Tag Archives: speeches

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

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

Good afternoon Conference.

Our country is hurting right now.

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

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

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

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

Even those who have been spared the agony of bereavement…

Even they are suffering enormous hardships.

Families kept apart by lockdown.

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

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

Businesses closed. Jobs lost. Savings destroyed.

A whole year of isolation. Fear. Grief.

Government Failures

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

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

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

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

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

So Liberal Democrats will continue to lead that charge.

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

No more excuses. No more delays.

Sarah Everard and protests

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

 

The shocking, tragic killing of Sarah Everard.

 

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

 

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

 

And then, those awful scenes from Clapham Common.

 

Women, wrestled to the ground by police officers.

 

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

 

Simply for saying enough is enough.

 

We have to do better as a country.

 

We must do better at tackling violence against women.

 

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

 

And we have to do better as men.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Must stop their assault on everyone else’s freedoms.

 

Our fundamental rights to peaceful assembly and protest.

 

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

 

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

 

The recovery we need

After so much hurt, we need hope.

 

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

 

Hope, so we can finally look forward.

 

And as we do, we must put recovery first.

 

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

 

The recovery of business, the economy and jobs.

 

A recovery that is fair.

 

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

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

 

The unpaid carers so often forgotten.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Thank you.

 

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

 

A fairer, greener, more caring country

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

 

Fairer…

 

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

 

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

 

Where every person’s rights and dignity are respected.

 

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

 

Greener…

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

And more caring…

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

And where we pay our nurses and care workers properly.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Put recovery first

Friends, that’s the recovery our nation needs.

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

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

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

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

Wherever and whenever we win elections.

And we can do it again now.

Because we will put recovery first.

If only the others would.

But the Conservatives won’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch here. The text is below:

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

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

 

These have been hard times for us all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WATCH: Jane Dodds’ speech to Welsh Lib Dem Conference

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

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

Watch it here:

The text is below:

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

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

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

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

Here is her speech in full. Enjoy.

October 31st, 2019. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Secondly, we collected lots of data. 

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The text is below.

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In full: Ed Davey’s speech to Scottish Conference

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

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

Good afternoon Scotland.

And thank you Molly for that kind introduction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s not over yet, of course.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The lack of tests and PPE.

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

Care homes and carers: too often an afterthought.

But not for us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Staunchly patriotic. Internationalist. And always pro-European.

And we work together – in close partnership.

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

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

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

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

Unity does not mean centralisation.

Devolution does not equal division.

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

Tory Ministers versus Labour Mayors.

Nicola Sturgeon versus Boris Johnson.

Matt Hancock versus reality.

It’s a truly unedifying spectacle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the answer cannot be to tear it apart.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Watch here. The text is below:

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

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


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

 

Here is her speech in full:

And the text is below:

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

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


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

Conference,

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

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

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

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

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

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

——–

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

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

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

——–

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

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

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

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

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

——–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The reason I have done all this is simple.

I love our party. And I believe in it.

I love our party.

I believe in it.

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

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

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

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

But we have to wake up and smell the coffee.

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In Full: Ed Davey’s speech on the economy

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

He talked about his plans here:

Here is his speech in full:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fantasies competing to bankrupt Britain.

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

The British people deserve better than fantasy economics.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy.

The text is below:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In full: Chuka Umunna’s speech to Conference

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

Today he gave a keynote speech to Conference.

Watch here:

Here is the text in full.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What it is to be a liberal

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

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

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

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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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