Tag Archives: featured

Today on Lucy Salek’s Lewisham campaign…and why you should go to help her soon

I have a friend who’s heading down to Lewisham for a few days today to help Lucy Salek. She’s travelling 400 miles to work in a by-election in London. Why?

Well, the sooner you get there, the bigger the impact. We’ve had a fair few people out this weekend – 3 figures – which isn’t bad. We need more, though, to show that we are aiming high and taking the fight to the pro-Brexit Tory and Labour parties.

It’s those early days of a by-election where we can lay down a statement of intent. If people get lots of stuff from us early on and we create a bit of a buzz, we have more chance of a really good result. In Dunfermline in 2006, we were able to establish our credentials in the first couple of weeks and went from strength to strength after that.The more we can be seen all over the constituency and the more leaflets people get from us and, most importantly, if they find us on their doorsteps, the bigger the chance of a successful result. So if you possibly can, do get down early and often.

There’s also a purely selfish reason why you should go now – to see what happens in the early days of a big campaign. See if they are trying out any new quirky things, get some samples of early literature to crib from in your campaign.

Oh, and you will have massive amounts of fun too. I’m probably not going to get there in person but I have donated and I will be making calls.

Lucy has been campaigning tirelessly since she was selected. Today she was talking to people at a farmers’ market.

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Lord Martin Thomas writes….Jeremy and me

We are going to hear a lot of adverse things about Jeremy in the next few weeks. But I doubt even Hugh Grant can portray the style of Jeremy as he really was. He was a terrific campaigner. It was typical of him to swish in on a helicopter to support me in West Flintshire in 1970, to make a speech on the stump and to swish out again, leaving the gathering gasping for breath and hugely impressed.

He had one amazing political attribute – an abiding memory of your name and always, …

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How YOU can help Lucy Salek in Lewisham this weekend

Enthusiastic Liberal Democrats are heading to Lewisham to help our fabulous candidate Lucy Salek who has already started campaigning with a visit from Vince Cable earlier this week.

There’s lots going on this weekend. Here’s how to help. This was originally posted as a comment by Michael Andrewes here:

There are details on how to help the by-election here and here – including delivery this weekend and how to make phone calls from home etc.

Labour have pushed back their selection from last Wednesday to 9.30am tomorrow according to Labourlist.

But as I posted the neighbouring Conservative MP for Beckenham, Bob Stewart has conceded, defeat saying on Sunday Politics London that they had “absolutely no chance” on BBCSunday Politics London – leaving it a two horse race between us and Labour.

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Dr Michael Thrasher: “The Lib Dems have a strong basis for saying they are back.”


Dr Michael Thrasher has said on Sky News:

You would have to say the Lib Dems have done well.. The Lib Dems have a strong basis for saying they are back.

Hat-tip: Commenter, Michael1.


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+++We’re now up 75 seats and four councils!




From the BBC summary at 18:21 with 149 of 150 councils declared:
Labour 2296 up 55
Tories 1330 down 26
Lib Dems 536 up 75
Greens 39 up 8
UKIP 3 down 123
Others 142 up 11

We have gained control of Richmond, Kingston, Three Rivers and South Cambridgeshire and won the Mayoralty of Watford.

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Manchester: Your children are watching….

You certainly can’t accuse Lib Dems in Manchester of shirking in this election campaign.

The party hopes to build on its one councillor, former Withington MP John Leech, who has provided the sole opposition to Labour’s 95 councillors since his election in 2016.

They’ve produced a hard-hitting film highlighting the worst of Labour’s excesses and offering a better way forward for the city.

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What the Lib Dems offer Manchester

Manchester Liberal Democrats have launched their local elections manifesto. Details of their policies on subjects like homelessness,housiing,  refugees and schools follow.

The Liberal Democrats hope to make gains on the Labour-suffocated Council. Labour currently has 95/96 seats. The 96th is held by our own indefatigable John Leech, who was MP for Manchester Withington until 2015. There are all-up elections next Thursday.

John said of the manifesto:

Our campaign is about everyone and everything that makes Manchester the great city it is today; a strong local community, a celebration of diversity and non-conformity.

Liberal Democrats care passionately about our local communities because it’s where we live and it’s what we believe in. We will always put local people first and it’s about time our council did too.

On the 3rd May, we have a chance to elect a council that leads from the front; that cities around the world look up to; where we celebrate diversity, house the homeless, welcome the desperate and build a future for our children. But only a vote for the Liberal Democrats can break this one-party state and build that vision.

Key Pledges:
ON REFUGEES AND OUR MORAL DUTY:

  • Immediately develop plans to house 50 at-risk families from refugee camps. In the long-term, we will also investigate how best to house as many orphaned child refugees as possible.

ON EU CITIZENS:

  • Demand the Brexit secretary guarantee the rights of EU citizens and maintain our stance on a referendum on the Brexit deal.

ON TRANSPORT AND ROADS:

  • Use some of the estimated £50million Manchester Airport dividend to establish a SmartTransport Development Fund dedicated to offsetting heavy carbon transport.
  • Introduce for a young commuter’s price cap, so they never pay more than half the hourly living wage rate to commute to work.
  • Crackdown on lazy road re-surfacing.

ON HOUSING:

  • Demand all developments over 15 dwellings meet the 20% affordable quota, and where not economically viable, force the developer to contribute financially to the benefit of the local community.
  • Guarantee safe, affordable housing for young people transitioning from foster care to adulthood.

ON HOMELESSNESS:

  • Launch an investigation into all emergency housing applications to make sure that no one slips through the net.
  • Use council-owned premises to house every rough sleeper in Manchester before approving any further city centre developments.
  • Provide an administration address to every homeless person so that they can take the first step in getting their life back on track – this means they can begin applying for jobs.
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+++Three Lib Dem by-election gains from the Tories tonight


We’ve been live posting some of the results tonight but here are the headlines:

The Liberal Democrats have picked up three seats from the Tories in today’s by-election results:

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Paul Tyler writes…Was the Brexit poll compromised?

That is the question the Conservative Chair of the investigating Commons Select Committee asked last weekend.  Hitherto, his Ministerial colleagues have seemed determined to turn a blind eye to all the recent revelations of possible illegality by Leave campaigners.

Will they be more forthcoming this afternoon ?     My Question to be discussed in the Lords reads as follows:

“Lord Tyler to ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they are satisfied that current electoral law adequately prevents the misuse of personal data in United Kingdom elections and referendum campaigns”

The HOUSE magazine has published some background for this mini debate:

The revelations come thick and fast.   Daily – sometimes it seems like hourly – we learn that our personal data may have been misused in ever more controversial ways.  In particular, ingenious development of Facebook material appears to have played a key role in targeting both positive messages and contrived attacks in the Trump election campaign AND to secure the Brexit result of our own 2016 EU Referendum.

So far Ministers have hidden behind a reassuring report from the Electoral Commission about the conduct of that referendum.  However, that was issued months ago, long before the detailed analysis from Carole Cadwalladr of The Observer began to gain traction, and the whistleblowers from Cambridge Analytica, AIQ and the Leave campaigns emerged to give their evidence.   Since the turn of the year the alleged network of illicit collaboration has caused the Electoral Commission, the Information Commissioner and the House of Commons Culture Media & Sport Select Committee to open new investigations.  The latter, led by Conservative MP Damian Collins, is being especially pro-active, and their witness list in the next few days is itself an indication of the vital role Parliamentary Select Committees can now play.

Despite apparent BBC attempts to minimise the significance of all this increasing weight of evidence (presumably because other media have provided the investigative journalism) there are signs of growing public unease.   Have we as nation been conned, just like so many in the US ?    Has our personal data been “scraped” for this purpose ?   Are our very strict laws, which seek to protect our elections and referendum campaigns from being bought by billionaires and foreign governments, up to the job?

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The Independent View: Thank you Dorothy!


Watford Mayor Dorothy Thornhill visits the Vibe 107.6FM studios.

Whether you’ve lived in Watford all your life or just a few years, you will probably notice the transformation of the town. Over last sixteen years Dorothy as Mayor has made Watford the town it is today.

In 2006, I set out to bring Watford its own brand new local radio station. The idea was to try and convince the regulator Ofcom that Watford could sustain a full-time community radio station, predominantly aimed at under 35’s. It was important that the station was presented in an upbeat, vibrant way that would encompass the feel of the town. With this in mind, I led a team of volunteers to put together four trial broadcasts from 2006 to 2010. Shortly after our final trial broadcast, we had the opportunity to apply for a full-time broadcasting licence, which we applied for and won in 2010. Vibe 107.6 FM officially launched full time on 11th August 2011 and is still on air today.

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Announcing the Liberal Democrat Campaign for Race Equality

Saturday 9th June is the day when a new campaign to end racial disadvantage within the Party begins. It will replace Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats and operate as the Liberal Democrat Campaign for Race Equality.

This move has been inspired to some extent by the work done by Lord John Alderdice which states starkly that the Party has so far failed to properly ensure that it is representative of all the racial groups in our country. The new name demonstrates a new sense of purpose and direction and gives a clear indication that the organisation welcomes membership from everyone in the party who recognises that more needs to be done to enable the party to reflect the diversity of our communities at every level.

For those of us – and there are many in the party – who have spent decades campaigning against racism, it is shocking to comprehend that what we are still fighting to achieve, in the year 2018, is genuine equal opportunity and integration.

As the Alderdice Report points out, there is much to be done at every level in the party to make the organisation more inclusive and bring in a diverse new generation of activists. Tomorrow’s leadership is created from today’s new recruits and so we intend to create a positive plan to assist local parties in diverse areas to reach out to communities that are currently under-represented. We will be keen to talk to successful, integrated local parties to distil their experience.

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++Stunning win for Dr Kate O’Kelly in Chichester and two other encouraging first-time performances in yesterday’s by-elections


Many congratulations to Dr Kate O’Kelly and the team for a superb win in the Rogate by-election for Chichester District Council yesterday! This was the first time that the Lib Dems have contested this seat in eleven years, and my goodness what a stunning performance going from zero to 55.8% of the vote!

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Baroness Sally Hamwee writes: Developing a distinctly liberal policy on immigration

If you follow the detailed development of party policy you may be aware that the deadline for written responses to the party’s current consultation papers passed yesterday although the online consultation remains open until 1pm on 12 April. As a member of the Immigration, Refugees and Identity working group I wanted to thank all of those who submitted such thorough responses to our own paper.

LDV has carried some articles about the paper and this seems a good moment to offer my own perspective on some of the criticisms that have emerged – which is by no means to dismiss comments or to attempt the final word, just another part of the process.

The group has taken evidence from a range of experts covering immigration law, the workings of the immigration system, refugees, integration and social cohesion, including attitudinal studies of those who have seen their communities evolve one way or another, due to demographic change. The approach that we have taken in the consultation paper has been informed by this.

We are seeking to develop a distinctively liberal policy on immigration, refugees and identity that is humane, treats people fairly and is effective. It is very clear to me – both from the evidence we have taken as well as any number of stories in the press over the past year and, most important, what I have heard direct from individuals and organisations working in the area – that the current system is failing on all three of these criteria.  The government actively promotes a “hostile environment”; that makes me ashamed. It is one thing to seek to establish a controlled immigration system, but quite another to set up a system which is widely perceived as xenophobic. The UK should be trying to build its reputation as open-minded, open-hearted and welcoming of migrants, for hard economic as well as simple human reasons.

One line of criticism that has come through blogs and the consultation is that the paper is not ambitious enough and is seeking only minor adjustments to existing policy. This is not how I see it: the central proposal in the introduction to the paper is that we should promote a liberal and humane attitude towards migration that will enable people more easily to come to the UK for work, to be with their families and for sanctuary. Reference to procedure is because the group wants a policy that makes the migration process much more efficient (I include accuracy in that), while making sure that this isn’t abused by people smugglers who would bring vulnerable people here illegally. 

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Let’s celebrate another amazing Highland Lib Dem GAIN

Great news this morning which I’ve been unable to share with you until now because I’ve been at work.

There have been a few Lib Dem gains in the Highlands in recent years – Carolyn Caddick in Inverness South, Jean Davis in Aird and Loch Ness and Trish Robertson in Culloden and Ardersier. Today they were joined by Denis Rixson in Caol and Mallaig. This is a bit of Charles Kennedy’s old seat turned gold again and taken from the SNP.

I’ve been hearing from Lib Dems on the ground that it felt good, but I’m not sure anyone actually expected us …

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It’s Transgender Day of Visibility – why it should matter to every liberal

Today is the annual Transgender Day of Visibility. This afternoon, I’m heading into Edinburgh for the Trans Pride Scotland event and I’m really looking forward to seeing the stalls, workshops, talks and meeting lots of lovely people.

Today really matters to me. As a liberal, I instinctively strive for the rights of people to be able to express who they are without fear. When I was at university, so many of my lesbian and gay friends weren’t out. When I went to uni in 1985, technically homosexuality had only been legal for five years in Scotland. Homophobia still exists, but we have come a long way since then and we have a job of work to do to maintain and continue that progress.

While rights and recognition of transgender people have  improved in the last couple of decades, there is so much more to be done. Recent efforts to simplify the gender recognition system have inspired a bit of a transphobic backlash. Open any right wing tabloid these days and you’ll find scaremongering inaccurate bile which makes life so much more difficult for transgender people.

Imagine how you would feel if your very right to exist and be accepted as who you are was called in to question? Imagine how that must feel if you are a child or young person struggling to come to terms with your gender identity.

As a cisgender woman and a feminist, I’m not prepared to stand by why anyone is discriminated against and attacked. The words of Martin Niemoller are never far away from my mind and my love for my transgender and non binary friends is never far away from my heart.

The bottom line is that everyone should be able to express who they are, something very individual to them, as they see fit. They should be accepted and welcomed. For me, that’s a basic part of a liberal society.

I have been in total awe of my transgender friends these past few days. They have been under sustained attack on social media and have dealt with it with resilience, patience and humour. The bile and unpleasantness coming in their direction has been awful to see. That’s why I will always stand with them.

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A year to Brexit – time to remember that we could and should get out of this mess

A year ago, I watched in sorrow and horror as Theresa May triggered the Article 50 process, motivated more by keeping her restless Brexiteers in check than what was actually good for the country.

With just a year to go before we are scheduled to leave the European Union, most of the really difficult issues are unresolved and every day the problems become more apparent. From the Irish border to how we sell and buy the things we take for granted from abroad, to the reappearance of roaming charges to uncertainty over aviation to nuclear safety, we still don’t know how our post Brexit life will take shape.

That’s partly because Theresa May has chosen to pander to the hard right gung ho Brexiteer elements in her own party rather than build support for a more moderate cross-party approach.  The negotiating tactics have been ridiculous, disjointed and devoid of any sort of strategy. They are making this country look very stupid on the international stage which isn’t a good look for our forthcoming leap into isolation.

When you have an international trade war being ignited by a protectionist in the White House, surely you are better off ganging up with 27 of your mates rather than entering negotiations alone and powerless.

21 months on from the referendum, we know that Brexit is much more complex than was at first portrayed and there is little sign of a fawning world queuing up to offer us trade deals that are even half as good as the one we currently enjoy from within the EU.

People are brining up Brexit a lot on the doorsteps. They think it is a really bad idea, but think we are stuck with it. The message from Liberal Democrats today must be very strongly that we can get out of it – and we will. We have to offer tangible hope to people.

Vince Cable kicked off an Easter weekend of intensive Lib Dem campaigning on this issue, saying:

Today the Liberal Democrats are launching our biggest ever campaign outside an election.

Article 50 was triggered a year ago and since then few concrete steps towards a deal. May’s tactic of kicking the can down the road has meant that no tangible progress has been made, and year ahead is overloaded.

In the coming months, the country faces two critical issues. One is on membership of the Customs Union, which we must remain in, as it is essential to our supply chain industries and solving the matter of the Irish border.

The other is that it must be made clear what a ‘close transition’ truly means – at the moment it is just a messy vacuum.

The poorly-handled negotiations and the Cambridge Analytica scandal means that there is, rightfully, a heightened sense that any Brexit deal must be signed off in a test of public opinion. This must include the option of an exit from Brexit.

Willie Rennie said:

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We’ve given an eye-wateringly broad “Snoopers’ Charter” to big corporations


Embed from Getty Images

As Lib Dems we have campaigned long and hard for curbs on the government’s power to snoop on our internet data.

Yet, most of us (not all) have personally given an eye-wateringly broad “Snoopers’ Charter” to big corporations – namely Facebook and Google.

I know, I have checked on my data held by Facebook and Google. You can do it too. Facebook had all my photos, posts, friends etc etc going back to February 2007. The data was 354 megabytes in size. That’s equivalent to 71 copies of the Complete Works of Shakespeare.

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Review: Read Towards a Liberal Future by David Howarth and Bernard Greaves

In his conference speech, Vince Cable talked about having a party “fizzing with ideas.” But to be able to present a liberal vision with liberal ideas, you have to have a clear understanding of liberal values and of how they should be applied in every area of our lives. In Towards a Liberal Future, David Howarth and Bernard Greaves set out their view of what liberalism is all about. They look at how the party has failed to practice and communicate its core values and set out how we can fix this. I’m very excited to say that they have allowed us to share their book with you here.

The authors have a long history in the Party. It’s nearly 40 years since Bernard Greaves co-wrote “The Theory and Practice of Community Politics” and 10 years since he co-wrote “The Theory and Practice of Community Economics.” David Howarth is a former Liberal Democrat MP and Councillor who has returned to the academic life since he stepped down from Parliament. More recently, he’s developed the idea of Core Vote Strategy with Mark Pack and it’s no surprise that that plays a part in the book’s strategy for our recovery.

Vince seems to take the implied criticism in their analysis of how we got to where we are on the chin in his foreword to the book:

It starts from the proposition that the party has ‘lost its way’ producing an incoherent mixture of ‘local champions and national pragmatists’ (the latter, presumably including me, being the people who went into Coalition).

It seeks to revive the party’s long term vision and, in my view, does so brilliantly.

The authors don’t merely blame the coalition for our demise. That, they argued, started with the concentration purely on winning local elections without a national over-arching vision.

From where it all went wrong, Howarth and Greaves take us through a definition of liberal values and some examples of how we could translate them into various policy areas. 

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Lloyd: Government must delay “horror” changes to mortgage support

Support for Mortgage Interest is a benefit given to people claiming Universal Credit or certain other income-related benefits who have a mortgage or who have taken out loans to make repairs to their home. It pays for the cost of interest on up to £200,000 of a person’s mortgage in order to prevent claimants from defaulting on their mortgage.

From next month, SMI will be replaced by a loan of the same value, which is repaid (with interest) when the property is sold.

It’s pretty cheap, as benefits go, costing the Government around £300 million a year. It is certainly about 3.5 times cheaper than letting someone’s home be repossessed and then having to pay housing benefit to put that household in the rented sector.

Apart from the whole principle being flawed, the implementation seems to have been botched as only around 10,000 of the eligible families have taken up the loan. Some people haven’t even been sent the information about it so that they can make an informed choice about whether to take the loan.

Our Work and Pensions spokesperson Stephen Lloyd said the whole thing was a horror and called for implementation to be delayed.

Every month we seem to be hearing yet more examples of this Conservative government being both mean-spirited and unintelligent; this mortgage interest benefit change is a classic example. It will force some homeowners into even more debt, and will force others to sell their homes putting themselves at the mercy (and cost) of their local council’s housing department. Which, naturally, will cost the taxpayer more in housing benefit than keeping them in their own house by paying mortgage interest payments. An absolutely ridiculous decision.

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The party’s immigration consultation: Liberalism deserves better

Liberal Democrat Immigrants exists to represent those members of the Liberal Democrats who have chosen to come to live in the UK from elsewhere. It also seeks to represent the interests of immigrants to the UK in general and to highlight those issues that disproportionately affect immigrants.

The challenge for Liberal Democrats should not be “how do we make a broken and inhumane system work a little bit less badly?”, but how we discard the broken system and in its place build something better, so that Britain can reclaim the reputation of an island of hope and welcome.

As you may have seen, the party is asking for members’ opinions on immigration. As Lib Dem Immigrants, we are fully committed to a liberal immigration policy. This should have been great news.

Sadly, on reading the consultation document, all that excitement faded, to be replaced with frustration at the nitpicky, timid mess of leading questions.

  • Expecting current policy and structures to be made fit for purpose with the barest of tweaks.
  • Failing to distinguish between actual problems and perceived problems — and naively assuming that addressing perceived problems with more “robust” policy will somehow placate tabloid-fuelled xenophobia. (hint: it won’t).
  • Focusing almost entirely on the benefits of immigration to the host country and barely at all on the benefits to the immigrants and their families.
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Martin Horwood writes…The real issue about Trump, Facebook’s ‘data breach’, why The Observer missed the point and Liberals should care

The Observer‘s front page today lays into Facebook for a massive ‘data breach’ in which 50 million Americans’ data were harvested by the infamous Cambridge Analytica and used with great effect to target Trump messaging at US voters. They “built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons” their whistleblower Christopher Wylie is quoted as saying.  It was a powerful tool for a campaign based on fear and paranoia.  Little surprise then that Cambridge Analaytica is also being investigated by the Office of the Information Commissioner and by the Electoral Commission in the UK in connection with their work on the Brexit referendum.

But the main Observer story oddly misses the point. It focuses on how long it took Facebook to own up to the ‘breach’ and suspend Cambridge Analytica’s access to the service.  It describes the accessing of the data itself as “one of the tech giant’s biggest ever data breaches”.

But it wasn’t.  And that’s not the importance of this story.

Anyone can harvest data from the web.  I harvest it when I can’t remember someone’s birthday or their kids’ names.  The Lib Dems harvest it indirectly when they use targeted Facebook advertising.  My engagement team in a previous job harvested it using smart algorithms to find possible engagement targets, ironically, to promote better data, openness and transparency.  The point is that all this information is out there and – a point confusingly referred to in the Observer piece – platforms like Facebook don’t regard it as their data but their users’ (“it may be data about people who are on Facebook that they have gathered themselves, but it is not data that we have provided”).  Facebook’s suspension of CA appears to be because of technical breaches to their terms of use, particularly the sale of data to third parties.

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ALDC’s Local Elections appeal

Victor Chamberlain, standing as a candidate in the Borough and Bankside ward, Southwark Council in this May’s local elections, tells us why ALDC’s appeal needs your generous support.

The challenging set of elections taking place across the country on Thursday 3 May provide a fantastic opportunity to put the Liberal Democrats back on the map in local government.

As a candidate, I wanted to help promote ALDC’s Local Election Appeal, knowing first-hand how important this financial support is for teams fighting to win this May.

HOW YOUR DONATIONS WILL HELP

In Southwark, we’re up against a well organised Labour party who can call on more activists than we can. As a result, we need to do everything to ensure our supporters’ voices are heard and we know they’re far more likely to vote if they have a postal vote.

Most residents in my ward lead very busy lives and are rarely in when we call round to speak to them. And the majority live in blocks of flats that we struggle to gain access to.

This is where ALDC’s Local Election Appeal is helping to overcome these problems by targeting postal voters in key battleground wards across the country.

HOW YOU CAN DONATE:

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Vince talks to Voice Part 3: A message of hope that Brexit can be stopped

As you know, I managed to grab 10 minutes with Vince, his wife Rachel and some delicious sandwiches just after his speech on Sunday.  You can also read Parts 1,  and 2

I asked him what he wanted to have accomplished by the time we gather in Brighton for Conference in September.

Well I think there are some very specific areas where good work has been initiated – learning accounts, medical technologies, taxation. that will be some meaty stuff to talk about.

But Brexit is going to be the big thing….

We will have a greater understanding by September of exactly where we are in the Brexit cycle. Hopefully the message of hope that this can be stopped will be clearer but even if it isn’t totally clear we will then have one month to stop it and October may be the crucial month so people need to be prepared that this is the time for the big push and to back up what’s happening in the party and at conference with stuff on the streets. That’s crucial.

We are the only party that is mobilising people to argue back with street campaigns. We need to build up the tempo on that working with other campaigning groups. We’ve already started that. It doesn’t stop at the local elections. It needs to keep going over the Summer as the key decisions will be made in the Autumn. I hope that people’s confidence that this is doable is fortified by some victories in the Spring. If we can get the Government defeated on the customs union, that’ll be a start. It’s not the end but it’s certainly the start.

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Vince talks to Voice Part 2 – The message to young people – I’ve got your backs

Another snippet from my chat with Vince on Sunday.

He talked a lot about young people in his speech, showing that the Liberal Democrats have a lot to offer the younger generation who stand to lose so much from Brexit. I observed that he seemed to be saying to young people: “I’ve got your backs.”

Exactly. That partly reflects the new membership in the party – as you know it’s doubled and most of the new members are young and they came into a party that’s relatively old. But the average is now lower than the Labour Party and the Conservatives, which is good.

We see that as positive. I was very struck with the polling data that says that 25-30% of young people are considering voting for us and there’s a much bigger majority amongst young people and it’s reinforced whenever I go round universities. Despite that there are some tricky issues for us at universities as you know, actually the reception is very good, lots of people with an open mind.

I think the Brexit issue is probably number one on their list of priorities and we are the only party that’s giving them what they want and thinking about their future. I’d say that for many of those, things like climate change and environment are way up there and we are the only one of the major parties with a strong green message.

One of the other things that polling showed was that Remain vote has huge subset hasn’t yet forgiven us for the coalition. How do we get over that?

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Vince talks to Voice Part 1: Open primaries

Twenty minutes after Vince finished speaking yesterday, I was sitting in a room with him,  his wife Rachel Smith eating delicious egg sandwiches.

We only had a few minutes to chat, but we covered a fair bit of ground.

I did the geeky party hack thing and started by asking him about his ideas for the party. I mean, he was talking about open primaries, wasn’t he, when he said this?

Our sister Liberal Party in Canada, under Justin Trudeau, leapt from third to first in a ‘first past the post’ system every bit as unforgiving as ours.

I have turned to them for advice on modernisation on how we can apply their successful model here.

The Canadian liberals engaged all their registered supporters – their voters – as well as their members in leadership elections and candidate selection.

They became a new party; a movement.

Building on our own traditions, we must address how we in the Liberal Democrats can become a movement for those who are alienated by the Conservatives and Labour.

He reckons it’s worth a try to connect with more people:

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Vince explains his ‘blue, white and pink’ remark

Vince Cable was on robust form this morning, being interviewed by John Humphrys on Radio 4’s Today programme. He commented on the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s statement that there is “light at the end of the tunnel” regarding the country’s deficit.

Vince acknowledged that the government is roughly in balance on its day-to-day spending. He said, however, that the government would be very foolish to assume that they have turned the corner and that there’s no need to worry about the country’s finances. He added that the government should take advantage of its low lending rate to invest in the economy.

Vince explained his speech in Southport yesterday. Humprhys focussed on this statement from Vince, referring to Brexit voters:

Too many were driven by nostalgia for a world where passports were blue, faces were white and the map was coloured imperial pink.

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Wera Hobhouse presents Bill to outlaw upskirting

Lib Dem MP for Bath, Wera Hobhouse, has introduced a Bill which would make upskirting illegal in England. It is high time that the disgusting practice of secretly taking a photo up a woman’s skirt without consent and, sometimes, publishing it on the internet,

A couple of weeks ago, Wera asked a Government Minister if the Government would legislate on this. The answer was reasonably positive, so we need to push the Government to support Wera’s Bill.  You would hope that nobody would try to defend the practice which has been illegal in Scotland for almost a decade.

From the Bath Chronicle:

Wera Hobhouse presented her private member’s bill to make the practice illegal in the wake of a public campaign calling for a change in the law.

If passed into law, her bill would make upskirting a criminal offence under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

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LibLink: Vince picks out Shirley Williams as the female parliamentarian that he most admires from the last 100 years


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To celebrate the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in the UK, House magazine have done an article where prominent MPs pay tribute to the female parliamentarian they most admire from the last 100 years.

They have the Speaker, John Bercow, paying tribute to Eleanor Rathbone. Andrea Ledsom writes about Nancy Astor. Cheryl Gillan and Emma Little-Pengelly talk of Margaret Thatcher. Baroness Smith and Angela Raynor pay tribute to Ellen Wilkinson, while Kirsty Blackman extols Winnie Ewing and Lord Fowler describes Baroness Swanborough (Stella Isaacs – the first female member of the House of Lords).

Vince Cable writes eloquently in tribute to Shirley Williams:

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Conference to debate new disciplinary process – how you can find out more

This weekend, Conference will get a vote for my proposals of a new disciplinary process for the Party. This is the culmination of a series of consultation phases, and has been designed with members’ feedback at the forefront of our minds.

You can read my report here, and paper copies will be available at Conference. I will also be holding a Q&A session during the Saturday lunchtime fringe slot in the Marine Suite at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Southport. If you are attending Conference you are very welcome to attend and ask me any questions you may have, ahead of the debate which will take place that afternoon from 5pm.

I have been clear from the beginning: the only way members will be well-served by a disciplinary process is if it is simple, transparent and efficient. It needs to be a stand-alone process, and it needs to deal with complaints promptly with clear lines of communication. It also needs robust guidance on how to care for all those who may find themselves trying to navigate the process, be they complainants, witnesses, those complained against, or those sitting on the panels.

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Lib Dems at 30 – let’s be bold, confident and radical

It’s a wee while since I hit 30 but I’ve been thinking a lot about how I felt at that time in my life.

My twenties had been pretty turbulent in many ways and had taught me quite a bit about the world and how it works and where things needed to change.

By the time I hit 30, I not only felt surer of myself, I felt more impatient even than I had at 16 to change the world. Why? Because so little had changed. Because we were still having the same arguments about power being concentrated in the hands of too few white men. Because opportunities for progress were being missed.

It’s a bit the same for the party. When it hit 20, it had 63 MPs and was in many ways at the height of its powers. Charles had been right on Iraq, Vince had been right about the financial crash which was only just starting to unfold. Actually, Paddy, our leader for the first 10 years had been right on social justice, right on Kosovo, right on Hong Kong.

As we hit 30, we are still right on the big issues of the day – housing, Brexit, inequality, climate change. We are much smaller in terms of MPs and councillors, but we have more members than we had 10 years ago. We had about 75000 members around the time Nick Clegg won in 2007. We broke the 100,000 barrier last year.

It is not easy being a third party in a bonkers electoral system that is built for two who want to keep it that way.  It wasn’t until our 10th year that we broke through, doubling our number of MPs to 46. It wasn’t until our 11th year that we had nationwide representation in the European Parliament. 

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