Tag Archives: wendy chamberlain

1 July 2022 – today’s press releases

  • VAT cut: Ministers need to stop dithering and act now
  • Suspending Chris Pincher should never have taken this long
  • Concern Over Cardiff Council Plans to Tackle Begging
  • Southwark Liberal Democrats Demand More Ambition in Plans to Tackle Air Pollution

VAT cut: Ministers need to stop dithering and act now

Responding to reports the government is considering cutting VAT, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

Families across the UK are facing a cost-of-living emergency. Ministers need to stop dithering and act now.

Liberal Democrats have been calling for an emergency VAT cut for months. It was a key part of our successful by-election campaign in Tiverton and Honiton. Families need it, businesses need it, and voters clearly support it. So why haven’t Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak done it already?

The sad truth is that we have a Government has no plan and a Prime Minister too busy fighting with his own party to help the British people.

Suspending Chris Pincher should never have taken this long

Responding to the news Chris Pincher has had the Conservative whip suspended, Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain MP said:

It should never have taken Boris Johnson this long to act and withdraw the whip.

Once again it seems Johnson has had to be forced into doing the right thing

There can be no more cover ups or excuses. If this investigation confirms these serious allegations, Chris Pincher will surely have to resign.

The Liberal Democrat Voice team have recently started to receive more press releases from Council Groups around the country, perhaps a sign of greater confidence and ambition, and we’ll try to publish some of them going forward…

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Why does the PM need an Ethics Adviser?

Yes, indeed.

This reminds me of a question posed to my husband when he was Mayor. He was visiting a school and the Mayor’s attendant that day was also a children’s entertainer, and some of the children recognised him. One of them asked “Why does the Mayor need a magician?”.

But back to the Prime Minister. The role of an Ethics Adviser (technically the Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests) was established in 2006. The adviser is appointed directly by the Prime Minister.

The Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests is appointed by the Prime Minister to advise him on matters relating to the Ministerial Code. The post holder is independent of government and expected to provide impartial advice to the Prime Minister. (Terms of reference)

The previous Ethics Adviser, Sir Alex Allen, was asked in 2020 to investigate bullying claims against Priti Patel and had found that she had broken the Ministerial Code, which would normally result in resignation . Boris Johnson backed Priti Patel and stated that he had full confidence in her, so Alex Allen resigned.

And now a second Ethics Adviser appointed by Boris Johnson has resigned. Lord Geidt informed the Prime Minister of his decision on Tuesday and last night his resignation letter was published (after some anger at its delay).

The trigger for his resignation was when Boris Johnson asked him to approve a plan to extend tariffs on steel imports, which would have broken World Trade Organization rules.

Here is the key extract from Lord Geidt’s letter:

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Lib Dem MPs submit Private Members Bills on carers and worker protection

Of the 460 MPs who entered the ballot for Private Member Bills only 20 were selected. And two of those were Lib Dems – Wendy Chamberlain and Wera Hobhouse.

Unfortunately only the top seven are guaranteed debating time so the others have to hope they can be squeezed in somewhere. Wendy was at position 10, and Wera at 15.

So we should be watching the progress of these two (quoted from Politics Home):

10. Wendy Chamberlain: Carer’s Leave Bill

The Liberal Democrat MP for North East Fife is proposing a bill to make provision about unpaid leave for employees with caring responsibilities.

Chamberlain said: “Unpaid carers are the absolute backbone of our society. According to government estimates, there are at least 2.3 million working carers who could be eligible for leave under this bill: a huge number of people who currently receive far too little support.

“This bill will help carers juggle work and care whilst supporting employers to maximise retention and wellbeing. Passing it will be a significant step forwards from all sides.”

And

15. Wera Hobhouse: Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill

This legislation – the unofficial name of which is the Protection from Workplace Harassment Bill – makes provisions about the duties of employers and protection of workers under the Equality Act 2010.

The Liberal Democrat MP for Bath said: “My winning number on the ballot was 461. I chose this because I was the 461st woman to be elected to Parliament. This encouraged me to choose an issue that will tackle violence against women and girls as harassment in the workplace is experienced by 40 per cent of women in the workforce in their career.

“This bill would shift responsibility from the individual to the institution and make employers responsible for protecting their employees. There is no place for harassment anywhere. At a minimum, sexual harassment is experienced by 40 per cent of women in the workforce. It causes various harms, and employers should be morally and legally required to take all reasonable steps to stop harassment from occurring.

“Workplace harassment has no place in our society and this bill will take steps to prevent cases of harassment.”

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Wendy Chamberlain slams PM’s “appalling attempt to rig the rules”

You would think, wouldn’t you, that when the culture of your Government has been slammed in a report which outlined disgraceful behaviour, you would be absolutely mortified and would make sure that your actions showed that you were truly sorry. Especially when you had been saying so at length and you knew that nobody believed a word of your apology.

Well, you could think that of virtually any other PM than Boris Johnson. But the current incumbent’s capacity for brazen disregard for rules or accountability is second to none. We saw this when he tried to change the rules to save his mate Owen Paterson last Autumn.

Yesterday, Boris Johnson watered down both the Ministerial Code and the role of the so-called “Independent Adviser.” The Guardian reports:

The prime minister faced a barrage of criticism after he amended the rules on Friday to make clear that ministers will not always be expected to resign for breaching the code of conduct. Under new sanctions, they could apologise or temporarily lose their pay instead.

Johnson also blocked his independent ethics chief, Christopher Geidt, from gaining the power to launch his own investigations, and rewrote the foreword to the ministerial code, removing all references to honesty, integrity, transparency and accountability.

Our Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain is reported as saying that this was an:

appalling attempt by Boris Johnson to rig the rules to get himself off the hook.

It seems the Conservatives have learned nothing from the Owen Paterson scandal.

It has been clear for some time that the Government doesn’t care that accountability and justice are seen to be done where its own behaviour is concerned. With these moves they are effectively giving themselves the right to mark their own homework. The legitimacy of any Government depends on having some sort of check on its power.

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Lib Dems table motion to publish minutes of Johnson and Sue Gray meeting

The Liberal Democrats will today table a motion in Parliament to force the Government to release the minutes of Boris Johnson’s meeting with Sue Gray.

Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain will lay a Humble Address motion in Parliament, calling on the Government to publish the details of the meeting, including who was responsible for arranging it.

The motion will also call for the publication of all contact between Johnson and Gray during the course of the inquiry into breaches of coronavirus regulations in Downing Street.

This step comes following speculation over the origin and contents of the meeting between …

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Alex Cole-Hamilton launches Scottish Lib Dems local government campaign

Alex Cole-Hamilton and Lib Dem spokespeople and council candidates went up to the top of Calton Hill, overlooking Edinburgh city centre to launch our local government election campaign today.

Here he is talking to the BBC  calling for a cut to VAT, the SNP Government to cut rail fares as it has just taken over the Scotrail franchise and insulation for every home in Scotland.

The themes of the campaign are set out in the party’s Party Political Broadcast, starring Alex, Deputy Leader Wendy Chamberlain and her gorgeous cocker spaniel Tamlyn.  Wendy asked people to vote Lib Dem to get someone who cares about you and your community.

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Support jobseekers, don’t sanction them

Were you as incensed as I was at reading the latest Government move against some of the most vulnerable people in our society?

The scheme is called “Way to Work” and according to this report, jobseekers will have only four weeks (reduced from three months) to find work in their preferred sector. After that period they will be forced to widen their job search to other sectors.  If they turn down employment or don’t make “reasonable efforts” to find work then they will be sanctioned and lose some of their Universal Credit.

I do understand the context. There are 1.22 million job vacancies, many of these in essential services such as care work or delivering, and it is important for all of us to get those filled. But forcing people to take on jobs that they find difficult or unpleasant does not produce a happy and productive work force. And reducing benefits for people who are already on the breadline is dangerous, as it can push people into criminality or homelessness.

Wendy Chamberlain MP is our Work and Pensions Spokesperson, and she said:

Rather than supporting people to find secure long-term employment, the Government is now attempting to force people into accepting any job going.

This callous move could see skilled workers forced to accept insecure short term employment, for fear of having the rug pulled out from under them, and create a cycle of unemployment.

What is worse, these harsh sanctions could be applied within weeks of applying for Universal Credit – before people’s first payment even arrives.

We are in the middle of a cost of living crisis, with energy bills soaring and reliance on food banks rising. If the Government can write off billions in Covid fraud, they can afford to genuinely support those looking for work instead of sanctioning them.

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Wendy Chamberlain smashes it at PMQs with call for PM to resign

Wendy Chamberlain made a brilliant start to PMQs today:

And there has been loads of praise:

https://twitter.com/NairnMcD/status/1483772201866342404?s=20

 

Keir Starmer, buoyed by Tory defector Christian Wakeford sitting behind him, was both serious and funny as he repeatedly blasted the PM’s failures.

But it was David Davis, former Brexit Secretary, who struck what may be a politically fatal blow:

You could hear the gasps of surprise at his savage denouncement. I was reminded of the blow that Geoffrey Howe struck to Margaret Thatcher back in 1990. She didn’t last long after that.

Earlier, Wendy spoke to Nicky Campbell about the PM’s position:

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Wendy Chamberlain slams Government for “callous” benefits decision

The UK Government has confirmed that it is only going to raise benefits by the rate of inflation last September. This is what it normally does. However, it looks like inflation is going to almost double between September and April, when the changes take place.

The Government will be putting an order before Parliament to raise benefits by 3.1% which is not much good when inflation is expected to be 6% by April.

If you think about how energy costs are soaring, this is really going to impact on disabled people. They tend to have higher heating bills to start with, but when you factor in the special equipment, for example scooters, electric wheelchairs or oxygen tanks, which gobble up electricity, this is going to cause huge hardship.

Wendy Chamberlain, the Lib Dem DWP spokesperson has called on the Government to raise benefits by 6% to match the expected rate of inflation in April:

She said:

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WATCH: Wendy Chamberlain’s first speech as Scottish Deputy Leader

Wendy Chamberlain has been elected as Scottish Lib Dems Deputy Leader.

 

She spoke to a gathering of party members in Edinburgh:

She said:

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Wendy Chamberlain on QT tonight

Wendy Chamberlain, Lib Dem MP for North East Fife, is on the Question Time panel tonight. The programme is being broadcast from Weston-super-Mare on BBC 1 at 10.35pm.

With her will be Maggie Throup (Conservative MP for Erewash), Thangam Debbonaire (Labour MP for Bristol West), Professor Peter Openshaw (Professor of Experimental Medicine at Imperial College) and Theo Paphitis (retail entrepreneur and Dragon’s Den regular).

Expect questions on asylum seekers, No 10 Christmas parties and the impact of the Omicron variant.

 

 

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In Full: Wendy Chamberlain’s speech from the Standards debate

I thought it was worth reproducing in full Wendy Chamberlain’s speech from the Standards debate she successfully led on Monday.

Wendy has been our lead spokesperson on two of the biggest recent news stories – the events around the sentencing of Sarah Everard’s murderer and now the Government’s attempts to dilute the disciplinary processes after one of their own MPs was found to be in breach.

Wendy also smashed various media interviews on Monday. She did the full morning round and here are some clips:

 

Here’s a brief video of her speech with all the interventions with the full text below She did a fantastic job:

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Lib Dems demand public enquiry into Tory sleaze ahead of Commons debate

Last week, Wendy Chamberlain secured a parliamentary debate following the fiasco over the standards process votes. Here she is proposing it:

And later she spoke to Sky News:

Ahead of tomorrow’s debate, the party has given an indication of what we hope to achieve.  We have called for an independent public inquiry into government sleaze and allegations of political corruption, warning that Boris Johnson’s Conservatives are “releasing sewage into our rivers and sleaze into our politics.”  The inquiry would look into various scandals including the awarding of lucrative Covid contracts to those with political links to the Conservative Party, Boris Johnson’s failure to declare that holidays abroad and the redecoration of his Downing Street flat were paid for by party donors, and last week’s attempt to block the suspension of former Conservative MP Owen Paterson after he was found to have breached lobbying rules.

The inquiry would have the power to summon witnesses and require them to give evidence under oath, including current and former government ministers and officials, and demand the disclosure of any relevant official documents and communications.

The party is also demanding that any MPs under investigation for breaking parliamentary rules should be barred from taking part in Commons votes on disciplinary issues.

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WATCH: Wendy and Ed take part in cross party Make Votes Matter video

Wendy Chamberlain and Ed Davey represent the Liberal Democrats in a new video for the Make Votes Matter campaign:

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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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