Monday, May 20, 2019

Conservative government is failing in its duty to protect the public

Responding to Sajid Javid's speech on terrorism, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said: 

“The first duty of government is to protect its citizens, but Sajid Javid has essentially confessed that his own Government is failing in that duty.
“In the same speech where he said how important Europol, the European Arrest Warrant and the Schengen Information System are for keeping us safe, he also admitted that there is no agreement on keeping those crucial crime-fighting tools after Brexit.
“By pursuing Brexit and throwing away these tools, the Government is playing into the hands of terrorists, murderers and drug traffickers. Saying that a new security partnership is still the Government’s preferred option is simply not good enough, and the Liberal Democrats demand better.
“That’s why we are fighting to stop Brexit and preserve the EU cooperation on which our police and security services rely.”

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Brexit threatens UK’s ability to monitor climate change

The UK is at risk of losing the ability to monitor climate change if a Brexit deal is not agreed the Liberal Democrats have warned today.

If the UK leaves the EU then we will no longer be able to participate in the Copernicus* programme as a member state and will have no role in how it is run. This is the most ambitious Earth Observation programme to date and provides accurate information to improve the management of the environment in order to tackle the effects of climate change.

The Copernicus programme is not the only satellite programme the UK could lose access to. The Prime Minister has already made clear the UK will not use the Galileo** satellite for defence or critical national infrastructure once the UK leaves the EU.

The UK currently has no existing way to launch satellites into space, with the last one being launched in 1971, when Black Arrow carried a satellite called Prospero into low Earth orbit, albeit from a launchpad in Australia.

The Conservative Government are rumoured to be proposing new measures to safeguard space infrastructure as part of their first defence space strategy. However, experts have widely critiqued the strategy as completely unfeasible due to the amount it would cost.

Ahead of the EU elections, Liberal Democrat Defence Spokesperson Jamie Stone warned:

“Not only would the UK lose access to vital programmes which the Conservative Government will spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer’s money trying to replace, but the European Union will continue to advance and progress with technology in space whilst we lag behind. As threats on the global stage increase, this is not the time to be leaving satellite programs which help keep us safe.

“The EU’s satellite programmes are also vital if we are to effectively counteract the damage we are doing to the planet. The Conservatives have not only remained unambitious in tackling climate change, but they have doggedly undone the hard work Liberal Democrats did in coalition to help protect our environment. They are clearly showing no signs of stopping.

“By threatening the UK’s access to Copernicus with no replacement the Tories have once again revealed their disdain for saving our planet.

“The Liberal Democrats are clear if we want to tackle climate change and keep our country safe, we need to remain members of the European Union. Every vote for the Liberal Democrats in the European Elections on 23rd May is a vote to stop Brexit.”

*Copernicus is the most ambitious Earth Observation programme to date providing accurate and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security.

Currently the UK participates as a member state and contributes financially. UK industry and academia are involved in the delivery and operation of the programme. The MoD has no planned replacement for losing access to key Copernicus contracts or data sourced by Copernicus from Contributing Missions as of yet.

**Galileo is the Global Navigation Satellite System created by the EU through the European Space Agency. Just the assessment to replace it cost £92 million. An independent satellite is seen as unaffordable, with expected costs estimated as high as £8.5 billion. The current UK space budget is only £370 million per year with the majority of that going to the European Space Agency.

Last year a Spanish company won a 250 million Euro contract to develop the ground control system for Galileo. This was historically run by UK-based Airbus and was just one of several contracts lost.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Lib Dems have a manifesto for Europe

 - unlike some other political parties.

Vince Cable writes: "Today we launch our manifesto for the European elections. The Liberal Democrats are fighting to stop Brexit. There is a significant possibility that we will succeed, and the MEPs we elect on May 23rd will be in place for five years. They will represent the UK when we make important decisions about trade, security and the climate emergency.

"Our MEP candidates were chosen by our members, and they will stand on a platform of policies voted for by our members. Our manifesto is liberal, positive and forward-looking. We hope you will read it, and share our vision for the UK and Europe with your friends."

The manifesto can be viewed on the party's main website by clicking on the button below. Scroll down to view our aims in eleven policy areas including freedom of movement, education, health, tackling the climate emergency, fighting crime, upholding liberties across borders, innovation, agriculture and regional development.
Read our manifesto

You can watch tonight's launch party live here. Please do tune in. 

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Membership surge ahead of Euro elections

The Liberal Democrats have confirmed over two thousand people joined the party in the days after the party’s best ever gains of Councillors in local elections.
Alongside securing a national equivalent vote share of 19% - the best since 2010 – Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said the surge in members was a clear sign the Liberal Democrats are “the strongest party for remain going into the European Elections.”
"With these astonishing local election results, it is fantastic news that over two thousand people have flocked to the Liberal Democrat banner in aid of our campaign to stop Brexit.
“This surge in membership shows that more and more people have had enough of the national embarrassment Brexit has become. They deserve better, and the Liberal Democrats demand better.
“The Liberal Democrats, with over 100,000 members and nearly three thousand councillors across the country, are clearly the strongest party for remain going into the European Elections. Every Liberal Democrat vote is a vote to stop Brexit.”

Monday, May 06, 2019

Climate crisis demands European Action


The Climate crisis can only be stopped by Europe-wide action, the Liberal Democrats said today, as they called for Europe to adopt a "net zero greenhouse gas emissions target" by 2050. 
Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat former Climate Change Secretary, led the successful Europe-wide negotiations on the current 2030 target, and said "anyone who wants to stop our climate crisis should vote to stop Brexit".
The Liberal Democrats are calling for a UK target of net zero emissions by 2045 - and believe the EU must adopt a target of at least net zero by 2050, a key policy in their forthcoming manifesto for the European elections to be unveiled this Thursday.
Ed Davey commented:

"Everyone but the Conservatives and Nigel Farage's Brexit Party accepts there is a climate crisis - so the key question is, how do we solve the crisis? Stopping Brexit would be a big step forward.
"The record shows it has been the EU leading climate action internationally. However before this current Brexit Government, it was Britain leading Europe to be more ambitious and it was Liberal Democrat Ministers in coalition who were leading Britain to be more ambitious at the European Union.
"If Britain leaves the EU, we leave Europe's key climate talks. We cannot influence 27 other countries on climate change without a seat at the table and therefore we will witness the influence we have on the world through the EU dramatically reduced. 
"So anyone who wants to stop our climate crisis should vote to stop Brexit. It's now clear after the local election results last Thursday that to stop Brexit people need to vote Liberal Democrat."

Tory and Labour stitching up Brexit deal behind closed doors

Responding to John McDonnell's comments on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

“It is clear the Conservatives and Labour have more in common than just some disastrous local elections results, they are also happy to stitch up a damaging Brexit deal behind closed doors.

“John McDonnell’s comments on Andrew Marr today clearly show that Labour are willing to compromise with the Prime Minister to ensure they force a Brexit deal through parliament.

"If they do not ensure that a people’s vote is attached to any deal, they have not only disregarded their own party members, but they will have ignored the British public. We must have a final say.

“As we head towards the polls for the European elections, the Liberal Democrats are clear that a vote for us is a vote to stop Brexit.”

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Lib Dems call for a compulsory levy on gambling firms

The Liberal Democrats have renewed calls for a compulsory levy on gambling firms following GambleAware’s announcement that the 2018/2019 voluntary levy has raised less than the minimum £10 million asked for.

The Liberal Democrats have long argued a compulsory levy should pay towards the cost of research, education and treatment for people with gambling problems.

Liberal Democrat Peer, Lord Foster of Bath, said:

“I’m pleased that GambleAware has listed all the donations they have received so we can see, for example, that SkyBet, 888 and BetFred are notable by their absence. Bet365 has also given less than the recommended 0.1% of the Gross Gambling Yield.

"These companies make huge profits and must surely be forced to pay towards dealing with the misery their operations can cause for some people.

“The compulsory Horse Race Betting Levy raises almost 7 times more money to support horse-racing than the voluntary betting levy raises to help people.

“The time has now come to force ALL gambling companies to pay up. Or does the government believe “four legs good, two legs bad."

English Lib Dems land best ever gains

Vince Cable, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, has hailed the best ever gains of councillors in local elections in the party’s history.

Alongside over 700 gains the party landed serious blows to the Conservatives with stunning victories to gain councils including Chelmsford, Hinckley and Bosworth and the Vale of the White Horse – as well as holding the Mayoralty in Bedford.
With the party on track to secure a national equivalent vote share of 19% - the best since 2010 – Cable hailed the result as a clear sign that the Liberal Democrats are the strongest party for Remain going into the European Elections.
Vince Cable said:

“These are spectacularly good results, stemming from the hard work and the commitment of our campaigners all around the country.

“This is a springboard to the European elections in three weeks’ time, when we hope to do well again.
“Ours is the strongest Remain voice in British politics. Every Liberal Democrat vote is a vote to stop Brexit.”
The final total of Liberal Democrat council seats gained is 703.
The results saw Liberal Democrats secure power of 18 councils
Notable gains include defeating the leaders of Bath and North East Somerset Council, and St Albans Council and in Jacob Rees-Mogg’s own ward.
Liberal Democrat councils returned yesterday: 

Bath and North East Somerset
Hinckley and Bosworth
Mole Valley
North Devon
North Norfolk
Oadby and Wigston
Somerset and West Taunton
South Lakeland
South Somerset
Three Rivers
Vale of the White Horse
Northern Ireland
At the time of writing, our comrades in the Alliance Party had seen 42 councillors returned, a significant increase over the last time local councils were contested in the province, also seeing a breakthrough outside the party's stronghold in Belfast.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Cable: Heathrow expansion one of the Tories' worst mistakes

Responding to the judgement on the legal challenges to the Conservative government’s decision to permit Heathrow to apply for expansion of its airport with a new third runway, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

“It is a pity that the judicial review process has ended in this way, but the fundamental environmental and economic issues remain. Expanding Heathrow is the wrong decision for the country and for South West London, where air pollution, air traffic noise, and congestion are already a blight.
“With climate change looming large in the public mind, I still believe that the expansion will be revisited before a single brick is laid.
“The economics of the project look increasingly questionable. This company pays little tax and ships out its profits to its overseas owner. They expect to raise unrealistically large sums for the runway and the infrastructure around the airport.
“Deciding to proceed with the scheme is one of the Conservative government’s worst mistakes.”

Collapse of Four Seasons shows social care crisis unfolding on Tory watch

Responding to the news that one of Britain's largest care home groups, Four Seasons Health Care, is on the brink of administration, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Judith Jolly said:

“For the many thousands of residents and staff at the Four Seasons Health Care, the news that the group is set to go into administration will be deeply worrying.

“Another social care crisis in unfolding on the Tories watch as they repeatedly delay confronting the funding and structural problems in social care.

"Questions must now be answered by the Conservative Government as to how such a major care home group could have gone into administration, potentially putting at risk thousands of people’s care and thousands of jobs.

“Liberal Democrats are ready to challenge the problems in social care. We would ensure an effective and efficient NHS and care system which will be there for our loved ones when they need it with a penny on income tax to directly invest funds in social care.”
(Four Seasons runs two care homes in Wales, including Rookery Residential Home in Ebbw Vale, and one in Cheshire. The Welsh Government is responsible for the regulation of care homes in Wales, but is dependent on an allocation from central government under the Barnett Formula for funding for residential care.)

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Government must tackle gendered marketing

A poll carried out by the Fawcett Society has found 'widespread concern' about 'pink for girls, blue for boys' advertising by manufacturers and retailers. 

The poll discovered that 63% of mothers and 60% of fathers agreed that product marketing reinforces gender stereotypes. The charity says this is not limited to parents, 'as over half of men and women who do not have children also agreed'. 

Responding to the poll, Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine responded: 

“It is unacceptable that in 2019 companies are still marketing their products using outdated and sexist stereotypes.
“These tactics are damaging for both children and adults. Trying to put children in marketing boxes according to arbitrary ideas of what it is to be male or female is regressive and could give them a damaging and limited image of what they can achieve or what their societal role should be.
“The clich├ęs of gender-specific products also lie at the heart of the pink tax, where women have to pay higher prices than men for the same products. The Conservative Government must stop refusing to act. It’s time they ensure all major retailers end these harmful marketing practices.”

Monday, April 29, 2019

Bullying claims at Home Office symbolic of a failing Department and Government

Responding to reports of a bullying culture in department that handles asylum claims, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

“The working conditions of this unit are symbolic of a failing Home Office and failing Government.
“Sajid Javid has been in his job for a year and there are no signs that the Home Office is set to change under the Conservatives.
“There must be a serious investigation into this department at the Home Office. Liberal Democrats are calling for a complete Home Office overhaul, removing the hostile environment and the culture that the Conservatives have fostered.”

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Trump withdrawal from arms treaty further stains Tory invite

Condemning the news that US President Donald Trump has announced that the United States will withdraw its signature from the Arms Trade Treaty, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable MP said:
“As a Cabinet Minister with operational responsibility for regulating the arms trade, I regarded this treaty as one of the real positive achievements of the Coalition Government. It is critically important in regulating the international trade of weapons.
“That Trump has scrapped US participation is yet another retrograde step to add to his dereliction of duty on climate change and his outrageous demands to weaken international action to combat rape in war-torn countries.
“It is a stain on the Conservative Government that they have invited this President for all the pomp and circumstance of a state visit. He is playing a negative role on the international stage – the visit should be cancelled.”


Brecon and Radnorshire recall petition under way

The recall petition for convicted MP Chris Davies opens on 9 May. Voters in Brecon and Radnorshire will have six weeks to sign the petition in six locations across the constituency. People registered for postal votes will receive a signing sheet to return if they want to sign the petition.

If 5,303 eligible voters (that is, 10% of the electorate) sign it, a by-election will be held.

The designated petition signing places are located at:

  • County Hall, Llandrindod Wells, LD1 5LG
  • Neuadd Brycheiniog, Cambrian Way, Brecon, LD3 7HR
  • Presteigne Library, Market Hall, Presteigne, LD8 2AD
  • Ystradgynlais Library, Temperance Street, Ystradgynlais, SA9 1JJ
  • Council Chamber, Broad Street, Hay-on-Wye, HR3 5BX
  • Clarence Hall House, Beaufort Street, Crickhowell, NP8 1BN

These locations will be open for signing:
Monday, 9am to 5pm (except spring bank holiday Monday)
Tuesday, 8am to 5pm
Wednesday, 9am to 8pm
Thursday, 9am to 5pm
Friday, 9am to 5pm

"A person is eligible to sign the petition if they are a registered parliamentary elector for the constituency and aged 18 or over (or the date of their 18th birthday is before the end of the signing period)," the official notice confirms.

Thanks to the Powys County Times for the detail.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Foodbank usage in Wales reaches record high as Government cuts support for the poorest households

A record number of people in Wales are being forced to turn to food-banks, according to figures released today by the Trussell Trust.
In the year ending 31 March 2019, 113,373 emergency food packages were delivered to people in crisis in Wales. This is a 15% increase in the last year and a 42% increase on five years ago. Over 40,000 of the packages were given to children.
Responding to this announcement, Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions spokesperson Christine Jardine MP said:
“These figures show the Conservative Government’s failure to ensure that everyone in our society has financial security.
“The Conservatives have presided over a toxic mix of social security cuts that have left thousands of people unable to afford the basics. The benefits freeze and cuts to Universal Credit have left households in the lurch.
“Liberal Democrats demand better so that everyone has the dignity of financial security. We would reverse the cuts to Universal Credit, end the benefits freeze immediately and give people the flexibility to decide how often their Universal Credit is paid.”
Aberavon and Neath Liberal Democrats say:
“Universal Credit leaves people waiting at least five weeks for their first payment – and that’s if there aren’t complications with their application. Advance payments can soften the blow, but they’re no good if you don’t know how much to ask for. Plus, they have to be paid back within a year, leaving households with much less to live off over the next 12 months.
“We want a future in which no one needs a food-bank. Our leader in Wales, Jane Dodds, wants a total rehash of the Universal Credit system. In the meantime, we call on the government to shorten the five week wait immediately and to invest in Universal Support so that people have the skills to manage their money well.”

Resolven ward by-election

The Liberal Democrat candidate for the by-election of 23rd May will be Sheila Kingston-Jones.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Liam Fox legitimises climate change deniers

Responding to International Trade Secretary Liam Fox’s climate change comments today, Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat Climate Change Spokesperson, said:
“The Conservative Government are finally showing their true colours, as apologists for climate change denial. While their ranks have many who reject the scientific evidence that humans are contributing to climate change, the Government at least accepted what was happening, but now it seems they’ve changed their mind.
“In a week where protesters have filled the streets of London and activist Greta Thunberg has visited Parliament, it is outrageous that Liam Fox is now legitimising those who deny climate change.

"Climate change is happening, and as a country we have a responsibility to do everything we can to slash our emissions and reduce the damage we’re doing. Comments like this show the Tories clearly cannot be trusted to take it seriously.”

Government is morally compromised over Saudi mass execution

Yesterday the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Vince Cable, secured an Urgent Question to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Saudi government following the mass execution of 37 people yesterday.

In the House of Commons Vince Cable raised the killing of 37 people, including three minors, calling the UK government morally compromised in their dealings with the regime. 
In the chamber Vince Cable asked the Secretary of State:
“Was the Government aware that at least three of these 37 were minors, and most appear to have been tortured into making confessions – in flagrant breaches of International Law? 
“Isn’t the UK's moral position on this compromised by our continued supply of arms for use in the civil war in Yemen?
Following the debate, Vince Cable said:

"The Conservative Government must accept that Saudi Arabia is an enemy of British values, including human rights and equality. These mass executions must provoke Ministers to reassess the British relationship with this barbaric regime.”

Lib Dems demand change to abortion law in Northern Ireland

Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine has today called on the Conservative Government to end the breaches of human rights for women in Northern Ireland by decriminalising abortion.
Ms Jardine was responding to the report from the Women and Equalities Committee which has warned of a lack of scrutiny and a continuing failure of the UK Government to respond to international human rights obligations.
Ms Jardine said:

“Women in Northern Ireland are being left behind. Women’s physical and mental health is being jeopardised due to the near total ban on abortion in Northern Ireland.
“The UN has told the Conservative Government, the UK Supreme Court has told the Conservative Government, and now Parliament is again telling the Conservative Government – they are failing to address breaches of human rights in Northern Ireland.
“What needs to happen for the Conservatives to act to change this harmful and cruel law? Women in Northern Ireland deserve the same rights as women in the rest of the UK, and the Liberal Democrats demand better for women in Northern Ireland.
“If the Conservatives will not, or cannot, change the law then they must give Parliament the opportunity to decriminalise abortion.”

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Chris Davies forgeries

Brecon and Radnorshire Liberal Democrats have issued the following statement following the sentencing of the Conservative MP for the constituency:

The people of Brecon and Radnorshire have been deeply disappointed to see their MP embroiled in such an unnecessary controversy. Chris Davies has put Brecon and Radnorshire on the map for all the wrong reasons.

Instead of plunging local people into yet more uncertainty with a six week recall process, Chris Davies should resign immediately and give Brecon & Radnorshire the chance to elect a new voice to represent them in Parliament.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Two old parties hopelessly divided ahead of Euro elections

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake has accused Labour and the Conservatives of being "hopelessly divided" and said only the Liberal Democrats have a "clear offer" ahead of European elections. 

The comments come after Iain Duncan Smith called on the Prime Minister to resign and Jeremy Corbyn was warned by Labour's MEP group leader that he must back a People's Vote or lose a generation of young people.

Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake said:

"At this time of national crisis, people are demanding real leadership. However, the Tories only offer internal party plotting while the Labour leadership is desperate to avoid committing to anything where Brexit is concerned. 

"The two old parties are hopelessly divided and rudderless. Liberal Democrats on the other hand are raring to go to the polls with a clear offer; every Liberal Democrat elected is another voice fighting for our country’s place in the European Union.”

EU citizen data breach proves Home Office cannot be trusted

Speaking after the Home Office admitted to a breach of EU citizens' data, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said: 

“The Settled Status scheme only launched two weeks ago, and already the Home Office is proving it can’t be trusted to manage it properly.
“We’ve already heard far too many cases of EU citizens facing technical problems or being wrongly refused. Now 240 have had their privacy compromised.
“And it will only get worse if Brexit goes ahead. On this evidence, we are heading straight for another Windrush scandal.
“The 3.5 million EU citizens in the UK deserve better, and the Liberal Democrats demand better for them. The only way to fix this mess and give EU citizens the certainty they need is a People’s Vote and an Exit from Brexit.”