Welsh Liberal Democrat Conference open thread #3 Europe debate

Former MEP Peter Price kicks off the Europe debate saying “Stonger In” is an understatement. We can’t be anywhere other than where geography and history has placed us.

Go home and start digging, he says – not the conventional way to open a debate – but see what continent you are in. Then he talked about how we’ve spent 20 centuries being interested in what goes on in Europe, so why would we opt out now?

The EU, he says, has come a long way since its foundation. Many people have forgotten it’s guaranteed the peace these last six decades. We have shared democracy, human rights and openness, research programmes in which UK universities lead, potential to halt climate change by working together, co-operation in fighting organised crime and opportunities for young people to travel and study.

He asks us to imagine if we were outside. Would we be more able to deal with these challenges. Get campaigning, he says, it’s not enough just to support the motion.

Alison Willott highlights that nobody is going to vote on figures, they are going to vote with their hearts. She says Nigel Farage is living in a fantasy land and we need to convince UKIP types what life would be like if we left – that they might need a visa to go on their Meditteranean Cruise, that they might not get healthcare as we do at the moment and nor will they be able to buy cheap booze and cigarettes on day trips to Paris.

Denis Campbell talks about how his family left Jamaica for the US, how he in turn left the US to live with his Dutch wife. They both now live in the UK and he is a British citizen. Where would a Brexit leave his Dutch wife and his dual nationality (Dutch/US) children who have their lives here. He also talked about how important being part of the EU is for trade.

Michael talks about why he joined the party because of its pro-European stance. It was the obvious choice for him. He came here from Greece in 2002. He studied here and works and pays taxes. His life, friends, family are all here. 2 million EU citizens live, work and contribute to the UK economy. He says he loves this country, and the 2 million British people who live in Europe love where they live.

He says he is very worried about possibility of Brexit, about what this will do to stability.

Amy from IR Cyrmu talks about science and how EU co-operation allows progress to be made faster. Being outside the EU would make scientific collaboration harder, due to restrictions on movement, it would make it harder to recruit top scientists if we were outside the EU. Her own university department is doing a research project funded by the EU but there is also participation from several other EU countries.

Britain, she says, receives more such science grants than any other EU nation. Britain stands out from the crowd but won’t be able to continue that if we are outside it.

Summating, Eluned Parrott asks us all to get out there and talk about why we love the EU because the referendum will be won on hearts and gut instinct rather than figures. She jokes that she likes the fact that Lord Lawson can go and live in France while we get in Michael and intelligent, hard-working person to contribute to our economy.

We as Liberal Democrats have to get out there and make the positive case for Europe.

Peter Black’s speech

AM Peter Black talks about how the 5 Lib Dem AMs have punched well above their weight, making sure that the Pupil Premium gave disadvantaged kids extra help in school. He also highlighted the introduction of the young person’s bus pass which came from a motion IR Cymru put to the Conference.

He also called for the Government to go ahead with the Swansea tidal lagoon to bring tourists, jobs and clean power to Wales.

Most Liberal Democrats are coming up with ideas to solve the housing crisis across the UK. Unsurprisingly, we see building more houses as essential and this is no different in Wales. Peter said we were interested in this because it was important for our values of fairness and ambition.

Announcing a major new commitment to build 20,000 new homes, he said:

Unlike Labour’s almost sneering attitude to the idea of supporting aspiration, the Welsh Liberal Democrats are offering real solutions and ideas so people can fulfil their dream of buying their own home.

Prices have simply got too far out of reach for too many young families, with some first-time buyers saving for 15 years to get onto the housing ladder at all.

Under our ‘Rent to Buy’ policy, young people in Wales would be able to buy their own home without a deposit

For too long Wales hasn’t been seen enough as a place for young people where they can fulfil their dreams and ambitions: we will change that.

Wales can reach its potential. We will support people’s ambitions so that if you live in Wales, were born in Wales, have moved to Wales, work in Wales – then you are part of our project to revitalise our great nation.

Another important aspect of housing policy is to standardise letting agency fees so that tenants don’t suffer.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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