Friday, June 23, 2017

Lib Dems table amendment on Single Market to Queen's Speech


The Liberal Democrats have tabled an amendment to the Queen's Speech calling for Britain to stay the single market and customs union.

The party is now calling on both Labour and Conservative MPs to support the amendment and inflict a historic defeat on the government, forcing Theresa May to soften her extreme approach to Brexit.

An amendment to the Queen's speech last year was accepted by the government after it received cross-party support.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake commented:

"We've already seen living standards fall and prices rise since last year's Brexit vote.

"But this is nothing compared to the pain that would be caused by Theresa May's extreme version of Brexit.

"Tearing up Britain's membership of the world's largest market would mean fewer jobs, higher prices in the shops and a long-term blow to our prosperity.

"We will not give up the fight to protect our economy by staying in the Single Market and Customs Union.

"I am urging all like-minded Labour and Conservative MPs to be on the right side of history and back this amendment."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Prisons and Courts Bill dropped from Queen’s Speech – Lib Dem response


Following the failure of the government to put forward a Prisons and Courts Bill, Liberal Democrat Justice spokesperson Jonathan Marks has seized on an open letter by the Justice Secretary today which made no mention of the bill being axed.

Jonathan Marks, who will continue to call for prison improvement and reform, said:

“The Prisons and Courts Bill was a flagship piece of legislation for the last government but has been unceremoniously dropped from this Queen’s Speech. The crisis in our prisons may have dropped out of headlines but remains a huge problem.

"Our prisons are hangovers from the Victorian era in need of urgent upgrading and we must get a grip on the numbers being sent to prison. Overcrowding has lead to violence, self-harm and deaths – this cannot be allowed to continue.

"This was a key piece of legislation that would have made our prisons and courts fit for the 21st century but it is clear that this Conservative Government is too hobbled to introduce any radical legislation. The lack of ambition shown is likely to be a hallmark of this government, the only question is how long it will survive.”

Liberal Democrats secure commitment from Home Secretary on Commission for Countering Extremism


 
Today in the House of Commons the Rt Hon Ed Davey secured a commitment from the Home Secretary that the Commission for Countering Extremism would listen to voices from all communities who are willing to work with the Government to defeat extremism.

Commenting after the statement in the chamber Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary said:

“It is absolutely vital that the Government works with the communities most likely to be affected by counter extremism and de-radicalisation programmes. For all the good the Prevent strategy may have achieved it has been fatally wounded by the lack of trust the Muslim community has in it and the toxicity surrounding the brand.

If we are determined to defeat violent extremism then we must be sure to work in partnerships with all communities who share our vision and not alienate the very communities that are likely to be able to offer the best intelligence and the strongest counter-narratives.

The Liberal Democrats will follow the process of the establishment on the Commission for Countering Extremism to ensure it is inclusive and avoids making the same mistakes as the Prevent strategy.”
 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Jo Swinson is new Lib Dem Deputy Leader


Jo Swinson has been elected unanimously as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

The result was announced on Tuesday evening at the Liberal Democrat parliamentary party meeting.

Jo will continue in her role as Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary.

Jo Swinson said:

"I am very proud to have been elected by a newly energised and strengthened parliamentary party.

"The government has no majority and no mandate for its extreme version of Brexit, which would do such damage to the health of our economy and the fabric of our society.

"In this balanced parliament the Liberal Democrats will be a powerful influence and a strong voice for people who want to see an open, welcoming and tolerant United Kingdom."

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron said:

“Jo Swinson is a brilliant campaigner and someone I am proud to call a friend. I am in no doubt she will be a fantastic Deputy Leader of our party.

“Jo is the future of the Liberal Democrats and will make a massive difference laying out a liberal alternative to this divisive Brexit government. Her hard work as a local MP and impressive record as a minister leave us in no doubt that she will be a powerful voice for our party.”
ENDS
Jo Swinson has been elected unanimously as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

The result was announced on Tuesday evening at the Liberal Democrat parliamentary party meeting.

Jo will continue in her role as Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary.

Jo Swinson said:

"I am very proud to have been elected by a newly energised and strengthened parliamentary party.

"The government has no majority and no mandate for its extreme version of Brexit, which would do such damage to the health of our economy and the fabric of our society.

"In this balanced parliament the Liberal Democrats will be a powerful influence and a strong voice for people who want to see an open, welcoming and tolerant United Kingdom."

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron said:

“Jo Swinson is a brilliant campaigner and someone I am proud to call a friend. I am in no doubt she will be a fantastic Deputy Leader of our party.

“Jo is the future of the Liberal Democrats and will make a massive difference laying out a liberal alternative to this divisive Brexit government. Her hard work as a local MP and impressive record as a minister leave us in no doubt that she will be a powerful voice for our party.”

Monday, June 19, 2017

Firefighting heroes pay plummets due to austerity – Cable


Sir Vince Cable has seized on Philip Hammond’s admitting that the public are “weary” of austerity by calling for an end to the public sector wage cap – which will see fire fighters an estimated £1,423 worse off in real terms by 2020/1.

Liberal Democrat shadow chancellor Sir Vince Cable said: 

“The public pay cap was necessary to tackle the massive deficit but firefighters such as the heroes of the Grenfell Tower disaster cannot be expected to suffer real falls in living standards indefinitely.

“They are already suffering a Brexit squeeze with rising prices and a falling pound. The challenge of public sector pay is an example of why Philip Hammond must win the battle within government to remain in the single market and customs union or the fall in tax revenue will make it impossible to give public sector workers the pay rises they deserve. You can't have an extreme Brexit and decent public sector pay.”
 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Gove has betrayed consumers on cheap food – Farron


Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has attacked new Environment Secretary Michael Gove for U-turning on cheap food.  During the referendum campaign Gove promised British consumers they would enjoy cut-price groceries due to there being more imports from outside the EU. However, with the government’s extreme Brexit under threat as the Conservatives split over the single market and customs union, Gove has rowed back from his promise.

Tim Farron said:

“This is yet another Brexit lie, to go with the £350m a week extra Michael Gove promised the NHS. He has only had his feet back under the cabinet table a few days and he has already broken another major promise. He told voters that after Brexit there would be honey for tea, but now reality is starting to bite he is offering British consumers nothing but thin gruel.

“The public are already suffering a Brexit squeeze of higher prices and shrinking product sizes due to the devastating devaluation of the pound caused by Theresa May’s extreme Brexit. Meanwhile, farmers are still waiting to hear if the Conservatives will continue as part of any post-Brexit arrangements to give them the subsidies they currently receive from the EU.

“It is clear the government has no clue, no strategy and no shame. It is falling apart before our eyes, and it is the British public paying the price.”

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Liberal Democrat councillor and founder AM Peter Black is honoured by the Queen

Aberavon and Neath Liberal Democrats heartily congratulate Peter Black, for so long our regional AM, on the CBE awarded in Her Majesty's birthday honours.

The BBC reports:
recognised in the birthday honours list is Swansea councillor Peter Black who will be appointed CBE for services to politics and public life in Wales.
Mr Black was a Liberal Democrat AM between 1999 and 2016 and has represented the Cwmbwrla ward as a councillor since 1984.
Peter Black
Image captionPeter Black lost his assembly seat in 2016

Friday, June 16, 2017

Flammable cladding used on Grenfell Tower must be banned


The Liberal Democrats have called for the type of cladding used on Grenfell Tower to be banned in the UK, after it emerged the material is currently banned in US buildings over 40 feet for fire safety reasons and is classed as flammable in Germany.

The damning revelations in The Times also found it would have cost just £5000 more to use fire-resistant panels instead of flammable ones.

The government committed to reviewing building regulations on fire safety several years ago but the review has still not begun.

Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake commented:

"It is simply beyond belief to think that if just £5,000 more had been spent, these tragic deaths could have been prevented.

"The government must urgently bring UK fire safety standards into line with those abroad.

"It seems people's homes were turned into death traps because they were fitted on the cheap.

"It is utterly unacceptable and must never be allowed to happen again.

"We must invest in safe, adequate homes for all and ensure strict fire safety standards are in place and fully implemented."

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Vince Cable: Fall in retail sales shows brutal reality of Brexit hitting consumers


Retail sales fell by 1.2% between April and May, worse than economists had expected, figures from the Office for National Statistics have shown.

The ONS said that average store prices have risen by 2.8% over the year, which has been a significant factor in slowing growth.

Liberal Democrat MP Vince Cable commented:

“The economy has been kept going for a year on the basis of consumer debt, which was always artificial and unsustainable.

“The brutal reality of a hard Brexit is now starting to hit businesses and consumers.

“Unless the government takes a cross-party approach to Brexit, reflecting the need for compromise, we will inevitably see a continuing slowdown and possible slump in the economy.”

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Farron resigns as Lib Dem leader


This afternoon Tim Farron resigned as Liberal Democrat leader. At party HQ in London he gave the following speech to party staff:  

This last two years have seen the Liberal Democrats recover since the devastation of the 2015 election.

That recovery was never inevitable but we have seen the doubling of our party membership, growth in council elections, our first parliamentary by-election win for more than a decade, and most recently our growth at the 2017 general election.

Most importantly the Liberal Democrats have established ourselves with a significant and distinctive role - passionate about Europe, free trade, strong well-funded public services underpinned by a growing market economy.

No one else occupies that space.  Against all the odds, the Liberal Democrats matter again.

We can be proud of the progress we have made together, although there is much more we need to do.

From the very first day of my leadership, I have faced questions about my Christian faith.  I've tried to answer with grace and patience.  Sometimes my answers could have been wiser.

At the start of this election, I found myself under scrutiny again - asked about matters to do with my faith.  I felt guilty that this focus was distracting attention from our campaign, obscuring our message.

Journalists have every right to ask what they see fit.  The consequences of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader.

A better, wiser person than me may have been able to deal with this more successfully, to have remained faithful to Christ while leading a political party in the current environment.

To be a political leader - especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 - and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible's teaching, has felt impossible for me.

I'm a liberal to my finger tips, and that liberalism means that I am passionate about defending the rights and liberties of people who believe different things to me.

There are Christians in politics who take the view that they should impose the tenets of faith on society, but I have not taken that approach because I disagree with it - it's not liberal and it is counterproductive when it comes to advancing the gospel.

Even so, I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who my faith is in.

In which case we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society.

That's why I have chosen to step down as leader of the Liberal Democrats.

I intend to serve until the parliamentary recess begins next month, at which point there will be a leadership election according to the party’s rules.

This is a historic time in British politics. What happens in the next months and years will shape our country for generations.

My successor will inherit a party that is needed now more than ever before. Our future as an open, tolerant and united country is at stake.

The cause of British liberalism has never been needed more. People who will fight for a Britain that is confident, generous and compassionate are needed more than ever before.

That is the challenge our party and my successor faces and the opportunity I am certain that they will rise to.

I want to say one more thing: I joined our party when I was 16, it is in my blood, I love our history, our people, I thoroughly love my party.

Imagine how proud I am to lead this party.  And then imagine what would lead me to voluntarily relinquish that honour.

In the words of Isaac Watts it would have to be something 'so amazing, so divine, (it) demands my heart, my life, my all'.
This afternoon Tim Farron resigned as Liberal Democrat leader. At party HQ in London he gave the following speech to party staff:  

This last two years have seen the Liberal Democrats recover since the devastation of the 2015 election.

That recovery was never inevitable but we have seen the doubling of our party membership, growth in council elections, our first parliamentary by-election win for more than a decade, and most recently our growth at the 2017 general election.

Most importantly the Liberal Democrats have established ourselves with a significant and distinctive role - passionate about Europe, free trade, strong well-funded public services underpinned by a growing market economy.

No one else occupies that space.  Against all the odds, the Liberal Democrats matter again.

We can be proud of the progress we have made together, although there is much more we need to do.

From the very first day of my leadership, I have faced questions about my Christian faith.  I've tried to answer with grace and patience.  Sometimes my answers could have been wiser.

At the start of this election, I found myself under scrutiny again - asked about matters to do with my faith.  I felt guilty that this focus was distracting attention from our campaign, obscuring our message.

Journalists have every right to ask what they see fit.  The consequences of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader.

A better, wiser person than me may have been able to deal with this more successfully, to have remained faithful to Christ while leading a political party in the current environment.

To be a political leader - especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 - and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible's teaching, has felt impossible for me.

I'm a liberal to my finger tips, and that liberalism means that I am passionate about defending the rights and liberties of people who believe different things to me.

There are Christians in politics who take the view that they should impose the tenets of faith on society, but I have not taken that approach because I disagree with it - it's not liberal and it is counterproductive when it comes to advancing the gospel.

Even so, I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who my faith is in.

In which case we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society.

That's why I have chosen to step down as leader of the Liberal Democrats.

I intend to serve until the parliamentary recess begins next month, at which point there will be a leadership election according to the party’s rules.

This is a historic time in British politics. What happens in the next months and years will shape our country for generations.

My successor will inherit a party that is needed now more than ever before. Our future as an open, tolerant and united country is at stake.

The cause of British liberalism has never been needed more. People who will fight for a Britain that is confident, generous and compassionate are needed more than ever before.

That is the challenge our party and my successor faces and the opportunity I am certain that they will rise to.

I want to say one more thing: I joined our party when I was 16, it is in my blood, I love our history, our people, I thoroughly love my party.

Imagine how proud I am to lead this party.  And then imagine what would lead me to voluntarily relinquish that honour.

In the words of Isaac Watts it would have to be something 'so amazing, so divine, (it) demands my heart, my life, my all'.

Liberal Democrats say that government must end public sector pay freeze


The amount of money workers are taking home continues to fall as inflation rises, according to data released by the Office of National Statistics today.

Average wages grew by just 2.1% in the three months to April, well below the 2.7% rate of inflation in that month, according to the Office for National Statistics. This means that, after adjusting for inflation, wages fell by 0.6%

Commenting on the news, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said:

“For a government that used to bang on about the Just About Managing, they are doing diddly squat to help them. This represents the biggest fall in real wages since August 2014.

"Staff are working more hours, for less pay and with higher levels of stress. More people are living pay cheque to pay cheque and having to struggle at the end of every month to get by.

“Britain needs a pay rise and it is time the government delivered it, especially for the public sector.

"Our nurses, care workers, teachers and soldiers have bared the brunt of the economic crisis and seen their pay capped and wages squeezed. Enough is enough. We need to raise the wages of our public sector workers.”

Financial sector fast becoming latest casualty of Brexit - Cable


Commenting on reports that London could lose its EU euro clearing role, former Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“Our financial sector is fast becoming the latest casualty in Theresa May’s pursuit of an extreme Brexit.

“Thousands of British jobs are now on the line because Theresa May wants to drag us out of the single market.

“She has lost any mandate she claimed to have, the people have voted against her extreme vision for Brexit.”
 

Monday, June 12, 2017

May's ephemeral government is almost done

Commenting on the news that the Queen’s Speech is delayed as Theresa May tries to hammer out a Tory-DUP deal Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said:
“This is an utter humiliation for Theresa May, it is time to stop trying to cling to power and time to admit enough is enough.  This is the biggest embarrassment that a Prime Minister can face, she cannot announce her agenda because she has no idea what she can actually get through.
“The Tories are hanging onto office desperate for a deal from the DUP, turning them into the MayDUP government.  This MayDUP coalition has fallen at the first hurdle.
“Theresa May can squat in Number 10 as long as she wants but the message is stark – she has no power, no influence and her game is up.”

Friday, June 09, 2017

Another step back into the 19th century

Commenting on the Prime Minister's statement on forming a government relying on the support of the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said:

"It is clear that the Prime Minister has done a deal with the DUP. She must now make clear what the terms of that deal are. The British people have a right to know.

"The sort of government she forms will have profound implications for the Brexit negotiations and the future of the country, especially if it means she is taking sides in the peace process in Northern Ireland.
 
"Theresa May has taken the British people for granted long enough. She made the election about her own leadership and she lost. Theresa May shouldn't be stitching up a new deal in secret, she should be resigning."
 

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Lib Dems: Board of Trade proposals straight out of 17th century

Responding to Conservative proposals for a so called 'board of trade', Liberal Democrat Shadow First Secretary for Scotland Alistair Carmichael said:

“If we needed any further proof that the Conservatives have no new ideas, it's this desperate attempt to apply 17th century solutions to 21st century challenges.

“This plan is so outdated it's probably been written on parchment by Jacob Rees-Mogg.

“Just 48 hours from an election, the Conservatives have run out of things to say on policing, our crumbling schools and the NHS crisis.
“No number of fancy trade commissioners jetting around the world will save us from crippling tariffs when we leave the single market.
“This is a yet another pointless, ill-considered policy thought up in Tory HQ to hide from the fact they are running out of ideas and out of time.”

Lib Dems: May must admit cuts to armed police

The Liberal Democrats have called on the Conservatives to "level with the British people" after Culture Secretary Karen Bradley refused to answer whether armed officer numbers have been cut on their watch.

The Liberal Democrats have also reiterated calls for a long-awaited government report on foreign funding of extremism to be published, after Karen Bradley refused to answer whether it will be made public and said it was important to “work with our partners and our allies.”
Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron said:
“Theresa May must level with the British people and accept that on her watch armed officer numbers were cut. She asks us to trust her on security but the truth is as Home Secretary she cut armed officers and cut community police numbers.

"The Liberal Democrats would provide our police with £300m extra funding a year and would do what is needed to tackle the scourge of violent extremism.”

Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Brian Paddick said:
"We must tackle violent extremism wherever we find it.

"It is astonishing that Theresa May refuses to publish a report on foreign funding of extremism, choosing to protect her allies in Saudi Arabia instead.

"Theresa May is asking us to trust her in the Brexit negotiations but it is clear that she is not putting Britain’s interests first."

Monday, June 05, 2017

Farron: May has made the wrong choices on security

Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron has criticised Theresa May's approach to security, accusing her of making the wrong choices on police cuts, mass surveillance and the fight against extremism.

Writing for the Guardian, Tim Farron said:

On police cuts

"In the choice between cuts to corporation tax and properly funding our police, we should fund our police.

"Let's be clear: fewer police on the beat means fewer conversations, less information being passed on and less knowledge about who’s who and who needs to be kept under surveillance."

On mass surveillance

"Instead of posturing, politicians need to work with technology companies like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, and with other countries, to develop solutions that work to keep people safe.

"The alternative is a government that monitors and controls the internet in the way that China or North Korea do. If we turn the internet into a tool for censorship and surveillance, the terrorists will have won. We won’t make ourselves safer by making ourselves less free.”  

On the fight against extremism

"When we lent our support to the government for extending air strikes against so-called Islamic State in Syria, one of the Liberal Democrats' key demands was a report into foreign funding of extremism here in Britain.

"The then Prime Minister, David Cameron agreed to that demand. Theresa May now has a choice. Does she publish that report, or keep it hidden? Theresa May talks of the need to have some difficult and sometimes embarrassing conversations.

"That should include exposing and rooting out the source funding of terror, even it means difficult and embarrassing conversations with those like Saudi Arabia that the government claims are our allies.”

In conclusion

“In the choices we make, we should provide the resources necessary for those who keep us safe to do their jobs with the powers they have been given. We should also jealously guard the hard-won liberties that define us as a country. If we make the wrong choices, those who seek to change our way of life have won.”

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Cable: Conservative manifesto has no numbers beyond the page numbers


Michael Fallon has told the Telegraph that income tax will not rise under a Conservative government. This comes after the Conservative manifesto failed to clarify their policy on tax rises in their manifesto which gave only a vague commitment to keep tax "as low as possible".

Responding to these comments, the Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor, Vince Cable said:

"Michael Fallon’s comments raise the obvious question as to where the Conservatives will raise the money that their Chancellor knows will be needed if promised funding for schools, the NHS, the police and defence is to materialise.

"The Conservative manifesto has no numbers beyond the page numbers: an arrogant misjudgement that the public does not need to be told what will happen after the election.  Since they are ruling out increases in income, corporate tax and VAT we must assume that there will be an increase in National Insurance and in various ‘stealth taxes’ yet to be specified. It undoubtedly raises suspicions.

"The Liberal Democrats are being honest with the people, to save our NHS and social care we will put 1p on income tax, raising £6bn a year."