Tag Archives: speeches

WATCH: Jane Dodds speak to Welsh People’s Vote Rally

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds spoke to the Welsh People’s Vote rally yesterday.

A poll this week suggested that Wales, which had voted to leave in 2016 had now changed its mind and also backed a People’s Vote on the deal. This is pretty astonishing given that even 6 months ago, there was a substantial majority of people opposed to a vote.

Watch what Jane had to say here.

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Willie Rennie: Join us to stand for fairness, justice and equality of opportunity

Yesterday, Willie Rennie gave his keynote speech to Scottish Conference.

In it he made clear that Liberal Democrat MSPs would not back the SNP’s budget this year unless they took a second independence referendum off the table.

He highlighted the party’s support for a boycott of the SNP Government’s national tests for 5 year olds and said that Scotland should follow other countries where formal education does not start till 6 or 7.

He praised Nicola Sturgeon for the way she handled allegations of sexual harassment against Alex Salmond and criticised the former first minister for running his defence like an election campaign, asking what message that sent to any women who had experienced sexual harassment.

In his final paragraph he invited people to join the Liberal Democrats to make a stand for justice, fairness and equality of opportunity

Our country is on the wrong track.

People who play their part often get left behind.

The rules are stacked in favour of big corporations and the most powerful.

Liberal Democrats stand up to power and privilege to bring fairness and opportunity for everyone.

It’s why we stood up to Amazon and demanded they paid fair wages and paid fair taxes too.

It’s why we stood up for human rights and integrity when the SNP put a grubby Chinese deal first.

It’s why we stood for early education, put mental health at the top of the agenda, and got funding for our colleges;

It’s why we stood against big, hungry central government that grabbed control of our police, our fire and our NHS.

It’s why we put our shoulder to the wheel for Scotland to remain in the UK.

It’s why we are standing up for a final say on Brexit.

This is what we do.

Once a small team, now a growing team we have achieved all this.

With more of us we can do so much more.

This is why I joined the party.

And why more people should join our party.

Vince Cable is opening the door across the whole of Britain.

People who share our values should join our movement.

To challenge.

To stand for the weak against the strong.

For the fishermen, the farmers and the crofters.

Against big government and huge corporations.

For better mental health, better education so that everyone can be all they can be.

To change the world in which we live.

To stand for fairness, for justice, for equality of opportunity.

Liberal Democrats Demand Better.

The full text is below:

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A long read for a Wednesday lunchtime: Tim Farron on Vince, Vulcans, the centre ground and “identity politics”

A couple of years ago, Tim Farron’s often powerful speeches excited and enthused Liberal Democrats and beyond as membership more than doubled in his two years as leader. Too often these days his remarks or his actions cause anger and anxiety. I know that when I see the word Farron on Twitter, I’m thinking “Oh no, what’s he done now.”  Don’t get me wrong, given the same choice I had in 2015, I’d vote for him again. However, in his quest to become leader and president before that, he went out of his way to build alliances with certain groupings in the party. It’s fair to say that some of those people feel intensely let down by certain of his pronouncements. They bear the scars of defending him in the face of some pretty hostile stuff from within and outwith the party. He shouldn’t underestimate what people went through showing loyalty to him.

To them, it feels like Tim is throwing a flame thrower at the bridges. On the other hand, Tim doesn’t seem to understand why they’re so upset. The way he sees it, he’s not picking on one group of people because he thinks we’re all sinners. Having spent a lot of time amongst evangelical Christians in my teens, I strongly suspect my registry office do 30 years ago doesn’t quite fulfil their standard of marriage.

I don’t actually care whether he thinks certain bits of my life are sinful or not and it makes no difference to how he treats me. We’ve worked perfectly well together in the past and I’m sure we will do so again. The big thing is, though, that you don’t tend to get beaten up for having a registry office do. You are more likely to be the victim of a hate crime if you are LGBT. That’s where his comments on these issues can cause actual harm to actual people. It legitimises those who would undermine just and equal treatment of LGBT+ people. I think that Tim needs to understand that. 

On Monday night Twitter started to get a bit unsettled again. This time it was his comments on “identity politics” at an Oxford Union speech that caused some fairly widespread consternation amongst Lib Dems and others.

The term “identity politics” is generally used as a derogatory term by those on the alt-right about any marginalised group who are fighting against discrimination. And they don’t just do it for themselves, they show solidarity with others who are marginalised, too. Jennie Rigg explores the concept here.

If you point out the gender pay gap, or that bisexuals routinely have horrendous mental health, or that black women are held to impossible standards of behaviour that white women aren’t, or that 45% of trans youth have attempted suicide, as sure as eggs is eggs you’ll get some white guy moaning at you about identity politics, and how we should practise “equalism, not feminism”, and how we’re all equal anyway these days now.

When people use the phrase “identity politics” they are generally saying that all those marginalised groups should just stop fighting for fair treatment and leave all the power to the white men where they think it belongs. It was surprising to hear Tim, who has stood up for some of the most marginalised groups in our society, echo this sort of language. 

I thought the only fair way to judge it was to look at the whole speech in context and I’m grateful to Tim for kindly sending me a copy. The stuff that’s caused the controversy is not even the main subject of the speech, which is about whether the centre ground of politics is a myth and exploring the common principles that tie it together and looking at the prospects of a new party.

For me, that section just doesn’t fit in. Apart from anything else the sort of people who need to work together or be appealed to are the sort of people who are generally reasonably fair minded people who understand  the discrimination women, LGBT folk, disabled people and  people of colour face – and the intersectionality between those groups – or if they don’t, they are more likely to  be persuaded by evidence. How much better would it have been to say: “We’re seeing attacks on different groups of people from the likes of Trump and the right. We need to make sure that the equal rights and legal protections that have been so hard won are not compromised in any way.” The far left and far right don’t get this stuff at all.  They are more interested in their own brand of revolution. 

There are a few interesting observations on modern politics and some uncomfortable ideas in the speech, but I’ll let you find them for yourselves. Let us know what you think (politely) in the comments.

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WATCH: Michael Curry’s incredible sermon at the Royal Wedding – how to make poverty history

One of the most talked-about highlights of yesterday’s Royal Wedding was the lively and passionate sermon preached by the Presiding Bishop of the US Episcopal Church, Michael Curry. I doubt it was any accident that this man, who has a strong record in supporting same sex marriage, was chosen to deliver this address.

I don’t believe in God and didn’t find anything in his words to change my mind on that score. That didn’t stop me being utterly inspired by the message he brought to the heart of the British establishment.

His theme was “the power of love” and it asked us to imagine politics and government and business and commerce where love was the way. No child, he said, would ever go hungry again and poverty would be history. By the time he started talking about the benefits of human migration around the world, I was sold. This guy stood there in front of the British Royal Family and talked about revolutionary movements. It was utterly compelling. A lot of fire and no brimstone.

As it’s Sunday morning, and the BBC has kindly put the whole thing on You Tube, I thought it was worth putting up here. This man embraced the opportunity to address 1.9 billion people and made the most of it. Even if you have been avoiding all other parts of the Wedding, watch this. I’m sure you will feel at least a little bit inspired.

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WATCH: Vince Cable’s speech to Scottish Conference

Here is Vince Cable’s speech to Scottish Conference yesterday. He challenged the SNP to back a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal, saying that their silence on the issue was embarrassing. He said he had been working with them perfectly well on issues like the customs union and he single market and called on them to put the national interest above their party interest.

He also made it clear that the Scottish Conservatives, without whom Theresa May would not be able to form a Government, are wholly signed up to the hard right Tory-UKIP agenda.

He said that he was optimistic about our party’s future, saying that we are on the right side of history. We can stop Brexit, which he said would be a nightmare for EU nationals and said that there was no solution for the Irish Border that didn’t involve staying n the customs union.

Enjoy:

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In Full: Sal Brinton’s speech to Welsh Conference – Welsh Lib Dems are here to stay and here to win

Sal Brinton seems to spend April each year in perpetual motion, travelling around the country lending support to election campaigns. She is so good at boosting morale on the ground. In between the campaigning, she went to Welsh Conference this weekend and will be in Aviemore for Scottish Conference next weekend.

In her keynote speech in Cardiff, she praised Kirsty Williams’ work as Education Secretary, improving things for the poorest children and young adults. She spoke highly of Jane Dodds, highlighting her life’s work of fighting for the oppressed and vulnerable and her passion to make life better for them.

She talked about how the Lords would do their best to amend the EU Withdrawal Bill, her frustration that Parliament was not getting to tackle other issues.

She had a message of hope for a party which has had a tough few years, highlighting the by-election wins that show that we are back in the game.

Here’s her speech in full:

I want to start with the overnight news that Theresa May has ordered air strikes on Syria. I absolutely agree with Vince’s call last week that she could and should have recalled Parliament, to seek a mandate from the representatives of the British people, and hear the debate both for and against.

Liberal Democrats stood ready to assess the evidence and objectives for any action and, if it were properly planned and justified, to support a military response.

At this moment our thoughts are with British and allied troops. But the Government’s decision fatally undermines the integrity of this mission. It shows a weak UK Government putting short term political expediency before democracy and in so doing further diminishing the standing of Britain in the world.

It is fantastic to be back in Wales, and to see you, our Welsh members so upbeat and positive. There’s no denying that here in Wales you have been through a rough time – perhaps even more than the rest of us across the UK. But it is important that we celebrate your spirit, determination and commitment to fighting back, and I’m convinced you’ve also achieved an enormous amount, despite the challenges.

Here in Wales we are in Government – the only place in an Assembly or Parliament in the UK where we are able to enact liberal policies, through the fantastic work of our Welsh Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams.

Kirsty is leading our national mission of education reform to give our young people the best start in life by reducing the attainment gap and raising standards across our schools, wherever in Wales they are.

From cutting infant class sizes and investing more money in raising the aspirations of our least well-off children, to delivering a fair funding arrangements for university students and Wales’ universities – Kirsty is proving the Welsh Liberal Democrats to be the party with the ideas and drive to get things done. She remains a real inspiration to me, and I know, to many of you too!

And I know that Kirsty would be the first to say that so many of you have been working immensely hard over the last two years to revive our Party’s fortunes in Wales, and we are now on the brink of a fantastic opportunity.

And I absolutely agree with her!

Here in Wales, your next Assembly elections coming up in 2021. Now that may seem far away, but look at the electoral fortunes of UKIP. That flash in the pan party has plummeted in support. Just two years after the last assembly elections, they are a spent force, and they’re not coming back. They are fielding so few candidates, that they aren’t entitled to a parliamentary party broadcast, only contesting just over 10% of the seats up for election and not even bothering to stand in many of the seats they currently hold.

Meanwhile we have a Tory Party which is still – forty years on, still riven by the EU. I mean, who ever thought that ‘Having your cake and eating it’ was ever a serious proposition from senior cabinet ministers like Boris Johnson and David Davis. But they both prattle away about it, as if it is realistic and possible. More damagingly, let’s be generous here and call it self deceit, rather than deliberate, is lurching the UK towards a hard Brexit disaster, whilst they sing loudly with their fingers in their ears and with blindfolds on.

But it isn’t just the Tories – there are the splits in the Labour Party, perhaps best typified by the Welsh Leader completely at odds with its Westminster Leader, and plagued by internal rifts, and even the nationalists Plaid Cymru riven with factionalism, unsure about what Wales’ future holds.

That Chinese curse ‘May you live in interesting times’ seems to be with us in abundance!

Contrast that to our Welsh Liberal Democrat vision for Wales:

a Wales proud of its heritage,

* Committed and optimistic for the future,

* committed to our young people,

* committed to maintaining our international ties both within Europe and beyond.

All of us are united around that vision. All of us are committed to a revival in this, the land of liberalism. We aren’t looking back to the grand old days of Lloyd George (although his Liberal heritage of care for our land and care for our people still lies at the heart of our values).

We are confidently looking forward: striving to make a better future for Wales, a more Liberal future for Wales.

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In full: Jane Dodds’ Leader’s Speech to Welsh Liberal Democrat Spring Conference

Here is Jane Dodds’ keynote speech to Welsh Liberal Democrat Conference this weekend. She said that the Welsh Lib Dems had an aspirational, optimistic vision for Wales. She went on to praise Kirsty Williams, the party’s Education Secretary. Scottish Liberal Democrat leader kept calling her the best education secretary in Britain.

Jane talked movingly about the impact of poverty and homelessness and outlined what the Lib Dems were all about:

The party of the progressive and pragmatic that offers an exciting and inspiring vision.

The Party of Ideas, taking forward meaningful policies that speak to people’s everyday concerns.

The Party of the Green Agenda, committed to protecting our environment, cleaning up the air we breathe, and harnessing the power of our environment.

The true party of equality, fairness and freedom and with a vision of a Wales that offers everyone a place to call home, free from discrimination and intolerance in all its forms.

Here’s the whole thing:

Cynhadledd, conference

Thank you all for being here this weekend as we look to the future and the role we want our party to play in creating a hopeful and successful Wales.

It’s been great to see so many old friends, but also to welcome so many new members to our family – croeso.

My Leadership

Conference, it is an honour and a privilege to be delivering my first speech as leader of our party. I feel very humbled and am grateful for your support.

There’s no denying that we’ve had a difficult few years and have a fight ahead of us.

I’ve spent a lot of time since the election visiting local parties, speaking to members, and attending events right across the country

what strikes me is that whilst the wounds of the last few years are still visible, we’re fighting.

Let me be clear –

we may be reduced in numbers in Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, but the Welsh Liberal Democrats haven’t gone anywhere,

we are not going anywhere.

We are a team, working together with a shared mission of putting Welsh Liberal Democrats back at the heart of Welsh politics.

Vision 

But,

we have much to do.

Starting with who we are and what we stand for.

Earlier today we voted to move forward with a project to engage members, the public, frontline staff and experts in setting out a hopeful, optimistic, and aspirational vision for Wales.

A Wales that gives people the opportunity to get up on their feet, and to get on in life.

A Wales that gives us each the freedom, the opportunity, and the security to shape our own destiny,

to take risks, and to achieve our potential.

A Wales that has a strong, resilient, and inclusive economy which harnesses individual potential, creates opportunity, and offers each of us a decent standard of living

A Wales where we celebrate the value of our communities, our diversity, our heritage, our culture and our Welsh Language.

And a Wales that is compassionate and caring– the open and tolerant Wales we know.

To do that we need Welsh Liberal Democrats back at the heart of Welsh politics.

Because Wales needs us.

Challenges facing Wales 

Education

Just look at what we’ve achieved with just one Welsh Liberal Democrat in government.

  • A fair and effective student finance system – the first in Europe to provide equivalent support for part-time and post-graduate learners.
  • Wales’ first ever rural schools strategy
  • Investing more than £350m in helping our children get ahead.
  • Building 20,000 new affordable homes.
  • Improving mental health services in our schools.
  • £40m for a small grants scheme for farmers.

This is real politics.

Meaningful change – creating opportunities for our children and young people.

Kirsty has shown what the Liberal Democrats mean when we talk about everyone having the opportunity to get ahead, and have a fair chance of having a seat at the table.

Thank you, Kirsty.

The challenges facing us in realising our vision of a fair Wales, where people have the opportunity to succeed in life are huge.

Don’t underestimate that – or how much harder it will be to realise that vision in the years ahead.

So I want to spend some time talking about those challenges and our priorities –

Homelessness

Rising homelessness.

Young people, people who have mental health difficulties, users of alcohol and drugs, girls and women who are open to exploitation and sexual abuse.  And over the last 4 years in the UK, at least 230 homeless people have died on our streets.

And as the nasty party in Westminster doggedly pursue deeper cuts in public finances, we see vulnerable people scraping by to survive, without access to public services – with no hope for their future.

Conference, we need to give them that hope. Starting with urgent hostel places with no strings attached.

Give them the hope of owning their own home by building 20,000 new affordable homes across Wales;

Introducing the Rent to Own scheme to make it easier to get on the housing ladder,

or introducing the Housing First model so people feel safer when they fall on hard times.

These are Welsh Lib Dem ideas in action, changing people’s lives.

Work and jobs

Access to well-paid work is crucial to ensuring that we all have the freedom to grasp opportunity, to shape our own destiny, and achieve our potential.

The challenges of technology and a vulnerable economy, makes it even harder to ensure that we can all enjoy work that gives us the opportunity to live fair and free lives.

But we can either embrace the future, or bury our heads in the sand.

We can either be bold, be brave, look at new ideas and harness technology to create an innovative and sustainable economy – or we can shirk our responsibility to future generations.

There are projects quite literally on our doorstep ready to go – if only the Conservative Government had the same aspiration as us.

The Swansea Tidal Lagoon should have been given the go-ahead long ago.

Let’s imagine this.

A network of tidal lagoons in Cardiff,

Newport

and Colwyn Bay

powering our nation, creating well-paid jobs, harnessing our environment and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

For us, conference, it’s a no brainer.

Jobs, a tourist attraction, green energy provision and a badge that says “we are innovative, positive and open for business”.

We’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again –

the Tories cannot be trusted to protect our environment,

to create opportunity for our communities,

and they have abandoned their right to call themselves the party of business.

It is us, the Welsh Liberal Democrats that have the aspiration and drive to create a sustainable economy that creates opportunity for all.

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The human element and the political reality – Vince on Theresa May’s speech

Embed from Getty Images

Well, that speech probably contained everyone’s worst nightmares.

In April this year, just after the election was called, I was one of those recording a podcast made by the excellent Engender Scotland. I ended up having the mother of all coughing fits. Of course, there were half a dozen other wonderful women to hold the fort while I left the room until the spasms subsided.

So I really felt for poor Theresa May today. She was up there on her own at the keynote occasion of the year and the germs took control. I don’t mean Boris and the rest of the Cabinet.

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In Full: Tim Farron’s speech to Conference

All former leaders get a keynote speech at the first Conference after they step down. Tim Farron’s was, as you would expect, loud, funny in parts, optimistic, loyal and ended by giving the party a serious mission.

There was a lot of love in the room for that man.

“I was at Euston the other day and a lady came up to me, half my size but still somehow able to look down her nose at me.

“She said ‘well, I’m not surprised you stepped down! Never trust a man who wears doctor marten shoes!’

“If only we’d known. I’d have worn the boots instead, cherry red with yellow laces up to my knees. And that would be the only thing I’d change.

“I’m not giving up, so this wont be a giving up speech. And I’m not retiring,

“I mean I turned down celebrity Dancing on Ice!

“Because Lembit Opik is a friend. Not a blueprint.

“Look, I’m not going to give you a long list of advice – I’m not Paddy.

“Just one bit of advice really, it’s this:

“If you have joined this party as a fast track to a career in politics, then your careers officer wants sacking.

“This is not the place if you want an easy life. It is the place to be if you want to make a difference.

“31 years ago I joined the Liberals.

“Like the rest of you I chose the tough route in politics, I chose that tough route knowingly.

“Any old mediocrity can join labour or the tories, hold office, be someone for a bit, but do exactly the same as any other careerist would have done.

“But I also know you can only make a difference if you are brave enough to be different.

“When I first got elected, getting lost on the parliamentary estate was pretty much a daily event. Its like going to big school for the first time. One night Greg Mulholland and I were trying to find our way out of parliament, and we got lost, its just possible that we might have had a pint.

“Anyway, we wandered into the house of lords lobby by mistake and Greg whispered to me ‘I think we’re in the wrong place’ to which the policeman on the door responded ‘not in the wrong place sirs, just 30 years too early.

“Which tells you something about how folks see the comfortable trajectory of the career politician.

“Anyhow, about a week later I decided to join year 6 of Dean Gibson Primary School from Kendal on their tour around parliament. Everything I know about what’s where in parliament I got from that guided tour.

“As the tour progressed we ended up again in the House of Lords lobby, and I got distracted by Geoffrey Howe moving rather slowly out of the chamber and into the lobby.

“I don’t mind telling you, I was rather star struck, I mean he was chancellor of the exchequer when I was at school!

“One of the kids saw who I was looking at, and she said ‘who is he?’ and I said ‘that’s Geoffrey Howe, he brought down Margaret Thatcher’ and she said, ‘who’s Margaret Thatcher?’

“Which goes to show that, you know, there is some justice.

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Vince Cable on Lib Dem mission to reduce inequality

For me, the Liberal Democrats have always been about reducing the inequality that poisons our society, that holds people back from opportunities.

We have always talked about it, but perhaps in the last few years the language has been a bit different. I was really chuffed when Vince talked about the need to tackle inequality so explicitly in his leadership manifesto. Today, his first major speech since becoming leader is on this issue and you can watch a clip here.

The full text of the speech is below. It’s thoughtful, serious stuff as you would expect.

Yes, under his leadership we’ll be looking for the exit from Brexit, but our main mission as a party is to do something about this inequality.  That works for me.

Politicians talk at length about fairness and unfairness. Verbal confetti. Bland. Something almost everyone can relate to emotionally. And it can be defined in so many different ways that it can be applied in almost every situation, for about every audience. Inequality narrows the subject down a bit but, again, has a wide range of definitions and meanings.

Putting aside the health warnings and the academic qualifications there is however, in the UK in 2017, something stirring around the idea of inequality: something new and worrying. It starts from the observation, or the belief, that inequalities of income, wealth and opportunity, between classes, regions and generations, are getting worse; that Britain is becoming relatively as well as absolutely unequal when we look at comparable countries, especially in Europe; and that this inequality is not merely offensive to the sensibilities of progressive minded folk but is doing serious damage to the wider society and economy.

Sometimes an event crystallises this feeling. The Grenfell Tower disaster wasn’t just a horrific accident with a large loss of life but illustrates in a graphic way that relatively poor people were not listened to by those in authority and attracted a casual approach to life threatening risk. And close by geographically, but light years away socially and economically, lived London’s super-rich.

What motivates me personally and politically is the way this this new Britain contrasts with the more egalitarian culture and mobile society that I grew up with: parents who progressed in 20 years from being factory workers living in a terraced house with an outside loo to being part of the professional class living in a detached house; from parents who left school at 15 progressing though ‘night school’ to a son at an elite university. There were of course ‘posh’ people in post-war Britain but they were few and largely inconspicuous; and there were poor people on the council estates but they were distant relatives or friends and we played and watched football together. A provincial British city, even today, does not have the jarring contrasts of London; but my sense is that even there, big differences in living standards and opportunities have opened up.

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WATCH: Christine Jardine’s maiden speech

Christine Jardine made her maiden speech this afternoon. The text will follow when it is available.

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WATCH: Layla Moran’s maiden speech

There is a plot afoot for all the newbies to make their maiden speeches during the Queen’s Speech debate. We’ll bring them to you. Here is Layla Moran’s from yesterday. The text is below:

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In full: Tim Farron’s speech to Liberal Democrat Conference

Here is the full text of Tim Farron’s speech to Conference being delivered at the moment:

Liberal Democrats are good at lots of things. But the thing it seems that we’re best at, is confounding expectations.

We were expected to shy away from taking power, but we stepped up and we made a difference.

We were expected to disappear after the 2015 election, but we bounced back, we are almost twice the size we were then, we’ve gained more council seats than every other party in this country put together.

And I’ve being doing a bit of confounding expectations myself. You see, I am a white, northern, working class, middle aged bloke. According to polling experts, I should have voted Leave.

May I assure you that I didn’t.

But mates of mine did. People in my family did. Some of them even admitted it to me. And some of them didn’t. But you told my sister didn’t you, and somehow thought it wouldn’t get back to me. You know who you are.

I have spent most of my adult life, worked and raised a family in Westmorland. I’m proud to call it my home.

But I grew up a few miles south, in Preston in Lancashire.

Preston is where I learnt my values, it’s where I was raised in a loving family where there wasn’t much money around and at a time when, it appeared to me, the Thatcher government seemed utterly determined to put every adult I knew out of work and on the scrapheap.

But our people and our community were not for breaking.

The great city of Preston is a no nonsense place, proud of its history, ambitious about its future.

It is the birthplace of the industrial revolution;

It is the place where Cromwell won the most important battle in the English Civil War. The complacent establishment stuffed by the outsiders.

Which links rather neatly to the referendum. Preston voted 53% to leave. There were some places in Lancashire where two-thirds of people voted out.

And I respect those people.

If you’ll forgive me, they are my people.

And if they’ll forgive me, I’m still utterly convinced that Britain should remain in Europe.

I was on the 23rd June, I am today, I will continue to be.

Not because I’m some starry-eyed pro-European with Ode to Joy as my ring tone – we all know what I have as my ring tone – but because I am a patriot and believe it’s in our national interest to be in.

For more jobs, for lower prices, to fight climate change, to stop terrorism, catch criminals, to have influence, to be a good neighbour, to stand tall, to stand proud, to matter.

And, above all, because I believe that Britain is an open, tolerant and united country – the opposite of the bleak vision of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson.

Britain did not become Great Britain on fear, isolation and division – and there is no country called Little Britain.

There is nothing so dangerous and narrow as nationalism and cheap identity politics.

But there is nothing wrong with identity. I am very proud of mine.

I am a Lancastrian, I am a Northerner, I am English, I am British, I am European. I am all those things, none of them contradict another and no campaign of lies, hate and fear will rob me of who I am.

But we lost didn’t we?

Now – I was born and raised in Preston but the football-mad half of my family is from Blackburn, so I’m a Rovers fan. Defeat and disappointment is in my blood.

So those who say I’m a bad loser are quite wrong.

I am a great loser.

I have had loads of practice.

But the referendum result to me was like a bereavement. I was devastated by it.

We Liberal Democrats worked harder than anyone else in that campaign, we put blood, sweat and tears
into it.

We put the positive case for Europe, while Cameron and Osborne churned out dry statistics, fear mongering and shallow platitudes.

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In Full: Kirsty Williams’ challenge to Welsh universities over Brexit

This week, Kirsty Williams, the Liberal Democrat Welsh Education Secretary, made a speech at Cardiff University about the challenges facing the sector caused by Brexit. She called on universities to strengthen their links to the community at this very difficult time. Here is her speech in full.

Prynhawn da pawb. Good afternoon everyone.

Thank you Colin, and many thanks to colleagues here at Cardiff University for hosting this event today.

It’s great to be here in the Postgraduate Teaching Centre, where professionals from industry and masters students mix and study in the same great location. It is a real state-of –the art facility, one which reflects ambitions to engage strongly with the local and global economy.

One of Cardiff University’s main purposes is to “contribute to the social, cultural and economic development of Wales”. It says so in the university charter (so it must be true…!)

Such civic ambition, in common with our other universities, was the product of a national, political and educational awakening.

As the Aberdare Committee of 1881 noted, there was a “widespread desire for a better education system in Wales” in the second half of the 19th century. The establishment of our own university colleges was central to the fulfilment of that desire.

I know that ambitions for an even better education system in Wales are shared, and demanded, across the country even now. Our national mission is to ensure that all citizens benefit from an equal opportunity to reach the highest standards. I am ambitious, and optimistic, about our collective ability to shape a system that is modern, excellent and innovative.

Universities are critical to that national mission. They should be open and outward-looking, connecting the civic, social and economic.

I want to take the opportunity today to share some thoughts on the role of universities as civic institutions.

  •   The challenge and necessity of civic engagement following the EU referendum;
  •   The role of universities as stewards of community, city and country;
  •   And the importance of innovation, a start-up culture and international links.

    Just before I move on, I’d like to congratulate the sector in Wales for achieving it’s highest-ever student satisfaction level in the National Student Survey last month – outperforming England in fact.

    Although we don’t take the narrow view of students as just a set of consumers, delivering the best possible student experience is a fundamental priority.

    BREXIT NEXT STEPS

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Farron: We must not let racists hijack the referendum result

As the Cabinet gathers rather awkwardly at Chequers to discuss the implementation of Brexit, Tim Farron makes a keynote speech to the Institute of Public Policy Research in Manchester this morning.

It will be interesting to see if and how he tackles the question of the Open Britain organisation, much discussed on here in the last couple of days.

The advance extracts of his speech concentrate on the need to do something about the increase in hatred and open racism since the referendum and he again emphasises that the Liberal Democrats will stand up for those EU citizens already living here.

He also addresses the real concerns and disadvantages faced by many of those who voted to leave the EU.

Here’s what he is going to say on these topics:

Divided

We, the political classes, have left a country bitterly divided as a result.

Between parents and children, families, neighbours.

Between the nations of our own union, who have worked and fought together for centuries.

Between us and our continental neighbours.

And now the biggest danger of them all.

That because of those divisions, we are in danger of letting malevolent forces hijack the result.

Plenty of my mates voted leave and I can tell you that the majority of those who did vote leave are utterly appalled that Farage, Le Pen and their ilk now seek to claim the result as a victory for their hateful brand of intolerance, racism and insularity.  Britain is better than that.

But I’m not so blinded by those emotions that I don’t see the new divisions that are opening up between us.

New political boundaries which chop the old certainties of Tory and Labour into little pieces.

Because there’s a new battle emerging.

Between the forces of tolerant liberalism and intolerant, closed-minded nationalism.

And, of course, you know that, as leader of the Liberal Democrats, which side I’m on.

To EU citizens

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In full: Baroness Margaret Sharp’s valedictory Lords speech – on relationship between poor education and poverty

Margaret SharpAs Mark told us yesterday, Margaret Sharp has retired form her position as a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords. Yesterday she made her valedictory speech in a debate on poverty. She emphasised the importance of improving education, making the curriculum more vocationally orientated, as a tool to get people out of poverty. Here is her speech in full:

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Bird, for initiating what has proved to be a very timely debate, given the commitment made by our new Prime Minister yesterday evening. I applaud the work the noble Lord has been doing over such a long time with the Big Issue and with fighting poverty. I congratulate him on his determination to use his time in this Chamber to continue that fight

As noble Lords are aware, this is my last speech in this Chamber. I was introduced in October 1998, so I have served nearly 18 years and, as many noble Lords know, I am leaving because my husband has just celebrated his 85th birthday and I want to spend more time doing things with him: going to plays and concerts, travelling, seeing friends, reading books—not papers—and even perhaps watching television more often. In saying farewell, I want to say what a privilege it has been to be a Member of this Chamber over this time and how much I have valued the companionship and intellectual stimulus that it has given me. I would like to add a special note of thanks to the staff of the House: the clerks, many of whom I have got to know through work on Select Committees; the officers under Black Rod who are for ever helpful, patient and courteous; and the catering staff who have looked after me and my guests so well over the years. Thank you very much.

The subject of today’s debate is to take note of the causes of poverty. I have spent much of my time in this Chamber on issues of education, being a Front-Bench spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats between 2000 and 2010 and pursuing in particular the cause of part-time, further and adult education. It therefore seems appropriate that I should say a few words about education, or perhaps more importantly the lack of education, as a cause of poverty. This becomes increasingly relevant in this world of globalisation, where we observe a growing dichotomy between the well-qualified who hold down professional and managerial jobs and those with low or no educational qualifications who move in and out of low-paid jobs, often on zero-hours contracts and earning the minimum wage. Many call it the “hour- glass economy” and it helps to explain the phenomenon we see these days of poverty among those who are fully employed. As I think two other speakers have mentioned—the noble Baroness, Lady Warwick, certainly raised it—it is reckoned that 20% of UK full-time employees are in low-paid jobs and 1.5 million children live in families with working parents who do not earn enough to provide for their basic needs.

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1000 new members join Lib Dems as Farron says “We will keep the vision of an open, optimistic, hopeful Britain alive”

So I still haven’t gone to bed yet. I feel just about alive. There seems little point in sleeping now as I need to get up at 4:30 tomorrow morning to catch a flight to London for Federal Executive where we have a whole day of constitutional amendments ahead of us. I suspect we may mention the Referendum result as well. Just a bit.

“I’m for the 16 million, the 48%” said Tim Farron in a speech on the referendum result. By 1pm,1000 people had joined the party, reminiscent of the surge last year.

Tim’s speech was heartfelt and hopeful. He was furious about the way the campaign had been fought, so divisive and deceitful. He understood the concerns of those disengaged people who had voted for Leave but he also empathised with young people, who had voted for Remain in huge numbers but “whose future had been taken away by older generations” who had enjoyed the benefits of greater European integration.

He also announced that 1000 new members had joined the Lib Dems today.

You can watch the speech here on the party’s Facebook page. It darned well made me cry. Up until seeing it, I had been shocked. This tugged at the heartstrings. .

I am devastated and I am angry. Today we woke to a deeply divided country.

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Paddy: Pooling sovereignty with our friends does not diminish our sovereignty, it increases it

Yesterday, Paddy Ashdown made a speech about Britain’s place in the world. You can watch it here. He tells a story at the very end, that’s quite chilling, about the hideously barbaric human rights abuses in the Balkans and his first meeting with war criminal Radovan Karadzic.

Here’s the text:

A senior German Minister said to me the other day “Whenever I sit down in a room to negotiate with my British colleagues in a European meeting, their first question is always the same – which way to the Exit? You Brits spend so much time trying to find the way out, that you never have the time to build the alliances which are there to be built, to succeed. But now I realise, you would rather go, then win.”

Exactly so!

Canning and Castlereagh would be spinning in their graves.

A couple of weeks ago, I heard Liam Fox on Newsnight go one further. I think I quote him precisely, for I wrote it down at the time: “If we leave, we will bring the EU to its senses”.

Leaving aside the unreality of that statement – as though, the morning after a Brexit vote, millions of European citizens would sit up startled in their beds and say to themselves “Oh heavens! the Brits have left. Now we must come to our senses”.

Leaving aside, the age-old British arrogance about our place in Europe, which lies behind that statement.

Leaving aside also what it tells us of the attitude of senior Brexiteer Tories in this Government, to negotiations with their European partners.

Leaving all these things aside, as an expression of the isolationist mind set of the Brexiteers Dr Fox’s belief that “if we leave the Europeans will come to their senses” must rank alongside the famous Times headline – “fog in Channel, Continent isolated” -.

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WATCH: In full: Tim Farron on the Queen’s Speech

Here is Tim Farron’s speech in full from the Queen’s Speech debate. He cracks some pretty decent jokes, maybe a couple that aren’t quite as funny, and sets out what we would have done differently.

He also took time to pay tribute to David Rendel.

The text follows.

Mr Speaker, may I first start by commending the Honourable Member for Meriden and the Honourable Member for Bracknell for the grace and humour with which they moved and seconded the humble address.

These occasions often show the House at its best and its worst and I think we would all agree that their speeches were examples of the former.

And as the Prime Minister did, may I pay tribute to Harry Harpham and Michael Meacher whose contributions here will be missed.

Can I also take this opportunity to remember my former colleague, David Rendel, who died just this week, and whose by-election victory was transformational to the fortunes of our party.

Those of us who knew him will remember his phenomenal hard work and absolute commitment to the people of Newbury that continued long after he ceased to be the Member of Parliament. He will be sadly missed by many of us.

Spaceport
Mr Speaker, may I start by saying I was most excited to learn that the Modern Transport Bill will enable the development of the UK’s first commercial spaceports, just like Mos Eisley, the spaceport in Star Wars.

I don’t know what inspired the Prime Minister to invest in something that Obi Wan Kenobi said was ‘no greater hive of scum and villainy’… But I’m sure it was definitely… probably… nothing to do with the emergence of the Leave Campaign whatsoever.

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A year ago…the start of #libdemfightback

We’ve seen some small but important signs of recovery this weekend. Sadly, some members of our Liberal Democrat family, particularly in Wales and London, are enduring the same heartbreak we faced together a year ago.

I don’t want to get into lengthy descriptions of how bloody awful this day was a year ago. If you really want to put yourself through it, you can read the whole tale of woe of the election results as they happened here.

It was later in the morning, though, that Nick Clegg made his amazingly powerful resignation statement. “We cannot and will not allow decent liberal values to be extinguished overnight. Our party will come back.”

The text is below:

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In full: Tim Farron’s speech to Scottish Liberal Democrat Democrat Conference

Here is Tim Farron’s speech to Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference:

It is only a couple of weeks since I was out on the doorstep with Alex Cole Hamilton in Edinburgh West. I have to tell you, Alex has got some serious staying power. Not even his trip to A+E after he was attacked by the Hound of the Baskervilles, well a dog in Corstorphine, could stop him getting out on the stump that same evening with me.

We returned to the office after a night out on the doorsteps, for a pizza and politics event… which was great, although whilst I was doing the politics, everyone else ate all the pizza. So, I’m not staying over this time, I’m getting the last train home. I’m not risking falling victim to a repeat of the Edinburgh vegetarian pizza crisis. Those SNP cuts are hitting hard!

But our team in Edinburgh West had earned their pizzas… because they are making an incredible effort and Alex embodies the Liberal spirit for which we are the only standard bearers in Scotland. And it is clearly paying dividends.

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In Full: Willie Rennie’s speech to Scottish Conference: We stand with the weak against the strong, and will use the power of government to tackle the social and economic injustices that limit freedom.

Willie Rennie must have been reading Lib Dem Voice because he opened his speech by quoting from Becca’s blog which we featured 10 days ago. He got in touch with her and she gave him permission to share her story.

He argued that it was time to see major investment in mental health and for it to be given party with physical health.

He also set out what the party would do with the £475 million generated for nurseries, schools, colleges and a pupil premium.

I want to talk to you about a new member of our party.

Becca Plenderleith.  She is a bright, intelligent and brave young woman.  We are fortunate to call her a fellow Liberal Democrat. She has given me permission to tell you this story.

What she did was something simple.  She told her story.  She wrote about her experience of the health service.

Only a few years ago she was suffering from depression and following a break up from her boyfriend she considered suicide.

What happened next is something that must be condemned to the past.
She was told by a doctor at accident and emergency that she was a drain on the NHS.

No support, no treatment, just a lecture.

But Becca is making a difference.  Making a difference by speaking out.

And the response is encouraging.

Every time I now mention mental health on a public platform the silent nods around the room fill me with hope.

Hope that the stigma is fading, hope that there is a growing demand for change, hope that this will lead to the unstoppable change to our NHS so that mental health is given the equal support it deserves.

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Tim Farron’s speech to Welsh Liberal Democrat Conference

Tim had already been in Cardiff once last week, campaigning with AM Eluned Parrott in Cardiff, and he was back yesterday. After he left, he went to East Dunbartonshire before returning home to Cumbria. You can’t accuse him of not putting the work in. He’s certainly setting a good example.

Here is his speech in full. He encompassed many of the themes around community and public services that had been much mentioned, but also spoke about flooding, climate change and Europe.

He also had a big plea to activists – get out on the doors again, because “where we work we win” is working again.

Enjoy.

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Kirsty Williams’ speech to Welsh Conference: Community, better public services and a new initiative to Ask Wales

Below is Kirsty Williams’ keynote speech to Welsh Liberal Democrat Conference. It’s a good read,

Dream

Conference: ‘I had a dream’

Okay… you may have heard that one before, but as we head into our 5th set of elections since the start of the Assembly, I think back to the time it was first established

I was excited. Enthusiastic. Full of hope.

We had a dream.

Liberals had been fighting for Home Rule for over a hundred years. This was our chance.

You know, I made my first media appearance during the run up to the ’97 referendum.  I had the midnight shift – being interrogated by Andrew Neil.

Sure, I was nervous, of course I was.

I couldn’t quite believe I was sitting next to these professional politicians, who I’d only ever seen on the telly.

But what overrode my nerves was excitement.

We were on the cusp of achieving all that we had hoped for

We’d campaigned for over 100 years for this moment. For Welsh devolution. To bring power closer to the people.

Nearly two decades later, and ask yourself – has that happened?

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Elizabeth Evans’ speech to Friday night Conference rally

Liz EvansWay back in 2011, Mark Cole wrote for this site about his wonderful local candidate for Ceredigion, Elizabeth Evans:

So she knows her stuff does our Elizabeth and she’s taking her passion for her home county out onto the doorsteps. Her concerns for our local health service are chiming with the fears and worries of local residents – it being the biggest concern the length and breath of the county. The packed public meeting held in Aberystwyth only last week regarding the future of healthcare provision in Bronglais Hospital proved testament to that. Elizabeth has a particular empathy with these concerns because as a past-chair of Mencap Ceredigion, she has an interest that is reflected in her current campaign to secure local facilities for elderly patients suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Last night, I met her for the first time when she spoke at the rally. She spoke with such clarity and passion and concern for her community. She’s smart, caring, strong and funny and she’d be a fab AM.

Here is her speech in full:

Fellow Liberal Democrats. I wish I knew then what I know now!

I’m going to take you back to 2011.

I was the candidate in Ceredigion and the Liberal Democrats were a year into the Westminster coalition. Yet it felt like a Westminster election – of course Plaid and Labour wanted it that way. They behaved as if they truly had the moral high ground, preaching the politics of betrayal and blame. The Liberal Democrats in coalition had let everyone down. Really? Well look at the government we have now!

In 2011 Plaid said they wouldn’t close schools, wouldn’t close libraries, and they certainly wouldn’t close residential homes. Well they’ve done all that running Ceredigion County Council!  Plaid made so many manifesto promises they knew they couldn’t keep and they’ve broken just about all of them. We broke one.

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Lib Dem Lords’ maiden speeches: Alan Beith on the National Lottery

EuroMillions ticketsThis week, we are catching up with our new Lib Dem peers’ maiden speeches. Today, it’s Alan Beith on the National Lottery.

The noble Lord, Lord Holmes of Richmond, was very kind and generous in his references to me and to the circumstances of my election, 42 years ago. It was with a majority of only 57 votes. I never imagined that I would manage such a long political survival, still less that I would find myself in this haven of political survival, the House of Lords. But I believe in the need for a Second Chamber and it will be an honour to serve in it, just as it was an honour to represent in the other House the beautiful Berwick-upon-Tweed constituency, covering 1,000 square miles of Northumberland.

I am very grateful for the warm and friendly welcome I have received in this House from noble Lords and the very helpful staff. I am delighted to renew so many friendships with those on all sides of this Chamber whom I have worked with, taken evidence from or contended with in years gone by. As I seek to follow the slightly different ways of doing things at this end of the building, I have been allocated a widely respected mentor and guide who knows exactly how to keep me in order: the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, has been doing that ever since I married her.

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Lib Dem Lords’ maiden speeches: Sharon Bowles on the importance of proper scrutiny

This week, we’re featuring the maiden speeches of our newest Lib Dem lords. This one is still warm from the press. Sharon Bowles only made it on Wednesday.  As part of the Strathclyde Review, she drew on her experience in the European Parliament when it came to dealing with secondary legislation:

My Lords, I rise for the first time, deeply conscious of the honour that it is to serve in your Lordships’ House. I am grateful for the kind way in which noble Lords have received me, for the friendliness of all staff and for the elegant and discreet way in which the attendants and doorkeepers have steered me from uncertain manoeuvres. I thank the noble Lords who introduced me, my noble friends Lord McNally and Lady Falkner of Margravine, and all those who have enriched my life and learning, without whom I would not be here.

I hope to contribute to various deliberations drawing upon my experience from both strands of my career. The first strand was that of scientist, engineer and patent attorney for over 25 years, running a professional business and immersed in leading-edge technology. The second strand was nine years in the European Parliament, culminating in five years as chair of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, facing a vast and profound agenda due to the financial and eurozone crisis.

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Lib Dem Lords’ maiden speeches: Lynne Featherstone on the commonwealth, LGBT rights and international development

This week, we’re catching up on Lib Dem Lords’ maiden speeches. Today, it’s Lynne Featherstone who spoke following the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. “From wild child to the heart of the British establishment”, she says:

My Lords, I am so very honoured to be here and to have a continuing platform from which to pursue the political passions of my life. But first I thank noble Lords across the House for the warmest of welcomes. I have been utterly charmed and beguiled by the doorkeepers, Black Rod’s Office and the police, all of whom I thank for their kindness and courtesy, and not infrequent rescue from a wrong turn. I am delighted to make my maiden speech on the recent Commonwealth meeting, and I thank the noble Lord, Lord Luce, for bringing forward this opportunity to me.

The Heads of Government emphasised the need to protect individuals from all forms of violence and discrimination. Violence and discrimination abound across the world. From the almost two women a week here in the United Kingdom who are killed by their partners or former partners, as you go across the world it just gets worse: acid attacks, female foeticide, breast ironing and rape as a weapon of war. I have raised these issues at the very highest levels in countries where women have no rights and in those where there are laws, but no implementation. However, there is nothing more totemic to illustrate the lack of women’s power in this world than female genital mutilation. I am proud to have introduced and spearheaded the campaign in the coalition Government to address FGM both here and abroad.

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Lib Dem Lords’ maiden speeches: Don Foster on health

This week, we are catching up on Lib Dem Lords’ maiden speeches.Today, we have Don Foster on health.

My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Crisp. I am grateful for this opportunity to make my maiden speech and, of course, for the privilege of joining your Lordships’ House. I hope I will be able to make a useful contribution.

I am also grateful for the generous welcome I have received from all sides of the House, and for the patient support and help from noble Lords—not least my noble friend Lady Walmsley—and from the attendants, doorkeepers, catering staff and all the excellent and courteous parliamentary staff as I struggle to find my feet and my way round this end of the building. I am especially grateful for the advice, “If lost, look for the blue carpet”.

I rise with a sense of trepidation similar to that which I felt when, 23 years ago, I rose to make my maiden speech in the other place, and, in 2010, when I seconded the Loyal Address following the formation of the coalition Government. That was a particularly difficult speech for a then 63 year-old to make, since the tradition is that that role is usually given to a “young, rising star”. I felt trepidation also when, as a junior Minister, I stood at the Dispatch Box to answer questions for the first time: a noisy and acrimonious event, full of the yah-boo which plagues the other place. They could learn a great deal from the courtesy and civility of your Lordships’ House.

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Lib Dem Lords’ maiden speeches: Shas Sheehan on the dangers of climate change

We’re catching up this week on Lib Dem Lords’ maiden speeches. Here is Shas Sheehan speaking in the debate after the conclusion of the Paris climate talks.

My Lords, it is indeed a great honour and privilege to be asked to serve in your Lordships’ House. It is a task that I do not undertake lightly and is one that I intend to fulfil with diligence to the best of my ability. Special thanks are due to my noble friends Lady Barker and Lady Kramer for their welcome support on the day of my introduction to this place. Perhaps I may also take this opportunity to thank noble Lords from all sides for their kind words of welcome.

As a young university student, I and some friends worked and travelled our way across America. One night in Chicago, we lost the car. To this day, I do not believe that my husband appreciates the importance of his unerring sense of direction to our enduring relationship. So, as one who can lose her way in a one-way street, noble Lords will appreciate the sincerity in my words of thanks to all the staff of your Lordships’ House, the clerks, doorkeepers, restaurant and security staff, who have all been so unfailingly kind in redirecting me on numerous occasions.

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