Tag Archives: welsh liberal democrats

Jane Dodds writes…Loneliness in Wales

The Welsh Government has just announced a consultation on a Strategy to address loneliness in Wales. We know that 17% of the population in Wales are lonely, with 54% saying they have experienced loneliness at some time in their life. Research shows that loneliness is harmful to our health, and increases the likelihood of mortality by 26%. 

Loneliness affects many parts of the population; single parents, those suffering from depression and anxiety, the homeless, young people and the elderly. Studies have found that loneliness peaks in the experiences of young people and then again in older people. For young people, we have seen severe cuts to youth services in local authorities in Wales, and loss of grants to Young Farmers Clubs.  For older people, cuts to services such as day centres, and the Third Sector results in further isolation.  .

Loneliness should be treated as a health issue, and integrated with our approaches to healthy living. For the Strategy in Wales, I would like to see funding targeted to ensure public transport is subsidised, if not free, to target groups, and that rural transport, particularly bus services, are not cut.  This element should work in parallel with an integrated transport plan for Wales.  We need to embed long term funding of community services, particularly from the Third Sector, and ensure that there are befriending services to young people and the elderly.  Finally, Wales needs a new approach to staff and personnel working in this field. It is a  scandal that those who look after our young people, elderly and vulnerable are treated so appallingly. For too long, the care and social sector has been seen as a ”twilight” service with zero hours contracts, poor working conditions and the minimum wage being paid. We need to see this valued group of workers having a more significant profile in our communities. 

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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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Welsh Liberal Democrats’ success at the Royal Welsh Show

Its a truth universally acknowledged that…….there are no ‘ups’ with out ‘downs’, and we Welsh Lib Dems know more than others what ‘down’ feels like. Its crap, to put it bluntly. ‘Down’ is deep and its hard to dust your self off and start climbing up again.

So, its good to report that many of us Welsh Lib Dems are on cloud nine after an exhilarating 4 days at the Royal Welsh Show in Builth Wells. If you’ve never visited the Royal Welsh before, it’s the largest agricultural show in Europe, with a foot fall of about a quarter of a million. It is by far the largest event on the Welsh calendar and one which makes us proud. A great day out for the family and a celebration of the diversity and excellence of the agricultural sector in Wales and beyond. Wales at its very best!

The Welsh Lib Dems have had a stand at the show for ages, but last year we missed a beat and lost out. That may well have been a good thing: time to reflect on our losses and time to try a new trajectory. This year we returned with a vengeance! We had a plan, an excellent plot and a refreshing, slightly crazy concept.

I recall Sal Brinton saying at WLD conference last autumn that we need more humour in our campaigning, that we need to make campaigning fun and accessible. I’m happy to say that we’ve risen to that challenge and the results have been remarkable. More on that in a bit.

This year we planned a stall and campaign around our fantastic Cabinet Secretary Kirsty Williams and the education portfolio which she holds in Welsh Government. We were lucky to have the skills of a very talented volunteer who designed everything on the stand from its 14m long backdrop to its banners, flags and super cute EU-flag-Libby-animal stickers. We even ran a kiddies colouring in completion each day on the stand, which was surprisingly popular. It was in more of a hill billy theatre production than a political stand. We had straw bales to sit on and bunting festooned like a barn dance.

The whole show this year was geared towards young children and, surprise surprise, everyone loved it. We created a stand that was fun, inviting and definitely not stuffy and digitally designed corporate. What a pleasure it was to see a sun burned farmer walk off with a cute Libby/pony/EU flag sticker!There was a lot of laugher. Nearly 40 Welsh Lib Dems helped on the stall, ranging from the newest Newbies to former MPs and members of the Lords. Even Jane Dodds our brilliant and dynamic leader had her slot on the roster to zip up the marquee for the night. We were a team again and we worked effortlessly together. It felt very good.

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Watch: Jane Dodds on Welsh Lib Dems’ vision and campaigns

Yesterday, I caught up with Jane Dodds briefly at the People’s Vote rally in Parliament Square. Wales voted to Leave in the referendum, so I wondered if people there were now starting to wonder if they had made the right decision.

Jane is offering a vision of hope and optimism to Welsh people with particular focus on tackling inequality and loneliness so we talked a bit about how that’s going.

Here’s our chat:

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Jane Dodds on the Welsh Lib Dems vision of hope and optimism to tackle today’s giant evils

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds set the party in Wales a mission at their Conference at the weekend. She wants them to find ideas to tackle the issues that provide the modern equivalent of Beveridge’s giant evils. Here’s her speech proposing the motion that kicks the process off.

Conference, I’m excited to begin the process today of shaping our vision for our party and for Wales. One thing I made clear during my campaign to become leader of our party was that I wanted to re-capture not only our radical, Liberal roots, but the idea that politics should offer hope.

That’s what I want us to do.

I want to rekindle the optimism and the hope that politics once offered by setting out an aspirational vision of the Wales we want to see.

I want us to start a conversation about what it is we want to achieve – a story and an ethos that will help us in shaping stand-out signature policies for the elections ahead of us.

In truth, much of my vision is informed by the vision of another Liberal a little over 75 years ago.

In 1942 William Beveridge published his report, a report that captured imaginations and transformed society. Dryly titled the ‘Social Insurance and Allied Services report,’ Beveridge’s work went on to transform British society and establish the welfare state as we know it.

It was a promise of a better, brighter future.

It was a promise that each and every one of us would have the opportunity to get on in life; to be healthy, to be well educated, to have a place to call home, and that there would be a safety net for when the going got tough.

Beveridge identified 5 giant evils: squalor, want, disease, ignorance and idleness.

Far from having disappeared, the challenges facing society in 1942 have only changed.

We no longer simply talk of a poverty  – or want – of “physical efficiency” – the minimum amount to simply feed ourselves; we talk about the number of households and children living in working poverty, turning to foodbanks, with opportunity out of reach.

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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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Jane Dodds’ New Year Message: Welsh Liberal Democrats are fighting back

Dymuniadau Gorau i chi gyd dros y Blwyddyn Newydd/ Best Wishes to you all for the New Year.

2018 will be the year of the Welsh Liberal Democrat fight back, with renewed energy in our activists, key policies which will change the lives of Welsh people, and a focus on winning seats.

We want to see a Wales that has social justice as its backbone – rethinking a punitive benefits system which wages war on the poor.  We want to see a Wales that looks out to Europe – leaving the EU would be a disaster for Welsh farmers and businesses.  We want to see a Wales that  welcomes refugees – building on its proud history of internationalism.  We want to see a Wales that has a health system that is fair – English people have waiting times for planned operations that is half that of Welsh people.  We want to see an economic plan for Wales that will breathe new life into its urban and rural areas – promoting innovation in green industries.  

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Reprise: What Jane Dodds wants for the Welsh Liberal Democrats

This is a re-run of the article Jane Dodds wrote for us during the Welsh Lib Dems’ leadership campaign, setting out her hopes for the party.

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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Jane Dodds is the new leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats

Congratulations to Jane Dodds on her election today as Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats. She won 53.15 of the vote over Ceredigion’s Liz Evans.

Jane tweeted:

Jane told the County Times:

It is an honour to have been elected as the next leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats – to focus my energy on bringing like minded people together to rebuild our party and to re-establish the Welsh Liberal Democrats as the radical, progressive force of Welsh politics.

“I’d like to thank Liz Evans for running an excellent campaign and giving members a vital opportunity to discuss our next steps as a party.

I”’d also like to pay tribute to Mark Williams and Kirsty Williams for their unwavering commitment to our party.

“Wales needs the Welsh Liberal Democrats now more than ever.

Wales needs the progressive, pragmatic, and reforming voice of Welsh Liberal Democrats in the Assembly and in Westminster to give us an exit from Brexit, a fresh look on creating more and better paid jobs, protecting our environment, and delivering on Kirsty Williams’ education reforms.

“We have been down, but we aren’t out, and I’m confident of what lies ahead for my party.”

Good wishes have been coming in:

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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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Today at Welsh Conference

Welsh Conference continues this morning. There are more spokespeople Q and A sessions along with a debate on future relations with the EU. They will also be discussing their Governance Review with a call to establish an 8 member task force to take this forward. Here’s the full agenda.

9:30 Party Spokespeople
Bob Griffin: Economy and Infrastructure
Cadan ap Tomos: Young People, Equalities and the Welsh Language

9:50 PM5: Future Relationship with the European Union

Having regard to:

  1. 1  the narrow majority for ‘Leave’ in the EU referendum;
  2. 2  the need to respect that majority and the views which led up to it;
  3. 3  the multiplicity of beneficial outcomes from Brexit then suggested to the electorate;
  4. 4  the limited two-year negotiating period after Article 50 is triggered.

Notes with concern that:

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Today at Welsh Conference

Welsh Liberal Democrats gather in Swansea this weekend for their first Spring Conference since the disastrous election last year which saw them lose four of their five AMs. The party has had to pick itself up from that heartbreaking and thoroughly undeserved defeat. It has re-organised its resources and is ready to fight the Council elections in May. They also have the only Liberal Democrat Minister standing, in Kirsty Williams, who is doing a great job as Wales’ Education Secretary. Below is their agenda for the day.

They are having discussion sessions with their party spokespeople, motions on students and the community, ending the right to buy and community banking and  a long debate on their council elections manifesto. The details are below.

Morning session

09:15 Opening of Conference
9:40 Party Spokespeople: Cllr Peter Black: Finance, Local Government, Heritage, & Housing Jane Dodds: Communities & Social Justice

10:00 Topical/Emergency Motion

10:20 PM1: Students and the Local Community

Conference notes:

  1. The positive impact of students and universities on the local economy
  2. The transient nature of student communities
  3. The tensions that can arise between long-term residents and the changing studentpopulation

Conference believes:

  1. Collaboration between groups leads to the most effective and sustainable solutions to the issues and challenges transient communities face
  2. That it is the responsibility of students, landlords, and local authorities to keep the local areas tidy
  3. More can and should be done to improve community relations between long-term and student residents

Conference calls for:

7. Local authorities to work with students unions and universities on a variety of projects including:

  1. Creating an information pack for students and landlords detailing what resources are available to them within the community. This can include material and adverts from local businesses and groups, guidance on contacting the council, guidance around bin collection and local events.
  2. Informing students of their rights as renters through online materials and workshops
  3. Run community building projects such as Cardiff Digs and Love Bangor
  4. Promote and work with Communities 1st and similar groups
  5. To recognise work done by students in the local community through the useof Higher Education Achievement Report or other award schemes

10:50 PM2: Standing up for our Local Communities

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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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+++Breaking: Welsh Special Conference to debate whether Kirsty Williams should enter Cabinet as Education Secretary

Kirsty Williams 2We knew last weekend that Kirsty Williams was talking to Welsh Labour about accepting a Cabinet position and now we know what it is and what she will be bringing to the Cabinet table, subject to the approval of the Welsh Party at a Special Conference on Saturday.

From the Welsh Liberal Democrat website:

Kirsty Williams and the First Minister have reached a Progressive Agreement between the two parties to work together in Government.

The First Minister has invited Kirsty Williams to serve as Cabinet Secretary for Education and subject to ratification by the Welsh Liberal Democrats this weekend, she has accepted.

The agreement enables the implementation of key Welsh Liberal Democrat policy priorities that the party campaigned on during the recent election, ensuring that:

Infant class sizes are reduced to a maximum of 25;
There are more nurses, in more settings, through an extended nurse staffing levels law;
20,000 extra affordable homes are funded;
A new ‘Rent to Own’ housing model is introduced;
Mental health discrimination is ended.
Members of the Welsh Liberal Democrats will be asked to endorse this agreement at a Special Conference will take place this Saturday (21 May).

Commenting on the invitation to be Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams AM said: “Government in Wales has entered a new era. Where there is common ground, we must have the confidence and ambition to work together for the good of its people.

“The test of our new approach is not the warmth of our words, but our commitment to get things done.

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How Mark Williams intends to revitalise the Welsh Liberal Democrats

In his first interview as Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader, for Wales Online, Mark Williams talked about how the party would rebuild following the shattering defeat in the Assembly elections.

He seemed to cast doubt on the wisdom of concentrating campaigning in 4 constituency seats, saying the party needed to reach out to liberals across Wales:

He said: “There are huge swathes of Wales where we did not campaign at all, and that’s what we need to change.

“There are groups of Liberal activists around the country that need to be supported build strength on the ground.”

Mr Williams said election efforts had been concentrated in Brecon and Radnorshire, Cardiff Central, Ceredigion, Montgomeryshire – only the first of which was won.

Adamant there are many potential supporters in Wales, he said: “There’s a lot of people out there, maybe who were disaffected by the coalition experience, who we need to draw back into our party.

“Whatever the percentage was on Thursday, there are far more Liberals, people of Liberal thinking, out there.”

He looked to history to show that the party would recover:

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Mark Williams MP is the new Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader

Mark Williams MP by LIberal Democrats

Ceredigion MP Mark Williams has been confirmed as the new Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader by the Welsh National Executive Committee. As the only other Parliamentarian after Kirsty Williams stood down yesterday in the wake of the election results, he is the only other person eligible for the job as the Welsh Constitution outlines:

The Leader of the Party shall be elected from the Welsh Liberal Democrat members of the European Parliament, House of Commons and the National Assembly for Wales and shall become Leader of whichever Group they originate from.

From the Welsh Liberal Democrats’ website:

The National Executive Committee has announced Ceredigion MP Mark Williams as Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats following a meeting today.

Mark Williams was first elected the MP for Ceredigion in 2005. He studied at Aberystwyth University before working for Geraint Howells, the Liberal MP for Ceredigion, and then becoming a Research Assistant to Liberal Peers in the House of Lords. He later worked as a Primary School Teacher and Deputy Headteacher before being elected to Parliament.

Following the meeting, Mark Williams MP said:

“It is a great honour to become leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

“It is a great challenge to follow in the footsteps of Kirsty Williams, who has served us outstandingly for eight years through challenging times. Every one of us owe her a huge debt of gratitude.

“These coming months and years will test the flame of liberalism, and I will do everything possible to ensure that flame burns brightly again across our great nation.

“Despite the election results, I’m heartened by the growing number of members and activists joining us because they believe in our cause, and I call on any person who shares our values to join us in our fight.”

 

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LibLink: Kirsty Williams’ pitch for Welsh Assembly votes

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams has set out the party’s stall in an article for Wales Online.

First of all, she says that devolution hasn’t delivered what it should have done. She highlights the key problems:

The Labour Welsh Government is the longest surviving government in Europe. It is bankrupt of ideas, tired and with flawed priorities – 17 years in power, yet no vision for Wales’ future.

One needn’t look any further than Labour’s crusade to ban the use of e-cigarettes, all while NHS waiting lists continue to grow and health services are failing.

People, rightly, expect their Welsh Government to deliver effective public services and economic stability. Yet NHS waiting lists in Wales remain the longest in the UK, our schools’ standards have fallen in the international league tables and our economy continues to lag behind that of our counterparts.

She wants a Parliament that listens to people:

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Poll boosts for Kirsty Williams and Eluned Parrott in Wales

The only poll that actually matters is the one that happens 8 days from today, but there is encouraging news from key Welsh marginals. The caveat is that it’s based on extrapolations from a uniform national swing, but it is a sign that the Welsh Liberal Democrats and Kirsty are having a good impact with their campaign calling for improvements in health, education, housing and the economy, all of which are suffering under Labour rule.

Wales Online looks at a number of seats including two of particular interest to Liberal Democrats:

Brecon and Radnorshire

The constituency was won comfortably by the Conservatives in last year’s general election.

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams is on 40.4% with Tory Gary Price on 27.4%.

Cardiff Central

In Cardiff Central, where Labour took the seat from the Liberal Democrats in last year’s general election with a comfortable majority, the party’s Jenny Rathbone, who narrowly won it in 2011, is said to be trailing the Lib Dems’ Eluned Parrott by 35.1% to 28.6%.

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The party needs to live its values in the way it treats young members

Imagine being a member of a political party which prides itself on policy crafted by individuals which are valued in their own right, not for their morally arbitrary characteristics. It shouldn’t be too hard to imagine, because it is what our party sells itself as. Now imagine that upon joining that party you are told that actually what you are is just a good pair of legs to deliver leaflets, that you should instead accept that some people know better than you as a consequence of again arbitrary characteristics, and that regardless of your actual experiences that people are right to make assumptions about your knowledge, intelligence, and capacity for thinking into the future.

I would imagine that sounds fairly grim to you, and of course I would naturally agree. The sad thing is that this is a reality for young members of our party which they experience almost daily. It is no more obvious than at party conferences, where regardless of one’s education, training and vocation, that one is deemed “naïve” as a consequence of one’s youth.

I’d like to say I was heartened by the gasps and boos following one such example during the fracking debate, and I dare say the speaker responsible will have learnt her lesson. However, the problem persists within the party, and was evidenced the next day on the controversial debate concerning AWS and ADS. Young speakers from both sides of the debate recalled times where either themselves or their friends had experienced unwanted advances and sexual harassment, only to be told later either that they were plainly wrong, or that they knew nothing about true sexism.

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Big wins for Welsh Lib Dems in budget negotiations

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 09.39.40It’s annual budget time and the Welsh Liberal Democrats have secured some substantial investment in young people in the Welsh budget including 5000 new apprenticeships, increase in and extension of the Pupil Premium and a young person’s bus pass.

The full list of Liberal Democrat policies to be implemented is:

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What Twitter tells us about Welsh Liberal Democrat Conference

The Welsh Liberal Democrats met in Swansea for their Autumn Conference yesterday. Here are some of the highlights from Twitter.

Like the Scottish Kickstart which also took place yesterday, the event opened with a minute’s silence for the victims of the Paris atrocities.

Sal Brinton also mentioned the events in Paris in her speech:

Was some awkward squad rebellion going on?

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Kirsty Williams: Liberal Democrats fight for the underdog, we fight for what is right, leading on the issues that no-one else will

In a speech in Cardiff today, Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams made a considered, candid speech in which she started to chart the direction of the post-coalition party. She has to lead her AMs into challenging Welsh Assembly elections in less than ten months’ time.

She spoke honestly about the coalition experience and what she felt the Liberal Democrats had got wrong as well as right. She said it was now time to reset the dial and talked about those values of social justice, individual liberty and Keynesian economic efficiency which are the cornerstones of our values.

The whole speech is reproduced below, and you can listen along to the audio here.

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Welsh Lib Dems get good media coverage for new website launch

Welsh Lib Dems weibsiteNew websites put Welsh Lib Dems at forefront of web campaigning” screams the headline on Wales Online. Not bad coverage for the launch of a website, albeit one using the new .wales and .cymru domain names.

Kirsty Williams is quoted as saying:

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Eluned Parrott selected to fight Welsh Assembly Cardiff Central seat

In 2011, one of the most heartbreaking results in Wales was losing Jenny Randerson’s former constituency of Cardiff Central by just 38 votes Losing by such a small amount is horrible. Welsh Liberal Democrats hope to win it back in 2015. They’ve now chosen their candidate, South Wales Central list AM Eluned Parrott, who has made a significant impact since she was elected in 2011.

In 2012, she wrote about her experience of Post-Natal Depression for Time to Change Wales as one of four AMs who decided to be open about their own experiences. A year later, she followed that up with an article about the impact that decision had had on her life:

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Kirsty Williams questions Welsh First Minister on “lack of ambition” for young people

Kirsty WilliamsKirsty Williams seemed choked with the cold when she questioned First Minister Carwyn Jones yesterday but her fighting spirit was undiminished as she took him to task for what she called his government’s aspiration towards mediocrity rather than excellence in the wake of the annual Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission report which said that poorer children in Wales were significantly less likely to obtain 5 GCSE’s including Maths and English. Even at the age of 3, children in Wales were falling behind those in England and Scotland in terms of vocabulary. While children in England caught up with those in Scotland by the age of 5, children in Wales fell further behind.

In his response, Mr Jones had to point to the “Pupil Deprivation Grant” as being part of the solution.

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Kirsty Williams AM writes… Welsh Liberal Democrats oppose Labour’s e-cigarette ban

Electronic Cigarette InhalationAs a liberal I’m deeply sceptical of knee-jerk reactions to issues of public importance, especially when there’s a severe lack of evidence to support your claim. This was a view I thought I shared with the Welsh Labour Health Minister, Mark Drakeford, after he said in the debate on my minimum nurse staffing levels bill that “in pursuing public policy, legislation should almost always be a last, rather than a first resort.”

You can imagine my surprise, therefore, when the Welsh Labour Government announced plans to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in public places, along the same lines as the current smoking ban.

I called Welsh Labour’s plans into question as I led a debate in the Senedd on this matter earlier this month, asking the Health Minister to produce the evidence that he had to support this ban. Despite assuring me and other Assembly Members that there was “mounting evidence” which he’d make available to me “immediately after the debate”, it was two weeks until I received anything from him. This amounted to one single paper.

I’d hardly call that “mounting evidence”.

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Nick Clegg tells Wales: Liberal Democrat councillors create jobs and fight to protect services

Nick Clegg’s speech to the Welsh Liberal Democrat conference has been widely covered. The Guardian led on his push for greater diversity in the Party and mentioned his defence of the Government’s economic policy, missing out the massive section on how the Liberal Democrats are delivering fairness in many areas across Government. Why would they do that, I wonder?

The BBC led on Nick’s assertion that he would not let the Government lurch to the right.

Having read the whole speech, I think there’s a part that has so far not made the headlines. Nick has spent a great deal of …

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Opinion: Welsh Liberal Democrat Conference supports retention of Section 3 of the Equality Act

At the Welsh Liberal Democrat conference in Cardiff yesterday, a comfortable majority of representatives carried a motion urging that Lib Dem peers be allowed to vote with their consciences on amendment 35 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill. By so allowing, the party will send out the signal that our commitment to equality and human rights is undiminished despite being in coalition with a party whose commitment is at best questionable.

Amendment 35 was originally moved in the Lords by disability campaigner Baroness Jane Campbell and passed in March, supported by Labour, cross Benchers, a majority of Lib Dem peers, …

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Kirsty Williams AM writes: Welsh Liberal Democrats will fight for more for disadvantaged children

Yesterday the Welsh Labour Government submitted its £15 billion draft budget which reveals its spending plans for the next year.

In its current form, the Welsh Liberal Democrats cannot support this budget as we don’t believe it goes far enough to tackle the problem of making sure that children from deprived backgrounds get the fair start in life they deserve.

Last year, the Welsh Liberal Democrats vastly improved the Welsh Government’s budget by agreeing to support it in return for the introduction of a Welsh Pupil Premium. Despite failing standards in our schools and an ever growing spending gap per pupil when compared …

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarNom de Plume 14th Nov - 3:23pm
    Correction: 'customs union'
  • User AvatarDenis Loretto 14th Nov - 3:23pm
    @ Anthony Watts I echo that also and it behoves all of us to pursue the "people's vote" option as the only practical way to...
  • User AvatarNom de Plume 14th Nov - 3:22pm
    It was always going to be a bad deal. A currency union is a bad deal, but I wish you would leave "vassal state" terminology...
  • User AvatarMichael 1 14th Nov - 2:54pm
    @David Raw Are you saying that the non UK wide parties are of no relevance to demands for a second referendum ? No! I clearly...
  • User AvatarSue Sutherland 14th Nov - 2:45pm
    Mark Pack has emailed an interesting survey of opinion on Brexit undertaken in October. It indicates that those who voted Leave still believe there will...
  • User AvatarSue Sutherland 14th Nov - 2:18pm
    Great article Joe Bourke but I disagree with one of your statements. I don’t see any evidence that common sense has to break out because...