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“It is unacceptable that in 2019 companies are still marketing their products using outdated and sexist stereotypes.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.”

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

UK has a responsibility to protect democracy in Hong Kong

Alistair Carmichael MP has today warned that the Conservative Government’s inaction on the guilty verdict handed to the ‘Umbrella Nine’ in Hong Kong is an insult to all those in the region.

Alistair Carmichael used an Urgent Question in the House of Commons today to

The nine activists could be sentenced for up to seven years. They were found guilty on rarely used colonial-era public nuisance charges.

Speaking after the Urgent Question, Alistair Carmichael MP said:

“Many in Hong Kong rightly look to the UK for protection and support for their continued autonomy and progression towards democracy. This guilty verdict and the Conservative Government’s inaction is the latest insult to those people.

“Under the ‘one country, two systems’ framework, the UK has a legal and moral responsibility to ensure that Beijing does not undermine freedom of expression and human rights in Hong Kong.

“It is appalling that the Conservative Government have increasingly turned a blind-eye to this duty. Their silence is inexcusable. Liberal Democrats demand better. 

“Beijing must stop its increasing disregard for the Basic Law in the region and the UK must do all it can to uphold our end of the bargain by standing up to any violations of Hong Kong’s democracy and freedom of expression.” 
urge the Conservative Government to appeal against the guilty verdict handed to nine activists involved in the peaceful 2014 "umbrella" pro-democracy protests.

European Parliament elections: let's televise a leaders' debate

Today Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable has called on the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to join him in televised Leader’s debates ahead of the EU election. 
Cable stated that a proper debate is needed ahead of European Parliamentary Elections and the two main parties must clearly show their hand on Brexit. In this election, every vote for the Liberal Democrats is one for a People’s Vote with an option to remain in the EU.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:
“Televised Leaders debates have become a crucial part of the democratic process ensuring that people get the opportunity to hear each leader put forward their vision for the country.
“If Labour and the Conservatives believe that their Brexit plans are in the best interest of the country I am sure they will relish the opportunity to have a debate with representatives from all sides of the argument.
“The EU elections in May will be an opportunity for people to cast a vote against the national embarrassment Brexit has become. Every vote for the Liberal Democrats will be for a People’s Vote with an option to remain in the EU.”

Layla Moran says: Recognition of Palestine cannot wait

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has today called on the UK Government to recognise Palestine following the Israeli election.
Ms Moran, the first MP of Palestinian decent, previously introduced the Palestinian Statehood (Recognition) Bill which would require the UK Government to recognise the State of Palestine within 3 months of the Bill being passed. It had support from Lib Dem, Labour, SNP, Plaid and Green MPs.
Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said:
"The dead heat between Gantz and Netanyahu means uncertainty for Palestinians continues. We now wait with bated breath for the last votes to be counted and the outcome of coalition talks.  

"However, should Netanyahu emerge as the leader, I hope the international community will speak out against the far right positions that he expressed during the election such as the annexation of Palestinian occupied territory. Such flagrant flouting of international law cannot and should not be tolerated. 

"Never has it been more important to reignite the dwindling flame of a two-state solution. The time has come for the UK to join the 70-plus states that have recognized the state of Palestine. 

"With a new Israeli Government may yet come new opportunities for talks, but critically these must be between equals. That is why recognition of Palestine cannot wait a moment longer."

UK must speak out on the death penalty

Responding to the publishing of Amnesty International's annual death penalty report, Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said:

“The UK opposes the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle. As long as our allies far and wide continue to execute people, it shows opposing it is simply not enough.
“The Conservative Government must do more to ensure the countries named by Amnesty International move towards abolishing the death penalty.

"Not only is China the highest on the list, but their poor record of human rights abuses also extends to the treatment of the Uyghur people.
By failing to speak out, the Conservative Government does further damage to our currently diminishing reputation on the world stage.
“It is clear the UK Government has a duty to act. If Conservative Ministers fail to join Liberal Democrats in standing up for fundamental British values, then they are ignoring people who are in most need of our support.”
NB: Alistair Carmichael is the Vice Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Abolition of the Death Penalty.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Lib Dem EU candidate selections "well under way" as the Tories scramble

The Liberal Democrats' candidate selection in England, Scotland and Wales is well under way for EU elections on 23rd May as the Tories scramble to put together a last minute list of candidates.

Party members are voting across the country as the party plans to use the election as an opportunity to send a message to both the Conservatives and Labour that it is time for a People’s Vote. 

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake MP said:
"The Tories have made an absolute dog’s dinner of Brexit and instead of working to give people the final say, Corbyn seems to have joined the Tories at the table. 
“We have been fighting tooth and nail not just to keep the UK in the EU, but for the UK to be a leader in the EU. Just imagine what we could achieve if Brexit was stopped, not least using the billions earmarked for Brexit to instead regenerate the towns, cities and communities in the greatest need.
“Our candidates will soon be selected and we 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.”

Cable: Brexiters losing argument and votes


Following the votes in the House of Commons last night, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

"Parliament has now taken back control and the UK is on course for an extension to Article 50 and European Parliament elections.

“Brexiters are losing the argument and losing votes in the Commons by healthy margins. 

“The Prime Minister must now show leadership by offering a People’s Vote. It is her only chance to get her deal through Parliament and a crucial opportunity to show the changing will of the public, who are swinging firmly behind Remain.”

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Tories in England would deny EU citizens their voting rights

The Liberal Democrats have today blamed “callous, Conservative party self-interest” for allowing over 4 million people to lose the right to vote in local elections in England in the event the UK crashes out of the EU with a no-deal.
In response to parliamentary questions from the Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake, the Government has confirmed UK reciprocal voting rights for UK citizens residing in the EU and EU citizens residing in the UK have yet to be agreed in the event of a no-deal, except with Spain.
According to population statistics from the Office of National Statistics, 3,546,000 EU citizens across the UK and 484,700 UK citizens across the EU would lose the right to vote. The revelation comes ahead of the local elections in May.
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said: 
“Far from illusions that Brexit would renew our democracy, it is instead tearing it apart and stripping people of their rights all because of Tory incompetence.
“Many EU citizens fill vital roles in the health service, our schools and across Parliament. The deserve better, and the Liberal Democrats demand better.
“The upcoming local elections are therefore an opportunity to send a clear message to Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn’s failed leaderships by voting for the Liberal Democrats.
“Every Liberal Democrat elected in May is another voice fighting for a People’s Vote, with the option to stay in the EU.”
Ilse Mogensen, public affairs and campaigns officer for the three million, added: 
"EU citizens living in the UK were denied a vote on our own future in the 2016 referendum. To add insult to injury, we now face the loss of our right to vote and stand as candidates in local elections.
“The Welsh and Scottish governments have confirmed that EU citizens will keep the right to vote. The UK Government should do the same, instead of leaving the democratic rights of 3.6 million people in limbo."

Monday, April 01, 2019

Tories fail to enforce national living wage

Responding to the research from the Living Wage Foundation showing that a worker on the Government's new 'national living wage' would earn an annual salary worth £1,540.50 a year less than the real living wage, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson* said:

"If you are in work, you should be earning enough to live on.

“It is unacceptable that more and more workers are struggling to make ends meet as the 'national living wage' set by this Conservative Government falls even further behind the real living wage.

"The Government is also failing to properly enforce the minimum wage. It is so consumed by Brexit that since last July there has been no naming and shaming of employers that haven't paid the minimum wage.

"We haven't even left the European Union and the Tory Government are already failing workers. Any suggestion that our hard-won employment rights will be safe if we leave the EU is clearly nonsense."
Jo Swinson was Employment Relations Minister during the Coalition Government.