Tag Archives: speeches

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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Jane Dodds’ speech to Liberal Democrat Conference

Cynhadledd, diolch yn fawr.

Before I get going today, I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who came to Brecon and Radnorshire to help during my campaign. Whether you came during the recall petition or the by-election or even both – thank you. Without all of you, and the wider party and beyond, I would not be standing here today as the MP for Brecon & Radnorshire.

I want to particularly thank the local party, whose volunteers provided accommodation for campaigners for 2202 nights. Thankfully, our Welsh tradition of ironing bed sheets did not last long in to the campaign.

This victory was a team effort, and one which signalled to both Wales and the UK, that the Liberal Democrats can win.

Winning council seats.

Winning our largest ever group of MEPs.

Winning Parliamentary seats across the country.

Conference, there has never been a better time to be a Liberal Democrat.

I also want to express my thanks to Plaid Cymru and the Green party, who took the difficult decision to stand aside in Brecon & Radnorshire – in order to help further the fight against Brexit.

They put the national interest first, and because of this cooperation, this alliance of parties, we were able to win.

We are believers in pragmatic, collaborative politics. I want to see us work with people in other parties – and none – to achieve the aims we have in common.

Sometimes this may mean we have to be prepared to make sacrifices, but when it comes to issues like Brexit, the risk is too high to not work together.

Now, although I am the newest elected Member of Parliament, I am not the newest Liberal Democrat MP.

One week after I was elected, we were joined by Sarah Wollaston. The day I took my seat in Parliament Phillip Lee came to sit alongside me, and shortly after that both Luciana Berger and Angela Smith joined too.

And they’re not the only ones joining. Since my election thousands people have joined our party too, taking us to our highest ever membership. And day by day, we keep growing.

To everyone who’s joined the party in recent months, croeso! And to those who are still on the fence about joining, what is stopping you?

If you’re fed up of the endless back and forth, the empty rhetoric and the hollow promises of the other parties… then why not come make your home in the Liberal Democrats, as so many others are doing?

As Jo Swinson said, “if you’re fed up of shouting at the TV, then get up and do something about it”.

Conference I am proud to be a Liberal Democrat because we are the only party offering a bold and optimistic vision for the future of our country.

In Wales Kirsty Williams is putting this vision into action.

As Education Minister she is cutting class sizes, protecting our rural schools and, overhauling our curriculum to make it fit for the 21st century, including making sure relationship education is LGBT inclusive.

This is what the Liberal Democrats are championing, a society which gives everyone the opportunities to make the most of their talents and potential, and which ensures everyone is included and supported throughout their life.

We are also the only party fighting to keep all of our nations part of the United Kingdom, and the whole UK part of Europe.

Rwy’n sefyll yma, Gynhadledd, fel Cymraes balch, a rhywun sy’n credu’n gryf mewn datganoli pŵer i’r bobl.

I stand before you today as a proud Welsh woman and a staunch believer in devolution. I want to see devolution not just to the nations and regions, but to local government as well – to bring power as close to the people as possible.

I am also proud to be British AND European. All of these identities are what makes me who I am and are rooted in my belief that there are things we do better together – in the same way as there are things we do better as part of the European Union or as part of the United Nations.

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Wera Hobhouse’s speech to Conference

Yesterday, climate change spokesperson Wera Hobhouse delivered this keynote speech to Conference. Here it is in full.

Good morning everybody

It is wonderful to see you all here at the start of a great conference.
We are in a very good place.
Look at what we have achieved since our last conference only 6 months ago.

Number of councillors UP
Number of MEPs UP
Number of MPs UP
Membership UP
Polling UP.

Is there anything that can stop us now?

Here is an easy question: Who in this Hall is a Liberal Democrat?

And who in this hall believes the Climate Crisis is the biggest challenge of the future and we have a moral duty to solve it?

Think about it.
This is who we are.
Being a Liberal Democrat and being an environmentalist go hand in hand.
Our values for a free open tolerant and globally fair society place us right in the centre of the fight against global climate chaos.

Let me remind you of the preamble of our constitution.
‘The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair free and open 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.’

We fundamentally believe that all people are equal and have an equal right to freedom and prosperity.

That freedom and prosperity for all has to be fought for and safeguarded because it is easily threatened.

Nobody can be free who lives in poverty, nobody is free when displaced or threatened by war.
The Climate Crisis will affect us all. If we allow it to get worse it will create huge global inequalities.

Some parts of our planet will be much worse hit than others, creating extreme poverty and hardship, displacement and possibly war.

We Liberal Democrats make no distinction between people on the basis of race gender or religion.
It matters deeply to us how other people are doing not just in this country but anywhere in the world.

That is what makes us an internationalist party. People in China or Argentina or Nigeria or Iran are our neighbours.

That is why we call out against human rights abuses wherever we witness them.

And that is why we feel particularly called upon to avert a climate catastrophe.

This is our call!

This is who we are!

This is why each and every one of us should be proud to be a Liberal Democrat!

The rise of populist and nationalist leaders across the world directly threatens our democratic values.

It threatens the institutions that have guaranteed our rules based international order.

But additionally what is staring us in the face now is that these populist nationalist leaders also threaten our efforts to tackle the climate crisis.

Whether it is Trump or Bolsanaro or Putin or any other dictator across the world, they all actively encourage activities that create environmental chaos, division, social instability and economic disruption.

Because these are the conditions on which they thrive.

Populist leaders create and deliberately exaggerate the fear of foreigners.
They use this fear for their own personal and self-centred ambition.
Fear is a powerful emotion that blocks out any rational argument.

We cannot ignore the huge dangers to international peace and cooperation that these authoritarian leaders pose.
Climate breakdown will play into their hands.
The potentially huge displacement of people give the perfect excuse for populist leaders to shut down the borders and pull up the draw bridge.
The cry of each and every one of these leaders is ‘my country first’.
They do not care about anyone else.

Look at the devastating destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
It would be naïve to think Bolsanaro turns a blind eye for mere short term financial gain, and has no regard for the long- term global implications of such destruction.
More important to realise is that burning down the rainforests and exacerbating the climate crisis is consistent with his disruptive political agenda.
It matters to stand up against these populists and nationalists.
Not just because of the threat to our open society but because of the threat to our planet.

We must fight this.
That is why we are in politics.
That is why we are Liberal Democrats.

Our Liberal Democrat resurgence in the local and European elections give me great hope.
There are millions of people who will not lie down in the face of populism and nationalism.
We must stand with them, and lead them.

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Sal Brinton’s speech to Conference

This is Sal Brinton’s last speech to Conference as Party President. It contains joy, celebration, tributes, challenges and report.

And here is the text in full.

Well, hello Conference and hasn’t everything changed since we last met in March!

Wow! Just wow! 

We asked you to all go on the Stop Brexit march on 20 March to make it clear we are the strongest Remain party. 

You did that. 

It was my privilege to help lead thousands and thousands of Liberal Democrats along with Vince Cable at that march that had over a million people on the streets of London. 

We asked you to go out and give us the best results ever in the local elections. 

You did that. 

We made over 700 gains, and now control 18 councils. We’re still making gains in by elections too.

We  then said please go out and campaign for our best ever European Elections results, in a snap election, with very little time. 

You did that. 16 MEPs.

I’ll say it again. 

Wow! Just wow! 

And then we said (after all of that!), please go and help Jane Dodds and our Welsh colleagues in Brecon and Radnorshire. 

So you did that too! 

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WATCH: Jo Swinson’s keynote speech on how MPs can stop Boris

Stopping Boris Johnson inflicting a disastrous no deal Brexit on the country was the focus of Jo Swinson’s first big keynote speech since becoming Lib Dem leader.

She talked about two possible things that MPs could do to prevent us falling over the abyss.

Her preferred option would be for them to pass legislation requesting an extension to Article 50 and going for a People’s Vote.

Alternatively, Lib Dems would support a vote of no confidence called by Labour, and would look to support an emergency government which would stop no deal. She said that there is no way that the Commons would back Jeremy Corbyn to be PM and said that an emergency government should be led by someone who commanded the respect of both sides of the House – someone like Ken Clarke or Harriet Harman. She called on MPs to stand up and be counted and do everything possible to stop no deal.

She made clear that the Lib Dems wanted to stop Brexit completely – the best deal for peace, prosperity and security was what we already have in the EU.

It was a confident speech for Jo. She is such a contrast to the arrogant bluster of the Prime Minister and the tired, unconvincing interventions of Jeremy Corbyn. She comes across as grown-up, engaging, collaborative and wise. And she takes her #joinJo slogan from her leadership  campaign and turns it into a national call to get behind her.

Watch Jo’s whole speech here:

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Celia Thomas: Every disabled person should be able to live a life of dignity and respect

Last week, the House of Lords debated the future essential services run by local authorities. As local government is so important to Liberal Democrats, it’s no surprise that several Lib Dems took part in the debate.

Celia Thomas talked about two critical issues – social care and, first the provision of public toilets and the impact that cuts have on isolation of people with continence problems.

She warned against the idea that we need to provide support for disabled people so that they can work as this can promulgate the idea that there are deserving and undeserving disabled people. Every disabled person, she said, should be able to live a life of dignity and respect:

My Lords, I shall concentrate on the provision of social care but, before that, I want to mention something that I would call an essential service but which turns out to be discretionary. Here I shall lower the tone of the debate so I hope noble Lords will not mind; I am talking about the provision of public conveniences, lavatories, toilets or loos throughout the country. Those that are left are now often maintained by town or parish councils, but for how long? In 2010, there were over 5,000 public toilets; now, there are 4,486. Is it right that fast-food chains, supermarkets and coffee shops have now virtually taken the place of public toilets? What happens when these places are closed, when managers are reluctant to let everyone use their facilities or when there are no accessible toilets? We should not forget the silent number of people trapped in their homes because of continence problems.

I turn now to social care. As the noble Lord, Lord Kerslake, said, we are no nearer to seeing the Government’s Green Paper; as late as October, we were told it would be with us by the end of the year. The funding issue is a fiendishly difficult problem because social care encompasses so much and is so little understood. We need a different term; I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Patten, about language. The word “social”, according to the dictionary, means,

“marked by friendly companionship with others”.

But, in local government terms, it has a much sterner face to cover the state’s obligation to help care for children, including those with mild or severe learning difficulties, as well as disabled and elderly adults. It may have to cover playschemes for disabled children, personal assistants, aids and equipment, care at home and residential care.

Not only are we all living longer, but there is now a better survival rate for people with serious health conditions. I believe that the dictionary definition of the word “social” is one reason why so many people think the service is free for council taxpayers rather ​than means-tested, or partly means-tested. Anyone who thinks the answer for even quite severely disabled people is NHS continuing care should think again as it is very difficult to get. As for delays in hospital discharges, these are still causing a problem due to care packages having to be negotiated or re-negotiated. Can the Minister say how the Government have evaluated the impact of health and well-being boards in tackling the increasing number of these delays?

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Ian Kearns: Why Liberal values are the answer this country needs

Ian Kearns joined the Liberal Democrats from Labour in the Summer. He gave a barnstorming speech to the rally at Federal Conference in Brighton. 

This Autumn, he has spoken at both the Yorkshire and London Regional Conferences. The speech below was the keynote speech at the Yorkshire and the Humber conference three weeks ago and Ian delivered a version of it at a fringe event at the London conference yesterday. 

The most powerful section of his speech is on what we stand for:

I’m here today because this is the party that is ready to fight the politics of division and hate, and I intend to be part of that fight.

I’m here because I know we won’t beat the extremists of left and right by mimicking their message or by defending the status quo, but only by radically extending the liberal commitment to equality of opportunity to the millions of people in our country currently denied it.

I’m here because I won’t stand idly by and watch the disaster of Brexit unfold.

We know the Leave campaign lied to the country; we know they’ve failed to deliver; and now the people must have a vote on the truth!

I’m here because our forebears didn’t see off the fascists in the last century so we could sit back and watch fascism rise again in this.

I’m here to fight for a patriotism that celebrates the divides we bridge and our achievements as a people, not for one that drives a wedge between one community or nation and another.

And I’m here because I want to look my children in the eye and know they have a good chance of a life of happiness and fulfilment in a country at peace with itself.

A country where they will be judged not by the colour of their skin, their race, religion, gender or sexuality but by the content of their character.

A country of free men and women where we all have equal rights and equal opportunities because if these rights and opportunities are denied to anyone, then none of us are truly free and our country is not truly free.

A country where politics is conducted in a civil manner, because between anarchy on the one hand, and the settlement of our political differences through violence on the other, liberal democratic politics is all there is; and the only ones who benefit from cynicism about politics are those with a vested interest in maintaining the status-quo.

I’m here too because I want my children to grow up in a country that doesn’t fear the outside world, but equips its people to go out into it, experience it in all its wonder, and work with others to shape it to humanity’s common cause.

A country where we take power out of the hands of bureaucrats in Whitehall, and put it into the hands of the people, who know what their challenges are and have good ideas on how to meet them.

A country that doesn’t fear new technology but becomes a world leading centre for the productive and ethical use of it.

And a country that was once the birthplace of the industrial revolution, seized by the climate emergency and geared up both economically and diplomatically to meet it with a new age of green revolution.

It’s powerful and inspiring stuff. Here’s the speech in full.

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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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Recent Comments

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    I don't think these debates have had any significant impact on this election. There have been too many, and once it was established that leaders...
  • User AvatarCaron Lindsay 10th Dec - 11:51pm
    @Ross That is exactly what I mean! Now amended.
  • User AvatarRoss McLean 10th Dec - 11:49pm
    I think you mean Caithness now has a 4% LibDem lead?
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