Tag Archives: Joan Walmsley

Lib Dems vs Brexit Joan Walmsley: The people must have an informed choice

Joan Walmsley tackled the “will of the people” argument in her speech.

The noble Lord, Lord Hennessy, asked us to be optimistic. I would not be a Liberal Democrat if I were not.

I have great respect for the House of Commons and am optimistic that next week honourable Members will do the right thing. They will vote against making their constituents poorer, damaging the future of their young people and removing this country’s influence in Europe. They will vote against Mrs May’s deal and reject the disaster of leaving the EU without a deal. Let us be clear, to use a favourite phrase of which the Prime Minister is so fond, especially when she is about to obfuscate: our economy would suffer both from her deal and no deal.

Our economy is not just some economist’s theory. It provides the means to protect the most vulnerable, the young who need education, the old who need care, the unemployed who need benefits and jobs, the poor who need affordable homes, the workers who need efficient transport to work and decent pay, and all of us who rely on the NHS. All this is threatened by every possible form of Brexit. It has become clear over the past two and a half years, to all who are not too blind to see it, that the deal we have as members, and could keep if we wish, is the best we could get with our biggest trading partner, neighbour and friend. Let us not be lured by the fantasy that we will negotiate beneficial trade deals around the world that would more than make up for loss of trade with the EU. This is a typical unicorn promised to the electorate by a campaign funded by money about which very serious legal questions are being investigated. Through our EU membership, we have trade deals, not just with 27 other countries, but with 88. All those would go if we left the EU without a deal.

I respect the way in which Mrs May has tried to get a good deal while leaving the EU. But she became the architect of her own failure when she stated her red lines, which made it impossible for her to take us out of the EU without damaging our economy and curtailing opportunities for our young people. She has given two and a half years of respect to the “will of the people” ​as she puts it, although I find it hard to understand how someone who is so keen on the will of the people is so reluctant to ask them for it.

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Lib Dem Lords vs the Article 50 Bill: Joan Walmsley: Medical research at risk from Tory hard Brexit

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. 

Joan Walmsley, after responding to Michael Forsyth’s intemperate rant about the evils of the Liberal Democrats, talked about healthcare – and how important the single market is for research network which are already been damaged by the Tories’ plans. She also explained why Donald Trump’s America First policy means that we should stay in the single market.

My Lords, every day we start our deliberations by asking for wisdom and understanding. We pray that our counsels may result in,

“the public wealth, peace and tranquillity of the Realm, and the uniting and knitting together of the hearts of all persons and estates within the same”.

Whether or not we are religious, these objectives should unite us all. Currently this country is very divided and very angry.

When I came to the House of Lords, I knew that I did not represent a geographical constituency. I understood that I was here to represent all the people of the United Kingdom and to do what I judge the right thing according to my conscience. That is what I propose to do. Last time I looked, every Member of this House was equal. His or her opinion was equal and his or her conscience was equal. Last time I looked, it was customary to treat the opinions and consciences of other Members of the House with some civility and respect. I have to say that the speech before last did not do that and did not serve that Member’s cause very well.

Your Lordships’ House has a duty to scrutinise legislation in detail and to ask the Government to think again when they are going in the wrong direction. There is precious little detail in the Bill but I judge that the Government have chosen to take the country in the wrong direction. There is no mandate for it. There is no majority to leave the single market. If we continue along this path, our people will be poorer and our country will be more isolated and less influential in the world. So I will be supporting amendments to protect the rights of citizens of other EU countries who live and work here, to protect our access to the single market and to allow the people of this country to have the last word, for the sake of our unity and democracy. That is what I believe democracy is.

As your Lordships will be aware, I speak for these Benches on health and social care. There are three main healthcare reasons why I believe the Bill should be amended. They boil down to: people, healthcare and Donald Trump. There are tens of thousands of EU citizens working in our health and care system and the Government are using their future, and the future of those they care for, as a pawn in a misguided game of cat and mouse with the other 27 countries. Without them, the staff shortages we are already experiencing will be a lot worse and patients will suffer. 1 am pleased there has been a cross-party outcry from your Lordships about this, so I hope all will vote for an end to that foolishness.

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Joan Walmsley writes…Planning for a healthy future

Hooray for Sir Simon Stevens, Head of NHS England, for putting into practice what I was proposing at last year’s Party Conference! In my keynote speech I maintained that the NHS cannot tackle the country’s current and future health problems by itself and we need a “whole government” approach. The Department of Health must be supported by policies from the Department of Communities and Local Government, the Department of Education, the Department of Transport, The Department of Culture, Media and Sport and, of course, local authorities, since it will not be able to tackle the increasing demand for healthcare by itself. Prevention of avoidable illnesses should be the responsibility of every Government department.

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Dan Rogerson MP writes…How we reformed GCSEs

I suspect there are precious few people out there who are not aware that Michael Gove wasn’t entirely happy with the current state of the GCSE system.

You’re probably also aware that when he first suggested he wasn’t happy with the current system, Nick Clegg, Joan Walmsley and I wasted no time in telling him that Liberal Democrats, a party who believe in social mobility, would not tolerate a return to a two tier education system.

What you may not be aware of is just how the two parties have been working since then to find a compromise that combines the shared …

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Lord McNally writes… Conscience and reform

Shirley Williams has recently been made Peer of the Year in one of the regular Parliamentary Awards. Eric Avebury was recently given a life time achievement award at a ceremony in the Speaker’s House. Matthew Oakeshott received praise for his persistence in pointing out that there is much in our banking system which is rotten and in need of reform. When issues affecting children are debated in the Lords it is often Joan Walmsley who holds the House with informed and practical opinion. Ditto when Margaret Sharp speaks on science, technology and higher education. Sally Hamwee and Martin …

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Opinion: What price democracy in the Lib Dems?

Over the past 21 months I have had many moments when I have felt close to despair about the behaviour of our parliamentarians. Sometimes, like voting in favour of tuition fees, they can rightly point to the Coalition Agreement – endorsed overwhelmingly – as Nick Clegg observed at the time – by a North Korean like Special Conference. Other times, like voting against party policy on Legal Aid and Welfare Reform – there is no such defence. Last night calls into question the fundamental values and principles of our party, not just in terms of flying in the face of …

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Poverty and achievement: breaking the link – Sarah Teather’s speech to conference

Sarah Teather, Liberal Democrat Minister of State for Children and Families, gave this speech yesterday to Liberal Democrat conference:

“Education… beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery.“

The quote is from HoraceMann, the great 19th century American reformer. But it speaks to the instincts of liberals here with as much resonance as then.

The scandal is that though it should be true, it isn’t.

You will hear many people talk this week about the shocking state of the nation’s finances that was Labour’s legacy. I want to talk about another …

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