Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Don't let them bring in FPTP for Mayoral and Police Commissioner elections!

Liberal Democrats  for Electoral Reform say:

The Government is pressing ahead with proposed changes to the way we elect mayors and police and crime commissioners, first announced by Priti Patel back in March.  But our friends at Make Votes Matter see this proposal for what it truly is: a backward step for democracy. They have launched a petition telling the Government that we need LESS First Past the Post, not MORE! If you agree, please sign and share the petition here.


Monday, May 10, 2021

Jerusalem: UK government must intervene to de-escalate situation


Responding to the rising tension in Jerusalem, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Layla Moran MP said:


“I am alarmed by the growing unrest and violence in Israel and Palestine.
 
“First and foremost, we need to recognise that Israel has broken international law with its evictions in Sheikh Jarrah and ignited a tinderbox.
 
“The Israeli Government’s decision to use airstrikes in Gaza will only make this conflict worse. Children have died. 
 
"Violence only begets violence. Hamas also needs to stop its attacks.
 
"It has to stop. Enough is enough. 
 
“I call on the British Government to intervene in the strongest possible terms. We need an urgent de-escalation of this situation, now. I urge the Foreign Secretary to work with our international partners to help facilitate that. 
 
“My thoughts are with all those who have been wounded and killed in the strikes. It is a tragedy that lives have been lost.”
 

Monday, May 03, 2021

Government must verify Iran reports and set our citizens free


Responding to reports from Iran on Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Layla Moran MP said:
 
“Reports from Iran, that the UK Government must verify, spell out what we already suspected – that the cruel and heartless regime has been using Nazanin as a bargaining chip over unpaid debts. Just this morning Dominic Raab suggested the situation was more complicated than this. It isn’t. 
 
“The UK has already accepted it owes the debt to the Iranian government, so if they haven’t already done so I urge them to pay and set our citizens free. And if they have now repaid the debt, they should confirm that and they must do everything in their power to return Nazanin to the UK immediately and redouble their efforts to secure the release of all other British citizens being held in Iran.”

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Global health cuts sowing seeds of next pandemic


Responding to the closure of FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth and Devlopment Office) and funded UK Partnerships for Health Systems programme, due to aid cuts, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs and International Development Spokesperson Layla Moran MP said: 

“I’m appalled that the Government has cancelled the UK Partnerships for Health Systems programme. I cannot believe that during a global pandemic the Conservatives are taking money away from the very programmes that are designed to build resilient health systems in developing countries.


“This is both unforgivable and incredibly short-sighted. The Government are sowing the seeds of the next pandemic with these cuts. Nobody is safe until everyone is safe. Britain is seemingly not only abandoning the world’s poorest but also any hope of ending this pandemic worldwide.


“The Liberal Democrats will stand up against these cuts and for the 0.7% of GNI commitment, which we enshrined in law. The Government must immediately publish all details of its planned aid spending this financial year and tell us if any impact assessments for Covid-19 efforts were carried out first. It’s time for them to come clean.”

Friday, April 30, 2021

Aid cuts raise the risk of new Covid variants

Responding to reports that the UK Government plans to cut funding for life-saving water projects in developing countries, as well as slashing funding for polio eradication, Layla Moran MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and International Development, commented:

“Now we can see why the Foreign Secretary is hiding the details of the Government’s deep, potentially unlawful aid cuts. In the middle of a global pandemic no less, water, sanitation and hygiene programmes are being cut to the bone. Deep cuts to polio eradication efforts are shocking and could prevent the disease being eliminated.

“Cutting aid for water and sanitation raises the risks of new variants, which could wash up on our shores. The Liberal Democrats will stand up against these cuts and for the 0.7% of GNI commitment, which we enshrined in law. The Government must immediately publish all details of its planned aid spending this financial year and tell us if any impact assessments for Covid-19 efforts were carried out.”

COVID-19 report highlights need for independent public inquiry


Responding to the release of the 'Assessing England’s response to COVID-19' report by the King’s Fund, Liberal Democrat Health and Social Care Spokesperson Munira Wilson MP said: 

“This report plainly lays out the need and the framework for an independent public inquiry into the Government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“It has become increasingly clear over the last year that the Government was poorly prepared for a pandemic and slow to act when it hit. Its shady approach to procuring PPE and its failure to implement a robust test, trace and isolate system have exacerbated this crisis. 

 

“The Liberal Democrats were successful in getting the Prime Minister to commit to holding an inquiry and we believe he should not delay in carrying it out. The country needs to know what lessons can be learnt now, both to protect us in the future and to hold to account those that mishandled this pandemic.”


[N.B. Although NHS (GIG) in Wales is largely devolved, Westminster still controls key policy areas such as materiel acquisition.]


 

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Tory government breaks its promise to women and girls with shameful foreign aid cuts

Responding to reports that the UK has imposed cuts in aid to the UNFPA family planning programme in the world's poorest nations, Layla Moran MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and International Development, commented:

“The Foreign Secretary’s attempts to hide the detail of these shameful cuts tell us everything we need to know. Millions of women and girls around the world will suffer as a result of this shocking decision. Britain is abandoning them.

“The Conservative Government’s decision to break its promise to women and girls around the world, let alone the electorate, is short-sighted and wrong. The Liberal Democrats will stand up against these cuts and for the 0.7% of GNI commitment, which we enshrined in law. The Government must immediately publish all details of its planned aid spending this financial year and tell us if any impact assessments for Covid-19 efforts were carried out.”

Record levels of self-harm show women's prisons are in crisis


Responding to
 latest figures which show that self-harm by female prisoners reached a record high in 2020, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse MP said:

"Our prisons are in crisis. The amount of self-harm, especially in women's prisons, is shockingly high and rising.
 
"Far too many women are sent to prison on short sentences for non-violent offences. In many cases these women have been victims of abuse and have suffered trauma which has led them into a life of disadvantage and low level crime, but many also have caring responsibilities.
 
"Being in prison will set off the next round of trauma and disadvantage for those that depend on them. We have to break this destructive circle.
 
"Women should only be sent to prison where absolutely necessary: for the most serious crimes, or where they pose a threat to the public. Effective community-based sentences would be far better to stop re-offending, and far less damaging for the people involved."

Govt must provide clarity on plans for divisive Covid ID cards


Responding to the Government’s statement today on Covid ID cards, Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said:
 

Covid ID cards are intrusive and divisive. They are not an effective way to reopen our economy or keep people safe. They would turn our country into a two-tier society, with many denied their most basic freedoms. Ministers must provide clarity on their use, especially for the pubs and restaurants on the brink that don't want them.

“It is extremely worrying that the Government is still forging ahead with plans for Covid ID cards for international travel without any scrutiny. This is the thin end of the wedge. The Government cannot avoid MPs and the voices of the British people by making this announcement on the last day of Parliament.  

“The Liberal Democrats demand that the Government bring its plans for Covid ID cards before Parliament and allow a vote immediately.” 

Friday, April 23, 2021

PM must act now on slave labour World Cup after Super League collapse

Following the collapse of the European Super League, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Sport, Jamie Stone MP, has called on the Government to "speak out against slavery" associated with the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

According to data compiled from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, 6500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since it won the right to host the World Cup 10 years ago. 

Several human rights organisations have raised concerns about Qatar's treatment of migrant workers who arrived in the country following the successful 2022 World Cup bid. There is consensus that the infrastructure supporting Qatar's World Cup has relied on the practice of modern-day slavery, with little to no action from the Qatari Government and with minimal comment from the UK Government. 

After the Prime Minister's reaction to the ESL Jamie Stone MP said:

"Fury over proposals for a European Super League has forced Boris Johnson to take action, but the League is just one example of how football has been hijacked by a privileged few.

"Johnson is talking a good game now, but if he is serious about the future of football, he must not stop here. The human rights abuses carried out by Qatar ahead of the 2022 World Cup are horrific. The stadiums have been built on the back of modern-day slavery. The Government knows this but our Prime Minister continues to bury his head in the sand. 

"If the Tories really care about football, they will take action to save the game at all levels. Fans deserve more than an opportunistic Prime Minister who picks and chooses when he wants to care about football. The very spirit of the game is at stake."

Lib Dems warn against return to 'damaging' Whitehall police targets

The Liberal Democrats are calling on Priti Patel not to impose centralised crime targets on local police forces, warning it “would be a grave mistake” that “risks seriously undermining” police officers.

In a letter to the Home Secretary, the party’s Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael and 27 candidates for Mayor or Police and Crime Commissioner write that “the police need to be responsive and accountable to their local communities, not micromanaged by Ministers in Whitehall.”

The Liberal Democrats argue that the Government should instead be focusing on “ensuring that police forces can restore proper community policing, where officers are more visible, trusted and known personally to local people.”

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

“It seems Priti Patel is the latest Home Secretary who thinks she can do the police’s job better than local police chiefs and officers on the ground.

“Making police officers chase arbitrary Whitehall targets won’t make our communities safer. All it does is waste police time and undermine public trust and confidence.

“This is yet another example of Conservative Ministers trying hard to seem tough on crime, but failing to do what works to actually prevent it.

“What police really need are the officers, resources and time to focus on preventing and solving crimes. That's why the Liberal Democrats are opposing these plans for damaging centralised targets and urging the Government instead to work with local forces to restore proper community policing.”

 

Small businesses need urgent support in spite of record borrowing

New economic data from the Office for National Statistics show the Government borrowed £303.1bn in the year to March, the highest level since the end of World War Two.

The figures show that, compared to the previous 12 months, borrowing is nearly £250bn higher in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In response to the statistics released this morning, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine MP said:

"These record figures are a reflection of the momentous challenge posed by Covid-19 in the past year. As significant as they are, they can't distract from the fact that people and businesses throughout the UK are still in need of support.

“Countless small businesses won't be able to reopen for months to come, and millions of people are still worried about their jobs. Yet the government seems to gloss over these problems, with business support leaving many exposed and income support nearing a September cliff edge.
 
"To get out the other side of this crisis we must see an ambitious revenue compensation package for struggling small businesses, and an extension of the furlough scheme until the end of the year, so that nobody is left behind.”

320,000 EU citizens waiting for Settled Status ahead of cliff-edge

 

The Liberal Democrats are calling for all EU citizens in the UK to be given the automatic right to stay, as new figures reveal that 323,800 are still waiting for the Home Office to process their applications.

 

The party is warning that those who aren’t given ‘Settled Status’ by the 30th June deadline could “become the victims of another Windrush-style scandal”.

 

Responding to the figures, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

 

“The Conservatives must guarantee the rights of EU citizens who’ve made their lives here, and contribute enormously to our economy, our public services and our society. They must not become the victims of a new Windrush-style scandal.
 
“Over 320,000 of our friends and neighbours are facing the cruel anxiety of hoping the Home Office will grant their applications before the cliff-edge at the end of June.
 
“There is a serious risk that hundreds of thousands of people will be left effectively undocumented and exposed to the Conservatives’ Hostile Environment. We can’t afford the Government to ignore these warnings any longer.
 
“EU citizens in the UK have been living under a cloud of uncertainty for far too long and the buck stops with Boris Johnson who promised them the automatic right to stay. He must deliver on his promise.”

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Moran: Foreign aid cuts utterly unacceptable

 
Commenting on the news that the Government have made their plan to cut foreign aid offical Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Layla Moran MP said: 
 
“Announcing these deep, potentially unlawful aid cuts through a written statement is utterly unacceptable – the Government is hiding from MPs’ scrutiny because they know how damaging this is to the UK’s reputation on the world stage. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic – global problems need global solutions. Instead, the Conservatives are shirking their moral and legal responsibilities. 
 
“The Conservative Government's claims that these cuts are necessary are all lies; ODA already fluctuates based on gross national income [GNI]. The truth is that these cuts will make us all less safe, and they are not in our national interest. Money for conflict resolution has been slashed. Girls’ education is absolutely vital for long-term development, and the Government repeatedly claim it’s a priority, so why is more UK aid money being spent on trade? 
 
“Liberal Democrats will stand up for the 0.7% of GNI commitment, which we enshrined in law, and work cross-party to prevent the UK from hiding from its responsibilities during a global pandemic. We will restore the UK’s global reputation. For many vulnerable people in need around the world, the UK’s international development work has made the difference between life and death. Dominic Raab should be ashamed of this announcement.”
 

Domestic Abuse Bill: Peers vote to protect migrant survivors

Yesterday, Liberal Democrat peers helped to defeat the Government a further two times, voting to include crucial protections for migrant survivors of domestic abuse.

The House of Lords passed two cross-party amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill that would end the sharing of survivors’ personal data with the Home Office for immigration control purposes. The amendments would also give survivors access to public funds.

The Liberal Democrats voted for both amendments, while the Government voted against. The Bill will now return to the Commons for ping-pong on Monday 26th April.

Following the votes, Brian Paddick, Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson on Home Affairs, said:

“All survivors of domestic abuse should have the same support and protections, regardless of their immigration status. No one should be trapped in a violent or abusive situation for any reason.

“It is very disappointing that the Conservative Government is still opposing these crucial protections. The Tories are putting anti-immigrant ideology ahead of combatting domestic abuse and supporting survivors.

“The Domestic Abuse Bill must protect everyone. Liberal Democrats have been working hard cross-party to make this landmark legislation the strongest it can possibly be, and we will continue to do so.”

Green Homes Grants: Tories fail to take cutting emissions seriously

 


Responding to the Green Homes Grant statistics, which show there were just 113,700 applications for the grant, only 10,300 measures were installed and just 6,700 homes actually received the money from the scheme,
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Climate Emergency Wera Hobhouse MP said:

“The Green Homes Grant has been a complete failure, as predicted right from the beginning. The Conservatives have simply failed to take the issue of upgrading our poor quality homes seriously.

“From the very beginning the Green Homes Grant was short-termist, poorly thought out and suffered chronic mismanagement. Rather than taking the issue of cutting emissions seriously, the Tories engaged in the worst kind of tokenistic politics.

“Liberal Democrats are calling for a ten year plan to upgrade our homes, backed up with significant government funds. This would cut emissions and bills, as well as eliminating fuel poverty by the end of the decade. Instead the Tories are failing to take action on the climate emergency, while condemning those in fuel poverty to years of high energy bills.”

Friday, April 16, 2021

Domestic Abuse Bill: Tory MPs vote to exclude migrant women

 

The Liberal Democrats have vowed to keep working to strengthen the landmark Domestic Abuse Bill, after Conservative MPs yesterday voted to remove crucial safeguards.

 

The Liberal Democrats voted to retain cross-party amendments passed by the House of Lords last month, including measures that would:

 

  • End the sharing of survivors’ personal data with the Home Office for immigration purposes.

  • Give survivors temporary leave to remain and access to public funds for at least six months.

  • Establish a register of serial and serious perpetrators of domestic abuse and stalking.

  • Ensure that all victims of domestic abuse are protected regardless of their migration status or any other characteristic, as required by the Istanbul Convention.

 

Following the votes, Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine said:

 

“This Bill has been strengthened and developed by tremendous cross-party support, but it was disappointing that the Conservatives were not willing to take on proposals co-sponsored by the Liberal Democrats for monitoring serial and serious perpetrators of domestic abuse and stalking.

 

“Similarly there is still more we need to do for migrant women who should have the same protections as every other woman in our society. Getting out of a violent or abusive situation should not be dependent on where you come from.

 

“The Domestic Abuse Bill must protect everyone, no matter their immigration status. Liberal Democrats will keep working cross-party to make this landmark legislation the strongest it can possibly be.”


Lib Dems PCC campaign launch: Restore community policing to end scandal of 1.8m unsolved crimes

 

The Liberal Democrats will launch their national Police and Crime Commissioner campaign in Stockport by calling on the Government to restore community policing.

 

New analysis by the party reveals more than 1.8 million crimes reported to the police last year closed without a suspect being identified. Separate figures show that half of all people say they never see police patrols in their local area.

 

Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey MP, will today call for a return to proper community policing:

 

“Everyone has the right to feel safe where they live and know those who commit crimes will be punished. But this Conservative Government is leaving our communities vulnerable and letting criminals get away with it.

 

“Instead of letting police officers get on with their jobs, Tory Ministers want them chasing centralised Whitehall targets and carrying out pointless, suspicionless Stop and Search.

 

“Police need the officers, resources and time to focus on preventing and solving crimes.

 

“Liberal Democrats are calling for a return to proper community policing, where officers are visible, trusted and known personally to local people. We will do what works to build communities where people are safe and feel safe too.”

 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Tributes to Shirley Williams

 Ian Sherwood, former mayor of Briton Ferry, writes:

So very sad to hear of the passing of Shirley Williams. She was one of my earliest politics heroes heroine s for so many different reasons. She was one of the reasons i knew that the SDP. Liberals Alliance, Lib Dem’s was the right place and political home for me. In these days of political populism and extremism on both the right and left of politics. It seemed to me that she stood for decency tolerance and sensible pro Europeanism centerist politics. Her experience as a junior minister in the 1960 s and then as a cabinet member in the 1970 s made her a very experienced politician. Also as one of the few Senior women politicians of that time. I am sure she was a political inspiration to many women and many men as well. If you listen to many of her many 1970 s speeches on programmes like Afternoon plus still available on you tube they are very Down to earth and straight forward. She never pretended problems were easy to solve. I heard her make speeches on so many occasions and they were always interesting and inspirational. Her decision along with the other 3 to Join the SDP changed politics of the early 1980s and beyond. After i had been in the leaders office for a few years and having seen Shirley on many occasions but never having had the chance to chat to her. I had been to an event in Chatham house on International relations and Shirley and i were walking in the same direction at the end of the evening. She recognised me and chatted to me about how i was finding working in the leaders office and the state of politics at that time. It was an occasion. i remember as frankly i was a bit star struck and a bit tongue tied. Yet she was so ordinary and engaging and interested in a lowly Lib Dem staffer such as myself. I am genuinely said tonight, at this time of such awfulness in politics and life generally we desperately need more Shirley s .


Jean Bellingham, a former secretary of the local party:

She was the main reason I was a founder member of the SDP and eventually the Lib Democrats. Would that we still had the same support, purpose and commitment as there was then


John Wellington adds:

We went to a garden party in a stately home back in the mid 80s with a bus run from the Forge Tavern in Port Talbot. Arthur Colborn the landlord was a member of the SDP and I believe it was in our Alliance days. She was very engaging and most welcoming as a lot on the trip were die hard labour supporters but we had to fill the bus. A great day


Frank Little, retiring secretary:

I was never particularly tribal in my politics and, although my personal convictions led me to join the Liberal Party, there were figures in the other parties whom I admired and respected. Among them was Shirley Williams, who also exuded humanity and common sense, so it was a happy day for me when the Lib Dems were formed with Shirley Williams playing a prominent part. It may have been Labour's ultra-socialist and anti-EU stance under Michael Foot which drove her to change parties, but she clearly felt at home with her new fellow members - and probably helped to create the ethos of the new party.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Shirley Williams, Baroness Williams of Crosby

 

On behalf of her family, it is with great sadness that we announce that Shirley Williams, Baroness Williams of Crosby, died peacefully in the early hours of Monday April 12th.

 

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

 

“This is heartbreaking for me and for our whole Liberal Democrat family. 

 

"Shirley has been an inspiration to millions, a Liberal lion and a true trailblazer. I feel privileged to have known her, listened to her and worked with her. Like so many others, I will miss her terribly.

 

"Political life will be poorer without her intellect, her wisdom and her generosity.  Shirley had a limitless empathy only too rare in politics today; she connected with people, cared about their lives and saw politics as a crucial tool to change lives for the better.

 

"As a young Liberal, Shirley Williams had a profound impact on me, as she did on countless others across the political spectrum. Her vision and bravery, not least in founding the SDP, continues to inspire Liberal Democrats today.

 

"Rest in peace, Shirley. My thoughts and prayers are with your family and your friends."

 

Leader of the Liberal Democrat party in the House of Lords Dick Newby said: 

 

“Shirley Williams was a charismatic, committed and fearless politician who believed passionately in a fairer society and in Britain’s European destiny. She was an inspiration and mentor to many younger politicians and maintained her campaigning zeal to the end. She was central to the formation of the SDP and the Liberal Democrats, and will be greatly missed by many in her extended political family.”

Welsh Liberal Democrat candidates in the county borough

 In the elections to take place on 6th May next, the Lib Dems candidates are as follows:

Police and Crime Commissioner: Callum James Littlemore

Welsh General (Senedd) 

- in Aberavon: Helen Clarke











- in Neath: Iain Clamp













Coedffranc Town Council, Coedffranc North ward by-election: Frank Little





Friday, April 09, 2021

UK Aid stats: Raab must do the right thing

 


Responding to the latest statistics on Provisional UK Aid Spend for 2020, published yesterday, Layla Moran MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and International Development commented:

“These statistics remind us that there was always going to be a cut to UK aid spending due to the pandemic – that’s the point of having a GNI target. As the economy shrinks, so does the development budget.

“The Government is acting unlawfully and dishonestly by reneging on the 0.7% of GNI spending commitment and cutting UK aid even further. Bilateral projects in Africa stand to lose the most. The Conflict, Stability and Security Fund already saw an 18.1% decrease in funding in 2020 – how is cutting spending even further in our strategic interest at all?

“UK aid and development represents the best of British humanitarian values. The Liberal Democrats urge Dominic Raab to do the right thing and bring his unlawful decision to Parliament for a vote after Recess. Cutting our aid spending and breaking our promise to the world’s poorest makes a mockery of the Conservatives’ global ambitions and our reputation on the world stage.”