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Spring Conference motion selection 2022

by Nicholas da Costa on Thu, 20 Jan 2022

The Federal Conference Committee (FCC) met on Saturday, 15th January to start its work on the final agenda for Spring 2022 Conference, which will be taking place virtually via the Hopin platform.

If you haven’t yet registered for Conference, I would recommend doing so here.

We’ve had a few departures from the FCC in the last few months and welcomed two new members. Jennie Rigg ceased being the English Party’s Representative to the FCC and Jenni Lang stepped down as the Scottish Party Representative after becoming the Convenor of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. I would like to place on record our thanks for their service to the FCC, they will be missed, and we would like to wish them all the very best for the future. We welcomed Matt McLaren as our new English Party Rep and Paul McGarry as our new Scottish Party Rep to the committee.

The FCC wants to thank the Conference Office for the amazing work that they do. We are always so grateful to them for their hard work.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

What we must do next to learn the lessons of 2019

by Dorothy Thornhill on Tue, 18 Jan 2022

The headline “two new MPs so far in this Parliament” is a welcome one. Winning, especially winning with record swings, is what we all want.

Underneath the headline is a lot of hard work, plenty of tough decisions, and a drive to improve. We should all be thankful to our activists, staff and supporters.

It is clear to me that the diagnosis and recommendations my team and I set out after the failures of 2019 were right, and that they are being taken seriously. Not least among them was that a Federal Board of 41 members cannot, and should not, be the clear leadership team we need to steer our party and help us all win elections. Something of that size is a talking shop, and talking shops are neither democratic nor effective.

I therefore welcome the Federal Board’s motion to Spring Conference setting out options for reforming the structure of the Board.

My thanks to those who took part in the supporting consultation - collectively you have been clear that it is time for change. This feedback was crucial in helping the Board refine our options to a sensible number for consideration. With limited time, not all ideas could be brought to the floor.

Conference is being asked to choose between three options for change, and then finally between reform and the status quo.

As you can see (below) from the proposed set-up of a new Board, the options deliberately ensure key voices from across the party - geographically, demographically and in other respects - are built in.

I am pleased that the reform options presented address the concerns highlighted in my review. The options provide for a smaller, more nimble leadership team.

They also retain the democratic selection we cherish while clarifying responsibilities, individual and collective.

I see in these options a chance to better encourage cooperation across the party. To build a real leadership team. Only when we have that team can our leaders be held collectively accountable by members: currently a missing ingredient.

That accountability makes for a better democracy for members. Too much power, now, is wielded outside of our official structures, and so outside of accountability.

I look forward to a rigorous, healthy debate at Conference. This is a complex question and I will be listening hard to colleagues and friends to help make my own decision. My principles will be democracy, accountability, electability, and not letting the best be the enemy of the good.

Organisational change is not easy. For us, though, it is necessary.

Do see below for a quick summary of the options coming, in more detail, to Spring Conference.

What a reformed Board would look like: key points

The smaller, reformed Board under these proposals would consist of:

  • The President, who shall act as its Chair;
  • The Leader;
  • The Chair of the English Party, the Convenor of the Scottish Party and the President of the Welsh Party;
  • The Vice President responsible for working with ethnic minority communities;
  • Three people who shall be party members elected by all members of the Party except that persons who, at the date of the close of nominations for election under this paragraph, are members of Parliamentary Parties set out in Article 17 shall not be eligible to be candidates for election under this paragraph. Casual vacancies amongst this group shall be filled in accordance with the election regulations;
  • A Vice-Chair of the Federal Policy Committee;
  • The Chairs of the Federal Conference Committee, the Federal Communications and Elections Committee, the Federal Finance and Resources Committee and the Federal People Development Committee;
  • The Chair of the Young Liberals; and
  • A principal local authority councillor, elected Mayor or Police and Crime Commissioner, elected by the principal local authority councillors, elected Mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners of the Party.

Others would also be invited to Board meetings where applicable, such as a staff representative and the Chief Whip for topics that particularly affect staff or interact with our MPs respectively.

It’s important to note how many of the roles listed are already elected by party members, given direct accountability:

  • The Party Leader, President and Vice President responsible for working with ethnic minority communities are all elected by all party members; and
  • The Scottish Convenor is elected by all members in Scotland, the Welsh President is elected by all members in Wales, the Chair of Young Liberals is elected by all Young Liberals members, that the councillor representative is elected by all councillors, and that the Chair of Federal Conference Committee (FCC) has to come from the FCC members elected by all party members.

Conference will also be asked to choose an option for holding the Board to account, with options including a relatively small ’scrutiny committee’ model of less than 20 members, a larger ‘Party Council’ model of about 40 members, or direct oversight by Conference itself alone.

More details of these options are in the full motion which will appear in the conference agenda.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Make someone amazing smile - nominate them for an award!

by Jack Coulson on Tue, 18 Jan 2022

Party Awards recognise publicly those who have given the party outstanding service and commitment in the past year. They are presented at Conference  and each winner receives a trophy to keep. 

You can watch last autumn's presentation ceremony here and last Spring's awards here.

We present three awards at Spring Conference, and five at Autumn Conference. You can nominate someone by clicking here. The upcoming awards are:

The Leader’s Award

Eligibility: Any member of the party. 

Criteria: Awarded to those who have shown exemplary leadership skills while working or volunteering for the Party. Ranging from long-standing service at the Head of a Council, to effective rallying of new and exciting campaigns for the Party, or even guiding a local Party through a difficult time, anyone is eligible and the Party seeks to recognise leadership in all of its shapes and sizes. Make a nomination here

The Bertha Bowness Fischer Award 

Background: This award is named for the Country’s first woman to become a qualified election agent - who as a Liberal is a testament to our traditions of equality, inclusion and campaigning rigour. 

Eligibility: Any newer (less than two years) member of the Party.

Criteria: Awarded to those who have shown outstanding energy and/or ingenuity in supporting  their new-found political home. It seeks to welcome those people who may well be the future of the Party, no matter their background. It is named for a trailblazer for women in not just liberal, but all politics, and recognises the contributions of new friends from outside of politics and from other parties alike. Make a nomination here.

The Albert Ingham Award

Background: This award is named for one of the Party’s great Election Agents, Albert Ingham. Albert’s work, much of it in his home county of Yorkshire, was prodigious and his impact on the Party ranged from organising to fundraising to promoting fresh talent. 

Eligibility: Any election agent or senior member of a campaign team.

Criteria: Awarded to those whose most recent campaign, through its excellence, fastidiousness, tenacity or novelty has been a model for others to follow. Make a nomination here.

The Laura Grimond award

Background: The Baroness Grimond is named for a woman who, as the Independent put it, was dedicated to promoting “political pluralism without seeking publicity for herself’. Lady Grimond reminds us all that some of the most crucial work, by the best of us, takes place outside of the limelight.

Eligibility: This award is given to recognise and celebrate the efforts of people working for the Party at a Federal, State, Regional, or Parliamentary/Scottish Parliamentary/Senedd level. It is a sister award to the Belinda Eyre-Brook award, which recognises local and community staff/campaigners. 

Criteria: The winner of this award will have shown exceptional commitment to their duties within the Party, going above and beyond to advance the cause. This award particularly aims to recognise the unsung work which enables our front-line campaigns to steal the show. Make a nomination here.


More details about the individual awards and who is eligible can be found here.

Candidates must themselves be party members, and be nominated and seconded by two further party members.


What is the deadline and when will I find out?

Nominations will close on Friday February 25th at 23:59.

All nominators will receive confirmation of their nomination shortly thereafter. If your nominee is selected for an award, they and you will be informed by March 7th.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

February bulk-buy deal

by Henry McMorrow on Fri, 14 Jan 2022

The LDHQ Campaigns & Elections Team are running a rolling programme of bulk-buy deals.

This month's bulk-buy deal is on an A3 Focus leaflet.

This should be your last ‘Focus’ branded leaflet, before you head into the election period. Include a couple of key local stories, but don’t forget to have your strong squeeze and attack messages as well.

 

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Campaigning on Europe – members’ views

by Duncan Brack on Fri, 14 Jan 2022

You may remember, last November, taking part in a survey on members’ views on Brexit and the party’s campaigning on the future of UK–EU relations. Thanks to everyone who participated – 6,500 members, more than any previous survey of this type – and thanks to Greg Foster and Dan Schmeising at party HQ who organised it on behalf of the Federal Policy Committee. This article gives you the results.

The first question asked how you voted in the 2016 referendum. Completely unsurprisingly, over 91 per cent voted to Remain. Most of the rest couldn’t vote (for example because they were too young); just 2.5 per cent voted to Leave. No less than 95 per cent would describe themselves now as Remainers (more than four-fifths of whom chose the option ‘Yes, I am a Remainer and I am proud of it’) and just 1.3 per cent described themselves as Leavers (a third of whom – 25 people – were proud of it).

In response to the question, ‘Do you think people in your life who aren't Liberal Democrats associate the current problems the country is experiencing – shortages of truck drivers, farmworkers, care workers and goods in shops – with Brexit?’, on a 0–6 scale, the average answer was 3.7: in other words, they do, but not all that strongly. Of course, the pandemic and the government’s feeble response have complicated the picture substantially, but this will change over time, as the impacts of Brexit become ever clearer. Indeed, if we’d asked the question now rather than two months ago, I suspect the response would have been stronger.

We next asked which EU-related policy areas the party ought to treat as a priority, given that the impact of Brexit is being felt across so many; people could choose three out of a list of fourteen. Trade came top, listed by more than half of respondents. The others, in order, were: climate change and energy; freedom of movement and immigration; rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU; standards for environment and labour issues; scientific collaboration; cultural, artistic and educational links; environment and biodiversity; defence and security; health policy; justice and police cooperation; foreign policy (countries outside the EU); international development; and crime.

The remaining questions dealt with how people thought the party should communicate its existing policy (as decided by party conference – to build closer links between the UK and EU, leading in the longer term to joining). We asked (on a 0–6 scale) whether people thought that (a) people who aren’t Liberal Democrats and (b) party members and supporters, would like to hear us talk more about building a better relationship between the UK and EU, short of joining the EU; and whether they’d like to hear us talk more about the UK rejoining the EU. For each audience, respondents thought that ‘building a better relationship between the UK and EU, short of joining’ would be a better message than ‘the UK rejoining the EU’ (by 4.2 to 3.1 for non-Lib Dems and 4.9 to 4.5 for party members and supporters). All those are on the positive side of the results (3.0 is the mid-point), though only just so for a rejoin message for non-members.

We asked similar questions about the party’s target audience at elections: ‘The Liberal Democrats should pitch our appeal mainly to former remain voters by emphasising our belief that the UK should join the EU’ (score 3.6) and ‘The Liberal Democrats should pitch our appeal mainly to former leave voters by stressing the need to build a better relationship between the UK and EU, and avoiding talking about joining one day’ (score 3.9) – both positive, but neither exactly ringing endorsements. The combined position – ‘The Liberal Democrats should pitch our appeal to both former remain and former leave voters – even though this may be a less clear message – by stressing the need to build a better relationship between the UK and EU in the first instance, leaving open the possibility of rejoining’ – proved more popular, with an average score of 4.5.

The final question asked people to choose between those three positions. The combined message was a very clear winner, chosen by 65 per cent of respondents. The ‘appeal to remainers’ message won the support of 19 per cent and the ‘appeal to leavers’ message 16 per cent. Although we tried to force the issue by stressing the likelihood of the combined message being a less clear one, you were having none of it!

Thanks again to everyone who took part. The FPC’s task is to take that core message and put policy flesh on it. Look out for our policy paper on the future of the trading relationship between the EU and the UK, and Single Market membership, due for debate at spring conference.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

After the disappointment and failure of the 2019 general election, an independent post-mortem was carried out into what went wrong. The findings of the Thornhill Review set a broad and challenging reform agenda for the party, which we’ve made good progress on implementing so far.

On the role of the Federal Board itself, the Thornhill Review found that:

The lack of connection between operational, political and governing parts of the party has created structures which foster a lack of collaboration and isolated decision making. (p.35)

A fragmented organisation led to low collaboration and isolated decision making. (p.33)

There is no clear ‘leadership team’ where the three pillars of the party – political, operational, federal – can make cohesive decisions, simply, quickly, and effectively. The Federal Board – 40+ members – is not, cannot, and should not be that team. (p.34)

The Federal Board was often a ‘rubber-stamp’ and is too large a group to be a realistic decision-making body. (p.22)

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Federal Policy Committee January 2022 Report

by Jeremy Hargreaves on Wed, 12 Jan 2022

FPC members started the year bright and early with our first meeting last week. We cancelled our December meeting so we could all focus on North Shropshire, so this was our first meeting since November.

Big areas of focus for FPC this year will be further work on our messages and key policies to support them, leading up eventually to the Manifesto for the next General Election; and our substantial programme of working groups developing policies in politically useful areas, to bring to autumn conference.

We started with a discussion with Richard Benwell, chair of the group on the natural environment. We discussed a wide range of elements here, from land and marine management, to the links to the planning regime, the role of the wider economic and financial framework in supporting sustainability, the government’s strategic arrangements for managing the natural environment, and the relationship to climate change action. The group is developing some really interesting ideas, which it will be consulting the party on at spring conference. If you’re interested in this area, please do read and respond to this – it’s always the most effective moment to influence its proposals before they become fairly fixed by the time they come to Conference.

Next we discussed the work of the homes and planning group with FPC member and Cumbria councillor Peter Thornton who is leading this. Some key themes of the discussion here included, unsurprisingly, the need for the planning of local homes to meet the needs of local community, and increasing housing supply significantly, including specifically social and council housing. Tenants’ rights, rent reform, and the pros and cons of right to buy were all discussed, as was the central role of finance and mortgage availability to house prices and building plans. A key question for this group is around the right scale of ambition for increasing housing, and they will be consulting widely on this, again at spring conference.

We had an in-depth discussion of our motion for spring conference on the future of the UK’s trading relationship with the EU. The direction of our strategic ambition is clear and we have quite a large number of detailed specific proposals to make for progress in the short term as well. The tone we take as we make them is also a politically crucial question for us a party, and is something we discussed again this week with both Layla Moran, foreign affairs spokesperson, Duncan Brack, chair of this group, and others, reflected in our final motion for spring conference.

Our last substantive business was an excellent discussion with Judith Jolly, the chair of the group bringing forward proposals for a more caring society. We discussed many aspects of this, including providing care to adults with learning disabilities and the costs associated with this. It’s clear however that the most difficult question in this remit will be the view we take on providing care for the elderly and how this is funded. FPC encouraged the group to think boldly about possible solutions to this at this stage and, again, the group will be consulting party members fully about this at spring conference – so please do contribute your views!

With a little discussion about committee housekeeping issues that finished us off for the evening. We are pleased that Lucy Nethsingha, one of the two vice chairs of the committee, will now be representing FPC to the Federal People Development Committee (FPDC), in a new role aimed at helping to link up our own work on engaging party members with that committee which oversees it more broadly.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Our plan for 2022

by Mark Pack on Mon, 10 Jan 2022

In 2021 we achieved something we’ve not achieved since 1993: winning two Parliamentary by-elections in the same year off the Conservatives. We start this new year with a larger Parliamentary Party than any of us would have dared dream of a year ago. (A winning run that has continued with the first council by-election of this year too - congratulations to now councillor Andrew Dunkin who won a seat from Labour from third place.)

The question now is how do we build on that success in 2022, and how do we make the most of our limited resources? Here’s the plan.

Winning over those with liberal values

We showed in both Chesham & Amersham and in North Shropshire how to appeal to many Conservatives. People with (some) liberal values, who often voted Remain, but who backed Boris Johnson in 2019. They're now willing to listen to us, even to vote for us - as long as we listen in turn to what they say is most important to them. That's why our campaigns in both those by-elections didn't start with us lecturing them. They started with us listening to them, finding the common ground between their concerns and our values.

Tactical voting was important in both contests. We should be grateful for the cooler heads in other parties who saw this too.

But winning over a soft Conservative counts double - one on our total plus one off the Tory total. A tactical vote only counts once - one on our total but nothing off the Tory total.

We need to do both to win (and of course substitute in our main rival in places where it isn't the Conservatives we're up against).

Securing electoral reform

Get this right and we can be a big part of the story of removing the Conservatives from power. Get this right and we can be a big part of forcing a hung Parliament. Get this right and we can use that power finally to secure electoral reform for Westminster.

That is why the Conservative-Lib Dem battleground of the Blue Wall is so important. It's the way to change all our politics.

But, the majority of our members, our elected representatives and our votes are from outside the Blue Wall. So we must get the balance right but I hope you can see why there is so much focus on the Blue Wall.

For Labour facing areas, having voters hear us talk about the part the party can play in removing the Conservatives from power will also be helpful mood music. Background  noise that will make it easier for our local messages about Labour’s failure in so many town halls to work.

Refining our message

To succeed, we must continue to refine our political messages. We need to give people a clear sense of the difference that the Liberal Democrats make.

We’ve got an extensive set of market research underway and now have regular feedback sessions with our most active canvassers. That way we can make sure our decision are rooted in what voters are telling us - an important lesson from what went wrong in 2019.

In his autumn federal conference speech, Ed started setting out this messaging, with the idea of a fair deal for everyone at the heart of it. That desire to give everyone a fair deal, enabling them to lead their lives as they wish, is what makes us distinctive as liberals.

Improving our campaign support

We saw in both Chesham & Amersham and North Shropshire how important our local organisation is. Without the May election results we had in both seats, we wouldn’t have had the by-election successes we did.

We’re starting to see the benefits of our big investment in our networks of field campaign staff. It’s been tough to prioritise this area of expenditure, but both results show the benefits of those difficult decisions.

We also need to continue to modernise our campaigning. So the Campaign Innovation Fund is back for 2022 to fund more experiments, helping us learn what works. We’re also bringing key data work back in-house so we can improve the data available to campaigners on the front line. We’ll be making major changes to our web presence during the year and improving many of our other tools.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Lib Dems WIN North Shropshire

by Liberal Democrats on Fri, 17 Dec 2021

Liberal Democrats won a stunning victory in North Shropshire, taking one of the Conservatives' safest seats.

Liberal Democrat candidate Helen Morgan received 17,957 votes, representing a swing of 34% from the Conservatives and giving her a majority of 5,925.

North Shropshire was the 58th safest Conservative seat in the country, with former Conservative MP Owen Paterson having a majority of almost 23,000 votes in 2019. This represents the second biggest majority overcome in a modern by-election, after Christchurch in 1993.

The stunning Liberal Democrat win follows their success in Chesham and Amersham in June, when a Conservative majority of 16,000 was overturned with another huge swing resulting in Sarah Green MP being elected with a majority of over 8,000.


Ed Davey said: 

“This result is a watershed moment in our politics and offers hope to people around the country that a brighter future is possible. Millions of people are fed up with Boris Johnson and his failure to provide leadership throughout the pandemic and last night the voters of North Shropshire spoke for all of them.

“This is the second stunning by-election victory this year for the Liberal Democrats - both in formerly safe Conservative seats. From Buckinghamshire to Shropshire, lifelong Conservatives have turned to the Liberal Democrats in their droves and sent a clear message to the Prime Minister that the party is over.

The Liberal Democrats believe people deserve a fair deal where everyone plays by the same rules – including those in Downing Street. We will fight for that fair deal with good schools, safe streets and high-quality healthcare.”


In her speech at the election count, Helen Morgan MP said:

"Tonight, the people of North Shropshire have spoken on behalf of the British people. 

"They have said loudly and clearly: 'Boris Johnson, the party is over'.

"Your government, run on lies and bluster, will be held accountable. It will be scrutinised, it will be challenged and it can and will be defeated.

"Across the country, the Liberal Democrats are taking on the Conservatives and winning."


Liberal Democrat MPs have been reacting to the news.

Even Ed, who is self-isolating at home after testing positive for Covid, celebrated the news.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Vaccine passports give a false sense of security

by Liberal Democrats on Tue, 14 Dec 2021

Liberal Democrats have and always will support public health protections that work but the use of so called “vaccine passports'' provides a false sense of security.

Liberal Democrat MPs voted for new mask-wearing requirements and for changes to self-isolation rules. Because these measures will be effective.

The Government has lost sight of why they put forward these measures in the first place - to reduce transmission of the virus. The vaccines being given in the UK are highly effective at reducing the severity of Covid symptoms, the likelihood of admission to hospital and against the risk of death. But even those who are fully vaccinated can still spread the virus.

The most effective way of reducing transmission is with testing combined with rigorous tracing and supported isolation. Testing allows the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike to know whether they have Covid. This can be done quickly and easily with lateral flow testing.

The Government should scrap its plans to record people’s vaccination status on Covid passes and pursue testing as a more effective form of infection control.

Liberal Democrat MPs voted for new mask-wearing requirements and for changes to self-isolation rules.

Lateral flow tests are highly accurate. Although they came under intense scrutiny at the beginning of the pandemic over concerns about their effectiveness, subsequent research has shown that this is not the case.

Researchers from UCL found LFTs were more than 80% effective at detecting any level of Covid-19 infection and likely to be more than 90% effective at detecting who is most infectious when they use the test.

The Scottish Government has introduced vaccine passports and yet Omicron is spreading fast through community transmission in Scotland. The UK Government has put forward no official evidence that vaccine passports significantly reduce transmission despite repeated requests.

Recent studies have also suggested that vaccine passports might actually reduce some people’s willingness to get vaccinated in the UK, particularly among certain groups, such as those who are hesitant.

The Government should scrap its plans to record people’s vaccination status on Covid passes and pursue testing as a more effective form of infection control.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

North Shropshire: it’s on

by Mark Pack on Fri, 10 Dec 2021

I’ve often said history points to two routes for Liberal Democrat (and before that Liberal Party) revivals. One, which we’d much rather avoid, is a foreign disaster - Iraq, former Yugoslavia, Suez… The other is seizing electoral opportunities outside Westminster general elections to give us momentum, increased prominence and growing relevance.

After Sarah Green’s brilliant win in Chesham and Amersham, we saw the boost that gave the party nationally with consistently higher poll ratings and greater media attention.

Now we’ve got a chance - a real chance - to pull off something even bigger in North Shropshire.

Some people are most moved by positive messages, others by negative messages, so let give you one of each: Helen Morgan and Boris Johnson.

Helen is a fantastic candidate and would make a brilliant MP. Other words apply to Boris Johnson… What a Christmas present for Helen winning would be, and what a Christmas headache for Johson that would be too.

There’s still time to make a difference to the result.

Please do help if you can. Details of how to help are on Helen Morgan’s website.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Why we’re opposing Priti Patel’s Anti-Refugee Bill

by Alistair Carmichael MP on Wed, 08 Dec 2021

The scenes of people trying to cross the Channel demand urgent action. They also show that the Government’s approach isn’t working.

in her two years as Home Secretary, Priti Patel has only made the problem worse."

These crossings are incredibly dangerous – as demonstrated so tragically by the deaths of 27 people when their dinghy sank two weeks ago. They line the pockets of the criminal gangs engaged in people smuggling and human trafficking. And they undermine public confidence in our whole immigration system.

These crossings need to stop, but the Conservatives’ Anti-Refugee Bill – officially the ‘Nationality and Borders Bill’ – will only make things worse.

Priti Patel likes to talk tough about this, and keeps putting forward ever more cruel and impractical proposals, from housing refugees on North Sea oil rigs to building a floating wall in the Channel. But in her two years as Home Secretary, she has only made the problem worse.

We know that the best way to stop refugees taking dangerous and irregular journeys to the UK is by providing safe and legal routes to sanctuary instead. Yet Priti Patel has closed them down.

Last year, she ended the scheme for resettling unaccompanied refugee children from elsewhere in Europe after bringing just 480 to the UK. This year, she closed the UK’s three biggest resettlement schemes and replaced them with a single much smaller scheme. She has also changed the rules to make it harder for people to claim asylum in the UK – yet another example of this Conservative Government breaking international law.

The UK has a proud history of providing sanctuary"

The result? The dangerous Channel crossings have increased.

The Government’s Anti-Refugee Bill, now before Parliament, doubles down on that failed approach.

It does nothing to expand safe and legal routes for refugees – despite amendments the Liberal Democrats tabled to require the Government to do so. It does nothing to tackle the huge backlog of asylum claims, but will actually create even more delays.

It does nothing to increase cooperation with other countries on combating the cross-border smuggling and trafficking gangs. And it does nothing to reverse the Conservative cuts to international aid that will only create more refugees.

Instead, the Bill would make it harder for refugees to claim asylum in the UK and give many of them fewer rights if they are successful. It reduces vital protections for victims of human trafficking and modern slavery, making them less likely to come forward and therefore allowing more criminals to get away with it. And it further undermines the UK’s long-standing commitments under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.

The UK has a proud history of providing sanctuary for people forced to flee their homes because of war or persecution. Priti Patel’s Anti-Refugee Bill undermines that tradition. It is fundamentally un-British. And it wouldn’t stop the dangerous Channel crossings. That’s why Liberal Democrats are fiercely opposing it.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

When I arrived in London as a teenager, Sir John Major was Prime Minister. I felt a connection with the City. My political views formed, firstly at university, and later whilst living in Islington. I joined the Liberal Democrats.

I was honoured to be elected as the Lead  London Regional Diversity Champion. I continuously  help to increase participation and engagement within our inclusion and diversity teams. I am vocal within Liberal Democrats Members to help represent those underrepresented in the UK Politics. In 2020 I founded the national BLAC Liberal Democrats (Blac Lives Action Committee) with the mission to make heard the voice of Black members within the Party.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Vision, Believe and Achieve

by Greg Foster on Sat, 04 Dec 2021

Vision

My goals for this role are:

  • I want to help provide a platform for better training and promote a programme that supports ethnic minority members to develop their potential, so they are competently able to stand for external and internal elections of office;
  • I want to see established an attractive and resilient message that helps to build a strong foundation for the Liberal Democrats to engage in Ethnic Minority communities;
  • Within the party, I want to establish a better understanding of Ethnic minority issues on housing, education, LGBT+, heath, crime, etc. This will allow us to better serve the ethnic minority communities at a national and local level.
Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Dear Lib Dem friends,

I know already you are as keen as I am to improve the experience of people from under-represented groups within the party, particularly people who are not White. May I
thank you now for your excellent attitude, for listening closely to my suggestions on what to do. The improvements are immediately noticeable. Please keep going.

You will have access to information about my decades of experience in the field of equalities and governance inside and outside the Liberal Democrats in my manifesto when you vote, if you are interested to get more information please email me at marisharay4vp@gmail.com.Marisha Ray Campaigning

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Roderick Lynch

by Greg Foster on Sat, 04 Dec 2021

I was a 100/200m Sprinter. Catastrophe struck in my early 20's when my achilles tendon ruptured. For 20 months I was in a wheelchair. I needed wheelchair-friendly public transport to hospital and the inadequacy of it shocked me. It made me realise that everyone has a choice. When you see something that’s wrong, do you leave it for someone else, or do you fight for change?

I decided to fight for change. I set up a transport company and, eventually, was transporting 5,000 vulnerable children and adults in wheelchair accessible vehicles. I got involved in drafting the Private Hire Vehicles Act and helped lead the campaign for cab safety. I delivered contracts to the 2012 London Paralympics. I was named in the Black Power List.

 

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Vote Amna Ahmad for Vice President

by Greg Foster on Sat, 04 Dec 2021

Some of the people who have endorsed Amna

As a former Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate, I have seen prejudice close-up, within British politics and, sadly, within our party. And I know that I’m not the only one. My experience led me to take time to reflect and then, at Harvard, I learnt from world leaders on race equality, collaborative working, and leadership. I want to translate my experience and learning into change for our party in the UK. As a starting point, we must implement the Alderdice Review recommendations.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Party policy development this autumn

by Jeremy Hargreaves on Thu, 02 Dec 2021

The Federal Policy Committee has had a busy autumn, kicking off our next programme of policy development work.

We have spent some time over the last few months trying to understand the party’s key political priorities to win over the voters we need, and the right messages and supporting policies needed to achieve that (recognising that detailed policy is not usually the thing that swings most voters). This has been the starting point for our latest programme of work.

At the heart of this is developing proposals for ‘A fairer society’, where people broadly see the system as fair, and there is much greater economic fairness. We advertised widely for party members to join the policy group to work on this and were very pleased that 255 applied to do so – with similar enthusiasm for other groups. We have appointed Julia Goldsworthy, former MP for Falmouth & Camborne, to lead an excellent group here; the group’s remit and membership can be found (with those for the other groups too) at https://www.libdems.org.uk/policy-working-groups

A second key priority is setting out our vision for a more caring society, also flowing from research into priorities for our key voters. We have appointed Baroness Judith Jolly to lead a policy group developing proposals on this, including responding to the government’s own plans for funding social care, and also incorporating ideas from our own Commission on Carers set up last year by the Leader.

A major interest of both our voters and also councillors, the Young Liberals, and others within the party, is how we can provide more homes and improve the planning system. Cllr Peter Thornton from Cumbria, will lead a group working this through and developing proposals here.

The environment also remains of course a key issue for Liberal Democrat members and voters, and on top of our existing extensive and very impressive proposals for tackling the climate emergency, Richard Benwell is chairing a group developing ideas about the natural environment. This group has been under way for some time, and like the other groups mentioned here, FPC aims to bring proposals from it to autumn conference next year.

Commitment to early years care and education has been a longstanding priority for us and was a major funding commitment at the last General Election. We have appointed Cllr Dine Romero from Bath & NE Somerset to lead a group looking at this area in further detail and to support an updated set of proposals.

The proposals for policy on the whole nature of public debate at the moment, were referred back from Conference in September to FPC. Following further discussion with the movers of the reference back, we plan to bring updated proposals to this spring conference.

FPC received a petition asking us to set up a policy working group on the party’s policy on nuclear weapons; after discussion over a couple of meetings, we do not believe this is a priority area for FPC to focus its attentions at this time, and do not plan to do this.

At the heart of all of this, must lie our party’s underlying principles and values. Our paper setting these out in today’s context, which conference approved in September, resulted in a number of requests to help communicate these more widely across the party and beyond. Some work is under way to do this; in the meantime you might be interested to see this set out at https://www.libdems.org.uk/a21-beliefs-and-values

We have been working to make better links with the groups of party members interested in particular policy areas or groups (in party jargon variously known as SAOs, AOs, party bodies, and others). We have appointed a number of FPC members as part of the Party Bodies Forum, set up this year to bring these groups together, to facilitate two-way discussion with them about policy development progress and plans. Over the summer, for example, we were glad to consult the PBF about our planned future policy development programme set out above, and looking forward to continuing to work more closely with them in the future.

As party members will hopefully will be aware, we are currently consulting all members about the future direction of our policy on Europe (an email was sent to all members last week). Conference has made the decision for us to support a long-term aim of being a member of the EU again, and a policy group chaired by Duncan Brack is developing proposals on a rolling basis in support of this. Conference this autumn approved plans for immediately improving cultural and educational ties, and the group is currently working on plans for our future trading relationship, to bring to Conference next year. Please do contribute to the consultation.

FPC is always keen to promote as many party members as possible participating in policy discussion, and we have been discussing some other ideas for taking this forward which we hope will come to fruition over the next few months.

Last and by no means least, we have begun planning for the manifesto for the next General Election, which could be held as early as spring 2023. We have appointed (Lord) Dick Newby to chair a group responsible for leading its drafting, which FPC will discuss regularly over the coming months. It’s worth perhaps saying that because of the way we as a party develop policy, the main task of writing our manifesto is to shape our existing ideas and well-established body of policy into an appealing pitch to the electorate – and not, as it’s sometimes seen, especially in other parties, as simply starting building a whole new set of policies from a blank sheet of paper.

We’re conscious that the actual proposals in our manifesto document at the last General Election, and ones before that, were very well received, taking plaudits from a wide range of different directions for its proposals both for the health of the economy generally, and specifically to help the least well off. It scored less well amongst those who didn’t actually sit down to read it, in setting out an appealing top line message which drew its proposals together. This will be an important priority this time, and in support of this a small sub-group of FPC members will be doing some intensive work, working with others in the party, to look at some of the likely key messaging challenges of the next General Election, to feed into this.

So as you can tell this is mostly a time of starting off new projects for policy development. Over the next few months FPC and the policy working groups will be working hard on these, so that we can bring proposals on them to Conference to debate in 2022. Our firm aim is that we should develop and bring forward proposals which help us appeal to key voters.

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The Liberal Democrats have today called for urgent measures to support the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV), including a formal return and improvement of the shielding programme.

The Government has so far failed to announce any specific measures for those who were classed as CEV in spite of their increased risk of serious illness from Covid. It comes after two cases of the newly discovered ‘Omicron’ variant of Covid were reported in the UK.

People who are clinically extremely vulnerable are incredibly worried"

Daisy Cooper

The Liberal Democrats are calling for a five-point action plan to support the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable. This would include the return of official centralised guidance, so that the 3.8 million vulnerable people on the ‘Shielded Patient List’ have clarity on what is safe for them to do and where to seek the tailored clinical advice and support they need.

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Apply now for the 2022 Campaign Innovation Fund

by Kath Pinnock on Sun, 28 Nov 2021

After a successful first year, where we donated £4000 to campaigners across the country, applications for the 2022 elections Campaign Innovation Fund are now open.

This year, we are focusing on digital campaigning, to find out the best way to campaign online.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →