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The UK and Europe

by Christine Jardine on Sun, 27 Sep 2020

The Liberal Democrats fought long and hard to Stop Brexit.

And our values have not changed. At every step of the Brexit process, we have been clear and outspoken in our position that Britain is better off within the EU. We will always stand firm in our pro-European, internationalist values because we know, we are so much better off together than we will ever be alone.

It is our duty to work across the divides of Leave and Remain, to protect the influence, reputation, safety and security of our country

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Willie Rennie's Speech to Autumn Conference

by Liberal Democrats on Sun, 27 Sep 2020

An opportunity to rebuild for people and the planet

by Sarah Olney on Sun, 27 Sep 2020

The climate emergency is one of the biggest issues facing the UK and the world, but our Government is failing to face up to it.

Social distancing, face coverings, and ‘bubbles’ may be our new normal - but climate change doesn’t have to be

While coronavirus rightly dominated the headlines, the Government has let what little it was doing to protect the planet slip. Even when the country came to a near standstill during lockdown, our emissions only fell by between 4-7%. It’s clear we need to be much more ambitious if we’re going to really tackle the climate crisis.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Layla Moran's Speech to Autumn Conference

by Liberal Democrats on Sun, 27 Sep 2020

Save the BBC

by Jamie Stone on Sun, 27 Sep 2020

A strong, politically independent BBC plays a key role in our democracy, our creative industries, and our daily lives. The Conservatives are putting that at risk.

The Conservatives’ war with the BBC is no secret. Dominic Cumming’s think tank described the BBC as the Conservatives’ “mortal enemy”. This Government has forced the cost of free licenses for over-75s onto the BBC.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

The Weekly Whip

by Peter Munro on Sun, 27 Sep 2020

Welcome to the Weekly Whip. Your one-stop shop for Lib Dem Parliamentary updates, covering the week that was and the week to come. 

For up to date information from the Lib Dem Whips Office, follow us on Twitter: @LibDemWhips 

Weekly Whip w/c 21st September

Monday 21st September

Before Monday’s main business on the Internal Market Bill, Matt Hancock gave a Ministerial Statement on a Covid-19 update from over the weekend and the sharp rise in cases across the country. Munira Wilson took the opportunity to press the Secretary of State on testing in care homes. Despite his emphasis on prioritisation of care homes, many homes are still experiencing a two-week delay for test results.

Tim Farron raised the frustrations of citizens across the country, pointing out how hard teachers and other key workers have been fighting for us, but we are unable to give them a solid testing system in return.

The main business of the day was the continuation of the Internal Markets Bill. Specifically, how it relates to Northern Ireland and the parts of the Bill which break international law. Alistair Carmichael, Spokesperson for Northern Ireland, was joined by others from across the House in condemning the government’s actions. This Bill completely lowers our international standing, further alienates our allies, and puts pressure on the crucial peace in Northern Ireland. Lib Dems voted against the government.

Tuesday 22nd September

The Prime Minister came to the House of Commons to introduce new national restrictions as a result of the recent uptake in Coronavirus cases, such as the 10pm closing time for pubs and restaurants. In response, Ed Davey asked for an apology from the Prime Minister for his poor performance on communication and testing, which has resulted in these new measures on people’s daily lives. 

Munira Wilson also had a question for the Prime Minister, raising the fact that BAME communities are disproportionately impacted by the Coronavirus for various reasons. It is still not clear what real steps are being taken to alleviate this. 

Representing parts of the Lake District, and being a loud voice for the hospitality and tourism sectors in the area, Tim Farron raised with the Prime Minister the issue of new restrictions on the local economy. It would make no economic sense to allow these industries to go to the wall and financial measures must be put in place immediately, ahead of the winter months.

After the Prime Minister’s statement, the Internal Market Bill finally concluded Committee Stage, where Sarah Olney spoke on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, rounding off the final points over the last few days of Committee. This Bill heightens the divisions within our country instead of binding us together which is so important for our position on the global stage as we leave the EU.

Wednesday 23rd September

The Liberal Democrats have been frequenters at Prime Minister’s Questions. This time, it was Jamie Stone who was first on the list and spoke to an important constituency issue: the matter of the potential Launch UK Spaceport in Caithness.

Tim Farron, Lib Dem Spokesperson for housing, was granted a critical UQ on housing evictions. The protection that was given to private renters, who were in peril of losing the roofs over their heads during the crisis, ended on Sunday. This leaves 55,000 households in immediate danger. We are grateful to the Speaker for granting this UQ given the scale of the issue.

Before the main business for the day, Michael Gove came before the House to give a statement on the current situation regarding the preparations for the end of the transition period. Christine Jardine noted that the haulage industry has been warning the government of Brexit chaos and 7,000 truck long queues if there aren't enough custom agents. 

The main business for Wednesday was the Overseas Operations Bill, which the Liberal Democrats had serious concerns with. Alistair Carmichael and Jamie Stone both spoke during the debate, highlighting how the Bill makes it harder to bring cases alleging abuse or torture against British troops operating abroad in future. We cannot decriminalise torture. Liberal Democrats, joined only by the SNP, Plaid, and Alliance, voted against the Bill. On the issue of torture, Labour chose to abstain.

Thursday 24th September

Wera Hobhouse, Spokesperson for Women and Equalities, spoke during an Urgent Question on the government’s decision to drop the planned reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, which would allow Trans people to self-identify. Wera asked about a recent Freedom of Information request and what consultations have been made with the appropriate Trans groups.

Following this, the Chancellor of the Exchequer came to the House to give his most recent economic proposals in response to the new Coronavirus restrictions. Christine Jardine, Lib Dem Treasury Spokesperson, cautiously welcomed some of the proposals, but made it absolutely clear that it is unacceptable how 3 million people, who were excluded from the first round of support, are still being ignored by Whitehall. She also made reference to the lack of incentives to create new green jobs, as our neighbours on the global stage continue lead the way.

Layla Moran’s first Ministerial Statement as Foreign Affairs Spokesperson concerned the UK’s reaction on the Belarusian election. She joined the whole House, including the Secretary of State, in standing strong against those who seek to undermine democracy and human rights, but also encouraged Dominic Raab to flex his muscles when it comes to other human rights abuses, such as the horrors we are seeing in Xinjang.

Later in the day, Layla took part in the main business, the Backbench Business Debates, which focused on the situation in Yemen and Palestine respectively. Layla rose as the first British-Palestinian MP, giving a personal reflection on the matter and the urgent need for peace and a two-state solution.

“I stand as a friend of Israel, as much as I am a daughter of Palestine.” 

 

Next week will see more important votes on the Internal Market Bill, along with a vote on the 6-month review of the government’s Coronavirus Bill. 

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

It’s time for justice

by on Sun, 27 Sep 2020

The killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by police in the US has sparked an international reckoning with racial injustice.

The Liberal Democrats need to commit ourselves to combating racism - conscious or unconscious, individual or institutional - wherever we find it, including within our own party.

All too often, we see racism and anti-blackness as a problem specific to America. But here in the UK, many people’s lives are blighted by discrimination and inequality.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

What you may have missed from Day 2 of Autumn Conference

by Liberal Democrats on Sun, 27 Sep 2020

Day 2 at Autumn Conference saw two big policy motions passed, speeches by MPs Layla Moran and Munira Wilson, and a Q&A with new Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey. 

Didn’t have time to catch it all? Here’s what you might have missed on Day 2, as well as what’s coming up on Day 3...

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Q&A with Ed Davey!

by Ed Davey on Sat, 26 Sep 2020

Q: What is a Liberal Democrat, who are you targeting, and how will your vision reach them?

I think a political party must always start with our values. The Liberal Democrat values of freedom, equality of opportunity and community - these are our strong values which we've campaigned on for years and years, and we must keep campaigning on them.

In terms of targeting, I think there are millions of people who share those values. I think in the recent past we've may have been too narrow - I think there are lots of people who will vote for us, I think those values speak to huge amounts of people. The real challenge that we have is to translate them into people's lives, their everyday problems and hopes. That's the challenge, as Leader, I need to take on with the whole party.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

The COVID-19 pandemic

by Munira Wilson on Sat, 26 Sep 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has changed every single one of our lives.

For our frontline workers, we need safety, support and fair pay now.

You may have been furloughed from work, or lost your job, You may be one of millions of young people now navigating an online learning environment. You may be isolated from friends or family or have lost a loved one to COVID-19.

With limits on our interactions and activities, our daily lives disrupted, and the economy heavily impacted, there is no way to quickly ‘bounce back’ from this crisis.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Munira Wilson's speech at Autumn Conference

by Munira Wilson on Sat, 26 Sep 2020

Ten months ago, I was standing on a doorstep. It was dark. It was freezing cold. It was a few days before polling day. I was talking to a lovely couple, one of whom broke down in tears. She was a nurse at our local hospital and she was telling me how she and her colleagues were struggling to cope. They were stressed out, burnt out and desperately needed more staff.

We are seeing the shocking impacts of isolation and bereavement on the mental health of people across the country, as well as the devastating physical toll of this virus.

So when I got elected and Ed asked me to be Health & Social Care Spokesperson for the party, I knew I had my work cut out: waiting lists skyrocketing, vacancies at record levels, many hospitals falling apart at the seams and no solution to the long-running crisis in social care.

And then Covid happened.

In the face of a catastrophe that has cut across every aspect of our lives, we have watched Boris Johnson’s Government blunder through crisis after crisis, failure after failure.

We are seeing the shocking impacts of isolation and bereavement on the mental health of people across the country, as well as the devastating physical toll of this virus.

The Government's incompetence is putting lives and livelihoods at risk.

We have witnessed the failure to protect our frontline workers with adequate equipment.

And – more than six months into this crisis - we still don’t have the “world-beating” test and trace system that Boris Johnson promised us months ago.

As we head into a second wave, not only is this completely and utterly unacceptable, it is reckless. This Government’s incompetence is putting lives and livelihoods at risk.

We need the Government to fix things here and now, to avoid the need for another national lockdown, and to ensure our NHS doesn't collapse this winter.

But we also need Ministers to accept that this is a moment for real change.

The coronavirus has not just laid bare the fundamental problems facing our NHS and care sectors, it has exposed in technicolour the health inequalities facing the UK, and shown us why we need to rethink the way we see healthcare as a whole.

Coronavirus has cruelly shone a spotlight on the scourge of health inequality in the UK.

We have seen the impact of poor and overcrowded housing, insecure employment and our broken welfare system on not just our physical health, but also our mental health and wellbeing.

For years we've heard stories of how, for example, if you lived in Chelsea you would be expected to live on average nine years longer than someone from Blackpool.

Somehow, health inequality had become accepted. But coronavirus has cruelly shone a spotlight on this scourge in our society.

We have seen those health inequalities play out in real time, most shockingly in the disproportionate impact of COVID on people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, on people with disabilities, and on the poorest.

When we think about the future, it’s clear that going “back to normal” is not an option.

It is time to re-boot and re-think the way we live our lives - and the Government’s role in helping us to do so in a more sustainable, healthier way.

This is not just about how we care for our physical health, but how we ensure we support mental health and wellbeing too.

Whilst we all want people to live longer lives, we want them to enjoy a good quality of life as long as possible. Health is wealth.

As a country we must decide that health can no longer just be about treatment. We need to prioritise prevention.

We cannot just rely on the NHS to always pick up the pieces.

We need a much more joined up approach to public health.

Especially not when people’s lives and wellbeing are shattered by the Government's own policies. Like the failure to provide adequate housing, or to ensure children don’t go hungry, or to keep people from tipping over a financial precipice.

It simply makes no sense to have a welfare system which pushes people into poverty, with knock-on health impacts and costs, or to fail to tackle air pollution, which has such damaging health consequences.

We need a society where our housing, our education, the jobs we do and the air we breathe are helping to keep us healthy.

Not only do we need to reinstate the funding that was cut from public health budgets by the Conservatives, but we need a much more joined up approach to public health.

This means thinking about the health impact of decisions taken at every level of government, from local authorities to Whitehall Departments.

Liberal Democrats have long-championed a public health approach. We already advocate a public health approach to serious violence. And we also know the public health benefits of excellent education, high quality housing and environmental stewardship.

I want to see Boris Johnson put public health at the top of his agenda in the long-term

It’s about creating virtuous circles, not vicious cycles.

That is why, as well as getting a grip on the immediate COVID crisis, I want to see Boris Johnson put public health at the top of his agenda in the long-term.

That starts with making someone at the Cabinet table responsible: a Minister for Wellbeing who will scrutinise the Government’s actions and ensure they are fundamentally in keeping with health and wellbeing.

As well as this, in the same way that Equality Impact Assessments pushed equality up the agenda, we need to introduce wellbeing assessments to make sure new laws empower people to live healthier lives.

Underpinning it all – as ever - we need a well-funded, well-resourced, resilient healthcare system, to support our physical and mental health in “normal” times, and in times of crisis.

We still don’t know what the future holds when it comes to COVID-19, but, after the chaos and heartache we have endured this year, we should not have to fight to put health and wellbeing at the top of the agenda. It’s what people expect.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

The Creation of a Federal United Kingdom

by Wendy Chamberlain on Sat, 26 Sep 2020

Our union is under threat.

Nationalism is a dangerous force, fuelled by a sense of alienation and powerlessness. Brexit has forced divides between our four nations.

Coronavirus and Brexit, two of the biggest issues facing the UK, have demonstrated the inadequacies of our current constitutional arrangements. With growing support for reform across our nations and regions, it’s time to act. It’s time we created a truly federal UK.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

What you may have missed from Day 1 of Autumn Conference

by Liberal Democrats on Sat, 26 Sep 2020

Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference is in full swing, and despite this year’s event looking very different, it’s gotten off to a great start.

With four jam-packed days of policy in the agenda, there’s a lot to keep track of, so here’s a quick recap of all the big moments from Day 1. 

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Lib Dems back universal basic income

by Sir Ed Davey MP on Fri, 25 Sep 2020

The UK is one of the strongest economies in the world, and yet our economic system leaves too many people without enough money to meet their basic requirements and fails to value properly vital unpaid work like caring.

Today, Liberal Democrat Conference has voted to campaign for Universal Basic Income.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Q&A with Jane Dodds - Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats

by Liberal Democrats on Fri, 25 Sep 2020

Improve Mental Health Support for Health and Care Staff

by Munira Wilson on Fri, 25 Sep 2020

In the UK we’re lucky. We’re able to turn to the NHS at some of the lowest points in our lives. On a daily basis, our health and care workers are there for us, and deal with tragedy, sickness and death. But all too often, these same front line care staff are overworked and underpaid.

All too often, are front line care staff are overworked and underpaid.

Many key workers haven’t recovered from working during the pandemic this Spring, and these are the same workers we are asking to fight COVID-19 on the frontline again this Autumn. That’s why today I’m proud that Liberal Democrat conference voted overwhelmingly to support a package improving mental health support for those health and care workers.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

FCC report pre-conference

by Nicholas da Costa on Thu, 24 Sep 2020

Conference is upon us.

On Saturday, 19 September the Federal Conference Committee met to review the amendments, late motions, emergency motions, topical issues, questions to reports and appeals for next weekend’s Autumn Conference.

As you will be aware, this is the first time that are holding our Conference completely online. The Federal Conference Committee would like to thank the Conference and wider HQ team for all of the hard work in bringing our Conference online. Throughout a really difficult period we have all worked together to offer a fully online Conference. You can see the introduction video from Geoff Payne, FCC Chair, and Hannah, from HQ, here The video will show you all the features of the online conference, including the auditorium, visiting, fringe sessions, training, the exhibition and the chat functionality.

We would also like to thank our fantastic members for the patience and understanding whilst we are all embarking on a new experience with an online conference. The online platform is being delivered by dedicated supplier Hopin. You can still register for Conference here and submit speakers’ cards here. Please note that you will need to submit speakers’ cards earlier than usual (16:00 he day before the agenda item). This because our production partners will need to get in touch with you earlier so that they can ensure that the internet signal is good and that you are prepared for your speech. We will be selecting more speakers than we will schedule, so that we have a reserve list.

You can submit amendments to the two late motions (on Europe and COVID) here. Please note that voting for the emergency motion will be done via Mi-Voice and will close on Friday at 19:00.

I have included below the list of items discussed at Saturday’s meeting of the FCC; you will see the amendments, late motions, emergency motions, questions submitted to committees and the appeals.

Please note that the summary of the topic is my own (i.e. I have summarised the amendment), I have tried to summarise the amendment as close as possible to what was submitted.

Regarding the amendments they have either been ‘Accepted’ for debate, not selected, or ‘drafted’, this means that the amendment has been added into the text of the motion and therefore will not be debated and voted on separately.

With regards to the emergency motions, these need to relate to something that has happened after the deadline for motions submission, and thus are decided by the Federal Conference Committee if they are or are not valid.

With regards to the questions, we review that they are being submitted to the correct Committee.

There were four appeals against non-selection of motions and the four appeals were not upheld.

I hope that the above (and of course below) is of use and interest. I will try and answer any questions that you do have and you can also contact me via email: nicholas.dacosta@outlook.com.

One final reminder - if you want to speak at conference, Speaker's Cards must be submitted as soon as possible and, in any event, by 4pm THE DAY BEFORE THE RELEVANT DEBATE. Please use this form to submit your card.
Read this article on www.libdems.org →

This government’s test and trace shambles

by Munira Wilson on Mon, 21 Sep 2020

On May 20th, Boris Johnson declared that the UK would have a ‘world-beating’ coronavirus test, track and trace system in place by June 1st. Instead, four months later the UK is facing a testing crisis.

The British public are confronting the reality that we may be facing a second wave of coronavirus with a test and trace system that is just inadequate. It is unacceptable.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →