Sal Speaks: April 2019

by Sal Brinton on Thu, 18 Apr 2019

Local election campaigns around the country are going well with just under two weeks left. Like many of you, our home has moved into our regular election machine, and our driveway is the Watford garden poster factory!

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3 steps to beating the climate crisis

by Sir Ed Davey MP on Thu, 18 Apr 2019

Today, 50 years on from the UK extending the franchise to 18-year olds, British politics is still blighted by democratic inequality. This is particularly stark in the case of the 3.6 million EU citizens living in the UK. In just under three weeks these nationals will have a vote in local elections, but this is a right they are denied in General Elections and referendums. Fifty years on from giving more people the vote we still have a long way to go.

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Our Candidates for EU Elections

by Vince Cable on Wed, 17 Apr 2019

The Liberal Democrats will fight these elections as an unapologetically pro-European Party campaigning hard for People's Vote with an option to remain in the the EU.

We are determined to give a voice to the millions of people who demand better than Brexit Britain.

Today we’ve announced a strong, diverse mix of candidates, from those who’ve joined the Liberal Democrats recently to those with long experience of the European Parliament.

We will fight these elections on a clear message: a Liberal Democrat vote is a vote to stop Brexit.

Across the country, the strength of our membership of 100,000 is being deployed to prepare for both the European elections and for council elections on May 2nd. 

From local communities to the EU institutions, Liberal Democrats are determined to give a voice to the millions of people who demand better than Brexit Britain.

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What kind of world are we giving to our children?

by Jo Swinson on Mon, 15 Apr 2019

Happy Vaisakhi

by Isabelle Parasram on Sun, 14 Apr 2019

I'd like to wish all of our Sikh members, supporters and candidates a Happy Vaisakhi.

I know that today is a very special day for you as you celebrate not only the year that Sikhism was born as a collective faith, the anniversary of the founding of the Khalsa (the collective name given to Sikhs who've been baptised), but also the start of the Sikh New Year.

As you spend the day visiting family and friends, swapping gifts, visiting gudwaras, perhaps being baptised into the Khalsa or taking part in nagar kirtan processions, I'd like to thank you for your contribution to our Party.

I spent some of my teenage years in Trinidad and Tobago, where it was normal to celebrate the various festivals that were important to each and every faith as if it were our own.

Thinking about the celebration of Vaishakhi here in the UK makes me trawl my memory for a taste of the food or a glimpse of a procession from sharing this day with my young Sikh friends and their families. My memories are dim, but what I remember most is the music - the Tabla (drums), the Shabad kirtan (distinctive hymns) and the playing of the Harmonium, which I am guessing might not be a traditional Sikh instrument, but certainly became a key feature of Sikh celebrations when I was growing up.

If you are reading this and are not familiar with today's festival, I'd encourage you to look on YouTube where you can hear some of the beautiful music that is a key feature of today's celebrations.

If you are a member of the Sikh community, please do share some of the photos and short videos from today with me on Twitter or Facebook and I will repost them - make sure you get the permission of others in the photos/videos before doing this though!

If you are not yet a member or supporter of our Party and would like to know more or, even better, if you'd like to help us to better engage with the Sikh community and focus on what's relevant to you in our policy making, do join us.

Start making a political difference to this country as a member or supporter of a Party who cares.

In the meantime, Happy Vaisakhi to all!

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EU elections are coming - and we're raring to go

by Shaun Roberts on Fri, 12 Apr 2019

We’re now fighting TWO elections. Together, we're going to deliver the best results in both elections that we’ve had in years!
On 2nd May we need to gain more councils and councillors across England. On 23rd May, we want to elect a Liberal Democrat MEP in every part of the country.

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Five Farage Fails

by Alex Marshall on Fri, 12 Apr 2019

Brexit latest

Brexit is still paralysing government and parliament. But I think a significant corner has been turned with the decision of the European Council to extend the timetable for Brexit until Halloween on Oct 31st.

The sense of drama and crisis has abated somewhat, now that Brexit Day is no longer imminent.

If parliament has achieved one thing in the last few, messy, weeks when it ‘took back control’ from the government it has been to dampen the fear (and hope for some) of suddenly crashing out from the EU without an agreement. I was told by those who where there that at the 7 hour marathon cabinet meeting last week, the briefing by the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Mark Sedwill, on the consequences of such an outcome, killed off whatever lingering possibility that Theresa May may take us down that road and over the cliff.

I think Theresa May handed Jeremy Corbyn a whole lot of votes.

The fact that parliament had been absolutely clear on that point, if nothing else, had created the political environment in which she had little choice but to abandon the threat (albeit after spending hundreds of millions of tax payers money, in parallel with a large amount of business spending on a hypothetical possibility which some of us thought from the outset was widely implausible.)

The odd interlude of Brexit talks between the government and Labour will, I think, be seen in retrospect as a piece of political theatre designed to buy time for the government and credibility for the Labour leadership.

Mr Corbyn may surprise us by signing up to a ‘soft Brexit’ agreement, but I doubt it. He will have been well satisfied to have had an opportunity to change the public perception of him away from revolutionary socialism, unilateral disarmament and anti-Semitism, towards business-like conversations about government.

I think Theresa May has handed him a whole lot of votes, which is why her own party is incandescent with fury.

An extension of the Brexit process until October will change the political dynamic.

The sense of immediacy, inevitability and energy around Brexit will fade. There will be a lot of quiet rethinking: is this what we really want? If this deadline can slip, why not the next one? Maybe we should be getting down seriously to some of the other issues which have been put on ice: social care, homelessness, violent crime? My booklet Beyond Brexit is intended to provide an agenda for that world.

However, there are two events which will keep Brexit in the headlines however much we would pray otherwise.

The first is the timetable for European Parliament elections. This is excruciatingly embarrassing for the Conservatives whose Brexit government has let this happen and is bitterly divided to boot. They must fear an upsurge of support for Nigel Farage’s Brexit party and would be right to do so.

The Labour Party is also badly divided and stands to lose ground to both Remainer and Brexiter competition. This is undoubtedly an opportunity for my party. One cloud on the horizon is the fact that the several Remain parties may weaken each other. Remain campaigners will expect a common front against Farage and I am prepared to work with other parties to achieve that; so far the feedback from other parties has been discouraging. But whatever the formation Lib Dems should still do well.

I want to see a serious election with televised leaders’ debates to focus the arguments.

I attended an enthusiastic People’s Vote rally in Church House earlier this week. The sense that a People’s Vote is just within reach is now palpable, reinforced by the signs that those were previously sceptical are now coming round.

In other news

The next big political event will, however, not be a European election, or a referendum, but local council elections. Last Saturday I went to Somerset to launch the Lib Dem campaign in Bath.

Bath is a booming city with two universities, lots of foreign visitors, high tech start-ups and house prices to match. It is strongly remain and our MP, Wera Hobhouse, has mobilised hundreds of volunteers behind an anti-Brexit, pro EU, campaign. The local campaign for council seats dovetailed closely with the People’s Vote.

The next big political event will be local council elections.

Politically we have a longstanding Lib Dem council in South Somerset which is well regarded, very competent and has enlightened initiatives like a new hostel for homeless families which I visited. No Brexit campaigning, but bread and butter local politics (and the fond memory of Paddy Ashdown, the former Lib Dem leader).

And finally

In the frenetic atmosphere last week, I was in more need than ever of a good book to sink into late at night.

I found one: Shari Lapena’s The Couple Next Door. I was initially off put by the blurb which has no pretensions to literary distinction beyond a recommendation from the Daily Mail. But I am glad I bought what is a superior thriller: brilliantly crafted; tightly written; absolutely gripping; really clever.

As someone who has tried to write a thriller (Open Arms is doing well but isn’t a best seller!) I was full of admiration for the author’s skill in turning the whole direction of the plot in a short phrase; and the ability to pile on surprise after surprise without ever being implausible. A great read: but it does go quickly .

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European elections get more likely by the day

by Tom Brake on Thu, 11 Apr 2019

Local Elections 2019: Party Election Broadcast

by Liberal Democrats on Wed, 10 Apr 2019

Local Elections Are Just Around The Corner

by Jon Aylwin on Fri, 05 Apr 2019

Recruiting Volunteers

by Dan Schmeising on Fri, 05 Apr 2019

One of our strengths as a party is our broad, committed base of activists. Sometimes, it can be hard to pick out who in your area might be willing to help - so we've put together a guide for you!

You likely already have a large amount of data that you can use to identify potential volunteers - even without canvassing. When someone signs a petition on the national party's website, the data they provide is synced to Connect too.

We've seen this work astonishingly well with our Exit Brexit petition. In some cases over 50% of those in an area who've signed it have then gone on to volunteer for us. That's a pool of a few thousand extra people you could ask!

(Note: you'll need a Connect account. If you don't, talk to your local party to get set up. If you're new to Connect or need a refresher we have plenty of guides available on Lib Dem Learning.)

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We're getting closer to a People's Vote

by Jo Swinson on Tue, 02 Apr 2019

We could have delivered Brexit last night

by Tom Brake on Tue, 02 Apr 2019

Reforming our prisons and probation - consultation

by Michael German on Mon, 01 Apr 2019

Happy not-Brexit day!

by Layla Moran on Fri, 29 Mar 2019

Nigel Farage must be fuming.

Today was supposed to be his day of victory, but it's a damp squib. Thanks to almost 3 years of Lib Dems fighting, we're closer than ever to a People's Vote.

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Celebrating 5 years of same-sex marriage

by Dan Schmeising on Fri, 29 Mar 2019

Most people meet and get married within a few years, but not us. We got married on our twentieth anniversary. We had to wait 20 years before we could tie the knot, not because we didn’t want to, but because to do so before 2014 would have been unlawful.

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The Leader - vol 6: May's embarrassing week

by Vince Cable on Thu, 28 Mar 2019

Brexit Latest

This week parliament moved into the uncharted territory of ‘taking back control’ from an arrogant and incompetent executive.  Apart from making an unholy mess of Brexit, Ministers have operated for far too long as though the sole purpose of government is to serve the Conservative Party.  The absence of a majority finally came to bite them as the Commons wrested control of the business.

What follows is a two-stage process:  a ‘straw poll’ of options yesterday, followed by a definitive choice next Monday.  This is a novel procedure, and according to constitutional buffs, like Bill Cash, revolutionary: bringing back unhappy precedents from the days before the Civil War and the beheading of Charles I.

Ministers have operated for far too long as though the sole purpose of government is to serve the Conservative Party

I am sure it was coincidence, but, on the same day, Theresa May announced her own political exit (if she gets her deal through; if she doesn’t, a potentially worse fate awaits her at the hands of the Tory party).

In the event, Parliament did not discover a majority yesterday for any of the 8 options on offer.

But doing so was never the point of the exercise.  Instead the purpose was to find which of the options commanded greatest support.

Two did well: Ken Clarke’s Customs Union amendment, which also narrowly failed to get a majority, and Margaret Beckett’s amendment for a People’s Vote which at 268 got the largest number of votes in favour and comfortably more than the 242 for Theresa May’s deal when it was last tested.

What we now have to do is to achieve on Monday the basis of a cross party consensus which has the Withdrawal Agreement subject to a referendum, together with a commitment that any final deal continues a Customs Union.

This will not be music to the ears of Theresa May and much of her party. But it has to happen otherwise on April 10 an irreversible decision will be made by the EU to proceed without the UK. The EU is absolutely clear that it doesn’t want a rupture with the UK, let alone a No Deal Brexit, but time is now running out.  To be precise there are two weeks left, and a clearly defined cliff edge.

Theresa May will use this real threat to try to force her deal through one more time tomorrow.  She may even make a further, fourth attempt next week, if she can circumvent Speaker Bercow’s ruling on not bringing back a repeat proposition. A cynical u-turn by Brexiteer colleagues like Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg could yet see her succeed but I am more optimistic than for some time that it is our side that has serious momentum.

The march last weekend was not just a political duty but a family occasion

The optimism was fired up by the big march in London on Saturday.

It wasn’t just a political duty but a family occasion. One of my grandsons joined me at the front and managed to upstage the celebs. My other grandson appeared, for the first time, with a girlfriend (who happens to be French).  And I feel further reinvigorated by the 6 million, so far, who have signed the petition to revoke Article 50 and stay within the EU, including 20% of all residents in my Twickenham constituency.

My conviction we are pursuing the right course was reinforced by a visit to Brussels last Thursday, during the European Council Meeting, when I met the liberal heads of government and heads of the various liberal parties across Europe.

Though their patience is being severely tested, there is a great warmth towards Britain and sadness that the UK is preparing to leave. Guy Verhofstadt asked me to speak to the gathering and I received the loudest applause when I mentioned that there is still every chance we could remain.

None of us know where the next few days will lead. The Prime Minister is threatening to ignore parliament: a very dangerous step for her, her party and the country. She may not survive the week.

And finally

No book recommendation this week – too busy with Brexit late nights. But I do recommend an absolutely stunning film: White Crow.

The film is the story of the brilliant Russian ballet dancer, Rudolf Nureyev, who defected to the West from the USSR in the 1960s when the Cold War was as its height. The production is clever, pacey and utterly authentic. There is some superlative acting from Ralph Fiennes, as his Russian mentor; and Adèle Exarchopoulos playing his Chilean friend Clara who helped him escape at Paris airport, and Oleg Ivenko playing Nureyev himself, who is portrayed as supremely gifted but utterly selfish on a personal level.

Having travelled to the Soviet Union a couple of times at the end of the Krushnev era, I recognised the style of the Soviet minders: weedling and threatening in equal measure; trying to inspire fear of authority in a system, Post-Stalin, already losing its capacity to terrorise. Nureyev was entirely non-political and never attempted to politicise his defection.

He just wanted to be free, artistically and personally.

Nureyev himself died (sadly as a result of AIDs) but, even for those of us who are not great enthusiasts for ballet, there is, in the film, enough to recognise one of the artistic legends of my lifetime.

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