Sunday, April 23, 2017

Government must publish pollution report – Davey

The Liberal Democrats have demanded the government publish a highly embarrassing report on air pollution before the election. Ed Davey,  Lib Dem former cabinet minister for Energy and Climate Change, has said the government is reportedly blocking release of its report into air pollution because it is worried the “shaming” findings would become a major election issue.

Ed Davey said:

“Air pollution is one of the biggest health challenges in Britain today. The Conservatives have hidden the truth about their toxic policies. Increasingly air pollution is linked to a rise in asthma, COPD, heart conditions, and even recently to dementia. A vote for the Tories is a vote for more air pollution.

“It is a disgrace that the government wants to block a report which is expected to say that pollution is at dangerous levels in many of our cities and towns.

“Ministers are hugely embarrassed because it is EU air quality standards the government is flouting. No wonder Theresa May wants a hard Brexit, so she can change the rules to leave polluters free to damage the nation’s health.

“You can’t have clean air and a hard Brexit.

“The government is refusing to spend the money on measures that would improve air quality, such as investment in public transport, but this is a false economy because it burdens the NHS and destroys lives.”

Labour fails to select candidate in Gower with just weeks until election


Labour has failed to select candidates in Gower, Brecon & Radnorshire or Carmarthen East & Dinefwr with the general election just weeks away. It seems that Labour has “given up”, even in some of its former strongholds. A further twelve out of the forty seats in Wales await a Labour candidate, while there are over 340 constituencies Labour has still not selected for in England.

In contrast the Liberal Democrats have selected 92% of their candidates in England and the Welsh Liberal Democrats virtually all their candidates in this region.

It seems that Labour have simply given up in large areas of South Wales West. They claimed to be prepared for a general election, but many of their approved candidates are simply refusing to run under Jeremy Corbyn's banner - and who can blame them? They see a leader who is ineffective and a party that is too divided and a leadership which is too metropolitan to stand up for local people.

Every government needs to be held to account and the Liberal Democrats are rapidly emerging as the real voice of opposition.



Saturday, April 22, 2017

How to join the Lib Dems

You can join the Liberal Democrats quickly, easily and safely online here.
There are lots of reasons to join the Liberal Democrats. Some people joined because they wanted to stand up for our values, of openness, tolerance and unity. Some because they want to help us win elections. Others so they could stand for election and stand up for their community.
Becoming a Liberal Democrat will let you do all that – and much more besides. As a member, you’ll have the power to change things and all our members, from party leader Tim Farron, right down to our newest member you get the same vote.
Thousands of people are joining the party and our membership has doubled since the general election.
Membership starts at £12 a year, but the party hopes that you might consider donating a little more – the recommended amount (as decided by members like you at our conference) is £70. There are concessionary rates too: students can join for £1 for their first year of membership and if you’re under 26 and are entitled to receive state benefits (other than the state pension or child benefit) then membership starts from just £6 a year.
You can join the Liberal Democrats quickly, easily and safely online here.
If you would prefer to join the Liberal Democrats via the posts, here’s a pdf of the Lib Dem membership form which you can print off, fill in and post back.
Or if you prefer to speak to someone local, phone Keith - see sidebar.

Thanks to Mark Pack for most of this posting.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Lib Dems gain 8,000 members in 48 hours

The Liberal Democrats gained 8,000 new members in the two days since Theresa May called a snap election.

The increase in members is the fastest rise of new membership in the party’s history.

The party now has over 95,000 members, more than double what it was at the time of the last general election and only 5,000 less than the reported size of the Conservative Party.

Commenting, President of the Liberal Democrats Sal Brinton said:

“People are flocking to the Liberal Democrats as we are the only party who are offering effective opposition to this Conservative Brexit government.

“Theresa May: we have the troops for this fight and they are raring to go.

“The Liberal Democrats are the only party standing up for an open, tolerant, and united Britain.” 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Lib Dems: Atos and Capita don’t deserve £700m DWP contracts

The Liberal Democrats have criticised the Department for Work and Pensions after ministers found themselves having to increase the value of contracts to Atos and Capita to £700m a year for their controversial assessments for disability benefits. This is way over the £512m budget.

Celia Thomas, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for disability, said:

“Before these companies are given more money for benefit assessments, they need to give much better value for money than they do at present.

“In particular, the PIP reassessments from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) are a complete lottery for claimants, with two-thirds of these PIP claimants winning their appeals.

“Poor assessments have resulted in many disabled people losing their Motability cars for which they have later become eligible on appeal. The DWP has its priorities backwards. It should look at the poor quality of many of these assessments before giving Atos and Capita more money.”

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Who pays the piper?

Local Liberal Democrats have questioned the cost of "Local Voice", a tabloid newspaper distributed throughout the county borough on behalf of Labour in the Neath Port Talbot local election campaign. We have independently costed such an eight-page tabloid which makes extensive use of colour photographs. We chose a supplier who would be at least competitive with Trinity Mirror in Birmingham who printed the Labour election material, and came up with a figure of £5,400. (Anything less than this would suggest a subsidy by Trinity Mirror, which would have to be declared on election expenses.)

The question is: did every ward party chip in the £100 or so to pay for the newspaper (this would be on top of the cost of glossy colour leaflets they have already sent out)? Or did one or more of the big public service unions donate the upfront cost?



Friday, April 07, 2017

Less than a week to register to vote


Liberal Democrats continue to make local council gains

Following yesterday's stunning victory over UKIP in a council by-election in Aylesbury Vale, England, Liberal Democrats extend their lead on the scoreboard of gains in British local government. It now looks like this:


Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Candidates for local government elections

Postal ballots for the 2017 elections to Neath Port Talbot county borough council (and to the town and community councils in the Neath area) will land on doorsteps in the week ending 22nd April. Voting in person will take place on Thursday 4th May.

Liberal Democrat candidates are:

Aberavon

Cen Phillips




















Bryncoch South


Frank Little


Cadoxton

Sheila Kingston-Jones





Cimla

Charley Cross








Coedffranc North

Keith Davies









Coedffranc West

Helen Ceri Clarke






Sandfields West


Tehani (Taz) Taylor



















If there is no web page indicated,please address correspondence for Neath wards to neathlibdems and for Aberavon to aberavonlibdems both at hotmail.co.uk.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Post-Brexit power shifts

VoteWatch Europe reports:

With Brexit process triggered, many observers wonder how the equilibrium of powers in the EU Council would change and who will be most successful in influencing the future EU legislation. We have looked at the voting dynamics over the past 7 years (over 22.000 votes of EU governments) to understand what is likely to happen after the UK leaves.

Our analysis is based on the same dataset and methodology that indicated that the UK was increasingly outvoted in the Council in recent years, thus predicting the centrifugal policy orientation of the British government. These are our main new findings:
  1. Coalition building dynamics seem to favour the countries that promote more EU integration;
  2. France, Italy seem in a better position to build majorities or blocking minorities than Germany;
  3. Poland has drifted away from the core of the EU in the past year;
  4. The Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark lose the most out of Brexit (they were UK's closest partners);
  5. Political affiliations of the governments play a role, hence the results of upcoming elections in France, Germany, Czechia and Italy are crucial for the future direction of the EU
First published in July 2016, this report has been updated to take into account the latest political developments. 

The full analysis is here,

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Friday, March 24, 2017

More gains for LibDems in council by-elections

After a first gain from the Conservatives in West Somerset yesterday, the UK-wide picture now looks like this:

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

A reminder about registering


The mood in Westminster

Baroness (Jenny) Randerson writes:

The mood in Westminster is sombre and thoughtful today. The streets are eerily still, with no traffic and none of the usual bustle of pedestrians. The noise of traffic is replaced by the endless whirr of helicopters overhead. The Lords’ Chamber was packed this morning as we held a minute’s silence for the victims of yesterday’s attack and heard tributes from Party Leaders and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The PM’s Statement was repeated. We paid particular respect to PC Keith Palmer who died protecting Parliamentarians and the institution of Parliament itself. But the carnage went well beyond Parliament.

The list of the dead and injured includes Romanians, South Koreans, a German, Irish, Polish, Chinese, Italian, American, Greeks, as well as French schoolchildren and many British. This is the melting pot that is central London – the heart of tourism as well as of our democracy. Terrorism is an international phenomenon and this time it struck in a way that will send reverberations across the world. In his comments Lib Dem Leader in the Lords, Dick Newby, reminded us all how much we depend on close relationships with our European neighbours in order to foil attacks like this.

I have been in Parliament for six years and have been aware that one day something like this was likely to happen. But that doesn’t reduce the shock when it does. I crossed the road into Parliament barely three minutes before the attack started, but once inside the building you are strangely insulated. We were told about it very quickly and rapidly corralled from one area to another in large groups, defended by armed police. We were locked down for over 5 hours. I spent a long while talking to Mark Williams MP for Ceredigion and our new MP Sarah Olney. Then we were moved into Westminster Hall, where I lost track of them but struck up conversations with several new friends.

Conversations were largely seeking news of what was going on outside. Despite the wonders of modern phones, we still lacked a real perspective on events.

As the hours moved on we became weary, hungry and thirsty, and rather cold, but there was never any doubt that we were being efficiently dealt with for our own safety. There were groups of bewildered schoolchildren there, as well as visitors and the staff of the Palace of Westminster. When eventually the area was declared safe, I trecked over to a far flung tube station, as Westminster Tube station was, and remains, shut.

When I got home I realised I was exhausted emotionally and physically – standing up for 5 hours is surprisingly tiring. My mood was reflected in speeches today. Speeches of defiance and determination to stand up for democratic values. In the face of violence and intolerance, there has never been a greater need to face outwards to the world and to refuse to change our values as a society.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Inflation rise hits the poorest

Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Susan Kramer responding to the rise in inflation announced today, said: “You can’t have a hard Brexit and affordable prices.

“This is proof that the British public are paying the price for Theresa May’s decision to take Britain out of the Single Market, which is causing a Brexit squeeze. With the pound falling in value by 18% since the referendum, the price of imports have shot up and broken the official target.

“Worst of all, the dramatic leap in food prices is hitting the poorest the most, with some producers also reducing package sizes, meaning the real inflation figure is now much higher.

“The fragile UK economy has been kept on life support by consumer spending, but with prices rising, that is now threatened.”

Local Liberal Democrats point out that the BBC reports that prices at the factory gate are also rising quickly, suggesting more inflation is on the way to the High Street. At 2.3%, inflation is increasing at the same rate as average earnings, meaning the average pay rise is being totally eaten up by increasing prices. Public sector workers whose pay is capped are already feeling the effects of rising inflation; now the average worker is going to be worse off as inflation overtakes average wage rises.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Huge Election Victory for Dutch Liberals as Populists Fail to Breakthrough

Liberal International reports:

Dutch Liberals VVD and D66 (LI full members) delivered a huge blow to the march of populism across Europe as the VVD, the party of prime minister Mark Rutte, topped the polls this week for a 3rd consecutive election, while D66 finished joint-third with 19 seats.

The election, which saw the highest turnout of Dutch voters in 30 years amid earlier concerns that the far-right party of Geert Wilders would emerge with the most seats, is seen as a bellwether for the French elections later this year.

LI President Dr Juli Minoves tweeted that VVD and D66 had “stopped populism in its tracks” while LI President of Honour, Hans van Baalen MEP, who leads the VVD delegation in the European Parliament said: "The extreme right wing populists of Wilders took a serious hit from the lead party VVD; this will help defeat Le Pen in France and AFD in Germany. Congratulations to D66 for their very good results. Liberals will shape the Netherlands and Europe in the years to come!"

Leader of D66, Alexander Pechtold, labelled his party’s gains as “historic” as the social liberals gained 7 seats, while Mark Rutte described “an evening where the Netherlands, after Brexit and the American elections, has said ‘ho’ to the wrong sort of populism,” adding that “now it’s important to bring our country together and form a stable government.”


The final membership of the House of Representatives will not be known until Tuesday, after any individuals on party lists are promoted/demoted.

Tim Farron responded:

Well done to our liberal allies and in Dutch elections. Looks like a victory for liberalism over politics of fear and division