Tag Archives: wendy chamberlain

Scottish Lib Dems call for better Police vetting and Commission to prevent violence against women and girls

This weekend, Scottish Conference passed a motion calling for serious action to prevent violence against women and girls:

In the wake of the shocking revelations of the details of the murder of Sarah Everard, Scottish Lib Dem Women submitted an emergency motion calling for, amongst other things:

  • An NHS-style public awareness campaign to build public understanding of the drivers behind violence against women;
  • An extended Independent Review of Equality Matters in policing as recommended by Dame Elish Angiolini, to include a review of police vetting processes and consideration of misogynistic behaviour;
  • New training for those working in education and frontline in public authorities;
  • Recognition of misogyny as a hate crime.

The party also reaffirmed its call for a new Commission to look at ways of preventing men’s violence against women and girls in all its forms, to report within one year in order to ensure a co-ordinated approach across all levels of government.

Wendy Chamberlain MP summated the motion, saying:

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Sexism in the Police force goes way beyond the Met

The failings of the Metropolitan Police with regard to the murder of Sarah Everard have been well documented over the past few days. Our Wendy Chamberlain, the only woman in the Commons to have been a serving Police officer, has been absolutely brilliant in highlighting the need for change in the force.

But the institutional sexism goes way beyond the Police. Former Nottinghamshire Chief Constable Sue Fish described yesterday how she didn’t dare report sexual assault by a colleague for fear of the consequences for them and, even more disturbingly she recounted:

that she had a senior colleague that was arrested and jailed for having sex with a “vulnerable” woman during his shift.

She said she would be left, as a young probationary officer, driving a marked car around in circles while her older colleague – nicknamed ‘Pervert’ – would visit the house of a woman he met on the job.

And an employment tribunal has found “horrific” examples of a sexist culture in a Police Scotland armed policing unit. The BBC reports some of the indignities that women officers in that unit had to put up with.

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Wendy Chamberlain on how the Police can regain public trust

Wendy Chamberlain is the only female former Police Officer in Parliament. We are very lucky to have her. She gave a brilliant interview to Sky News yesterday about the murder of Sarah Everard and what the Police needs to do now to regain trust.

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Wendy Chamberlain has to miss key votes because of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s stubbornness

Poor Wendy Chamberlain hasn’t had much luck this Summer. She was pinged not once but twice by the app before the rules changed which meant she had to spend much of July cooped up in her London flat. She was still able to take part in votes in Parliament, though, and speak, because she was able to take part virtually.

But all that modernity was too much for Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg. As soon as the rules ended, so did the chance to participate remotely in Parliament. That is out of step with many workplaces which are moving to some sort of hybrid arrangement.

So, when Wendy again found herself having to isolate yesterday while waiting for the result of a PCR test, she had to voting last night and she wasn’t happy.

Watching the House of Commons proper freaks me out. Seeing MPs crammed together in what is a pretty small space seems to me to be an unnecessary risk. And when did we get to the stage where wearing a tiny bit of material across your mouth and nose to protect others becomes a political issue, not a matter of basic courtesy and consideration. The opposition benches are full of people who are wearing masks when they are not speaking yet only a few Conservatives have them on. I know that there are medical exemptions, and that’s fine, but they apply to a very small number of people. I can’t imagine that this applies to virtually every single Conservative MP.

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Liberal Democrats table motion to dock Raab’s pay

Today in Parliament the Liberal Democrats are tabling an Early Day Motion to dock Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s pay over his handling of the Afghanistan crisis.

They are also calling for the Government to use the money saved to fund the resettlement of Afghan refugees, following reports of a £557m shortfall in resettlement funding.

Commenting on the motion, Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain MP said:

Dominic Raab is one of the worst Foreign Secretaries in British history.

He has presided over the worst foreign policy disaster since the Suez and decided to spend more time on the beach instead of picking

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Research highlights devastating financial impact of pandemic on young lower income women

It was clear right from the start that Covid shone a super trouper on the inequalities in our society. As older, more affluent office workers worked from home and saw their bank balances increase, younger, lower income workers kept us fed and cared for.

New research commissioned by a number of women’s organisations, including Close the Gap, Engender and the Fawcett Society has laid bare the impact on women on low incomes. Younger women were more adversely affected than older women andhit than lower income men.

Even before the pandemic hit, the report says that almost half of young women on …

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Afghans and their loved ones pay the price of a UK PM who doesn’t care

Jo Swinson was right about many things. Just after she became leader in 2019, she told Iain Dale that the worst thing about Boris Johnson is that he just doesn’t care about anything other than himself.

Nowhere has that been more obvious than in the way he has behaved over the evacuation from Afghanistan.

The way you act when you are in a leadership position is a powerful signal to those below you about how important you think something is. If you are passionate about getting something done, it’s very clear.

There’s a reasonable expectation that, at times of crisis, your leaders are going to look a bit like they are devoting everything to sort things out. You want to see a bit of worry, empathy, stress on their faces. We, instead, have a carefully dishevelled Prime Minister looking like he doesn’t have a care in the world, asking stressed staff at the Foreign Office if they are the ones being inundated by emails. I mean, I am sure that if Armando Iannucci had suggested that scene for The Thick of It, they’d have binned the idea as being too far-fetched. Ed Davey said that the video showed Johnson in his true light:

These flippant remarks show Boris Johnson in his true light, uncaring and unable to master the detail during this awful crisis.

The emails he refers to are from desperate family and friends worried that the Taliban will kill their loved ones.

Perhaps if Boris Johnson had understood and planned for the dangers of the Kabul evacuation, thousands of people would not be at crisis point.

Wendy Chamberlain added on Twitter:

Our MPs have been really good at supporting their staff with the emotional impact of this work with Ed taking time to message his appreciation.  Their caseworkers work alongside MPs supporting worried loved ones and all of them really care about the people they are trying to help.

And then we discover from the Observer today that many of the emails sent to the Government from MPs were not even read.

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Wendy Chamberlain: Lib Dems stand for people politics, not grievance politics

This weekend, we’re publishing all the speeches from Alex Cole-Hamilton’s launch event. Here’s Wendy Chamberlain MP talking about

I am so excited to be here with you all today, because today is a new beginning with a new generation of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, exemplified by Jack Norquoy, and under our new leader Alex Cole-Hamilton.

I’ve been a member of this party for only six years. I always joke that I joined crying at Nick Clegg on the Telly in the aftermath of the General Election result of 2015.

That was the start of my journey. If you had told me that I would be an MP for the party within 5 years of joining, I would have laughed very loudly. But this is what this party does, it welcomes with open arms.

Having served in the police until 2011, I could have joined the party then – after all Scottish Liberal Democrats had always had my vote. Watching Nick Clegg, and hearing the core liberal values he espoused, it hit me.

Scotland couldn’t afford to lose those values, or the opportunity to vote for representatives who held them. And that the Scottish Liberal Democrats needed more than my vote, they needed me and others to get involved.

Autumn 2015 – I find myself making my first contribution at a party conference: introducing my now dear friend, Willie Rennie, as he made his then Leader’s speech. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be standing here as North East Fife’s representative in Westminster, and our party wouldn’t be where it was today as it now looks forward beyond the last decade with Willie at the helm.

Across Scotland, where we have representation whether at Council, Holyrood and Westminster, people see the benefit of having a Scottish Liberal Democrat representative. We work hard to get elected – knocking doors all year round, on the phones checking in on the vulnerable during the early stages of the pandemic, delivering leaflets to get our message across as we need to as a smaller party.

Because without those hard-working community campaigners – people like Alex, people like Willie – we can never deliver that change that we want to see in Scotland.

Liberal Democrats need the people of Scotland. And the people of Scotland need Liberal Democrats.

I know we sometimes feel we might be small – but when we work together, we are can be a mighty force.

I saw that in my first campaign, in 2016 – helping get Willie elected in North East Fife; and seeing Alex elected here.

You saw it just a couple of months ago – in Chesham and Amersham where the Liberal Democrats took out a chunk of the Tory Blue Wall. No other party is placed to do that.

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Wendy Chamberlain on making history, Burns and the lassies

A couple of weeks ago, we published Alistair Carmichael’s Immortal Memory for lockdown that he had delivered at the South Edinburgh Burns Supper. Then word reached our ears that Wendy Chamberlain had delivered the Reoly from the lasses at the Scotland in Union virtual event a few days later. As she points out, she’s the first MP for N E Fife who can do this. Enjoy her speech here:

Last year, one of the first invites I was delighted to accept as the MP for North East Fife was to give the Reply to the Lasses at one of the Kingdom’s numerous golf courses. Frankly, I was delighted to be in a golf club where there was a man on the door, waiting to take my coat as opposed to keeping me and other women off of the premises. If golf clubs can do it, so can Burns Clubs, and I’m very much hoping that the appearance of wives and partners on Zoom Burns Suppers of male only clubs produces a more inclusive approach next year as we look to being able to meet physically again to toast Rabbie Burns and his legacy.

I am the first MP for North East Fife to be in a position to give the reply to the lasses – given that I am the first ever lass to be elected to represent the constituency. The seat has a long Liberal and Unionist tradition – from Ming Campbell and even further back to the days of Prime Minister Herbert Asquith – we may have disagreed on our views on universal suffrage – the suffragettes caused him no manner of trouble in East Fife – usually interrupting him whilst he was playing golf, but I am sure he would be pleased to see it return into Liberal hands.

I’m delighted to give the reply to the lasses and follow on from such a toast – But I do love a challenge, as my shinty playing will pay testament to. I spoke with my colleague, Alex Cole Hamilton, prior to this evening to check if he had anything of note to fill me in on in relation to Daniel (Editor’s note: Daniel Johnson, MSP for Edinburgh Southern, who I’ve sadly not met before.

He doesn’t know this, but he has actually met my step daughter on a visit to the Scottish Police College where she was completing her probationary training – I believe he got a taste of Officer Safety Training! I also understand that the only uniform he would want to wear is a United Federation of Planets one on the USS Enterprise!

I understand that Daniel is always one to stand in allyship to the lassies when required – There are currently more statues of animals in Edinburgh than there are of women and Daniel is involved in campaign to erect a statue of Elsie Inglis, doctor, surgeon, teacher and campaigner in the city. Just over 2 years ago, I took part in the Pages of the Sea UK wide event to mark the centenary of the First World War and Elsie was the subject of the sand portrait drawn on St Andrews West Sands.

However, the main reason for my delight this evening, I have to confess is, not just Burns’s beautiful words, or the dedication (in many ways) to women but for the L word

Lassies

I feel a connection to Burns in part because I have Ayrshire roots. Back in the days when I had a modicum of spare time, and as we know, women can multitask incredibly well, I did do some online genealogy that took my grandmother’s Kilpatrick family back to Tarbolton in the early 1800s.

Last summer, during the lifting of restrictions, my family and I spent a week just outside Alloway and I attempted to do some in person detective work – uncovering ancestors including a publican in Monkton and a quarryman in St Quivox. But, I couldn’t make the Burns connection.

Burns wrote his first song, Handsome Nell, or I am man unmarried – that was a novelty for Burns – for a woman widely believed to be Helen Kilpatrick, the daughter of a miller in Dalrymple.

O once I lov’d a bonnie lass
Aye, and I love her still
And whilst that virtue warms my breast
I’ll love my Handsome Nell

He wrote to Dr Hunter that ‘the tones of her voice made my heart strings thrill like an Aeolin harp and my pulse beat such a furious rantann’. The first of many to make him feel like that – it’s clear throughout Burns writing that he loved his lassies.

I have no concrete evidence for a Helen connection, but when has that ever stopped a politician, as I now must refer to myself (it’s still sinking in!). It’s not a lie as such, just a surmising! Another Ayrshire ancestor was discovered a foundling on the banks of the Dee and therefore surnamed Strathdee, so it’s quite clear that Burns was not alone in his promiscuous behaviour, and as has always been it was the woman who paid the price of this philandering.

His affair with Jenny Clow, servant to Clarinda, or Agnes McElhose, produced a child. She was described during their affair as having dragged her petticoats through the rye – little did they know a lassie in Downing Street would confess to something similar 200 years later!

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Unforgivable choices – Lib Dems respond to the Spending Review

For the second time in three days, Christine Jardine pressed the Government to do more to help those who have thus far been excluded from Government support. Three million self-employed people have had nothing since March and some have had no income at all because they work in areas that aren’t yet open. In March they were stressed. Eight months on, they are desperate.

Rishi Sunak was dismissive, but not as egregious as Boris Johnson had been the other day when Christine questioned him.

“I hope we haven’t excluded anyone” said the PM. If he doesn’t know that there is a massive All-Party Parliamentary Group fighting for these people, if he hasn’t been aware of the many questions that have been asked in Parliament, then that shows unforgivable ignorance. If he did know of the plight of the three million, his remarks show callous disregard.

Later, Christine talked to BBC News arguing against the public sector pay freeze and the abandonment of the 0,7% aid target.

On that international aid issue, Wendy Chamberlain highlighted how the Government had gone back on its word:

Ed Davey said that the Chancellor had made some unforgivable political choices:

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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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Wendy Chamberlain reminds Boris about the Scottish border

Wendy Chamberlain got to question the Prime Minister this week. She asked him to sort out the issue that means that she and other Scots travelling between Scotland and England, and everyone living in the Borders, who may cross from Scotland to England several times a day, to sort out a problem with the respective English and Scottish test and trace apps.

Anyone crossing the border has to manually switch between apps. It doesn’t happen automatically. So you might think that your app is working, but it isn’t if you haven’t made the change between them.

See Wendy in action here:

Boris Johnson sounded pretty clueless in response, as you would expect. He did say he’d sort it, though.

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Hobbes and Hattie compete to be Westminster’s top cat

We’ve just got through the leadership election and now two of our other MPs are facing off against each other.

Well, their cats are.

Wendy Chamberlain’s Hobbes and Jamie Stone’s Hattie are taking part in Purr Minister 2020, run by Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. Lib Dems have been successful before. Annette Brooke’s Billy won in 2015.

Wendy and Jamie have both taken to Twitter to drum up votes for their gorgeous cats.

And Hobbes posed a slight dilemma for Scottish Lib Dem Women

His manifesto is:

I’m named for the cartoon character and not the philosopher, but the social contract is purrly on my

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16 September 2020 – the overnight press release

Bill introduced to restore scrutiny of international aid

The Liberal Democrats have secured cross-party support for a Bill being introduced today which would create a new select committee to scrutinise Overseas Development Assistance expenditure by the Government.

The move, supported by former International Development Committee Sarah Champion and former DFID Minister Harriett Baldwin, follows the Prime Minister’s decision to abolish the Department for International Aid and rumours the Chancellor now intends to scrap foreign aid.

Liberal Democrat MP Wendy Chamberlain, who is bringing in the Bill, has stressed the need to ensure “that where UK aid is delivered, it …

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UPDATED: Davey reshuffle part 2 – The full team

Ed Davey’s reshuffle of his top team is being done in parts.

Yesterday, he announced the top three offices of state. Christine Jardine is going to Treasury, Layla Moran to Foreign Affairs and Alistair Carmichael takes on the Home Affairs brief.

Today, we discovered via Twitter that Wendy Chamberlain is taking on the role of Chief Whip alongside the Scotland and Wales and Work and Pensions briefs.

Wendy’s professional experience as a Police Officer and as a manager and trainer makes her an ideal choice for this role. The Chief Whip also has a role in managing the LIb Dem parliamentary staff and she’ll totally excel at that.

Daisy Cooper takes over at Education. She loses her Culture, Media and Sport portfolio to former pantomime dame Jamie Stone and will no doubt take on other responsibilities. There is speculation that she will end up as Deputy Leader, a position that is decided by MPs alone.

Jamie Stone retains his defence portfolio.

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29-31 August 2020 – the Bank Holiday weekend’s press release

Scrapping foreign aid shows Government abandoning world stage

Responding to reports that the Chancellor is set to scrap Foreign Aid, Liberal Democrat International Development spokesperson Wendy Chamberlain said:

For too many vulnerable people in need around the world, UK foreign aid has made the difference between life and death.

Despite previous assurances, the mask has now slipped and we can see the callous Tories for who they really are.

By scrapping foreign aid, the Government is abandoning the world stage and turning a blind eye to the crippling poverty children face around the world.

Now more than ever we need oversight and

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11 August 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Liberal Democrats call for independent equality assessment of Voter ID plan
  • Liberal Democrats: Government must halt use of facial recognition by police

Liberal Democrats call for independent equality assessment of Voter ID plan

The Liberal Democrats are calling for independent equality impact assessments into voter ID to protect “the legitimacy and integrity” of the UK electoral system as the Government looks to press ahead with voter ID legislation.

Citing evidence from around the world demonstrating that Voter ID makes it more difficult for people to vote, Liberal Democrat MPs are raising deep concerns that voter ID checks “will disproportionately impact ethnic minorities” at …

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23 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Liberal Democrats: Govt must stop posturing and secure a good deal
  • Liberal Democrats attempt to block renter evictions
  • Any review of our democracy must be truly independent, Liberal Democrats warn

Liberal Democrats: Govt must stop posturing and secure a good deal

Responding to Barnier’s comments that there has been no progress on key Brexit issues including fisheries and state aid, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

With just weeks to go and our country already facing the biggest economic crisis in generations, it is unthinkable that the UK would crash out of the transition period without a deal in place or with a bad

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22 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Mental health and education gap of homeschooling must be addressed
  • All Hong Kongers must be given right to live in the UK
  • £2.9 billion aid cut shows Government abandoning world stage

Mental health and education gap of homeschooling must be addressed

Responding to ONS statistics published today on the impact of homeschooling during the coronavirus pandemic, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said:

Coronavirus has clearly impacted every aspect of life, including the wellbeing of parents and children, and the quality of education the majority of children receive. We must ensure no one is left behind.

If it wasn’t for years of cuts to our schools and government failing to consult adequately with teachers and school leaders, it wouldn’t be this way. Ministers must now increase the necessary provision of laptops and introduce a Summer Learning Fund that supports the most disadvantaged children.

Moreover, the Government must address the mental health impact of the pandemic by signposting the appropriate support services to every household, and properly funding the charities that provide those services.

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16 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • We need a proper Green Recovery Plan to protect jobs
  • People deserve better than this Government’s NHS Test and Trace system
  • Government must not use commission as an excuse to stall on tackling racism
  • Government’s half-baked merger plan is threat to international aid

We need a proper Green Recovery Plan to protect jobs

Responding to ONS unemployment figures showing that the number of workers on payrolls has fallen by 649,000 between March and June, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

Every single person losing their job reminds us that coronavirus is a tragedy that cuts across every aspect of people’s lives. Managing this health and economic crisis demands the best possible leadership at the top of our country.

The Conservative Government’s shambolic handling of the pandemic has made the economic challenge we are facing far worse than it need have been. We need much better political leaders than Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings if we are going to help those losing their jobs.

With this sharp rise in job losses, the Chancellor must urgently look at additional support, otherwise there will be an unemployment tsunami in October.

And we need a real vision for creating new jobs and the jobs of the future. The Chancellor’s summer statement offered little more than a sticking plaster. The Liberal Democrats are instead calling for a major £150bn Green Recovery Plan that will create millions of good quality jobs, safeguarding the UK’s future.

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23 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems table amendments to stop MPs debating complaints in the chamber
  • Govt must be transparent on guidance behind decision to relax lockdown
  • Govt must guarantee scrutiny in Parliament as daily COVID updates cease

Lib Dems table amendments to stop MPs debating complaints in the chamber

The Liberal Democrats have tabled amendments to the Independent Complaints Scheme which will prevent Members of Parliament from debating and voting on motions concerning complaints made in Parliament.

The amendments tabled to a motion set to be debated later today are crucial for protecting anyone who makes a complaint. It would give the independent panel the power to …

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18 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems use Urgent Question to challenge Govt on DFID merger
  • Govt must regulate big tech companies’ use of COVID-19 app data
  • Lib Dems call for Race Equality Strategy

Lib Dems use Urgent Question to challenge Govt on DFID merger

Liberal Democrat International Development spokesperson Wendy Chamberlain has today challenged the Foreign Secretary on the “wrongheaded” decision to merge the Department of International Development with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

In an Urgent Question in the House of Commons, Wendy Chamberlain blasted the Prime Minister’s description of DFID as a “cashpoint in the sky”. She also raised mounting concerns about future funding for DFID projects …

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16 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Govt spending £120m on Festival for Brexit instead of free school meals over the summer
  • PM’s decision to scrap DFID shows Govt turning its back on most in need
  • Govt must act to address disproportionate impact of pandemic on BAME communities
  • Govt must go beyond u-turn on free school meals to give every child best start
  • PM must think again on DFID in face of COVID-19 global health emergency

Govt spending £120m on Festival for Brexit instead of free school meals over the summer

The Liberal Democrats have accused the Government of being “callous and heartless” for spending £120m on a Festival For Brexit, when the same amount of money could be spent on extending free school meals over the summer.

Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson, Layla Moran, made the intervention ahead of an opposition debate today on calls to extend free school meals during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Government recently confirmed that the Festival for Brexit will be going ahead in 2022, with £120 million of taxpayers’ money earmarked for the event. This is the exact same amount it would cost to extend free school meals to all eligible pupils over the six-week summer holiday.

Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran said:

Leaving children hungry while ploughing millions into Brexit propaganda is callous and heartless. This appalling waste of money shows where the government’s priorities lie.

It’s not rocket science. If the government can spend £120 million on a Brexit ‘festival’, they could easily spend the same on ensuring the most disadvantaged children have enough to eat over the summer holidays.

It is about time that the Education Secretary went to the training ground with Marcus Rashford to take some lessons on how best to support the most vulnerable pupils.

PM’s decision to scrap DFID shows Govt turning its back on most in need

Responding to reports that the Prime Minister will announce later today that the Foreign Office and Department for International Development are set to be merged, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for International Development Wendy Chamberlain said:

Not content with depriving disadvantaged kids of their free school meals, the Prime Minister is now choosing to abolish the department whose job is to support the most vulnerable people around the world.

UK aid prevents suffering. The Liberal Democrats have always made absolutely clear our unequivocal support for Britain’s role as a world leader in providing aid to those most in need. By working internationally we can achieve so much more than we can alone.

This decision shows the extent of the Prime Minister’s determination to see the UK turn its back on the world.

Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey added:

Boris Johnson has wanted to use the 0.7% for international aid for his own political projects ever since entering government. This news comes as the most vulnerable brace themselves for the Coronavirus, which has already torn through many countries.

In the last 24 hours this Government has refused to offer the poorest children in the UK free school meals. They have now turned to cutting funding away from some of the worlds poorest. Boris Johnson is playing culture war games and some of the most vulnerable people here at home and abroad are paying the price.

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Wendy Chamberlain leads parliamentary debate on electoral reform

Every night, House of Commons business closes with an adjournment debate for half an hour. It’s a half hour in which an MP raises an issue and a Government minister has to respond.

It was worth staying up last Monday night to watch Wendy Chamberlain lead a debate calling for electoral reform. She made a brilliant case both for PR and votes at 16. She was supported by Wera Hobhouse, Christine Jardine and Layla Moran.

You can watch the whole thing here – and it is worth doing so to see how well they make the case – and how the Government Minister responding is all over the place, presumably because she knows fine that they were right.

Here are some key highlights thanks to Make Votes Matter:

 

You can read the debate in Hansard here and Wendy’s speech in full is below:

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8 June 2020 – the overnight press releases

  • Lib Dems to use emergency debate to warn Rees-Mogg is threatening public health
  • Covid-19 has exposed politics as not fit for purpose, Lib Dems warn

Lib Dems to use emergency debate to warn Rees-Mogg is threatening public health

The Liberal Democrats will today use an emergency debate in Parliament to warn Jacob Rees-Mogg that if an MP falls ill to COVID-19 or there is a spike in cases because of travel to and from London then he must take personal responsibility and resign.

The debate, secured by Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael MP, was agreed following alarm at Business Secretary Alok Sharma becoming …

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4 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • PM must ensure COVID-19 vaccine is free of charge to all
  • Lib Dems: Govt must do more to protect the vulnerable from modern slavery
  • Lib Dems: Face mask announcement yet another example of Govt’s slow response

PM must ensure COVID-19 vaccine is free of charge to all

The Liberal Democrats have urged the Prime Minister to ensure a coronavirus vaccine is patent free, affordable for all governments and free of charge to all.

The call comes as the Prime Minister today hosts a Global Vaccine Summit in London.

The Liberal Democrats are also calling on the Prime Minister to endorse the WHO COVID Technology Access Pool …

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30-31 May 2020 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Govt must follow the science when it comes to easing lockdown
  • Govt must rethink plans to shut down virtual Parliament
  • Govt must issue “crystal clear” guidance for those returning to sport
  • Ministers must explain evidence behind decision to ease lockdown
  • Foreign Secretary’s silence on Trump tweets is shameful
  • Govt decision to press on with reopening schools “deeply worrying”
  • Govt must urgently scrap Vagrancy Act as part of plan to end rough sleeping

Govt must follow the science when it comes to easing lockdown

Responding to reports that several members of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group have warned of the risk of easing the lockdown in England on Monday 1 June, Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

The decision by key members of SAGE to go public with their concerns shows that Ministers are no longer following the science.

The test, trace, isolate system that we need to keep people safe is not yet fully functional. The NHSX app is delayed for an unknown period. For seven days straight the Government has been unable to provide even basic data about the number of people tested. On top of these failings, public health messaging has been badly undermined as people see it’s one rule for the Tory elite and another for everyone else.

Given this chaos, measures to lift lockdown appear premature. At every stage the Liberal Democrats have been clear that the Government must listen to the experts and follow the science. Protecting public health and tackling the spread of the virus must always be the Government’s number one priority – many are questioning whether this remains the case.

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Wendy Chamberlain recounts her first experience of violence against Police Officers

This week, the Commons debated a Statutory Instrument which introduces Police Restitution Orders in Scotland. This means that fines can be levied and the money from those will be used to finance extra support for Police officers who suffer from the effects of those assaults.

Wendy used to be a Police Officer, as were her father and husband. All of them suffered violent assault. Wendy described the first time it happened to her:

I, my father and my husband have all served, and I have other family members currently serving in Police Scotland. All of us were assaulted during our police careers. My husband was knocked unconscious during the policing of a football match. My father was head-butted by a prisoner in the police cells and required stitches.

My own most vivid memory is from early in my police career—within months of leaving initial training at the police college in Tulliallan in fact. It relates to attending a call about a report of a domestic dispute in a high-rise block of flats in Edinburgh. On arrival at the landing in question, my tutor and I could hear a loud argument and decided to call for additional officers to make their way to support us in case they were required. I am glad we did so. The door was answered by a man who, after telling us where to go, was then attacked by his girlfriend, but from behind with a knife. A toddler was visible at the back of the flat hallway. My colleague managed to baton the knife from the women’s grasp, and in anger both of them then turned on us, and a violent struggle ensued.​

Luckily for us, colleagues came quickly, and both people were arrested. The man, in particular, struggled violently throughout the arrest and attempted to spit at all the officers, claiming that he was HIV-positive. It then transpired that he had been responsible for an assault and robbery nearby earlier that evening. Other than bruising, my colleague and I were unharmed, but it was a salutary lesson to me in being prepared for any eventuality and in being responsive to events.

Her whole speech follows:

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20 May 2020 – today’s press releases (part 1)

So many press re;leases today…

  • Lib Dems announce digital conference and fresh timetable to elect next leader
  • Govt must drop ‘dog ate my homework’ approach to Prevent review
  • PM backs Lib Dem calls for COVID hero honours round
  • Govt has no answers for Brexit border issues for Northern Ireland

Lib Dems announce digital conference and fresh timetable to elect next leader

The Liberal Democrats have announced a fresh leadership election timetable and plans to hold an online Autumn Conference – the first for any major political party – in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

At a meeting of the party’s Federal Board last night, the party agreed to holding their leadership election from June through to August. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the contest will make use of online hustings and online voting.

President of the Liberal Democrats Mark Pack, who chairs the Federal Board, also confirmed the Liberal Democrats decision to hold a digital conference in the Autumn follows “careful consideration of the latest expert advice.”

Liberal Democrat Party President Mark Pack said:

Following careful consideration of the latest public health advice concerning the coronavirus pandemic, the Liberal Democrats are planning to run the biggest online conference in British politics.

Conference plays a key role in our democratic party as well as being an important training and information exchange event. I am therefore pleased we will host an online alternative, the first for any major political party.

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16-17 May 2020: the weekend’s press releases

  • Lib Dems: Covid-19 mental health implications a ticking time bomb
  • Lib Dems call for permanent remote voting option for MPs
  • Govt must be transparent if they want public support for reopening schools
  • Davey: Govt approach to tracing ‘totally inadequate’
  • Lib Dems: Govt putting ideology above people’s lives in refusing to extend Brexit talks
  • Govt must not pursue isolationist approach to vaccine

Lib Dems: Covid-19 mental health implications a ticking time bomb

Responding to the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ findings that psychiatrists fear a ‘tsunami’ of mental illness after the pandemic, Liberal …

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