Tag Archives: featured

The voting is over. The results are coming in.

We’ll be bringing updates through the night and through to Saturday. In the small hours, it is looking good for the Lib Dems. But it is early yet and some counts won’t begin until the morning.

This was a state of play at 5am. Labour are making some gains now. The Conservatives are doing badly but not as badly as excepted (hoped for). And the big news so far. The Lib Dems have gained 42 new seats and have taken control of Hull Council.

This post is no longer being updated. We’ll publish more news and comment shortly.

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We’re off. It’s election day. Good luck!

The polling stations are open. The kettle is on in committee rooms. Good Morning and GoTVs are being delivered. The tellers are wrapped up well, collecting data on who’s voting, even how they are voting. Data officers are heads down. The Shuttleworths are being warmed up. The knocker uppers are getting ready to get the straggling voters out.

Votes will take place in all 32 councils in Scotland and all 22 councils in Wales. Elections are being held in 146 English councils, including all 32 boroughs in London. In Northern Ireland, voters will select 90 members of the Northern Ireland Assembly in Stormont.

Across all four nations, 21,352 candidates are standing, including 3,664 Lib Dems.

Counting begins in some English councils soon after the polls close at 10pm tonight and elsewhere tomorrow. Some counting may go into Saturday.

The team here at LDV will be juggling election duties with reporting the results. We wish all those standing and campaigning the best of luck.

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Eve of Poll

My colleague Mark Valladares regularly entertains us with his “Welcome to my day” posts. So today I want to share with you my Eve of Poll day.

I have been campaigning for the Lib Dems (and Liberals and SDP before that) since the mid 1970s. I was asked to stand as a paper candidate in 1978 in the ward where I lived. I declined but I doubt whether I would have made much difference to the 6% vote.  Only 8 years later we won the ward with 58% and after a further 8 years we reached an astonishing 76%. (I can claim no credit for that as I was then employed by the local authority and not able to stand.)

I like to tell that story because it says two things. First, politics is a long game, and in normal times we should aim for incremental gains rather than massive turnarounds. Second, the old strategy of “pick a ward and win it” does work – not always, but it’s worth a shot.

As a party we are brilliant at by-elections, both Parliamentary and local. So many of our members love joining in a campaign, and we make it fun. But by-elections can give a distorted impression of how we win seats in regular Council and Assembly elections. For the most part success follows years of campaigning – “Working for you all the year round, not just at election time”. True, we can sometimes benefit from the mood of the country, but we should always view that as a bonus.

So tomorrow I will be excited to see long-term efforts paying off across the country.  Good luck to all candidates and campaigners!

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Davey on tax cuts, the non-existent pact with Labour and nuclear disarmament

Ed Davey appeared on BBC One Sunday Morning yesterday. Interviewed by Sophie Raworth, he spoke about the cost of living, the need for tax cuts, keeping our nuclear deterrent until multilateral disarmament can be agreed and the forthcoming local elections and by-elections. He firmly denied the Lib Dems have a deal with Labour to squeeze the Tories out of some seats.

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Are farmers flocking to the Lib Dems?

There is a stereotype around and about. That farmers vote Tory. Of course, many farmers vote Tory as do many non-farmers. But a growing number of farmers are supporting the Lib Dems. We saw this in North Shropshire where orange diamonds went up in fields across the constituency. This week, Stuart Roberts the outgoing deputy president of the National Farmers Union (NFU), previously a Conservative councillor, joined the Liberal Democrats.

There is a modal shift underway in rural areas. Areas and occupations previously seen as “true blue” are getting fed up with the way they have been ignored by the Conservative government. It is not just about farming. The lack of affordable housing, the growth of second homes and the paucity of public transport concern rural voters. As does the cost of fuel for vehicles and to heat homes. The Tories are ignoring these issues. They are ignoring the reality that many small farms are likely to go out of business as funding schemes change. Far from being protectors of the countryside as they have boasted in the past, the Conservatives are increasingly seen as its enemy.

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Carmichael: PM can’t be allowed to rewrite election law in his favour

In the Times Red Box yesterday, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Alastair Carmichael said a functioning liberal democracy relies just as much on self-restraint as on the wielding of power while in government.

Recently found to have hypocritically broken his own laws, a populist authoritarian leader now seeks to curb the right to protest and rewrite election law to favour his party.

No, it’s not the latest press filing out of Hungary or Venezuela – it is the rushed final week of parliament before prorogation, as the lawbreaking prime minister Boris Johnson looks to rewrite the law to his own benefit.

Amongst a rogues’ gallery of questionable measures in contention, one of the most egregious is the government plan to bend the Electoral Commission to its will, by imposing Conservative-mandated priorities. This would utterly undermine the independence of our elections regulator.

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We must not be complicit in fighting local elections on national issues

The old adage “Be careful what you wish for” could be reworded as “Be careful how what you wish for actually comes about.” No, it doesn’t flow easily off the tongue, I grant you, but we do need to be wary of willing the ends without paying some attention to the means.

As the 5 May local elections rapidly approach, the media is full of what a bad result for the Conservatives could mean for Boris Johnson’s future. Both media people and politicians are full of “Voters have a chance to make their feelings felt in the local elections” about Johnson’s fate, and other national issues. It makes my blood boil to hear such statements, even though I’m as keen as anyone to see the back of Johnson.

The reason is that I have seen countless top-quality councillors do a brilliant job for four, eight or more years but then get unceremoniously bundled out of office because their party is out of favour nationally. It’s heart-breaking and a real disincentive to stand in the first place. It happens because elections that should be about dustbins and council housing are made into faux referendums on the popularity of the party in power nationally.

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State of the Locals Survey 2022: opinions of councils and MPs

The Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) has released an Ipsos survey of 4,330 residents’ attitudes to councils and councillors, and their priorities. Earlier, Ipsos published part of the poll which also included people’s opinions of MPs and a regional breakdown of opinion. This survey gives a useful perspective for campaigners who are out drumming up support ahead of the 5 May elections, reinforcing and detailing what we know and what we are hearing on the doorsteps.

Respondents said local government councils and councillors had more impact on people’s daily lives and the quality of their neighbourhoods than the government. However, a majority of respondents lacked knowledge and awareness about how councils work and what councillors actually do. Half of people think MPs don’t tell the truth, while a third thought the same of councillors.

This survey can be read as disappointing. We would all like achieve more as councillors and people to have better knowledge of what we do. But on many matters, it is not as bad as I might have feared. And we know that Lib Dem councillors outclass most others in communicating, not just in the lead up to an election, but throughout their term in office.

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Morgan letter to Blue Wall MPs on Partygate vote

Ahead of the vote today on whether to refer the Prime Minister for investigation by the Committee of Privileges following his repeated lies on Partygate, North Shropshire MP Helen Morgan has written to 50 Blue Wall Tory MPs. These MPs have slim majorities and are vulnerable to a public backlash over their support for Boris Johnson.

The vote this afternoon will be on a motion that refers Boris Johnson to the Committee of Privileges for misleading the house over partygate. The motion tabled by Labour is also signed by the leaders of the SNP, Plaid Cymru. Lib Dem, Green, Social Democratic and Labour parties, and the deputy leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland. The motion says the committee “shall not begin substantive consideration of the matter until the inquiries currently being conducted by the Metropolitan Police have been concluded.” However, a Tory amendment tabled by Paymaster General Michael Ellis and Leader of the House Mark Spencer defers any decision on whether to refer Johnson to the Committee of Privileges until the police inquiry has concluded.

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Olney letter: Suicide risk assessment must be improved

Sarah Olney, MP for Richmond Park, and Steve Mallen, co-founder of the Zero Suicide Alliance are the lead signatories in an open letter to Sajid Javid published in yesterday’s Times. Olney and national charities have teamed up with Philip Pirie whose son Tom, a young teacher, took his own life a day after a counsellor determined that he was at “low risk” of suicide.

An average of 17 people a day took their own lives in 2020. An average of five of these were in touch with mental health services and four out of those five had been assessed as “low” or “no” risk. Standardised risk assessment tools are poor predictors of suicide. Yet despite NICE guidance saying such assessments should not be used they are still commonplace.

 

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Moran: Backsliding democracies from the USA to Ukraine

At the end of last year, the United States of America was added to the International IDEA’s annual list of “backsliding” democracies for the first time, pointing to a “visible deterioration” it said began in 2019.

Remarkably, the number of backsliding democracies has doubled in the past decade with more than a quarter of people alive today now living in one of these democracies. What’s more, in addition to “established democracies” such as the US, this list of backsliding democracies includes EU member states Hungary, Poland and Slovenia.

And it gets worse.

According to the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance the number of people living in fragile democracies rises to more than two in three with the addition of authoritarian or “hybrid” regimes.

To put it more succinctly, democracy is in retreat.

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Musk bids for Twitter but wealth doesn’t create wisdom

Elon Musk, who according to Forbes and other sources is the richest person in the world, has made a $43 billion bid for Twitter. Musk is very, very rich. He is also an ideas man and manages to get clever people around him.

Space X, more than any other company, has brought the world into an era of space where businesses rather than governments lead in space. Space X is launching satellites and humans into orbit and beyond. Tesla is building more than 300,000 electric cars a quarter in the company’s largely automated factories. The Boring Company has several projects delivered or underway.

But does that make Musk fit to own Twitter? And are his proposals to make Twitter a bastion of free speech where anything goes, truth or lies providing it does not break local laws, tenable in a social media universe where tweets are so influential?

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Cooper: NHS rocked by mental health tidal wave

The Liberal Democrats have warned the NHS is at breaking point after new figures uncovered a mental health crisis sweeping through staff across health services in the UK.

A Freedom of Information Request tabled by the Party to all NHS Hospital Trusts has revealed that there have been at least 8.3 million mental health sick days since 2017.

The number of mental health sick days has increased every year since 2017, with some Trusts seeing large increases during the pandemic years.

The terrible revelations show that in 2021 alone more than 2 million days were taken off sick by staff suffering from mental health issues – the equivalent of 6,041 years. Liberal Democrat analysis of the data taken from 67 Hospital Trusts shows that Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust has been hit, with a staggering 591,254 working days lost to mental illness.

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Wallace: Who’s patriotic now?

Liberals are too nice to go for our opponents in the way they go for us. But now is the time to throw back at them the insult that they are patriotic and we are not. Who is more committed to this country: those who work in its public services, educate its young and hold together its local communities, or those who play around with the financial markets, hold their wealth as far as they can offshore, own properties in other countries and share in the privileges of international elites?

One of the most effective epithets in the Brexit camp’s dismissal of ‘Remoaners’ was the claim that those who continued to argue for a close relationship with our neighbours were ‘people from anywhere’, betraying the honest loyalties of the good ‘people from somewhere’ who preferred England and its eccentricities to foreign ties. Theresa May used the argument repeatedly. It comes straight from the right-wing populist playbook: blaming the ‘rootless cosmopolitanism’ of the intellectual classes for popular discontent, thus distracting attention from the activities – and great wealth – of financial elites, and the negative impact on ordinary citizens of private equity takeovers and the tax avoidance.

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Davey on Partygate: “Our prime minister just doesn’t get it”

Ed Davey has been busy appearing almost everywhere in the media in the last two days. This morning alone, Davey has spoken to BBC R4, BBC 5 Live, BBC Breakfast and Sky News. In this article, Newshound covers the interviews on Radio 4’s Today programme and BBC Breakfast.

On Today, Davey said that he was right to criticise the police originally. They changed their policy on the investigation and have since done the job well. The country is in crisis with the cost of living emergency and Ukraine. The prime minister and chancellor were dishonest. The trust in them that is vital during a crisis has gone. They should resign. The government’s got an appalling record on the economy and now they’ve broken their own laws.

These themes were picked on BBC Breakfast, when Ed Davey also spoke with passion about families not being able to see their families for five minutes when they were dying, yet the prime minister could party for five minutes. Davey also spoke emotionally about the plight of Ukrainian refugees, saying a new leadership could be true to the compassion and generosity the British on refugees rather than imposing paperwork.

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Davey: Recall parliament after PM & Chancellor fined for partygate

Boris Johnson was enjoying a boost among Conservatives this week, until today, after his snap visit to Ukraine. No matter that he looked out of place in a suit and tie alongside President Zelensky and the escort in fatigues. The Conservatives like a good war and a leader that shows resolve in a time of crisis. But Johnson looked like he was going to a party not walking in a war zone.

Rishi Sunak on the other hand, has had a lousy week. The row over his green card and his wife’s non dom tax status has failed to die down. As a tax hiking chancellor, he is getting the flack for a system that is to his advantage while he has given many low income families a choice between food, fuel and warmth. There are press briefings that he will step down and leave politics for California.

Partygate now seems a minor issue and that is the emerging defence by Conservatives this afternoon who are arguing the prime minister should not be deposed and must not resign because of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Sir Roger Gale MP, a long time critic of Boris Johnson, told BBC R4 PM this evening now is the time.

That is not the view of opposition parties. Ed Davey has called for parliament to be recalled to discuss the crisis that is engulfing the a government that is already engulfed by its own sleaze and disregard for those having to choose between fuel and the food bank.

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Good polling news ahead of May local elections

In May, local elections will take place across Scotland and Wales and in many areas of England.

In a Savanta ComRes poll of 2,203 UK adults commissioned by the Lib Dems, one in five traditional Tory voters said the 1.25 per cent rise in National Insurance could put them off supporting the Conservatives. Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said Rishi Sunak has shown he is more conman than Conservative and the hike in will lead to voters taking  their fury to the ballot box in May.

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Chamberlain: We won’t end homelessness with the same old ineffective solutions

In the Times Red Box yesterday, Wendy Chamberlain tackled the continuing issue of homelessness, especially in rural areas.

When asked to think about homelessness, it’s easy to conjure up a mental image of a man, sleeping in a doorway, somewhere in the centre of a big city. When the media reports on homelessness, that’s the stock photo.

But the reality can be very different…

People who experience homelessness are all genders; families as well as single people; spanning all backgrounds. And homelessness is a problem in rural communities as much as it is in large, urban areas.

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Jo Cox Foundation calls on election candidates to take Civility Pledge

We have received an interesting press release from the Jo Cox Foundation which we want to share with our readers.

It reads:

Ahead of local elections across the UK on 5 May 2022, polling from the Jo Cox Foundation (conducted by ICM Unlimited) shows that over half (54%) of the public would be less likely to vote for a political candidate who spoke insultingly about others in the running, as the charity calls for candidates from all parties to promise to campaign respectfully.

With official candidate lists for the local elections expected to be published today (6 April), the Jo Cox Foundation is urging candidates up for election on 5 May to publicly lead by example in rejecting abuse, by sharing their Civility Pledge on social media.

Su Moore, CEO of the Jo Cox Foundation, said:

“We strongly believe robust debate and scrutiny are essential aspects of public life, but abuse and intimidation shouldn’t be. Jo was passionate about encouraging more women to be active in political life – women make up 51% of the UK adult population but only 35% of MPs. Yet evidence has shown that abuse at all levels disproportionately impacts women. In order to ensure our politics is truly representative, we need to stamp out abuse and champion civility instead.

“What this polling shows is that civil behaviour from politicians is important to voters too. Change must begin at the highest levels and we strongly urge all those up for election this May to set an example by pledging to uphold the dignity of all candidates.”

If you’re running for election next month, visit the Civility Pledge webpage for instructions on how to share your pledge.

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LGBT+ Allies need to step up

On March 31 2022, Boris Johnson announced he was U-turning on the government’s pledge to ban conversion “therapy”; a form of abuse that seeks to undermine someone’s gender and/or sexual identity, and gaslight them into believing how they view themselves is wrong and must be “corrected”.

Due to backlash from politicians across the House; including a number of Tory MPs, and LGBT+ pressure groups Johnson acquiesced – to a point. He has promised to uphold the ban on gay and bisexual conversion therapy but has failed to do the same regarding trans conversion therapy. What has been made very clear is that the LGBT+ community is viewed as nothing more than a vehicle to gain votes for Boris Johnson. The way he is willing to make such rash, disgusting decisions that compromise the rights and safety of individuals serve to highlight that now, more than ever, LGBT+ allies need to rally around the community and bolster our support.

We cannot expect trans people to shoulder the burden of standing against societal, and now state-sanctioned oppression alone. If we want to see real change, we must create platforms that amplify trans voices. We need to contact MPs, MSPs, MSs, MLAs, Councillors, Mayors, anyone and everyone that is integral to our political system and encourage them to speak up against such prejudice. We must listen, not to respond, but to understand and learn from trans people, the negative experiences they face and what we can do to mitigate them. It is our moral responsibility to defend and uphold the individual freedoms of all people – a responsibility that our government has abandoned.

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Hina Bokhari AM writes: Being a Muslim candidate during Ramadan

When I reminded my Lib Dem colleague, Richard Poole, that I was going to be fasting for the next four weeks of the elections, he asked immediately how they should support me and how to show respect to Muslim voters during the campaign. So I thought it would be useful if I shared some useful facts and insight into the month of Ramadan and how it may impact Muslim candidates like me and voters in the next phase of the election campaign.

Firstly, I want to thank Richard for showing an interest. When I was younger, few would ask about my faith. Now I have friends who want to join me in fasting and come over for Iftar, the meal at the end of the fast, at sunset. Lots has changed in people’s perception of Islam, sadly because of some very negative Muslim imagery in the media after the New York September 11th attacks. But from this difficult time also came positive curiosity, a genuine keenness to understand and to learn.

As a Muslim woman in politics, I am proud to talk about my faith and encourage people to learn and participate in our traditions and customs. I’m so proud that during the first lockdown we held the Lib Dem Iftar which included MPs, councillors and members fasting along with other Muslim Lib Dems. It was a great immersive learning experience which I would love to do again.

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Ockenden Maternity Review: A view from the front line in Shropshire

The Ockenden Report, to be published this morning, was commissioned by Jeremy Hunt in 2017 after the parents of babies who died in the care of Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Hospital Trust (SATH) were distraught about the uncaring response of staff to their bereavement. Concerns were also raised about the numbers of preventable baby deaths.

The report of the Ockenden maternity review, which investigated 1,862 cases, will add to several recent reports detailing catastrophic failures within other NHS Trusts. This article sets out the wider context for the failures at SaTH and makes recommendations for improvements to the way that care and safeguarding is managed across the NHS.

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Hobhouse on sibling sexual abuse

Speaking yesterday in Westminster Hall, Wera Hobhouse tackled the “hugely difficult and harrowing” subject of sibling sexual abuse which, she said, can have “devastating, lifelong consequences”. The child who has harmed often has to deal with the dichotomy of their actions as a child and who they are now as an adult. Parents are often faced with the “double dilemma” of trying to support both of the children involved, dealing with school, social services, children’s services and police investigations, as well as unaffected siblings, friends and extended family. Criminal justice is not the answer to tackling sibling sexual abuse; we need health and education to work together and take a trauma-informed approach.

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Lib Dem reaction to the Spring Statement

In his budget today, Rishi Sunak cut fuel duty by 5p a litre, raised the threshold at which workers start paying national insurance by £3,000 a year and announced a future 1% reduction in income tax.

But the OBR said almost 3 million more people will be brought into paying income because the income tax threshold has been frozen. Ed Davey said:

This tax bombshell will send a shiver down the spine of families who are drowning in spiralling bills.

Rishi Sunak is trying to swindle the British public by burying the true cost of his disgraceful tax hikes. He has insulted millions of squeezed families across the country by thinking he can hide this in the small print. Rishi Sunak is following Boris Johnson’s lead by not being up front and honest with the country.

Tim Farron was scathing about the fuel duty cut:

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Farron: Nationality and Borders Bill worst legislation I’ve seen in 17 years

In a passionate speech in the House of Commons yesterday, Tim Farron condemned the Nationality and Borders Bill saying it is based on a bogus premise, that we are swamped by asylum seekers. He slammed the “utterly bogus, completely contrived and arbitrary notion” that asylum seekers should be treated if they got here by illegal routes.

Farron asked why are we not granting asylum seekers the right to work? He said if MPs vote for this Bill, “they are voting for deaths in the channel”. People come here not because of the pull factor, but because of the push factor and …

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John Stewart: 1972-2022

This is not an obituary; I just want you to understand what a special person John Stewart was. John has died, aged 49, of lung cancer. John was a good man, and a lovely one.

His (much older) husband, Neil Fletcher, has been my friend since he, Neil, was at Aberdeen Uni in the 80s.. And we had some gey times back then. I knew his life, his friends and his boyfriends……and then John arrived on the scene to study Divinity. Neil was maybe not at his sylph-like best at the time (I know, I know), and the two of them were quickly christened “Fats and the child”. John was soooo young. Bear in mind that, back then, in the early 90s, their relationship was illegal. But we were Liberals and no-one cared about such a silly law.

John was, in those days, a quiet soul. And, if you know Neil, you will realise that meant John was a bit in the shadows. But he always knew who he was. He took an Honours degree, after a subject switch, in Church History, and, no surprise, Politics. John was active in his local church, Langstane, in Aberdeen, and, always happy to serve, became the Presbytery’s youngest elder.

Given the company he kept he became, quickly, an active Party member. Having graduated in 1996, he spotted that Sir Robert Smith’s campaign was in a bit of trouble and turned up at Bob’s house, to help. He then persuaded the Feds to pay him, and donated his salary to the campaign fund! He didn’t leave for 10 years.

He resigned as an elder over the Church of Scotland’s stance on homosexuality. Although he was blessed in a long and loving (if sometimes stormy) relationship, he had to deal with homophobia, and, when it hit, he met it head on. That quiet soul never put up with it.

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Davey to Truss: Emergency airlifts for refugees on Polish border needed

Ed Davey has called for an emergency airlift for Ukrainian refugees on the Polish border who want to reach the UK. In a letter today to the Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary, Ed Davey has suggested the UK Government must now provide free flights to the UK, with coaches to the nearest Polish airports from key border crossing points and welcoming reception centres for the refugees on arrival at the UK.

The call comes following the Liberal Democrat Leader’s visit to the Polish border this week to meet with Ukrainian refugees and the charities supporting them. In contrast to the swift action of the British public to offer shelter and countless volunteers from the UK to help with the humanitarian crisis, Ed Davey was appalled by the absence of any UK Government personnel to provide swift and safe passage to those fleeing to the UK.

Boris Johnson’s reckless dismissal of security warnings about one wealthy Russian contrasts with his heartlessly inadequate response to countless Ukrainian women and children fleeing Putin’s bombs. This shames him and his Government.

Emergency airlifts are now the best guarantee for these refugees to get to the UK safely and swiftly, to the kindness and compassion of the British public waiting for them.

It was shocking to see so many other nations united and already helping refugees at a humanitarian aid centre near the Ukrainian-Polish border, whilst the UK Government had no-one.

The queues of refugees are exhausted and traumatised. Surely these families have been through enough. It’s urgent that people are now airlifted to safety and help so they can start rebuilding their lives.

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Ed Davey: Visiting Poland’s border with Ukraine

Yesterday Ed arrived in Poland at the Ukrainian border and saw first-hand how Polish people were welcoming their exhausted neighbours.

He shared some photos and stories with colleagues back in Kingston. Here are some of them.


Border crossing – the exhausted people are met with a short walk to the queue for the onward bus, and either side are multiple tents and “stalls” with hot food, drinks, nappies and toiletries, sim cards for the Polish telecom networks and initial information


12 year old Artsiom with his mum – just had a very long journey from Kharkiv which they said was in ruins. It is his dream to come to London.

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Ed Davey’s speech to Conference: Lib Dems can defeat this awful Government

A powerful selection on Ukraine, a call for Priti Patel to be sacked, a celebration of Chesham and Amersham and North Shropshire, a tribute to Lib Dem by-election stalwart Erlend Watson, a decent gag about Dick Turpin, an evisceration of the Tories over sleaze and partygate (including a call for a public enquiry into Boris Johnson’s relationship with Lebvedev) and an attack on Tory MPs for keeping Boris Johnson in power, setting out what the Lib Dems offer for health and education and a look forward to the local government elections in May…all this and more delivered by Ed Davey to Lib Dem members gathered in York.

 

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Farron & Morgan: We’re the party that backs British farmers

The Lib Dems are gearing up to win over farmers in the May elections when eyes will be on the blue walls of rural heartlands in places like Somerset, Herefordshire and Westmorland – key Lib Dem, Conservative battlegrounds in May.

The Liberal Democrats have put the Conservatives’ former rural heartlands on notice at their conference this weekend. It comes as the party has passed sweeping reform aimed at targeting the farming community that is “fed up with being taken for granted by the Government”.

The push to win the farming community comes after the North Shropshire by-election which caused a political earthquake in true blue Shropshire.

Alongside the “Back British Farmers” party policy reform the Liberal Democrats have also launched specialised farmers campaigning packs for local Lib Dems to gain support from farmers and paint true blue rural heartlands in orange diamonds.

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