Tag Archives: jeremy purvis

22-26 January 2024 – this week in the Lords

Hello, dear readers, and we meet again for another episode of the costume drama that is the House of Lords. And this week, it’s a “Rwanda week” even though the Rwanda Bill only received its formal First Reading on Thursday and isn’t due back until next Tuesday.

Even a relatively keen observer like myself is often surprised by the working of the Lords and, this week, the International Agreements Committee takes centre stage. I suppose, having thought about it, that any Parliamentary chamber would want to take a close look at international agreements signed in its name, and the House of Lords is no different. Chaired by Peter Goldsmith, the former (and rather controversial) Labour Attorney General, the Committee published its report on the UK-Rwanda Agreement on an Asylum Partnership. It doesn’t make good reading for the Government and, in typically courteous Lords fashion, accuses James Cleverly of effectively attempting to mislead the Committee (see paragraph 44). The report, including a series of recommendations, is to be debated on Monday and there will then be a motion, moved by Lord Goldsmith, resolving that:

His Majesty’s Government should not ratify the UK-Rwanda Agreement on an Asylum Partnership until the protections it provides have been fully implemented, since Parliament is being asked to make a judgement, based on the Agreement, about whether Rwanda is safe.

You can expect contributions from the two Liberal Democrat members of the Committee, Chris Fox and Tim Razzall, and there is every possibility of a Government defeat if Labour whip their members to vote for the motion.

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Sally Hamwee: “I feel contaminated by the Bill”

Many of us are watching the progress of the appalling Illegal Immigration Bill as it makes its way through the Houses. On Wednesday it reached the Lords for a second reading, and there were some barnstorming speeches from Lib Dem peers. Here are some extracts.

Brian Paddick moved an amendment that would have effectively killed the Bill immediately.

My Lords, Trevor Phillips recently wrote in the Times that, in 2000, 175 million people lived outside the country of their birth and that, by 2020, it was 280 million. He likened the Prime Minister’s pledge to “stop the boats” to King Canute ordering back the incoming tide. He argued that we need to bring order to the flow, rather than focusing on the impossible task of locking the doors to keep asylum seekers out. We agree.

We have yawning gaps in our labour markets that refugees could fill. We believe that we should adopt the approach many other countries are adopting, that responsibility should be taken away from the Home Office and given to the Foreign Office or the Department for Business and Trade and that “Migration is no job for a home secretary”. Phillips agrees. We should be harnessing the power of the incoming tide, not refusing to accept that it cannot be stopped.

The Government talk about “pull factors”. We talk about “push” factors: the intolerable conditions in their home countries that compel asylum seekers to find sanctuary elsewhere in the world. Even in detention in the UK, you do not have to worry about where you are going to live, how you are going to survive without adequate food or water, or whether you are going to be killed or persecuted, or otherwise have your life endangered. Can the Minister say what evidence the Government have that the measures in the Bill will deter small boat crossings?

The Bill seeks systematically to deny human rights to a group of people desperately seeking sanctuary. It would breach our international obligations under the UN conventions on refugees, on the rights of the child and on the reduction of statelessness, and the European convention against trafficking. This is the first, but not the only, Bill that explicitly states that it does not have to be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. The Human Rights Act is being revoked, one law at a time. The Bill would undermine the rule of law, with Ministers able to ignore the rulings of judges. At the same time, we are asking Russia and China to abide by the international rule of law.

I have one final thought. I studied moral philosophy at university. One of the acid tests of whether something was morally right was the question: “What would happen if everyone did the same thing?” Can the Minister say what would happen if every country adopted the approach outlined in the Bill?

This Bill is a low point in the history of this Government and we should not allow it to proceed any further. I beg to move.

Paul Scriven followed Alf Dubs, who was himself a child refugee, saved from the Nazis on the Kindertransport:

My Lords, what an absolute pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, who is a living example of what happens when a country opens its hearts to refugees and how those people can then settle here and contribute to the future prosperity of the nation that they make their home.

As well as impractical and inhumane, the Bill is ineffective. It is built on the ridiculous premise that the only way to stop the traffickers profiteering is to criminalise their vulnerable victims and treat them in a subhuman way. The Bill undermines our commitment to international law and our obligations under the UN conventions on refugees and the child, and it degrades what it means to be British. It trashes our proud and long-held values and our record, dating back to 1951, on how we deal with those seeking asylum. It undermines our country’s international standing for upholding and abiding by international law.

Susan Kramer, the daughter of a refugee, was particularly scathing about the language used around this subject:

My Lords, I decided to speak today after reading the words of the Immigration Minister, Robert Jenrick, speaking for the Government to Policy Exchange, demonising migrants and failing to recognise our responsibilities to refugees seeking asylum. He said that “excessive, uncontrolled migration threatens to cannibalise the compassion of the British public”.

“Cannibalise”—what a deliberate and demonising choice of word. He went on: “And those crossing tend to have completely different lifestyles … to those in the UK … undermining the cultural cohesiveness”.

It was deliberately divisive language and certainly not borne out by the UK experience.

I want the Minister today to show me the body of evidence and research that shows how British compassion has been “cannibalised” by asylum seekers and by people like my mother and me. I want to see his evidence of damage to cohesion that genuine asylum seekers, never mind migrants, have inflicted on the UK. I suspect that we will find it has no substance. He needs to show why diversity is a weakness not a strength. Ironically, if the Government continue to argue that migration creates such problems, it should never by its own logic return a single refugee to any country that already has a significant migrant population—and that eliminates most of Europe and indeed Africa, including Rwanda.

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25 November 2022 – today’s press releases

Apologies, press release fans, but broadband to my village was lost due to a BT fault this evening. It’s supposed to be restored in a fortnight’s time, so I’m reduced to the internet equivalent of two tin cans and a length of string temporarily.

  • Sunak reappoints controversial Trade Minister he sacked last month
  • Raab allegations can’t be swept under the carpet

Sunak reappoints controversial Trade Minister he sacked last month

The Liberal Democrats have demanded that reappointed Trade Minister Dominic Johnson urgently publishes his Register of Interests, warning that he has a duty to be “open, transparent and accountable” and avoid a conflict of …

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7-9 November – this week in the Lords

A short week in Parliament, with the short November recess starting on Thursday, but there’s plenty of Liberal Democrat interest.

Monday starts with the usual oral questions, this time including a question from Shas Sheehan regarding Government steps, as President of COP26, to acknowledge and address greenhouse gas emissions by developed countries, in the light of recent flooding in Pakistan.

The Seafarers’ Wages Bill receives its Third Reading, with Ros Scott from our benches expected to pursue the issue of how the legislation sits with international agreements in the maritime sector. So far, there’s been little sense that the Government gets this, but given their persistent disregard for such things, it’s unlikely that they’ll change their mind at this stage. And there’s Day 4 of the Committee Stage of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, with Jeremy Purvis, Alison Suttie, Sarah Ludford and Dee Doocey attempting to prevent a blatant power grab by the Government, allowing them to, effectively, rewrite the legisaltion as they go along.

In Grand Committee, the Electronic Trade Documents Bill has its Second Reading, with Chris Fox up for our benches.

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Removing the ban on haggis

Did you know that haggis is banned in the USA? I certainly didn’t. How on earth do American Scots celebrate Burns Night without haggis?

Haggis was banned in the United States in 1971, apparently because it is made from sheeps’ lungs, apart from other unmentionable bits.

I have to admit I don’t particularly like haggis – I usually opt for the veggie version – but am fully aware of its cultural significance.

Jeremy Purvis, aka Lord Purvis of Tweed, is a Lib Dem peer, and he has been suggesting ways to mark the 250th anniversary next year of the ending of the American War of Independence. Yesterday he spoke in the magnificently titled debate on “American War of Independence: Semiquincentennial Commemorations”.

It kicked off with this contribution by the Labour peer, Richard Faulkner, who said:

My Lords, in 1976 there was a state visit by Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. During this, they presented a bicentennial bell cast in the same Whitechapel foundry as the Liberty Bell of 1751. They also loaned to the people of the US an original copy of the Magna Carta. Would the Minister like to put on his thinking cap and come up with some equally imaginative suggestions for 2026, which might include, for example, a project run in collaboration with the American Battlefield Trust, to identify and rededicate the graves of British soldiers who rest on revolutionary war battlefields and elsewhere in the United States?

Jeremy Purvis asked:

My Lords, the magisterial biography of the Border reivers by George MacDonald Fraser starts with the inauguration of President Nixon taking over from President Johnson, with Billy Graham giving the eulogy. The Minister references the Pilgrim Society. There was an outward emigration group of Border reiver families after the pilgrims, of less strong character perhaps, from whom so many in America are descended. The story of the Borders, and the story of Scotland, and America is so linked, including Trump’s mother being Scottish – which we overlook.

In response to the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, the Minister could perhaps think about an aged bottle of whisky, which I know the Minister and I both enjoy, but it is also an opportunity for America to withdraw its ban on haggis. The story of Scotland and America is very strong, so can the Minister make sure it is linked to any of the preparations?

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Super Lib Dem Lords on Super Saturday: Jeremy Purvis on the potential break up of the UK

At the weekend, Lib Dem Lords basically tore apart Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, highlighting its danger to our prosperity and to the very make up of our country. Jeremy Purvis highlighted the threat to our country.

For the first time in our union’s history, part of our union will be under the legislative authority of a foreign entity in which the people living in that area will have no representation. Part of our union will have the laws governing its economic policy and trade regulations set by a foreign entity whose rules they will have no say in. Taxes affecting businesses and consumers will be set by that foreign entity but their representatives will have no vote on them. To be clear: according to the schedules to the new backstop, 371 laws and regulations that would not apply to Great Britain would automatically be applied to Northern Ireland. On 1 October, the noble Lord, Lord Duncan, stated:

“Any deal on Brexit on 31 October must avoid the whole or just part—that is, Northern Ireland—being trapped in an arrangement where it is a rule taker”.—

That is what the Government propose today. The Conservative Party frequently lauds the fact that it is the Conservative and Unionist Party owing to its role in the defeat of Irish home rule, but it now puts in front of us a proposal for the UK to be one country with two systems. We can see elsewhere in the world how effective that is. Yesterday, this “one country, two systems” Brexit was hailed by the Foreign Secretary as terrific news for Northern Ireland because it will stay aligned with the EU. Presumably, he will now say that doing so is also open to Scotland.

The deal is utterly contrary to the Government’s position when they adopted the UK internal market framework, which this Parliament debated, and when they explicitly said that there would be no division within the four nations of the union. Given that it is also the opposite of what Boris Johnson presented to ​the DUP conference, when he said that this would never happen under a Conservative Government, there is little surprise that the lines in the sand have been washed away by waves of duplicity. As my noble friend Newby said, in January the noble Lord, Lord Callanan, stated:

“We will give an unequivocal commitment that that there will be no divergence in rules between … Great Britain and Northern Ireland”.—

The House can make its own mind up about where equivocation lies. Yesterday, the Home Secretary spoke doublespeak with alacrity on the BBC. She claimed that the deal takes back our laws—but not the 371 of them that apply to Northern Ireland and, therefore, the jurisdiction of the European court. She said that it takes back our borders— but it creates a new border between the nations of our island and, as the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, indicated, a new European Union border within the United Kingdom for the first time in our history. She said that it takes back control over our money—but we will be a tax collector for the EU, and the UK bodies in Northern Ireland will be forced to apply EU taxes that they have no role in determining.

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Meet the Lords – or at least two Lords and one Baroness….

Manderston House 2005

BBC2 started a new series last night called “Meet the Lords”. In the style of last year’s documentary series about the House of Commons, the film crew wondered around the corridors of the House of Lords, and produced some interesting sights.

In fact, it centred on three peers:

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Lib Dem Lords vs the Article 50 Bill: Jeremy Purvis: We need to be careful how we bind future generations

The Lib Dem Lords have made some cracking contributions to the debate on the Article 50 Bill. Ahead of its next Lords stages, we’re bringing you all the Lib Dem contributions over the course of this weekend. That’s no mean feat. There were 32 of them and cover more than 30,000 words. You are not expected to read every single one of them as they appear. Nobody’s going to be testing you or anything. However, they will be there to refer to in the future. 

Our Lords excelled themselves. Their contributions were thoughtful, individual, well-researched and wide-ranging and it’s right that we present them in full on this site to help the historian of the future. 

Jeremy pointed out that out of nearly 200 speakers, only 3 were, like him, born after we joined the EU. He talked about how younger people would have to live with the consequences of Brexit, despite being against it. The Government’s hard brexit approach harmed their future.

My Lords, it remains a remarkable piece of good luck if you are born in our country and a remarkable judgment if you choose to make our country your home, but I am fearful about our union of nations and I am especially fearful for the views that our young people have about their future.

The Leader of the House and I have at least one thing in common: with our birthdays 18 months apart, we have lived all our lives in a country that has been a member of the EU. We are, I understand, two or only three Members taking part in this debate, of 190 speakers, for whom the UK’s membership of the EU is older than we are. The majority of the people of our country of our age and below voted to remain; the Leader of the House is in a minority. Britain’s youngest voters will have an average of 60 years to live with the consequences of the Government’s decisions in the coming two years. Sixteen and 17 year-olds—those with the most at stake—were denied a say, and very many of them are now frustrated that they are denied a voice. If with some good fortune I am now at the halfway point of my life, I fully acknowledge that I may need to come to terms with living in a country that I passionately believe is going on the wrong path. I may have to come to terms with that and we may not be able to turn back.

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Why would Alex Salmond nominate a key Brexiteer for Commons Brexit Committee chair?

This afternoon, we’ll find out who will be leading the Parliamentary scrutiny of Brexit as MPs vote for the chairs of the new select committee on Brexit.

It’s a race between Labour’s Hilary Benn, who campaigned for Remain, and Brexiteer Kate Hoey who does not think that membership of the single market is an achievable outcome.

From the Herald:

Labour’s Hilary Benn, the former shadow foreign secretary, is tipped to become chairman of the committee, which will have 21 members, including 10 Tories and MPs from six opposition parties; the average committee normally has 11 members.

But Ms Hoey, who represents Vauxhall in London, has also thrown her hat in the ring and, among those nominating her, is the former SNP leader. The onetime sports minister has said she wants Britain to have the fullest possible access to the single market but argues that taking back full control of immigration is incompatible with membership.

It is quite bizarre that Alex Salmond has chosen to nominate Kate Hoey given that the SNP has (rightly) been very vocal about the importance of continuing membership of the single market for the whole UK and for Scotland in particular. Why on earth would be support someone who doesn’t support that outcome?

Lib Dem Peer Jeremy Purvis had this to say on the matter:

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LibLInk: Jeremy Purvis: West’s response no match for Lebanon’s crisis

Lib Dem Peer Jeremy Purvis recently visited Lebanon, an already struggling country which has taken so many refugees from the conflict in Syria. Here he writes for the Scotsman about his experience.

The scale of the flow of refugees into Lebanon cannot be understated. Amnesty International puts the figure at more than 1.5 million. The flow of refugees into the country is proportionately the equivalent of the US taking most of the population of Mexico (little good a Trumpian wall). The number of refugees that the UK has accepted pales into insignificance by comparison.

Driving along the Syrian border area I

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Purvis slams Scots Tory leader Ruth Davidson over disability benefit cuts

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson  had a really bad interview on Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland today. She struggled on her plans to re-introduce prescription charges, to abolish free university tuition (which was secured by the Scottish Liberal Democrats in coalition with Labour back in 2001) and over free schools. She didn’t get grilled enough for our liking on her plans to do all that while cutting taxes for the richest, but you can’t have everything.

At around 2 hours 18 minutes in, the subject turned to cuts to disability benefits. Ruth says she opposed them before Iain Duncan Smith resigned although there is no record of her having done so. In fact, she praised George Osborne’s budget the day it came out. When pressed on exactly how she had expressed her opposition, she laughed. It was a nervous. hollow laugh, but, just as when Willie Rennie pursued this same point with her during the tv debate on Tuesday, it was clear that she was struggling to answer.

Jeremy Purvis, the Scottish Lib Dems’ campaign chair, said of her interview:

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65,000 job losses doesn’t constitute an employment crisis, according to SNP MSP

One of the weirdest things about Scotland at the moment is that there is no great sense of an asteroid, let alone a bullet, being dodged. The SNP’s predictions about oil prices, based on them being around $113 a barrel, have been shown to be well wide of the mark. They said we’d have this massive oil boom. That’s before some of their more excitable supporters started going on about secret oil fields whose existence was being kept from us by a malevolent Westminster establishment.

Nobody really appreciates how lucky we are. Scots could be facing independence, which the SNP had said would happen on 24th March this year, that’s in less than 10 weeks’ time,  with the price of oil barely above a third of their estimates. It wouldn’t be much freedom for people who desperately needed public services. There would have to be either massive cuts or massive tax rises to cope with that massive hole in the public finances.

The plummeting oil price had, according to Oil and Gas UK, cost 65,000 jobs as far back as last September. It’s had a devastating effect on the economy of North East Scotland. Aberdeenshire West MSP Dennis Robertson doesn’t seem to think so, though. He said that there was no jobs crisis in the North East.

From the Official Report:

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Campaigning with C.A.R.

Campaigning

The North and East Liberal Democrat AGM was held last Friday.  We had a good turnout, enjoyed the wine and mince pies (thank you!) and had a really interesting and brilliant talk from Baron Jeremy Purvis of Tweed.

Jeremy posed some real issues for us Liberal Democrats in terms of identity.  After all, in a liberal society where everybody claims to be small ‘l’ liberal, what is the use of a liberal party?  Especially in a system where everybody from both left and right have to converge upon the centre ground in order to gain power.  The SNP and Conservative “love-in” has changed things though.  Each present themselves as the only alternative to the other  This situation led to the SNP almost sweeping the board in Scotland (50% vote share) and to the Tory majority government on 37% of the vote.  There is nothing as useful in politics as having a good enemy.  This viewpoint, however, leads only to insularity, acrimony and bitterness.

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Watch Liberal Democrat peer Jeremy Purvis being mocked on US tv

Poor Jeremy Purvis. The Liberal Democrat peer found himself mentioned in comedian John Oliver’s US show Last Week Tonight. Oliver was telling Americans about the Tories’ defeat in the House of Lords over tax credits and in doing so had a good go at its archaic traditions – and mentioned that it even had a member called Lord Purvis of Tweed. What he didn’t, of course, mention, is that Lord Purvis of Tweed was most definitely on the side of the angels over tax credits and that if his party’s proposals had gone through, the proposals would have been killed off completely.

Just to make it all a bit worse, some media outlets described Jeremy as “Lord Pervis.”

Watch the clip here:

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The Borders railway is a massive Liberal Democrat achievement – why are we not shouting it from the rooftops?

This weekend the first journeys take place on the new Borders railway. Originally shut in 1969 under the Beeching cuts, it was rebuilt thanks to the Scottish Liberal Democrats in Government. Trains will now run again on a 30 mile stretch from Edinburgh Waverley to Tweedbank.

It was Liberal Democrat transport ministers Tavish Scott and Nicol Stephen before him, who fought the battles within the Scottish Executive on this against Labour’s distinct lack of enthusiasm.  In fact, one of their MSPs tried to wreck the project by putting an amendment for it to only go as far as Midlothian but that was defeated. Special Adviser at the time Sam Ghibaldan has been talking on Facebook about the fight the Liberal Democrats had to get the project up and running:

I’m really delighted the Borders Railway is up and running. When the Lib Dems were in the Scottish government we had to battle to get the Borders Railway through against Labour and civil service opposition. One particular incident that sticks in my mind is being told by the then head of the transport division (shortly after the railway had been included in the 2003 coalition agreement), that that made no difference as the project was not one of the agreed transport priorities. Which it turned out had been set pre devolution….

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Lord Jeremy Purvis’s maiden speech

It is a tradition for LDV to bring its readers copies of our new MPs’ and Peers’ first words in Parliament, so that we can read what is being said and respond. You can find all of the speeches in this category with this link. On 28 November, Lord Purvis of Tweed made his maiden speech in the House of Lords during a debate on broadcast media and its role in the economy. His words are reproduced below.

Jeremy PurvisLord Purvis of Tweed (LD): My Lords, it is a daunting task to follow the noble Lord, Lord Birt, in this debate. However, I crave the indulgence of your Lordships’ House to make my maiden speech. In doing so, I will perhaps draw the House’s attention north from London and the south-east towards the north of England and Scotland.

I am conscious that many maiden speeches have been made in recent weeks, including in this debate. I, too, add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Holmes of Richmond, and to my noble friend Lady Grender; I associate myself with the kind words of the noble Lord, Lord Birt, in paying rich tribute to her maiden speech. I have been a poor pupil of media training by my noble friend Lady Grender; participation in this House was perhaps not a topic on our agenda. However, there is a perverse pleasure in seeing her now having to tackle the tough questions on behalf of her party.

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So, who are these new Liberal Democrat peers, then?

Earlier today, we told you about the ten new Liberal Democrat peers. We thought you might like to know a little more about them.

Cathy Bakewell

Cathy was first elected to Somerset County Council in 1993 and has since gained expertise in a number of fields: fire and rescue, policing, equalities, safeguarding children and further education. Her appointment bolsters our local government experience in the Lords. She also served on Ruth Kelly’s 2007 commission which looked at the barriers to people becoming councillors. She may have similar ideas about addressing our under-representation of women in other areas.

Olly Grender

Olly Grender’s career has …

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New Lib Dem peers announced

The new Liberal Democrat Peers, announced today, are:

  • Catherine (Cathy) Mary Bakewell MBE – former leader of Somerset County Council
  • Rosalind (Olly) Grender MBE – former Director of Communications for Shelter and former Director of Communications for the Liberal Democrats
  • Christine Mary Humphreys – President of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and former Member of the National Assembly for Wales
  • Zahida Manzoor CBE – Former Legal Services Ombudsman and Deputy Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality
  • Brian Paddick – Former Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the Metropolitan Police Service
  • James Palumbo – Co-founder and chairman of Ministry of Sound Group, the

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Jeremy Purvis: Creating an ambitious, compassionate and fair Scotland

I caught up with Scottish Liberal Democrat Finance Spokesman Jeremy Purvis at the manifesto launch on Tuesday and asked him what a Liberal Democrat Scotland looked like.

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Tavish Scott writes… The SNP budget is too severe on services but too soft on waste

The Scottish Government has published its budget.  But it’s for one year not three!  No SNP Minister can explain why it was right for nationalists in Wales to produce figures for three years but not for the SNP Government in Scotland.

SNP Ministers say they can’t give a four-year budget because they have just set up a public service reform group. That’s code for “we don’t know what to do but whatever we do will be after next May’s Election. Yet the SNP have known the broad numbers for months.

After all, Alex Salmond wrote to Vince Cable on 12th February to say, …

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Ask questions at conference – even if you’re not there!

Party members not going to the Bournemouth conference still have a chance to input to some of the discussions. The conference features three Q&A sessions:

Sunday 20th September (afternoon) – with Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Monday 21st September (morning) – Crime Policy: Panel including Chris Huhne MP (Shadow Home Secretary), Jan Berry (Independent Reducing Bureaucracy Advocate), Juliet Lyon (Director, Prison Reform Trust) and Professor Larry Sherman (Wolfson Professor of Criminology, University of Cambridge)

Tuesday 22nd September (afternoon)
– The Economy: Panel including Vince Cable MP (Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer), Jeremy Purvis MSP …

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Is John Thurso the sexiest man in the Liberal Democrats?

Thurso and Willott - the beautiful peopleAll round love walrus John Thurso MP is currently heading a poll to be crowned sexiest man in the Liberal Democrats on the blogger of the year’s site. It’s the ‘tache that does it. Lib Dem Voice unsucessfully lobbied for Jeremy Purvis MSP to be included on the list.

Jenny Willott is currently leading the field for the ladies and… look, I’m just not sure how much more I can say on this whole article without offending anyone, OK?  So …

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