Tag Archives: Wales

Welsh Lib Dems’ Leadership: Jane Dodd writes “I want to lead a party that is radical and reforming”

I have to start by saying that I am not that happy to be standing against Liz Evans, a colleague for whom I have enormous respect.  My only comfort is that the Welsh Liberal Democrats will have a Welsh speaking woman from mid-Wales as their next leader.

I believe that the Welsh Liberal Democrats have the talent, the drive, the enthusiasm and the ambition to start winning again, but we need to rebuild the party.  We need more members, more councillors and to win seats in the Welsh Assembly elections in 2021 and in the next Parliamentary elections.  The Welsh party needs to work with the Federal Party to forge a relationship that helps us to transform ourselves.  And Wales needs the Welsh Liberal Democrats to offer real, meaningful, and Liberal solutions to the deep seated inequalities people face.

Progress has been too slow.  As a social worker, I have seen at first hand the inequalities in our society and the hardship suffered by people as they face a lack of good quality homes and a paucity of well-paid and full time employment. People in Wales have health services which are well below the standards in England, and we need improved access to mental health provision.  We need to sustain our support to our Education Cabinet Secretary in Kirsty Williams as she continues to deliver progressive policies to improve educational standards for Welsh children.

We need an economic plan that breathes life back in to Wales, and to put green policies and renewable energy developments at the forefront of our strategy. We need to be an outward looking Wales – welcoming refugees and helping those in need, as well as joining Vince and all other Liberal Democrats in challenging Brexit.  

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LibLink: Kirsty William: It’s not about whether we charge tuition fees. In Wales, we’ve found a third way

The one Liberal Democrat left in national government, Kirsty Williams, has written an article for the Guardian in which she sets out what she is introducing in Wales – a plan to help students with living costs which will support part time and postgraduate students too:

The new support package in Wales will cover those who start their course in 2018/19, wherever in the UK they choose to study. Every student will be entitled to support equivalent to the national living wage. This means that eligible full-time students will receive maintenance support of £11,250 if they study in London and £9,000 per year elsewhere if they live away from home.

This will be delivered through a mix of loans and grants, unlike in England where zero maintenance grants are available. Very small, limited grants are available in Scotland, but they too are currently reviewing the system.

Welsh students from the lowest household income will receive the highest grant – £8,100 in their pocket, and more in London. Our estimates suggest that a third of full-time students will be eligible for that full grant.

Furthermore, our data shows that the average household income for a student in our current system is around £25,000. Under the new system such a student will receive around £7,000 a year in their pocket.

However, potentially the most radical element of our reforms is to provide equivalent support for part-time and postgraduate students. Wales will be the first in Europe to achieve this. For the first time, part-time undergraduates will receive similar support for maintenance, pro-rata to their full-time counterparts.

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Where next for the Liberal Democrats in Wales?

 

The 2017 General Election was a strange one for the Liberal Democrats. Up in seats, down in votes, another leader now out the door. The state of the party in Wales, however, is less questionable. We are in a bad place. Losing our remaining MP in Ceredigion, losing ground in other seats, hammered into third in Cardiff Central.

The party has been in decline for some years now and, unlike in England and Scotland, where seeds of recovery are more evident, here in Wales things don’t seem to be getting any better. Decline is not inevitable, but neither is our continued existence. It is all very well saying liberal values are needed now more than ever (they are!), but the question is how do we make them relevant to the people of Wales and what do we need to do in Wales to have any chance of regrouping.

Firstly, we have to resist the temptation to become a party that only talks about local things. The challenge between promoting a national liberal vision and community politics has been a question for decades (one Jo Grimond wrestled with, in fact). But there is nothing particularly liberal about working hard locally. From canvassing in multiple recent elections there can be no doubt that people respect our hard work on the local scene. However, when it comes to a national election they vote differently. We must make sure we are consistently promoting a liberal vision at a national level, alongside local work, or we will not rebuild.

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Eluned Parrott selected to fight Cardiff Central

Former Welsh Assembly member Eluned Parrott has been selected to fight the constituency of Cardiff Central which, until 2015 was held by Jenny Willott.

Eluned fought the seat for the Welsh Assembly last year and came within 1000 votes of victory.

From the Cardiff Lib Dem website:

The Lib Dems are odds-on favourite to win Cardiff Central (at 4/6 with Betfair on Monday morning), and have been endorsed by pro-EU newspaper The New European as the clear choice in the fight against a hard Brexit.

Eluned Parrott said:
“I hadn’t intended to come back into politics, but Brexit changed everything. I can’t simply stand by and let our country be ripped apart by hatred and division.

“I want to represent Cardiff Central in Parliament to fight Theresa May’s divisive Hard Brexit, both for the majority here who voted Remain and the many who voted Leave but want to stay in the Single Market.

“Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party isn’t providing Britain with a real opposition to this Conservative Brexit Government. That’s why people are turning to the Liberal Democrats in droves – as you can see by the dozens of by-election wins we have had across Britain, including one right here in Cardiff.

“The choice in Cardiff Central is clear: Corbyn’s Labour party who rolled over to back the Tories’ Hard Brexit, or the Liberal Democrats who will fight for an open, tolerant and united country.”

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Lib Dem Lords vs the Article 50 Bill: Jenny Randerson: Wales will lose from Brexit

The Lib Dem Lords have made some cracking contributions to the debate on the Article 50 Bill. Ahead of its next Lords stages, we’re bringing you all the Lib Dem contributions over the course of this weekend. That’s no mean feat. There were 32 of them and cover more than 30,000 words. You are not expected to read every single one of them as they appear. Nobody’s going to be testing you or anything. However, they will be there to refer to in the future. 

Our Lords excelled themselves. Their contributions were thoughtful, individual, well-researched and wide-ranging and it’s right that we present them in full on this site to help the historian of the future. 

Christine Humphreys talked about the impact of Brexit on Wales, on the loss of EU funding unlikely to be replaced by our low tax economy. She also challenged the government on their idea that we should all just line up behind them and meekly tug our forelocks as they choose our destiny for us, saying: “The first steps to unity can come from the Government accepting that voters have the right to be part of the decision-making process.”

My Lords, although our country has voted, albeit by a comparatively small majority, to sever our links with the EU, many voters continue to voice genuine concerns and questions about the future—concerns which have been echoed eloquently by noble Lords—about the impact on our economy and on voters’ living standards; the position of EU nationals working in our communities and paying their taxes to support our services; the position of UK nationals living and working in the EU; and how our departure will impact on Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Gibraltar.

Many are deeply concerned that our departure will precipitate the break-up of the EU itself and about the potential for new turmoil in a continent which has been ravaged by wars for hundreds of years but which has lived in comparative peace for the past 70. And, yes, they want to know exactly what a hard Brexit will mean, and they need clear answers to their questions and responses to their concerns.

There is certainly now a deeper understanding of the benefits that access to the single market has brought to the UK, and a more acute awareness of the loss that could await us when we depart the EU. The single market is, and has been, of great value to Wales—so much so that the majority of parties in the Welsh Assembly, while respecting the Welsh vote to leave the EU, have called for “full and unfettered” access to it. It is a market vital to our economy: 68% of Welsh exports go to the EU, as compared to just over 40% of the exports of the UK as a whole. Securing replacement markets is likely to be a slow and cumbersome process which could damage our economy—certainly in the short term. Those parties and the Welsh Assembly have also called for a “balanced approach” to immigration which would link migration to jobs and, crucially, they advocate the introduction of properly enforced employment practices that protect all workers.

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Kirsty Williams on building last year’s elections and building an education system that inspires pride and confidence

Kirsty Williams has been speaking to the South Wales Argus about her role as Education Secretary in the Welsh Government. She has great ambitions for the role.

I want to have an education system that the profession are proud of and parents and learners have confidence in.

That is quite a high bar, and she wants to work in partnership with those groups, unlike a certain former English education secretary whose tenure in office seemed to alienate everyone.

I am confident that by working together we can achieve my ultimate goal, which is to have a first-class education system for Wales and one which people around the world will want to come and look at, what were the changes we undertook and what were the reforms we put through that led to that system.

But I can’t do it on my own. I can only do it in partnership with parents, learners and educators.

What was it, though, that inspired Kirsty to get involved in politics as a young woman?

Growing up in Llanelli, Ms Williams cited watching family members working in the steel industry lose their jobs and seeing a lecture by Social Democratic Party (SDP) MP Roy Jenkins, later a Lib Dem peer, as one of the biggest influences on her political development.

“I just remember listening to the lecture and thinking ‘I can’t say it in the same words he can but that’s the kind of community and society I want to live in’,” she said.

Being brought up in a family where politics was discussed and debated sparked her interest:

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What do you do when you want to distract from your party driving the country off a cliff?

Well, if you’re Welsh Conservative Leader Andrew R T Davies, you point out to anyone who will listen that Liberal Democrat Welsh Education Secretary voted in accordance with Liberal Democrat policy in the Article 50 debate in the Senedd as if this should be some sort of issue.

Labour AMs were whipped to vote for Article 50 to be invoked.

Davies argues that this broke cabinet responsibility. The BBC has the story:

The Liberal Democrat AM voted with Plaid Cymru against Article 50 despite the Labour group opposing the motion.

Mr Davies suggested some Labour AMs were “sore” over the Senedd vote.

Mr Jones’s spokesman said it was recognised the Lib Dems were in a different position on the matter.

Article 50 of the European Union Lisbon treaty is the trigger that would allow UK ministers to start the process to leave the EU.

The UK government wants to set Article 50 in motion by the end of March.

Mr Davies himself campaigned for Vote Leave at the referendum last year – his group joined Labour and UKIP in voting against the Plaid Cymru proposal in the Senedd on Tuesday.

Only 10 AMs supported the motion to oppose Article 50 being triggered without assurances over the single market, versus 46 against.

The vote if passed would have been advisory and would not have affected the process.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMark Seaman 22nd Oct - 1:31am
    MPs are beginning to stand against it .... yep .. when it is several years till they have to stand for election again. But the...
  • User AvatarMartin Walker 21st Oct - 10:33pm
    Mmm - while I agree with the differentiation between patriot and nationalist, I'm not sure that being willing to die for your country is a...
  • User Avatarpaul barker 21st Oct - 10:17pm
    I dont know what the future holds & neither does anyone else. Our Party has been damaged, not destroyed. We still have 100,000 members, probably...
  • User AvatarDavid Evans 21st Oct - 9:42pm
    Sadly Katharine, Nick took and used power and destroyed the future of Liberal Democracy at the same time. Perhaps you are happy for the good...
  • User Avatarexpats 21st Oct - 9:36pm
    Katharine Pindar 21st Oct '17 - 8:31pm.........Arnold, you are up against unreason and extremism here, but there are many of us who do agree with...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 21st Oct - 8:31pm
    Arnold, you are up against unreason and extremism here, but there are many of us who do agree with you. As Frankie almost said above,...