of government.

I have a plan to help us win again. It starts with better living our values, listening to voters, and showing that we’re on their side, through a core message, a strong media presence and an empowered activist base.

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Jane Dodds writes: With a liberal basic income, we can invest in everyone

As conference season arrives we have a unique opportunity to pass a policy that in the 21st Century is part of the essential foundations of a more liberal future for our country – that policy is a Universal Basic Income.

Supported by both of our leadership candidates and pioneered by the late great Paddy Ashdown the time for the Liberal Democrats to take the step and be the main political party backing a Basic Income is now.

We know that Coronavirus has lifted the lid on the widespread financial insecurity that hardworking people and families have to deal within the UK. For many – from freelancers to those on zero-hours contracts – there is simply no meaningful safety net in place for times of crisis. This fundamentally undermines everything we believe in, and everything we want to achieve.

Our message is the Liberal Democrats can provide the basic financial security everyone needs in these testing times with a Basic Income. It would be a fair simple way to do what us liberal do best – empower people to dream big and reach their full potential.

As Liberal Democrats, we believe in the essential goodness of humankind – that, given the opportunity, in most circumstances, most people will choose to do good rather than harm. That’s why we believe putting power in people’s hands is the best way to a good society.

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Layla Moran: Protecting lives and providing reassurance through the Cross-Party Coronavirus Inquiry

Each week LDV invites leadership candidates to submit one article. This is this week’s article form Layla Moran

This morning, I wrote to the Prime Minister in my role as the elected Chair of the Cross-Party Coronavirus Inquiry. Following over 1000 evidence submissions, we are recommending an urgent move to a ‘zero-covid’ strategy.

The evidence, from NHS frontline staff, care home workers, health bodies, charities, scientists, bereaved families and other individuals, has sometimes been difficult to read and listen to.

It has been shocking to hear about the impact of the lack of clear Government strategy in place to eliminate coronavirus from the UK. It has left the public confused and our NHS and care staff flying blind.

It was heartbreaking to hear from bereaved families, who know that more could have been done to protect their loved ones. But these stories must be heard, and lessons learned in time to protect others.

It’s why we set up the All-Party Parliamentary group last month, which now consists of over 60 cross-party MPs and peers. We’re holding a rapid inquiry over the summer months into the UK response to Covid-19, to learn lessons ahead of any potential peak this winter.

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Layla Moran writes …Tackling the environmental crisis from the bottom up

Each week, LDV invites the leadership candidates to write a post for us. This is Layla’s post for this week. 

The climate and nature emergencies are the greatest threats our country – and humankind – face. Climate change is not under control. Worldwide, deforestation and the destruction of habitats continue at a terrifying rate, with catastrophic impacts on wildlife.

This is why, alongside the economy and education, I’ve made the environment one of my campaign themes. My ambition as leader is to make our Liberal voice heard clearly on the environment and to recapture our position as the most innovative and credible party on environmental policy. In turn, this will enable us to build coalitions for action, and to attract support from Labour, Green and Tory voters concerned about the threat to the environment.

Several of the key actions have to be taken by the government. This includes accelerating investment in renewable power, an emergency programme of energy efficiency retrofits for homes, converting the natural gas network to hydrogen, investing in public transport, speeding up the transition to electric vehicles and creating incentives to expand ‘carbon sinks’ through planting trees, restoring peatlands and supporting innovation in carbon dioxide removal technologies. If we move fast enough on all these fronts, we can put the UK on a path not just to net-zero but to net negative emissions.

But government – particularly central government – can’t do it all by itself. They have to take the public with them – which means stressing that tackling the climate and nature emergencies is a shared effort, in which everyone – individuals, households, communities, businesses, investors, farmers, teachers, scientists, engineers, local and national government – has a role to play.

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Daisy Cooper MP writes…Ed Davey is the right leader to rebuild our party

Each week, LDV invites the leadership candidates to write a post for us. This is Team Ed’s for this week. 

As a new MP, I’m passionate about making sure we build a party that can succeed in elections from 2021 and beyond. I want more people to feel the same excitement and joy that we felt when we won St Albans.

If we want to replicate the success right across the country, the job our next leader faces is huge. The election review, rightly, didn’t pull any punches: it set out in detail the big, fundamental changes that we need to make in order to rebuild the strong foundations of our party.

How we do that naturally leads to who we elect as our next leader. Who is the best candidate to implement the election review, rebuild our party from the grassroots up and stand up for the liberal, internationalist values that are so under threat today? Put simply, who is the leader who puts us in the best place to win in the future?

Like many of you, I didn’t know who I was going to support when our leadership contest started. I saw the qualities in each of the candidates, and was open to being persuaded to back either of them. After seeing their campaigns, working with them on a daily basis and listening to their plans to rebuild our party, the choice became clear and that’s why I’m backing Ed Davey.

Working with Ed since I got elected, I’ve seen up close the impact he has had. He helped create an outreach drive that made more than 100,000 phone calls to vulnerable people, he led the response to the Dominic Cummings scandal, and he forced Boris Johnson to agree to holding a public inquiry into Covid-19.

More than that, I’ve seen how Ed works to build winning teams, both in his own seat and among our MPs in Parliament, to take on big challenges and I know that’s what we need to drive our party forward. There are a lot of different characterisations of this election, but my lode star has always been which candidate will put the building blocks in place to help us win elections right across the country.  And it’s for this reason that I am backing Ed, because I know that his leadership will see us best placed for success going forward.

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Layla Moran writes…The change we need to move towards racial equality

Every week, LDV gives each leadership candidate the opportunity to write an article. This is Layla’s for this week. 

UPDATE: Since writing this response, sent to the original letter writers on Sunday 2 August and posted on LDV on  4 August)  I have been involved in discussions with members, and have added my support to the Abolish BAME campaign. It’s time to end the use of BAME as a catch-all term. We can all do better on this, including me, and I hope this is the start of the change that’s needed.

Thank you for writing to me about racial equality in our country and our party. This issue must be an absolute priority and I am glad it has received such significant attention throughout our leadership contest, thanks to the work of members such as yourselves.

I would also like to sincerely apologise for the delay in replying and hope you have had the opportunity to hear about my vision during the hustings so far.

As you so rightly point out, the Liberal Democrats need to be at the forefront of challenging racism and since becoming an MP I’ve put this at the heart of my work.

Whether that’s campaigning for companies that profited from slavery to pay out and support BAME communities, leading calls for the statue of Cecil Rhodes to be removed, fighting to dismantle the Conservatives’ hostile environment, or shining a spotlight on systemic inequalities in our education system, which mean black pupils are so much more likely to be excluded than their white peers.

The events of recent months have shown us why this struggle is more important than ever. As chair of the only comprehensive cross-party inquiry into the government’s handling of coronavirus, I’m committed to ensuring that the appallingly disproportionate impact on BAME communities is properly addressed and never repeated.

However, we also need to go much further, in order to build a fairer society where opportunity for all is a reality not just a buzzword. Under my leadership, I want our party to harness the energy and passion shown by the Black Lives Matter movement following the killing of George Floyd and champion more ambitious policies that will deliver real change.

One of the biggest issues facing BAME communities today is inequality in the workplace, which is why I’ve reached out to the Confederation of British Industry, the British Retail Consortium, and the Trades Union Congress, to help draw up legislation that would require companies to publish data on their ethnicity pay gap for the first time.

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Daisy Cooper MP writes….200+ Liberal Democrats back Ed Davey as the leader with ‘experience, vision and judgement’

Each week, LDV allows each leadership candidate one article on LDV. This is Ed Davey’s for this week.

As ballots open for the Liberal Democrat leadership election, we are endorsing Ed Davey MP as the next leader of the Liberal Democrats.

We believe the Liberal Democrats need a leader with the experience, vision and judgement to navigate us through these turbulent times for our party and our country. The coronavirus pandemic leaves us facing economic chaos. The risk of a no-deal Brexit will only heighten those challenges. The fight against the climate emergency is ever more pressing. Our leader must be someone with the attention to detail and policy depth to tackle that triple threat. Ed Davey’s experience as a trained economist and of trebling renewable energy in Government are exactly what we need right now.

The party needs to rebuild on solid foundations, with a leader that will drive the party forward at a national level and will work with local parties and grassroots members in order to help them win crucial elections in 2021 and beyond. Ed Davey’s knowledge of the party and experience of winning in local, regional and national elections, as well as inside Government, will prove vital to that rebuilding operation.

Ed has presented a clear, coherent vision for the future of the party that stands for a fairer, greener, more caring country. A country where we give universal free childcare to parents, where we invest £150bn in green jobs and renewable homes and where we give the 10 million carers in the UK a new, better deal.

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Layla Moran: The momentum is with my campaign – vote for me to move us forward together!

Each week LDV invites leadership candidates to submit one article. This is this week’s article form Layla Moran

Today’s the day! Ballots are finally dropping into inboxes and through letterboxes. I’m urging Lib Dem members to vote for me, to move our party and our country forward – and the momentum is with my campaign.

Let’s be honest – there is a burning need for change. At just six per cent in the polls, we are in sink or swim territory. Our country desperately needs a strong liberal voice to challenge Boris Johnson’s increasingly isolationist and regressive Conservative Government.

I’ve been clear throughout this contest: to change our country, we must first change our party. Because only by renewing ourselves and rebuilding trust will we win again. And only by winning will we be able to deliver progressive, liberal change for communities across the country.

In my plan for our party, I’ve outlined five key steps to strengthen our party at every level and win again from the bottom up. It starts with learning the lessons from the past decade, and sending a clear signal to voters that we are renewed as a party, and can credibly communicate a progressive message. We can do this by electing me as leader!

After this, we will win back trust and support by living our values as a party, listening to voters, empowering our activists to deliver a core message that resonates with a broad base of supporters

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Lynne Featherstone writes….Vote Layla!

I took over as Layla’s mentor when Vince had to stop because he became leader. I didn’t know her. I’d met her only once at a training weekend a few years earlier. We had lunch to introduce ourselves to each other. I came away from that very first meeting thinking here is someone who should be our leader.

I did my damndest to get her to run last time against Jo and Ed. Sadly (but possibly wisely) she resisted my pleading. She felt having been in Parliament a short time, and with a majority of just 800, she wasn’t ready. This time, with her majority increased to almost 9000; there was no holding her back. She is original, brave, intelligent, empathetic, and charismatic, and she will move us forward together.

Layla is liberal through and through and through. She wants every single person to fulfil their potential and have the security to live life as they choose. The words in our preamble: no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity, called to her as they did to me.

Her key priorities on education, the environment and the economy – Universal Basic Income and carbon negative (not just neutral!) targets and a teacher-led curriculum are how we move forward. Bold, liberal ideas, delivered with the right message and messenger will build our party and our country back better. You can read more about her plan for the party and vision for the country here.

With Layla, we can move on from the coalition voting record. We can rebuild trust and deliver positive and progressive change. Yes – we did some good things during the coalition. I was the originator and architect of the same-sex marriage law. But brilliant and liberal as that was – it’s not what people think of when the word coalition is brought up, and the coalition will be brought up in the many interviews our new leader will be grilled in. Being able to move the conversation forward from it is vital.

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Ed Davey writes: Putting Liberalism at the heart of diversity and anti-racism

Earlier this month, an open letter was published to both leadership candidates about race and diversity. I promised in the comments to publish a full response, because this is an issue that I take incredibly seriously. Our party’s record on diversity is poor – and when it comes to representation of Black and Asian communities it is unacceptable. It will be a central purpose of my leadership to sort this – working with people inside and outside our party. 

Two years ago, the Alderdice Review, set out the problem with great clarity – with clear recommendations for sorting the problem. Yet the Thornhill Review of the 2019 General Election rightly concludes progress has been glacially slow. This work now needs to be super-charged. 

It does require leadership from the top – the top of every level in our party. 

Take my constituency of Kingston and Surbiton. It is the most diverse of any constituency we currently hold in Parliament. And after 20 years of working with our large Tamil, Korean, Pakistani and Gujarati  populations, we now have one of the most diverse party memberships in the country and 8 out of our 38 councillors have BAME backgrounds. 

And while I know we still have much more to do, I do think my experience leading this local effort will be useful in the nationwide effort we must now urgently engage in. 

The key to our success in Kingston has been hard work – going out to listen and engage with every community in our area. I personally visit our mosques, Hindu temples and churches very regularly – indeed, for our Sikh community, I even helped them establish Kingston’s first gurdwara. And I’m a regular at the schools many of our diverse communities hold every Saturday to teach different languages and cultures – from Urdu to Arabic, Korean to Tamil. 

It’s this reach out I would lead and would ask every local party to lead. As a party, we have to do better than simply stand with our arms open and then hope people will come to us.

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UPDATED: Watch Ed and Layla at hustings

This post will be regularly updated with links to recordings of  Ed and Layla at the many hustings events that are taking place.

I’ll update it and re-post it whenever there is something new to add.

First up, the very first formal hustings, with the Social Liberal Forum on Saturday 11th July.

The most recent hustings took place on 1st August – the Norfolk County

Also this week, the Yorkshire and the Humber event

 

And a themed hustings – the Green Agenda, from Wednesday 29th July

The first of the party’s big set piece hustings, on jobs and the economy took place on Wednesday 15th July:

More events under the cut. First South Central from 11 July

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Layla Moran, cutting through the media

Lib Dem Voice invites each candidate for the leadership to submit one post in support of their campaign per week. This is the post from Layla Moran’s team for this week.  

While we’re all caught up in the policy nuances of our summer leadership debate there is something to me that seems to have been overlooked – a leader’s ability to make the Liberal Democrats part of the national conversation in the media. This for me is one of the main reasons I’m backing Layla to be our next leader.

Layla has the media nouse to make the Liberal Democrat’s voice heard in the national conversation. Throughout this campaign, she has secured front-page stories across the spectrum, from traditionally Labour-supporting newspapers like the Mirror to staunch Tory backing papers like the Telegraph where she helped expose historic slavery links to some of the UK’s top firms leading to them donating to BAME community groups and charities.

She even led a campaign with the Daily Express on an incredible (and in the end successful) campaign to force the Government to introduce a Coronavirus Compensation Scheme for bereaved families. This shows how working with the media isn’t just about raising the party’s visibility, it can change policy and change lives.

Since I joined this party in 2015, I’ve never seen a Liberal Democrat MP so good at making us a relevant part of the national conversation. Layla is a refreshing voice in the media, in many cases providing the only clear opposition to this shambolic Tory Government. Just in the past few weeks, she made the front page of The i newspaper on opposing the Conservative’s heartless choice to reinstate car parking charges for NHS staff.

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Scottish Liberal Democrats trial new virtual conference – 3 top tips from me

I spent most of yesterday glued to various screens. I went to Social Liberal Forum’s leadership hustings in the morning and in the afternoon, we had the Scottish Lib Dems’ virtual special conference. Thanks to Paul McGarry for the screenshots.

Here, Willie Rennie and Alistair Carmichael are interviewed by Environment spokesperson Rebecca Bell, watched by convener Sheila Ritchie:

Chair Jenni Lang watches while LGBT+ Exec member Fraser Graham speaks on the diversity motion:

And here are John Ferry and Katy Gordon putting Layla and Ed through their paces:

We had a couple of items of actual business – a motion on diversity for the elections next year and the report on a reference back from a policy motion, which couldn’t wait any longer. We haven’t had a proper Conference since Spring last year. The election did away with our Autumn Conference last year and the pandemic scuppered Spring Conference in May.

We were the pioneers for the Lib Dems in using the platform Hopin, which the party has acquired for the Federal Conference due to take place from 25-28 September.

Massive thanks are due to Paul McGarry, the Scottish Conference Convener, Megan Wiseman and Paul Moat from Scottish HQ who set everything up. Federal Conference will have people to do that professionally, but they did a great job. Though there were a few testing problems with the tech, they got them sorted and we got all the business done.

The chairs and aides were based in Scottish HQ, all appropriately socially distanced bar the two from the same household.

The agenda provided two debates and two keynote events so there was a good mix. We had one procedural motion, a suspension of standing orders, and an amendment for each motion.

We used a separate voting system called mi-voice, but I think that for Federal Conference we’ll be voting in Hopin. That was a bit glitchy, but we got there.

As we were all attending from our homes, there was bound to be some background noise at some point. Usually it’s my dogs causing various sorts of mayhem, but on this occasion, it was the gorgeous Thor and Bella who did what every self-respecting dog does when a delivery driver turns up at their house.  They didn’t realise that their mum, Cllr Fiona Dryburgh,  was making her debut conference speech.

 

Top Tips

From yesterday’s experience, I’d say that there were three top tips for attendees to the Federal event in the Autumn.

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Building Scotland back better

The next Scottish Parliament election on 6 May 2021 will be a major test for the Scottish Liberal Democrats.  With some recent polls suggesting increased support for Scotland leaving the United Kingdom the stakes could not be higher.

We opposed Brexit and oppose Scotland leaving the United Kingdom.  Another independence referendum would be a massive distraction from sorting out the problems Scotland faces.

We must continue to make the passionate, emotional and economical case for a reformed United Kingdom.  People want to vote for success, for hope of a better future and for people who aspire to make a difference.  We need to show how using the existing powers of the Scottish Parliament will enable Scotland to be built back better.

The Scottish Party is about to consult members about the shape of our 2021 manifesto. It is worth setting out a handful of ideas that could, if the Scottish Government devoted its whole attention to them, make Scotland a fairer, greener and more prosperous place to live and do so by giving more power to local communities.

In 2017 the First Minister declared that education was her “top priority”, but Scottish schools have declined in international rankings and the Scottish Government has failed to meet its own targets for the provision of nursery places. The damage done to our education system will reduce the opportunities available to our children and hold our country back.

The Liberal Democrats long campaigned for a penny on Income Tax for education.  We should actually make Education the top priority for government once again.   Education is our way to a high-wage, high-skill economy where inequality becomes largely a thing of the past. It is a scandal that most of Scotland’s secondary schools only allow children to take six subjects at Nat5 level (the equivalent of GSCE in England).  That must change.  

We could give more power to schools and colleges, local school clusters and councils to come up with new ideas that meet local needs and help raise attainment.  In an environment where the UK Government is talking of increased public spending, we could use Barnet consequentials to increase school budgets, recruit more teachers and support staff and make the Pupil Equity Fund (the Scottish equivalent of the Pupil Premium) permanent and more effective. Scotland used to legitimately claim to have one of the best education systems in the world. We need to recover that reputation.

The pandemic has shown how our society pushes stress and risk onto the shoulders of those who find it harder to bear.  The Scottish Liberal Democrats have long campaigned for reform of mental health provision, so it is treated with the same urgency as physical health.  We should make that change.  Holyrood must also make a massive investment in new affordable and social housing to end homelessness and ensure that everyone lives in the home they need.  We should simplify and speed up the programme to insulate every home in Scotland, cut carbon emissions and end fuel poverty.

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Mike German writes: Democracy, digital technologies and trust

A new report from the House of Lords has shone a searchlight on the effect of online activity on the health of our democracy. Over the past year Paul Scriven and myself have been members of a Select Committee taking evidence, investigating the level of harm, and developing proposals for tackling this critical issue. As Liberals we see technology can be a tool to help spread power, and improve democracy. But that can only happen with the correct framework around it.

Trust in our democracy is being eroded. Our key conclusions are that democracy should be supported rather than undermined by technology platforms, and that misinformation poses a real and present danger to our democratic processes.

There have clear examples of dangerous misinformation online during this Covid-19 pandemic. The online references to the 5G network and its connection with the virus, led some people to damage the telecommunications infrastructure. Other spurious medical advice has abounded. In the last General Election the Tories changed their website for the day. They claimed it to be an authoritative source of independent information in which -guess what – the Tory policy was the only right course!

The net effect of online misinformation is to threaten our collective democratic health. It is damaging trust in our democracy and takes us on a downward path where no-one listens, and no-one believes what they read and see. The government has promised an Online Harms Bill, but progress is moving at a snail’s pace. Ministers have been unable to even say whether we will get the new law before 2024. It is clear to us that the Tories are running scared of tackling the big online platforms. Our report calls for OFCOM to be given the power to hold these platforms legally responsible for content which goes out to their huge audiences in the UK.

Trust in what you find online has declined. People, particularly those coming up to voting age (16 in Scotland and Wales – catch up England!) need the skills and confidence to navigate online and find sources they can rely on. Too much of our education curriculum is about computing skills and not critical digital literacy.

There are lessons for all political parties as well, but the report singles out the Tories and Labour for their inability to see problems within themselves. Political parties must be held accountable for what we say, if we are to gain and expect the trust of the British people.

Electoral law has simply not caught up with the impact of online activity.

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Diana Maddock has died

Some incredibly sad news has come through this morning. Diana Maddock, winner of the Christchurch by-election in 1993 and a Lib Dem member of the House of Lords, has passed away.

Diana was a lovely woman. She was always willing to help and support others. I will miss her so much.

I first met her at a training session for women in the 1990s. She was kind, supportive and very frank about her own experiences.

Please feel free to share your memories of Diana in the comments.

All of us at LDV send our love to Alan and all her family.

There’s real affection in the tributes from senior party figures:

You can read more about her, and find out about her work as a councillor, MP, Party President and Peer on the party website:

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A Green Revolution is the recovery plan we need

Too many political leaders would let us sleepwalk into a global catastrophe.

Boris Johnson and Donald Trump have never cared about the climate emergency. They will trash world agreements in favour of pursuing their dangerous ideologies and serve only those with vested interests in oil and coal.

But despite this, I’m an optimist. 

I’ve taken on Conservatives in government before – and won for our environment. As Secretary of State for Climate Change I oversaw the near quadrupling of Britain’s renewable energy, I smashed the monopoly of the ‘Big 6’ companies on the energy market, and I saw the creation of 250,000 of new green jobs in all corners of the UK.

As Liberal Democrats, we owe it to our children and grandchildren to fight for our planet. Future generations must inherit a world where everyone can breathe clean air, where making the green choice is a natural choice, and where our reliance on dirty fossil fuels is a distant memory. We need a Green Revolution.

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