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What a whirlwind 2 months!

by Irina von Wiese on Sat, 13 Jul 2019

After a time-warp 6 week campaign, an 18 hour polling day marathon and an incredible win on 26 May, the sixteen of us went to Brussels in June to take up our new positions as MEPs. You might have heard about the furore we caused!

Image result for lib dem meps bollocks to brexit t shirts

The Liberal Democrat cohort are sworn in as MEPs. If you like our tshirts, you can get your own here

Between setting up offices in Brussels, Strasbourg and home constituencies, hiring staff, filling in forms and receiving hundreds of messages, we ran from meeting to meeting and started to home in on key policy targets. 

For me, that meant fulfilling a lifetime passion for human rights work. In my previous life, I had volunteered for a number of charities and hosted refugees. But my day job did not allow me enough time to make a real impact. Being an MEP enables me to work with private organisations, governments and individuals from all over the world to drive an agenda of change. We have the power, and the responsibility to speak up for the weakest members of society - those who have been displaced, discriminated against or persecuted by their own governments. As Vice Chair of the Human Rights Committee, I am determined to fight for their rights. 

I'm also delighted about what The Express have called the "Lib Dems EU Takeover" - our own Chris Davies and Lucy Nethsingha have both been elected committee chairs, of the Fisheries and Legal Affairs committees respectively. 

Apart from committee work, there is so much else I want to do: a Young Visitors programme for UK apprentices, an arts competition for school children, and a series of documentaries about some of the many unknown EU-driven benefits to London citizens.

Of course, none of this possible if we leave the EU. Brexit hanging over us like a dark cloud, and the prospect of a sudden end to our dreams is tough. Surely, few others have a more pressing personal as well as political incentive to Stop Brexit than the sixteen of us. That's why we were elected, that's what we promised to do and with your help, we will do.

Best wishes from the Eurostar

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Sal Speaks

by Sal Brinton on Sat, 13 Jul 2019

As I write this on Friday, I am about to set off for Brecon and Radnorshire, to help the brilliant Jane Dodds campaign in the by-election. It will be my third visit since the Recall petition first started. Make no bones about it, Jane is a brilliant candidate and our team there is outstanding, but we need more people to help over the next few weeks: we have a tough fight on our hands in a very rural seat. We need more people to help deliver leaflets, knock on doors and help with clerical work. Please, please, come and help. Postal votes land on doorsteps, and we need to call on postal voters this coming weekend, before many voters go on holiday.

Jane is a good friend. As Leader of the Welsh Lib Dems she has been reinvigorating the party, and we need her in Parliament in Westminster. Please do whatever you can to come and help!

Sal_and_Jane.JPG

Come to Brecon and Radnorshire  ➜ 

On your behalf I attended the Executive Committee of ALDE (our European sister party alliance) in Zurich at the end of June. We were celebrating the wonderful success of liberals in the European Parliament elections, and planning for the next five years. Leaders of our sister parties were absolutely delighted that our result with 16 brilliant MEPs helped secure that result, and they join us in believing that we can stop Brexit. It was uplifting to know so many politicians across Europe are fighting with us.

Sal_in_Zurich.JPG 

And last weekend, again on your behalf, I was at the Liberal International Executive Committee in London. It was a pleasure to welcome members of our 47 sister parties from around the world and to train and learn from each other in campaign techniques, as well as conduct our usual business. But for me, as ever, I was heartened with the stories of those liberal politicians across the world for whom democracy is a constant battle against autocracy and dictatorship.

I met colleagues again from our sister party in Cambodia (the Cambodian National Rescue Party) whose Leader, Kem Sokha, has been imprisoned by the Prime Minister Hun Sen. Our colleagues are living in exile, at risk of attacks, with reports of torture and killings inside Cambodia. These brave people aren’t just fighting for their beliefs, for some they are fighting for their democracy and their lives. We stand strong beside them and will continue to do whatever we can to help them.

I hope that you all get a good break over the summer - after the Brecon and Radnorshire polling day on 1 August! - and come back fighting fit for the Autumn. A new Prime Minister will not change the arithmetic in Parliament, and we need to continue to fight to stop Brexit. Who knows what will happen? I know one thing: the Liberal Democrats are resurgent because of you and your hard work. We remain at over 20% in the polls, and everything has changed. Let’s keep campaigning, growing and winning!

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

World Population Day

by Layla Moran on Thu, 11 Jul 2019

World Population Day is an opportunity to put reproductive rights and issues of gender equality firmly on the global agenda. This year, period poverty must be front and centre of the conversation.

If the UK Conservative government are serious about eradicating period poverty by 2030 then they must use this opportunity to ensure ending period poverty is in the minds of every single world leader. The Conservative government have a duty to do all they can to end the injustice and stigma surrounding periods in the UK and across the globe.

Established by the United Nation Development Programme in 1989, the internationally recognised day has helped to highlight the importance of population issues and amplify calls for reproductive health as a priority. A key pillar of reproductive rights, menstrual hygiene impacts women and girl’s access to education, and often has a big effect on their overall health.

Around half of all women and girls across the world do not have access to safe sanitary products and the stigma and taboos surrounding periods persists globally.

Around half of all women and girls across the world do not have access to safe sanitary products and the stigma and taboos surrounding periods persists globally. The reality for many is that they are forced to use dirty rags, grass, plastic, or overuse a pad or tampon, due to a lack of access to sterilised sanitary products. The everyday reality and cost of periods is putting lives at risk and perpetuating inequality. So too is the cycle of misinformation and taboos that surrounds periods.

Just this year, a Nepali mother and her two children were found dead after the woman was banished to a "menstruation hut". In this heart-breaking instance, the cause of death was smoke inhalation as she lit a fire in a desperate attempt to keep her children warm, but there have also been cases of women dying from snake bites, and others being subject to criminal attacks. These unnecessary, shameful cases are as a direct result of a lack of education surrounding periods. Associating periods with bad luck or impurity is not uncommon in cultures across the world, with devastating consequences.

In the UK, a lack of understanding and education also leads to persistent stigma. Nearly half of those who get their period for the first time don’t know what’s happening to them and almost 60% report feeling embarrassed about their period. A failure to provide effective education about menstrual health to those of all genders is keeping taboos alive and perpetuating inequalities. Health issues including endometriosis often go undiagnosed because people aren’t clued up on warning signs or symptoms.

Just this year, a Nepali mother and her two children were found dead after the woman was banished to a "menstruation hut".

Providing sanitary products in hospitals and schools in England is a step in the right direction, but we should be leading on this issue. The Tories must pledge to roll our free products across other spaces too, including shelters, hostels, libraries, and leisure centres. The campaign to end period poverty globally by 2030 is crucial, but to do this we must protect our UK aid commitment and keep the issue on the global political agenda. Today is a chance to do that.

It is time to eradicate period poverty wherever it exists. This World Population Day the Conservative government must use their voice to break the silence surrounding periods and ensure they are taking the most effective steps possible to bring an end to period poverty. No one, no matter where they live, should lose out on an education or have their health and wellbeing put at risk because of their period. Eradicating period poverty will take funding, it will take education, and it will take unwavering commitment. This World Population Day, I am calling on the Conservative government to use their influence and resources to help ensure the fight gets all three, at home and abroad.

 

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

It's time to stop Brexit

by Tom Brake on Wed, 10 Jul 2019

When we think of great moments of political upheaval, social change and protests for justice, the images which often come to mind are marches. There is something acutely powerful about seeing so many come together to create, for one moment in time, a community of like-minded people. A crowd which passionately believes in a common cause will have its cause noticed. Marches become beacons of free speech and spawn mass movements which captivate people's attention.

These marches can seize or reinforce an agenda and create a new public narrative for how we view today's challenges.

We saw this recently in Westminster with the march for climate change, and at the pride marches around the country, as a rainbow of people flow through the streets of Britain every summer. These marches can seize or reinforce an agenda and create a new public narrative for how we view today's challenges.

While their disruptive methods caused frustration and, for some, may have overstepped the mark, no one can deny that Extinction Rebellion made people start discussing the environment around the kitchen table. It couldn't be clearer that when people take a stand, they become impossible to ignore.

I was so proud to join more than a million people took to the streets of London to show their support for a People's Vote.

My first march was 30-and-a-bit years ago with Amnesty International, highlighting the plight of prisoners of conscience abroad. Last month, as one of over 100 MPs I strode in solidarity to meet Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe outside the Iranian Embassy, during his hunger strike in protest at his wife's continued shocking and unlawful detention. I was also incredibly proud to be at the largest march this country has ever seen, back in 2003, against the Iraq war, when Charles Kennedy and the Liberal Democrats led the political protest in the face of overwhelming criticism from the Tory and Labour parties.

But I was even prouder, earlier this year, to be part of the largest march seen in the UK since then - when over a million people took to the streets of London to show their support for a People's Vote.

And that's why I'm delighted the Lib Dems will be joining thousands of others on July 20 at the March for Change - unequivocally demanding this Brexit mess be stopped.

We're unequivocally demanding this Brexit mess be stopped.

Again the Lib Dems were prominent, just as we have been dominant in the fight against Brexit since the day after the referendum three years ago. Back then, many people described our position as desperate, out on a limb while Jeremy Corbyn urged that Article 50 be triggered immediately. Yet over time, more people joined our cause, our rallies became bigger and we made more allies in our fight against a government increasingly committed to the most chaotic of Brexits. Our message has grown louder and more people have taken to the streets to shout loud and clear to Labour and the Conservatives that the Brexit they want to deliver is not in our name and not what the majority want.

We will take to the streets to shout loud and clear to Labour and the Conservatives that the Brexit they want to deliver is not in our name

Some will disregard the marchers' voices. The Tory candidates to be our prime minister are putting rocket boosters on their campaigns to reach the dreaded No Deal cliff-end sooner. Jeremy Corbyn is choosing to bury his head even deeper in the sand.

We the Lib Dems not only hear those voices, we are channelling their energy.

I am proud to be the anti-Brexit spokesperson of the largest, loudest and proudest party committed to demanding better than Brexit and diverting us from the disastrous trajectory we've taken. More and more people are rallying behind our banner as we inch closer than ever to stopping Brexit.

So, when we march in just a few weeks' time on July 20, we will do so with a more purposeful stride. I hope you will join us.

The march for change are organising coaches to the march from across the UK. You can book a coach here: https://www.marchforchange.uk/assembly_points

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

I'm Benny, and I've been a Liberal Democrat since 2017 - but I never really had a chance to get particularly involved.

That changed last week when I headed up to Brecon.

I knew how important this by-election is going in - we can't afford to take it for granted. It's essential as many Liberal Democrats as possible head to Brecon and Radnorshire to support our candidate, Jane Dodds.

Brecon and Radnorshire is closer than you think.

I was a bit nervous, initially. I'd never really done anything like this before. But the team on the ground were super welcoming and professional. I was paired up with experienced campaigners and learned a lot from them. I even got the opportunity to act as Jane's aide, travelling around the constituency with her - it was a lot of fun!

There's a variety of stuff to do, too. There’s doorknocking, leaflet delivery, envelope stuffing and more – and I want you to know as a first-timer that it was easier and more fun than I ever imagined.

Brecon and Radnorshire is closer than you think. I live in Shepherd’s Bush, and it's about a 3-hour drive to Brecon from home. It's pretty easy to get to by public transport too - just get the train out to Cardiff then switch onto a bus there. Many buses to the constituency are free on weekends - it can work out pretty cheap if you book in advance.

Time's ticking on. There’s serious potential for a Lib Dem gain here, but the Conservatives and Brexit Party are working the constituency hard. We can't get complacent.

Our team is currently working on the plan for postal votes, which land in just 9 days. In a constituency like Brecon and Radnorshire, that's a huge chunk of the electorate. That means this weekend is crucial for the campaign.

Don't leave it to someone else - they might be leaving it to you.

If you've never helped before, don't be put off - everyone has to start somewhere and the team couldn't be more welcoming. Come along - you'll love it.

Don't leave it to someone else - they might be leaving it to you. Come to Brecon and Radnorshire - help us elect a new Lib Dem MP.

 

I'll come!

 

Follow Benny on Twitter: @Benny_curtis1

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Hear From Nadya in Pride month

by Nadya Fadih-Phoenix on Sat, 06 Jul 2019

This is a strange way to start off this blog post, but please bear with me. In April 2016 I got my first telescope. I didn’t spend a great deal, and it took me awhile to learn how to focus it, but eventually one night I caught Jupiter, its red spot and the bright twinkles of the four Galilean moons. It was at that moment I started to believe in Allah again. At around the same time I properly and very bluntly came out to my father - the end of a rather long journey in me accepting that I was a gay woman. Soon after, I popped down to the LGBT inclusive Christian church at the bottom of my road, in a bid to be able to reconcile faith in god with my sexuality. It was welcoming, but it did not feel like my spiritual home.

I am of Arab Muslim descent and in my late teens I was a devout Muslim.

See, I am of Arab Muslim descent and in my late teens I was a devout Muslim. I wore the hijab, prayed five times a day, did voluntary fasts, only ate halal, didn’t drink, stopped listening to music, stopped watching films, and would only read Islamic texts or books written by Islamic scholars.  I found peace in Islam and prayer, but that peace started to shatter as my attraction to a Muslim sister I attended Jummuah prayer with started to increase. This wasn’t the first time I had been attracted to a woman, but it was the first time I understood what my feelings meant. I buried that part of me, and met with a Muslim brother from my mosque to discuss marriage. Alhamdulillah that marriage did not take place as it would have been wretched for me and any children that eventuated.

I walked away from Islam. I moved out of home. I met a woman who I was absolutely in love with. I had my first intimate experience with another woman (the former was unrequited). The day after I felt horrid, dirty, wrong and ashamed.  I stopped calling myself Muslim.

For the next decade and a bit, I would have relationships with women, self-sabotage them and then go back to dating men. Whilst I accepted and embraced seeing others in same-sex partnerships and unions, I couldn’t embrace me being in one. A current close friend of mine commented that it was uncomfortable to watch.

I have a lot of regrets, the women I walked away from that could have made me so happy, the relationships I had with men that made me feel broken and disconnected inside (not their fault), the impact the above had on my mental health and all those lost years not being who I truly was.

I feel whole and am the person I was meant to be. 

With all those regrets riding heavy on my shoulder, I attended Stonewalls’ Diaspora Showcase last year. That led me to attending the Stonewall BAME/LGBT+ role models programme in November 2018, where I met a representative from Hidayah, a Muslim LGBT charity. I am utterly ashamed to say when I walked into the room, I automatically assumed that the person wearing Hijab and Abayah was an ally, not LGBT themselves. It was unconscious bias stemming from my own experience growing up with no LGBT+ Muslim role models.

Where am I now? After 20 years of struggling with my sexuality I have embraced being a gay woman. Hidayah has helped me reconcile my sexuality with my renewed belief and has shown me there is more than one way to be Muslim. I feel whole and am the person I was meant to be. I am not sacrificing aspects of myself.  

I am also stepping up. It is hard. Whilst I have stopped caring if my extended family knows about me being gay, I am still petrified of bringing shame to my very supportive father. I have started to deliver talks about BAME and LGBT intersectionality. I was part of a panel on behalf of Hidayah in late March. It is nerve racking in the moments before I talk, but letting it all out and using my voice has given me a peace I thought was well and truly outside of my reach.

I want to change the outcomes of other Muslim LGBT people

And, most importantly I want to change the outcomes of other Muslim LGBT people. If I had been able to see someone like me growing up, I wouldn’t have felt so alone, isolated, scared and have lost so many years being an unauthentic me. I am doing that by working with groups like the Liberal Democrat Campaign for Race Equality and Hidayah, but also by being visible.

 

Nadya Fadih-Phoenix - Brit, Aussie, Arab, Muslim, Gay (pronoun them/they)

 

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

A fresh start for British democracy

by Liberal Democrats on Fri, 05 Jul 2019

In a time of political crisis, we have some good news, and an invitation to demand democracy.

I want Proportional Representation

We have signed the Good Systems Agreement, alongside other parties, organisations and public figures.

Together we have achieved something that has never been done in the UK. We're securing broad consensus about the principles that define good voting systems. Most importantly, seats won in Parliament must closely reflect the votes cast. We have also agreed that the best voting system for the UK would ideally be determined by citizens. This could be done through an evidence-based, deliberative process, like a citizens’ assembly.

We believe this is a major milestone on the path to winning real democracy.

Read more

And now you have a chance to play your part! On Saturday 6th July, we are supporting a major action by Make Votes Matter activists all across the country. A host of street stalls and other activities are being organised for Demand Democracy Day. Check out the map and see what’s happening in your area. You can volunteer to help out and meet some new friends, or simply pop along to show your support for getting Proportional Representation in the House of Commons.

Show your support for fair votes this Saturday

Show support

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Ad Lib Magazine: New edition out now

by Dan Schmeising on Wed, 03 Jul 2019

July's edition of Ad Lib Magazine is now out! 

We've got a bunch of content for you this time around - talking to councillors, new MEPs and new Lib Dem MP Chuka Umunna amongst others. 

Not only that, but we've got the lowdown on the leadership election from both candidates - it's a really good read. 

Is there anything you'd like included in the next edition? Don't hesitate to get in touch - let us know at [email protected]

Just click below to have a browse - we hope you enjoy!

Read now

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Ballots are out - go vote!

by Greg Foster on Mon, 01 Jul 2019

Party members - check your inboxes!

Ballots for our leadership election have now gone out. If you were a member by the 7th June, you get a say in deciding the next leader of our party.

voting barack obama GIF by Democratic National Convention

It's a really exciting time to be a Liberal Democrat - and we're extraordinarily lucky to have 2 solid candidates in Sir Ed Davey and Jo Swinson. Either would be a fabulous leader for our party.

Credit should also go to them for keeping it so civil. Even the papers have noted how collegiate our contest has been, especially compared to... certain other parties. 👀

Whatever happens in this election - our future is bright!

FAQs

How do I find my ballot?

Check your emails! Ballots are sent out electronically. If you requested a postal vote, you should have had it in the last few days. You'll also have got a postal vote if we don't have an email on file for you, or we've had issues delivering emails to you in the past.

How do I vote?

Lib Dem leadership elections use Single Transferable Vote. All this means is that rather than ticking one box, you number the candidates in order of preference!

I want to find out more about the candidates!

Easy - head to our leadership election hub, where you'll be able to read up on both Jo and Ed's plans for our party. Both candidates have also supplied a manifesto, a link to which will be provided on your ballot.

Find out more

I haven't received my ballot!

Don't panic, here's what to do:

  1. Search your inbox for an email from [email protected] - there should be a few and the most recent one will likely contain a link.
  2. Check your junk, spam and promotions folders - it may be lurking in there.
  3. Check your post - you may have been on the list for a postal ballot.
  4. Email [email protected] - and we'll be able to take a look for you and send a replacement if necessary.

We're hugely proud of both contenders and of our members. Thanks to you, the party is so much stronger than it was when Vince took over. We can't wait to see what happens next 🔶

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Vince's speech at the Cheltenham People's Vote rally

by Vince Cable on Sat, 29 Jun 2019

The Conservative Party has spent the whole time since the European elections absorbed in its own internal psychodrama.

The Conservative Party has spent the whole time since the European elections absorbed in its own internal psychodrama.

And once again the future of the country has played second fiddle to the future of the Conservative Party.

The Conservative Party membership has been given the power to decide our next Prime Minister and the future of our country. This means they are simultaneously the most powerful people in our politics today, despite being the least representative of the country.

On the whole, they are old, white and male – and economically so comfortable that they will never face the economic pain that they inflict on the majority of young and working people in our country. 

But once the internal battle in the Conservative party is over, the same hard realities which shackled Theresa May will hit the new Prime Minister too.

And we will have fourteen weeks from July 25th, when he takes office, to October 31st, to save this country from No Deal, to secure a People’s Vote and to Stop Brexit.

The next Prime Minister will be hit by the same hard realities which shackled Theresa May 

Time and again in the past two years, when those prospects have seemed bleak, it is the People's Vote campaign which has lifted the chances and lifted our spirits.

When one million people turned out on the streets before the last Exit Day, we turned the tide.

And this May we elected hundreds of Liberal Democrat councillors and sixteen Liberal Democrat MEPs and gained our highest share in a  national election.

We elected hundreds of Liberal Democrat councillors and sixteen Liberal Democrat MEPs and gained our highest share in a national election

At the European elections here in Cheltenham, the Liberal Democrat team led by Max Wilkinson decisively beat the Brexit Party.

All around the country, Remain beat Leave.

And all at elections people said would never happen.

These campaigns can change the course of our country's future. And it is the duty of all of us to keep up the fight.

We making a difference. These campaigns can change the course of our country's future. And it is the duty of all of us to keep up the fight.

In Parliament, I am confident we will stop No Deal.  

At that point, there will be no choice but to seek a fresh mandate from the people and then will come our chance to battle again for Remain and for our place in the EU. 

And I and the Liberal Democrats will be in the heart of that battle. 

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Jo Swinson: we are so close to stopping Brexit

by Jo Swinson on Sat, 29 Jun 2019

We are so close to stopping Brexit.

In the three years since we started our calls for a People’s Vote on the final deal, your hard work has taken it from a fringe view in British politics to a position that is now advocated by millions of people, and so many more MPs across both sides of the House of Commons.

But to deliver and win that People’s Vote we need to do two things.

First, we need to learn how to count.

There is not yet a majority in Parliament for a People’s Vote, but it is currently the most popular option of any that were put forward in the indicative votes process. We now need to secure those extra few votes to get it over the line, because without a parliamentary majority for it we will never make it happen.

As the Liberal Democrat face of the People’s Vote campaign, I’ve been working with people right across Parliament to bring them on board and build a cross-party group of MPs to get the numbers we need.

If I’m elected leader, that is the spirit in which I will lead. I genuinely believe that people want to see politicians adopt a less tribal approach, and work together to tackle the biggest issue our country faces, and that’s the way I’ve been working for the last two years since I won my seat back. We wouldn’t have got so close to a People’s Vote any other way, and I’m determined we get over the finish line.

The next step is then winning that People’s Vote.

The economic case for staying in the EU is clear, even the Government’s own figures back up that case. But while that argument might win minds, it won’t win hearts.

And to do that, we need to make the emotional argument.

The EU has been a beacon of peace and hope in the world for decades. It has ended the cycle of European wars that blighted previous centuries, allowed Europe to stand together against growing nationalism around the globe and helped to deliver peace in Northern Ireland, which would be put at risk if we leave.

The EU has allowed UK citizens to make their homes abroad, brought European citizens to the UK, enriching our culture as well as supporting our public services, and allowed students to travel and study all across Europe.

The EU has given us a platform through which we can stand tall on the global stage, speaking as one voice on the big issues, like the climate emergency and combatting international terrorism.

Our place in the EU has made us greener, safer, more open and more prosperous and that is the case we need to make to win a People’s Vote.

We must do whatever it takes to stop Brexit because failing would be too high a price to pay for generations to come.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Our next Leader

by Tom Brake on Sat, 29 Jun 2019

Here’s the most important question in this leadership election; If Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn go head to head as the leaders of the Tories and Labour, both supporting Brexit, who should we choose who will stand out as the real alternative?

For me, that leader is Jo Swinson.

Let me tell you why. 

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

I can't wait for our turn in the spotlight.

by Ed Davey on Sat, 29 Jun 2019

Nothing is more frustrating than the BBC giving prominence to Nigel Farage, whilst so often ignoring us.

That’s why – at the start of our leadership contest – I wrote to the BBC demanding they host a TV hustings for the Liberal Democrats.

So I’m delighted to announce they’ve now agreed there will be three televised debates - on the BBC, Channel 4 and Sky, between Jo and myself on Monday 1st July (Sky & Channel 4) and Friday 19th July (BBC) to help you make your mind up!

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Ed Davey: Some of my proudest moments

by Sir Ed Davey MP on Fri, 28 Jun 2019

It has been a huge honour to have the chance to lead our great Party, and I am really enjoying speaking to members across the country in this campaign.

I’ve been talking about my vision to stop Brexit, tackle the Climate Emergency, and defend our Liberal values – but also about my political life that has led me here. I wanted to share some of my proudest moments with you:

Securing my constituent’s release from Guantanamo Bay

I run a twice-weekly advice surgery for my constituents, and over the years I’ve helped them with a huge range of problems – from potholes to claims of asylum. One case though that I am incredibly proud of is securing the release of Bisher Al-Hawi, who was never charged with a crime, from Guantanamo Bay in 2004.

After years of pressuring both the UK and US Government, including two trips to the Pentagon, I finally secured his release. It wasn’t a vote winner, and certainly wasn’t easy, but I was proud to defend the rule of law – a key Liberal value.

 

Winning in 1997 – and again in 2017.

Winning my seat in 1997 was a microcosm of our Party’s success that year. Written off – but believing in ourselves. An efficient team of campaigners united with a common goal. More campaigning than Labour and the Conservatives put together. In the end won by just 56 votes!

It taught me that the ability to build teams and work with others is the most important trait for any kind of leader to have. And after my defeat in 2015, I did the same again. I won my seat back in 2017 – not only with the help of some 1997 veterans but also huge numbers of new members.

I’m passionate about sharing the way our Party has won before, so we can win across the country.

 

Fighting for LGBT+ Equality

I’m a Liberal because I believe in justice and equality. I’m proud for all that we have done as a Party to make our society a more equal place – but two moments stand out for me. Moving the amendment to abolish the homophobic section 28 was one of my proudest moments in Parliament. Ten years later, equal marriage, spearheaded by Lynne Featherstone, got us further towards equality – and I was delighted to vote in favour of it.

I know though that we still have so much further to go. Hate Crime is on the rise, and there is a worrying trend towards intolerance. As Leader I will fight to defend our values – and advance the cause of equality even further.

Transformative investment in Hull

When I was Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, I nearly quadrupled the UK’s use of renewable energy. One success stands out for me though: securing a huge investment into wind farm production in Hull. Not only was this a nine-figure investment in the city, revitalising its economy, but it also helped to make the UK the world leader in Offshore Wind technology.

As leader, I would fight for this kind of investment up and down the country. We can decarbonise our economy whilst revitalising the areas historically left behind by successive governments. With this, we can heal the divisions exploited by the likes of Farage and Johnson, as well as dealing a serious blow to the Climate Emergency.

The Day After the EU Referendum

I stayed up for the referendum result. Seeing Leave win devastated me and it was so easy to lose hope. But Tim Farron’s passionate speech that morning gave me hope after the darkest night of my political life. It certainly inspired me – and what we have achieved since then would not have been possible without everyone who joined us after the referendum.

We’ve been through dark times, and the stakes are still high. I am increasingly worried about the potential for a no-deal Brexit under Boris Johnson. But on that morning the Liberal Democrats stood up for our place in Europe, and thousands joined our fight. For that I will forever be grateful.

New challenges – and new opportunities

I have spent my career fighting for the values that make us Liberal Democrats; on doorsteps, in the media, and in Parliament. Its what my leadership would be about – and I know that stopping Brexit is the most urgent liberal cause.

With Labour and the Conservatives crumbling we the Liberal Democrats have a golden opportunity, and I have the experience, skills and vision to help us make the most of it. Back me for leader of our Party at edforleader.org.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Issues we should be talking about as well as Brexit

by Vince Cable on Fri, 28 Jun 2019

In the last week I have been immersed in the subjects which we ought as a country be talking about, but which attract minimal attention where they do not impinge on Brexit or the Hunt-Johnson roadshow.

I went to Manchester to speak to the NHS Confederation: essentially the people who run the NHS, from Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive, down. I tried to get my head around the underlying politics of the NHS: this is a much loved pubic service which politicians tamper with at their peril, but it also feels itself to be in a permanent state of crisis and underfunding.

This strange picture of political complacency and angst has also been reinforced by the recent financial settlement which ensures that, unlike the rest of the public sector, the NHS has guaranteed real growth for several years ahead; but, still, it is not enough. And the NHS is conscious of having been the most emotionally potent argument for leaving the EU: the £350m per week extra as promised on the side of a bus.  Yet the reality has been that the service is one of the main Brexit casualties as crucial EU staff drain away.

The NHS feels like it is in a permanent state of crisis and underfunding.

Talking to key people in the sector it is clear that there are three, big, unresolved issues.

One is the question of who is to pay for social care: especially the frail elderly who sit, unhealthy and expensively, in hospital because of lack of help at home or in affordable, quality, nursing homes. Councils are supposed to provide services but are desperately short of money; families resent means-tested charges which can eventually cost the family home; the NHS does medical not social care.

Politicians need to find a cross-party solution which will involve both higher taxes and better off families paying their share; so far the fear of being attached for advocating a ‘death tax’ or ‘dementia tax’ has created paralysis. I assured the audience that Lib Dems are committed to higher income tax to raise revenue and a cross-party solution.

The second is mental health.

All agree that this is a Cinderella service which has been neglected as long as we can remember. We all have had relatives and friends who succumbed to breakdowns and have seen the havoc it causes. During the Coalition, my Lib Dem colleagues at the Department of Health prioritised mental health and helped shift attention and resources to it.

Since then neglect has returned. Restoring mental health to a proper priority requires much more attention to preventative work, especially amongst young people of school and college age. In Twickenham, I hear that 1 in 4, or 1 in 5, young people are now experiencing eating disorders, self-harm or other manifestations of mental stress: roughly the national average. Creative local charities are filling the gaps in counselling and advice left by the rather threadbare NHS. but they have a hand-to-mouth existence and need support.

Making mental health a priority means giving much more attention to preventative work

And third, there is the retention and recruitment problem for nursing staff and doctors: 100,000 vacancies including 40,000 nurses.

Brexit has added a new negative element but it is superimposed on system already under strain. Staff complain about rigid work routes, lack of notice for holidays, lack of flexible family friendly working arrangements. Care for the sick can’t be reduced to a 9 to 5 job but can’t, equally, be an excuse for poor human resources management. I quoted from the comedian and ex-doctor Adam Kay with his horrifying but occasionally hilarious stories of life as a junior hospital doctor. And I probably got a few backs up by pointing out that in a room of 300 top NHS managers and trust directors, there were possibly at most half a dozen people from ethnic minorities, in contrast to what we see on the wards.

After an evening with the medics I joined a campaign the following morning by Manchester Lib Dems on homelessness.

The Labour council in Manchester, portrayed nationally as a beacon of enlightenment, has a harsher reputation at home. Its latest idea is a ‘homelessness tax’ (a system of spot fines at people who sleep rough in the town centre). Together with Big Issue North, our team have mobilised a big petition against a measure which follows a long tradition – embodied in the Vagrancy Act – of punishing the down and outs for being down and out. Or perhaps the Labour council think they just don’t fit the image of a successful, economically developing city and have to be cleaned out of sight.

The political reaction to the campaign - organised by three Lib Dem councillors up against 97 Labour – has been enormous.

It reminds us that while we have been celebrating Lib Dem victories across the South of the country and in London in particular, the real heroes of our revival are the activists in Manchester, Liverpool, Oldham, Sheffield, Hull, Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland – among others – who stuck with us through the politically hostile environment of Labour dominated cities, and are now on the way back.

Back to Twickenham and to an event which was one of the pleasures of being a local MP.

A local primary school was staging an exhibition of sculptures, paintings and writings advertising the dangers of plastic pollution. The children had all written to me (all of them!) inviting me to the evening display and I made it just in time, returning from Manchester. The place was humming with energy and enthusiasm from children, teachers and parents.

Dozens of selfies with the children and I was left with a feeling of real appreciation that I had been able to lend support.

I tried to have a quiet weekend but this is the season of fetes and festivals and any conscientious MP has to be there at the tombola stalls and drinking Pimms.  I was lucky with the tombola, which yielded a train ticket to Edinburgh, a free haircut and several bottles of plonk.

On Sunday morning I joined a group of walkers promoting sensible drug policies: something the Lib Dems have long prioritised.

I wasn’t prepared for the emotional force of the campaigners. I talked to one woman who had lost two sons to heroin addiction. She was now devoting her life to this campaign. Public opinion has swung behind the campaigners; prohibition has failed massively. Other countries in Europe and North America are trying solutions which are based on evidence. But UK politicians are very nervous of being seen to be ‘soft on drugs’.

I have had a frustrating time recently locating a good novel. But I have found a fine thriller written in the Le Carre mould: Charles Cumming writes novels about the spying world with gripping plots and topical interest. Try A Foreign Country.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

7 things the Lib Dems have done for the LGBT+ community

by Lynne Featherstone on Thu, 27 Jun 2019

June is LGBT+ Pride Month!

LGBT+ Pride events are being held across the country to recognise the impact LGBT+ people have had in the world and the struggle they still face for equal recognition. The Liberal Democrats have always championed the rights of the LGBT+ community. Here are 7 things that we have done:

1. Opposed section 28

In the 1980s the Liberal Democrats were the first party to openly oppose Section 28 – an act which prohibited the so-called promotion of homosexuality. In 2003, the Lib Dems were the first to introduce legislation to repeal the act. After over 20 years since the act was introduced, parliament finally voted to abolish it!

2. Supported lowering the age of consent to 16 for same-sex relationships

In 1994, the Lib Dems unanimously supported amendments to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill to reduce the age of consent for homosexual sex to 16, bringing it in line with heterosexual sex.

3. Supported Same-Sex Couples adopting children

Children Diversity GIFThe Liberal Democrats supported amendments to the Adoption and Children Act 2002 to allow adoption by unmarried couples, including same-sex couples. We unanimously opposed Conservative attempts in the Lords to reject these amendments.

4. Led on Trans Rights


Human Rights Trans Sticker by Troupe429
Allowing trans people to change the gender on their birth certificate had been Liberal Democrat party policy since 1998. It was six years until the Gender Recognition Act came along, and it was wholeheartedly supported by the Lib Dems. The Tories in the House of Lords tried to destroy the legislation but were successfully opposed by Liberal Democrat peers.

5. Introduced the equal marriage bill

God Bless America Rainbow GIF
In 2013, the Same Sex Marriage Act was introduced because of the hard work of our MP Lynne Featherstone in coalition government. Since then, thousands of same sex couples have been able to get married.

6. Campaigned for blood donation rules to be based on science not sexuality

https://giant.gfycat.com/DimwittedFlawedBantamrooster.webm

Currently gay and bi men are excluded from donating blood. In light of this, we adopted a policy in 2011 for Britain's blood donation rules to be based on the risk of the individual, not on sexuality.

7. Campaigned for LGBT inclusive workplaces


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We are fighting for businesses with more than 250+ employees to be made to monitor and publish data on BAME and LGBT employees, not just gender. We hope that this will end unfair discrimination against LGBT employees at work.

 

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

5 weeks to get Jane Dodds into Parliament

by Dan Schmeising on Thu, 27 Jun 2019

We have a date for the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election!

After days of delay, the Conservatives finally caved this morning and moved the writ to allow the by-election to go ahead. It'll be held on Thursday 1st August - exactly 5 weeks from today.

It's going to be a brilliant campaign - I'm looking forward to seeing as many people there as possible. The weather's lovely and the views speak for themselves!

This is the Begwyns above Clyro in Radnorshire - it's a really beautiful part of the world.

This is our opportunity to show that the Liberal Democrats are winning on all levels again. We demand better than a Conservative MP who was convicted of submitting false expense claims. The people of Brecon and Radnorshire deserve an MP who understands local issues and will stand up for communities in Parliament.

There's a lot of work to do to make that happen, though. Can you get to Brecon and help us out?

There's a wide variety of things to do - from phoning and leafleting to clerical work inside the office. Everything you do helps us win! If you're interested - just sign up using the link below.

Check out events

But if you can't make it - don't worry! The easiest way to help us is to donate to the campaign. Just £25 could help us reach up to 5000 voters online - everything you can give makes a difference.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

BREAKING: By-election in Brecon and Radnorshire

by James Lillis on Sat, 22 Jun 2019

We have a by-election in Brecon and Radnorshire!

The current MP, a hard Tory Brexiter, has been overwhelmingly recalled by his constituents.

And if we take this seat off the Tories and they may lose their working majority in the Commons.

Brecon and Radnorshire is a seat that we held until 2015, and we hold the Welsh Assembly Member seat.

This is an election we can win.

As the campaign manager of the 2016 Richmond Park by-election, I know that what makes the biggest difference is help early on.

We need your help right now to get off to a flying start and get another Lib Dem MP in Parliament.

Can you join us in Brecon and Radnorshire this weekend or come by in the next ten days?

I'm in

And if you can't make it, can you help us secure a big victory by giving what you can today?

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Windrush Day

by Isabelle Parasram on Sat, 22 Jun 2019

Please be advised that this article contains language that some may find offensive

As a child of the Windrush generation, Windrush Day is hugely important to me. I’m so glad that we, as a society, are marking it.

The term ‘the Windrush Generation’ stems from the arrival, on June 22, 1948, of the ship The Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks, just east of London, bringing with it the first immigrants from the Caribbean.

It denotes the large-scale influx of Caribbean immigrants during the years that followed.

There’s been a lot of press about the terrible treatment of people who came here from the Caribbean in the late 1940s and onwards, who now find that their very official existence has been denied.

There’s been a lot of press about the terrible treatment of people who came here from the Caribbean in the late 1940s and onwards, who now find that their very official existence has been denied.

There’s also much discussion about the poor treatment of those Caribbean immigrants upon their arrival in the UK to date.

But there are also some positive stories and memories mixed in with those experiences.

I’ve recorded an 8-minute audio interview with someone who came to this country in 1962. She shared with me some of her memories and they were both good and bad.

The memories they shared included these:

‘I came to the UK after a one month journey from Trinidad by ship with my young stepson and my new baby boy. When we arrived it was the coldest winter they’d had in a long time and we only had summer clothes.’

‘I remember having no furniture, no heating, no washing machine, no fridge, no winter clothes. We had to try to stay warm in one room using a paraffin burner. Then, on Christmas Day, someone gave us a bed for my stepson. I was so happy!’

Since 2018, we’ve celebrated Windrush Day to honour the British Caribbean community.

‘It was hard to find a job because no black people were allowed. The British people didn’t want immigrants – “…no black people”, they said.’

‘I remember a bus driver saying to the passengers that ‘…all these Pakis had come over here to go on the dole. I pointed out to him that not everyone with Asian skin was from Pakistan and that we were all desperate to work.’

‘We had so little money for food that I had to work at a sweet factory in the evenings just so we could eat. I know it was illegal, but I left my young stepson in charge of my toddler and my baby and, one day, I came home to find the baby under the kitchen table. But I had no choice.’

‘Eventually, I got a job in local Government. I was the only black woman working in my department for the Council. They treated me well and helped me to get promotions.’

And so, the stories continue.

Since 2018, we’ve celebrated Windrush Day to honour the British Caribbean community.

Listening to the person I interviewed who spoke about how hard it was to find work, it’s ironic to note that, following the losses of World War II, Britain was in dire need of labourers. This prompted a campaign to entice people from the countries of the British Empire and Commonwealth to immigrate to the UK.

Yet, when they arrived, it seems that they weren’t exactly welcomed.

I’ve read the ‘official lines’ that state, for posterity that ‘…the Windrush Generation and their descendants are honoured for their immense contributions to British society following the trauma of the Second World War’. However, this does not entirely reflect the British Caribbean community’s experience – certainly not those with whom I’ve come into contact.

When Caribbean immigrants first arrived, there were met with extreme intolerance from large parts of the white population.

Having initially been encouraged to settle in the UK and take up employment to revive the labour market, many early immigrants were denied access to private employment and accommodation on account of their skin colour. Afro-Caribbean and Indo-Caribbean people were also banished from many pubs, clubs, and even churches.

From today's perspective, the arrival of The Empire Windrush is considered a major landmark not only for the country's recovery from the turmoil of war but also for the establishment of modern British multicultural society.

As Liberal Democrats, we must continue to fight for justice for those members of the Windrush Generation whose paperwork – destroyed by The Home Office - means that they have to face a costly, lengthy and sometimes unwinnable battle to establish their right to remain in the UK

Windrush Day is a way of encouraging communities across the country to celebrate the contribution of the Windrush Generation and their descendants – I guess that would include me!

But, it also serves as a reminder that, as Liberal Democrats, we must continue to fight for justice for those members of the the Windrush Generation whose paperwork – destroyed by The Home Office - means that they have to face a costly, lengthy and sometimes unwinnable battle to establish their right to remain in the UK, even if this is the only home they’ve ever known.

So, join me on Tuesday 25th June 2019 at an event organised by ‘The Hackney Heroine’, Pauline Pearce, the driving force behind Motion F5 from last Autumn’s Conference ‘Righting Wrongs: Restoring the Rights of the Windrush Generation’.

Alongside former Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year, Kaweh Beheshtizadeh and Professor Paul Reynolds (both key figures within the Liberal Democrats), I will be discussing the issues surrounding the Windrush Scandal and what we, as Liberal Democrats, can do about it.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Brexit is the most serious threat to our country in my lifetime.

Yet the Conservative Party leadership contest shows they still haven’t got it – and are even willing to make things worse. Enthusiastic talk of a No Deal Brexit? Of sending MPs home – proroguing Parliament – so MPs can’t stop a No Deal? By people who want to be our country’s Prime Minister? Whoever wins that leadership contest has to be stopped.

Yet we know Labour won’t do it. Labour have aided and abetted the Tories every step of the way. Jeremy Corbyn demanded after the referendum that the Government should invoke Article 50 immediately and leave as soon as possible. Last week some Labour MPs even voted against a cross-party motion that could have enabled MPs to block a disastrous No Deal Brexit.

The Liberal Democrats are now the leaders of Remain.

Neither Labour nor the Conservatives can be trusted on Brexit.

Fortunately, the European Elections have heralded a dramatic realignment in British politics. Away from the Labour-Tory battles of the past, towards today’s Remain-Leave battle. And the Liberal Democrats are now the leaders of Remain.

So our leadership contest – who is the Leader of the lead Remain Party – could not be more significant.

We need a Leader who understands the EU, who knows how to win and above all who is ready now to take on Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and Jeremy Corbyn - and ready to become Prime Minister.

I have the CV for that task. And I’m ready for that task.

I have successfully negotiated in Government – indeed, across Europe, twice – on economic reform and on climate change. In fact, I’ve attended more EU Ministerial Councils in Brussels than any Liberal Democrat in history, during my 5 years as a Business Minister and Cabinet Minister.

My campaigning record over 20 years shows I know how to win – from winning my constituency when I wasn’t even a target seat to my leading role in developing simple messages that connect with voters - from “Stop Brexit” to “a penny on income tax for education” [1991-2001] to “scrap council tax” [2003-05].

I have the ideas and vision to be a Prime Minister who doesn’t just stop Brexit, but stops the causes of Brexit.

And I have the ideas and vision to be a Prime Minister who doesn’t just stop Brexit, but stops the causes of Brexit. From my detailed economic plan to invest in the communities left behind in the past – including massive investment in the regions and nations – to my proposals to tackle the Climate Emergency, we can have a substantial programme for Government.

The leadership to stop Brexit and renew our country is now down to the Liberal Democrats. I’m the Leader who can campaign so we win the right to perform that duty – and the person who is best placed to lead us in carrying out that historic task.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →