Tag Archives: speeches

WATCH: Jane Dodds’ speech to Scottish and Welsh Conference

Jane Dodds addressed Scottish and Welsh conference yesterday. She said that the Lib Dems were opposed to Labour’s failure to tackle poverty and the Conservatives’ Universal Credit costs.

She praised Kirsty Williams, highlighting international recognition of her work as Education Secretary.

She accused the Conservative Government of suffocating the Welsh economy which is lagging behind with lower productivity, lower incomes and greater poverty. She blames Boris Johnson directly for the lorry driver shortage and says that those who are poorest will suffer most from his Brexit.

And she has some gorgeous flowers in the background. Enjoy! The full text is below:

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WATCH: Alex Cole-Hamilton’s first leader’s speech to Scottish Conference

Full of ideas, passion, sincerity – watch Alex Cole Hamilton’s first leader’s speech to Scottish  Conference:

He delivered it from his home to the online event.

There were a few more policy initiatives – a commission on a just economy led by Jeremy Purvis to report to next year’s Autumn Conference:

If that great liberal William Beveridge could see us now, he would think his transformational work at the end of the war had been for nothing. We are the inheritors of his legacy and we need to do something about it. That is why I am today announcing a Commission for a Just Economy, to re set our liberal vision for Scotland. This will be chaired by Jeremy Purvis and will present recommendations to our conference in a year’s time. This will be rooted in liberal values, like social justice, sustainability and above all human rights.

A railcard with a 50% discount to encourage people back on to public transport and a package of measures to tackle the climate emergency:
Dramatic cuts in rail prices to encourage rail usage.
Ripping up the SNP’s signed agreement with Heathrow airport
Using powers over air passenger duty to tackle people who fly more and fly further.

He also talked about his supported for Liam McArthur’s bill to introduce assisted dying:

if there is a movement in the political firmament that exists to safeguard human rights, then it is ours. But we live in country where legislation guarantees rights that cover every aspect of your life, apart from one and that is your departure from it. Too many Scots are denied a good death, wracked by pain and indignity.

I want to know that if I am terminally ill and in agony beyond the reach of palliative care that I could say “this far and no further” and be supported to end that suffering in comfort and dignity.

I am so proud that my good friend and colleague, Liam McArthur is stewarding the Assisted Dying Bill though parliament in his name. A Liberal parliamentarian, who may finally allow Scotland to join the ranks of other progressive nations that already offer their citizens this final act of compassion.

Some of you may disagree with me. And you know what, that’s fine. I only ask that if we disagree on this or on other things, that we disagree well. Because one of the things that I love about our party is its plurality.

He argued that the SNP’s proposed National Care Service is a really bad idea – you need to increase wages and improve conditions for workers instead:

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Conference best bits: Fraser Graham on our party’s values

Edinburgh South Chair Fraser Graham delivered this cracker of a speech in the debate on What Liberal Democrats believe on Sunday morning. Where are the limits of free speech and how should our party deal with the boundaries?

Conference, I joined this party in 2016 because of one issue – Brexit. The reason I am still here is because of the values and principles our party upholds.

This speech is somewhat of a paradox. It should be completely unnecessary, because I’d take it entirely for granted that any true liberal would have no objection to the values put before you, either in the paper, the motion or the amendment.

But in this current climate, where members of the LGBT+ community, MY community, are facing almost constant daily attack through the media, on twitter and even here, at conference, we NEED to be bold, and firmly plant our flag as a party that is standing up for the rights of those we need to support and protect.

On Liberty, the paper states “We embrace freedom of thought and speech, and argue for stronger protection against those who abuse free speech, use it to promote division and hatred, or spread falsehoods and ‘fake news’.”

This is crucial. Free speech is not freedom to discriminate without consequence. It’s not freedom to be given a platform to espouse views which are actively harmful, or freedom to hound people on social media to the point of taking their own life. We need to be clear on this and push back against those who demand to be able to say whatever racist, transphobic, homophobic or ableist claptrap they desire without fear of consequence.

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Jane Dodds’ speech to Federal Conference

Welsh Lib Dem leader Jane Dodds gave her first speech to Federal Conferece since she was elected as a Member of the Senedd for Mid and West Wales in May.

Here is the text in full:

I want to take you back to May 1999, and the first-ever elections to the then Welsh Assembly.

Almost 600 years after the first Welsh Parliament was established in June 1404, the people of Wales once again had its own national democratic institution.

Wales was entering a new dawn – an opportunity to meaningfully hand power to people, to communities, away from the corridors of power.

It was an opportunity to cast off the dust and to set about creating our own destiny here in Wales.

Our job here in Wales is made all the more difficult by Conservatives in Westminster and their assault on devolution and our national parliament.

But that quiet earthquake in 1999 has passed many people in Wales by. 22 years on and that radical, reforming streak that ushered in a new era has, in too many ways, been replaced by a steady incrementalism, slow to move when the world is hurtling on.

Now, granted, even after 1999 Wales operated with two hands tied behind its back and we don’t yet have all the tools we need to shape a fairer, greener, more liberal Wales. And our job here in Wales is made all the more difficult by Conservatives in Westminster and their assault on devolution and our national parliament.

It is our job, as liberals, and my job as the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, to make the case for a new relationship between people and parliament and between the nations of the United Kingdom.

We need to rediscover our radical, progressive voice and offer new and inspiring ideas – and we have work to do.

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WATCH: Alex Cole-Hamilton’s speech to #ldconf offering #newhope

: Yesterday, Alex-Cole-Hamilton gave his first speech as Scottish Leader to Conference. It was delayed, despite being pre-recorded. Some technical hitch meant that we had to vote to allow the agenda to change so they could sort it out.

Watch here:

Filmed outside Holyrood in the sunshine, he paid tribute to his predecessor Willie Rennie and other Scottish Liberal legends Jim Wallace, Jo Swinson and Charles Kennedy.

He talked about how the party under him will offer new hope to a Scotland whose public services were struggling due to SNP neglect even before the pandemic.

“We are a people trapped between flags” he said of the SNP’s Scottish Nationalism and Boris Johnson’s Brexit nationalism.

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WATCH: Ed Davey’s speech in full

WATEd Davey has just spoken to Federal Conference. He had a specially invited live audience of around 100 people at a venue in Canary Wharf.

Here is the text in full:

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Paul McGarry talks of his “chaotic” youth in debate on support for care leavers #ldconf

Earlier today, Conference passed a motion calling for better support for care leavers up until the age of 25.

During the debate, Scottish Lib Dem Housing spokesperson Paul McGarry talked about why the measures outlined in the motion were so important and would have helped him. He describes the terrifying experience of being homeless at 16 after a “chaotic” childhood.

He has kindly sent us his speech so that readers can understand the reality our young people have to go through.

Conference I am one of a small group within our party with a lived experience and today I want to speak specifically about my experience, and how it relates to the importance of resolution 4.

Too many children are experiencing turmoil in their day-to-day existence, dealing with parents who have addictions, their parents broken relations, physical, emotional and sexual abuse within the home.

My own experience was a childhood that was disrupted and chaotic and a constant fear that we might be taken into care. We received support and my mum received support, we had neighbours and people in the community helping us, in fact my first contact with the Lib Dems was when we stayed with a Lib Dem MP and his wife, when my mum was particularly unwell.

Life was chaotic but I mostly was not permanently in the care system though my brother was.

This came to a head and at 16 I was homeless, homeless and terrified.

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40 years on from Steel’s “Go back to your constituencies and prepare for Government” speech

1981 was the year when, at the age of 14, I went full throttle into supporting the SDP/Liberal Alliance. Shirley Williams was my absolute hero and will always stay that way. But I will never forget the sense of hope instilled by David Steel in his leader’s speech, especially that optimistic crescendo at the end when he instructed the assembled activists: Go back to your constituencies and prepare for Government.

We had to wait a long time for national government. It was nearly 18 years before Jim Wallace took the Scottish Liberal Democrats into a successfully transformative coalition at Holyrood which introduced, over 8 years, free personal care, free eye and dental checks, much needed land reform and STV for local government among other things.

It was 29 years before the coalition with the Conservatives at Westminster provided some stability for the country at a time of crisis but sent our electoral fortunes plummetting.

However, we did start making big gains in local elections and winning councils a lot quicker, so in a way he was right that we were ready for power. And we should never dismiss the difference that councillors, in charge of schools, housing, roads and bins, can make to people’s daily lives.

Steel’s speech from 40 years ago is online on the British Political Speeches website.

Here are some highlights:

On the newly formed Alliance – and some advice to the SDP – don’t just let anyone in:

It was inevitable that this 1981 Liberal Assembly should be dominated both by public debate and private discussion of our Alliance. This town used to be part of Lloyd George’s constituency. Two years before the great Liberal landslide of 1906, the years which introduced the People’s Budget, the old age pension, unemployment benefit, and the curbing of the powers of the hereditary Lords over the elected Commons, he gave advice which seems just as appropriate today two years or so before the next election.

We have arrived at one of the most important stages in the history of the Liberal Party. I believe the future of this country largely depends upon the foresight, conviction, courage and devotion to principle of the Liberal Party during the coming years.

Our debates have carried conviction, courage, principle and foresight in full measure in these last few days. The task of putting together our Alliance on the ground throughout the country is not going to be an easy one. We must secure a reasonable balance in our deployment of forces in every area. It will be immensely complicated. It will call for a high degree of vision, of trust and of forbearance both by our party and by the SDP.

It will require trust between our two parties. The members of the SDP who have been here this week have been greatly impressed in their first close contact with the Liberal Party. They have also enjoyed the warmth of their welcome, and we were right to treat them kindly since they’ve come from a broken home – the Labour Party. I hope they won’t mind if I give them one piece of advice: as the ship of the Labour Party sinks, be careful and be discriminating about who you let clamber on board ours. Ours is a ship on a voyage of adventure. Don’t let it become a lifeboat for those whose only real interest is saving their parliamentary or council skins.

It will also require trust within our party. I want to thank you for the very considerable trust you have shown me in what I realise must at times have been a tortuous and anxious period. Now it is my turn to trust you as you proceed to give effect to our Alliance throughout the country. And I do trust you to make a success of it.

What we would do in Government? Some themes there which are similar to what we are saying today about supporting small businesses, not wasting our natural resources and investment in infrastructure:

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ICYMI: Sarah Green’s maiden speech

Here, in case you missed it, is our newest MP, Sarah Green’s maiden speech from Tuesday of this week.

A wonderful sight for those of us who helped get Sarah Green elected as MP for Chesham and Amersham. A short while ago, she made her maiden speech. It was warm, generous, gracious and funny. She paid a lovely tribute to her predecessor Dame Cheryl Gillan, talked about her beautiful constituency with huge affection and got in a criticism of HS2, a description of the roads as an assault course for drivers and a takedown of the Government for its absurd plans for voter ID.

And here it is in full, thanks to the magic of me asking her office for a copy:

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Sarah Green makes her maiden speech

A wonderful sight for those of us who helped get Sarah Green elected as MP for Chesham and Amersham. A short while ago, she made her maiden speech. It was warm, generous, gracious and funny. She paid a lovely tribute to her predecessor Dame Cheryl Gillan, talked about her beautiful constituency with huge affection and got in a criticism of HS2, a description of the roads as an assault course for drivers and a takedown of the Government for its absurd plans for voter ID.

And here it is in full, thanks to the magic of me asking her office for a copy:

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Kevin Lang: Council elections are the key to winning again

This weekend we are running all the speeches from Alex Cole-Hamilton’s rally on Friday after he was declared Scottish Lib Dem leader. Next up is his best friend and the architect of Alex’s, Christine Jardine’s and Wendy Chamberlain’s successful election campaigns. From his speech you get quite an insight into their relationship and into Alex as a person.

Alex may have the biggest vote of any MSP, but Kevin gained the highest number of first preferences of any councillor in Scotland. This man knows how to win elections and he’s on a mission to make sure we win as many council seats as possible next year.

So, about 10 days ago I got ap hone call from ACH. Now this is not an infrequent event but it was a conversation like we’ve never had before.

“Kevin, ” he said, if I’m fortunate enough to be chosen as party leader on 20th August, it would mean the world to be if you would come and speak at the announcement of the result. Can you do it?”

And I said to him, of course, you are my best friend. Of course I  want to be there for you. But tell me, what is the format going to be? Who are the speakers?  What role do you want me to have.

And then with all of the classic understatement that we associate with Alex Cole-Hamilton, he said:

“Well, Kevin, Jack Norquoy is going to be speaking. And this is going to be Jack’s Obama moment. Remember when Obama spoke for the first time at the Democratic National Convention, well this is Jack’s Obama moment.

I said, this is exciting. What role do you want me to have?

And he paused: Well, he said, do you remember when Pete Buttigieg rolled out his old high school classmates, that’s you.

Right, so Jack’s Obama and I’m  Pete Buttigieg’s high school classmates. If ever anything told me that I was the future once, it was that.

But here’s the truth. I have known Alex for 20 years. I know him about as well as anybody. And I can tell you with. You will struggle to find a more decent person and you will struggle to find a truer liberal than him. So for the last 20 years I have been proud to call him my best friend but today I am proud to call him my party leader.

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Wendy Chamberlain: Lib Dems stand for people politics, not grievance politics

This weekend, we’re publishing all the speeches from Alex Cole-Hamilton’s launch event. Here’s Wendy Chamberlain MP talking about

I am so excited to be here with you all today, because today is a new beginning with a new generation of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, exemplified by Jack Norquoy, and under our new leader Alex Cole-Hamilton.

I’ve been a member of this party for only six years. I always joke that I joined crying at Nick Clegg on the Telly in the aftermath of the General Election result of 2015.

That was the start of my journey. If you had told me that I would be an MP for the party within 5 years of joining, I would have laughed very loudly. But this is what this party does, it welcomes with open arms.

Having served in the police until 2011, I could have joined the party then – after all Scottish Liberal Democrats had always had my vote. Watching Nick Clegg, and hearing the core liberal values he espoused, it hit me.

Scotland couldn’t afford to lose those values, or the opportunity to vote for representatives who held them. And that the Scottish Liberal Democrats needed more than my vote, they needed me and others to get involved.

Autumn 2015 – I find myself making my first contribution at a party conference: introducing my now dear friend, Willie Rennie, as he made his then Leader’s speech. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be standing here as North East Fife’s representative in Westminster, and our party wouldn’t be where it was today as it now looks forward beyond the last decade with Willie at the helm.

Across Scotland, where we have representation whether at Council, Holyrood and Westminster, people see the benefit of having a Scottish Liberal Democrat representative. We work hard to get elected – knocking doors all year round, on the phones checking in on the vulnerable during the early stages of the pandemic, delivering leaflets to get our message across as we need to as a smaller party.

Because without those hard-working community campaigners – people like Alex, people like Willie – we can never deliver that change that we want to see in Scotland.

Liberal Democrats need the people of Scotland. And the people of Scotland need Liberal Democrats.

I know we sometimes feel we might be small – but when we work together, we are can be a mighty force.

I saw that in my first campaign, in 2016 – helping get Willie elected in North East Fife; and seeing Alex elected here.

You saw it just a couple of months ago – in Chesham and Amersham where the Liberal Democrats took out a chunk of the Tory Blue Wall. No other party is placed to do that.

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Ed Davey slams “illiberal, catastrophic, sickeningly cruel” Queen’s Speech

Ed Davey condemned many of the measures outlined in the Queen’s Speech yesterday, particularly the measures to make it harder for people to seek asylum in the UK – “sickeningly cruel” he called it.

He slammed the Government for failing to bring forward proposals on social care again.

He also described the voter suppression measures as being straight out of the Donald Trump playbook “the actions of despots.”

He did not hold back.

Enjoy.

The Queen’s Speech comes at a time like no other—after a year in which so many families have suffered the tragic loss of a loved one, when we have all experienced isolation from friends and family, and when so many have lost businesses, jobs and hard-earned savings. That is why we are all so grateful to the scientists, NHS staff, care workers and community volunteers who have delivered the vaccine roll-out and given us all hope. We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.

Before I move on to the Gracious Speech, let me join in the tributes to the people this Parliament has lost in the past year. I shall focus on two remarkable women. The first is our friend Dame Cheryl Gillan, who sadly passed away last month. She was a truly dedicated public servant, warm, friendly, and liked and respected in all parts of the House. My thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time.

The second is Shirley—Shirley Williams. The Liberal Democrat family are not alone in mourning the loss of Shirley. Shirley was a giant of British politics for over half a century. She combined a remarkable intellect and a wholehearted compassion with fierce determination like no one else I have known. Shirley was at once a wonderful human being and an unstoppable force of nature. We already miss her wise counsel, forceful arguments and boundless energy.

I pay tribute to the hon. Members for North West Cambridgeshire (Shailesh Vara) and for South Ribble (Katherine Fletcher). The proposer’s speech was mostly excellent, although I was slightly disappointed by two omissions. First, the hon. Gentleman omitted to tell the House how the Liberal Democrats have removed the Conservatives from power in his county of Cambridgeshire. Secondly, he was a distinguished Northern Ireland Minister, resigning on principle against the withdrawal agreement negotiated by the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May). He argued—I quote his resignation letter—that her withdrawal agreement would mean Northern Ireland being

“subject to a different relationship with the EU from the rest of the UK”.

I was hoping to hear an analysis of how the EU trade deal and the Brexit deal was impacting Northern Ireland, because he voted for that despite the fact that its impact on Northern Ireland is worse than that of the withdrawal agreement.

The speech by the hon. Member for South Ribble was entertaining, but, given her stated passion for a beer, I wish she had told us more about her time as a biology student at the University of Nottingham—my hometown, where there is a great night-time economy, which I am sure she enjoyed. Wikipedia tells us that during her student days she worked as a nursing assistant in an elderly care home, so I hope we can look forward to her support as Liberal Democrats press the Government to deliver on their promises on long-delayed social care reform.

The Government’s programme needed to heal the nation, learn the lessons from the pandemic and prepare our country for the enormous economic, social and environmental challenges ahead. I regret to say that, with this programme, the Conservative Government have failed on every single account. To heal the nation, we first needed to look after people who have been bereaved, especially children. I have been campaigning for a better deal for bereaved families for many years, drawing on my own experience of losing my father at the age of four, when my mother was widowed in her 30s with three boys under 10.

With this pandemic, the need to help bereaved children in our country has never been greater, especially those whose mums and dads were unmarried and who currently get no help at all after losing a parent. The Childhood Bereavement Network estimates that about 3,000 children have lost an unmarried mum or dad during covid. A caring Government would give them support now, yet I have to tell the House that this Government are dragging their feet on even basic help for such children who have lost their mums and dads. They have even fought two court cases to prevent bereavement support from going to families, just because their parents were unmarried—as if the parents’ marital status was the fault of the grieving children. Fortunately the Government lost twice in the courts, thanks to the Human Rights Act—the Act that they ominously want to undermine with their threat in the Queen’s Speech to judicial review.

Even though the Government lost in the courts, Ministers have still tried to escape the rule of law, dragging their feet on obeying the court ruling, so that many children who lost their mum or dad to covid have gone without. That is a scandal. I have raised it with the Prime Minister himself time and again, most recently in a face-to-face meeting last month. He promised me action, but there is nothing in the Queen’s Speech for bereaved families or children. So, I am working on a cross-party basis to amend the Queen’s Speech so that the Prime Minister is forced to obey the rule of law—forced by the courts and this House to help children whose mum or dad has died during covid.

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Ed Davey sets out Liberal Democrat vision of a brighter, more hopeful future

Ed Davey made his keynote speech to Federal Conference this afternoon. We’ll have the video when it is up but in the meantime, here are the words:

Good afternoon Conference.

Our country is hurting right now.

One hundred and twenty-five thousand lives have been taken by this cruel virus.

One hundred and twenty-five thousand mums and dads. Brothers and sisters. Sons and daughters.

One hundred and twenty-five thousand empty chairs at our kitchen tables.

So many families, mourning the loss of a loved one.

Even those who have been spared the agony of bereavement…

Even they are suffering enormous hardships.

Families kept apart by lockdown.

Parents who haven’t seen their children for over a year.

Grandparents who’ve missed out on the joy of holding the new baby.

Businesses closed. Jobs lost. Savings destroyed.

A whole year of isolation. Fear. Grief.

Government Failures

All compounded tragically by the failures of this Conservative Government. Poorly prepared. Slow to act. Ignoring expert advice.

Boris Johnson’s indecision and incompetence has failed our nation.

Leaving the most vulnerable – elderly people, disabled people – to be attacked by the virus in their care homes, where they should have been safe.

Leaving our country with a shockingly high death rate – one of the worst in the world.

This Government must be held to account. Britain’s bereaved families deserve answers.

So Liberal Democrats will continue to lead that charge.

Boris Johnson must set up now the independent inquiry he promised me in the House of Commons last June.

No more excuses. No more delays.

Sarah Everard and protests

And after all the pain inflicted by Covid, last week we were forced to confront another national anguish.

 

The shocking, tragic killing of Sarah Everard.

 

And the violence perpetrated by far too many men against far too many women.

 

The abuse, the harassment and the fear women face every day, walking down their own streets.

 

And then, those awful scenes from Clapham Common.

 

Women, wrestled to the ground by police officers.

 

Handcuffed and dragged away, simply for holding a peaceful vigil in Sarah’s memory.

 

Simply for saying enough is enough.

 

We have to do better as a country.

 

We must do better at tackling violence against women.

 

Believing survivors. Making clear that misogyny in any form is unacceptable.

 

And we have to do better as men.

 

Listening to women. Calling out other men. Never turning a blind eye.

 

Just as with the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, this pandemic makes these issues more urgent – not less.

 

And this Government – these Conservatives, who talk so much about their freedoms and their free speech –

 

Must stop their assault on everyone else’s freedoms.

 

Our fundamental rights to peaceful assembly and protest.

 

Rights that have always been so crucial to our democratic society.

 

Rights crucial to the struggle over decades to advance equality and end discrimination.

 

The recovery we need

After so much hurt, we need hope.

 

And that is what our wonderful NHS staff and volunteers are injecting into our lives as they work tirelessly delivering vaccines.

 

Hope, so we can finally look forward.

 

And as we do, we must put recovery first.

 

The recovery of our health, our freedoms and our communities.

 

The recovery of business, the economy and jobs.

 

A recovery that is fair.

 

Fair for the doctors and nurses, care workers, teachers, and countless more on the frontline who have gone to work every day – putting themselves at risk to keep the rest of us safe.

Fair for the people who have stepped up heroically to look after their loved ones.

 

The unpaid carers so often forgotten.

 

The parents who have somehow juggled home-working with home-schooling.

 

Fair for the small businesses who have adapted and innovated and sweated their way through this crisis.

 

All of you – together – have pulled our country through.

 

Thank you.

 

So we need a recovery that does justice to the sacrifices you have made.

 

A fairer, greener, more caring country

A recovery that delivers on our vision of a fairer, greener, more caring country.

 

Fairer…

 

Where everyone can have a good job and real opportunity, no matter where they were born or what school they go to.

 

Where small businesses and the self-employed can thrive, creating secure jobs with good pay.

 

Where every person’s rights and dignity are respected.

 

And fairer: where women no longer have to fear harassment, abuse and violence from men.

 

Greener…

 

Where we invest in exciting new technologies and insulate every home – to create secure, well-paid, green jobs in every part of the UK.

 

Where we work together with other nations to tackle the global climate emergency.

 

Where we clean our air and protect green spaces, and so improve people’s mental and physical health.

 

And more caring…

 

Where we look after one another, and finally recognise the true value of care.

 

Where we stand up for carers and give them the support they deserve.

 

Where people with mental ill health get quality care, quickly – not least children and young people.

 

And where we pay our nurses and care workers properly.

 

How dare Boris Johnson say all he can afford is a one per cent pay rise for nurses and other NHS staff?

 

How can he find billions for contracts for his Tory cronies, but not for the amazing people who have put their lives on the line for us?

 

How dare he boast about the vaccine rollout they are delivering so brilliantly, while he treats them so disgracefully?

 

Prime Minister: pay NHS and care staff properly. Do it now.

 

Put recovery first

Friends, that’s the recovery our nation needs.

That’s the fairer, greener, more caring country that lies ahead of us.

I know the British people can get there. But it will take the Liberal Democrats to lead the way.

Just as Liberal Democrats have already led the way towards a fairer, greener, more caring country –

With the progress we have delivered in Parliaments and councils across the UK –

Wherever and whenever we win elections.

And we can do it again now.

Because we will put recovery first.

If only the others would.

But the Conservatives won’t.

They have put Brexit ahead of the national interest, with their disastrous trade deal.

The Conservatives have put enriching their wealthy friends ahead of fair pay for nurses or support for small businesses.

And they are putting their right-wing, shrink-the-state ideology ahead of working with industry, even junking the very idea of an industrial strategy. Just when we need a recovery.

And the Nationalists in Scotland certainly won’t put recovery first.

Because they put their obsession with independence ahead of everything else.

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Willie Rennie: Independence would be like Brexit on a rocket to Mars

Willie Rennie compared the SNP’s plans for Scottish independence as like “Brexit on a rocket to Mars” – ie

It would take a lot of energy, the journey is very long and there is no way back.

In his keynote speech to Liberal Democrat Conference, Willie set out the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ plan to deprive the independence supporting parties of a majority with our plan to put recovery first by investing in mental health, jobs and education.

He also highlighted our idea for a Commission to look at ways of preventing violence against women and girls in all its forms.  We hope that other parties will back it.

Watch here. The text is below:

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Jane Dodds: Welsh Lib Dems will create a Wales where everyone is equal and nobody is enslaved by poverty

Welsh Lib Dem leader Jane Dodds gave her keynote speech to Federal Conference yesterday. She talked about the need to tackle poverty and isolation in Wales and for action to save the planet from climate change. Here is her speech in full.

 

These have been hard times for us all.

Covid has dominated our lives over the past year; Personally, professionally, politically.

We have all needed to find extra resilience, additional emotional resources, extra bandwidth in our efforts to get through these times. A year when we lost people. When people lost jobs and livelihoods. When loneliness became an even bigger killer and when Welsh small businesses were brought to their knees.

But Wales is aa resilient nation. Welshness through the centuries has been more than just a political or legal identity. It has been a way of life, a state of mind. Our community spirit has inspired the greatest social reformers who have transformed Britain.

That Welsh community spirit extends an unqualified thank you to our delivery drivers, our shop workers, our pharmacists, refuse collectors, teachers, and social workers who have worked on through the pandemic.

That spirit is what drives us to action as Welsh Liberal Democrats. It also inspires us to set out a progressive and inspiring vision for the Wales we want to see.

That spirit is what drives us to action as Welsh Liberal Democrats.

That is why the Welsh Liberal Democrats will be putting Wales’ Recovery First. At the heart of our recovery will be:
🧠Mental Health;
💷The economy;
🌿 The environment;
👨‍👩‍👦‍👦 and your family.

We will create a Wales where everyone is equal, where no one is enslaved by poverty, ill health or circumstance. We will not tolerate poverty and we will push hard for positive change in all we do – particularly when it comes to saving our planet.

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Wera Hobhouse MP: “Women will not be silenced. We have had enough.”

The appalling murder of Sarah Everard and the inappropriate Police action in response to the vigil last Saturday night came too late for the Conference motions deadline, so the Federal Conference Committee used its power under the standing orders to allow our Westminster Women and Equalities spokesperson, Wera Hobhouse, to make a statement on the events and the issues they raised. Here it is in full:

The killing of Sarah Everard horrified a whole nation.
That sickening feeling when we heard she was missing.
The wait. The search. As we all tried to hold on to hope, even as we feared the worst.
And then it came.
The heart-breaking news
This is every woman’s nightmare, every parent’s nightmare, every sibling’s nightmare, every friend’s nightmare. It could have been us – no, this is us. It is our fear, it is our reality.
I think Sarah’s death hit us all so hard because we know it could really have been any woman.
Sarah, a thirty-three-year-old marketing executive who grew up in York, studied in Durham, and then moved to London.
Who lived in Brixton Hill and had just started a new job.
A young woman who her family described as “bright and beautiful”, “kind and thoughtful”, “caring and dependable”.
Who “always put others first and had the most amazing sense of humour.”

Our thoughts have been with Sarah’s family ever since we heard Sarah was missing.
And our hearts go out to them still.
We grieve with them.
And we are angry.

Because – while the killing of a woman by a stranger is particularly awful and relatively rare – violence against women and girls is not.
On average, a woman is killed by a man in the UK every three days.
Every three days.
Most of them killed by their partner or their ex.
Their lives viciously snatched away. The lives of their family and friends destroyed.
Why does it keep happening?
Because beneath these evil killings lies a culture of normalising sexual harassment, abuse and violence.
This culture doesn’t only target women, men are victims too. But 99% of the perpetrators are men.

This is what we need to talk about. Let’s start changing our language. Not ‘violence against women’ as if there were no active perpetrators. Let’s call it violence by men.
More than six hundred thousand women are sexually assaulted each year,
And only one in six report it to the police.
More than fifty-thousand women reported being raped last year,
Only fourteen-hundred rapists were convicted. Why?
Because our culture, our language and our criminal justice system still works around the assumption that rape was to some extent the woman’s own fault. She asked for it, she provoked it. She consented.
99% of perpetrators of sexual violence are men. They are all too often missing from the discussion.
Rape continues to be normalised by the absence of talking about the perpetrators.
Many women experience harassment and discrimination in the workplace on a daily basis.
Many women receive appalling abuse online – threats and intimidation, for daring to have an opinion.
Too many women never feel safe on our streets.
Everything has to change.
Women are speaking up. More men should do the same.

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WATCH: Jane Dodds’ speech to Welsh Lib Dem Conference

Welsh Liberal Democrats have been holding their Conference this weekend, also online.

In her leader’s speech, Jane Dodds talked about making Wales the green economic power house of a reformed UK, of the need for greater mental health support and investment in housing and tackling poverty with a Universal Basic Income trial. She talked of the importance of both people and planet to Wales’ recovery.

Watch it here:

The text is below:

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Wendy Chamberlain on winning back N E Fife and her first 10 months as an MP

I had held off publishing Wendy Chamberlain’s speech delivered to Scottish Conference the other weekend because I had heard that it might be put up on You Tube.

However this hasn’t happened yet and I wanted you to have the chance to read it.

Heartfelt and honest, it’s one of the best speeches I’ve ever seen a parliamentarian deliver at Conference. Wendy talks about how she’s trying to help her constituents through some pretty complex problems and it’s clear how driven she is to get results for them and how much she cares about the injustices they face.

Here is her speech in full. Enjoy.

October 31st, 2019. 

The Early Parliamentary General Election Act was given Royal Assent by the Queen. Parliament was to be dissolved, and the campaign began. 

It’s hard to believe that it was only a year ago today.  A year ago since we all donned our coats and wellies – and headed out for one of the hardest, and certainly the coldest, campaigns of our lives. 

I cam to this office to start my campaigning. North East Fife was the most marginal of marginal seats – I’m sure I don’t need to remind you: just two votes between us and the SNP. It did mean that we had the best bar chart in Lib Dem history!

But it wasn’t just the bar chart. Because it wasn’t just two votes we had to make up. 

In 2019, the SNP vote went up by 7 percent. The bar was as high as it will ever be. I received as many votes as Ming (who I am privileged to follow on from as a Liberal Democrat MP for the seat) did in 2005. His majority was 33% – mine is 3%. 

So how did we get it over the line? There were three key steps. 

First, I was selected early. We had the infrastructure and people in place – and a fantastic team headed up by Kevin Lang and Celyn Ashworth. Celyn is now running Liz Barrett’s Perth by-election campaign and I urge everyone here to support however you can – it’s absolutely winnable. Without them we wouldn’t have won – and we hit the ground running.

That’s exactly the same situation that all of our fantastic candidates who’ve been selected this weekend are in. Many of them have already been campaigning for months. I know they are going to fight an amazing campaign. 

Secondly, we collected lots of data. 

And then, we used that data to be ruthless. We targeted exactly who we needed to – soft Tory and Labour voters. We saw the largest fall in the Conservative vote anywhere in the UK (other than the Speakers seat – which doesn’t really count) and historically low Labour vote too

And that’s how we took back North East Fife for the Liberal Democrats. 

***

Now when you get elected as an MP, the first thing that happens as you leave the stage is that you get handed an envelope with MP on it. 

Inside, there’s a piece of paper with a phone number on it. 

You ring the number, you’re told how to get down to Westminster and you’re informed that your email account is now open for business! 

Immediately, constituents are getting touch – with queries ranging from supertrawlers to dangerous dogs; from Dominic Cummings to trespassing cats.  

In the last ten months, my team have dealt with over 5,000 pieces of casework, ranging from helping the St Andrews Aquarium access funds, to mobile caterers with no income or events to attend, to visa issues for seasonal workers and families; and constituents stuck abroad during the pandemic’s early stages. You name it. 

It’s one of the most important things about being an MP. Making sure that your constituents are given a voice – because if you’re contacting your MP for help, it’s probably because you’ve exhausted every other option. 

So much of what I and my team do is trying to ‘unblock’ things where people are not getting anywhere with the council, or the Scottish Government, or Westminster. 

And sadly, for a lot of my constituents who get in touch, it’s the welfare system that’s the problem. They’re trying to navigate and they are, through no fault of their own, hopelessly stuck. The welfare system is meant to be a safety net – but it’s leaving too many people tied up in knots. 

These people aren’t just any people – they’re our most vulnerable. Our society has to be judged on how it treats the disadvantaged. And so it is a total failure of our government that a great deal of the people who contact me about the benefit system are people with disabilities, who patently should be receiving disability benefits – PIP or ESA – but the Department for Work and Pensions has cruelly denied them.   

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WATCH: Partnership for recovery: Willie Rennie’s speech to Scottish Lib Dem Conference

Willie Rennie’s keynote speech to Scottish Conference today was one of the best I have ever seen him make.

Brimming with ideas – more power and pay to teachers, a career path for carers, ideas for a green recovery, an emphasis on partnership as an antidote to the division we’ve seen in recent years.

He delivered the speech from the Conference hub, at Morningside Parish Church in Edinburgh.

The text is below.

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In full: Ed Davey’s speech to Scottish Conference

Scottish Conference is taking place this weekend in that wonderful resort of Hopin.

Yesterday, Ed Davey gave his keynote speech. He was introduced by Molly Nolan, our fantastic candidate for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross. Here’s his speech in full:

Good afternoon Scotland.

And thank you Molly for that kind introduction.

One of the things that gives me great hope for our party is seeing so many brilliant rising stars – and there’s no doubt that Molly Nolan is one of the brightest.

That’s why we must get Molly elected to the Scottish Parliament in May, so she can put her energy and dedication to work for the people of Caithness, Sutherland and Ross.

So thanks Molly. We’re all behind you 100 percent.

It’s a huge pleasure to speak to you today – even though we sadly cannot be together in person.

I did get the chance to spend some time in Scotland a few weeks ago, when I visited Fife Zoo as part of the Listening Tour I’ve embarked on since becoming leader.

I met Briony and Michael, who took over the zoo in 2015 and have built it up into a successful small business.

A place where children and adults can meet zebras, lemurs and meerkats – and learn about the importance of biodiversity. A sanctuarfor endangered species.

Lockdown wasn’t easy for this young couple and their young zoo. With no visitors – no income – but all the usual costs of feeding and looking after the animals.

But they kept going, getting the zoo ready to reopen – Covid-safe – at the beginning of July.

But just days after they opened their gates, Briony and Michael were dealt another blow, when the indoor soft play area was destroyed by a fire.

They evacuated the zoo and got all their animals to safety. But they had to watch, powerless, as a crucial part of their business went up in flames.

It would be enough to break anyone’s spirit. But not Briony and Michael’s.

They reopened – again – and have worked incredibly hard to save their zoo in the face of both a devastating fire and a global pandemic.

It’s not over yet, of course.

Listening to them and so many others describe the enormous challenges and uncertainty they are facing, it is clear that the UK and Scottish Governments must work together to give far more support to small businesses – especially in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

This urgent need for working together, is why Willie Rennie and I, along with Jane Dodds and Stephen Farry, Deputy Leader of the Alliance Party, our sister party in Northern Ireland, wrote this week to the Leaders of the Governments of the 4 nations of the United Kingdom, calling for a 4 nation summit, to deliver a joint approach on the pandemic in the run-up to Christmas.

Coronavirus is causing terrible hardship and anxiety for families and businesses. For everyone we need to rescue a festive period as near normal as possible. And given millions of people usually travel at this time, across our family of nations, a more co-ordinated approach is desperately needed ahead of Christmas.

And I am determined that not only will we get through this, together, but also that the Liberal Democrats will lead the way to a fairer, greener, and more caring society as we do.

A country that offers real hope and opportunity for everyone, wherever they live. With Governments across the UK working together to support businesses and create jobs.

An economy boosted by new green industries, with hundreds of thousands of good green jobs.

And a society that for the first time properly recognises the vital role played by carers.

At our Federal Conference last month, I pledged to be the voice of the 9 million carers in our country.

This is very personal for me. You see, I’ve been a carer for much of my life:

First as a teenager: nursing my mum during her long battle against bone cancer.

Later for my Nanna: organising her care, trying to make her last few years as comfortable as we could.

And now, as a father. As Emily and I care for our disabled son John.

I know just how rewarding and full of love life as a carer can be. But I also know that it is often relentless and exhausting.

So I do understand the challenges that millions of carers face. Challenges that have been made even harder by coronavirus.

And I know that, for far too many politicians and policymakers, carers are all too often an afterthought.

Just look at the abject failure of both the UK and Scottish Governments to protect people in care homes.

The lack of tests and PPE.

The way hospital patients were moved into care homes to free up space, without being tested for coronavirus.

Care homes and carers: too often an afterthought.

But not for us.

I’ve been proud of the leadership Willie Rennie has shown, pressing the First Minister to provide testing and support for care home visitors.

Trying to make it possible for family carers to spend quality time with their loved ones after months of separation.

And Alex Cole-Hamilton’s work championing Scotland’s 800,000 carers – almost nine out of ten of whom say that the pandemic has made their lives harder.

Liberal Democrats standing up and speaking up for carers – in Edinburgh, in London – across our family of nations.

This is a great example of one of the biggest strengths of our party: our federalism.

We are all united as Liberal Democrats through our principles and our values.

Defending individuals. Nurturing community. Protecting civil liberties. Championing the environment.

Staunchly patriotic. Internationalist. And always pro-European.

And we work together – in close partnership.

I benefit hugely from Willie’s wisdom and experience, just as I do from Jane Dodds in Wales and Liberal Democrat leaders in local government across England.

But we also understand that each nation, region and community must often respond to its own challenges in its own way.

Not pulling away from each other or constantly battling, as if for one part to prosper another must fall.

But also not pretending that there is some one-size-fits-all solution to be handed down from Whitehall or Bute House.

Unity does not mean centralisation.

Devolution does not equal division.

And yet, one of the things that has made me angriest in recent weeks is the way our Governments – in Westminster and in Holyrood – have sought not to bring people together to solve this crisis, but instead to use the pandemic to divide our country.

Tory Ministers versus Labour Mayors.

Nicola Sturgeon versus Boris Johnson.

Matt Hancock versus reality.

It’s a truly unedifying spectacle.

I’m sure it serves their egos and their narrow political interests, but it certainly doesn’t serve the families and businesses who are struggling just to make ends meet.

“A kingdom divided in itself cannot stand,” the saying goes.

That’s why – in times of national crisis like this – it’s the job of true leaders to bring people together, not push them further apart.

Since March, we have seen countless examples of the people across the UK pulling together:

neighbours bringing food and medicines to those who are shielding or self-isolating.

The heroism of NHS staff, carers and key workers in the face of extraordinary challenges.

sacrifices we have all made, every single day to keep each other safe.

Just imagine if our Governments had demonstrated that same sense of unity, of common purpose and co-operation. Imagine how much better their responses would have been.

The truth is – this pandemic has exposed that the way the United Kingdom currently runs, is not fit for purpose.

But the answer cannot be to tear it apart.

Friends, I can understand why people would seek any alternative to life under Boris Johnson’s cruel and incompetent Tory Government.

But whether it takes four months or four years, Boris Johnson will be gone. The shared history and values of our family of nations – fashioned over centuries – will endure.

And so it falls to us, as Liberal Democrats, to offer a better way forward.

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Willie Rennie’s speech – Lib Dems are a Third Way for Scotland

On Lib Dem Voice: Reportage | Contribute
On the official party website: Conference home


Willie Rennie’s speech to Conference was broadcast on his birthday on Sunday. It had been recorded in North Queensferry a few days before.

They filmed the speech twice, the first time outside, but there were interruptions from a flypast, a potato lorry and runners from his local club – no amorous pigs or other assorted livestock, though as has happened in the past.

Watch here. The text is below:

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Speeches of #ldconf: Layla Moran’s first as Foreign Affairs Spokesperson

On Lib Dem Voice: Reportage | Contribute
On the official party website: Conference home


Layla Moran made her first keynote speech since taking over the Foreign Affairs spokesperson and showed that she has mastered her brief very quickly. She was as passionate and compassionate as you would expect and called out the Government on its failure to do enough to support human rights around the world.

 

Here is her speech in full:

And the text is below:

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Speeches of #ldconf: We are liberals. We give people the tools to make their own choices

On Lib Dem Voice: Reportage | Contribute
On the official party website: Conference home


Harrow’s Adam Bernard proposed the Universal Basic Income motion last night. Here is his speech in full:

Conference,

In the preamble to our constitution, the basic statement of our values, we aspire to a society where “no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity”.

——–
In a motion about Universal Basic Income, you’d expect me to talk about poverty — and I will — but I’m going to start by talking about conformity.

I’m going to talk about conditionality and why it’s bad.

Conditionality is where we say “We’ll help you if you’re poor, but *only* if you’re the *right kind* of poor person”

It’s where we say: “Of course we’re nice. Of course this is a caring society. Of course we’ll help you. BUT first you have to prove that you’re poor enough. Prove that you’re disabled enough. Prove that you’re mentally ill enough. Prove that you’re looking for work in the right way, apply for jobs in the right way, jump through all the hoops, take what you’re given and don’t answer back.”

THAT’s conditionality. And this motion says we should get rid of it.

——–

Over the last few decades, conditionality has increased. It increased under Thatcher and Major. It increased under New Labour. It increased — to our utter shame — under the coalition. And it’s still increasing now under the Tories.

And every increase has a nice, *rational* explanation — reducing fraud, maybe, or incentivising work.

But in fact every increase in conditionality means more stigma, more pain, more families unable to put food on the table.

——–

William Beveridge — one of our great Liberal success stories — identified his Five Giant Evils: “Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor, and Idleness”.

He attacked Disease not by setting up “poor hospitals” only for those deepest in poverty, but by laying out the framework for the NHS, which provides care to all, rich or poor, no questions asked.

Now, in the 21st century, we are calling for the same approach to Want. A regular payment, sufficient for basic needs, to everyone in society. No stigma, no questions asked.

Yes, this will mean to rich people as well as poor people. And you should feel the same outrage at that as when rich people use the NHS, send their kids to state school, or receive a state pension.

Yes, this will be expensive, just like the NHS is expensive, like state education is expensive, like the state pension is expensive. But we know that we can’t afford *not* to have those services in a modern, fair society – and we can’t afford not to have an absolute solution to poverty either.

——–

And what about Beveridge’s giant of Idleness? Aren’t we encouraging people to be lazy?

Our society has a myth that, say, cold-calling people to ask if they’ve been in a motor vehicle accident is paid work and *therefore* is a valid and *dignified* way to spend your life, but bringing up your child, caring for your elderly parents, or volunteering to help your community is not.

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REPRISE: Ed Davey’s first speech as leader of the Liberal Democrats

In case you missed it, here is Ed Davey’s acceptance speech from Thursday. Nothing happens for the first 19 minutes, so use the slider to get to that point. The text is below:

I’d like to start by thanking my friend Layla Moran. Layla, you fought a passionate campaign, full of energy.

I’d like to start by thanking my friend Layla Moran.

Since becoming an MP, you have inspired so many people, particularly young people. Your future is bright and I look forward to you playing a big role in my team.

To members of the Liberal Democrats, thank you for putting your faith in me and giving me the honour of leading a party I joined 30 years ago.

And I want also to thank a whole host of people who’ve run this campaign – whether in party headquarters alongside the Returning Officer, or in my own amazing campaign team.

The thousands of people who’ve volunteered time to campaign with me. Who’ve donated to my campaign. Who’ve championed our vision of a greener, fairer, more caring society.

I’d particularly like to thank Claire Halliwell, my Campaign Manager. Claire, you’ve been fantastic.

Thank you for putting your faith in me and giving me the honour of leading a party I joined 30 years ago.

And of course Emily, my wife and our two beautiful children, John and Ellie. Thank you Emily for your amazing support, patience and love.

I am sure I am speaking for many people when I say that – for all the stress and uncertainty of the last few months – one positive has been the chance to spend more time with our families. And so I’d like to thank Ellie in particular, for appearing as a surprise cameo in so many of my zoom calls and online hustings.

I want to talk now about the future of the Liberal Democrats.

I joined this party 30 years ago. I met Emily here. I have made so many good friends here.

And with those friends, I have campaigned across our country, knocking on tens of thousands of doors, delivering hundreds of thousands of leaflets.

The reason I have done all this is simple.

I love our party. And I believe in it.

I love our party.

I believe in it.

I stand for all the things the Liberal Democrats stand for:

Social justice, political reform, equality and protecting our environment.

I stand for fairness and for fighting to protect the rights of ordinary people.

I’m determined our Party backs a Britain that works with other countries across the world for peace and prosperity.

But we have to wake up and smell the coffee.

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In Full: Ed Davey’s speech on the economy

Today, Ed Davey made a keynote speech on the economy.

He talked about his plans here:

Here is his speech in full:

For too long, Britain has not had the economy it deserves.

Under this Conservative Government, too many people can’t live a secure, happy and fulfilling life. Too many businesses face crippling uncertainty over their future. And too many of us feel vulnerable in the face of technological change.

The fact is, the Conservatives have made our economy weaker – much weaker.
People might be in work, but more and more struggle to make ends meet.
Businesses have been hit, with investment down significantly since the 2016 referendum.

Productivity has been grimly weak – with no growth at all in the last 12 months.
The Office of National Statistics confirmed only this week, that Britain’s economic growth in the last year has been the lowest for a decade.

And this Government has ignored all our long-term economic problems. We have alarming skill shortages. A persistent trade deficit. And inequality that’s both socially and economically damaging.

Yet so far, the debate in this election on our economy – on our future – has been a debate between fantasies.

Fantasies born of nostalgia for a British Imperial past. Competing with fantasies from a failed 1970s ideology.

Fantasies competing to bankrupt Britain.

Boris Johnson has snuck into Jeremy Corbyn’s allotment and stolen his magic money tree.

The British people deserve better than fantasy economics.

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Shas Sheehan: The unimaginable horror of climate change for marginalised communities

Yesterday, the Office of National Statistics held an event to discuss the social impact on climate change. Lib Dem Peer Shas Sheehan spoke at the event, comparing the Extinction Rebellion protesters to the Suffragettes.

She spoke about how the impact of climate change would be felt most acutely by the most marginalised. Here is her speech in full:

In 1989 I cut short my career in advertising to do a masters in Environmental Technology, at Imperial College.

I wanted to get back to my science roots and study for myself the evidence for environmental degradation. Climate change wasn’t a big thing then. What was exercising environmentalists then included depletion of the ozone layer, acid rain, species loss and of course the radioactive cloud that was the legacy of Chernobyl.

Governments took action on the ozone layer and acid rain, because the evidence that both were caused by man was there before our eyes.

We could see the ozone hole from space, we could see the dying forests and the lakes devoid of life.

Visuals that are quantifiable are important when it comes to carrying public opinion.

So, the cover of the Economist a few weeks ago will have a powerful and lasting effect.

It shows a stripey red, white and blue flag, which colour codes the average temperature for each year starting from the mid 1800s to the present day, as measured against the average temperature from 1971 to 2000.  Colours range from darkest blue to deep crimson.

It is, quite frankly, frightening to see the cumulative effect. Since the 2000s we have been in red territory. And two out of the last three years have been deep crimson.

No wonder people have taken to the streets. They, like the suffragettes a century ago, have right on their side.

Back in 1989 Gro Harlem Brundtland’s Report, “Our Common Future” was a sort of bible for everyone who wanted to make the world a better place.

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Willie Rennie’s speech to Federal Conference: Lib Dems stand for the majority of Scots

Willie Rennie made a keynote speech to Liberal Democrat Conference on Tuesday. It was the best speech I have ever heard him make. A very clear statement of why the Lib Dems stand up for the majority of Scotland’s people – along with some literary advice for David Cameron. Jenni Lang’s introduction is worth watching too for a wee secret.

It’s becoming a tradition to spill some beans about Willie when introducing him for a speech. Borders candidate Jenny Marr told Scottish Conference how he’d turned up to a Wintry canvassing session in Aberdeenshire wearing pyjamas underneath his clothes to keep warm.

Enjoy.

The text is below:

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Edinburgh march for Europe: Worrying news about EU negotiations and Alex Cole-Hamilton speaks

People took to Edinburgh’s streets today to protest about Brexit and climate change. The European Movement in Scotland organised the event which was very vibrant and well attended.

Our Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton gave one of the keynote speeches. As he finished, someone behind me (name redacted to protect the guilty) muttered “Understated as ever.”

Alex condemned the shutting down of Parliament and said that we would continue to fight Brexit on the streets, in the tv studios and at the ballot box.

Also speaking at the rally was the author of Article 50, Lord Kerr.

He was intensely critical of the Prime Minister, saying that Johnson and the truth were strangers and that even if shutting down Parliament wasn’t found to be technically illegal, it was definitely improper.

He also revealed that Boris Johnson’s negotiators had asked for everything relating to workers’ rights, environmental standards and social policy to be removed from Theresa May’s deal. This should not be surprising given that the agenda of the right wing Brexiteers is to turn this country into a Singapore style deregulated  economy where hard won  safety standards, workers’ rights and human rights are minimised.

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In full: Chuka Umunna’s speech to Conference

The Liberal Democrats have taken Chuka Umunna pretty much to our hearts since he joined in June. He seems really happy and comfortable in his new surroundings

Today he gave a keynote speech to Conference.

Watch here:

Here is the text in full.

Conference, it is an honour and a pleasure to be addressing you as a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament and as your Shadow Foreign Secretary.

Now, I’ve been to a few parties and I hope I don’t sound immodest when I say my experience of joining this party underlines that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made since going into politics.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for making me feel so welcome. I could not be more at home in the wonderful Liberal Democrat family.

And the decision to join was not made out of crude self interest…If self interest or climbing the greasy poll is your goal, I would not recommend following my example.

The truth is, all the incredibly difficult decisions I have made on the journey I’ve been on this year were routed in my values and principles. I joined this party out of conviction.

As you know, I am a Remainer and proud of it – we have spent far too long apologising for being pro-European in this country. Because you cannot be pro-Britain and put our national interest first without seeking to put Britain at the heart of Europe.

But, even more importantly, I am a social democrat with liberal values. You see, to be a Remainer is not only to be an advocate of our continued membership of the European Union; it is to hold a set of liberal, internationalist values of which we Liberal Democrats are the champions and defenders in Britain.

In an attempt to smear those of us who have an internationalist outlook, Theresa May said “if you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere”. What utter garbage. We are citizens of the world and – just you watch – at the next election you will see Liberal Democrats taking seats from the Tories in every part of the country as so many people are flocking to us, the strongest and biggest Remain party.

Be in no doubt: this is the battle of our time and it goes far beyond Britain’s borders.

What it is to be a liberal

Our party exists to build and defend a fair, free and open society, a society in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity……That was taken straight from our constitution – as you can see, I’ve done my homework.

In essence, the society we seek to build is one where if you work hard and play by the rules, you should be free to lead a happy, prosperous and secure life free of domination of either the state or the market. And we want to ensure future generations can do the same by preserving our planet for the long term continuity of life in all its forms.

I grew up in world in which we took these values for granted.

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