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LDV Interview: Liz Leffman. Witney Lib Dem candidate on Brexit, NHS, Buses – and puppies and biscuits, too!

Liz LeffmanI spent a couple of days in Witney this week. Events since my return have prevented me from telling you too much about my trip – but I would say that if you can get there before the by-election on October 20th, do go. We have a brilliant candidate and a huge team doing an incredible job. I spent Tuesday canvassing with Liz and some of her team in Eynsham and  I was surprised by the warmth of the reception on the doors and it’s clear that the more people who go to help, the more people we can speak to, the better the result we will get. So, what are you waiting for? If you can’t go, phone! All the info you need to help is here.

Before we headed out, I sat down with Liz for a chat. She is an incredibly impressive candidate. I’ve known from working with her pretty closely for some years now that she is one of those people who can come into a situation where everyone is running around panicking and just sort stuff. She has the knowledge, the authority and the passion to be a brilliant MP for Witney. She understands the issues facing local people, from the threats posed by Brexit, to cuts in bus services which leave people trapped in their villages to the huge problems in accessing NHS services.

I am very grateful to John O’Neill from Northern Ireland Lib Dems, who very kindly transcribed it for me. 

CL: We are sitting in the Lib Dem office, currently a hive of activity, with Liz Leffman. You’ve been a by-election candidate for a week now, what’s it been like?

LL: Well, it’s been quite a journey! It started off on Tuesday when I was selected. The following day I went straight off to Chipping Norton with Tim Farron. That was very exciting, and then I was on television that evening. So, it’s been all go actually, and I think probably I haven’t really stopped since then.

CL: So, what sort of reception are you getting on the doorstep?

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LDV Interview: Caroline Lucas talks about The Alternative Part 3

This week I had the chance to talk to Caroline Lucas, newly elected co-Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, about the book “The Alternative.” She co-edited the book with Labour MP Lisa Nandy and her erstwhile 2015 Liberal Democrat opponent Chris Bowers. The three will be taking part in a fringe meeting at Conference TODAY at 1pm in the Buckingham suite in the Hilton Metropole. The event is organised by the Social Liberal Forum. Part 1 is available here.

I  wondered if the sense of solidarity that exists between women across politics, partly because we all have to put up with a fairly sexist political culture, could be developed to help the process of cross-party working along:

In my experience generally speaking women tend to be more interested in working together and and finding that common ground not in scoring points. But one of the crucial things is to have confidence building measures at a local level so that some of the very real mistrust between parties can be addressed and, as much as possible, neutralised.

I’m glad she brought that up because we all have that baggage of bad experiences with members of other parties. Many Lib Dems feel pretty bruised by some of the abuse that came our way during the coalition years, especially when we didn’t agree with what was happening.  We do have to get past that, but how do we patch that up?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

LDV Interview: Caroline Lucas talks about The Alternative Part 2

This week I had the chance to talk to Caroline Lucas, newly elected co-Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, about the book “The Alternative.” She co-edited the book with Labour MP Lisa Nandy and her erstwhile 2015 Liberal Democrat opponent Chris Bowers. The three will be taking part in a fringe meeting at Conference tomorrow at 1pm in the Buckingham suite in the Hilton Metropole. The event is organised by the Social Liberal Forum. Part 1 is available here.

Part 1 ended with a discussion on a more collaborative politics. That’s not quite what we see even within the Labour Party at the moment. After what the Tories did to scare people witless of a coalition between Ed Miliband and Alex Salmond, what would they do with anything that involved Jeremy Corbyn, even if he were inclined to be a part of it?

Caroline is clear that this is not something politicians can stitch up between themselves:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

LDV Interview: Caroline Lucas talks about The Alternative – Part 1

The AlternativeThis week I had the chance to talk to Caroline Lucas, newly elected co-Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, about the book “The Alternative.” She co-edited the book with Labour MP Lisa Nandy and her erstwhile 2015 Liberal Democrat opponent Chris Bowers. The three will be taking part in a fringe meeting at Conference on Sunday at 1pm in the Buckingham suite in the Hilton Metropole. The event is organised by the Social Liberal Forum.

The first part of the book explores all sorts of ideas, from foreign affairs to social security and public services, where there is significant common ground between those of a progressive nature.The second explores how progressives could work together to beat the Tories. It’s a progressive antidote to the Tory dystopia into which we are currently descending. Though the book sets a lot of hares running, it doesn’t seek to outline a way forward. So, I asked Caroline, what happens next?

In the book there are all kinds of options discussed and explored and absolutely no blueprint not least because what might work in one constituency might not work in another.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 10 Comments
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