Friday, September 20, 2019

Thornberry must withdraw Taliban remarks

Responding to the comments made by Emily Thornberry comparing the Liberal Democrats to the Taliban, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Chuka Umunna said:

"Emily Thornberry should withdraw her inappropriate remarks. Language counts - comparing the Liberal Democrats to a murderous organisation is no laughing matter.

"It is also grossly insulting to the 6 million people who signed the revoke Article 50 petition launched earlier this year, including many of the Shadow Cabinet's constituents.

"The Liberal Democrats are clear that every vote for us is a vote to stop Brexit."

 ConstituencyNumber of signatories to the Revoke Article 50 petitionPercentage of electors in their constituency
Jeremy CorbynIslington North2715736%
Emily ThornberryIslington South and Finsbury2377034%
Dianne AbbottHackney North and Stoke Newington2801733%
Keir StarmerHolborn and St Pancras2838732%

The electorate for each constituency can be found here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Lib Dems to scrap Section 21 after Tories fail to fulfil promises

Today, the Liberal Democrats have passed a motion which will scrap Section 21 'No Fault Evictions'.

The motion not only puts into Liberal Democrat policy the abolition of S21 by reforming the Housing Act, but reaffirms the commitment to support renters by enabling local authorities to create and maintain registers of landlords.

Following the passing of the motion, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Housing, Communities and Local Government Tim Farron said:

"People in this country are demanding a safe, secure home to live in. Yet the Tories have failed to fulfil their promises to end “no fault evictions” leaving many at the mercy on unscrupulous landlords. Liberal Democrats demand better.
"That’s why it’s fantastic that Liberal Democrats have passed this motion. It is vital that the private rented market is made fairer for renters, while we have a duty to support landlords who are doing the right thing too.

"We cannot stand by while tenants are turfed out of their homes through no fault of their own – that’s why we’re demanding that this Tory government do what they’ve said they will. And if they don’t, they should make way for a party who would."

Monday, September 16, 2019

Lib Dems announce ambitious plans to tackle climate emergency

Today the Liberal Democrats have passed an ambitious, radical climate change proposal that aims to get us to net zero greenhouse emissions by 2045.

It aims to massively expand renewable generation, upgrade our homes to cut emissions and fuel poverty and to plant 60 million trees a year to act as a natural carbon sink.

Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat Climate Change Spokesperson, said:

“The public are waking up to the climate crisis and want politicians to deal with it. The Tories have failed to take the climate crisis seriously, they’ve scrapped the Climate Change Department, banned on-shore wind and slashed subsidies to solar power, all while permitting new fossil fuels like fracking. Liberal Democrats demand better.
“I am delighted that Conference have passed this climate change motion. It is now clear that the Liberal Democrats have detailed credible plan to solve the climate crisis. The first step we must take is for Government to start taking climate change seriously. In our first one hundred days Liberal Democrats would reform Whitehall to place climate change at the heart of government, ensuring that solving the climate change is at the forefront of everything we do.”

F29 Tackling the Climate Emergency
Conference recognises that the world is facing a climate emergency; unless urgent action is taken to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, the worst impacts of climate breakdown will follow, including severe damage to economies, societies and nature, the possible collapse of poor countries with weak governance most exposed to the impacts and a huge and permanent growth in the numbers of refugees fleeing their homes.
Conference further recognises that in the UK and elsewhere the worst impacts will be felt by the poorest and most disadvantaged people and the poorest and most disadvantaged communities.
Conference therefore resolves that the UK must reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases to net zero as fast as possible, and endorses the aim of net zero greenhouse gas emissions from the UK by 2045 at the latest, with interim targets of a 75 per cent reduction from 1990 by 2030 and 93 per cent by 2040 (subject to revision should faster progress prove possible), in compliance with the international targets to limit climate change set by the Paris Agreement of 2015.
Conference recognises that setting a target date for net zero emissions is essential but by itself is not enough; early credible action is more critical, and the precise target date for achieving net zero is less important than urgent action to set the economy on the path towards it.
Conference accordingly endorses the proposal for an emergency ten-year programme of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings and power generation – the most cost-effective options – to near-zero, helping to reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions by 75 per cent by 2030.
Conference condemns the Conservative government for failing to take action even to meet the UK’s previous less ambitious target, and for pursuing measures, such as fracking and airport expansion, which will increase emissions.
Conference recognises the UK’s offer to host the 2020 UN climate change summit (COP26) and, in keeping with the policy paper’s demand “to raise global ambition”, calls for the UK to propose a major strengthening of the UN’s capacity to lead emissions reduction by appointing a UN Climate Commissioner and executive team to hold governments to account and mobilise public opinion, with the UK offering an initial contribution to the increased resourcing required.
Conference therefore endorses policy paper 139, Tackling the Climate Emergency, as a statement of Liberal Democrat policies on climate change and in particular its key priorities:
i)        Ensuring that the net zero objective is built into decision-making by national and local government, businesses, investors, communities and households, rewarding rapid progress towards net zero and encouraging behavioural change in patterns of living, working, travelling and eating.
ii)       Creating a Just Transition Commission to advise on how to deliver a net-zero economy that works for everyone, and Just Transition Funds to support development in those regions and communities most affected by the transition.
iii)      Stopping Brexit and working closely with the UK’s European and global partners to raise global ambition, develop zero-carbon technologies and increase aid funding to help developing countries reach net zero.
iv)     Cutting UK greenhouse gas emissions and reducing energy costs by reducing the demand for energy through measures such as home insulation and greater energy efficiency.
v)      Ending the use of fossil fuels in the UK economy, including banning fracking and the opening of new coal mines and pits, and replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy.
vi)     Removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, including a massive programme of tree planting and the deployment of technological solutions.
Conference further welcomes the detailed proposals to:
1.       Unleash democracy by:
a)      Legislating to create a statutory duty for each principal local authority to set a Zero-Carbon Strategy, including local and community power generation, home energy retrofits and local transport and land use plans, with an accompanying major decentralisation of powers and resources.
b)      Ensuring climate objectives are a top priority for central government, including appointing a cabinet-level Chief Secretary for Sustainability in the Treasury, creating a new Department for Climate and Natural Resources and introducing a requirement on all public bodies to report on the extent to which climate risks pose a threat to their ability to fulfil their responsibilities.
c)      Establishing a national Citizen’s Climate Assembly to improve public engagement, tasked with debating every aspect of climate policy and delivering recommendations to government and stimulating public debate.
d)     Ensuring that any public engagement activity must include empowering poorer and BAME communities and people with access and mobility requirements to play a central role in agreeing the changes needed to tackle the climate crisis, particularly locally.
2.       Decarbonise finance and investment, and make the UK the green finance capital of the world by:
a)      Investing in zero-carbon infrastructure for power, heat, transport, industrial carbon capture and storage (CCS) and afforestation.
b)      Establishing a new Green Investment Bank to steer private investment into these sectors.
c)      Regulating financial services to encourage green investments, including requiring all companies registered in the UK and listed on UK stock exchanges to disclose their level of climate risk and make provisions for the costs associated with meeting targets compliant with the Paris Agreement.
d)      Greening the taxation system to make the polluters pay and to reward progress towards net zero.
3.       Use innovation, skills and education strategies to support the net zero target, including:
a)      Fostering the development of regional industrial innovation clusters, increasing support for Innovate UK and the Catapult Centres, and funding large-scale technology innovation missions.
b)      Developing a zero-carbon skills strategy to tackle any skills gaps that could hinder progress.
c)      Implementing zero-carbon education and public engagement strategies to ensure everyone understands the urgency of the climate crisis and is able to participate in decision-making over the options to tackle it.
4.       Place climate action at the heart of foreign policy by:
a)      Stopping Brexit and working within the EU for greater climate ambition.
b)      Incorporating climate objectives into the heart of UK diplomacy.
c)      Tripling support through the UK’s International Climate Fund for for climate-related development spending and ending support from UK Export Finance for fossil fuel-related activities.
d)     Working internationally to develop a simple sustainability ‘traffic light’ labelling system to empower consumers in all sectors.
5.       Decarbonise buildings by:
a)      Carrying out an emergency ten-year programme to reduce energy consumption from all the UK’s buildings, cutting emissions and fuel bills and helping to end fuel poverty, including providing free retrofits for low-income homes and piloting a new subsidised Energy-Saving Homes scheme.
b)      Introducing a zero-carbon standard for all new buildings by 2021, rising to Passivhaus standard by 2025.
c)      Adopting a zero-carbon heat strategy, including reforming the Renewable Heat Incentive, requiring the phased installation of heat pumps in homes and businesses off the gas grid and taking a decision on the appropriate mix of zero-carbon technologies – electric heat pumps, hydrogen and hybrid solutions – within the next three years.
6.       Decarbonise power by:
a)      Accelerating the deployment of renewable power generation, aiming initially to reach a generation capacity of at least 80 per cent renewables by 2030 (including any increase in electricity demand for transport, heat and industry).
b)      Developing smart grids, storage solutions and interconnectors to other countries’ electricity grids to guarantee security of supply and to improve the management and balancing of the system.
c)      Promote decentralised and community energy, including setting a target of more than half of households and businesses sharing in the renewable energy revolution by 2030, including requiring all new homes to be fitted with solar panels.
7.       Decarbonise transport by:
a)      Encouraging the rapid take-up of electric vehicles by ending the sale of new diesel and petrol cars and small vans, including hybrids, by 2030, banning their use on public roads by 2045, and accelerating the installation of charging points.
b)      Converting the rail network to ultra-low-emission technology (electric or hydrogen) by 2035.
c)      Reducing the need for car travel by investing in public transport and amending the National Planning Policy Framework to promote sustainable transport and land use.
d)      Reforming the taxation of international flights to target the most frequent flyers, placing a moratorium on the development of new runways (net) in the UK and introducing a zero-carbon fuels blending requirement for domestic flights.
8.       Decarbonise industry by:
a)      Working with industry to introduce resource productivity and circular-economy models.
b)      Banning non-recyclable single-use plastics within three years and initiating negotiations on an international agreement to reduce the production and consumption of plastics.
c)      Providing infrastructure funding to accelerate the introduction of industrial carbon capture and storage.
9.       Decarbonise agriculture and food by:
a)      Prioritising climate change mitigation in agricultural support systems, including measures to increase soil carbon, tree planting and woodland creation.
b)      Developing a National Food Strategy to promote the production and consumption of healthy, sustainable and affordable food.
10.    Remove carbon from the atmosphere by:
a)      Increasing UK forest cover by planting an additional 60 million trees a year, and by restoring peatlands.
b)      Supporting research and innovation for negative emissions technologies, particularly Direct Air Capture and Carbon Storage (DACCS), and introducing a funding system to reward delivery.


Saturday, September 14, 2019

Lib Dems call for UK wide marriage equality

The Liberal Democrats have today backed proposals to demand better for all LGBT+ people across the UK and deliver equal marriage.
The proposal, passed today at Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, include calls to introduce equal marriage in Northern Ireland, extending existing legislation in England and Wales to remove the spousal veto and to enable the Church of England and Church in Wales and their celebrants to conduct same-sex marriages, and extend recognition of humanist marriages to all of the UK.
Speaking after the debate, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, who backed the amendment in Parliament to extend same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland said:
“Despite the amendment that was passed in Parliament in July, same-sex marriage has not yet been delivered in Northern Ireland.
“With the Conservatives shutting down Parliament, and their resistance in the recent past to extending same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland, it is more important than ever that we keep demanding better for LGBT+ people in Northern Ireland and fighting to deliver same-sex marriage. 
“Couples across Northern Ireland want to get married, at home and surrounded by family and friends. The Liberal Democrats will tackle the unfairness that exists and deliver on the change that people in Northern Ireland demand.
“The spousal veto allows the spouse of someone who is trans to block them from legally changing their gender, meaning they have to go through the years-long process of getting a divorce before they are able to do so. By removing this veto, the Liberal Democrats will ensure that you are the only person with a say over who you are.”

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Johnson and Raab must condemn Netanyahu's pledge to breach international law


The Liberal Democrats are calling on the government to unambiguously condemn the statement of Israeli PM Netanyahu, in which he pledges to apply Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan valley and northern Dead Sea if elected next week.

Commenting on this worrying assertion from Netanyahu, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said:

"Such a move would be a clear breach of international law, as set out in UN security resolutions, and would kill any hope, however fragile, for meaningful peace talks based on the two state solution.

"It could also result in yet more instability in the region and give succour to extremists everywhere.

"If ever there was a time for the UK Government to send a strong message of solidarity by recognising the State of Palestine, it is now."

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Davey slams Spending Round as “fantasy figures”

Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor, Ed Davey, has slammed the Conservative Government’s Spending Round as “fantasy figures” because of the ​economic threat to the UK posed by Brexit.
Speaking in the House of Commons this afternoon, Ed Davey said:
 “Mr Speaker, Liberal Democrats have fought for more cash for our schools, police and NHS.
“But isn’t it the case that headteachers, chief constables and hospital managers simply cannot rely on the Chancellor’s fantasy figures, if Britain crashes out of the EU?
“Mr Speaker, 2 months ago, the independent watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility, warned a No Deal Brexit would cost the public purse thirty billion pounds, every year, for the next four years.
“What insurance has the Chancellor taken for this massive risk to his spending plans?
“Today was supposed to be a serious statement, but the Chancellor is more like Del Trotter at Peckham market, trying to sell the public dodgy goods, with no guarantee.
“This isn’t luverly jubbly – it’s a con!”

We have a duty to stand with the people of Hong Kong

Responding to chief executive Carrie Lam’s withdrawal of the Hong Kong Extradition Bill, Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael MP said:
“It is welcome news that this dangerous Bill has finally been withdrawn, but long overdue. Carrie Lam should have done this six weeks ago. The Bill was a threat to human rights and the rule of law in Hong Kong and a direct contravention of the Sino-British joint declaration.
“The Conservative government must help to ensure that there is a full, independent investigation into police violence during the protests. We have a duty to stand with the people of Hong Kong.”

Kicking the can down the road will not prevent Windrush-style scandal for EU citizens


Responding to reports the Government is planning to announce a 3-year temporary leave to remain for EU citizens, Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Christine Jardine said:

“The Liberal Democrats have long been warning that Brexit will create another Windrush-style scandal for EU citizens. Kicking the can three years down the road will not prevent it.
“Instead of taking away the rights of the 3.6 million EU citizens in the UK at the end of 2020, the Conservatives now want to take away their rights at the end of 2023. That’s hardly much better.
“This plan will only cause huge confusion and uncertainty. How will employers – or even the Home Office – be able to tell who was here before the end of 2020 and who moved here afterwards? That’s why EU citizens are so worried.
“If Boris Johnson really cared about keeping his promise to EU citizens in the UK, he would pass the legislation the Liberal Democrats have put forward to guarantee their rights permanently in law.”

Monday, September 02, 2019

Withdrawal preparedness: Public deserve better than a watered-down dodgy dossier

The Liberal Democrats have written to Sir Mark Sedwill, the Cabinet Secretary, to demand clarity over whether the Operation Yellowhammer document would be a “watered-down dodgy dossier that has reportedly been drafted to suit political agendas”.

According to reports in The Sunday Times, sources familiar with the document describe the version being prepared for release to the public as “soft soap” and “neutralised”.

The Liberal Democrat Shadow Brexit Secretary, Tom Brake MP, has requested confirmation that any ministerial demand that civil servants ‘adapt the truth’ would be against the ministerial code.

Mr Brake has also asked that civil servants asked to draft this document be protected and brought before Parliament to give evidence.

Writing in his letter, Mr Brake said: 

"Given the serious threat of medicine and food shortages in the event of a no-deal Brexit, it is only right that the government is fully open and transparent about the detail of Operation Yellowhammer.

“I am therefore writing to ask that you confirm that any ministerial demand that civil servants water down or ‘adapt the truth’ in this document would be tantamount to ministers breaking the ministerial code?

"Please confirm also that civil servants do not risk being disciplined if they refuse to comply with such an unreasonable request and that they will be protected by whistle-blower legislation should a 'sanitised' document be released.

"I am also writing to request that you provide me with the details of the senior civil servants asked to draft this document, so that they can be invited urgently to give evidence to Parliament."

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Gove has sold his soul to the devil

Responding to Michael Gove's refusal to rule out ignoring any law passed by Parliament to stop a no-deal, Liberal Democrat Shadow Brexit Secretary Tom Brake said: 

"We are in real threat of our democracy being silenced. This authoritarian power grab must be stopped.

"From shutting down Parliament to ignoring expert warnings today from the British Retail Consortium on the danger of food shortages, it appears Michael Gove has sold his soul to the devil. 

"Liberal Democrats demand better. We will do everything we can to stand up for people and give them the final say on Brexit, with the option to remain in the EU."