Tag Archives: speeches

WATCH: Alistair Carmichael’s speech to Conference

On Sunday morning, Alistair Carmichael gave his keynote speech to Conference. It was as funny, liberal and hard=hitting as you would think.

Governments and babies’ nappies need changing often, much for the same reason, he said.

Liberal Democrats will have no truck with the demonisation of desperate people. We will crush the people smuggling market by giving people safe and legal routes to get here, he promised.

 

He said that Liberal Democrats mustn’t just tell people what we’re against. We must say what we are for. We champion the rights of the individual to do what they like as long as it doesn’t harm others.  We also understand that meaningful freedom means pooling freedoms to form communities and upwards to nation states.

We are a party of law and order, he said, because we can’t be free if we don’t feel safe to leave our homes as he attacked the Conservative record on community policing.

He highlighted how the Conservatives are upping use of facial recognition technology like that used in China and how that had never been authorised properly by Parliament. Any influence we have in the next Parliament will be used to put the money wasted on this into frontline policing.

He warned that we might be sleepwalking into a surveillance state. He tackled that line much favoured by those who want to lead us down an increasingly authoritarian path “If you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear.” We are all perfectly entitled to hide things. It’s called privacy.

He reminded us of some of Labour’s failings on civil liberties – their “authoritarian streak a mile wide” with DNA databases and 90 day detention. We will not support any of that agenda should they go into power.

Liberal Democrats are not about splitting the difference between the Tories and Labour. We trust the people, they want to control them. We demand a change in the way we are governed. We demand a stronger, greener, fairer and more United Kingdom.

We need to get out there and fight of that door by door and street by street as if the future of our nation depends on it – because it does.

Watch the whole thing here:

The full text is below.

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WATCH: Ed Davey’s speech to Spring Conference

There were some very interesting nuggets from Ed Davey’s speech on Saturday. At last we seem to be showing a bit of what we’re about. And what better a place to start than with sorting out our democracy by showing people the harm the current system does to them:

It distorts democracy.

It leaves millions of people feeling powerless and excluded.

Unable to hold those in power properly to account.

Conference, we know proportional representation would be so much fairer…

So much better for our politics and our country.

And a majority of the British people now back electoral reform.

So why hasn’t it changed? Why are we still the only party fighting for political change?

He also mentioned the word Europe in such a way as to send the Daily Telegraph into a tailspin:

Only Liberal Democrats have a clear plan to rebuild this relationship with a better deal for Britain.

To renew the ties of trust and friendship,

To set us on the path back to the Single Market.

Our plan to repair the damage the Conservatives have done,

And, in time, to restore Britain’s place at the heart of Europe. Where we belong.

There’s nothing new in there. It’s been our policy since 2021, but he did say the single market phrase out loud.

Watch here.

The text is below:

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WATCH: Layla Moran’s speech to Conference

I wasn’t in the hall for this but you can tell the quality of a speech from people’s faces as they came out. They were full of admiration for Layla, whose wisdom and compassion has impressed people across not just the UK but the world.

Layla’s Mum Randa was in the audience to watch her.

She described her family’s pre 1948 life in Palestine and the catastrophe that followed.

She said that the war was serving the wicked fusion  of Netanyahu’s government, calling their rhetoric genocidal.

Just as Hamas can’t remain in power, she said, Netanyahu and all who back his government must go too. They are all dangers and blockers to peace.

She reaffirmed the Liberal Democrats commitent to an International Criminal Couet investigation.  This is a fight between the extremists and the peacemakers and it’s spilling on to our streets, she said. She said that those flames were being fanned by the Conservative Party as much as anyone else.

Liberal Democrats do not pick a side she said, we stand for compassion, humanity and peace.

She talked about her deep despair for the Gazans who are trapped, her relatives who have spent the  past 5 months seeking refuge in a church. When she went to the area a few months ago, she described how an Israeli peace activist comforted her. She said she was astounded by how many people met chose not the path of anger, but to strive for peace.

She talked about the importance of  UNWRA in distributing aid in Gaza and called on the Government to restore funding to the agency.

She set out the Liberal Democrat approach and announced we are now calling on sanctions to apply to anyone who supports  and enables the “insidious settler movement.”

“No longer should acting with impunity go without consequence. When we say we believe in international law, we mean it.”

She says she is proud of our party and how our MPs have voted for a bilateral ceasefire at every opportunity. She condemned those who played petty party politics with Palestinian and Israeli lives with harsh words for SNP, Labour (who put electoral gain before its moral compass) and the Conservatives. The country, and the world, needs the Liberal Democrats more than ever.

It’s an incredible speech.  I defy you to watch it without getting something in your eye.

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Caroline Pidgeon’s farewell speech to Conference

Caroline Pidgeon will bring 16 years of service as a Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member to an end when she stands down in May.

In her farewell speech to Conference this week, she reflected on her time at City Hall.

Enjoy.

 

The text is below.

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WATCH: Ed Davey’s speech to Conference

Here’s Ed Davey’s leader’s speech to Conference.  Enjoy.

The text is below:

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Alex Cole-Hamilton’s speech to Conference

Here, in full, is Alex Cole-Hamilton’s speech to Conference.


Conference, this is the first time I’ve addressed you in person since Willie passed the baton to me two years ago. Can I take this opportunity to thank you Willie for your leadership, your service to our party and your friendship over the years.

Willie mentioned I am the first Liberal Democrat parliamentarian to be officially sanctioned by the Kremlin. My Ukrainian house guest calls that Santa’s good list.

And by the way, if you do nothing else at conference, do not miss Kira Rudik in this hall tomorrow, the leader of our sister party in Ukraine. In over 20 years of attending our conferences, I’ve never heard anything like her speech to us in Dundee earlier this year.

Conference, there are few things in life that cheer me more than the sight that greets me now. I am thrilled to my fingertips to be here.

I love this party. For nearly quarter of a century, I have served it at one time or another in every capacity: activist, staff, candidate, parliamentarian.

Wherever you are I feel at home.

The evidence of my devotion to this party can be found in the pages of a well-thumbed road atlas and a loyalty card for the Starbucks at Charnock Richard Services in Chorley.

It’s why I drove a carload of young liberals 9 hours down the M6 from Edinburgh to North Shropshire. It’s why I drove them 11 hours to Frome.

And why I’ll do it again in the 7 hours it’ll take us to get to Mid Bedfordshire.

Friends, I come with news of the north, and it is good news.

The liberal revival is underway for us too and we have taken such inspiration from Ed’s leadership and your victories in the south.

Last May, as they had done since I took over as leader, the pundits were writing us off – predicting that the Scottish local government elections would see us slip backwards.

Conference, we outperformed every other opposition party and increased our councillor base by a third.

It made me realise that the history of our movement is rooted in local politics and so too lies the promise of our future.

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Now for a better country – Alex Cole-Hamilton’s pitch for First Minister

Alex Cole-Hamilton’s speech to Holyrood when he stood for First Minister on Tuesday is below. He knew he would lose, obviously, with only 4 MSPs. However a Birgitte Nyborg moment was not what he was going for. It was a simple choice between getting on the news setting out a Liberal Democrat Vision for Scotland or not. Enjoy. The text from the Official Report is below.

 

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Ed Davey’s speech to Scottish Conference

We’ve just realised we hadn’t posted Ed Davey’s speech to Scottish Conference on 10th March. It’s a wee bit out of date because it was before the Budget.

Although it’s a bit later than usual, we do like to post speeches to maintain the historical record.

The speech came the day after that historic by-election gain from the SNP in Edinburgh.

Ed was introduced by Aberdeenshire Councillor Yi-Pei Chou Turvey who was elected last year.

So here we go:

Good afternoon Conference!

And thank you Yi-Pei for your kind introduction.

It’s great to be back with you all here in Dundee.

And it was wonderful to be in East Dunbartonshire yesterday, with the fantastic Susan Murray.

Susan is already working tirelessly for her constituents as a Councillor, and I know she’ll be a brilliant champion for them in Parliament too! I can’t wait to welcome her to Westminster.

This morning I had great fun with my good friend and Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain, across the Tay in Saint Andrews.

We got to watch robot golfers swinging their clubs with perfect power and precision.

Wendy agreed that having one of those in the whips office could go a long way to improving discipline among the parliamentary party!

And then it was a joy to meet the newest Liberal Democrat Councillor in Scotland, Fiona Bennett –

Who is quite rightly still celebrating her stunning victory in Edinburgh last night.

Another great by-election success for our party.

Another brilliant Councillor elected to work hard for her community –

Adding to strong gains we made across Scotland last year.

And by the way, I can bear witness to the popularity of Liberal Democrats in Murrayfield.

Not long ago, I was canvassing there with Alex and Christine.

I knocked on one door, and the man who answered said “You’re Ed Davey! I think you’re great!”

Then he saw Alex and said “Oh Alex Cole-Hamilton – we love him!”

And when Christine came down the street he almost burst with affection.

“Christine Jardine! We LOVE Christine!”

I put him down as a “probable Lib Dem”.

Conference, victories like Fiona’s are a testament to the hard work and tireless campaigning of everyone here – 

But particularly to the Leader of our Scottish Party, Alex Cole-Hamilton.

Just a few months ago, Alex launched the ambitious One-Fifty Rising strategy 

To start campaigning now for the next council elections in twenty-twenty-seven –

Right across Scotland. In places where we’re already strong, and places that have never elected a Liberal Democrat before.

To talk to people in the streets and on the doorsteps –

To hear their concerns and show them we care –

To win first their trust and then ultimately their votes.

In other words: community politics.

Conference, community politics is something our party is built on.

It’s what sets us apart from the other parties.

It’s how we’ve won in the past – whether in elections for councils, for Holyrood or for Westminster.

It’s how we’re winning today, from Tiverton and Honiton to Corstorphine and Murrayfield.

And it’s how we’ll win in the future.

Fiona’s triumph shows that Alex’s strategy is already bearing fruit.

But the great thing about Alex is he’s not the sort of general who gives the orders but then lets others do the fighting.

Alex leads from the front.

Criss-crossing the country, knocking on doors, delivering leaflets,

Working hard for every single candidate and every last vote.

I’m sure all of you have seen him out on the doorsteps. He is a force to be reckoned with.

A true campaigner’s campaigner.

SNP + TORY ATTACK

Now, someone was asking me earlier: what’s the difference between my job and Alex’s job?

And I tried to explain:

You see, my job is all about holding to account an out-of-touch Government,

That is too embroiled in party infighting to take on the big challenges facing ordinary people,

That is presiding over a cost-of-living crisis and an NHS crisis,

But focusing instead on its own ideological obsession.

That is taking people for granted, stirring up division, and threatening the very future of our great United Kingdom.

Whereas Alex’s job is taking on the SNP.

OK, so maybe it isn’t all that different after all!

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

Below, in full, you can watch and read Alex Cole-Hamilton’s speech to Scottish Lib Dem Conference. In it he paid tribute to Kira Rudik, Leader of our sister party Golos, who addressed the Conference this morning.  He also, of course, celebrated our spectacular by-election victory in Edinburgh yesterday. But he also went further than any Lib Dem I have heard recently on talking about the need for closer ties with Europe and about the failures of Brexit:

Friends, Boris Johnson said that Ukraine should be at the front of the queue to join the European Union. He’s not wrong, but just think about that for a minute.

After all his Brexit lies, that really grated, but it was recognition of the value and protection working with our European neighbours offers in terms of security and prosperity.

We should be more united than ever with our nearest neighbours in the face of Russian aggression, the climate emergency, and the mass displacement of people.

Our economic growth is below that of Russia, investment is down, empty shelves, skills shortages, diminished on the world stage.

Conference, Brexit has been a disaster.

I still grieve for what we have lost.

Charles Kennedy used to say that he was a Highlander, a Scot, a Brit and a European. Each was a critical part of his identity, without contradiction or conflict.

Conference, make no mistake, Scottish Liberal Democrats are the most pro-European party there is. We do not apologise for it, and we do not deny it.

I am a European to my fingertips. I believe in Europe for Europe’s sake.

Conference, it is my mission to untangle the problems,

to re-establish cultural and economic ties,

to build back our close connections,

to forge relationships with our European friends.

It means re-establishing Erasmus, as our party has done in Wales.

Getting back into the Horizon university research funding scheme.

Mutual recognition of trades and professions so people can work across the UK and EU.

We should be optimistic about the demonstrable shift in public opinion towards re-engaging with the European Union, and we should harness that.

This country needs a party that will propose practical, tangible solutions to bring us closer to Europe.

Conference, we are the ones they are looking for.

Because you can take us out of Europe, but you’ll never take Europe out of us.

Watch here

The full text is below:

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Hope rising: Alex Cole-Hamilton’s speech to Scottish Lib Dem Conference

Alex Cole-Hamilton gave his first in-person leader’s speech to Scottish Lib Dem Conference at the weekend. He talked about our success in the Council elections and announced his 150 rising strategy for the 2027 elections. He was emotional when he talked about people struggling with Long Covid, in particular his young constituent Anna. Ukraine, and the Scottish Government screwing up its support for refugees, the cost of living crisis, highlighting Lib Dems being the first to call for a price freeze, putting Wendy Chamberlain in charge of a Commission on men’s violence against women and our vision for a federal UK all featured. He set out his optimism for the party:

The flames of liberalism and hope are establishing themselves across Scotland once again.

Change is coming. Lift your eyes to the horizon. The old order of things is falling away and that better Britain is sight, we only have to reach for it.

Our renewal has already started, we should leave this place with growing confidence in our message, our candidates, and in our strategy.

Because 150 rising, is more than just a slogan. It signals the measure of our returning self-belief and our commitment to the people we seek to serve, to that new social contract we will forge in our communities.

Watch here:

Here is the text in full:

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Updated, with fury: Conference Agenda: Keynote speeches

As we reported yesterday, the Autumn Conference agenda is now out

To help you with Conference planning, here is a list of when the keynote speeches are happening.

Update: I wrote this last night while watching the Commonwealth Games, trying to get ahead of myself in Conference prep. And it is just as well I did. I noticed something odd:

There is one person who isn’t giving a speech that I’m quite surprised about. Usually the Scottish and Welsh leaders both get to do a keynote speech at Autumn Conference. Unless I’ve missed it, Jane Dodds doesn’t seem to be doing one this year. I wonder why that is. I shall make enquiries before deciding how livid I am about this. Watch this space.

When I say that “usually the Scottish and Welsh leaders both get to do a keynote speech at Autumn Conference” I meant that usually there was some attempt by The Powers that Be to cut these contributions. There would then be a barney and both leaders would be included, as they should be.

Except this time that didn’t happen. Apparently those Powers that Be have decided that there is only one slot for the devolved nations which on this occasion has gone to Alex Cole-Hamilton. This is odd, given that there are two devolved nations, each with their distinct political environments.  If we believe in a federal UK, we believe that our nations have equal standing. It follows, therefore, that both leaders should have their chance to tell Federal Conference – and the Welsh, Scottish and UK medias  beyond – where we stand on the key issues of the day.

I do hope that this can be resolved for this Conference. All it would take would be for FCC to ask Conference to add a speech for Jane in as an additional agenda item. I can’t see Conference turning down such a request.  And then in the future, a slot for each leader should be incorporated as standard.

Anyway, here are the rest of the keynote speeches.

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Ed Davey’s speech to Conference: Lib Dems can defeat this awful Government

A powerful selection on Ukraine, a call for Priti Patel to be sacked, a celebration of Chesham and Amersham and North Shropshire, a tribute to Lib Dem by-election stalwart Erlend Watson, a decent gag about Dick Turpin, an evisceration of the Tories over sleaze and partygate (including a call for a public enquiry into Boris Johnson’s relationship with Lebvedev) and an attack on Tory MPs for keeping Boris Johnson in power, setting out what the Lib Dems offer for health and education and a look forward to the local government elections in May…all this and more delivered by Ed Davey to Lib Dem members gathered in York.

 

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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.

https://twitter.com/WinstonCProject/status/1392159811253334018?s=20

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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