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by Geoff Payne on Mon, 21 Sep 2020

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 →

The Weekly Whip

by Peter Munro on Fri, 18 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 14th September

Monday 14th September

Monday’s news was heavily dominated by the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill. MPs from across the House had already raised serious concerns last week when it was noted by a government official that the Bill would break international law in a “specific and limited way”. 

Sir Ed Davey made his Commons debut as new Leader of the Party by criticising Johnson during Second Reading of the Bill. He was joined by colleagues who have rightly claimed that it diminishes our position on the world stage and it is against the national interest.

“What message does this send to China, Russia, Iran? What credibility will Britain have in urging other countries to uphold international law if our great Parliament votes for this bill?"

 

Tuesday 15th September

Munira Wilson, Lib Dem Health Spokesperson, has been keeping the pressure on Matt Hancock since the pandemic first began. Months later, nothing has changed. This week, after constituents across the country have been raising the issue of testing with their MPs, Munira gave special attention her area of Twickenham where some constituents have had to use postcodes in Aberdeen in order to get a local test. 

 

Wednesday 16th September

At Prime Minister’s Questions this week, Ed Davey, Alistair Carmichael, and Wera Hobhouse all put questions to the Prime Minister.

Ed focused on the adverse effects of Coronavirus measures on those with disabilities, Alistair highlighted the inconsistencies from the government on how international law may be broken, and Wera secured a meeting with the Health Department on how to limit the impact of the PM’s new obesity strategy on those with eating disorders. 

 

Thursday 17th September

Thursday’s proceedings are usually reserved for Backbench Business Debates, an opportunity for MPs to discuss issues that would not find its way to the Chamber via the Government. 

This week, Lib Dem MPs were outspoken in both debates as they were on the Coronavirus furlough scheme and the lack of support for freelancers and the self-employed. Continued pressure from across the House and The Group for Gaps in Support APPG, led by Lib Dem Jamie Stone, secured these debates, and gave an opportunity for Sarah Olney, Wendy Chamberlain, Munira Wilson, and Christine Jardine, to raise specific cases of their constituents who have fell through the net. 

Next week will see important votes on the Internal Markets Bill.



Read this article on www.libdems.org →

The 'Clap for Flick'

by Liberal Democrats on Fri, 18 Sep 2020

Every day Liberal Democrat councillors are working hard to help their communities across the country. 

We understand that often the most meaningful change happens at a local level.  That's why we have such a strong record in local and community politics.

We're so proud to have hardworking local councillors like Flick striving to deliver real change for people in their area. Thanks Flick!

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Let me be clear about this: I am passionately pro-European.

I am proud that we stood by our pro-EU values throughout the Brexit process, giving voice to the millions of Remainers who didn’t see themselves included in the future that Boris Johnson was trying to build.

I could not have predicted the almighty shambles that we are seeing now with Brexit.

As Liberal Democrats, we took our argument to the streets and to the halls of Parliament. We didn’t fudge the issue or let the Conservatives off the hook.

Sadly, after Johnson’s General Election success, it became clear that Brexit was happening.

But I could not have predicted the almighty shambles that we are seeing now.

Tory MPs who were told in December that they had to vote for the Withdrawal Agreement are now being told they have to vote against it.

They are being told to break international law.

The UK cannot expect other countries, like China and Russia, to respect international treaties if we don’t do the same when it comes to the Withdrawal Agreement

It used to be that the rule of law was a non-partisan issue. Yet here we have a Government willing to abandon the legal obligations of the Withdrawal Agreement because of Boris Johnson’s failed approach to EU negotiations.

The Internal Market Bill is a reckless, dangerous ploy from a Government that cannot get its act together.

Abandoning the Withdrawal Agreement also makes No Deal more likely. The British people deserve better than this uncertainty.

People across the country are trying their hardest to follow the rules during coronavirus. Meanwhile the Conservatives are trying to break the rules of their own Brexit deal with the Internal Market Bill.

So although we acknowledge that Brexit may be coming, Liberal Democrats will not be silent.

We are going to call out the Conservatives when they try to go back on their promises and ignore the rule of law.

We will do everything we can to stop a disastrous No Deal Brexit, or a rushed deal that would endanger British jobs and vital supplies during this health emergency.

The Internal Market Bill is a reckless, dangerous ploy from a Government that cannot get its act together. The British people deserve better.

 

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

All the motions you can vote on at Autumn Conference

by Geoff Payne on Thu, 17 Sep 2020

Our first ever full online conference is set to be one of our biggest ever. I’m so proud that we’ve been able to keep costs low for members to attend, plus no cost of travel, accommodation, or buying all your meals out.

With a more accessible, affordable, and flexible conference, more members than ever will be able to have their say and vote on some of the fantastic policy motions coming up at Autumn Conference.

If you haven’t yet, you can book your place at conference here.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Rosh Hashanah

by Sir Ed Davey MP on Thu, 17 Sep 2020

Tonight, Jewish communities in the UK and around the world will mark Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year.

The Jewish High Holidays are a time of deep contemplation and self-reflection. They are an opportunity for all of us to look back on the past year as we set new goals for the future.

This year has been particularly challenging; we have all had to adjust to new ways of living, whilst grappling with economic uncertainty.

For religious communities, the past year has also been difficult as so many customs and traditions have either been adapted or suspended altogether. However, as a new year begins, let us all enter it with hope and expectation.

I am thrilled that this is my first Rosh Hashanah message as Leader of the Liberal Democrats. I am proud to lead a party that stands for equality, justice and fairness. Under my leadership, our party's efforts to uproot anti-Semitism from our society will be strengthened because there is no more important task than building a world free from all hate and bigotry.

Finally, I wish everyone celebrating a healthy and happy Rosh Hashanah and a year filled with joy and immeasurable peace.

Shanah Tovah Umetukah!

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Champing at the bit

by Daisy Cooper on Thu, 17 Sep 2020

I'm honoured to have been elected by my fellow MPs as Deputy Leader and I'm champing at the bit to get started.

Whilst Ed is touring the country listening to and reconnecting with voters, it’s going to be my role to help build a campaigning machine that will get us winning again at every level.

It's going to be my role to help build a campaigning machine that will get us winning again at every level.

We won my seat, St Albans, in December - a seat we had never held before.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Our Remit

The Federal Finance and Resources Committee (FFRC) is responsible for the budget and finances of the Federal Party and overseeing the administration of the Party. A key element of its role is oversight of compliance with external regulatory bodies.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Preparing for elections

by Lisa Smart and Iain Donaldson on Tue, 15 Sep 2020

The Government must be stopped from breaking international law.

by Liberal Democrats on Mon, 14 Sep 2020

Liberal Democrat MPs have put forward measures to the Internal Market Bill that will remove controversial clauses that breach the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Respecting the rule of law is fundamental to any self-respecting Government.

The clauses in question allow the UK to unilaterally scrap “exit summary” forms for goods moving from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, and to apply UK state aid rules in Northern Ireland – contrary to what was agreed with the EU. A third clause seeks to protect the above changes from being considered unlawful.

In essence, the Government is trying to break the Withdrawal Agreement and putting the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland at risk.

Instead of ensuring the smooth running of the UK internal market, the Conservatives have sowed tensions between Westminster and the devolved administrations – and have even gone as far as breaking an internationally binding treaty.

Respecting the rule of law is fundamental to any self-respecting Government. This sends the wrong message to the British public at a time when obeying the rules is critical on the Covid front.

The Government should be prioritising securing the best possible deal to protect our economy rather than posturing and blackmailing the EU by threatening to renege on existing commitments.

This sends the wrong message to the British public at a time when obeying the rules is critical on the Covid front.

All this does is fan the flames of nationalism at home and weaken the UK’s standing abroad.

There couldn’t be a more irresponsible and damaging handling of Brexit.

The Government must drop its breaches of international law and negotiate with the EU in good faith. It will be British workers and businesses that will pay for Boris Johnson’s brazen tactics.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

I’ve been a member for many years but like many others, I’d never taken the plunge and dived into conference.

That all changed last year when I went to the 2019 Lib Dem Party Conference in Bournemouth.

I didn’t know what to expect, but before I knew it, I was meeting fellow Lib Dems from across the country, sharing stories, learning new tricks, and feeling at home with over 3,000 like-minded members who share my values.

How’s that for a great weekend by the sea?

Thanks to Coronavirus, this year’s going to be a little different. Well, very different actually. Conference will be exclusively online - but that just makes it even easier to access all the great events on offer.

And for anyone who feels daunted by turning up as a newbie, there’s nothing to worry about. Here’s what to expect…

Meet fellow Lib Dems

There are loads of ways to meet other Lib Dems. Why not start off by dropping in at the Federal Conference Committee virtual stand and asking any questions you might have about the weekend?

Enjoy a virtual stroll through the exhibition centre. Talk to members with a plethora of diverse interests. Chat to teachers and women’s groups, or see how the Liberal Democrat Seekers of Sanctuary are standing up for asylum seekers in the UK.

In each auditorium session, members can use the online chat function to bounce ideas around.

Hear from the party leaders

Welsh leader Jane Dodds, Scottish leader Wille Rennie, and newly-elected party leader Ed Davey will all be taking to the virtual stage to discuss the issues facing the Lib Dems and laying out their vision for the future.

Get stuck in on key debates

Are you a fan of the Universal Basic Income? Where do you think our country should go in a post-Brexit world? If like me, you enjoy getting stuck into the debate, this is your chance.

At conference, Lib Dem members come together to debate and vote on the key issues of the day - and decisions made by delegates (that’s you!) go on to become national party policy.

See the full list of motions and debates, and find out how to participate here.

Check out the fringe

A particular highlight for me will be Lib Dem spokesperson for home affairs and constitutional reform Alistair Carmichael and the Social Liberal Forum discussing alliances, electoral pacts, and whether the Lib Dems could ‘do business’ with Labour.

Saturday night is comedy night with the Liberal Democrat Creative Network. In just one of the excellent fringe events, watch comedians battle it out to pitch a new law for post pandemic life, with the winning idea being taken to parliamentarians.

Browse fringe events in the conference directory.

Help shape the future of the Lib Dems

Some newbies will go on to become Members of Parliament or stand for council, others will leave their mark by helping to shape party policy.

Forging a path to electoral success depends on every single one of us standing up and fighting for a better future.

Whichever direction your Lib Dem journey takes you, conference has a training session to help you along the way. Learn digital campaigning skills from the experts, get advice on reaching out to new members and growing your local party, or find out how to become a target seat. There’s a huge amount on offer.

I left conference feeling motivated and uplifted.

Meeting crowds of Lib Dems – whether virtually or in person – goes to remind you that there are thousands of people across the UK who believe in the same values of openness, tolerance, and freedom that we as Lib Dems stand for.

And if you see me in the chat, feel free to say hello. I’ll be there trying to get around as many events as possible!

Register for conference today.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Hong Kong Security Law: two months on

by Layla Moran on Thu, 03 Sep 2020

The new law, aimed at stamping out protests that have racked Hong Kong for the past year, can “prevent, stop and punish any acts or activities” that severely endanger national security.” Such charges are often used in mainland China to silence dissidents and other political opponents. It has already been used to silence people.

This new law crushes what was left of the ‘one country, two systems’ framework.

The legislation, which has been described as a “death knell” for Hong Kong, also allows Beijing’s security forces to operate in the city.

Legal observers and human rights advocates say the national security laws not only target protesters and their supporters, but permanently undermine the city’s freedoms and rights as promised under the “one country two systems” framework.

During the Handover, the late Paddy Ashdown passionately argued that the people of Hong Kong should be given the right to live in the UK if they held BNO passports.

The UK Government’s extension of visa rights for BNOs is welcome news.

However, it is not good enough for this offer to only apply to BNO status holders and their dependents, as the Government have so far suggested. This leaves behind many young Hong Kongers who have been at the centre of the calls for democracy.

The Government need to go further. All Hong Kongers must have their rights and freedoms protected, regardless of BNO status.

 It is time to step up and stand with Hong Kong.

That's why Alistair Carmichael has tabled a Bill that would re-open the offer of a British National Overseas (BNO) passports for Hong Kong citizens and extend the scheme to provide the “right of abode”, allowing a person to live or work indefinitely in the UK. 

We are calling on the Government to support our Bill, which will have its second reading in Parliament on 23rd October 2020.

The UK government to ensure that no one is left behind. It is time to step up and stand with Hong Kong. 

 

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Reforming the Associated Organisations of the Party

by Flo Clucas on Wed, 02 Sep 2020

Remembering Alan Kurdi

by Alistair Carmichael on Wed, 02 Sep 2020

Alan, his mum and his five-year-old brother had drowned as they attempted to cross from Turkey to Kos in a small inflatable boat, having fled the violence of ISIL and Assad’s civil war.

The Conservatives voted against providing a safe haven for children who’ve been forced to flee their homes and separated from their families.

When that photo appeared on front pages the next day, politicians around the world could no longer ignore the awful human tragedies happening every day as refugees like Alan and his family make perilous attempts to cross the Mediterranean in search of sanctuary.

Here in the UK, the Conservative Government was forced into action at last. The Prime Minister promised to resettle 20,000 refugees from Syria – a commitment that the Government will finally fulfil this year. But still, the Conservatives resisted calls from the Liberal Democrats and others to offer sanctuary to refugees already on the move across Europe – those like Alan Kurdi’s family.

They even voted against the Dubs amendment, which would have committed the UK to take 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees. That’s right. They voted against providing a safe haven for children who’ve been forced to flee their homes and separated from their families.

Thankfully, we defeated the Government and forced them to implement the Dubs scheme, providing a route for the children in Calais camps to come to the UK safely.

But the Conservatives closed that scheme in July, after resettling just 480 child refugees. Without safe routes, desperate people – including children – will continue to take unsafe ones: including attempting to cross the Mediterranean and the Channel in small boats.

We must do all we can to protect vulnerable refugees and safe lives

And we will continue to see more tragedies like the death of Alan Kurdi. Just a fortnight ago, the body of a young Sudanese man, Abdulfatah Hamdallah, was found on a beach near Calais.

He had drowned while trying to cross the Channel in a little rubber dinghy with his 16-year-old friend.

We must do all we can to protect vulnerable refugees and safe lives. The UK has a proud history of providing sanctuary to those in need, and we cannot let this Conservative Government turn its back on them now.

That’s why the Liberal Democrats are fighting to secure safe and legal routes to sanctuary in the UK.

That must include a new long-term commitment to resettle refugees directly from conflict areas like Syria and the surrounding region. And the Government must reopen the Dubs scheme, with a commitment to resettle 10,000 unaccompanied refugee children from elsewhere in Europe over the next ten years.

Five years ago, we responded to that photo of Alan Kurdi with compassion and urgency. Five years on, both those impulses are needed as much as ever. We cannot let them fade now.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Ed Davey announces new Lib Dem Spokespeople

by Liberal Democrats on Tue, 01 Sep 2020

My Bill to give coronavirus heroes the right to stay

by Christine Jardine on Tue, 01 Sep 2020

Those who have put their lives at risk for our country are welcome to live in it.

Like the rest of our wonderful NHS and care staff, hundreds of thousands of people from other countries are on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, putting themselves in harm’s way to make sure we get the care we need.

We cannot thank them enough for the brave and tireless work they are doing in such difficult circumstances and under such intense pressure.

The Government has announced a one-year visa extension for around 3,000 health and care staff with visas due to expire before 1st October. However, this excludes many of those on the front lines, such as hospital porters, cleaners and social care workers.

Even those who are included will be forced to renew their visas next year – at a cost of around £700 per person – or leave the country. That’s not good enough.

The UK should say, loudly and unequivocally, that those who have put their lives at risk for our country are welcome to live in it. 

The idea that anyone who has worked so hard to save lives during this emergency might one day be forced to leave should be unthinkable.

That’s why the Liberal Democrats are fighting to give all NHS and care staff from other countries the right to stay in the UK. 

I’m tabling a Private Members’ Bill to grant them and their families the right to settle here

And today, I’m tabling a Private Members’ Bill to grant them and their families the right to settle here without the costs or bureaucratic hurdles that usually involves.

We’ve already secured support from MPs of other parties for our proposal, and I really hope the Government will back my Bill. 

It would be a small way to recognise and celebrate the enormous contributions that people from all over the world make to our NHS – and to our society, our economy and our communities more broadly.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

FCEC Update - August 2020

by Lisa Smart and Iain Donaldson on Tue, 01 Sep 2020

Party Reform

This month we received a report on progress against the Thornhill Report and we felt that the party was making good progress on some of the key points raised.

Whilst there is still much to do, there is a feeling that what we are setting in place will be good for the future. The Party is improving its ability to work across different parts of itself (HQ, ALDC, the States and Regions) and, despite the challenge of Coronavirus, is ploughing on with the reforms necessary to elect more Liberal Democrats.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →