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.”


Thursday, April 08, 2021

Greensill stinks of cronyism from this Government

Responding to the news of the Treasury publishing the Chancellor’s text messages to David Cameron regarding Grensill Capital, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

"There are now serious questions that the Chancellor must answer about the nature of these conversations. Yet again, the stench of cronyism emanates from this government.
 
"We need full transparency on exactly what the Chancellor did and what David Cameron's involvement was in persuading him."

Friday, April 02, 2021

Race report is not an excuse for shameful inaction

 


Responding to the report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, published this week, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Equalities Wera Hobhouse MP commented:

“As the Black Lives Matter protests highlighted so powerfully, too many people’s lives both in the UK and across the world are blighted by discrimination, inequality and injustice. It is unacceptable.

“There is still so much to do to tackle racial injustice in our country, from the shocking number of Black and Asian children in poverty, to the over-representation of Black and mixed-race people in prison, to the courts and corporate boards still dominated by white people, to the disproportionate impact of Covid on ethnic minority communities.

“Conservative Ministers must not use this report as an excuse to continue their shameful inaction on these issues. They should start by abolishing their discriminatory Hostile Environment immigration policies, ending the disproportionate use of Stop and Search, and developing a proper Race Equality Strategy.

“The Liberal Democrats will continue the urgent fight to tackle all forms of racial injustice and inequality throughout our society. Everyone should have the chance to get on in life, free from discrimination and with their rights and dignity respected.”

ENDS

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

UK failing in its duty to Hong Kong


Responding to China imposing sweeping electoral changes in Hong Kong, Liberal Democrats Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Layla Moran MP said:
 
“This amending of the Basic Law by China’s rubber-stamp legislature is a clear breach of the Joint Declaration. The Government must respond with firm action, as it has done elsewhere - words of condemnation have done nothing to protect Hong Kong’s democracy.
 
“The UK is failing in its duty under the Joint Declaration and international law to preserve Hong Kong’s institutions and human rights. Any red line has been crossed. If Dominic Raab won’t stand up now and act, when?
 
“The Liberal Democrats will stand, as we always have, with the people of Hong Kong. The Government can make no more excuses - it is time for the UK to step up, lead and take action. That must include Magnitsky sanctions and taking China to the International Court of Justice. And gaps in the BNO visa scheme must be plugged to give all Hong Kongers a lifeboat if they need it.”

E

Lib Dems fight to stop gutting of fuel poverty scheme

 

Seventy-one Liberal Democrats MPs, Peers and Council Group Leaders have written to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to oppose the Government's plans to gut a critical scheme allowing energy inefficient homes to access grants. 

 

The Government is poised to remove social housing and rented accommodation from eligibility for the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme and impose prescriptive measures on how improvements must be carried out. This means that even fewer homes are likely to be upgraded, particularly given the failure of the Green Homes Grant.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for the cancellation of these changes to ensure that those most in need of help do not lose the opportunity to access these grants.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Sarah Olney MP said: 

 

“This is yet another move by the Tories to make it impossible to cut emissions from our homes and help to reduce energy bills – despite the most vulnerable in our society being the people who can benefit most.

"With 30% of the UK's CO2 emissions coming from our homes and energy bills continuing to rocket, Liberal Democrats are calling for a ten-year programme to upgrade our homes, prioritising those in fuel poverty. 

 

"As we gear up to host the monumental climate conference, COP26, at the end of the year, we need more than words from the Conservative Government. We need action.”


Sunday, March 28, 2021

Jane Dodds: Mental health support at the heart of our plan to Put Recovery First

Lockdown has deeply affected all of us. 

People have lost loved ones, families have been separated and loneliness and isolation have become the new normal for so many. 

Mental health support must be at the heart of our plan to Put Recovery First. That’s why we have a four-point plan to make sure no one is left without the support they deserve:

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⏰ We need a 24/7 Mental Health care crisis system so that people can get care whenever they need it - round the clock support and services to look after our people as we recover. 

⌛️ We need to cut waiting times so that nobody has to suffer without help. That means investing in frontline services and training new specialists so that we have a nation where anyone can access support when it is needed. 

📍 We need to improve access to local support, so nobody is sent far away from friends and family. We would set targets to end the need for Out of Area placements that see children sent far from home, their family, and friends.

💼 We need the government to take responsibility for Mental Health, by working across the government to create community-embedded programmes which work for local people who need the support the most. 

Liberal Democrats believe in a fairer, more caring society, one that puts recovery first and helps residents as we slowly move out of isolation, one that ensures no one is left behind when in need of support. 

If you agree, please share our plan today.

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Together we can Put Recovery First for our mental health services.

Jane Dodds

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The federal party launches a review to plot paths to closer relationship with EU

Liberal Democrats voted to launch an internal review that will set out roadmaps to rejoining EU agencies such as the Customs Union and Single Market, with a view to membership of the European Union in future.

It comes in the wake of the devastating impact of Boris Johnson’s trade deal, which has left millions of British businesses and workers worse off. 

The Liberal Democrats notably stood as the only major, UK-wide party who opposed the deal at every stage it was presented to Parliament. With today’s policy motion they pledged to continue to hold the Government accountable for its inadequacies.

The motion, passed at our Spring Conference last weekend, also sets out a desire for closer cooperation with the EU on areas such as climate change, health, science and security, in aid of a stronger relationship with our European neighbours.

 

Speaking after the motion passed, Liberal Democrats Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, Layla Moran MP, said:

“This Tory Government’s ‘free’ trade deal with Europe has been bad for business, bad for jobs and bad for our place on the world stage. Our country has been left poorer and all the more isolated. 

“I am proud that the Liberal Democrats unequivocally remain the most pro-EU party in the UK. Today we reaffirmed our commitment to reconnect politically, strategically and operationally with our biggest trading partner and closest neighbours.

"We shouldn’t be burning bridges with the EU, we should be building them and forging a relationship that is in everyone’s best interests. From farmers to fishermen, from small businesses to students - we are better when we work closer together. Global problems require global solutions, not isolationism and bluff.

“Now is the right time for the Liberal Democrats to properly work out the path between where we are, and the relationship we want to get to. That starts today with this review, but rest assured we won’t be waiting on its findings to call out the damage that this Government’s threadbare deal is doing every day to our country.”


We must get serious on Russia for the sake of our democracy

 

 

The Liberal Democrats passed a motion at our federal Spring Conference last weekend calling for immediate action to be taken on the Russia Report. This includes:

  • An investigation into Russian interference into our electoral process

  • Making protection of our democratic security a national priority with clear ministerial responsibility

  • Take big money out of politics by reforming party funding. 


Following the debate, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Layla Moran MP said: 

"It is time for the Government to take our national security seriously and stop ducking this because it’s politically inconvenient. Our democratic defences are weak and we must listen to the urgent warning signs – their own Integrated Review should remind them of that.

"Last year's Russia Report has been swept under the carpet by the Conservatives. The security surrounding our elections should not be a party-political issue and yet Boris Johnson continues to get away with leaving our democracy vulnerable to a clear and present threat. 

 

"Liberal Democrats are calling for protection of our democratic process to become a national priority with clear ministerial responsibility. We need a real investigation into potential interference in our elections, and action to stop big money from figures close to the Kremlin influencing our politics.

 

"Putin’s assault on democracy around the world is clear for all to see, from interference in US politics to poisoning and imprisoning the opposition leader in his own country. Britain is 'clearly a target' for disinformation campaigns, according to the Russia Report, and now more than ever we should be focused on safeguarding our democracy at all levels."


Tory plans for the defence of the realm worry us all

 
Commenting on the Defence Command Paper published yesterday, Jamie Stone MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Defence, said:
 
“The Government's plans for the defence of the realm should worry us all.
 
"Everything we have heard so far has reeked of financial mismanagement and broken promises.
 
“Drastic cuts to our armed forces to plug the defence budget blackhole whilst wasting millions on a Hollywood-style situation room tells you everything you need to know about this vanity obsessed Government.  
 
"Our Army is the smallest it has been in hundreds of years and our reserves are dwindling in numbers. Yet the Prime Minister is more concerned about his own image. This is not how a responsible Government chooses to defend our country.
 
“The Government’s appalling cuts to foreign aid makes no sense at all.  Not only will it impact the most vulnerable people in the world, but it will diminish Britain’s clout overseas. This comes at a time when they choose to increase the UK's nuclear stockpile in direct breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which does nothing to address the imminent risks our country faces.
 
"These moves lack logic and coherence, and speak volumes of the Government's moral failure."

Patel must drop proposals to restrict right to protest

             In an emergency motion passed at the party's Spring Conference last weekend,

Liberal Democrats called on the Home Secretary to drop proposals to restrict the right to protest. 

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP commented:

"The Conservative Government's attempts to crack down on peaceful protests are dangers and draconian. 

"The right to protest is a fundamental human right. From the slave trade to women's suffrage, workers' rights to the Iraq war, protesting has always been a crucial part of our democratic society. 

"Liberal Democrats fiercely oppose the Government's anti-democratic attempts to silence any opposition to its policies by restricting the right to protest, and we urge the Home Secretary to drop these proposals."


We call for “deadly” aid cuts to be reversed

 

The Liberal Democrats have called on the UK Government to reverse “unprincipled, unjustified and downright deadly” cuts to international aid.

The motion passed at its Spring Conference last weekend reaffirmed the Party’s commitment to the UK contributing 0.7% of GNI on Official Development Assistance and slammed the merging of the Department for International Development with the Foreign Office.

It also demanded the UK Government play a ‘proactive role in debt forgiveness and relief initiatives’ for developing countries struggling with the economic and health impact of Coronavirus.

Speaking after the motion was approved, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and International Development Layla Moran said:

“The UK's global reputation is disappearing fast. The decision to cut aid to the world’s poorest is not only wrong but short-sighted and strategically incompetent. The Conservatives are putting nukes before prosperity.

“In a global pandemic, you need global solutions. UK aid and development has helped millions and stands as testament to the best of British values. It benefits us here at home, as well as saving lives and building a safer world. Instead the Government is making cuts that are unprincipled, unjustified and downright deadly. This is not my Britain.

“The Liberal Democrats understand that we must take action to support developing countries struggling with the impact of Coronavirus, including through debt relief. We have a vision for a truly Liberal Britain that stands tall on the world stage, and strengthens our alliances and multilateral institutions instead of risking it all for short-term political gain."

Welcome Tory U-turn on restriction of care rights

 

Responding to the Government’s announcement that it will remove part of the Coronavirus Act that reduces people’s rights to care, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

"Watering down the rights to care for elderly, disabled and vulnerable people was unlawful and unnecessary. Far too many families have seen the hardships of lockdown compounded by having the lifeline of care cut off completely.

“Liberal Democrats opposed the Government reducing people’s care rights from the very start of the pandemic, and voted against this law in September. So I am glad Ministers have finally accepted that care rights must be fully restored.

"However, far too many people are still missing out on the care they need because of the Conservative Government’s failure to give local councils the funding they need. It puts extra strain on unpaid carers and on our NHS, which is already facing enormous challenges.

“That’s why I’m continuing to call on Boris Johnson to convene the cross-party talks he has promised for so long, so we can finally agree a long-term, sustainable future for social care.”


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Integrated Review: Moran says that Johnson and the Tories are putting economic ties before human rights

Responding to the Government's Integrated Review, published yesterday, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Layla Moran MP commented:

“This Integrated Review slashes support to the world’s poorest and puts economic ties before human rights in China, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

“The UK’s development spending represents the best of British values. During a global pandemic, none of us are safe until everyone is. Reneging on the commitment to retain 0.7% of GNI is a short-sighted mistake that will hit the world’s poorest the hardest – promising it will be ‘temporary’ are weasel words. We need a cast-iron guarantee and roadmap that will see this unlawful cut restored next year and if it won’t, for the Government to bring the permanent cut to vote.

“The UK should be showing leadership. Instead, the Government is putting short-term gain and political posturing before our values as a country. The Prime Minister must rescue our global reputation by sticking to our commitments on aid and always putting human rights first no matter where they are under threat.”

Trident increase: There should be no return to the nuclear arms race

Responding to the Government's Integrated Review, released yesterday, Liberal Democrat Defence Spokesperson Jamie Stone MP said:

“The Government’s Integrated Review is not strategic, not integrated, and not a proper review. Rather, it is full of retreat and broken promises.

"Our Armed forces are being cut back and the Defence budget is in a mess.

“Proposals to increase the number of Trident warheads should not be taken forward. Such a policy would be a breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Increasing our nuclear arsenal now will not strengthen our defence. The world faces many threats to peace and stability. We should not add to those threats by encouraging a return to the nuclear arms race.”

 

Government has treated asylum seekers appallingly

Responding to the Home Office decision to close Penally camp, a former military camp near Tenby used as accommodation for asylum seekers, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Home Affairs Alistair Carmichael MP said:

“The Government have had to be shamed into acting when anyone with an ounce of compassion would have done this weeks ago. They have looked the other way for too long as asylum seekers are forced to stay in inhumane accommodation.

“The Conservative Government has treated these asylum seekers appallingly. True to their form during this pandemic, they have cut corners and ignored public health advice. Innocent asylum seekers have now been left to suffer.

"Closing Penally Camp should just be the start. There can be no more delay on closing Napier Barracks.

“Priti Patel must immediately find alternative accommodation for these people where social distancing is possible, with access to legal aid and medical assistance.”

 

Police Bill is dangerous and draconian


Reacting to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill passing its Commons Second Reading last night, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said: 
 
“These new Conservative laws to crackdown on protests are dangerous and draconian.
 
“The right to peaceful assembly and protest is a fundamental human right. It has always been a crucial part of our democratic society.
 
“The weekend’s appalling events at the Clapham Vigil show why this Bill must be stopped in its tracks. They should force Priti Patel to think again.
 
“These new laws are part of the Conservative Government’s anti-democratic attempts to silence any opposition to its policies. Liberal Democrats, will fiercely fight them at every step of the way.”